Contemporary Neighbors and Friends

Bordering Westwood Farm on the west were two fairly large tracts owned by two brothers Messrs. Nathan and Martin Diehl who moved here from Northern Maryland. The farmer was married and had two sons, Ed and Harry. The latter never married either while here or upon his return to Frederick many years later. Your Grandpa and Grandma Smith moved ...? it and there your Mother and Aunt Gert spent their late teen-age days and until they married, your Mother to George W. Pyles and Aunt Gert to Clarence Rimby. That family lived on the farm back of the Diehl property.

On the east were the Tayman, Club, and Wade farms, the first two now being in the Furgang farm. With the exception of nine acres sold off and now owned by the Charles Rawlings family the Wade tract is mine [Hattie Selby]. Uncle Joe bought it from the Widow Wade and took Aunt Mat there as a bride. She would not consent to marry if he persisted in taking her to a house standing in a forty-acre tract that he had inherited from his parents. Although only a mile distant, to her it was too far from Ma's and Pa's. As true of the most small homes of that time, it was of logs chinked with clay, three rooms on the first floor and one above. To this the happy couple moved and there spent a happy married life. So I have lived in a log cabin, regret that I have no drawing or photograph of it. The Club home was built on the same plan. Old Mr. Club was for some years the teacher in the first school which stood about one-hundred yards back of the one in which you got your early schooling.

The next between these and Rosaryville was the Douglas farm. In this family were two sons and two daughters: John, Annie, Joe and Maud. Miss Susanna Smallwood, a sister of Mrs. Douglass with whom she roomed and boarded, was the teacher here for years on end, her efforts being rewarded by the great number of her pupils who became teachers or college graduates. To mention a few: John Douglass, an Episcopal minister; Annie Douglas, a teacher; Joe Douglass, a graduate of West Point--later an officer; Willie Smallwood, a nephew, a teacher and later a member of the Maryland Legislature; Enoch Garner, a graduate of Cornell and later a professor there; Ernest Furgang, a graduate of Charlotte Hall Academy and later a teacher; Maud Selby, a teacher; John Selby, a graduate of St. John's College, Annapolis, retired Major in the Regular Army; other teachers, Irene Townshend, Blanch Furgang, Maud Gibbons and yours truly. The entrances to colleges were attained through competitive examinations for scholarships and the teachers' positions by appointment after passing State examinations. All these from a one-room school in which was taught not only the three R's but the higher mathematics--algebra and geometry, Latin, general and ancient history, and correlated subjects.

An English couple Mr. and Mrs. James lived where the Wood store now is. He was appointed as the first Postmaster for Duley Station upon the completion of the Pennsylvania Railroad and the carrying of passengers and the mail. Mr. James would throw his mail bag across his shoulder and walk down in time to meet the train at Duley on its trip down about the middle of the morning. Brought the mail to the post office, which was a corner of his living-room, for general delivery as called for. About the middle of the afternoon would walk again to send the outgoing mail which might have been received during the day. The distance to Duley about two miles. This couple were regular in attendance at church services too.

The first store in the community was at Rosaryville on a lot at the corner bordering the new Route 301 in front of what is now Teddy Duley's home. It was run by a Mr. and Mrs. Wash. Bell. Typical of all country stores it carried groceries, hardware, clothing and what-not, also sold whiskey in time. Uncle Joe clerked for Mr. Bell for quite a number of years, although passing the drinks over the counter he never drank. When courting Aunt Mat he brought candy always. Some termed "rock candy" was then the favorite. It took him seven years to get her to say "I will." So think of the candy consumed. The small fry in the home would sometimes get into it too. In her late years someone brought Aunt Mat a "rock" candy but it was in crystals, not as large as peas, and did not compare with that of former years in size or flavor.

Grandma's two sisters, Margaret and Susan Sansbury, married two brothers, Enoch and William Duley respectively. The former couple located at Duley Station and the latter at Croome Station. Each had fairly large families; seven daughters and two sons in the first named; four sons and four daughters in the last named. Both families attended the church. All persons by the name of Pyles, Sansbury or Duley or any of their descendants, living in any part of Prince George's County or in Washington or in to Montgomery County, that you may know or hear of or read of are cousins of yours be it first, second, third or fourth.

Mention has been made of the forty-acre tract inherited by Uncle Joe this being one of the five tracts from the estate of my grandparents. It lay to the southeast and included what are now the properties of Blanch Soper, Albert Aist, Frank Selby, Turner Payne, the former Stewart Aist farm and some smaller tracts that have been sold and resold in recent years. The Dr. J. T. Eversfield's small acreage but with its ever flowing Shepherd's Spring of by-gone, present and future days have been and should be outstanding in many minds. One over-spreading beech tree bore the initials of many young folks with the word "Love".

