The first European owner and occupant of the land that would become Herring Run Park was John Broad. Broad immigrated to Maryland from England prior to June 4, 1670 (MSA 1670). Henry Hosier, a Calvert County planter and merchant, paid for his passage to Maryland as part of the headrights or land rights system.
Almost from its founding, Maryland suffered from an acute labor shortage. This shortage was directly tied to the colony’s growing tobacco economy. The planting, cultivation, harvesting, and curing of tobacco were time-consuming and labor intensive tasks. Moreover, the clearing of land for new fields also demanded a large labor force. In order to encourage immigration to colony, the Lord Proprietor, Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore adopted the headrights system whereby any settler who financed their own passage to the colony was promised 50 acres of land. In addition, those who financed the passage of others also received an additional 50 acres per person they transported to Maryland. To ordinary English farmers who could pay their own way, the headrights system offered a powerful incentive to move to Maryland. For the wealthy gentry, the system promised even more: the ability to easily acquire vast plantations worked by large numbers of indentured laborers whose transport to the colony entitled them to the estates they now owned.
The poor English laborers who were transported to Maryland by a wealthy sponsor often signed a contract of indenture for a specific number of years. The contract lengths varied with those for adults often lasting approximately four to seven years and those for children sometimes for much longer. In return for servitude, the master paid the cost of the voyage across the Atlantic and would be supplied room and board during their contract. Once the terms of their contracts concluded, the indentured servant was free to find work and residence elsewhere in the colony. Upon completion of the contract, the servant would receive freedom dues, which might include land, money, a gun, clothes or food.
When John Broad was transported to Maryland 1670, he was among a group of 21 individuals whose voyage was paid for by Henry Hosier (MSA 1670). In return for paying the transportation costs, the Calvert County planter and merchant received 1,050 acres of land from Lord Baltimore as well as the guaranteed labor of Broad and his companions. It is unclear whether John Broad arrived in Maryland in 1670 or perhaps several months or even years earlier. The only record of his transport was Henry Hosier’s 1670 land request for the 1,050 acres owed him. That request could have been, and likely was, made several years after all 21 indentures were transported. It is uncertain what exactly became of Broad after he arrived in Maryland. Given the conditions of his transport, Broad was certainly an indentured servant and it seems likely he worked on one of Hosier’s plantations in either Calvert or Kent County for several years. However, given the lack of additional documentation regarding the immigrant, it is not possible to ascertain which of the several plantations Broad worked on or for how long his indenture lasted. In addition, the record of his transport to Maryland by Hosier did not guarantee he served his contract on one of his estates. Hosier may have just as likely sold Broad’s indenture to another property owner who was in need of labor.
By 1677, it appears John Broad’s indenture had ended. He left Henry Hosier’s estates and relocated to either southern Baltimore County or northern Anne Arundel County. The account of Broad’s relocation in 1677 comes in the testimony of one John Mash, given in a Maryland Provincial Court Proceeding from March 1727. The court testimony involved a property boundary dispute. In that testimony, John Mash recalled that when he was a 10 year old indentured servant his master, John Cromwell and William Cromwell, his master’s brother, and one, John Broad, were reviewing the boundaries of the Cromwell’s 300-acre tract on the south side of the Patapsco River at Curtis Creek (MSA 1727). Mash recalled that event took place around 1677. One interesting fact about that testimony involves Broad and the two Cromwell brothers. From the recollection, it appears the three were friends. Seven years earlier all three names also appeared together in another court document when John Broad, William Cromwell and John Cromwell were listed Henry Hosier’s headrights petition. From all accounts, the three men likely met during their indentures to Hosier and subsequently relocated together along the Patapsco River after their service ended. A review of the Cromwell brothers’ 300-acre land grant indicates the two patented their tract, Cromwell’s Adventure, on December 10, 1670. Since indentures could not own land, it begs to reason that both Cromwell brothers were likely transported to Maryland by Hosier in the early or mid-1660s, and completed their indentures by the time Hosier listed their names his 1670 headrights petition. Could it be the same case for John Broad?
