Soldiers Delight Hundred in Baltimore County

The oldest known photograph of Soldiers Delight, taken in 1910, displays a caption that says: "View showing serpentine barren with black jack and post oak, Soldiers Delight, Baltimore County". Photo courtesy of Shreve, F., M.A. Chrysler, F.H. Blodgett, and F.W. Besley. 1910. The Plant Life of Maryland. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.
Have you been wondering where Soldiers Delight, originally known as “Soldiers Delight Hundred” might have gotten its unusual name?  “Hundred” was an English term used to describe a unit of government and taxation that was smaller than a shire, so that explains the "hundred" in the name, but why “Soldiers Delight”?

Edward Spencer’s article, published in 1906 but initially read before the Maryland Historical Society in 1881, has a few plausible and entertaining suggestions as to where the name might have originated. His writing provides some of our earliest descriptions of the role of Soldiers Delight in the history of the development of Baltimore County and of Maryland overall, starting as far back as the late 1600s.

The wild and rough terrain that was “so difficult to get through and so easy to get lost in”, along with its soils that made agriculture difficult, proved to be quite the impediment to development of this area over a much longer period of time than much of the rest of the region. Would you believe that once upon a time it “was easier to go from Joppa to Elkridge than from Pikesville or Randallstown or Townsontown to Baltimore”?

Luckily for those who love Soldiers Delight, the slowed pace of settlement helped to preserve this beautiful site for us to enjoy today. Read up on some very early descriptions of the area and the progression of its settlement as it transitioned from an enormous raw wild place where Native Americans hunted game, down to the last 2,000 acres of mostly-untouched serpentine barrens in the Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area.

Here is Spencer's scholarly work in PDF format: 

MDHS-Volume 1 Issue 2 (1906) MSA SC5881-1-2--EdwardSpencer-Soldiers Delight Hundred In Baltimore County - Read Before The Society In 1881 (PDF)

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