Three People You Didn’t Know Were From Baltimore

For our inaugural Baltimore “Three Things …” post, we are going to highlight three people whom you might not know were from Charm City.

1. David Abercrombie

David T. Abercrombie
David T. Abercrombie

Yes, that’s right. The dude responsible for all the preppy douchebaggery was born and raised in Baltimore. Now, let’s cut him some slack. He was born in 1867 and died in 1931, well before Abercrombie & Fitch became the uniform of the preppy asshole. His partner, Ezra Fitch, was not from Charm City, being a lawyer from New York. The two formed their company in 1892 as an upscale sporting goods store.

He grew up in the city, going to the public schools of the city, after which, he studied at Baltimore City College to become a civil engineer and topographer. Early in his career, he served as an explorer and the chief of survey for Norfolk & Western Railroad in West Virginia.

In the 1880 U.S. Census, we found him living with his parents, John (originally from Scotland) and Elizabeth (originally from Canada), living at 336 N. Eden Street. His father was selling periodicals and his mother was a homemaker. Also in the house were three brothers, and a sister. They also had one female servant living with them, Annie, a 20-year-old African-American from Maryland.

Abercrombie family in the 1880 U.S. Census
Abercrombie family in the 1880 U.S. Census

In the 1895 city directory, he was listed as an engineer, living at 827 Eutaw St.

2. Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa
Frank Zappa

Source: Prog Magazine

This one was a surprise to us. We had no idea that Zappa was born in Baltimore in 1940. He moved around a lot because his father, Francis Zappa (Frank Sr.), worked in the defense industry. His father was an immigrant, originally from Italy, and his mother, Rose Marie Colimore, was of French and Italian descent.

In the 1930 U.S. Census, Zappa’s father was listed as living with his parents, Vincent and Rosa, both from Italy. Interestingly, it appears that the youngest sibling, Sedio, was born in D.C.

Zappa family in the 1930 U.S. Census
Zappa family in the 1930 U.S. Census

In the city directory that same year, Francis was listed as a student, living at 4904 Midwood Ave., a house that appears to still exist today. It was built in 1922, and last sold in 2009 for $82,000. Check out what the home looks like today on Google Street View.

[googlemaps https://maps.google.com/maps?cbp=12,262.42,,0,0&layer=c&panoid=YM5PO1U7uw6MH49tP33YVg&cbll=39.347509,-76.603889&dg=opt&ie=UTF8&ll=39.315707,-76.562347&spn=0.362832,0.707932&t=m&z=11&source=embed&output=svembed]

3. Jada Pinkett Smith

Jada & Tupac in high school
Jada & Tupac in high school

The mother of the “Whip My Hair” superstar Willow Smith (top 10 worst song of all time), Jaden Smith, and wife of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air — and, a notable actress herself of course — was born in Baltimore in 1971. Her father, Robsol Pinkett, Jr. ran a construction company and her mother, Adrienne Banfield-Jones, was the head nurse of an inner-city clinic. Adrienne became pregnant while still in high school and married Robsol, but quickly divorced a few months later.

Jada was raised by her mother and grandmother, Marion Martin Banfield, who was a social worker in Baltimore. While growing up in the city, Jada went to school at the Baltimore School for the Arts and was friends with Tupac Shakur (we could have included him in this post, but he was originally born in New York). She graduated from the school in 1989, well on her way to stardom.

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.

Check Also

April 1943. "Baltimore, Maryland. Third shift workers waiting on a street corner to be picked up by car pools around midnight." Last seen at the lunch counter. Photo by Marjory Collins for the Office of War Information.

1943 Baltimore Workers Flash Mob

Check out this great photo of workers on the street corner waiting to be picked …

  • Smith

    I knew Frank Zappa and Jada Pinkett Smith had done growed up in Bawlmer. Jada and Will Smith at one point I believe bought Cal Ripken’s starter mansion on Shawan Rd.

  • William Connery

    I knew Frank Z was from Balmer! I went to High School (1963-67) with his cousin (Bill Zappa) at Saint Paul Latin, a Catholic day seminary on North Caroline Street! Bill’s family did move to California for one year, then moved back in time to graduate from Saint Paul’s!