Whether or not John Broad was still indentured to Hosier in 1670 is unknown; however it appears he was a free man by 1677. So where was he living? The first and only tract Broad ever purchased was Broad’s Choice, a 173-acre tract located in present-day Herring Run Park (Figure 1).
That patent was not recorded until 1695, so there are at least 18 years unaccounted for Broad between his recorded hike with John and William Cromwell and his patent of his property along Herring Run. It is likely that after his indenture ended, Broad served as a tenant farmer to some plantation owner along the Patapsco River. Such contracts were not always recorded, and those that were, are even less likely to survive to the present. Another alternative is just as likely. Perhaps John Broad was squatting on the land, years before he surveyed and purchased the land from the Lord Proprietor.
Many former indentures often resorted to squatting in the years following their servitude. The majority of former indentured servants received little in the way of supply and money as part of their freedom dues. The resources they did receive from their former masters were not sufficient to purchase their own land outright. Some did find work on other farms owned by the wealthy planter elite in the more settled southern and eastern Maryland counties. Other found employment as tradesmen in the few small towns that existed in the colony during the seventeenth century. Many others resorted to relocating to the colony’s backcountry, residing and farming unclaimed land until they were able to save enough to purchase the land where they squatted outright. In the years following John Broad’s indenture, Baltimore County was largely considered Maryland’s backcountry. Even by the time the 1692 tax list was compiled, only 471 households were living in Baltimore County which at that time consisted of over 700,000 square acres (Headington 1954). Given the vast expanse of open, unclaimed land, many former indentures, including John Broad, chose squatting in Baltimore County as a way to better their lives in the years following servitude.
The next time John Broad appeared in the historical record was in the 1692 list of taxable land taken on the Northside of Patapsco Hundred. In 1692, there were five Hundreds in Baltimore County: Speseutia, Gunpowder River, Southside Gunpowder River, Northside Patapsco and Southside Patapsco. The Northside Patapsco, the hundred where John Broad was listed, at that time included all the land in Baltimore County between the Patapsco and Middle Rivers, north of present-day Philadelphia Road. Taxables at that time were all males, 16 years or older, and all male servants, 16 years or older (Headington 1954). Exempt from tax were any clergy or those who received alms from the county. Any male residents who fell under these provisions were taxed regardless of whether they owned land or not.
In the 1692 tax list, John Broad was listed as head of household. Given the gender and age restrictions within the list, it is uncertain the total number of people in his household; however he was listed with Walter Halcloke, a servant 16 years old or greater. The tax list also indicated that John Broad’s closest neighbors during that time were John Cole, Thomas Stone, and John Oulton, all three of which owned and resided on land in the vicinity of Herring Run Park during the late-seventeenth century.
That same year, John Broad married Barbara Garrett (Barnes 1989). Barbara was the widow of the Baltimore County planter, Dennis Garrett. Dennis and Barbara Garrett lived with their three children on their 100-acre plantation called Long Island Point (present-day Fell’s Point) with whom they shared ownership with another Baltimore County planter, Thomas Stone (Figure 2).
Stone and Garrett purchased the property from Edward Mumford in 1685. Dennis Garrett died on September 2, 1691 after being fatally wounded over a month earlier by a neighbor, John Oldton (Barnes 1989). The circumstances of the altercation are unknown but court records in the subsequent months indicate that Garrett was struck in the face with a sword that was valued at 20 shillings. It is unclear why the value of the sword was important but that detail carried through to the trial and conviction of John Oldton. Oldton was subsequently convicted of murder and sentenced to death by hanging. However, he was eventually pardoned by King William as part of the celebration of the Glorious Revolution. After Dennis’ death, his former business partner, Thomas Stone, gave his interest in Long Island Point to Barbara (MSA 1691). She remained on the property for a short time but eventually left the estate following her marriage to John Broad; relocating with her three children to his property at Herring Run.
