Bombs and Bikes

Bombs and Bikes!

From the desk of
Burt Kummerow

Volume 3 Issue 8
August 1, 2014

Dear Reader,

Tucked away in one corner of our 1812 exhibit is a 200 pound explosive mortar shell. This large hunk of metal was the height of technology in 1814. Appropriately called a "bomb," this particular specimen was lobbed into Fort McHenry during the now famous bombardment that led to the line in the Star-Spangled Banner, the "bombs bursting in air." The new terror weapons quite often did not explode. The specimen at the Maryland Historical Society (MdHS) rolled to the feet of a frightened militia artilleryman named George Baxley. Obviously relieved at this turn of fate, Mr. Baxley took the heavy bomb home as a souvenir.

Cannon Ball
A bomb that did not burst
Another corner of our expansive galleries displays an early all metal bicycle called a "velocipede." Sometimes referred to as "boneshakers," these early bikes look a bit like torture devices. Our rare velocipede was made for a child right here in Baltimore in 1869. From these rather austere looking beginnings, bicycles in many forms became the rage in the late 1800s and, after the invention of our now ubiquitous "safety bike," the bicycle became a permanent and still growing part of American transportation and recreation.

So, two of our many thousands of historical artifacts have great stories to tell. Our business with these priceless collections is first, to keep our ancestors alive in the minds of modern Marylanders and, second, to find unique ways both old and new to keep these stories in front of present day audiences. And we have the best library devoted to Maryland history to back us up. The stories are endless because we have four centuries and as many as twenty generations to draw on.

This early bicycle will be on display during our Old Timey Bike Fest
August is another watershed month for our 170-year-old institution. In anticipation of an exciting bicentennial September, our replica Star-Spangled Banner Flag will be out and about with a special show throughout Maryland, commemorating those important events two centuries ago that led to the climactic Battle of Baltimore. In addition, our new partnership with "The Wheelmen," an international group interested in the history of bicycles, will bring a unique conference here to the MdHS. August 7 is the date to mark on your calendar. That evening, The Wheelmen will be putting on quite a show with exhibits, programs, food and drink and some of the most outlandish bicycles you have ever seen parading for your pleasure. After more than a thousand bicyclists partied here recently following a ride through Baltimore, we knew that we have a popular subject in tow for a summer evening.

How can you resist the fascinations of the past? We're here to make sure that history is far from dry and dusty. We are drawing on a rare and wonderful grab bag of stories about our ancestors!

Just Around the Corner:
The Star-Spangled Spectacular!


This September, we are celebrating the 200th anniversary of our National Anthem with a week-long event of epic proportions. Star-Spangled Spectacular will take place from September 10-September 16.

Our own, beloved original manuscript of the Star-Spangled Banner, written by Francis Scott Key, will be on view at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine.

The list of events is as big as our city -- from the Blue Angels flying overhead to Tall Ships in the Inner Harbor to a world-class fireworks display, contemporary 'remixes' of the Star-Spangled Banner, tours of the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, and more--you'll definitely want to check it out! For a complete list of Star-Spangled Spectacular events, see Star Spangled 200's website.

Fort McHenry Render
Fort McHenry as it looked just after the Battle of Baltimore, courtesy UMBC's Imaging Research Center.
Here at the Maryland Historical Society, we will be celebrating the Star-Spangled Spectacular by launching Baltimore 1815: Rebooted, the complete view of our popular BEARINGS of Baltimore, Circa 1815 installation.

Using the latest 3D technology, UMBC's Imaging Research Center has created an accurate -- and truly awe-inspiring -- view of Baltimore as it appeared in 1815. Select from more than a dozen interactive 'hotspots' to see how they looked right after the Battle of Baltimore. Learn more about these historic destinations with documents and paintings from the Maryland Historical Society's collection. Many of the buildings included in our installation no longer exist today, so think of this as your personal 'time machine' to see Baltimore as it really looked 200 years ago!

A Star-Spangled... Selfie?


How else can you celebrate the anniversary of our National Anthem? Our friends at Star-Spangled 200 have created an innovative program involving you -- and your camera phone!

Simply snap a 'selfie' in front of an American Flag or at an iconic 1812 location such as Fort McHenry and other sites along the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail.

Then post your selfie on Twitter, Instagram or TravelMD's Facebook page using the hashtag #starspangledselfie

And you can win prizes! Winners will be announced around the 16th of August, and they will receive VIP treatment during September's Star-Spangled Spectacular.

