1909, Baltimore – typhoid on the Coxon farm

The Coxon’s were Baltimore dairy farmers but the growth of the city brought typhoid problems.



Baltimore, 1909











In 1909, there were several cases of typhoid reported around the area of the Coxon Farms in Baltimore. The Health Commissioner of Baltimore City requested the State Board of Health to investigate and inspect the farms.

This is an extract from the report by the Maryland State Board of Health. It provides a great insight into life on the farm in 1909 but also the effect of industrialisation on a rural community.


‘The Coxon dairies, three in number, are located at Gardenville, Baltimore county, on a gentle eminence, about 300 yards from Herring Run. The first retail dairy – the Oriole Dairy – is managed by George Edward Coxon; the second – the Fairmont Farm Dairy – is managed by Harry Eugene Coxon. The wholesale dairy – the Furley Hall Farm Dairy – is operated by Robert Coxon.


The Coxon brothers keep between 70 and 80 milch cows, and retail in Baltimore City 150 gallons of milk a day. Their herds are of the finest and best, and composed largely of Holstein and Jersey stock. The stables are clean and well-kept, and the cows’ feed is of the first quality. Water is drunk while standing in the stall.


The milk house, like the farm buildings, was in a thoroughly sanitary condition. The milk cans and other utensils were clean and sweet. In fact, I only had one suggestion to offer, namely, that it appeared to me Mr. Coxon was keeping the temperature of his cow stables a little too high.’


The milk and water from the farms were tested and found to be clean. The report continued by investigating the people affected by typhoid and found that one of the milkmen employed by Mr Coxon had recovered from typhoid the previous year.

There had been no cases of sickness in any of the Coxon families but a tenant of Coxon had been affected. The conclusion of the report was that a member of the tenants family was the typhoid carrier.

The background to this story is that Baltimore in 1900 had a population of over 500,000 and was growing steadily. However, Baltimore was also the largest municipal city in the USA without a municipal sewage system. There were regular typhoid outbreaks. 

The city had major plans for improvement which included work around Herring Run and the Coxon property. This would include a park around Herring Run which would preserve the natural landscape and emphasise the hilly stream laden land with parks and scenic drives.



Herring Run, Baltimore












The plan also included ensuring that the sewage system of Baltimore did not pollute Herring Run. The city had the legal right to ensure that this plan was implemented and in 1925 the city bought 19 acres of land from Robert and Mary Coxon for $43,000 (equivalent to $520,000 in 2016).

The Coxon brothers (George, Harry and Robert) were all born in Maryland.

Their father George E Coxon (who also lived on the farm with his wife Louisa) was born in England in 1835 and emigrated to the United States in 1859 aged 24. He married Louisa in 1868 and in 1870 he was a Miller in Baltimore at Furley Mill. In 1872 he purchased Furley Mill.

[Note: this is another example in history of a Coxon with a Miller background – see our Corn Miller story]


FURLEY MILL (I am extremely grateful to John McGrain and Eric Holcomb of Baltimore, USA for the following research) 


Furley Mill was on the north bank of Herring Run, south side of present Brehms Lane, presumably built by Daniel Bowly (II), owner of Furley Hall, a great house that endured until 1953. The estate was divided on Bowly’s death in 1811, and the mill passed to William L. Bowly and Peter Wirgman (Deeds WG 126:121, MSA).


In 1817, William L. Bowly mortgaged the mill to his sister Frances L. Bowly, and later conveyed it and the water power to William Scharf in 1831. Varlé’s View of Baltimore, 1833, erroneously called it “Ivy Mill” but attributed it to William Scharf. Scharf conveyed it to Isaac T. Scharf, and Sidney and Browne’s 1850 county map showed the “T. Scharf Grist Mill,” and the 1857 Robert Taylor county map and the 1863 map showed J. Scarf [sic] Grist Mill. 


The 1860 census of manufactures listed Isaac Scharf with $4000 capital investment in a water mill with 3 run of stones, 2 employees, and annual output of 1540 bbl flour plus corn meal ($18,500).


Isaac T. Scharf conveyed Scharff’s [sic] Mill to William Slater in 1858 (Towson Deeds GHC 23:371). “The grist mill of Mr. Slater, on Herring Run, was damaged and other losses in all to the amount of $3,000 or $4,000 occasioned. The bridge at the mill and that at the turnpike on the Harford road were washed away . . . ,” (Maryland Journal, August 24, 1867). Slater acquired Otto Gunther as partner. About 1872, Gunther’s widow conveyed “The Mill Property” to George E. Coxon and wife (Deeds ERA 77:197). 6 


The 1880 census of manufactures listed George F. Coxon with $6,000 capital investment in a custom mill with 2 employees, 2 run of stones, and 200 bu/diem maximum capacity. A 14-foot fall on Herring Run drove a 40 hp breast wheel 8 feet broad at 10 rpm. Annual output was 400 bbl flour, 300 bbl rye, 192 tons meal, and 42.2 tons feed ($8585).


Coxon’s Mill was a place name of 1882, served by Gardenville Post Office, Industries of Md. and was also listed in GZMD, 1941, although long gone and the area incorporated into Baltimore City. The G. L. Coxon Furley Mill appeared in the 1877  G. M. Hopkins county atlas.


The large gristmill burned with 1500 bushels of corn and 1000 bushels of wheat, B. C. Democrat, February 23, 1889, p. 3. The news account added that the building “locally known as Furley Mill” was built by Mr. Furley about 75 years ago.” However, there was no such person as Mr. Furley, since Furley Hall was named for the ancestral English seat of the Bowly family, Tidewater Md. Architecture, H. C. Forman, p. 154. The Sun, February 20, 1889, also covered the story and reported that the fire engine from San Domingo under Captain Steinicker turned out and saved the stables and outhouses. The chemical engines from Highlandtown and Canton also fought the fire. Loss was estimated at $10,000 by the Baltimore County Union, February 23, 1889. 


The Maryland Journal, Towson, reported on May 25, 1889, “Mr. Timmons the old tenant on the McHenry estate, is obliged to look for other quarters, as Mr. Geo. Croxen, late owner of the Furley Mill, has purchased the farm and intends to move there soon.” 


Only G. E. Coxon’s land appeared in the 1915 G. W. Bromley atlas. Dr. H. C. Forman, a Bowly relative, had no photograph of the mill to compare to a likely looking but unidentified albumen print in the McGrain collection when they corresponded in 1981.





[Acknowledgements and thanks: University of Maryland, School of Law, John McGrain and Eric Holcomb of Baltimore, Maryland]

Comments are closed