Police dog Sonny saves Elkridge family from death in house fire in 1937

History Matters

March 11, 2012|By Louise Vest

100 Years Ago


Miss Annie Pickett left Saturday for Staunton, Virginia, where she will spend several months.

Mr. Edwin HB. Cromwell spent last week in West Virginia and Western Maryland.

Mr. Charles Hobbs was in Mt. Airy last week.

Mr. Frank Hobbs was in Baltimore Tuesday.

And, break out the band, roll out the red carpet, Ellicott City had a treat that week as the Times reported that lo, and behold:

"Mr. W. Harvey Davis was in Ellicott City Tuesday."

75 Years Ago

Sonny day

"Police dog Saves Three When Home In Elkridge Burns: Leo Badart awakened when pet jumps on bed - also aroused 13 year old boy

Mr. and Mrs. Leo Badart and their thirteen year old son of Elkridge were probably saved from a horrible death by a pet police dog, "Sonny" who awakened the family during the early morning hours of Sunday after the house caught fire. the dog, which had been in the kitchen of the home for the night, ran through dense smoke to the second floor where Mr. and Mrs. Badart were sleeping. Awakened by the dog, Mr. Badart, smelled smoke and called to his wife. Meanwhile, the dog ran into an adjoining room where Leo Clive Badart was sleeping.

The parents and child rushed down the stairs and saw flames roaring from the kitchen. The boy was sent to a nearby home of the James M. Hempel for aid while the couple began salvaging clothing and furniture.

Mr. Hempel summoned the Halethorpe and Ellicott City fire departments. The boy, meanwhile, awakened neighbors, who helped the family remove furniture from the first floor to the front lawn.

Shortly before 3:15 A.M. the entire house was ablaze. The companies were late in arriving due to heavy fog and muddy roads. Lack of water hampered their operations and they concentrated on preventing the fire from spreading.

Mr. Badart said he and his family, who had been living in Fairy Knowe for the past fourteen years, undoubtedly owed their lives to Sonny. The dog was given to the family a year ago when it was a puppy. Its mother had led a blind soldier around for many years, Mr. Badart recalled.

The destroyed house, owned by Alexis Badart, was the last building on an old estate once owned by Mayor Latrobe. A larger building on the estate was destroyed by fire sixteen years ago. The property since has been purchased from C.D. Kenny."

I assume Sonny, the "police dog" hero of this story, was a German Sheppard. Still, Lassie would be proud.

Fairy Knowe, the Elkridge estate overlooking the Patapsco on Lawyers Hill, burned down in 1850 and was rebuilt. It sounds like the fire noted in this article of "sixteen years ago" was the second fire, the one historian Joetta Cramm referred to in her book, Howard County; a Pictorial History, a fire that occurred in the early 1900s. Fairy Knowe was John Latrobe's estate. He was an engineer, architect and lawyer. His father Ben designed the United States Capitol building. His brother Ben Jr. designed the Thomas Viaduct. John was the chief attorney for the B&O Railroad for many years, beginning at the B&Os beginnings, in 1827.

Fairy Knowe was designed by Robert Carey Long Jr., a rather famous architect. Among his building credits are Mt. Ida and the Patapsco Female Institute in Howard County, a synagogue and many churches, including Salem Lutheran in Catonsville.

50 Years Ago

Twisting gala

"Sunday, March 4, the young son of the Reverend and Mrs. Truman D. Nabors, Jr. of Suland Circle was christened Truman Alan. The baby's grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Truman D. Nabors, Sr. from Felms, Alabama were here for the ceremony which was performed by the Reverend Fickland at the Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church.

Mr. and Mrs. Brian Carter of Greenway Drive entertained a large group of their friends at a gala party Saturday evening March 3. their club room, refurbished as the Peppermint Lounge, provided a perfect setting for some particular animated twisters."

Chubby Checker made the twist a big hit in 1960 and was dubbed the "King of Twist." The Peppermint Twist was named after the Peppermint Lounge in New York City where socialites came to twist the night away. The "Twist" is still the biggest selling dance record, on record.

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