One Hundred Years of Housing on Acme Avenue

We all know that no man is an island, so no home stand on its own. In addition, old is always gold. Why say this? Whenever people stay in the same neighborhood, they often help one another leading to what we call design relationship. Our little genealogy story about some people at Acme Avenue in Granite Maryland is our homage to all the places where houses are homes and neighbors still know and help each other.

Acme Avenue

The stories below truly shows the power that is contained in the family property especially when the ownership is been transferred from one generation to another. This has shown the change of ownership of the original property for as long as 100 years since it was first owned by the families in Acme Avenue.

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Prologue

The old horse, pulling his load of the plow, guided assuredly by the powerful hand of a future resident, couldn’t have known he was opening up a road for diligent, hard-working Granitonians, which in years to come would be called RFD #1, Featherbed Lane, and finally, Acme Avenue. That animal brain was unaware of the rare amethysts sparkling as they turned up among the heavy pieces of granite rock, to be later registered as gems in Washington, DC. Little did he know that the tall, colorful hollyhocks would border this narrow entrance. How could he possibly realize that this road would extend as a right-of-way all the way to the Patapsco River? And, later, as he turned over the deep furrows in the loamy soil that the biggest and tastiest sweet potatoes on anyone’s table were to be cultivated! How was old dobbin to know that the mailman would also have his own horse and buggy, carefully delivering the mail for future residents at the end of the lane perpendicular to Davis Avenue? This lane was being opened up by a domesticated draft horse to may residents—farmers, quarrymen, railroad workers, blacksmiths, and many other artisans, along with employees of Woodstock College—who would become intensely involved in One Hundred Years of Housing on Acme Avenue. Anna Rose Anderson

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10814 Acme Avenue: Christopher and Cheryl Gonce

Sometime in 1888, the Nelson family who owned many acres of ground in Granite from the Presbyterian Church to the Patapsco River, began a story book adventure when they decided to sell two acres to Joseph and Elizabeth (Allbright) Nash on which they would build a two-story dwelling for their family. They were moving from a house owned by the “company” (Granite Quarry) located at the corner of Melrose Avenue and Old Court Road which in later years was destroyed by fire. Stories of Joseph Nash relate his prowess in swimming, having dived through treacherous waters of flooded houses along the Patapsco, heroically saving babies and adults in the Great Johnstown Flood in 1889. Another tale passed down is of his activity in the Civil War. As a young boy working on the railroad at Antietam, he dodged ammunition fired by both the Confederate and Union troops. Joseph and Elizabeth reared their family of perhaps seven of their nine living heirs on these two acres, only to have many hands assisting in the paying off of a mortgage of approximately $800. The three youngest girls—Mary Ann, Regina, and Rosena—acted as busy little home seamstresses, making shirts and vests for a shirt company from Baltimore. The male members of the family tilled the soil and raised animals and poultry. All the while Elizabeth Nash patiently cared for her family, she still had time and love for others within her family (grandchildren) and non-relatives, and cultivated perhaps the most beautiful and fragrant flower garden for miles around.

One son Thomas Nash brought his first wife, Ida (Young), back to the homestead, where the first two grandchildren were born and their mother died. This was the beginning of many loved ones to be taken from the home for the last time. During the building of this house (and most of them during this era), long front windows facing the porch aided in the passage of a coffin. Later, “Tom” remarried Emma Bowers, and after having lived on Melrose Avenue for several years, he again returned to his father’s house with his two children, Calvin and Margaret. An older daughter, Jessie, had already gone to live with her maternal grandmother.

Joseph was not to witness the many births to follow in his homestead, for he died in 1918. But his widow was to share in the births of four grandchildren born to her daughter Mary Ann Brantley and husband John Huston Brantley. She traveled from their home in Richmond, Virginia, by boat to bear her children: Rosena (1902), Claudia (1905), John Jr. (1907), and Mary (1913). (Two other sons were born in Richmond and another in Granite.)

