Grandpop was born in Baltimore in 1899 , the youngest child of John Adam Glenn and his wife Emma. He had 5 other siblings: Charles Rensalier, born in 1881; Laura Virginia (whom he called Lollie), born in 1884, Grace Louisa, born in 1888; Russell Sterling, born in 1891; and Garland Gage, born in 1995. His father John was born in Baltimore as well, but the family originated in Rock Hall, Maryland - Kent County, on Maryland's Eastern Shore. The family owned the home where he was born at 258 Loudon Avenue in Baltimore City. In fact the home is fairly close to Potter Avenue - granddad's first home with his wife. Like so many other homes in downtown Baltimore today - what would have been a two story row home, it is now an empty lot. By 1920 the family lived at 1421 Mulberry Street - granddad's father had died three years previously in 1917.
His father was a telegraph operator as was his eldest brother Charles. Garland also worked as a clerk in the telegraph office. His mother was raised in Pittsfield, Massachusetts by 2 aunts, but was born overseas. Census records indicate New York as her birthplace - but she most likely came in through Ellis Island. She told him that she traveled from Scotland to America as a young girl with her mother - she apparently remembered the voyage and told him about it. Given the amount of Scots and Gaelic words that were interspersed in my language when I was small - there is no question of where she was from or that she taught him. Emma's father was never mentioned but Granddad did tell me that her mother re-married a man named Blair - giving Emma a half-sister named May. Emma also had an older sister named Sarah and together they moved to the Washington D. C. area when Sarah got married. Despite this knowledge, Granddad had no idea how his mother met his father. His father John, was the son of William Rensallaer Glenn, who was born in Rock Hall. William was the great-great-grandson of Captain John Alexander Glen, the son of Alexander "Sanders" Lindsay Glen. He came from Fife in Scotland - a town called Dysart, and came to New York State with the Dutch West India Trading Company. The Dutch called him "Sanders Leendertse Glen" but his real name is more likely Alexander Lindsay of Glenesk. Glenesk is in the heart of Lindsay territory north of Dundee (they were not a highland clan) near Edzell. Whether he was born in Glenske and moved to Dysart is unknown. Dysart is located north of Edinburgh along the Firth of Forth. Lindsay territory as well. What is known is that he fled religious persecution (Scotland had recently become Protestant) and was on the Delaware at Fort Nassau by 1633. By 1665 he had a patent to build in Schenectady on the Mohawk River. He named his home Scotia. His second home (the first was damaged due to extensive flooding) and was added on to by subsequent family members, most notably in 1713, with the addition of the east wing. The home, now called the Glen-Sanders Mansion, is still there and is now a luxury inn and restaurant. It is still owned by a member of the family.
Because Granddad was the youngest child, he didn't speak until he started school. Initially thought to be mute, when asked why he never said anything, he responded with, "I never had to." Apparently his elder brothers and sisters did all the talking for him. He developed scurvy as a young man as well from a diet of oatmeal and shredded wheat. Told it would help his "nervousness" - that's all he ate for some time and when he became ill and finally went to the doctor, he was told that he had scurvy. He was also born with his left eye rolled up into his head so that only the white cornea was exposed. The iris and pupil were not visible at all. His parents never had the problem corrected, whether because of lack of money or insurance or both. By the time he was 21 he was working as a sales clerk at a Baltimore Import House and had saved up enough money to have doctors at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins operate on the eye. They were able to lower the iris and pupil enough so he had some vision, but because the eye muscles had atrophied, they were not able to fully correct the problem. He effectively only had one good eye - he wore glasses and when he developed cataracts later in life, he was rendered almost blind. Despite cataract surgery, he gave up driving and I used to assist him with grocery shopping because he could no longer read the labels. It was during this time with him that he began talking about his family and my interest in genealogy was sparked. His nephew Mifflin had begun his own research, and while he laughingly swore he was related the Robert The Bruce - in reality, both his mother and father's family were Scottish and he desperately wanted to figure out where he came from. He wore a Tam-O-Shanter all his life - that I can remember anyway. My mother always assumed it was a beret. It got packed away after he died and I found it recently while cleaning out a bureau drawer while sorting out my mom and dad's things in preparation to move. I assumed that it had been lost or given away years ago. It has faded from black to a bluish-purple. He was very proud of being Scottish and he handed me a book on tartan and Scotland, a picture of his mother, and a 3 inch folder crammed full of the family genealogy and told me not to loose it. I never ever have.
He met my grandmother in 1921. The family had apparently moved from Mulberry Street to Mount Street and he lived just a few doors down. Per grandma, he would run into the house and play a few tunes on her mother's piano and run right back out. He was also friendly with her brother so he was around the house a lot. Friends called him "Chic" and he and Uncle Frank and another friend that I remember as Mr. Hood, were apparently quite the team. In 1926 he went to work for Western Union and sold insurance for Metropolitan life. He and grandma were married in March of that year in her sister MInnie's home and they moved to Potter Street. Less than a year later they had bought 9 Glenwood Avenue -which at the time was brand new construction and the builder of the home picked the name Glenwood for the street because of their last name. Glenn's at Glenwood. They kept the home during the depression - Grandpop always had some kind of job. He was very abitious and always came up with money for his loan.
