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Digital Maryland

About this collection

This collection of 121 photographic images are mostly of people and places in the rural farming community along what became Cockey's Mill Road in Reisterstown, Maryland between the years 1902 and 1909, originating from glass plate negatives taken by Reisterstown farmer Joshua Peter Fitze.

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Collection Location: Baltimore County Public Library

David Pierce Martin (1887-1969) with an unidentified woman wearing a fancy bonnet, standing in front of a shuttered house.Collection Overview: The 121 photographic images in this collection were produced from glass plate negatives that originated with Reisterstown, Maryland farmer Joshua Peter Fitze. Fitze was born in 1862 in Carroll County, Maryland and raised on a farm by his parents, Samuel and Mary Ann Fitze. At the time of the 1880 Census, Joshua was 18 years old and living in Uniontown, Maryland, with his widowed mother and younger brother Martin. Joshua's occupation was listed as "Works in farm".

In 1889, Joshua married Laura F. Cook, and together they raised two sons, Samuel David (born in 1890 in Reisterstown) and Charles Oscar (born in 1892 also in Reisterstown).

The 1900 Census indicates that the family lived in a rented house in the Reisterstown area and that Joshua worked as a farm laborer. By 1910, he was still a general farm laborer but owned a home and farm on West Point Road off of Cockey's Mill Road west of Reisterstown. In 1920, he continued working as a farmer--a truck farmer. At the age of 69 in 1930, the Census shows a widowed Joshua no longer working but living at the time in Baltimore City with his son Charles' family.

John Wesley Franklin (1884- ), an African American who lived on Cockey's Mill Road outside of Reisterstown, Maryland.

After Laura's death in 1929, Joshua married Emma D. Miller, who brought her two sons into the family. The couple spent their remaining years living on Cockey's Mill Road outside of Reisterstown. They died in 1955, just three days apart.

Fitze was an enterprising man. Besides farming, Joshua was involved in several other endeavors. At some point he was a manufacturer of items made using pebbles and stones: mantles, fire places, urns, flower pots, sidewalks, lawn paths, and more. Related to this he provided landscaping services. He also erected Champion hay fork and carriers for other farmers.

Additionally, Joshua was an avid photographer, as evidenced by his extant collection of 121 glass plate negatives. There seems to have been additional negatives that did not survive, as the Reisterstown Room photo collection contains several cabinet card photographs that strongly resemble others that have been identified as having been printed from Fitze's glass plate negatives.


Country estate built in 1899 for Baltimorean Robert Brent Keyser (1859-1927) in the Green Spring Valley of Baltimore County, Maryland.All images appear to be of people and places in Reisterstown, Maryland and in the surrounding area, photographed in the years 1902 into 1909. Interestingly, research regarding the subjects of the images eventually revealed that the collection as a whole presents a glimpse of people and places and life in a very specific area: a rural farming community along what became Cockey's Mill Road, a very old road that runs west of Reisterstown about three miles until it meets the former North Branch of the Patapsco Falls, now Liberty Reservoir and the boundary between Baltimore and Carroll counties. Many of the people were obviously neighbors, and newspaper articles indicate they enjoyed socializing together. Some of the subjects were extended family members, by birth and by marriage. It is not known for certain if photography was simply a hobby or if Joshua received any payment for his work. The formal nature of some individual and family photographs lends itself to the idea that he may have received remuneration. Also, a few of the negatives were labeled as though more than one printed copy was desired: 6 prints, 12 postcards, etc.
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