While John Broad was living along the Herring Run for several years after his indenture ended, he only patented the land containing his home in 1695. On November 10th of that year, he surveyed and patented 173 acres along both banks of the Herring Run, naming his land Broad’s Choice (see Figure 1). Tax Lists indicate John Broad remained on his 173-acre farm until his death in 1709. During that time, John and Barbara Garrett Broad has two children of their own, Thomas and Jane Broad. Together with Barbara’s three children by Garrett, the family of seven remained on Broad’s Choice. A review of land and patent records indicate neither John Broad nor his wife purchased or patented any other property in Baltimore County or elsewhere in the colony during their lifetime. In addition to the family, Broad’s Choice was also home to a number of indentures or tenants in the employ of John Broad. According to the 1694 List of Taxable in Northside Patapsco Hundred, one James Herrington was residing on Broad’s estate. The following year, Herrington was gone, having been replaced by two additional indentures or tenants, Joshua Howard and Darby Dyer (Headington 1954).
John Broad died in January 1709. In his will written nearly seven years earlier, Broad requested the following:
John Broad’s will was proved on January 15, 1709. According to his will, Broad’s Choice would be divided between his two children, Thomas and Jane. At the time of his death, Thomas was 17 years old and Jane was 13. Since both children were still considered minors, their mother, Barbara Garrett Broad, managed the property for them. John Broad also wrote a provision into his will indicating that if both Thomas and Jane died without heirs, the property would go to two of Barbara’s grand children who were born to the children from Barbara’s first marriage to Daniel Garrett. However, that provision of the will was never enacted as both Thomas and Jane survived to majority and had children of their own.
Often following one’s death, an inventory is made of the belongings the deceased had at the time of his death. Such documents are often useful in that they can provide some insight into the wealth of the deceased as well as some understanding of the improvements they made on their property during their lifetime. Some inventories are more detailed than others, and John Broad’s is certainly not exhaustive but it does provide some useful information regarding the household of a farmer at the turn of the eighteenth century:
From the appearance of his inventory, John Broad had a fairly modest household. The furniture included two feather beds (one new), an old flock bed, several chests, tables and casks. Inventories are often compiled room by room, so a careful reading of the document can provide some insight on the size and layout of the house being inventoried. Even with the inventory, it is not possible to determine, with certainty, what John Broad’s Herring Run farm may have looked like, but some assumptions can be made. Records indicate he lived on Broad’s Choice with his family. As such there would have been a house with various outbuildings such as a privy, well, and possibly an out-kitchen and shed(s). The house that Broad lived in at the time of his death may have been the only one he constructed, but more likely there may have been at least one earlier dwelling as well. Broad likely built a small temporary home when he first settled on the property. That house would likely have been a small one-room structure that would have served as his refuge as he started clearing the land. Once he became established Broad likely would have built a more permanent home. At that time, the former dwelling would have been abandoned or repurposed.
It appears from the document that John Broad’s house was likely a one or two room structure that served largely as the sleeping space for the family. There are three beds, one for John and Barbara and two additional beds for the children. Following the bedroom furniture, the inventory lists the items of value in the kitchen: pewter and earthenware plates and vessels, pots and colanders, pans, and grid iron. The kitchen was likely a detached structure but situated close to the house for convenience. Most kitchens during this period were not part of the living quarters as a safety precaution. If the kitchen caught fire, which happened occasionally, then at least the house and family would be safe. Following the kitchen, the account moves on to the tool and equipment sheds which included a variety of saws, knives, a mill and pestle and a variety of sundry items.