One of Joseph and Elizabeth’s daughters, Emma and her first husband Joseph Nash (a first cousin) also lived in the home. Two more little ones, Thomas and  rancis, were born here. After her husband died, Emma remarried to a neighbor Robert Johnson, after which they bought the little two-acre farmette on Davis Avenue previously built by a Robert Mason. (The present residents are George and Elva Mae (Johnson) Humphrey, daughter of Robert and Emma (Nash) Johnson, who retired here in 1962 after years of working for the Federal Government.)

The old domicile was to continue to protect family members. After Joseph Nash’s death, it was owned by Martin and Regina (Nash) Nystrand. Without children of their own, they resided here to lovingly care for her mother, sister-in-law, and each other until their deaths. The next generation took over through the purchase of the property by Frederick Brantley and his wife Margaret (Nash). Both lived here, modernizing the old house with water, septic system, and a furnace, until their deaths in 1971 and 1985 respectively.

A fourth generation inherited the property from Margaret Brantley—Mary Patricia (Brantley) Higgs—who ended the reign of the Nash family through their sale in 1986 to its present owners, the Gonces. With the expertise of the master of the house, the original Nash homestead has been rewired and improved in other ways to make a loving home for their two children, Christopher and yes—another Elizabeth.

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10815 Acme Avenue: Frank and Fauna-June Faugh

Directly “across the street” from the old Nash home, another dwelling was soon to be erected. John L. and Julia (Nash) Klein, the oldest daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth Nash, purchases two acres probably in the early 1890s. This brown shingled home was to be their residence for several years. They turned over the property to a son, Archie, and moved to a farm in the Possum Hollow area. Later Archie sold the property to the youngest daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth Nash, Rosena (Nash) Johnson and her husband John Johnson. When a stroke paralyzed her husband in the early 1930s, Rosena’s sister Mary Ann (Nash) Brantley and husband John unselfishly gave up their little rented home on Summit Avenue and moved in to assist economically and physically in the care of the Johnsons. Lima beans were grown for market, chickens were raised for eggs and meat, threads were sewn for Woodstock College, and rag rugs were braided and sold throughout the Great Depression to keep the household thriving. It was here that their three sons, Frederick, Lewis, and Eugene and a daughter Mary Elizabeth would leave to be married and make homes for themselves.

In March 1960, John Brantley died, leaving his widow with her sister Rosena. Mary Ann Brantley was to only have a year to share with their sister. (Her story will come later in another household). Rosena Johnson died on June 17, 1966, leaving her property to Charles “Tim” Ferguson, a great-grandson of Joseph and Elizabeth Nash and grandson of the original owners of this house, John and Julia Klein. Tim lived here after retiring on disability from Woodstock Job Corps (Woodstock College). During this time, the house had a face-lift: aluminum siding covered the original brown shingles. Tim died in August 1975. The inheritors—son Charles, Jr. and daughter Margaret Alice (Ferguson) Parsons—sold the property to Howard and Catherine Cunningham. Thus the land went out of family hands.

The present owners bought the home in 1980, taking great pride in remodeling it, yet still retaining the “old proud” look. Frank and Fauna-June Fauth, with their shared love of nature and God’s creatures, have captured the sense of antiquity in 10815 Acme Avenue and plan to treasure it. The Fauths sold their home in 1999 to Joe and Helen McNeal.

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10817 Acme Avenue: Adrian and Patricia Malick

Just “down the lane a piece” on the left, Michael and Mary Zavirugha spotted six and three-quarters acres where they wanted to continue rearing their family. So in 1895, a man named Merkle was hired to build the brown shingled house. The youngest Zavirugha child Catherine was ten years old when the family moved in. Along with another Mary and two brothers, Mike and Stan, these neighbors became playmates with the Nash children (“Kate” and Mary Ann’s friendship stretched through their teen years into adult life, watching each other’s families grow). Mrs. Zavirugha, better known to the neighborhood children as “Miss Mike”, in her native Polish tongue and newly-learned English, kept a keen alert at the gate protecting her milk cows. They all loved “Miss Mike”.

