Friday, May 24, 2013

Edward Suit of Bladensburg: 1809 - 1850

Edward Suit of Bladensburg

Edward Suit lived in Bladensburg from circa 1820 until his death in 1850; the recorded activities of Suit and his family offer some interesting details about life in Bladensburg in the early 19th century.  Born in 1788 and married in 1809 to Catharine Tolbert/Talbert, Suit served in the Maryland Militia in the War of 1812, in Captain James Veitch’s Company of Infantry.  After the war, Suite farmed land that adjoined the town of Bladensburg on the east - several parcels of the large tract, Columbia, that had been amassed by the Lowndes’ family in the late 18th century.  He also purchased several lots in the town of Bladensburg, including Lots  #21, and #22, and it was in his house in town that he died in August, 1850. [1]

Archival records give us tantalizing bits of information about Edward Suit’s activities in the 1840s.  On 7 March 1844, Suit purchased all of the “goods, wares and merchandise” in the store operated by Joshua Selby in the village of Bladensburg, as well as all of Selby’s household furniture from the same building.  The following week Suit entered into a contract to take on a young African-American boy as an apprentice; this contract gives us information on the apprentice process.  William Beckett and Thomas Clements, both Justices of the Peace and neighbors of Edward Suit, drew up the contract, which bound Suit and young James Galloway, according to the Act of the General Assembly passed in 1839 “for the better regulation of the free negro and mulatto children in this state.”  James, who was not quite six years of age, was the son of a free Negro woman, Sarah Galloway, recently deceased.  By this contract, it was the responsibility of Edward Suit that the boy “learn to labor and all habits of industry after the manner of an apprentice.” And young James was to “dwell with and serve the said Edward Suit . . . until the first day of May A.D. 1859 when . . . . [he]   . . . . shall attain the age of twenty-one years.” During all of this time, James was to faithfully serve his master in all lawful business set to him by Suit, and to behave himself in an orderly and honest fashion toward Mr. Suit and his family.  Suit covenanted to faithfully provide good and sufficient meat, drink and clothing, lodging and other necessaries “fit and convenient for such an apprentice.”   At the expiration of his term Suit was to give to his apprentice “two suits of wearing apparel, one suitable for Sundays and the other for working days.”[2]

Edward Suit did not live to provide the two sets of clothing to James Galloway – he died at age 62 in 1850.   The 1860 census shows that James Galloway, well after his 21st birthday, continued to live in Bladensburg with Suit’s family - the widow Catharine Suit, and her adult son, George Washington Suit.  What happened to James Galloway after this has not yet been discovered – he is not listed in the Bladensburg household of George W. and Catharine Suit in the 1870 census, and a search of Civil War troops is beginning.[3]

One more interesting fact about Edward Suit is that he served as Inspector of Plaster of Paris for the Bladensburg District.  Plaster of Paris was an important item in construction and architectural trim, as well as medical treatment (casts for broken bones), and concern that it “be of good quality, accurately weighted, and well coopered”  occasioned Acts of the General Assembly in 1833 and 1834 to appoint an Inspector of Plaster of Paris in Baltimore.  The following year, the Assembly provided for inspection in Bladensburg, and Edward Suit was appointed to this post in 1847.[4]

 By Susan Pearl, May 22, 2013.

[1]  Prince George’s County Land Records AB#2:447, AB#10:483, AB#11:138; Prince George’s County Tax Assessments, 1820-1850;  Brown, Helen W., Index of Marriage Licenses, Prince George’s County, Maryland 1777-1886, Genealogical Publishing, Co. Inc., Baltimore 1973; War of 1812 Pension Records.

[2]  Acts of General Assembly Chapter CLV, 1827;  Prince George’s County Deed JBB#3:378; Federal Census 1850, 1860.

[3] Prince George’s County Will PC#1:438; Federal Census 1850, 1860;  Alexandria Gazette, 26 August 1850. Obituary.

[4] Acts of the General Assembly 1832-1834,  Journal of the Proceedings of the House of Delegates of the State of Maryland.

1 comment:

  1. Was Veitch's company at the Battle of Bladensburg?

    So, architectural plaster works live on today at the Giannetti Studios just a stones throw away in Brentwood! I guess John and Bob must have known...?