Gladys B. Snodgrass, 100, descendant of Colonial settlers

July 15, 2002|By Andrea Siegel | Andrea Siegel,SUN STAFF

Gladys Benson Snodgrass, a descendant of one of Maryland's earliest families and former regent of the Daughters of the American Revolution, died Friday of heart failure at her Roland Park Place retirement home. She was 100.

She was a strong supporter of the restoration of Benson-Hammond House, a home built by one of her ancestors.

It was the last remaining farmstead on what became the grounds of Baltimore-Washington International Airport. The house is now the home of the Anne Arundel County Historical Society. The Benson family once owned about 3,000 acres of what is now airport land.

She helped with fund-raisers to restore the building and donated family possessions, including portraits, to furnish the house.

She was a descendant of Capt. Thomas Benson, who immigrated to Virginia from England in 1635 and came to Maryland in 1649. Her great-grandfather, also named Thomas Benson, was his sixth-generation descendant. The younger Thomas Benson built Benson-Hammond House about 1820.

Active in American heritage and historical organizations, she served as regent of the Maryland State Society, Daughters of the American Revolution from 1959 to 1964.

She helped to arrange for the organization's restoration of the bedroom of the Flag House in Baltimore that was occupied by the mother and daughter of Mary Pickersgill, who made the flag seen by Francis Scott Key over Fort McHenry in 1814 and which inspired him to write "The Star-Spangled Banner."

She also volunteered for many years as a hostess at the Flag House.

In 1964, she was awarded a citation from Gov. J. Millard Tawes for her contributions to patriotic work. She presented American flags to Baltimore playgrounds, and at each ceremony she spoke on the Battle of Fort McHenry and the War of 1812, explaining to children the role of Baltimore in the war.

She was a member of the Ark and Dove Chapter of the Daughters of American Colonists, the National Society of Magna Carta Dames, the Colonial Society of Americans of Royal Descent, the Colonial Order of the Crown, and the Knights of the Noble Order of the Garter.

"She never went out without a hat and white gloves. She was the epitome of Old Baltimore," recalled her daughter, Dorothy S. Goldsborough of Baltimore.

Until about five years ago, she lived in Bel Air, where she was active in St. Mary's Church with her husband, I. Dale Snodgrass, a former president of First National Bank of Harford County. He died in 1997.

Daughter of Dorothea Benson and Joseph Jones Benson, she was born at Lockwood, the family's farm in northern Anne Arundel County. Hundreds of people came to the four-story Victorian house, built on a high elevation in Linthicum, to view the great Baltimore fire of 1904. Lockwood still stands.

She spoke fondly of early years there, reminiscing about trips by carriage into Baltimore and hitching the horses in front of Stewart and Co. store on Howard Street.

In 1910, she recalled, her home filled with people who came for their first glimpse of an airplane as the French aviator Hubert Latham flew over the city.

She graduated from Western High School and Peabody Conservatory of Music, where she studied piano. She gave piano lessons before her marriage in 1925.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Church of the Redeemer, Charles Street and Melrose Avenue, Baltimore. The family will receive friends there immediately after the service.

In addition to her daughter, she is survived by three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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