Ellicott descendant's book details ideals of influential Quaker family ELLICOTT CITY/ELKRIDGE

November 16, 1992|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Staff Writer

The founders of Ellicott City were ambitious businessmen who treated women with respect and considered American Indians their friends, according to a new book written by an Ellicott descendant.

Alison Ellicott Mylander Gregory describes the progressive Quaker family that founded Ellicott City in 1772 in her book, "The Ellicotts: Striving for a Holy Community."

"I found the whole thing a wonderful treasure hunt," said Ms. Gregory, whose grandparents, Margaret and Henry Mylander, are buried in the Ellicott family cemetery in Ellicott City.

The book uses family letters, homes, inventories and wills to describe attitudes and relationships among Ellicott family members.

Ms. Gregory, 27, said her book is unique because it describes the private side of the Ellicott family and its women.

"I was trying to fill in the gaps," said Ms. Gregory, who wrote the original text in 1987 as an undergraduate at the University of Virginia. "I didn't think there was anything that approached the family aspect."

Ms. Gregory is careful to emphasize that the Ellicotts, although different from contemporary families, did typify Quaker families in their attitudes toward women, religion, education, science and community involvement.

"I found them intriguing," said Ms. Gregory. "This family can teach present-day families how to live."

The Ellicotts had a different world view because they were Quakers, said Gerald Talbert, president of Historic Ellicott City Inc., a 20-year-old historic preservation organization.

"The way they treated women was not typical of the times," he said.

Like many Quaker women, Ellicott women attended school, married later than their contemporaries, and enjoyed some degree of financial independence through inheritances from their husbands.

The Ellicotts also befriended American Indians, entertaining them during Christmas in 1807, and fighting to educate them.

Historic Ellicott City Inc. published the $9.95 book to help finance the B&O Railroad Station Museum and various renovation projects. So far, more than 500 books have been sold, Mr. Talbert said. The book can be purchased at the B&O Railroad Station Museum and the following stores: The Forget-Me-Not Factory, Ellicott's Country Store, The Maryland Store, The Book Revue, Mumbles and Squeaks, Feathers and Lace, Santa Fe Way, Stillridge Herb Shop, and Paper Doll.

Members hope that proceeds from the book will help offset the cancellation of the Decorators Showhouse, a highly successful fund-raiser in which interior decorators voluntarily decorate rooms in a home. A dismal economy and lack of sufficient parking forced the group to cancel the event.

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