Despite not paying to have his eye corrected, his parents did see to it that he took piano lessons. He played many of the classics and was very good, according my mother and Grandma. He had a dance band in Catonsville for a while. Despite the problem with his left eye, both were bright blue and he had thick, wavy auburn hair, so the women swarmed after him. Eventually he gave up the band, because it kept him out late at night and the booze and the women didn't sit right with my grandmother. Despite being only 5 feet tall, Grandpop was very good looking and had a fantastic personality. That and he could sell you snow shoes in July.
By 1935, when my mother was born, he had secured a position as Night Auditor for the Lord Baltimore Hotel, then owned by the Busick family. The hotel was relatively new, having been built in 1928 and touted at the time as the largest hotel in Maryland at 23 stories. Eventually he moved up and became the Assistant Treasurer of the hotel - running the Accounting Office and the front office. According to my mother, he spent a lot of time there to ensure that things ran smoothly. When the hotel was sold in the 60's to H.R. Weissberg - the new owners asked him to retire because he refused to cooperate with their shady dealings as he called them. He would refuse to sign checks for bills because he knew there wasn't enough money to cover them. Weissberg undertook major renovations but by '67 was bankrupt and the hotel was auctioned. He went to work part-time for the Emerson Hotel and the Southern Hotel but eventually gave up working outside the house. The Lord Baltimore went through a few different owners, and is currently operated by Raddison Hotels and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. He would be proud of that I think. Prior to the 60's it was a very gracious establishment and he would take my mother with him to the Accounting Office. She said that she always felt special whenever she was there. Today the neighborhood has changed and while it sit in close proximity Baltimore's Inner Harbor, it is not the same hotel it used to be.
He never had any formal schooling beyond high school, so when my mother graduated from Catonsville High in 1953, college was never encouraged despite the offer of a scholarship at Western Maryland. He did, however, insist that mom attend Bard Avon Business School. Originally a finishing school for upper class girls, by the 1950 it had become a premiere business school and turned out well trained administrative assistants. He exposed her to the business community and encouraged her to work. She told me that he always said to her - Anything worth doing is worth doing to the best of your ability.
He sold 9 Glenwood Avenue the same year my mother graduated and built a home in Rockdale at 3637 Hilmar Road. The house sat on a acre of land that he had purchased from a farmer. Liberty Road was, at the time a two lane road and he had moved literally to the "sticks". Hilmar Road had originally been the driveway to the farm. My guess is that after having a house full of relatives for so long, he wanted a bit of solitude. The house, while huge, only had two bedrooms. The basement was unfinished except for a bar area, and the upstairs, while it encompassed the entire length of the house, had no bathroom and was just one big room, rather than several bedrooms. The lack of extra bedrooms was probably a sign that he just wanted his own family there and not the extended family that he had had in his other home for so many years. At Glenwood Avenue, all the bedrooms were filled and he and my grandmother gave up theirs and slept in the finished attic space - with no heat in the winter and no ventilation in the summer. After that, Hilmar Road had to be a solace for him.
After he retired, he worked tirelessly in his yard, tending rose bushes and transplanting dogwood trees. In 1965, he fell down the cellar steps of the house while carrying a bookcase, completely shattering his right elbow. Rushed to Sinai hospital, he was operated on and the doctor removed over 300 pieces of bone. A pin was put in the elbow and it was reconstructed but he was told that he would never have use of the arm again. PT was not stressed like it is today, so according to my mother he exercised the arm himself - despite terrible pain, and finally regained full use of it.
He also took great care of my grandmother following her stroke and during her cancer treatment. She was heavy smoker and he encouraged her to quit when he discovered that this is probably what had caused the stroke. She refused and think this frustrated him a bit because he had never smoked. He was holding her hand when she died and asked the nurse and my mother with tears in his eyes "Are you sure she's gone?" He had to be told several times that she had stopped breathing before he would leave her. They were married for 51 years and had known each other for 56 years.
Yard work continued long after my grandmother died in 1977 and in 1978 a neighbor caught him up on a ladder cleaning his gutters out, despite being in the throes of congestive heart failure by now. By 1979 he agreed to sell his home and move in with us, but passed away in August of that year before we could get his things settled in the new home. I had been to see him the day before he died and we were discussing the huge backyard. He was debating paying for either a tennis court or an in ground pool for my sister and I. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery with his wife. His brother Garland is buried in an unmarked grave a few plots away.
A note he wrote to my grandmother on their 30th anniversary.
To My Wife,
30 years ago today I married a most loyal and courageous girl, who not only shared my troubles at all times but did everything in the world to make me happy. I trust with the will of God, that he will permit me to live many more years with such a loveable person - my wife.
March 20, 1956 11:30 AM
He stood only 5 feet tall, but those 5 feet were full of pride, determination, ambition and dedication. He was an incredible man.
1. Russell Stirling Glenn (Grandpop's
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