The Forgotten Community of Masonville
Masonville, a little home-like village of yesteryear, began as a railroad town in the late 1890's. Today it is only a memory.
Its birth and death is attributable to the advent of the railroad. Many old timers remember with nostalgic regret the vanishing of this peaceful little community with its rural atmosphere.
After the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad extended its line from Clifford Street in South Baltimore to Brooklyn and then Fairfield and Curtis Bay, Masonville, at the foot of Ninth Street and Chesapeake Avenue had the advantage of being centrally located. The little community prospered but it could not expand since it was hemmed in from the very outset by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. It was indeed the smallest and most exciting of five hamlets on the Peninsula.
History relates that a man by the name of Mason built a small storage and workroom to make crackers and bread for the residents who occupied the two rows of houses built by William G. Gischel on Matson Street.
At the turn of the century, the village reached a population of a few hundred people. Railroad crewman adopted the hamlet as a stopping point for lunch and coffee breaks. A little church and school were built in the community by a family named Leishear, of the Fundamentalist Persuasion, later known as "The Brethren". Dr. Davis of Curtis Bay, a renowned practitioner of medicine, was an ardent leader of that mission, and its existence had a marked religious impact upon the townspeople.
It was not all smoke, coal dust and the noise of railroading that was identified with Masonville. There was a brighter and gayer side. In the early 1900's many lawn parties, picnics and public gatherings were held. Friends and relatives from Curtis Bay and Brooklyn came in surreys and buggies up Shell Road or through the tunnel under the railroad track to join the villagers in social gatherings. Many friendly farmers lived nearby. Among them, Ellsworth Anderson and Bill Haines.
In the early 1950's when the Curtis Bay terminal expanded, land values proximate to the terminal increased. Little by little the tentacles of industrial expansion encroached upon the once peaceful hamlet until Masonville was finally crushed under the heavy hoof of the iron horse. To see lifelong neighbors leave, saddened the memories of those who remained, but in a relatively short time all the inhabitants were gone. Some few moved to nearby Curtis Bay and Brooklyn.
The Tate family was prominently identified with Masonville where they came prior to World War I. Atwood Tate was employed as a trainman on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad at the Curtis Bay terminal. He had four sons and five daughters. His son Donald, is an officer with the B & O Railroad. Another son, Dr. Wayne Tate is a physician in Glen Burnie. Another son, Creston, is the owner of the largest Chrysler dealership in this area. Still another son, Barrett Atwood Tate is an attorney. The five Tate daughters are as equally and creditably successful in their life pursuits.
Masonville is no more, but remains a pleasing recollection of a nostalgic saga of the past.
Today -- Looking
Toward Where Masonville Was:
This page last updated October 13, 2009.
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