Transcribed by Denise Wells
Howard, the most southern of the central Maryland counties, and next to Calvert, the smallest county in the State, is bounded on the north by Frederick, Carroll and Baltimore counties, on the east by Anne Arundel and Prince George's, on the south by Montgomery, and on the west by Frederick. The area is 250 square miles, and according to the census of 1890, the population was 16,269, divided as follows: white, 12,096; colored, 4,173.
Howard is one of the best adapted counties in the State for agricultural and manufacturing industries. The soil is mostly fertile and kind, easily cultivated and readily improved. Much of it is a loam, with clay sub-soil, and in a portion of the county there is an abundance of limestone land, that part of it known as "Limestone Valley" being particularly noted for its great natural beauty and fertility. In the southern section mica has been found, and in recent years some of the mines have been worked to advantage. The land is all valuable, and commands a ready sale at good prices, ranging in the improved portions and where the transportation facilities are good, from $40 to $100 per acre. Wheat, corn, hay and potatoes are chiefly the present products. In some parts of the country the land is susceptible of tobacco raising, especially in the northwestern portion, where the attention of many of the farmers has been given to its cultivation for some time past, and as most of them are supplied with all the necessary buildings and appliances for curing, &c., a profitable return has been the result. The raising of fruits and vegetables is receiving considerable attention in some sections, and much of the once idle land is now being utilized for this purpose. In view of the easy transportation and small expense required to place them in our best markets, there is every reason to prophesy for them a leading position among the industries of this section. All along the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and bordering upon the Patapsco River, are many acres of land, which, owing to its natural condition and adaptability of its soil, could, according to the statements of experienced grape raisers, be converted into a succession of vineyards, which would yield a handsome profit. The county's healthful climate, excellent water-power advantages, and the natural productiveness of its soil, render it one of the most desirable and promising counties in the State for industrious, energetic immigrants. There is, perhaps, no county possessed of better transportation facilities than Howard. It is bounded for many miles both by the Main Stem and the Washington Branch of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, with stations every few miles along both lines, with, as a rule, good county roads leading thereto. The Baltimore and Frederick turnpike passes entirely through the county from east to west, and, together with the Ellicott City and Clarksville turnpike, affords to the residents of the interior sections as easy outlet to Baltimore and Ellicott City. The C. A. Gambrill Manufacturing Company's flour mill at Ellicott City offers to the farmers a ready market for their wheat, which would otherwise necessitate its being shipped by rail or an additional drive of ten miles to the Baltimore market. The county commissioners are liberal in their appropriations for roads and bridges, and, as a consequence, they are kept in good condition.
The people, too, are strong believers in good roads, and in addition to the two principal turnpikes already mentioned, private enterprise has built several short lines of pike in different sections of the county. The farmers are progressive in their agricultural methods, and every improvement in farming machinery is at once adopted. All the labor-saving implements which experience has proved to be valuable are in use, the best fertilizers are procured, and the system of farming which tends to the permanent improvement of the soil, is pursued. Much interest is taken in the raising of pure bred stock, and many farms are already noted for celebrated strains of both horses and cattle. Along the line of the railroad are many well-conducted dairy farms, the milk from which is daily shipped to the Baltimore market. Throughout Howard county are many thriving villages, all of which are well supplied with churches and schools. Being almost surrounded by the Patapsco and Patuxent Rivers, whose water power is peculiarly adapted for mills and factories, it has for its extent greater manufacturing facilities than almost any of its sister counties.
Besides a large number of minor mills on the different water courses in the interior of the county of the manufacture of flour, corn meal, &c., there is the well-known paper mill of John A. Dushane & Co., with over forty operatives and a capacity of five tons of paper per day; the extensive cotton mills at Alberton and Savage, each with a force of 400 hands, and owned respectively by James A. Gary & Co. and Wm. H. Baldwin, Jr.; the Guilford Cotton Mill, and the Electric Light Company's shops at Elkridge. There are many other points on the Patapsco that might be brought into profitable use by a little outside capital, combined with energetic effort on the part of the more enterprising citizen.
Howard's educational facilities are exceptionally good, there being, in addition to the well-conducted system of free public schools, in Ellicott City alone, three large private institutions with well-deserved reputation. A large volume of mercantile business is transacted in the different towns and villages of the county, that of Ellicott City alone being estimated at over $1,000,000. The population of this thriving place is 1,488.
A new line of railroad has long been in contemplation to run through the western section of the county, for which a survey was made by the Baltimore, Cincinnati and Western Railway Company in 1881, but the enterprise has so far been a failure, and the products of a considerable acreage are still conveyed to market by horse and wagon.
A national bank has recently been established at Ellicott City, with which many of the leading citizens are connected, and which is looked upon as an indispensable auxiliary in promoting the various industrial interests of the community. Since its establishment new life seems to have sprung up in business of every kind, and its great advantage is now generally conceded.
SOURCE: Scharf, J. Thomas, "The natural & industrial resources and advantages of Maryland: being a complete description of all counties of the state and the city of Baltimore: together with an accurate statement of their soil, climate, antiquities, raw and manufactured products, agricultural and horticultural products, textile fabrics, alimentary products, manufacturing industries, minerals and ores, mines and mining, native woods, means of transportation, price of land, cheap living, ready markets, excellent homes, and the material and social advantages and unequaled opportunities Maryland possesses for those seeking homes, and for capitalists who wish to invest in industries that are sure to pay big dividends," C.H. Baughman & Co., Publisher; © 1892. pps. 39-42.