A Hollifield explains why 'Hollofield' isn't as sweetThe...


August 02, 1998

A Hollifield explains why 'Hollofield' isn't as sweet

The two letters that appeared in The Sun in Howard (June 14 and July 12) concerning the correct spelling of Hollifield Station were recently brought to my attention.

The first of these incorrectly stated that Hollofield was the correct spelling. The place was named for my family, on whom I have done research for many years.

I hope you will permit me to provide enough detail about the matter to set the record straight.

The place name derives from my great-great grandparents, William and Sophia Hollifield, who lived in the old house at Ellicott's Upper Mills. It had belonged to the Joseph Ellicott family. The Hollifields purchased a farm next to the former Ellicott property in 1840 and remained there until at least the 1870s.

William Hollifield (1810-1870) farmed, operated the old mill for a time, was a road supervisor and contracted with the county to do bridge work. In addition, an old diary shows that he operated a small school there in early 1840. This could have been the earliest school in the area. It seems fitting that a public school erected nearby many years later would contain the family's name.

When the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad established a stop here in the 1850s, it was named for the Hollifield family.

The B&O archives do not appear to contain any information on the actual naming of the station. However, company officials were aware of the correct spelling of the name. The only item found in the B&O records relating specifically to this station was located several years ago by James Dilts in the course of his research for his book on the history of the railroad.

It is a memorandum of August 20, 1860, from the office of the railroad's Master of Transportation to John W. Garrett, president of the company, stating in part: "I return to your office herewith, a letter addressed you by William Hollifield, Esq. (who) demands that a passenger platform be erected on the road, at his crossing."

The memorandum went on to suggest that Mr. Hollifield should himself put up whatever platform or improvement he may think necessary because "it is for his own convenience and that of his family, almost exclusively, that some of our trains are permitted to stop at his place."

The railroad's annual reports do show that there were freight revenues from this station, but they may have been considered of little consequence in the company's total operations. The 1860 memorandum illustrates that small stations such as this one were apparently of little importance to the company.

The railroad, in its list of stations, used the spelling Hollofield. This must have been a clerical error on the part of someone in the B&O bureaucracy, which was never considered significant enough to officially correct.

Over the years, the place has shown up on maps and in newspaper articles as "Hollifield," "Hollofield," even "Hollowfield." Neither of these latter spellings is correct, and people who have made the effort to check on it have concluded that the place named should be "Hollifield."

Carroll Dulaney, a columnist for the old Baltimore News-Post, wrote on Oct. 18, 1938, that, "Hollofield Station is a striking example of a misspelled name. After Joseph (Ellicott) died, his mill was operated by the Hollifield family. The family name was never Hollofield."

John Teichmoellor in a July 12 letter to your paper opined that the name Holllofield results from a "fine and suitably historic" tradition that goes back 140 years. Yet there is also a long tradition of spelling the name correctly.

The earliest county map to show the name, Simon J. Martinet's 1860 map of Howard County, correctly has it as Hollifield.

The 1878 atlas of Howard County, produced by G. M. Hopkins, correctly identifies the place as "Hollifield Sta." A geological map of 1886, based on a map produced by the Johns Hopkins University and published by the U.S. Geological Survey, shows the place name as Hollifield.

One of the few surviving issues of the Ellicott City Times from the 1870s contained a local news item about the sale of property by one of the sons of William Hollifield "on the premises near Hollifield's."

A son and daughter of William Hollifield died within a month of one another in 1901. The Ellicott City Times, in obituaries on each of them, stated "was a son (or daughter) of the late William Hollifield, of Howard county, for whom Hollifield Station, Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, was named."

Celia Holland in her 1987 book, "Old Homes and Families of Howard County, Maryland," included a section titled "Hollofield: More Correctly Hollifield, formerly Hood's Mill and Ellicott's Upper Mills, Including Fountainvale and Hollifield House." She states, "It was at this time that the B&O Railroad built a station and called it Hollifield's Station, the spelling of which has been corrupted over the years to read Hollofield."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.