Until a few years ago, there was no map of Howard County designating the original land grants made by five of the six members of the Calvert family, best known as Lord Baltimore, the founders and proprietors of the royal colony of Maryland.
Between the late 1600's and early 1800's, about 350 tracts of land in this area were granted primarily by Lord Baltimore to the early settlers of the region encompassed by Howard County.
Back in 1960, Dr. Caleb Dorsey, a descendant of the Dorseys of Maryland, who were recepients of several of these grants, sat down among the musty files and old wills in the Hall of Records in Annapolis and began to compile a map of the region as it was in the earlky Nineteenth Century.
It took eight years for Dr. Dorsey, who is now in his seventies and still practicing dentistry in Baltimore (where he was born and raised), to finish his research. The fruits of his labor are now recorded on a huge map he drew up, copies of which are in the Hall of Records, the Pratt Library, and Maryland Historical Society.
Shortly after it was completed. the map came to the attention of Columbia's developers. Thanks to their desire to restore some of the heritage of the region, many new villages and neighborhoods in Columbia will echo the charming nomenclatures of many of the original land tracts.
The name of one of the larger tracts, "Hickory Ridge", was proposed for Columbia's fifth village this week. Formerly called the Village of Cedar Lane - because of its general location, if Planning Board approval is obtained Wednesday, it will be known as The Village of Hickory Ridge.
Columbia's fourth village, now under construction east of Route 29, was named the Village of Longreach after one of the original tracts. And the first neighborhood to be developed in this village will be called Phelp's Luck after a grant called "Phelp's His Luck," which Dr. Dorsey pinpointed as being located in that general area.
The neighborhood of Steven's Forest, which now has about 300 new settlers, was named after a tract in the vicinity of that section of Oakland Mills Village
The new Village of Hickory Ridge, however, is due to get at least three neighborhoods which will call back yesterday. The first
will be named Roxbury," and the following two, "Clary's Forrest" (with two r's) and "Batchelor's Delight."
Because "Roxbury" is also the name of a poem by American poetess, critic and biographer, Amy Lowell, the names of the streets and courts in this new neighborhood will be taken from titles or phrases found in the late poetess' works, which are often in free verse or sparkle with "polyphonic prose." This marks the first time a woman artist's work will be used as a source for street names in Columbia.
Two other tracts in the vicinity of Hickory Ridge with even more delightful names -- "White Wine and Claret" and "Bite the Biter" have been vetoed by the developer's staff, "for obvious reasons." It's not because they feared the county might not approve them, for only last month -- with only a moment's hesitation -- the Planning Board passed on the nomenclature,
"Whiskey Bottom Apartments" for a new development in the eastern part of the county, although the fact he buildings will be located on All Saints Road may have been a factor in their approval.
Dr. Dorsey's father, incidentally, was born and raised in Howard County on a large tract located between the Villages of Oakland Mills and Longreach. Once known as "New Year's Gift," then as "Waveland," the parcel was sold about thirty years ago and is now called "Sewell's Orchards."
Some of the names on Dr. Dorsey's map recall days of great adventure and struggle, when grants were tagged "The Invasion," "Second Discovery," "The Victory," or even "Bite the Skinner" and "Poor Man's Beginning." Two of the original parcels which lie side by side are called "Mother's Care" and "Brother's Love."
Still others are amusing or simply explanatory, like "Hard to Get and Dear Paid For," "Snap Short," "Grog," "Push Pin," "Grime's Venture," or "Good Neighborhood."
Many of the remaining names given by the early settlers in our county will soon become a part of Columbia-lore.
Residents of new villages and neighborhoods may find that moving into a home in the "Next America" may also mean taking a step into the past. As our sixteenth president said over one hundred years ago, "Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history."
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