See Our Star-Spangled Banner Replica
Around Maryland!

SSB Replica
The Star-Spangled Banner Replica outside of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History on Flag Day.
Our replica Star-Spangled Banner flag accurately represents the 30 x 42-foot banner that flew over Fort McHenry and inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Made entirely by hand, bearing fifteen stars and fifteen stripes, the replica Star-Spangled Banner flag was created by over 200 'stitchers' and more than 1,000 volunteers at the Maryland Historical Society in the summer of 2013, using authentic fabric and hand stitching techniques - just like Mary Pickersgill did in the summer of 1813.

The flag was seen at the Baltimore Orioles' Opening Day festivities. In March, it was proudly carried aboard the Pride of Baltimore II to Annapolis for Maryland Day celebrations with The Fort McHenry Guard.

See below for August opportunities to see our flag!

August Star-Spangled Banner Replica Appearances
August 9, 9 AM-5 PM   |   Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum
Star Spangled Celebration

Free with paid Museum admission
This event will be "all things 1812" as CBMM partners with the Maryland Historical Society and the Pride of Baltimore II to bring visitors a wide variety of programs and family-friendly activities throughout the day. Visitors can learn all about the Star Spangled Banner, watch living history interpreters, explore our exhibits, and participate in stitching and weaving demos as we as go aboard the famous vessel. As part of the "Stitching History" project, people from all over the world came together to recreate the famous flag that inspired our national anthem. CBMM has been chosen as one of the sites around Maryland to view the flag before it is flown over Ft. McHenry as part of Defender's Day.
Website   |   North Talbot Street, St. Michaels, MD
August 23, 10 AM-6 PM   |   Frederick
Frederick Under the Flag: Frederick's Role in 19th Century Conflicts

As the name suggests, this commemoration will focus on events related to Frederick's involvement in the War of 1812, American Civil War and Spanish-American War. In each, Frederick contributed its share of participants, and three would become national heroes in the form of Francis Scott Key, Barbara Fritchie and Admiral Winfield Scott Schley. The Barracks here was the major site of Western Maryland militia mustering in 1812, and 50 years later saw Civil War troops, serving as a major Union Army hospital center. There will be plenty of programming...topping the list is the Maryland Historical Society's Star-Spangled Banner Replica flag and accompanying exhibit (stitched last year in Baltimore).
Website   |   301-600-4045
Frederick (Hessian) Barracks/Campus of Maryland School for the Deaf 101 Clarke Place, Frederick, MD 21701
August 30, 10 AM-7PM (See the flag Saturday ONLY!)
August 31, 12-6 PM   |   Brookville
1814 Brookeville: US Capital for a Day

During day (concurrent with other activities) scheduled demonstrations with repetitions:
  • Living Historians - re-enact roles of scientists, engineers, tradesmen, craftsmen, teachers, etc., who lived in Brookeville in August 1814 (in period dress, with appropriate instruments/props).
  • Craft Demonstrations - period wool yarn making, weaving, cooking, laundry, shoemaking, blacksmithing, etc.
  • Co-Ed Schoolroom in 1814 - upstairs in Brookeville Academy.
  • Milland Other Technology Exhibits - how the Thomas mill worked at mill race; others (surveying, astronomy, highway engineering, etc.), showing equipment and making presentations.
  • Town tour - period dress interpreters at each building/site (home or shop) in use in 1814(outside).
  • Souvenirs - Madison coins; old books; period toys; period dresselements (hats, fans); and, Brookeville Capital Cider to go.
  • Food/Drink - provided by Salem Church on lawn and street vendors. The Inn at Brookeville Farms will host the Brookeville Capital Ale & Cider Garden and serve grilled foods and ice cream.
  • Post Office/Welcome Center - downstairs in the Brookeville Academy.
  • Games for children - short stilts, hoops, sack races at Reddy Branch Park.
  • Archaeological Sand Pit - open kids' zone, seeded with artifacts- next to mill race.
The historic celebration will be supervised by the Montgomery County Police, with all day road closings of Rt. 97 and Market St. Shuttle buses will bring visitors to town from the Glenmont Metro Station (12501 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring), Camp Bennett (20501 Georgia Avenue, Brookville), and Medstar Montgomery Medical Center's construction lot (across from 18101 Prince Phillip Drive, Olney) to the Longwood Community Center on the south side of town, and to a private residence with a circular driveway near Brookeville Rd. and Rt. 97 on the north side of town. Parking is free at Camp Bennett and the Medical Center.
August 31, 10 AM-4 PM   |   Kent County
War of 1812 Battle of Caulk's Field

