Hampton's Cooks

A ranger showing a family the Hampton kitchen.
A ranger explains the kitchen and who would have labored in it.

NPS/Tim Ervin

Who worked in Hampton’s Kitchen? Before Emancipation (1864), we know of at least three enslaved workers who were cooks. Head cook Dinah Toogood (c.1795-c.1882), purchased by John Ridgely in 1830, was a "fine cook,” Eliza Ridgely III recalled in 1895.

 
Advertisement for cruise, food supplied by “famous caterer” Nelson Hawkins, Baltimore Sun, June 26, 1880.
Advertisement for cruise, food supplied by “famous caterer” Nelson Hawkins, Baltimore Sun, June 26, 1880.

NPS

Harriet Davis Smith (1831-lv.1870), sister of dairymaid Caroline Davis Brown, was one of Dinah’s younger assistants. Both women were paid cooks for the Ridgelys in the mid-1860s before leaving Hampton to start new lives in freedom with their husbands, Dinah in the Orchard Street neighborhood of Baltimore City, Harriet in southwestern Baltimore County. Another young kitchen assistant and waiter, Nelson Hawkins (1843-1916) had fled Hampton in early 1863 and joined the Union Navy in 1864. He later established a very successful career as a “famous” caterer in Baltimore’s affluent Mount Vernon neighborhood before moving to Philadelphia in the 1890s.

Last updated: June 6, 2020

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

535 Hampton Lane
Towson , MD 21286

Phone:

410.823.1309

Contact Us

Stay Connected