August 1, 2023
Written by 
Luke F. McCusker III

Ambition, Academics and Athleticism: A Story of Father and Son

Among the families who came to America, and did well, was the Litchfield family. Thomas Litchfield was born in England during the summer of 1841, likely part of a family who did farm work. He met and married Martha Ann Judkins on July 16, 1872 and promptly moved to the United States. Records show he became a superintendent at New York’s Page Rolling Mills, and began a family on February 3, 1879 when Harry Judkins Litchfield was born in Albany, New York.

Something was happening in Baltimore, it seems, and Thomas moved his family there in time for the taking of the U.S. Census in 1880. Baltimore was a boom town of over 332,000, and the 7th largest city in the U.S. at the time. It grew by an additional 175,000 residents during his lifetime, and was the 6th largest American city by 1900. That would indicate a lot of thirsty laborers, especially in the shadows of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Therein he spotted an opportunity.

The family lived on the north side of West Baltimore Street, near present day Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., and Thomas operated a saloon at 869 W. Baltimore St. Interestingly, the City Directories of the time referred to his business there as “beer”; likely his license was only for that. He continued his efforts there into 1898: the year of his death. That being said, he had more than one iron in the fire.

Thomas’ obituary tells us that he moved to Catonsville, a western suburb, in 1886 and developed his talents in the hospitality industry as owner of the Terminal Hotel. He had a home nearby, referred to as “Castle Thunder” in his obituary: part of an early acreage owned by Charles Carroll of Carrollton and his descendants. The home was located at Beaumont and Frederick Roads: about a half mile east of the hotel.

Both the hotel and his home were on Frederick Avenue (albeit a few miles apart), and Thomas did business both in West Baltimore and Catonsville, just a few miles west. Catonsville was at the end of the horsecar line that traveled along Frederick Ave. He ran the hotel until 1896.

He transitioned into being a contractor for his last few years, and passed away on June 16, 1898, at age 57. Thomas’ funeral was held at West Baltimore’s St. Benedict Catholic Church. He was survived by wife Martha, son Harry and a daughter, Martha Ann Litchfield Johnson. Another son, Thomas Samuel had predeceased him in November 1895, at age 21. He had been a railroader and volunteer firefighter.

Thomas’ work ethic was not in vain, as he and Martha had high hopes for their children. Our research has focused on son Harry, as his exploits on the baseball diamond have caught our attention due the current baseball season and the magnificent photograph below.

 Harry spent his high school years at Mount Saint Joseph High School, run by the Xavierian Brothers. It was established in 1876 and is one of Baltimore’s Catholic boy’s schools run by men known as Christian Brothers. These were and continue to be Catholic “consecrated laymen” with a solid education and formal training…who think of the education of boys as their vocation in life. These were not priests, whose works included the administering of the sacraments. Rather, they “took the robe” and gave of themselves sacrificially in school settings, transforming young boys and men in the areas of religious and academic studies, the learning of trades and skills in some instances, and the use of athletics to develop them physically and socially.

Mount Saint Joseph High School (Modern View)

Harry J. Litchfield was one of their charges at Mount St. Joe’s, and he and his schoolmates are remembered in various newspaper articles as being part of a community that offered ways to achieve academically, spiritually and on the sports field. Admission to these schools was not a given, as applicants typically took a test to see if they were capable of handling the curriculum. Some were admitted based on the education they received in grammar school beforehand, while others qualified for scholarships, as their families might have struggled to pay even the modest tuitions of the era. Nevertheless, boys that attended were among the more diligent students in the community, and were from families that aspired to bring out the best in their sons, regardless of their heritage or station.

It was not unusual for parents with little in the way of formal education to insist that their children would do better, and achieve in life. Many might have arrived in America as illiterates, but insisted that their children do well, and be educated among others whose parents required the same. Those parents worked, scrimped and saved to make this happen, and Harry and his classmates knew what was expected of them. Their hard work in school mirrored that which they saw at home, where ambitious parents did well in home and work life, as well as among their peers in religious and social settings. Work ethic and accomplishment were patterned and expected, and were balanced with a good bit of fun socially, and on the sports fields of the time.

One pattern that many schools and organizations followed was the establishment of athletic teams, and Mount St. Joe’s leadership held a meeting in January, 1895 to begin their own baseball team. We shouldn’t be surprised at that, as the City’s Baltimore Orioles were the talk of the town in the 1894-1896 era. They were champions of the National League, with notorious players that found their way into baseball’s Hall of Fame.

 What boy’s school wouldn’t want to be part of all that excitement? The school took the plunge, and even bought some uniforms…however modest.


Harry Litchfield’s name could be found in the Baltimore Sun of the era, and the photo we have presented above, courtesy of Museum friend Craig Collins Young, features him at the lower left, holding the baseball he hurled towards home plate as the team pitcher. We were fortunate to find a few box scores from May, 1898 that described the games they played, and compared the names listed to other articles that describe “Field Day” and “Graduation/Commencement” articles about their school. It seems that this team photo is from 1898 and includes Harry Litchfield as pitcher, “Evans” as catcher, “Scott” at first base, Robert Emmet White at second, Thomas R. Buckley at shortstop, Edward A. O’Mara at third, and “Bilosly”, “Campbell” and P.A. Dorsey in the outfield…left to right. Some Irish names there...recognize anyone? We want to hear from you at

Harry continued his baseball days on a club team in future years, but did well with his academic learning by becoming an insurance agent. He married Bessie E. Spicer circa 1900 and established a home near Frederick Ave., adding daughter Idella in 1901.

Harry passed away on February 10, 1918. His Requiem Mass was said at St. Benedict Catholic Church, and he was laid to rest in St. John’s Church Cemetery in Ellicott City, alongside his father. He was 39 years old…and is still remembered by his family today.

Thankfully, others have reached out to us with their stories and reminiscenses of the era, including Museum friend Mim Quaid. Her family members also attended the school and joined a baseball team:

John Nolan, her grandfather is in the photo at top right. Directly below him are brothers Will and Jim (second row, 3rd and 4th from the right). Boy, do they look young!

These stories are so inspirational to us. Our immigrant ancestors left their native land, established new lives in America and did well for both themselves and future generations. We are their legacy, and admirers.



Baltimore Sun

Baltimore City Directory, various

Census of the United States, various years

Collins Family

Tim Harvey

Mount Saint Joseph High School, Baltimore

Orser, Edward and Joseph Arnold, 1880 to 1940: From Village to Suburb (University of Maryland Baltimore County: Donning Press), 1989.

Mim Quaid

Wise, Marsha Wight, Images of America: Catonsville (Arcadia Publishing), 2005.

Xavierian Brothers: (Accessed 8/1/23).

Craig Collins Young


p.s. Care to visit the latest version of the Terminal Hotel? It is now a restaurant known as Matthew's 1600…who knew? Worth a visit, if you are local. The Catonsville Public Library was built on the site of the home “Castle Thunder” as well.

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