The Susanna Kyner Cristofane/Bostwick Collection of Bladensburg Town Records, Lowndes, Dulaney and Brice Family Papers, MSA SC 4885, consists of  ledgers, papers, and photographs relating to the town of Bladensburg, Maryland; papers belonging to the Brice Family; and a miscellaneous group of papers and a store ledger.

The Bladensburg Records

The majority of the records relating to the town of Bladensburg are studies and surveys by the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission, which is heavily involved in historic preservation in and around the area, as well as several published histories of Bladensburg and college papers written on the town.  They include:

The Record Book for the City of Bladensburg, transcribed in 1787. MSA SC 4885-1-20
The Bladensburg Academy, MSA SC 4885-1-82This is a transcription of the first record book of the town, created in 1787 because "the present Commissioners of this Town, on examining the Record Book of the said Town, . . .  find that it is in exceeding bad order with respect to its binding, and that many of the leaves of it are loose, and liable to be lost; and that the entries . . . are not regular as to their dates . . . and also, that several entries of the proceedings and transactions of the Commissioners are not entered at all in the said Book, but are written on loose pieces of paper . . . "(MSA SC 4885-1-20, page 1).   The book records the minutes of the commissioners of Bladensburg, including the first sale of lots in the new town in 1742.  The lots had to be claimed, and then secured by the claimant within eighteen months by building "one good, substantial, and tenantable house, with one brick or stone chimney thereto that shall cover 400 square feet of ground," according to Chapter 13, 1742 of Bacon's Laws.  If the lot was not improved within the time allowed, the lot was forfeited and anyone could claim it .  In the book, there is a lot by lot chart listing who originally claimed the lot, who claimed the lot when and if it was forfeited, and who made the improvements that permanently claimed the lot.  This is one of two copies of the book that were transcribed in 1787.  One was to be "lodged among the records of the county, and the other kept by the commissioners" (MSA SC 4885-1-20, page 44).  After the 1787 transcription, there are two additional pages of commissioners' minutes, ending in 1836.  This record book is also on microfilm; it came to us as part of the Rev. John F. Biddle Collection, MSA SC 456
Typescript Copy of the 1787 Record Book, MSA SC 4885-1-18
This item is of great importance for two reasons.  The first is that it is a bound typescript made in 1897 of the other 1787 record book, and thus contains additional entries in the lot chart not found in the original book given to the Archives, but also that this bound typescript contains a tracing of the original 1787 resurvey of the town that was ordered by the commissioners at the same time as the 1787 transcription.  This plat is not contained in the original book that was given to us.
The Tax Book for Bladensburg, 1875-1889, MSA SC 4885-1-19
The tax book lists the residents of the town and their taxables.  These lists are rather detailed, including entries with dollar amounts for houses, land, furniture, various livestock, and the different types of carriages then in use, including "1 old hearse."  It is only in the 1888 assessment that the streets on which the assessed houses are located are listed; before then, "house and lot," or "shop"  are simply listed next to the owners name.  However, some of the most interesting entries are the ones for the dog tax, which not only list the owners names and how many dogs and bitches they own, but also the names of the dogs.  The good citizens of Bladensburg had some interesting names for their pets: in addition to the usual Jack, Rover, Fido, Spot, Prince, and Flora, one could also find Nero, Carlo, Greeley, Mitchell, Snider, and Andrew Johnson guarding the homes of Bladensburg.
Photographs of Bladensburg, MSA SC 4885-1-67 through 112
The Avalon Mill, MSA SC 4885-1-84The Cristofane collection also includes 45 images of the Bladensburg, in various formats.  There are photographs of buildings such as the Bladensburg Academy, two of the mills, and several houses in the town, dating from the turn of the century through the seventies.  In addition, there are a series of Christmas cards, showcasing drawings of some of the houses in Bladensburg.

The Papers of John Brice

The majority  of the items in the collection are papers belonging to John Brice (1703-1766)  -- more particularly, they are papers related to the probate of several estates he administered, including:

The Estate of Sarah Howard Worthington Brice, MSA SC 4885-1-28/31, 35/38, 40/41, 43/47, 51/57, 61, 63/65
John Brice was the son of Sarah Howard and her second husband, Captain John Brice.  In Sarah's will, probated after her death in 1726, her two sons Thomas Worthington and John Brice were named executors.  The papers from John's part of the administration of the estate date between 1726 and 1749, and include the accounts for the settlement of the estate, as well as receipts for money distributed to her grandchildren by John.
The Estate of Vachel Denton and Ann Denton, MSA SC 4885-1-42, 48
Ann Brice Denton was the daughter of Sarah Brice and sister of John Brice.  She was named executrix of her husband Vachel's estate after he died intestate in 1753, and after her own death in 1765 John was named executor of her estate.  He also took over the unfinished business for Vachel's estate as well as Ann's.
The Estate of Anne Ridgley, MSA SC 4885-1-39, 49
Doctor's bill for Anne Ridgley, MSA SC 4885-1-39Anne Ridgley was the niece of John Brice, and granddaughter of Sarah Brice.  She died sometime before August of 1745, and John was her executor.  There are only two papers related to her estate, but one of them is the account of Dr. Alexander Hamilton (of Tuesday Club fame), listing the medicines he used in treating her last illness.
Probate Records Related to Other Estates
Other estates that John Brice was involved in administering included those of his father-in-law, James Frisby [MSA SC 4885-1-50], about which he had a letter from T. Bordley; and James Harris, whose will [MSA SC 4885-1-59] is included in the collection.  Harris was a witness to Ann Denton's Will and a nephew of John Brice's wife, Sarah Frisby Brice.  He died around 1765, leaving most of his estate to John Brice.
Miscellaneous Papers
Note from Nicholas Ridgley about cloth for a boy's clothes, MSA SC 4885-1-45The other eighteenth century Brice papers include a letter about the education of John Brice's son Jackey, a letter from John Brice's brother-in-law Nicholas Ridgley asking for John to obtain cloth for a boy's clothes, a bill from a shop in England, and a deed from John Brice to John Brice, Jr.  for land in Cecil County.

In addition, there are three nineteenth century deeds for land in Annapolis that was purchased by Thomas Brice in the 1860s.

Additional Items

Other items from the Susanna Kyner Cristofane Collection include:

January 2, 1770 Letter to Daniel Dulany from M. Monsey, MSA SC 4885-1-27
This letter is  from a doctor in London that Daniel Dulany had known as a student, and  who was at the time of writing a Chelsea Pensioner whose friends and acquaintenances included the actor Garrick and Lord Chesterfield. There are a transcript and digital images available for this letter.
1802-1806 Store Ledger, MSA SC 4885-1-58
This ledger is from a store, possibly owned by Benjamin Lowndes.  It lists debits and credits for the customers between 1802 and 1806, and often the items purchased.  The store seems to be some sort of General Store, selling items like wheat, indigo dye, and nails.

Finding Aid for the Susanna Kyner Cristofane Collection, MSA SC 4885


SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (Susanna Kyner Cristofane Collection) MSA SC 4885

Dorsey, Maxwell J. et al.  The Dorsey Family: Descendants of Edward Darcy - Dorsey of Virginia and Maryland for Five Generations and Allied Families.  Privately printed; no date.  Pages 179-187.

MARYLAND STATE ARCHIVES (Special Collections Administrative Files) MSA S 1275-0-4885.  Administration file for the Susanna Kyner Cristofane Collection, MSA SC 4885

prepared  by Emily A. Murphy
Assistant Registrar & Curator of Photographs
August 27, 1998; updated and amended by Edward C. Papenfuse, State Archivist, 10/17/1999

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