Ancestral Homes · Oakdale



Although Cherry Grove has always been recognized as the family seat of the Warfields of Howard County, when Oakdale became the home of Govenor Edwin Warfield, the earlier landmark was gradually eclipsed, as the public focused on the govenor's handsome country showplace. Yet the occupants of the newer residence continued to recognize Cherry Grove as their place of origin.

Captain Benjamin Warfield of Cherry Grove had four sons: Beale, Benjamin, Philemon and Joshua, who had a son, Albert Gallatin, by his second wife. Albert Gallatin built his home, "Oakdale", in 1838 on an original tract deeded to his grandfather in the early months of 1766. Albert was a gentle and kindly person who loved children and spent much time working on their behalf. Although the owner of a large number of slaves, he was not sympathetic to the practice of slavery. As such, he established the custom of freeing his slaves on their 40th birthdays. When the Civil War resulted in emancipation of the family's slaves, Albert could not afford a college education for his son, Edwin, the future governor of Maryland. "Notwithstanding this early handicap, Edwin achieved his early goals by working on the farm and teaching school, without the benefit of formal training, while he pursued the study of law."

Edwin Warfield married Emma Nicodemus, daughter of J. Courtney Nicodemus of Baltimore, in 1886. Edwin's father, Albert, died in 1891, and his mother died in 1897, leaving Oakdale to the governor, who made many notable changes. He enlarged the house after which the huge columns of the front portico were erected and lengthy side porches were added. Like his father he was a man of splendid taste, a trait he exercised in the restoration of his home. He beautified the interior with handsome woodwork that was hand-carved in Oakdale's shops. Today the mansion boasts 20 rooms, a stately stairway with a beautiful Palladian window and broad balcony overlooking the foyer, fireplaces on all three floors and seven bathrooms, all of which retain the original lavish space and beautiful wide marble lavatories. Oakdale remains to this day one of the county's finest landmarks.

Excerpts taken from "Old Homes and Families of Howard County, Maryland", Celia M. Holland, 1987, p 298.


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©2005 George A. Scheele MD