Dr. Eversfield was the only practitioner within many miles. On his long trips to his patients he rode horseback carrying his medical supplies in his saddle bags. He quite often made a social visit to my home and upon the last had a stroke falling just inside our front door. From this he died in March 23, 1885.

Project Affecting Growth

The years 1872 - 1879 are outstanding as being those, the activities of which had an enduring effect upon the life of this modest community.

Main Building
Main Building, House of Reformation
House of Reformation
Main Building
House of Reformation
Fields and Buildings

(Photos above taken by Maude Selby Young.)

In 1872 Mr. Enoch Pratt, a philanthropist of Baltimore City purchased a twelve-hundred (1200) acres of land here as a place to which delinquent colored boys of Baltimore could be sent for rehabilitation. The name given the institution was "The House of Reformation for Colored Boys." It was to be under the control of a Board of Managers and to be conducted by a Superintendent and whatever other personnel as was needed. Among the earliest superintendents was a certain Gen. John W. Horn who had been connected with the Maryland Penitentiary in Baltimore. The first boys, thirteen in number, were brought down in January 1873. As no buildings had yet been erected, they were housed in what had been a residence of a few preceding years. With the exception of a garden plot and an apple orchard this tract too was woodland or scrub land. Through the years more and more land was cleared and an administration and other brick buildings erected. Some of the personnel were drawn from Baltimore but much employment in the many different lines was given to people of the community both then and throughout the following years. Some of the girls of the neighborhood secured husbands too from this and the Railroad project.

A few years previous the Pennsylvania Railroad Company had received a charter for the construction of a main line from Baltimore to Popes Creek. Work was now being done in the section south of Bowie but this was too long a haul of food and other necessities for the Institution. As much as could be obtained was bought from the farms of Wm. H. Hall, A. P. Hill, Jesse Heiskell, Henry Barbour, and others. When rails were laid and freight could be hauled, supplies in rather small quantities were brought as far as Marlboro, to which wagons were sent to transport them the remainder of the way.

In the construction a road-bed was thrown up for only a single track and that it has remained. But under the charter it cannot cease to be in operation unless and until the entire Pennsy System folds up. It took time for the building of trestles, the laying of switches and sidings, some of which are quite long, and of the main line and there was much hauling of ties, rails and other materials. The engine was kept busy running back and forth.

Points at about two and a half or three miles apart were designated as stopping places, some for just passengers but the most for both passengers and freight. The crossing at Talbott's which is now the Ripple Corner was for the convenience of passengers only. But the Institution wanted a freight depot so by arrangement the Company built the freight house at Cheltenham and the Institution a dwelling, one room of which was used as an office by the agent. Mr. Samuel G. Townsend was made the first agent. He soon opened up a store in the room adjoining, this later became the post office.

On the trips made by the engineer, firemen and others of the little crew, they started a flirtation with the Duley girls and in the evenings would sometimes pick them up and give them a ride. In course of time the Pyles girls were invited. Angella (Aunt Annie) accepted several times but Aunt Mat "once." Too much petting went on and besides "she did not propose to have men looking up under her petticoats in helping her up into and down from the box-car in which they rode." Later the engineer, Morris Furgang, and Laura Duley were married.

Through the efforts of a Dr. Gordon the Episcopal Church here was built a short time prior to the building of the Methodist Church. Both drew members from this and other communities. Some in attendance at the former were of the following families: Peter Wood, Charles Eversfield, Dr. Eversfield, two Townshend families, Charles Early and the Bowie families of Brandywine, the Douglas, Holloway and Selby families here.

A Catholic Chapel which stood by the entrance to the Frank Selby tract had long before rotted down but the Church at Rosaryville was built later to take its place. Boone Chapel was erected in 1710 and served the Catholics of Prince Georges, Charles and Anne Arundel Counties. It served as a chapel for over one hundred years. The cornerstone of the Rosaryville Church was laid on Sunday afternoon, June 5, 1859. The one now in use near the same site is an enlargement of the old one. Some of the white families then attending were Mudd, Hill, Hall, Claggett, Horn and others.

Hattie I. Selby

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Hattie Selby

The [previous] handwritten pages are the recollections of Hattie Idella Selby, better known to us as Cousin Hattie. Sometime in the 1950's at the urging of my mother, Gladys Leola Pyles Wyvill, Cousin Hattie set down on paper some of the things she knew about early times and people in Cheltenham, her grandparents, her parents, and the homeplace identified as Westwood Farm.