Like the majority of property owners in Baltimore County at the time, John Broad was a farmer and his inventory reflects his occupation. In addition to household items, the account also lists his livestock and harvested crops. The family owned only one horse that apparently was well beyond her prime. In addition they also had a large number of cattle, which included 12 cows, five steer and one bull. The family also raised several pigs on their farm although the inventory indicates they were in very poor health. Like the majority of Maryland farmers during this time, John Broad was a tobacco farmer. In addition they may have had a kitchen garden on his property, but the crops it produced were likely for personal consumption and were too inconsequential to list on the inventory. On the other hand, the tobacco crop was included in the account. According to the inventory, Broad had harvested 4,000 pounds of tobacco which at the time was hanging in several tobacco sheds. The account also indicates that some of the tobacco was frost bitten which is somewhat unsurprising given that John Broad died in January and his inventory was made the following February.
Although John Broad’s inventory was relatively short, the items listed indicate Broad had a middling farm and household. At a time when most people owned only a few livestock, Broad has over 20, which included pigs, steer, cows, and a bull. However, many of his livestock were either aged or in poor health. Broad also owned a small assortment of tableware made of either pewter or earthenware. Pewter was a symbol of gentility in early American homes (LeFever 2007). The presence of at least some pewter tableware suggests John Broad had some means. However given the absence of any other typical signs of wealth such as looking glasses, candle holders, etc… suggests the purchase of the pewter may have been their sole luxury item. The absence of books or paper in the inventory is also telling. Not only were the items costly, it also suggests the family was illiterate, which is further supported by the family member’s signatures on court documents such as wills, inventories, and land records. In every case, the members of the Broad family signed their mark rather than their name.
After John Broad’s death, it appears Barbara, Thomas, and Jane remained on Broad’s Choice. For a time, Barbara still owned Long Island Point (present-day Fell’s Point) and the family could have relocated there. However, in 1712 Barbara Garrett Broad transferred all of her earthly belongs to her children and grandchildren in the land records of Baltimore County (MSA 1712). In the document, she refers to herself as “Barbara Broad of Back River”. The location of Back River Hundred indicates that she still resided along the Herring Run, a tributary of Back River. If she relocated to her other property after her husband’s death, it is likely her name would have been Barbara Broad of Patapsco, which was the Hundred were Long Island Point was located.
The document is somewhat peculiar as it reads like a will but it was recorded in the land records rather than the will books. Also it was transcribed in the deed book (Liber TR A, 221) in 1712, but Barbara did not die until 1733 and in the intervening 21 years she made a proper will which was recorded in the Baltimore County will books. A likely explanation for recording such a document in the land records in 1712 may be that Barbara wanted her future wishes and conditions of those requests to be public knowledge. Another reason may be that she wanted to transfer all her property to her children now, years before her death, in order to prevent her belongings to pass to a future husband in the event that she would marry a third time.
The document lays out that her grandchild, Dennis Garret Cole would receive a cow and calf, a ewe and lamb and the first colt born of her mare, Spirit. The document proceeds to indicate that Thomas and Jane Broad would receive:
She also requested that Thomas and Jane provide a decent burial and pay all of her just debits. In return, the siblings should split equally all the belongings they inherit. In addition to the disposition of her belongings, Barbara Broad also included a curious condition for her son, Thomas:
It appears Barbara did not approve of her son’s relationship with Grace Ramsey. Whether or not Thomas and Grace’s relationship was truly serious is unknown, but Barbara thought it so. Barbara clearly wished to provide an incentive for his ending the association. It is unclear whether Barbara’s ultimatum to her son was worked or whether Thomas and Grace’s relationship ended on its own accord. Either way, Thomas ended up marrying Ann Hawkins, the daughter of Matthew Hawkins and Ann Parrish. The Hawkins family were also Baltimore County planters who owned a 160-acre farm called Buck’s Range in the southwestern part of the county, near present-day Catonsville.