After the death of older brother Mike and the marriages of his sisters, Stan fell heir to the homestead and not being married himself, he willed the property to his sister Catherine, who was by this time Mr. Evaricto Graziani. This happy couple was to bear several of their children here: Gus in 1901 and twin girls, Mary and Flavia, in 1903. Later they rented the John Klein home where son Ernie was born in 1905. Since Mr. Graziani was employed at Woodstock College, he moved his brood to the laundry residence where the rest of the children were born: Agnes, Lucy, Anna, Rita, and Bernadette.

The original Zavirugha property was left vacant for a period of ten years during which time the Grazianis hired Oliver Peach, a local carpenter, to remodel the old house. Upon its improvement, the home and land were willed to the youngest daughter, Mrs. Bernadette (Graziani) Warfield and her husband, Franklin.

Throughout the years 1953–1980, the Warfields “produced” two fine sons, Eddie and David, and also a fruitful orchard and vineyard, sharing their bountiful harvests with their neighbors. Mr. Warfield also remodeled their home in several ways.

In 1980, the Graziani Bonanza on Davis Avenue, in site of the original Zavirugha homestead, called “Bunny and Franklin” there to build a new home. Thus the property changed hands to Murray and Kim Slattery, who also bore two children here and improved the home with several room additions.

Now in 1987, the present owners Adrian and Patty Malick with their little son Louis will endeavor to continue the rich heritage of both soil and family once started at 10817. In 2000, the Malicks added another “house” after they had three lovely daughters—Lauren, Lindsey, and Leslie.

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10805 Acme Avenue: Christopher and Jamie Lentz

Another fashionable brown-shingled, two-story, four-room house was built on the little knoll on one-half acre by the daughter of Robert Mason. Little is known how long they lived here or when they left it. But sometime after 1895, Thomas Nash bought the home and moved in with his second wife Emma (Bowers) Nash. Two of their children were born here: Jessie in 1901 and Calvin in 1905.

Sometime after that, Margaret “Maggie” (Klein) Ferguson, granddaughter of Joseph and Elizabeth Nash, purchased the property where the family of five children and husband Charles lived until his untimely death caused by the flu in 1918. At this time, her parents John and Julia Klein were living in Sykesville, Maryland, where Mr. Klein and his son Hubert practiced his blacksmith occupation. A young widow, Mrs. Ferguson was prompted to go on the outside world foremployment in Baltimore. Her five fine children- John, Helen, Margaret, “Tim”, and Alice were educated at Samuel Ready and McDonough, both private boarding schools. Thus the house was to be rented to John Brantley and family. After a period of three-four years, the Brantleys changed residence to another house in Granite while 10805 housed the John Kleins to live out their lives. John continued as the “Village Blacksmith” in his little shop between the two cement pillars at one time bracing a gate.

The next residents were to be another local Granite family, descending from the old German Stem family who were employees of Woodstock College. Clarence and Mildred (Larkin) Dennis, with the able help from the Jesuits at the college, moved in with their deed on St. Patrick’s Day in 1938. Again the lane was thriving with children, for the Dennis brought with them Mildred, Sidney, and Peggy where they spent their childhood. But once again, a widow was to take on the care of little ones without a father’s protection. Clarence was killed in an elevator accident at Woodstock College. After the children “left the Nest”, Mrs. Dennis stayed in her home until poor health prevented her from maintaining her property. A grandson occupied it for a year, but in 1987, a new young family with two hearty sons: Jimmy and Chris, proudly became the new owners—Chris and Jamie Lentz. With hammer and nails, saws and drills, Mr. Lentz is busy renovating his “castle”

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10737 Davis Avenue (corner of Acme Avenue): Lillian “Willie” Naylor

Returning to the original two acres owned by Robert and Emma (Nash) Johnson on Davis Avenue, another plot of land was divided through the deeding of one-half acre to Frederick and Ruth (Witte) Johnson, Robert and Emma’s son in 1940. Part of the young apple orchard had to be uprooted and transplanted for the builder, Robert Scott, to construct the home. Fred and Ruth brought with them two children—Nancy and Robert—and later twin girls—Susan and Sharon—were born in their new home.

