Celebrate legacies of Maryland women
during travels across state
Women's Heritage Trail has 150 sites, attractions
BALTIMORE – Feb. 28 – March is Women's History Month, says the Maryland Office of Tourism, an ideal time to plan springtime visits across the state that evoke tribute to notable women in Maryland history.
"Maryland has a wealth of sites and attractions to honor the contributions of many pioneering women who have played a significant role in our shared history as 'One Maryland' and one nation," said Gov. Martin O'Malley. "I invite residents and visitors alike to join us in March as we celebrate Women's History Month in Maryland."
A Maryland Women's Heritage Trail identifies more than 150 locations in the state where women have made unique contributions. Information about the trail is available online at the Maryland Women's Heritage Center's web site. Located at 39 W. Lexington St. in downtown Baltimore, the center is the first state-based project and museum of its kind in the nation. The center is also the home of the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame, and is open Wednesday through Saturday. Admission is free.
The trail includes such destinations as The National Shrine of Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg (Frederick County) and Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center in Solomons (Calvert County). Seton, who opened a school for girls in Baltimore in 1808, became the first American-born saint in 1975. Ann Marie Koenig and her husband Francis Koenig donated the 30-acre property that now blends art and nature in a town where the Patuxent River meets the Chesapeake Bay.
"By recognizing the vital achievements, experiences and contributions of Maryland women – in the past and into the future – we can gain an appreciation for the rich, diverse heritage of our state," says Jill Moss Greenberg, executive director of the Maryland Women's Heritage Center. "Our center continues to be a dynamic force in promoting this concept."
In addition to visiting individual locations of interest, travelers can navigate tours through regions of the state that relate to major commemorations planned by the state. "The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, home of Mary Pickersgill, is one of the stops along the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail," says Margot Amelia, executive director of the Maryland Office of Tourism. "It's a route that honors the War of 1812's Chesapeake Campaign -- a focus of upcoming bicentennial activities."
Amelia also mentions an Eastern Shore driving tour that honors the legacy of Harriet Tubman, the Maryland native who led enslaved family and friends to freedom along the Underground Railroad in the mid-19th century. Events that mark the 100th anniversary of Tubman's death are planned for 2013.
Here are more notable women from Maryland history, grouped by geographic region with tips on nearby tourism attractions and destinations.
Alta Schrock -- To showcase and preserve Appalachian culture, Schrock established Penn Alps Restaurant and Craft Shop in the late 1950s in Garrett County. Spruce Forest Artisan Village (open May through October), an offshoot of Penn Alps, has 10 resident artisans. Penn Alps also hosts a summer concert series. Schrock was the first Mennonite woman in the U.S. to receive a doctoral degree. She taught biology at Frostburg State University during the 1960s and 1970s. Tourism tips: Deep Creek Lake, Maryland's largest fresh-water lake with 65 miles of shoreline in Garrett County is a hub of year-round outdoor recreation. Wisp Resort has a prominent golf course.
Mary Titcomb -- After coming to Hagerstown from New England in 1902, Titcomb -- a professionally-trained librarian -- developed an idea for making library books more accessible. In 1904, the Washington County Free Library became the first library in the U.S. to operate a book wagon, which brought books to Marylanders in remote areas. Tourism tips: Washington County Museum of Fine Arts is in Hagerstown. Also visit the Bridges of Washington County.
Clara Barton -- Best known as founder of the American Red Cross and the National First Aid Society, Barton was also active in various reform movements during the mid-19th century. She supported free public schools and was also connected to civil rights and women's rights campaigns -- she worked with Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony. In her later life, Barton lived in a dormitory for Red Cross volunteers, site of the organization's first headquarters in Glen Echo. The property is now administered by the National Park Service (NPS) as the Clara Barton Historic Site. Tourism tips: Glen Echo Park, a former amusement park and now a Park Service property, is nearby. The park offers cultural exhibitions and performances, and is home to resident artists. Montgomery County includes two arts and entertainment districts, in Bethesda and Silver Spring.
Barbara Fritchie -- This Frederick native was the inspiration for John Greenleaf Whittier's poem Barbara Frietchie, in which the title character confronts Gen. Stonewall Jackson and his invading Confederate troops during the Civil War: "Shoot, if you must, this old gray head, But spare your country's flag," she said. Fritchie's house is a stop on Frederick's walking tour. Tourism tips: Frederick is part of the Heart of the Civil War heritage area. The downtown district has a variety of galleries, eateries and cultural venues. The Frederick Wine Trail includes seven wineries in Frederick County. Also, the Francis Scott Key Monument -- burial site of another famous Frederick native -- is at Mount Olivet Cemetery.
