Handsell (HM19BW)

Location: Vienna, MD 21869 Dorchester County
Country: United States of America

N 38° 30.558', W 75° 48.75'

  • 0 check ins
  • 0 favorites

The Steele Family Homestead

A grand plantation home is destroyed and rebuilt.

Early History
1768-The Indian Reservation at Chicone was dissolved by the Maryland Colony. 484 acres of HANDSELL went to Ann Billings and her husband, Henry Steele. According to oral history the Steeles built a "large pretentious home", now believed to be HANDSELL.

1776-The 1776 Census lists Henry Steele living in Vienna area with this family and 91 slaves.

1779- The British attack the Vienna area several times between 1779-1781. Considerable damage was done to local homes including Weston, home of the John Henry family nearby. One slave was stolen from Henry Steele. It is possible HANDSELL was destroyed during that time.

1782-Henry Steele died in February, just 6 months after his dear friend and business partner Colonel John Henry passed away. He left 8000 acres of land and several dozen slaves.

1783-The 1783 Tax Assessment lists HANDSELL as containing one frame dwelling house, 5 "logged" home, 2 barns and one orchard. Ann Steele died in 1788. HANDSELL willed to her second son, Isaac.

1800-1800 Census lists Isaac Steele living at HANDSELL with 14 slaves. In 1803 he purchased property in Cambridge and began to build a large brick house at HAMBROOKS, but died in 1806 at age 39. Brother James inherited the entire Steele fortune. HANDSELL continued to be farmed by the Steele family until 1837.

History after 1837
1837-John Steele of Dorchester County purchased and built the present structure from the 18th century brick ruins.

1844-Mileah Ann Steele and her husband Robert Rook lived here until the property was sold to Jacob C. Wilson in 1849.

1859-John Thompson purchased HANDSELL from Jacob C. Wilson. Thompson died in 1862 and willed HANDSELL to his son Samuel E. An extant 1877 Map indicates HANDSELL, known then as the Thompson Farm was occupied by Samuel E. Thompson.

1916-The old brick house was rented by Harry E. and Della Bradshaw Hughes. Della gave birth to her first child, Blanche, on Feb. 9, 1916 while living at HANDSELL. The Hughes family left HANDSELL shortly after her birth.

1920's-Glen and Mary Wilson lived "in the old brick home at Chicone", and later told the story of the barn burning one night.

1930's-No one lived at Handsell after this time.

2005-The NHPA is formed to purchase and restore HANDSELL. It is listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places.

2011-Restoration begins at Handsell

(Inscription beside the left side of the Handsell drawing)
Although no original plans exist, and there is no record of an architect, the original Handsell is believed to have been a 5-bay, two-story-with-garret brick home built in the Georgian style popular at the time, as pictured at right in the in the Conceptual Sketch of Handsell.

(Inscription with the house photos)
Sometime between 1770's and 1803, the original plantation house experienced a devastation and partial collapse. Research and archaeolgogy is ongoing, but it is clear the house was left in ruins with three walls of the house still standing. Was it destroyed by the British during the War or by a house fire?
HM NumberHM19BW
Placed ByMaryland Heritage Area Authority
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Thursday, October 2nd, 2014 at 7:59am PDT -07:00
Sorry, but we don't have a picture of this historical marker yet. If you have a picture, please share it with us. It's simple to do. 1) Become a member. 2) Adopt this historical marker listing. 3) Upload the picture.
Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 429160 N 4262638
Decimal Degrees38.50930000, -75.81250000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 30.558', W 75° 48.75'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 30' 33.48" N, 75° 48' 45.00" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)410
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 701-757 Indiantown Rd, Vienna MD 21869, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

Is this marker missing? Are the coordinates wrong? Do you have additional information that you would like to share with us? If so, check in.

Check Ins  check in   |    all

Have you seen this marker? If so, check in and tell us about it.

Comments 0 comments

Maintenance Issues
  1. Is this marker part of a series?
  2. What historical period does the marker represent?
  3. What historical place does the marker represent?
  4. What type of marker is it?
  5. What class is the marker?
  6. What style is the marker?
  7. Does the marker have a number?
  8. What year was the marker erected?
  9. This marker needs at least one picture.
  10. Can this marker be seen from the road?
  11. Is the marker in the median?