Thursday, August 22, 2013

Bowie in the American Revolutionary War

Most people know that George Washington crossed the Delaware River, but who marched down Route 450 (or what would eventually become Route 450 in Bowie) during the American Revolutionary War?  It was Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, the Compte de Rochambeau, along with more than 5,700 French soldiers under his command on their way to meet up with George Washington for what would become a decisive battle against the British in Yorktown, Virginia.

The annual commemoration of Rochambeau’s March will take place this Saturday from noon to 4pm at the Belair Mansion.  Read more in this article by Pam Williams, the Historic Properties Manager for the City of Bowie

Bowie in the American Revolution!
by Pam Williams
Historic Properties Manager for the City of Bowie

In July of 1780, French troops sent by King Louis XVI landed in Naragansett Bay off Newport, Rhode Island.  Commanded by Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, the Compte de Rochambeau, the army numbered 450 officers and 5, 300 men.  Those troops made their way to Yorktown, Virginia, along a combination of strategic roads and waterways, reaching Williamsburg in September of 1781.  Their invaluable contribution to the three week siege of Yorktown resulted in the surrender of British General Cornwallis to George Washington on October 19, 1781.

As has long been acknowledged, an army travels on its stomach!   This army was no exception – and it needed to be fed.   As the army travelled south, the General’s wagon train did as well – via what we know today to be Route 450!   In September, 1781, approximately 200 wagons, artillery, and approximately 3,600 oxen (for future dining!) and horses – after camping at “Easton’s Plantation” (Sacred Heart/Whitemarsh) made their way past Belair Mansion on their way to Georgetown to cross the Potomac and head south.  The journal of Louis Alexandre Berthier, 1781, describes the route:  “You leave John Easton’s house by a road that reenters the Georgetown Highway 200 paces (1/4 mile) farther on.  You pass quite a fine house on the left…” That fine house was Belair.

Join the City of Bowie Museums in our annual commemoration of this important part of our nation’s past.  On Saturday, August 24, from Noon-4:00 p.m., join both British and American forces as they drill, skirmish and discuss camp life with visitors.  Several “purveyors” of colonial groceries, jewelry, prints and clothing will have items for sale inside the Mansion…and the local 18th century ladies will be gathered in the Hall for sewing and 18th century gossip.  Don’t miss this opportunity to visit the past!

Belair Mansion, which is handicapped accessible, is located at 12207 Tulip Grove Drive in Bowie, Maryland. (Exit 11 N from US 50 E/W).  Rochambeau’s March is free, no reservations are required.  For further information, please call 301-809-3089 or email:

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Bowie Museum Acquires Portrait of Former Belair Resident Catherine Ogle Goodrich

Portrait of Catherine Ogle Goodrich acquired by City of Bowie
A portrait of an Ogle family member who lived at Belair was recently purchased by the City of Bowie. Read more in this article by Pam Williams, the Historic Properties Manager for the City of Bowie.

Homecoming in July!

Welcome home, Catherine Ogle Goodrich!

One of Belair Mansion’s loveliest 19th century residents has come home – and a new painting graces the mansion parlor! 

Born  at Belair on July 9, 1810, to Benjamin Ogle II, and his wife, Anna Maria Cooke Ogle,  Catherine Ogle Goodrich  was the 9th child in a family of 10 girls and 4 boys.  In 1838, she married the Rev. Charles Goodrich, a native of Watertown, Connecticut.  Immediately after her Belair wedding, the couple departed for New Orleans, where Charles had been appointed Rector of St. Paul’s Church.  

During their marriage, the Goodriches had no children; Catherine died in Baltimore in 1848, after a “painful and lingering illness.”  She is buried there, in the famous Greenmount Cemetery.