Cousin Hattie was born on December 18, 1881. She was the only daughter of Joseph and Mattie (Pyles) Selby. A brother who was older than Hattie died at a young age. There were no other children. Cousin Hattie never married. although my mother recalled that she "courted" at one time. She taught in the Prince George's County schools, her first assignment being at Riverdale, where she boarded. Those who were taught by her remember her as a strict but 'good' teacher.

Sometime around 1930 Cousin Hattie gave up her teaching career and came back to Cheltenham to work in the office as a clerk at the then, House of Reformation, where Uncle John Pyles served as the superintendent. She taught herself to type. In making the change from teaching to clerical work she was able to live at home with Aunt Mat who was alone and getting up in years, and to whom she was devoted. Eventually, she had to give up her job to care for her mother who was by then an invalid. I don't know how they managed financially. They were immensely frugal and, of course, practical.

I remember Aunt Mat very well. She was old-fashioned in the strictest sense. She wore long dresses down to her ankles and a slatted sunbonnet when she went outside. I have one of the sun bonnets--made from blue and white gingham--tiny checks. My mother made it a practice never to wear make-up when visiting there because "Aunt Mat had slapped her once" for wearing rouge. It was a pleasant place to visit and we went there often. They were such good, gentle women, always glad to see us. They used the big kitchen as an all-purpose room. I never remember being entertained in the parlor. One Thanksgiving in particular stands out in my mind because we went there to dinner. Daddy drove down after us because he had to talk to someone about building a barn. It started to snow and sleet and by the time we left for the six mile ride home we had a lot of snow on the ground. How I remember that ride home! There were no automatic defrosters in cars then. Dad had a de-icer contraption attached to his windshield with suction cups and it worked off the battery. It only kept a tiny peephole clear in that snowstorm. Momma had to drive with her head out of the window of her car. Were we glad when we finally pulled in our own driveway, but I can still remember the kitchen at Aunt Mat's with dinner on the table and the snow falling outside. A wood-stove was burning and it was so cozy there with those two dear souls. Whenever I hear the song of Thanksgiving, "Over the river and through the woods...", I think of that Thanksgiving Day many years ago when I was a little girl.

After Aunt Mat died Cousin Hattie eventually moved into an apartment in the home of friends in Washington, D.C. When Aunt Alice Pyles died, Cousin Hattie, my mother and her brother, Bill, bought Aunt Alice's home and created an apartment in the upstairs for Cousin Hattie who once again moved back to Cheltenham. She had life tenancy in the place and shared in the collection of the rent. She used to say, "I made out all right on that deal."

Cousin Hattie was 'good company'. She was interested in everything and everyone, knew more news of the community than those who traveled the road every day. She wouldn't budge out of the house in later years. She loved baseball, could quote the batting averages of all the prominent players she was interested in and the standings of all the teams. She was interested in world, state, and county affairs--commenting on them intelligently and sometimes indignantly. Cousin Hattie didn't like the idea of the 'Moon shots' and when the weather was unusual after one of them would say, "It's because of those men up there fooling around with that moon!"

When she suffered her first stroke her right arm was paralyzed for a brief time. She began working it the day of the stroke and after a time regained the use of it and was able to write once again. After a few years, and a series of slight strokes, Cousin Hattie died peacefully in her sleep at her home at Cheltenham. God was good to her, it was her wish to die there. She is buried in the cemetery at Cheltenham Methodist Church along with her brother and her parents.

Gloria Garner
December 1976


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Hattie Idella Selby

Obituary: "Hattie I. Selby, 87, who taught for 23 years in Prince George's County schools died peacefully at her home in Cheltenham last Saturday. She was the daughter of the late Joseph A. and Martha A. Pyles Selby. 'Miss Hattie', as she was known to many, was an elementary school teacher in this County from 1903 to 1925. She taught in an era when grade school teachers themselves were only required to have eight grades of schooling and pass a written test by the Board of Education in order to teach. Her first teaching assignment was at Riverdale. She also taught at Greenbelt, Naylor and Croom, all one-room schools. Miss Hattie was known as a 'strict teacher' and she was not above administering a spanking when she thought it was called for. In 1925 she took over duties as secretary and general office worker at the then-called House of Reformation at Cheltenham, which was under the supervision of her uncle, the late John B. Pyles. She worked there until 1937 when she resigned to care for her ailing mother. Miss Hattie was noted for her remarkable memory and was often called upon to recall past events and persons in the Cheltenham area. She is survived by a host of relatives and friends. Services were held at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday in Ritchie Bros. Funeral Home. Interment was in Cheltenham Methodist Cemetery."

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