Upon the deaths of Fred and Ruth, son Robert purchased the willed shares of his sisters and owned the home until it was sold in 1978 to the Naylors. As a strain of the Nash blood leaves the property, life continues through the activities of the Naylors—”Willie”, young Alan, and sister Billie. Although the residence is facing Davis Avenue, this little home and its inhabitants will always be a part of Acme Avenue.




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10806 Acme Avenue: Virginia Brantley

On another one-acre parcel of land, a son of Joseph and Elizabeth Nash, Fred built his home. The date is unknown; however, he and his wife Lolly had children born here—Augustus, Agnes and Ansley. Perhaps history of our avenue would have changed had not a disaster come upon Mr. and Mrs. Fred Nash. Their home was completely destroyed by fire, but since none of them was hurt, they were able to resume their lives in Catonsville, Maryland.

But life would later go on on this parcel of land. For the owners of the property-John and Mary Ann Brantley had plans to build their first home. That was not to be as already revealed in Part B of this narrative. Ah, but the land would still be in Nash hands. In 1948, Lewis and Virginia (Witte) Brantley were deeded one-half of this acre where Lewis—better known as Bunk—would take his time as a true craftsman in building their “dream house”—a lovely stone home to house his wife and two sons, Brian and John H. So in 1951, the Brantley family occupied the home. Two other boys would later join this family—Lewellyn Murray Brantley and Bryant Ward Brantley.

In 1983, Virginia was left a widow. Bunk enjoyed their comfortable domicile for several years, adding to its charm of the “old country look”; however, after his death, Virginia continues to retain the warmth of love and pride in their home. She still cherishes an old dish found in the foundation of Bunk’s great-uncle Fred’s house.

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10811 Acme Avenue: Anna Rose Anderson and Claudia Beasman

The little green-shingled rancher on an acre of ground began its story-book tale when Rosena Johnson deeded the land to her nephew, Charles “Tim” Ferguson, a widower who had been married to Mary Elizabeth, the youngest daughter of John and Mary Ann Brantley. With the help of a local carpenter and friend, Joseph Peach, he broke ground in 1952, moving his family into their “new” home in the spring of 1953. Not only did Tim provide a home for his two children, Charles, Jr. and Margaret Alice, but returned his mother “Maggie” Ferguson to her native ground. “Gram”, as she was better known to family and friends, had lovingly cared for her grandchildren just as her mother had done for hers.

The little green house was scarcely initiated by this busy household when both children found their own lives, leaving son and mother. But destiny made a mark again in the history of Acme Avenue when “Gram” died in 1960. Tim found the opportunity to give life to the little house once again when this writer was offered the option to purchase it for herself, her mother, and her four children. This family, too, was left as a single-parent household on June 20, 1959, when George Albert Anderson died of a heart attack at their residence in Washington, Pennsylvania.

Two years of returning to a teaching career in that town gave ample time to decide about making a permanent residence change for the family. Thus on June 6, 1961 the Andersons and “Momma” Beasman, who had been with them since George’s death, in their Lark station wagon, beat the Mayflower moving van over the two hundred and eighty-mile trip by one-half an hour. They were soon comfortably settled in for twenty-five years of grunts, groans, and of course, many grins.

Within one month of their move, the Anderson children—George, Jeanie, Steve and Mike—their mother and grandmother were able to add another joy to their household: “Momma’s” mother, eighty-year old Mary Ann Brantley. When she had a stroke at Rosena’s home right next door, “Mom” Brantley was graciously received by this family. Within time she regained ample health to share and be shared by the Anderson/Beasman conglomerate until her death on December 29, 1962.