See the Pride of Baltimore II, hear the Kent County Marching Band, witness American and British encampments, and more! A musical performance by the The Ship's Company Chanteymen precedes a formal wreath laying ceremony and dedication of new 1812 monuments. The Star-Spangled Banner Replica will be unfurled before a re-enactment of the battle!
22245 Tolchester Beach Road, Chestertown, MD 21620 

Other August Events at the
Maryland Historical Society

Baltimore: Birthplace of the American Bicycle?
An 'Old Timey Bike Fest' and Cycling Conference

Bike Fest
Baltimore is known as a "city of firsts," but few know that Charm City gave birth to the first American bicycle! We're launching a new campaign to win national recognition for Baltimore's unique place in the history of American bicycling. Working in partnership with Baltimore Heritage, we are hosting a special one-time exhibition, American Wheels to the Front: The Involution of American Bicycles (1868-today), as well as celebrating our cycling past and present at the 'Old Timey Bike Fest' and happy hour on Thursday August 7, 2014.

On August 7, you can:
  • Visit the Maryland Historical Society (MdHS) for FREE from 10:00 AM - 7:30 PM
  • Experience the special exhibition: American Wheels to the Front: The Involution of American Bicycles (1868-today) from 4:00 - 7:30 PM
  • There will be a FREE Young Defenders First Thursday Happy Hour in the Courtyard from 5:00 - 7:30 PM
  • On hand will be local food trucks, including The Green Bowl and GrrChe, and local beer and wine at a cash bar: $3/beer; $5/wine
  • Demonstrations of historic bicycles by modern high-wheel men starting at 6:00 PM
  • A celebratory bike ride led by Baltimore Heritage departing MdHS at 7:30 PM
What is a Velocipede?

High Wheel Men
The Wheelmen
Invented in Germany in 1816, the velocipede was an early ancestor of the modern "safety" bicycle. The velocipede caught on quickly among reckless urban "dandies" in France and England. Growing interest in the United States prompted a writer in the Baltimore Morning Chronicle to remark acidly, "Every species of transatlantic nonsense, it would seem, is capable of exciting curiosity, no matter how ridiculous." Where some only saw a chance for ridicule, Baltimore piano-maker James Stewart saw an opportunity. In late 1818, Stewart crafted the first velocipede manufactured in the United States and, in February 1819, put it on display downtown at the Concert Hall (built around 1813 on South Charles Street).

A polarizing debate followed. The Federal Republican and Baltimore Telegraph sneered: "A curious two-wheeled vehicle called the Velocipede has been invented, which is propelled by Jack-asses instead of horses." 80 year old Charles Wilson Peale stopped by to see the velocipede on his way back to Philadelphia after painting portraits of President James Monroe, Henry Clay and black freeman Yarrow Mamout. The velocipede quickly won Peale's heart and when he arrived home in Philadelphia he commissioned a local blacksmith to make him one of his own. Stewart's invention led to the Dandy-operated velocipedes that terrorized many a society lady throughout the late 19th century as well as the road bikes citizens of today use to get to work or just enjoy the fresh air.

The International Cycling History Conference

Wood Trike
A children's tricycle from the 1870s
Also taking place from August 6-9, 2014 at the Maryland Historical Society is the 25th Annual International Cycling History Conference. The Conference has been notable for bringing together academics, curators, collectors, and enthusiasts to debate and present new knowledge on all aspects of cycling history. The Conference has a notable track record in bringing to light critical, interesting, and previously unappreciated stories from the history of cycling. Examples include such diverse subjects as exposing the fraudulent 'Leonardo' claims to invention of the bicycle, to the role of Col. Albert A. Pope in formation of the bicycle monopoly in 1899, to discussion of the role of cycling in women's liberation. For more details and to register, click here.

War of 1812: Beyond the Battlefield
Summer Lecture Series

We are partnering with Fort McHenry National Historic Shrine to present a summer lecture series, War of 1812: Beyond the Battlefield. The events will take place Thursday evenings at the Maryland Historical Society, from 6-8 PM, with lectures beginning at 6:30 PM. Light refreshments will be served.

Pricing: $10/person.

