The history of a once-expansive estate dedicated to cultivating tobacco

The history of a once-expansive estate dedicated to cultivating tobacco
Image illustration by Alice Kresse

If wealth in 18th-century Montgomery County was measured in land, then the richest person in the county was Robert Peter. Born in 1726 near Glasgow, Scotland, Peter came to The usa in 1746 as a consultant of the Glasgow firm of John Glassford and Co., the Washington, D.C., area’s most popular tobacco business, in accordance to the web page for Tudor Location, the palatial Georgetown estate created by Peter’s son Thomas (it’s now a museum). Peter originally started his import/export company in Bladensburg, Maryland, with warehouses and weighing stations developed in the active port on the Patuxent River. Finally Peter aided establish trade facilities in practically every town alongside the Potomac River.

Peter played a critical part in developing Georgetown as a significant stage of commerce in the tobacco trade. Georgetown was situated in Montgomery County before its incorporation in 1789 by way of an act of the Maryland Normal Assembly. The neighborhood was the Bethesda area’s sole port town, crowded with ships laden with merchandise sailing the Potomac River. In 1791, Georgetown turned element of the freshly established District of Columbia.

Tobacco was the forex of trade in the 18th century, and Peter built a fortune in the business enterprise. As he accrued prosperity, he began acquiring land—large parcels that eventually stretched from Georgetown along River Highway to Seneca.

Land was acquired and sold with terrific fluidity in people times, so it is complicated to know how much house Peter acquired, but his purchases are thought to have included more than 20,000 acres, which includes a substantial portion of what is Bethesda currently, according to land information.

Peter eventually settled in Georgetown and before long grew to become a primary determine in the expansion of the city and communities across the encompassing countryside. White tenant farmers or Black enslaved laborers cleared his acreage and organized the fields for planting tobacco. Planting, pruning and harvesting was labor intense and finished strictly by hand unlike the administration of wheat or corn, no equipment experienced been invented to automate the harvesting procedure. Peter grew to become the area’s most prosperous tobacco broker, earning a fortune off the “noxious weed,” as King James I of England identified as it.

For his civic involvement in the progress of Georgetown, Peter was elected to serve as a justice of the peace in a part of Frederick County that grew to become Montgomery County in 1776. He also sat on Georgetown’s board of commissioners for 32 decades. In 1789 he was appointed the initially mayor of Georgetown.

In 1795 Peter’s son Thomas married George Washington’s move-granddaughter, Martha, who was born in 1777 at Mount Vernon. The younger Peter continued to have a tendency his father’s estate subsequent the elder Peter’s loss of life in 1806, according to Tudor Place. Thomas’ brother, George, was 1 of the initially students enrolled in what inevitably became Georgetown University, becoming a member of the university in 1792 at age 13. Two a long time later, at 15, he ran absent to be part of the Maryland troops sent to Pennsylvania to quell the Whiskey Rise up, an armed insurrection of farmers protesting new taxes. Just after battling in the War of 1812, George Peter was elected to Congress in 1815 as a consultant from Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District.

The Peter estates in the Bethesda region ongoing to cultivate tobacco effectively into the 19th century. Tobacco grew on sprawling tracts of land stretching across Montgomery County’s southern border, including tobacco plantations straddling today’s Rockville Pike.

Large sections of the authentic estate remained in the Peter relatives for generations, with Robert bequeathing a part of his estate to his daughter, Margaret Dick, who in turn still left it to her son, Robert.

Now the National Institutes of Wellbeing rises from the previous tobacco fields of the Peter spouse and children.

Writer and historian Mark Walston ([email protected]) was raised in Bethesda and life in Olney.