Annapolis: History on every corner (cont.)
Jonas Green and Anne Catharine, both great patriots, married in April of 1738. Jonas defied King George, when instead of paying the “Stamp Tax” he printed a skull and crossbones, or death’s head, in the corner where the King’s imprint would have lain, stating, “The Maryland Gazette is expiring in the uncertain hopes of resurrection again.”
He closed the paper, instead of paying the tax. Unfortunately Jonas was not much of a businessman and when he died, the family was left in debt.
As revered as Jonas is, Randy Brown’s eyes sparkle brightly when he speaks of his five greats grandmother, Anne Catharine Green.
Following Jonas Green’s death, Anne Catharine became a businesswoman of great success. In fact, her success far exceeded that of her late husband.
“It turns out that if you are single you can sign contracts and own property so Anne Catharine took over the Maryland Gazette,” said Randy Brown, pictured above with wife Dede outside the home. “And one of the first things she does is print a note saying, in effect, “OK, if you haven’t paid your debts (to us), you are going to now.”
Anne Catharine collected monies that were owed to her and, showing a measure of colonial era bravado marched up to the legislature, demanding to be made “Printer of the Province.”
Randy Brown proudly shares how his maternal ancestor, in just three years time, owned the printing business, several pieces of property, and was able to care for her large family.
“During the 29 years she lived here with Jonas, she became a master printer in her own right. She had fourteen children in this house, six of them only reaching six, and two more dying before adulthood, and only four of them living to adult hood.” Mr. Brown says. “And so when she was not working in the print shop, birthing or taking care of the children, she was in the marketplace selling things to make money for the family. She was a smart, capable, colonial day Iron women.”
Anne Catharine is recognized as one of the best printers of her era. Amongst her contributions to our recorded history are The Maryland Gazette and, as Printer to the Providence, the colony’s legal tender, bills and other documents.
Walking with Randy into what was once the printing room, before the shop was moved out back to where the patio now rests, there is a large museum case.
Inside rests a laminated copy of paper with the skull and cross bones, a Colonial shoe and record book found in the wall and pieces of wood, found in the ceiling of the kitchen, that Green ancestors and those that worked in the home, signed, tucking them away to be found centuries later.
Annapolis’ doors are the entryways into our colonial history. Each home, each ancestor, each historian has a tale to tell. It is their tale, and ours.
And with this Annapolis touring we have learned that we owe a debt to those who keep our history alive. Families such as Randy’s, who is a former U.S.N. Captain, and whose career follows in the path of his father, a four-star admiral and great grandfather who also served in the U.S. Navy.
Sadly, the Browns, are looking to the near future when their home will pass from their ancestral family, sold because a family that has served our country for generations can no longer shoulder the tax burden that must be paid to live in the very town, and country, they helped to build.
A family gone full circle around the issue of taxes.
All of which leads us to ask “Where are Jonas and Anne Catharine when we need them?
For more information, or to take a personal tour behind Annapolis’ doors, please contact
Capitol City Colonials
To purchase tickets by phone, please call Zerve at:
Welcome to Annapolis at www.visit-annapolis.org
Annapolis & Anne Arundel County Conference & Visitors Bureau
26 West Street, Annapolis, MD 21401