The exact date of when Thomas Broad and Ann Hawkins married is unknown, but it appears they were wed sometime between 1718 and 1723. Beginning in 1723, both Thomas and Ann Broad are listed as husband and wife in a series of land transactions recorded in the Baltimore County Land Records (MSA 1723). Thomas’ sister, Jane Broad, was also married by 1723. Jane married Edward Cox around between 1712 and 1723. Edward and Jane (Broad) Cox likely resided on one of several tracts Edward owned in Baltimore County, south of the Big Gunpowder Falls. Thomas and his wife, Ann, remained at Broad’s Choice along with his mother, Barbara, for the remainder of their lives.
Thomas and Jane likely received ownership their portions of Broad’s Choice when they reached the age of majority (Figure 3). For Thomas, who was born in 1692, he would have received the upper half of Broad’s Choice in 1712 while Jane, born around 1697, acquired the southern half of the property around 1718. In 1723, Edward and Jane Cox sold her portion of Broad’s Choice to her brother for one pound, five shillings, and six pence.
Broad’s Choice was not the only tract Thomas owned in Baltimore County by 1723. In 1718, he surveyed and patented a 50-acre tract on the Big Gunpowder Falls called Bachelor’s Range, a name probably alluding to his present marital status (MSA 1718). Bachelor’s Range was located in present-day Phoenix, Maryland, near the current location of the Hunt Valley Golf Course. Bachelor’s Range was and investment for Thomas. On July 20, 1725, he sold the property to William Rogers for six pounds sterling without making any improvements to the property (MSA 1725).
In 1721, Thomas Broad began the process of increasing his holdings at along Herring Run. On August 26, 1721, he had the 173-acre Broad’s Choice resurveyed. At that time Thomas did not yet own the southern half of the property, which he acquired from his sister, Jane, two years later. As a result, the resurvey only included the 85-acre upper parcel he currently owned (MSA 1732). In addition to resurveying that tract, Thomas Broad also incorporated 73 acres of surplus land as well as an additional 228 acres of vacant land. As a result, Thomas increased his holdings along Herring Run to a total 386 acres and renamed the entire tract Broad’s Improvement (Figure 4). After receiving his sister’s 86.5-acre southern half of the original Broad’s Choice, Thomas once again petitioned the land office for a resurvey (MSA 1738a). By incorporating his sister’s land as well as additional vacancy to the east, the resurveyed Broad’s Improvement consisted of a total of 474 acres (Figure 5). The first resurvey occurred in 1721 but was not recorded as a patent until 1732. The second resurvey was conducted in 1734 but only recorded in 1738. By that time, Thomas Broad had already begun to sell portions of Broad’s Improvement to other Baltimore County planters.
The first subdivision and sale of a portion of Broad’s Improvement occurred on July 20, 1724 when Thomas Broad sold 102 acres of the western end of tract to John Merriman (Merryman) for 10 pounds sterling (MSA 1724). The tract, renamed Merriman’s Purchase, consisted of the land where parts of present-day Lake Montebello, Clifton Park, and the eastern section of the Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello neighborhood (Figure 6). Five years later, Thomas Broad sold a 105-acre portion of Broad’s Improvement to John Miller for 2,000 pounds of tobacco (MSA 1729). Miller’s 105-acre purchase was situated entirely within the present-day boundaries of Lake Montebello and the Lake Montebello Water filtration plant. Both deeds were agreements between Thomas Broad and both Merriman and Miller and were contingent on full payment and certification of the resurvey of Broad’s Improvement by the provincial court. Once the resurvey was verified and recorded in the Baltimore County patent records in 1738, new deeds of conveyance were recorded verifying the transfer of portions of Broad’s Improvement to both Merriman and Miller (MSA 1738b, 1742b).