While her remains rest at Greenmount, Catherine has returned to Belair in the form of a lovely portrait, painted c. 1834, by the noted American artist, Charles Bird King.  A lovely, dark haired young woman, whose bared shoulders are draped in red fabric, she bears a strong family resemblance to her ancestor, colonial Governor Samuel Ogle. The portrait had been in the collection of the Valentine Richmond History Center,  and upon the Valentine’s decision to de-accession the painting,  it became available for purchase by the City’s Historic Properties & Museums Division.

Catherine has returned home in time for her birthday on July 9!  After July 1, she will be on exhibit at the Mansion for several months, while staff plans her restoration and conservation for the future.  Please visit and wish her welcome -  and Happy Birthday.  Surely she would agree there’s no place like home!

Belair Mansion is located at 12207 Tulip Grove Drive and is open to the public (free of charge) Tuesday through Sunday from Noon-4:00p.m.  For information, call 301-809-3089, or email:

Friday, August 9, 2013

Two Bowie Boys Dribble into Record Books

David Price and Richard Pranschke
August 9, 1974 (39 years ago today):  Two Bowie teens broke a world record after dribbling a basketball for nearly four full days.  According to the Bowie Blade, Richard Pranschke and David Price alternated one hour shifts until they completed 92 consecutive hours of dribbling.  Their effort began at 8am on Monday, August 5th, and the dribbling stopped at 4am, Friday, August 9th.  The record was set in Pranschke's garage at 13435 Yorktown Drive.  The boys were inspired after reading that two Springfield, Virginia youths dribbled for a record 60 hours and 45 minutes just one week earlier.

Five people acted as judges including Mark and Tom Price (brothers of David Price), Edwin and Evlyn Hunnicutt, (parents of Richard Pranschke) and neighbor John Jones.

According to the Washington Post, the dribbling record had been broken two times that summer before the marathon session by Price and Pranschke.  Two North Carolina boys dribbled for 50 hours and 24 minutes that July, and Jimmy Harper and Johnny Herrity broke that record a week later in Springfield.

The Bowie Blade article implied that a Guiness Record had been broken.  It's assumed that Price and Pranschke submitted their record to the publication, although Bowie Living was unable to locate any Guiness Record involving two people alternating dribbling responsibilities.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Walmart Supercenter Proposed for Bowie

Walmart is moving forward with a proposal to build a new 186,000 square foot "supercenter" in the future Mill Branch Crossing shopping center in Bowie.  The proposed store would feature a full service supermarket, and it would be located across Route 301 from the site of the current Walmart discount store.  If the plan comes to fruition, the supercenter would replace Bowie's existing Walmart store.

Walmart was required to file a special zoning exception application because "it proposes a department/variety store over 125,000 sq. ft., with a food and beverage component above 10% of the gross floor area," according to a status report presented to the Bowie City Council by City Manager David Deutsch.  The Walmart plan will be on the City Council's agenda this fall.

Along with the retail stores, Mill Branch Crossing is expected to include commercial space and a 150 room hotel.

The Mill Branch Crossing shopping center has been in the planning stages for more than seven years.  The project has been delayed by the discovery of remains of a 1700s era structure as well as other archeological items.  Development of the shopping center has also been delayed by plans for the future Green Branch Regional Park.  The Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission owns 319 acres of land behind the Mill Branch Crossing property, and a portion of that land will be converted into soccer, lacrosse and football fields. The park property is land locked, and the county is requiring the owner of the shopping center property to provide a public access road to the new park as a condition for approval.

A lacrosse stadium is also being considered for the Green Branch Regional Park site as a possible home for the Chesapeake Bayhawks professional lacrosse team.  A study conducted earlier this year concluded that a 22,000 seat stadium was not appropriate, and a follow-up study was funded to consider options for a smaller stadium.

The future Green Branch Regional Park also offers a potential viewing location for the annual City of Bowie fireworks.  According to Bowie City Manager David Deutsch, future city firework shows at Prince George's Stadium will include more higher altitude shells for people viewing the show from outside the stadium.  This may make it possible to view the fireworks from the new park, although Deutsch indicated that the city had not yet considered that option.