My Baltimore Roots
When I moved to Baltimore 16 years ago, I had no idea of my family roots here. I knew that my great-grandfather Dr. Thomas Perrin Harrison had become a graduate student at Johns Hopkins in 1888 and that his dissertation was entitled The Separable Prefixes in Anglo-Saxon. (That is not a title one forgets!) My aunt Kitty came to visit me right around the time I moved here, and she filled me in verbally and through her various writings and collection of letters written by our ancestors.
The Reverend Dr. James Turner Leftwich, My great-great- grandfather, had been an esteemed minister at two churches before coming to Baltimore in 1879. Apparently, there were some issues At Central Presbyterian Church in Atlanta involving the latest dance craze, ballroom dancing! James called it, “Licentious amusements of the day.” According to my aunt Kitty, “James was installed as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, Maryland. Here he settled into the manse with his wife, son Thomas (18), and daughter Florence (13) and Adelia (11) and served fourteen years, the fullest period of his ministerial career and perhaps the happiest, at least the first ten.” His third and last church was, as we know it today, First and Franklin Presbyterian Church.
My great grandmother, Adelia Leftwich made her debut in the parsonage of the church in 1888 at the age of 20. In a letter to her friend Charlie Littlefield, Adelia gives this account of her special night:
“Your letter came, dear Charlie, right in the midst of the mad frivolity of the wild scene, witnessed here in this quiet Parsonage by some two hundred people last Monday evening…. I had made all my plans for you, I knew just to what girls you were to be presented, who wants to be invited to take tea with you, where you were to sleep, and in short, everything, but you could not come!…. I think I succeeded in impressing them as being very sedate & circumspect. You see, they did not feel my pulse, nor could they see the mental contortions when faces appeared under the portiere, and I realized that I knew not the name of any one of the owners of those grinning faces…”