Mary Surratt -- Surratt House Museum, built in 1852, was the Surratt family's plantation home. It was also a tavern and hotel, post office and polling place -- all before the Civil War. In 1864, the recently-widowed Mary Surratt leased the property and moved to Washington, D.C., where she opened a boardinghouse that became a refuge for the Confederate underground. John Wilkes Booth kept weapons and supplies at Surratt's country home in connection with his plan to kidnap President Lincoln. Following the assassination, Mary Surratt was arrested and convicted of conspiring with Booth. She became the first woman executed by the U.S. government. Tourism tips: Surratt House is on the Escape of an Assassin driving-tour route. It's on Rt. 5, which goes by the Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House -- where Booth stopped for medical assistance. National Colonial Farm, an outdoor living-history museum (part of the Accokeek Foundation's 200-acre portion of Piscataway Park) is nearby on the edge of the Potomac River.
Mary Pickersgill -- The woman who made the huge (30 ft. x 42 ft.) American flag that flew above Fort McHenry during the British attack in 1814 still lives and works at what is now 844 E. Pratt St. in Baltimore (near Little Italy) through the magic of a living-history museum, the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House. The flag inspired Francis Scott Key to write the lyrics of the National Anthem in the aftermath of the all-night bombardment of the fort. On Sunday, March 20, the Flag House presents History in the Ale House. Tourism tips: The Flag House is close to Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Nearby Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture is featuring: Material Girls: Contemporary Black Women Artists. Little Italy, a neighborhood with nearly 30 restaurants, is steps away.
Claribel and Etta Cone -- Baltimore's Cone sisters acquired about 3,000 pieces of artwork during the first half of the 20th century -- including items by Matisse, Picasso, Cezanne, Gauguin and van Gogh. They displayed the collection in their Baltimore apartments and eventually gave to the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA). Claribel was a medical doctor and Etta was a musician. Tourism tips: In addition to the BMA, Baltimore also has the Walters Art Museum, American Visionary Art Museum and The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum.
Anne St. Clair Wright -- Dedicated to the preservation of Annapolis' historic district, Wright was the founder and leader of what became the Historic Annapolis Foundation, an organization that operates tours and special events. She also had a special interest in conserving the town's history as part of its contemporary landscape. Annapolis has the nation's largest concentration of 18th-century buildings still in use. Tourism tips: Visit the U.S. Naval Academy, Banneker-Douglass Museum and the Annapolis Maritime Museum. The City Dock area is replete with galleries, shops and eateries.
Margaret Brent -- A British noblewoman who settled in Maryland in 1638, Brent is known for a statement she made before the General Assembly. She had petitioned for the right to vote -- one vote as a landowner and one as an attorney for Lord Baltimore, who had granted her the land where she and her sister had built an estate, Sisters Freehold, near St. Mary's City. The General Assembly was not ready to allow women voting privileges. Brent's statement: "Taxation without representation is tyranny." Tourism tip: St. Mary's City is considered to be one of the best-preserved 17th-century British settlements in North America.
Harriet Tubman -- A native of Dorchester County, this prominent "conductor" of the Underground Railroad led 70 enslaved family members and friends to freedom prior to the Civil War. She also gave instructions to another 70 for making their own escape. A 125-mile driving tour, the Maryland segment of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, includes 28 attractions and sites related to Tubman in Dorchester and Caroline counties. Tourism tips: Visit Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. Cambridge has a revived downtown section by the water with art galleries, restaurants and shops. For girls' getaways, you can find a selection of spas in and around Cambridge, including the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina.
Kitty Knight - When the British invaded the Eastern Shore during the War of 1812, they torched communities close to the shoreline. They encountered Knight after setting flames to most of Georgetown. Knight pleaded for the safety of an elderly woman and convinced the British leader, Admiral Cockburn, to spare the area. Two of the four houses that survived in Georgetown were eventually joined and became The Kitty Knight House Inn & Restaurant, located in Kent County on the banks of the Sassafras River. Tourism tips: Chestertown, located on the Chester River, is home to the Schooner Sultana -- a replica of an 18th-century British vessel. Rock Hall is a center of boating activity on the Chesapeake Bay.
In February, the state's tourism office highlighted Maryland's chocolatiers. Previous monthly themes have focused on: Maryland's colonial heritage; outdoor adventure; lighthouses; buying local; girls' getaways; prominent gardens; bed and breakfasts; Chesapeake Bay art; and hiking and biking trails.
To receive free Maryland travel information - Destination Maryland, Maryland Calendar of Events and a state highway map - by mail, call 800-719-5900. More information is available on the tourism office's web site, VisitMaryland.org.
About Maryland tourism
The Maryland Office of Tourism is an agency of the Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts within the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. Recently reported visitor data shows that the state welcomed more than 29 million visitors in 2009. Those visitors spent nearly $13.7 billion on travel-related expenses – generating close to $1.6 billion in state and local taxes and providing 134,000 jobs to Maryland residents.