Cumberland Times-News

Betty Van NewKirk - From the Museum

March 13, 2008

The desire still there to become a novelist

(Continued)



Almost two centuries later the governor's son became the center of another series of intriguing questions. He moved to Western Maryland to take charge of the huge tract of land that he and his brothers inherited.

He sold timber; he built - and for a while operated - an inn known as the Brumley tavern; he expanded what had been a log cabin into a house with four stone chimneys.

But he remained a bachelor until he was almost 70, when he entered into what biographers have called "a marriage of convenience'' with Miss Harriet Anne Beall, of Frostburg.

For whom was that marriage convenient? Was he already ailing, needing a 24-hour presence in the house? Was she a wayward young lady, just 21 years old, whose family wanted her safely distanced from the temptations of the town? Or was that union a cover-up for financial manipulations between the Johnson and Beall families?

Here again a novelist would have a free hand. Perhaps the elderly man and the young girl had had an earlier relationship. Certainly the fact that on Joshua Johnson's death, two or three years after their wedding, the inherited half of his estate - the rest to be divided among his brothers and sisters and their heirs - suggests that Joshua felt a considerable obligation to his widow.

On the other hand, the marriage may have been part of some sort of financial deal between the Johnson and Beall families. In those days, few women had control of their own money, either earned or inherited, although her name and signature might appear on documents, she may only have been a convenience to her male relatives.

The house in which Harriet Beall Johnson lived with her husband on the Johnson property is gone; the one we see deteriorating was built in 1882.

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Betty Van NewKirk - From the Museum
  • Happy 200th to St. Paul's Lutheran congregation Today is the 200th birthday of the Lutheran congregation in Frostburg!

    On Aug. 14, 1808, 24 people joined in a communion service in the New Church, a log structure on the edge of what is now called the Prichard Farm.

    August 14, 2008

  • Quality, attitude of people make 'Burg special A note in the newspaper a week or so ago mentioned that Oprah Winfrey was looking for "the best small towns in America.'' Frostburg is the best one I know of - but unfortunately Oprah asked for photos or videos supporting the nomination.

    August 7, 2008

  • There's always something new under the sun! The popular press has been devoting a good bit of space in recent weeks to the new swimsuit, introduced by Speedo, which supposedly has contributed to the record-breaking times posted in the Olympic tryouts.

    July 24, 2008

  • Ward and his mansion stand proud in 'Burg I've had questions recently - not for the first time! - about William Ward and the house he built at 73 W. Main St. here in Frostburg.

    July 17, 2008

  • July 4th: Finding our beliefs Independence Day, like Christmas, is one of the few national holidays that has not been moved to Monday, to provide a four-day break for working people. It holds its own as the Fourth of July.

    July 3, 2008

  • Berry-picking brings back many memories Last week I went to Wiley Ford to pick strawberries. I came home with enough for several packets of frozen berries, for three jars of strawberry jam, generous spoonfuls of fruit on my breakfast cereal and shortcake with real whipped cream.

    June 26, 2008

  • Ambulance service has key community role The Frostburg Area Ambulance Service is currently asking for our help in raising money for the protective clothing that new government regulations require.

    June 19, 2008

  • Planet continues to change; Big One on horizon? In a year that is not yet half over, 2008 has already written itself into the record books for extremes of hot and cold, rain and drought, tornadoes and floods and earthquakes. Our planet Earth has been in a constant state of change.

    June 12, 2008

  • In tennis, individuals face each other as equals I'm not a sports person, but I like to watch tennis. During the three big summer tournaments - Paris, London and New York, played on three different surfaces - my TV is on, and I check the newspaper for details that I have missed.

    June 5, 2008

  • Arts are obviously alive in Allegany County Last week I had the pleasure of attending the spring concert of the Allegany Community Symphony Orchestra. The program was free, and nicely varied, and the instrumentalists were competent.

    May 29, 2008

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