The portions sold to Merriman and Miller consisted entirely of vacant land Thomas Broad acquired during the 1732 and 1738 resurvey. His house, farm, and the remainder of the 173-acre property patented by his father, John Broad, remained his until the 1742. One November 10th of that year, Thomas Broad sold 170 acres of Broad’s Improvement to fellow Baltimore County planter John Hunt (MSA 1742a). For 19 pounds sterling, Hunt received the majority of the original land grant of Broad’s Choice as well as some sundry vacant land Thomas Broad patented in 1738. The property Hunt received was located within the present-day boundaries of Herring Run Park, between Belair and Harford Roads, as well as a small portion of Lake Montebello, north of Harford Road (see Figure 6). While the transaction with Hunt included Broad’s house and farm, Thomas maintained a small portion of the original Broad’s Choice that he purchased from his sister. Provided that Broad did not own any other land at the time, it is likely Broad removed to this portion of the property and built a new home.
It is unclear what drove Thomas to sell the home farm his family resided on for over 40 years. The sale may have been financially motivated. Perhaps Thomas Broad had reached some financial hardship and his only recourse was to sell the abundance of land he owned. In the years following his sale of his home farm within present-day Herring Run Park, Thomas received warrants and surveyed variety of previously unclaimed parcels along the Big Gunpowder Falls in north-central Baltimore County. However, he never patented those tracts and therefore could not take ownership of them. Those tracts which are surveyed but not patented are recorded as unpatented certificates. Some unpatented tracts became so because the party who received a warrant and surveyed the land died before they had a chance to pay for the patent. Other times the warrant holder simply could not afford to purchase the land and have the patent recorded with the county.
From 1742 through 1761, Thomas Broad received warrants but ultimately could not afford patents for four separate tracts located along the Big Gunpowder Falls. A review of land records during the same period indicates Broad did not purchase any other land from other property owners in Baltimore County or elsewhere in Maryland. Taken together, it appears Thomas Broad spent the remainder of his life on the last remaining section of Broad’s Choice. Thomas Broad died around 1769 with no will. As such, Thomas’s remaining property was sold to pay down his debts and the remainder was given to his heirs.
Barnes, Robert W.
1989 Baltimore County Families, 1659-1759. Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, Maryland.
Headington, Clifford E.
1954 Early Parishes and Hundreds, Baltimore County, Maryland including tax lists, Years 1692, 1694, and 1695. Ida Charles Wilkins Foundation, Baltimore Maryland.
2007 Early Pewter Tableware. In Early American Life Magazine. Firelands Media Group, Chagrin Falls, Ohio.
Maryland State Archives (MSA)
1670 Land Office Patent Record, Liber JJ, folio 175. On file at the Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, Maryland.
1691 Baltimore County Court Land Records Liber RM HS, folio 341. On file at the Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, Maryland.
1709a Will of John Broad. Will Book Liber 1, folio XXX. On file at the Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, Maryland.
1709b Inventory of John Broad. Inventories and Accounts Liber 31, folio 150. On file at the Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, Maryland.
1712 Baltimore County Court Land Records Liber TR A, folio 221. On file at the Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, Maryland.
1718 Baltimore County Patent Certificate 432. On file at the Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, Maryland.
1723 Baltimore County Court Land Records Liber IS G, folio 209. On file at the Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, Maryland.
1724 Baltimore County Court Land Records Liber IS H, folio 159. On file at the Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, Maryland.
1725 Baltimore County Court Land Records Liber IS H, folio 135. On file at the Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, Maryland.
1727 Baltimore County Court Proceedings HWS Nos. 3, 6. On file at the Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, Maryland.
1729 Baltimore County Court Land Records Liber IS K, folio 176. On file at the Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, Maryland.
1732 Baltimore County Patent Record PL 8, folio 496. On file at the Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, Maryland.
1738a Baltimore County Patent Certificate 788. On file at the Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, Maryland.
1738b Baltimore County Court Land Records Liber IA, folio 199. On file at the Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, Maryland.
1742a Baltimore County Court Land Records Liber TB C, folio 66. On file at the Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, Maryland.
1742b Baltimore County Court Land Records Liber TB C, folio 162. On file at the Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, Maryland.