The Archivist's Bulldog

Vol. 12 No. 4, Newsletter of the Maryland State Archives, February 23, 1998

by Mimi Calver
On Monday, February 16, in a special Senate ceremony in the Old Senate Chamber marking George Washington's birthday, two swords which belonged to Col Tench Tilghman were unveiled for public display. The speakers for the evening were Governor Glendening, Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein and Ed.  The swords were left to the state by Mrs. Judith Goldsborough Oates who died on December 26, 1997. Mrs. Oates was a direct descendent of Tench Tilghman. The larger sword is made of silver with gold inlay and is the one worn by Col. Tilghman in the portrait of Washington, Lafayette & Tilghman at Yorktown which hangs in the Old Senate Chamber. The sword is clearly depicted by the artist Charles Willson Peale. According to family tradition, the other sword was passed down to Tench Tilghman from his great-great-grandfather, Michael Turbutt. The swords were accepted for the state by Governor Parris N. Glendening and the Board of Public Works on February 4 at which Ed also spoke.
Tench Tilghman was born on December 25, 1744 in Talbot County on his father’s plantation. He was educated privately until the age of 14, when he went to Philadelphia to live with his grandfather, Tench Francis. In 1761, he graduated from the College and Academy of Philadelphia, which later became the University of Pennsylvania, and then went into business with his uncle Tench Francis, Jr. until just before the Revolutionary War.  In August 1776, he joined George Washington’s staff as aide-de-camp and secretary. He served without pay until May 1781, when Washington, calling him a “zealous servant and slave to the public, and faithful assistant to me for nearly five years,” procured for him a regular commission in the Continental Army. Following the victory at Yorktown, Washington rewarded him with the honor of carrying the Articles of Capitulation to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia.

After the War, Tilghman returned to Maryland where he resumed his career in business in Baltimore and married his cousin, Anna Marie Tilghman. They had two daughters, Anna Margaretta and Elizabeth Tench. Tilghman died on April 18, 1786 at the age of 41.  George Washington said of his long-time assistant: “None could have felt his death with more regret than I did, because no one entertained a higher opinion of his worth or had imbibed sentiments of greater friendship for him than I had done…”
by Frank Potter

As staff and volunteers work with patrons at the Archives to help them develop research strategies, they frequently find themselves encouraging searches through other spellings of the name. This is so basic that it scarely needs illustration. So ubiquitous are alternate spellings that almost all names are seen in various forms, many of which defy imagination, such as Hews for Hughes or Foard for Ford. After all, spelling was not standardized until modern times. Often a name is spelled two or three different ways in documents written by the same scribe.

Beyond the anomalies found in the spelling of surnames (and given names), trying another given name also can be an effective strategy. I was searching the Foxwell line as a gift to my brother-in-law, and would occasionally ask him for guidance and clues. One day I asked whatever became of his uncle Charles Shorter. He had no recollection of an uncle by that name. I had found a young Charles in the census records, and later, by tracking and comparing ages closely, discovered that he shifted to using his middle name of Mitchell. Younger contemporary family members knew only the name Mitchell, not Charles. I solved the puzzle in a chronological sequence, but consider the challenge it presents in the reverse mode.

Here is another case in point, abstracted from a letter from Arch B. Marshall to a genealogist. "I received your letter of December 18, 1957, and appreciate your interest in searching for the genealogical record of my father's people. It is indeed odd how people's first names are at times changed. As an example, I have my own record to refer to. As a baby, I was christened Arch Levin Marshall, Jr. but from the time I was able to talk and know my own name, I was called Archie by some aunts and relatives who apparently did not care for my father, and I did not know what my second name was until I was approximately thirty years of age as I was given the different second name of Bruce although actually speaking, my name is Arch Levin Marshall, Jr. But as the birth records of Houston Heights, I understand, were burned during a fire to some public building when I was a small child, I do not believe any public record shows this other than my Mother's and Father"s divorce papers which occurred when I was four years old."

A researcher and several members of her family had been searching for the parents of Elizabeth Smith for a number of years. She was born circa 1843 and married John Webster. Prior to 1862 not much was known about her. An older family member provided a few clues: Elizabeth was from Madison, a small community near Cambridge, and her brother William married the sister of Governor Emerson Harrington. The census of 1850 for the Madison area of Dorchester County showed no Elizabeth Smith, age 6 or 7. It did contain the following entries:

George Smith, age 23; Sarah, age 20; James, age 10; Sarah, age 4
George Smith, age 35; Sarah, age 26; William, age 8; Sarah, age 6.

To solve the puzzle two effective techniques were brought into play - consider another name and trace the ancestor through a sibling. Of the two Smith families, the latter appeared to offer more promise. In fact, a chancery record virtually eliminated the younger George and Sarah, even though the case revealed that James was also a William James. The young Sarah in the other Smith family was just the right age. Knowing that Sarah Elizabeth was a very popular combination of the time and conducting further research, I discovered her grandmother with the name of Elizabeth. Additional research revealed the brother William identified with the Harrington family (although the oraL tradition was off one generation). William was traced back to George and Sarah in Madison - the right name, the right age, the right place, the right marriage(s). Logically we deduced that the sister Elizabeth and Sarah were one and the same.

The lesson appears to be that the imaginative widening of a search beyond rigid parameters can be productive in solving genealogical puzzles.

by Shashi Thapar

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Brooks, William K., The Oyster
The Daily Record, Maryland's Top 100 Women for 1997
Garrett, Jerre, Muffled Drums and Mustard Spoons: Cecil County, Maryland, 1860-1865
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Founded 1987

Edward C. Papenfuse, State Archivist
Patricia V. Melville, Editor
Mimi Calver, Assistant Editor
Lynne MacAdam, Production Editor
Rita Molter, Circulation

The Maryland State Archives is an independent agency in the Office of Governor Parris N. Glendening and is advised by the Hall of Records Commission. The Chairman of the Hall of Records Commission is the Honorable Louis L. Goldstein, Comptroller, and the Vice Chairman is the Honorable Robert M. Bell, Chief Judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals.

The Archivists' Bulldog is issued bi-monthly to publicize records collections, finding aids, and other activities of the Archives and its staff. Subscription cost is $25 per year, and the proceeds go to the State Archives Fund. To subscribe, please send your name, address, and remittance to: the Maryland State Archives, 350 Rowe Boulevard, Annapolis, Maryland 21401-1686. Phone: MD toll free: (800) 235 4045; or (410) 260-6400. FAX: (410) 974 3895. E-mail: The Editor welcomes editorial comments and contributions from the public.

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