Ancestral Homes · Oaklands



In 1762, Richard Snowden of Birmingham Manor (the "Ironmaster") bought the land where Oaklands stands. In 1798, his great grandson, Richard Showden, the son of Major Thomas Snowden of Montpelier, built "Oaklands" for his bride, Eliza Warfield from Longwood in Howard County. When Eliza died in 1817, Richard then married her sister Louisa. During the early 19th century, Oaklands was well known for its gracious style of entertainment. According to one contemporary, "Richard was a very aristocratic gentleman and sported his coach and four until his death." Richard Snowden and his two wives are buried at Oaklands as was his son, Thomas, the father of Mrs. Charles Marshall.

John Hanson, who served as President of the Continental Congress in 1781, and his wife later called Oaklands their "second home".

Several of Richard's and Eliza's children married well and were quite successful. Caroline Eliza Snowden married Albert Fairfax, 10th Lord Fairfax, whose descendants settled Fairfax, Virginia. The youngest son, Richard Nicholas, married Elizabeth Ridgely Warfield of Longwood and moved to the ancestral home, "Ellerslee", in Howard County. Emily R. Snowden married Colonel Tim Andrews who served as an aide to Commodore Barney in the War of 1812 and later became Paymaster General of the US Army. One of their sons, Richard Snowden Andrews, an engineer, designed among other buildings, the Governor's Mansion in Annapolis.

Ann Louisa Snowden, who inherited Oaklands from her father Richard, married John Contee, who was Marine Commandant on the USS Constitution during its battle with the English ship Guerriere, one of the most decisive battles of the War of 1812 for which he received a medal from Congress and the Constitution received the nickname, "Old Ironsides". The nickname comes from the fact that English cannon balls could not penetrate the hull and, instead, bounced off the sides of the ship. This fortunate effect occurred because the Constitution was constructed of unusually thick wooden planks taken from Oak trees grown in Virginia. John Contee was also involved in a sea battle with the British ship, Java.

Oaklands gave rise to the much publicized card game in which "the devil himself had a hand." As the story is told, one of the players was called away in the middle of a hot game of poker, leaving three players. The players, including Richard Nicholas Snowden, Jr., swore to continue the card game if they had to play with the devil himself. A stranger knocked on the door shortly thereafter, entered and continued the game with an incredible streak of luck. When he had taken all their money and was leaving, the losers "saw a tail and noted the smell of brimstone". This is the incident where Richard N. Snowden lost "Ellerslie".

"Historic Graves of Maryland ", by Helen W. Ridgley
"Montpelier & The Snowden Family", 1976, by William G. Cook


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©2005 George A. Scheele MD