Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Mrs. Hayden's Wharf

It is apparent from reading any previous posts here that I have become obsessed with finding the route through Annapolis of what I've come to call Butler's rail extension. It was the mile or two of railroad track laid down after Gen. Benjamin Butler's arrival here in April 1861, to extend the Annapolis & Elkridge Railroad line to the Severn River. Though it provided a vital link between Washington and the North in the tense weeks after the Baltimore riots--some even claiming that it prevented the fall of that capital--its route through Annapolis has been forgotten. This became readily apparent earlier this year when members of the Annapolis Lincoln Bicentennial Commission tried to locate the route on the theory that Lincoln may have walked that way in 1865.

Anyway, Mary Hayden was one of the people mentioned in the 1868 report (see previous blog post) of Allen and Salter to Bvt. Brig. General McFerran. That report concerned claims by Annapolis citizens against the U.S. Government for damages to their property from Butler's rail extension. Most of the claimants in the report were recommended to receive specific amounts of compensation for rent of their land and the replacement of destroyed fences and outhouses.

Mrs. Hayden's situation was a little different, however. Her claim was for "wharfage"--fees collected for freight loaded, unloaded, or stored on a wharf she owned. Mrs. Hayden claimed that the U.S. Government had used her wharf but not paid her these fees for two years, from May of 1861 to May of 1863 when the wharf "passed out of her possession."

The interesting thing here is that while the report to Gen. McFerran doesn't say that Mrs. Hayden's claim is specifically related to the railroad extension, all the other claims in this report do arise from operation of Butler's rail extension, and it is therefore tempting to connect Mrs. Hayden's wharf with the rail extension as well. It would then seem that if we locate Mary Hayden's wharf we will have located the end of the railroad extension.

Locating Mary Hayden's wharf is easily done thanks to the excellent land records at the Maryland State Archives. It fronted on the NW side of Tabernacle Street (now College Avenue) with 203 feet of frontage on Severn River according to an 1863 survey of the lands of George Hayden (deceased). This parcel bears the label "wharf."

So was this the location at which Gen. Butler chose to connect the Annapolis & Elkridge Railroad to waterfront? Was the water too shallow here to accommodate large steamers? Maybe, yet Mrs. Hayden claimed the U.S. Government used it for landing military supplies for two years. Mrs. Hayden's wharf can be seen in the Magnus print (a portion of this print decorates the top of this page), but so can the two other wharves on the grounds of the Naval Academy and, on close inspection, railroad tracks running between them.

I'm not sure whether Butler's rail extension ended at Mrs. Hayden's wharf or not but I suspect that it did. The extension was put down in haste and probably took the most direct route to navigable water. It is doubtful that Butler laid the railroad tracks seen connecting the two wharves on the Magnus print of 1864. More likely they became necessary later as the site evolved into a major supply depot and hospital. It was neither of these things in April of 1861.

There is further evidence that this wharf was of interest as a rail connection to the water. When Mrs. Hayden was compelled to sell this lot in 1863 to settle a legal claim the land records reveal that the buyer was Joshua Brown. Mr. Brown was superintendent of the Annapolis & Elkridge Railroad and the records show that he immediately assigned his "right title and interest" in the land to the railroad. The A&E Railroad had always been intended to connect with tidewater but had never quite made it beyond the depot at Calvert and West Streets. I believe Brown saw an opportunity when Mrs. Hayden had to sell the wharf. Did he plan to somehow get control of Butler's rail extension on behalf of the A&E once the war was over?