The Workforce

The workforce at Riversdale was made up of enslaved, indentured, and free men, women, and children. Their story can be more fully told thanks to the survival of the letters from Rosalie Stier Calvert to her family, as well as the documents of her son, Charles Benedict Calvert.

Do you think you are descended from a family who lived and worked at Riversdale?
The Riversdale House Museum is looking for descendants of the enslaved community who lived and worked at Riversdale.  Our team is working to create a more balanced narrative that is reflective of the experiences of everyone who lived at the home. Through this work we are looking to form a descendant group that will help inform and shape the future of Riversdale House Museum. If you believe that you are a direct descendant, please reach out to us at riversdale@pgparks.com. We want to hear from you! 

Some of the surnames that we know are connected to Riversdale are: Plummer, Carrick, Carroll, Dotson, Allen, Lee, Mills, Scott, Stewart, Beckett, Dorsey, Gilbert, Kent, Price, Purvy, Carter, Gutrich, Brown, Wood, Adams, Johnson, Wallace, Robary, Robinson, Brashears, Speaks, Leonard, Norris, and Stephen. 

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JACOB

Enslaved Gardener

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Jacob was the gardener for the Stiers when they lived in Annapolis. He was sold, along with his wife, in an advertisement Stier placed in the Annapolis Gazette for the sale of bulbs. Before this, Jacob helped transport some of the flowers to Bladensburg to plant before the Stier's arrival in 1803. 

LUCIE

Enslaved Chambermaid

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Lucie was a young girl who was technically enslaved by the Stiers, and she accompanied them to Antwerp when they returned in 1803. She was sent back to Maryland, and it was Rosalie who organized her sale after she returned.

UNNAMED GARDENER

Indentured Servant

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This unnamed German man's indentureship was purchased (along with that of his wife) by the Calverts in 1816. At first, Rosalie was very pleased with his work, despite the language-barrier issues they had. However, by in 1819 he was dismissed because according to Rosalie he could not tell a carrot from a turnip.

Tarlton Brown

Hired Laborer

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Tarlton appears in the records of Charles Benedict Calvert for having been paid for wood cutting on the Riversdale property. Not much more is known about him or his family. He does, however, appear in an 1828 Daily National Intelligencer runaway ad for his wife Letty Brown and her two children, Bob & Dave. She disappeared in the company of Tarlton. It's unclear whether Letty and her boys found freedom, but it does appear that Tarlton returns to Riversdale.

WILL SCOTT

Enslaved Coachman

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 Will Scott was the coachman for Rosalie and George Calvert beginning in around 1803, until his death from consumption in 1804. His wife was brought to Riversdale for a time as a wet nurse for Rosalie's son, George Henry. Will lived above the coachhouse and stables, presumably with his wife while she remained at Riversdale.

SARAH WHITNEY

Paid Governess

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Sarah Whitney served as governess for Eugénia, Henry, and Julia. Born in Northampton, Sarah came to Riversdale around the end of 1817. At first, Rosalie was happy with Sarah's abilities, but this quickly changed and she was dismissed by March 1819. 

CHARLES ALLEN

Hired Laborer

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Charles was a hired farmer at Riversdale before being institutionalized at the Maryland Hospital for the Insane. There are extensive records from his time there, with bills being paid by Charles Benedict Calvert from Charles' admittance in 1858, until his release in 1864 after the death of Charles Benedict. It appears that Charles lived in the Riversdale-area until his death in 1870.

Thomas Lee

Enslaved Laborer

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Tom grew up at the Riversdale plantation, and while we don't know much about his life, we do know about his death due to the traumatic nature of it. On May 23, 1857, Tom was struck by a train while returning to Riversdale from the market to sell flowers and vegetables.