Baltimore County News
By Teri Rising, Baltimore County Department of Planning
Many well-known place names have unusual origins that are often as unique as the places they represent. Place names come from early settlers and businesses, literature, mythology, and land patents. Early settlers and their businesses often led to their name and the town being put on the map, literally.
Timonium and the Bard
Timonium originates from an 18th century mansion that was demolished in the 1970s to make way for a fairground expansion. Timonium is derived from the central character of “Timon of Athens,” a play attributed in part to William Shakespeare, and signifies a place of sorrows or solitude.
Oella: An Incan goddess spins cotton
The textile mill community known as Oella was named after the patent given to the accumulated lands of the Union Manufacturing Co. in 1811. Oella is a spelling variation of Mama Ocllo, a goddess from Inca and Peruvian mythology. The legend of Mama Ocllo and Manco Capac is a traditional story that tells how the Incan culture developed. Mama Ocllo or Mama Oella was said to have taught Incan women domestic arts skills, including how to spin thread. A resurvey document for the tract stated that the name came from "Oella, in honor of the first woman to apply herself to the spinning of cotton on the continent of North America."
Bellona, Sister of Mars
Bellona Avenue takes its name from the Bellona Powder Mill, which was established around 1801. The mill was drowned by Lake Roland in 1861. Bellona was a Roman goddess of war and sister to Mars.
You own it, you name it
There are place names taken from 18th and 19th century land records and their owners. Bowley’s Quarters was named after Daniel Bowley who had a farm in that location in the 1750s and a residence in Baltimore City. The quarters name was given to an additional farm owned by a planter who lived elsewhere.
The Caves Valley area was named for the land tract "Coale's Caves" that was surveyed for John Coale in 1705.
The name of White Marsh was used in a 1714 land survey and also was the name of a Ridgely family estate and furnace established by the Nottingham Company around 1753.
Regardless of their origin stories, each one of these names represents a special place in Baltimore County’s past and present.
Photo Sources: Taylor, Robert. Map of the city and county of Baltimore, Maryland. Baltimore, 1857, Library of Congress; Ancestry.com. U.S., Indexed County Land Ownership Maps, 1860-1918; Baltimore County Public Library.
Many unexpected treasures are virtually hidden away in Baltimore County’s libraries, historic buildings and archives. The fall edition of smARTS, the Baltimore County arts and culture show, features some special collections that offer a window into our history. Highlights include a series of “Retro Snapshots” featuring historic photographs of Towson, Dundalk, Reisterstown/Glyndon and Catonsville.
Host Carolyn Black Sotir and Tom Beck, Chief Curator of the library and gallery at UMBC, discuss photographs from the UMBC special collections, including a Matthew Brady photograph of the first black U.S. Senator and a Civil War artist’s designs for Colored Regiment flags.
Additional segments feature iconic Baltimore photographs by A. Aubrey Bodine and the story of “Flying Boats,” the first trans-Pacific commercial aircraft built at the Glenn L. Martin Company in Middle River.
Viewers can also find resources for discovering family and neighborhood history at the Historical Society of Baltimore County and Baltimore County Public Library.
smARTS airs Thursdays and Fridays, 7:00-7:30 p.m. and Tuesdays 11:30 a.m.- noon on Baltimore County cable channel 25. SmARTS segments also are available on YouTube.
smARTS is a production of the Baltimore County Commission on Arts & Sciences in partnership with the Baltimore County Public Schools and BCPS-TV.
Annual Award Honoring African-American Heritage in Baltimore County
Today, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced a new Baltimore County endeavor that will take place every year during Black History Month and be presented to deserving recipients.
The award is named for Baltimore County resident Louis S. Diggs, a respected and distinguished authority on County African-American history. Diggs’ research and historical perspective has guided him to publish 10 books; organize tours in the community; present lectures; and manage the Diggs-Johnson Museum in Granite.
“No one has done more to preserve and promote African American history in Baltimore County than Mr. Louis Diggs,” stated Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. “An award such as this is long overdue, and we in Baltimore County are so fortunate to have this notable expert on African American history right here in our own community.”
After surprising Diggs with the declaration of naming the award for him, Kamenetz revealed the 2016 recipients – Audrey Simmons and Ray Banks, who together brought the Hubert V. Simmons Museum for Negro Leagues Baseball to fruition.
The Simmons Museum is located in the Owings Mills library.