The Jacob House
East Towson cabin

A Place Called Wilson’s Corner

East Towson celebrates two families believed to be the earliest known residents of the Jacob House. In the 1890s Eliza Johnson’s name appeared in local tax records. Area residents believe Ms. Johnson was a freed slave from the nearby Stevenson plantation.

In 1911, the Johnson family conveyed the property to Albert H. Wilson, who passed it to his heirs, including his youngest son, Jacob H. Wilson. According to local history, the Wilson family earned a position of prominence. Their East Towson settlement became known as Wilson’s Corner.

Preservation Prevails

In 1998, a significant portion of the house to which the historic log cabin had been attached caught fire. The entire property faced the threat of demolition. Led by Adelaide Bentley, the East Towson community rallied to save the cabin. Historic structures specialist Douglass Reed performed a full reconstruction.

The reconstructed cabin was dedicated in 2011, with support from County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. The project, a component of the East Towson Development Project, also received support from the State of Maryland. Ms. Bentley describes the Jacob House as a “hallmark in the history of Towson.”

The Jacob House

Freedom, and a Cabin

Research indicates that the Jacob House log cabin was originally built in the 1840s by a former slave freed from a nearby plantation estate known as Hampton, owned by the Ridgely family, or from a smaller plantation known as Stevenson.

It is believed that the cabin was built on land now in the 400 block of East Pennsylvania Avenue, approximately a quarter-mile from where it stands today. The cabin was relocated as part of the process to preserve it. In 2001, Baltimore County and the Northeast Towson Improvement Association sponsored a study of the cabin’s origins.

The study dated the cabin to the 1840s, a finding consistent with the belief that the East Towson community was established by African Americans manumitted from the Hampton estate.

Although the legal details of the Jacob House’s early ownership are unknown, historic records support the existence of an African American settlement in East Towson as early as the mid-19th century.

The “African American Church and School,” shown on the 1877 atlas, was established to serve the needs of the rapidly growing African American community that began with the arrival of families seeking freedom, like the family who likely built the Jacob House.

Baltimore County Heritage Project

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