Thursday, March 21, 2013

All the way up in Vermont, an explosion in Bladensburg in December of 1812 makes news.

 From the National Intelligencer: All the way up into Vermont, an explosion in Bladensburg on Monday December [21?], makes news.[1] 

               We are informed that the Powder Mills near Bladensburg were on Monday night about 1 o'clock, set on fire as it is believed, by an incendiary.[2]  The fire was discovered in the centre building, and immediately the inhabitants of the neighborhood left their houses.  In about 15 minutes the house exploded, containing about four thousand pounds of powder,  from judicious arrangement of the establishment, the explosion was not communicated to other buildings; and already the operations have been reviewed.  The loss is stated not to have exceeded six thousand dollars (approximately $67,416.00 in 2010[3]); although the explosion was so violent as to have shattered the glass of houses, two miles distant to have raised from the ground large frame buildings, bursting out their windows and doors; and in one instance brealing rafters and beams of a house within an hundred yards.[4]

[1] reference to the explosion in the Alexandria Daily Gazette, Commercial & Political; Date: 12-28-1812; Volume: XIII; Issue: 3836; Page: [3]; Location: Alexandria, Virginia

[2] The mill (Powder Mills) was perhaps adjacent to the location of the Avalon grist mill that George Calvert of Riversdale [PG: 68-5] would built in 1822.  The Calverts had owned mill buildings on that property a decade or so before Avalon Mill was built (see deed RM#15:576 ].

Bostwick House, Bladensburg Maryland
image from Wikipedia
 In July 1812 George Calvert leased to Thomas Ewell of Beall's Pleasure [PG: 75-2], for 12 years, up to 5 acres of land on his mill race for the building of a powder mill. The powder mill was apparently run by Wm. Grayson, J. Stull, and John Williams.

The Powder Mills site maybe roughly at the northeast corner of Bladensburg, along what is now Edmonston Road.

Thomas  Ewell's  father-in-law was Benjamin Stoddert,  President John Adam's Secretary of the Navy, merchant, and real estate speculator.  Stoddert in turn was the son-in-law of Christopher Lowndes of Bostwick [PG: 69-2] in Bladensburg, Maryland.  Thomas Ewell  two sons, Benjamin and Richard, one a President of the College of William and Mary; the other a famed  Lt General in the Confederate Army.

[3] Comparative Value of a 2010 U.S. Dollar (Approximate) [accessed March 20, 2012]

[4] The Reporter; Date: 01-09-1813; Volume: X; Issue: 505; Page: [3]; Location: Brattleboro, Vermont

1 comment:

  1. Powder mills were dangerous places. Five years after this incident, the Washington City Gazette (4/19/1817) reported that the Bladensburg powder mills (called the Franklin Powder Mills in one advertisement) exploded again, killing two and injuring two more.