Remus H. Adams was a free African American blacksmith in mid 19th century Catonsville. His blacksmith shop was located on 615 Frederick Road at the site of what was once the Catonsville Elementary School. Remus Adams was on contract with the Glenn Family at the Hilton Estate. Learn more about Adams below.
Remus Adams was a free African American blacksmith in mid 19th century Catonsville. His blacksmith shop was located on 615 Frederick Road at the site of what was once the Catonsville Elementary School. He was one of the founders of the Greenwood Electric Park, a Black-owned amusement park that catered to Blacks during the Jim Crow era. He was also one of the trustees of the Freedmen's Bureau School in Catonsville, an institution that eventually became the Catonsville Colored School. Adams was on contract with the Glenn Family at the Hilton Estate and interacted regularly with young Willie Glenn. He was one of the few African American business and property owners in Catonsville during the period.
Records indicate that he was not a first generation free African American blacksmith, rather his father John Remus is believed to have owned the business beforehand. After his father's death, Adams and his brothers took over the business, however his brothers eventually moved on, leaving him to run the store. In addition to running the blacksmith shop, he also trained other free blacks in the trade. Blacksmithing, the shaping of iron into useful and needed implements, was an essential occupation in the 1800s. Just about every home - both Black and White - required the services of a blacksmith for tools, hinges, kitchen implements and of course, horseshoes and wagon parts. Remus H. Adams died on January 5, 1898.
Below are several primary sources concerning the life of Remus H. Adams. Efforts are currently under way to assemble these and other puzzle pieces to have a clearer understanding of his life and legacy.
In 1867, the Freedmen's Bureau purchased property along the northeast corner of Winter's Lane and Edmondson Avenue in Catonsville. The property was "...to be deeded to the colored people of Catonsville and their successors forever, for a school and educational purposes." A combination of Black and White trustees were appointed to oversee the school's operations and Remus Adams was one of the trustees. The building at 100 Edmondson Avenue was so small that it only housed the 1st and 2nd grades; grades 3, 4, 5, and 6 were taught across the street at the Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church. While there was an African American female teacher, Remus Adams oversaw most of the school's operations. The Freedmen's Bureau was discontinued in 1870, and the school was known as the Catonsville Colored School from that point, fully supported by the Catonsville Black community. Most historians believe that Remus Adams was the major financial backer for the Catonsville Colored School. The institution remained open for educational purposes until 1943.
Remus Adams participated in the creation of the Catonsville Cooperative Corporation on September 1,1890. This was an organization in which African American community members invested to start new businesses including the Greenwood Electric Park. Greenwood was a local entertainment and amusement park for African American precluded from utilizing local parks due to "Jim Crow" segregation laws. Located on Winters Lane - the Catonsville Black community - Greenwood Electric Park became the center of Catonsville Black social life and attracted visitors from all over Baltimore. It included entertainment, education, church activities, and civic events. Remus Adams was the driving force behind this local attraction.
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Historian-Michelle Diane Wright / IT -Alexis Brown