19th-century Records Hold Key To Village's Disappearance

Neighbors/ Odenton, Ft. Meade, Gambrills

Sappington,now Extinct, Thrived 1 Mile From Odenton

October 16, 1991|By Roger White | Roger White,Contributing writer

One of the ironies of the age of automobiles and mega-suburbs is that a short drive from one traffic light to the next might have been, in the 19th century, a train ride from one village to another, with its own name, populace, post office and rhythms of daily life.

Only 1 mile east of Odenton, at the current intersection of Odenton Road and routes 175 and 32, stood the village of Sappington. It originally appeared on maps where Dicus Mill Road intersected the Annapolis and Elk Ridge Railroad (later WB & A Railroad) and the road from Odenton to Millersville (Route 175). Today, only the Macedonia United Methodist Church and two early houses remain of what was once Sappington. Even the name of this village has disappeared from records.

Joshua Dorsey Warfield, in his book, "The Founders of Anne Arundel and Howard Counties, Maryland (1905)," wrote: "The records of All Hallows show two brothers, Thomas and John Sappington, near South River. They had clearly come down the bay from the homestead of NathanielSappington, of Cecil County, whose home was near the Sassafras River.

"John Sappington, of All Hallows, located his son, John Sappington Jr., upon the estate known as 'Sappington,' upon which still stands the quaint little college at Sappington Station, of the Annapolis and Elk Ridge Railroad. The present house is claimed to have been built by Caleb Sappington, of John Jr. It is an interesting relic of earlier days."

In the mid- to late 19th century, Sappington was a typically small hub of widely separated farms that gradually came to be populated by families other than the Sappingtons. Some of the land wasowned by people in other parts of the state.

The village appearedon Martenet's map of Anne Arundel County (1860) as Sappington Station. Shown were the homes of several Sappington families, the Rev. James Turner, Jane Elliot and a Mr. Pearce of Baltimore.

A newspaper advertisement in July 1865 stated: "For sale -- A farm, of 196 1/2 acres of good land, with new and good improvements, on the Annapolis Railroad, 7 miles from Annapolis Junction, near Sappington's Switch, between the lands of E. P. Roney and John Carr, Esqs., both of Baltimore. I will either sell the whole or one-half. Apply to E. W. Briding, West Pratt Street, or on the premises."

Another advertisement, in The Baltimore Sun, July 2, 1872, stated: "The farm now occupied by John C. Rogers, Esq., situated near Sappington's Station, on the Annapolis Railroad, containing 196 acres, has been sold for $25 per acre to Thos. H. Worthington, of Baltimore County, executor for the mortgage."

The Maryland State Gazette (1871) listed 10 farmers at Sappington Switch, half of them women. Among the farmers were three Hammonds -- Elizabeth, Mildred and Virginia -- as well as Matthias Lowman, Richard Lowman, Thomas Purcey, E. S. Riley, Martha Rogers, Joseph Tallously and Mary Turner.

A post office was established at Sappington, and according to postal records provided by the National Archives, Frank Rogers was the postmaster from September 1869 to February 1870. Mary M. Sappington was the postmistress from February 1870 until August1885, when the Sappington post office was combined with the Gambrills post office. Today, the area that was Sappington is divided betweenthe Gambrills and Odenton postal delivery areas.

The Maryland Directory (1878) described Sappington: "On the A & E Railroad. Crops fair, but not much business. Plenty of land, mostly cleared and for saleat $5 to $15 per acre. Not many potatoes or much hay raised for market. Population 50. (Odenton's population was 100.) M. M. Sappington, Postmaster."

This book also listed 17 farmers in the Sappington area and general stores operated by J. F. Baldwin and James Cecil. However, the Cecil store appeared on Hopkins' Atlas of Anne Arundel County (1878) at Burns Crossing, three-quarters of a mile from Sappington.The location of the Baldwin store is not known.

Hopkins' 1878 Atlas showed the village as Sappington Station and post office. It placed M. Sappington's house across the track from the railroad station near the present Odenton Exxon station. It also showed John Roger's home at nearby Burns Crossing.

For many years, a black congregation has maintained a church at Sappington. Catherine L. O'Malley, in her book, "Odenton: The Town a Railroad Built (1978)," recorded the history of the Macedonia Church, which was begun in the early 1890s by the Rising Members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

O'Malley said anunpainted board-and-batten church building was erected in Sappingtonin 1894, and various additions have been built since then.

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