Local Historian Reflects On Severna Park's Early History
By Dan Giles
This marks the first in a series of articles covering a comprehensive history of Severna Park, sourced from three books expressly about our towns history including: a 1998 publication by Nelson Motter; Reflections, a 1996 collection of first-hand accounts from the 1920s-50s; and Linstead on the Severn: A History.
Additionally, a major contributor is Scott Jay, a resident and expert on the community through first-hand experience and research.
The discovery of arrowheads in this area indicates the presence of human life possibly as far back as 10,000 years ago. This figure is uncertain; however it is known how prior to modern development, a wealth of fish and wildlife flourished here. Jay related a story of a friend who, in the 1930s, could pluck several crabs from the Severn River faster than his mother could collect a couple of tomatoes.
The first colonists along the Severn River were Puritans from Nansemond, Virginia, in 1649. They originally named the river Ann Arundel. It was soon renamed the Severn after a major river in England. When the Puritans settled Providence (today, Annapolis) toward the mouth of the river, the lands along the Severn were left to the native Susquehanock tribe.
At this period, the land was open and dominated by large, well-spaced trees; it was a wilderness where encounters with deer, black bears, and mountain lions were likely. Native American trails existed and a horse-drawn buggy could navigate the area; however, the Puritans preferred to travel by water because it was considered safer and easier.
The next major milestone for the Severn was in 1670. The Lord Proprietor divided what is now Severna Park into five land grants, stretching from todays Joyce Lane to Shipleys Choice. In 1680, one of these land grants, which encompassed 102 acres of land from Linstead to Olde Severna Park, was purchased by Christopher Randall and creatively dubbed Randalls Purchase.
In 1721, Randall sold the grant to John Earshaw, who immediately sold it to John Worthington. In 1758, Worthington constructed The Brick Farm House, which still stands today. Between 1985 and 2001, Scott Jay purchased and fully renovated the Farm House. Jay recalled uncovering an area with scraps such as bird skulls and oyster shells where he believes the builders ate their lunch.
In 1856, George Linstid divided Randalls Purchase into three equal properties of 91.5 acres each and gave them to his three children; John Linstid III received the property with the Farm House which became the community of Linstead while Elizabeth Boone and Georgie Linstid received the other two properties which would become Olde Severna Park.
The home where Elizabeth Boone lived with her husband is known today as The Boone House, which still stands adjacent to Severn School. Georgie Linstid also received a property which was demolished several years ago with the construction of Severn Schools new athletic complex. Coincidentally, Jay was born in that property.
Because the large Boone family made up most of the residency in the area, Severna Park was originally known by their name and the station along the Baltimore-Annapolis railway was referred to as such. The lineage of the Boone and Linstid families features prominently in Severna Parks history; much of the family is laid to rest in a cemetery remaining a few properties away from the Farm House. The community of Round Bay originated as a railway extension that took passengers down to the beach.
By 1898, the Farm House was vacant and its ownership was disputed among Linstid and Boone descendants. It was bought at auction by the Riggs Brothers, wealthy twins from Baltimore who used it for upper-class entertaining. Governor Ritchie himself was known to stop by the Riggs social events at the Farm House.
The name Severna Park is believed to originate from a 1906 contest held by Oscar Hatton while the modern community was first becoming established. The winner would receive a portion of land but controversy arose because the winner was an African-American woman, who was instead rewarded $500.
In the 1920s, Severna Park still consisted mostly of open fields. A nine-hole golf course belonging to the Severna Park Golf Club spread across what eventually became the neighborhood of Linstead. The first hole was located at the intersection of Riggs Avenue and Evergreen Road. The Hendler property was constructed in 1928, and Hendler offered to create nine more holes for the course and make his estate a clubhouse if he and his company could have free access to the course. Today Scott Jay has renovated and resides at the Hendler property.
In 1942, the Farm House came into the possession of the Carter family, which had two sons. One of the sons attended the Naval Academy while the other attended West Point. The West Point student was roommates with General Dwight D. Eisenhowers son. Sometime before becoming president, Eisenhower visited the Farm House for dinner with the Carters.
During World War II, every able-bodied man in Severna Park went to war. The local Brockmeyer family had five sons who went to war. Two did not return; one was lost in the Pacific and one in Europe. The Brockmeyers owned a popular bar/restaurant called Feesers on Cypress Creek Road, which was torn down and replaced by the Ebersberger facility in 1992. A newsletter with local news was mailed out to all soldiers from Severna Park so they could know what was happening back home. The local war memorial records the names of all residents who went to war.
Anyone with photographs, anecdotes, or other items historically significant to Severna Park is encouraged to email the Severna Park Voice at SPVNews@SevernaParkVoice.com.