A Good Fight: The Religious War of 1812
Presented by James Robertson, Ph.D.
Thursday, August 14

The religious aspect of the War of 1812 provides an excellent example of how the three major religions have converged in the history of this nation. Robertson has contributed academic articles and book chapters on this topic as well as other issues related to western culture and Christianity, the impact of the Crusades, Muslim-Christian dialogue, and the role of missionaries in Canada's western expansion.

Special addition: Join us at 6:00 PM to unfurl our Stitching History Flag with much pomp and circumstance in the MdHS Courtyard! To register, click here.

September Events at the
Maryland Historical Society

This September, our Francis Scott Key Lecture Series begins again with a fascinating discussion on the Old Senate Chamber in Annapolis.

'All eyes being fixed on Washington':
Restoring Maryland's Historic Old Senate Chamber

The Old Senate Chamber, pre-construction, courtesy Jay Baker, Governor's Press Office, 2009
Maryland's most important room, the Old Senate Chamber in the State House, is currently undergoing a comprehensive restoration for the first time in more than a century. Learn about this historic restoration project and the legacy of the Old Senate Chamber. Several nationally significant events took place in the chamber in 1783-1784, including George Washington's resignation of his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army in December 1783 and the ratification of the Treaty of Paris in January 1784.

Presented by Sasha Lourie, Curator, Maryland Commission on Artistic Property, Maryland State Archives

Pricing: $40/lecture; $175/individual series; $300/couples series
Open bar and heavy hors d'oeuvres

Contact Rachel Crone at 410-685-3750 ext. 399 or email
Or you can register online by clicking here.

Finding Your War of 1812 Ancestors
Saturday, September 6, 2014; 9:30 AM to 3:45 PM
*Registration and continental breakfast at 9:00 am

Assembly of Troops
"Assembly of Troops Before the Battle of Baltimore," Thomas Ruckle Sr., ca1814. Maryland Historical Society, 1879.2.1. View from Hampstead Hill, now Patterson Park.
Jointly sponsored by The Maryland Genealogical Society and The Maryland Historical Society.

Learn about the War of 1812 and where the records are kept. Visit the Maryland Historical Society's wonderful War of 1812 Exhibit. This includes the new "BEARINGS of Baltimore, Circa 1815," an interactive, detailed 3-D map/image of Baltimore as it was during the War of 1812.

Burton K. Kummerow - Chasing Our 1812 Ancestors: Lessons for a Public Historian
John Deeben - War of 1812 Naval Records
John Deeben - War of 1812 Discharge Certificates
Rebecca Whitman Koford, CG - War of 1812 Pension Records

$45.00 - Members of sponsoring organizations (Pre-registered by Sept. 2)
$50.00 - Non-members (Pre-registered by Sept. 2)
Price includes continental breakfast, box lunch (select sandwich at registration.), and access to library and museum at the Maryland Historical Society.

Pre-registration deadline: Sept. 2, 2014 (Walk-in registration is an additional $5.)
Register by clicking here.

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Speaking of Trivia...

Trivia Time!

Congratulations to everyone who correctly answered last month's question! We asked you to name the third longest continuous truss bridge in the world. It also helps mark the spot of one of the most famous moments in Maryland history: It's the Francis Scott Key Bridge!

Ready for this month's question?

Commonly known as the velocipede, the predecessor to the modern 'safety bicycle' was called many names over the its development from running machine, to hobby-horse, to dandy horse. The first velocipede was in invented in Germany in 1817. It lacked pedals, but was steerable and human-powered. It is believed that James Stewart used the schematics of this original version to craft his "tracena," the first iteration of the velocipede in the United States. Though the German inventor originally dubbed his creation the Laufmaschine, German for "running machine" in regard to its pedal-less form of propulsion, German and French press gave the invention its own name derived from the surname of the inventor. This moniker stuck and continues to be used today to refer to applications of the design in the railway industry. What's that name?   

Email us your answer, and you, too, could win a prize! Best of luck.

Until next month,

Burton Kummerow
President, The Maryland Historical Society

Founded in 1844, The Maryland Historical Society Museum and Library occupies an entire city block in the Mount Vernon district of Baltimore. The society's mission is to "collect, preserve, and interpret the objects and materials that reflect Maryland's diverse cultural heritage." The Society is home to the original manuscript of the Star-Spangled Banner and publishes a quarterly titled "Maryland Historical Magazine." The Society is located at 201 W. Monument Street and open to the public Wednesday-Saturday from 10 am-5 pm, and Sunday (library only) 12 pm-5pm.