Today, after the four children settled with their own families in other states, this mother-daughter team is thoroughly enjoying the retirement years in this Storybook Land—Acme Avenue, Granite, Maryland.

On January 4, 1993, “Momma” Beasman died. On March 22, 1997, Steve was killed when his crop-dusting plane crashed in Arkansas. Two years later on April 4, 1999, Steve’s wife Jeanine died after 10 years fighting brain cancer.
10808 Acme Avenue: Martin Eugene and Emma Jo Brantley

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On December 18, 1956, the eighth house on the avenue became the home of another Nash descendant—Martin Eugene Brantley and wife Emma Jo (Peach), the grandson of Joseph and Elizabeth Nash. They moved in after “Gene” had proudly constructed his brick rancher. This was erected on the other one-half acre of the Fred Nash property. Christmas that year had to be a joyful one for their five children—Joanne, Shirley, “Gene” Jr., Michael and Cathy. Four more sons would be joining them in Christmases to follow—Thomas, Lawrence, Robert and Timothy.

Throughout these past thirty-two years, the Brantleys have sent their charges on their ways. Now the two are anticipating a retirement divided between two residences—10808 and Chesapeake Ranch Club, Solomons Island, Maryland. In March 2001, Eugene died following hospice care in his home.

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10816 Acme Avenue: Ralph and Helen Bridges

Just a week later, on Christmas Eve 1956, Ralph and Helen (Ferguson) Bridges began their thirty-one-plus years on Acme Avenue after purchasing their acreage from a Mrs. Flynn, whose own property on Summit Avenue bordered the Nash land. Having resided in a mobile home previously, the Bridges designed their brick home similar to trailers with their compact storage units. However, with the articulate masonry work mastered by Mr. Bridges, few people would realize this.

Their home proudly displays two interior massive fireplaces and one on a patio outside which adds to the warmth of their rancher. Young son Donald was to grow up among his many cousins and neighbors and later to go on to his career in law, leaving Mother and Dad to live with their memories. Another great-granddaughter of Joseph and Elizabeth Nash continues the life-line through residency on Acme Avenue. Both Helen and Ralph died. Donald still resides here.

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10812 Acme Avenue: Thomas and Carol Jackson

In the spring of 1970, a retired couple, Paul and Jessie (Nash) Campbell, made the decision to return to Mrs. Campbell’s native land. Generosity of her brother-in-law and sister, Frederick and Margaret Brantley made it possible for them to build a two-bedroom rancher on the deeded one-acre of ground (from the original two acres back in 1888) and move from their residence in the Pimlico section of Baltimore, Maryland.

Throughout seventeen years here, the Campbells experienced joys and sorrows. Heart attacks oppressed both in their later years; a robbery/stabbing attack menaced them on Labor Day night, 1983; Paul’s death in May 1986 brought loneliness to his widow; and finally on Jessie’s 86th birthday, October 29, 1987, she succumbed to many complications following a broken hip.

This property, having been deeded to her niece Mary Patricia (Brantley) Higgs, has once again left the Nash family name. Sold to the Jacksons, may this “new blood” add an atmosphere of challenge, love, and pride in this unique neighborhood as they join both the “young” and the “old”. The property was newly acquired by Larry Acord in summer of 2000. I often made a walk with my cute family dog down Acme Avenue.

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Epilogue

As the sun rises and sets upon Acme Avenue each day, just as it does on Melrose, Old Court Road, Summit, St. Paul, Davis, and Hernwood Road, I wonder if our children, coming along behind us in the next one hundred years will appreciate and treasure the heritage passed down to them through family tradition, the cultivation of the soil, and the building of a home.

Then, too, I ponder whether old Mrs. Nelson would call Acme Avenue “Trashtown” as she did a hundred years ago. She couldn’t have known the pride to have developed from the real estate sale of two acres of God’s earth.

May our neighbors today—family and friends—know the concern and love we have for each other. God Bless You.

Anna Rose (Beasman) Anderson

February 7, 1988

 

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