Thursday, April 13, 2023

When a House Becomes
Part of the Family History


What would you do if you discovered the home of one of your ancestors was still standing? 

I know what I'd do. If I were in the neighborhood, I'd hop in my car and at least drive by the place, craning my neck to spy every detail I could from my roadside vantage point.

Unfortunately, when I read the entry in Harry Wright Newman's book, Anne Arundel Gentry, concerning the three hundred year old Maryland property of Joseph Howard, seventh great-grandfather of my mother-in-law, I wasn't exactly in the neighborhood. So I did the next best thing: I googled it.

According to Anne Arundel Gentry, when Joseph Howard combined some of his inherited properties and had them re-surveyed, he named the new parcel "Howard's Inheritance." The Newman book noted that the home built on the property was called Mulberry Hill, and that—at least as of the date of writing his 1933 book—it was still standing.

To Google I went, typing in those two names: Howard's Inheritance and Mulberry Hill. Narrowing my search to Anne Arundel County, I discovered a list of properties in the county which were included on the National Register of Historic Places.

Sure enough, on the list there was an entry for a place called Howard's Inheritance, complete with a brief description of the house and a photo. Better yet, a footnote led me to the actual application for registration, provided by the Maryland Historical Trust.

Clicking through to the seventy four page file posted on the MHT website, I perused the entire application. There, I found a simple description of the property—a one and a half story gambrel-roofed brick house with a hall parlor plan—and a great deal more detail.

After paging through the application, I reached what some people call a house history. While I was fascinated to delve into greater detail on who lived in the home, despite seeing a few familiar names—at least I spotted Cornelius—from the Howard family history, it quickly became evident that despite the correct name for the property, this was not the place owned by my mother-in-law's ancestor.

Trying to find yet another home called by the same names—Howard's Inheritance and Mulberry Hill—seemed a fruitless effort. Coming up with every alternate search term I could think of, I finally discovered another application under the name "Mulberry Hill, (Howard's Inheritance)." Unlike the other application, labeled "AA-136" ("AA" for the county, Anne Arundel), this second National Register application sported the number AA-195.

This application was also for a one and a half story gambrel-roofed brick house. However, by the time I reached the fifteenth page, I could tell this was indeed the application for the house once owned by Joseph Howard. Actually noted in the narrative was this remark:

The house bears some similarities to another brick house with a gambrel roof, Howard's Inheritance (AA-136), which was also built on a large tract of land belonging to the Howard family.

Both applications include a floor plan and many photographs of the property, the later numbered application being the property which, according to the narrative, was owned by seven generations of Joseph Howard's family, up until the time when it was sold in the early 1900s.  


  1. Great detective work. Again, I feel like a genealogy cheat. My family has lived in this location for 200 years and I already knew all the houses before ever working on my family history, just from rides around the area with my parents and grandparents.

    1. What a great heritage you have, Miss Merry! And what a head start. You've absorbed so many of your family's stories. You probably know far more about your ancestors than many people can hope to know. I wouldn't call that a cheat at all.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...