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  • The vivid red color of this old Baptist church calls my camera from the road. And it leads me on a path to ponder memories of Silas Baldwin. His marker reads:

    In memory of Silas Baldwin, who departed this life on June 9th 1845. In his 65th year.


    A memory, a life recorded on stone in 86 characters. Is that it? Heck, there is still room to tweet more.

    I want to know more.

    The internet leads me to a not so revealing nugget,

    Born on 1780. Silas married Charlotte Streett and had 12 children. He passed away on 1845.


    Yes, that adds quite a bit more. So much more. And further information is available if I insert a credit card and subscribe to a web site. What fun is that?

    What happens if what we leave as a memory is but 86 characters of text? It is on me to fill the gaps. What kind of life did Silas, Charlotte, and those 12 kids live?

    I shall conjure it up out of pure imagination.

    His family had settle a grassy plot of land along the Gunpowder River, but it was his ingenuity as a builder of lime kilns. This was work for the Shanklin and Towson clan who had stumbled on success with the use for the Cockeysville Marble found in the nearby valley walls. Some of his building knowledge may have been passed on to Silas from his father, a blacksmith or from his apprenticeship as a free mason. Or mayeb it was just those books he scoured from the den of the Shanklin mansion.

    As it was, by 1830, Silas was now settled as a gentleman farmer, specializing in the breeding of the Morgan horses he had stumbled onto while surveying limestone practices in northern Vermont. And none of his horses was more well known than Apollo, the rare white steed who had won many a competition of strength and endurance. Apollo was a breed apart.

    It was no surprise when Baldwin was approached in 1830 for a most unique challenge, to race in August against an iron horse. The opponent was Tom Thumb, a steam powered machine devised to make economical transport between Baltimore and Ellicot Mills, to do more than what horses could do. In this historic run, Apollo, pulling a car full of spectators, was steady, but fell behind the speedier Tom Thumb. But a race is a race, and when the mechanical horse slowed and stopped with a busted pulley, it was Apollo who won the day.

    But he had lost the longer run, as horses were soon eclipsed by the metal machines. They were forgotten. They would no longer be te engines of progress.

    So what Silas would remember is that sweet victory, for him, his horse, his life's ambition. All he had done had been steered to a moment, to be cast into stone. He would be remembered a long time, he felt that day, his legacy would be as bold as that stunning blue sky of a victory race win. He would be remembered.

    Silas Baldwin departed this life in June 9th. In his 65th year.

    That's what we remember.
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