Story Behind a 1925 Catonsville Home

This is a beautiful old photograph from 1925 showing a home in Catonsville. And, it’s one that makes you wonder who the people are. What are their names, and what did they do? This is a great photo for our next “Pictures Tell a Story.”

Smithwood Avenue branches off to the right while Edmondson Avenue slopes uphill on the left heading east toward the city of Baltimore. In addition to automobile traffic, Edmondson Avenue at the time accommodated the Baltimore Traction Company No. 14 trolley line. A junction for three rail lines was located immediately behind the photographer's vantage point. These houses still exist, albeit with vinyl siding applied over the handsome cedar shingles. Oh, and the streets have since been paved. Photo taken about 1925
Smithwood Avenue branches off to the right while Edmondson Avenue slopes uphill on the left heading east toward the city of Baltimore. In addition to automobile traffic, Edmondson Avenue at the time accommodated the Baltimore Traction Company No. 14 trolley line. A junction for three rail lines was located immediately behind the photographer’s vantage point. These houses still exist, albeit with vinyl siding applied over the handsome cedar shingles. Oh, and the streets have since been paved. Photo taken about 1925

It looks like the family standing in front lives in the nice home featured in the photo, along with their four children. And, below you can see the house as it looks today.

We were curious as to who the family was in the photo. What were their names? What did the father do for a living, because that’s a pretty nice home.

A little digging through Zillow and we discovered the address was 125 Smithwood Ave., which most recently sold for $270,000 in April 2011. It’s a beautiful old home built in 1912, listed as having five bedrooms and two bathrooms. It sounds like a great family house and you can imagine with the children in the above photos, that it likely was a rowdy place on occasion with children running the hallways.

We wanted to know a little more, especially who the family was in the above photo, so a little sleuthing on Ancestry and the old archives for The Baltimore Sun gave us a name: William J. Hunt.

Mr. Hunt was born in Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania on April 20th, 1886. His obituary in the paper said that he died on October 20th, 1969 at the age of 83. Below is an excerpt from the obituary.

He was a lifetime resident of Catonsville and operated his metal-products company there from 1912 to 1956.

He retained an active interest in other businesses until six months ago.

Mr. Hunt was also an inventor, both in metal products and special machinery.

In his youth he was active in the old Arundel boat club as an oarsman and deep-sea fisherman.

Mr. Hunt was a member of the Merchants’ Club and the Kiwanis Club.

He was married to the former Lulu Peach, a native of Granite, Maryland.

It also  mentioned that he had four surviving sons and a daughter, plus 16 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. The entire surviving family was listed as residing in Baltimore, minus one son, Rev. Lawrence J. Junt, who was a missionary in India. Given that fact, I suspect there are quite a few relatives still in the area. Maybe one of you know know the Hunts from Catonsville?

His story continues … so, William was a business owner, running the Hunt Manufacturing Company at 116 Hollingsworth St. (according to his World War II draft card, shown below). Also, he was just under 5′ 9″ and almost 180 pounds.

William J. Hunt's WWII draft card
William J. Hunt’s WWII draft card

We were also able to dig up quite a few records in the U.S. Census for Hunt and his family.

In 1910, William was still 23 years old, living with widowed mother Julia Hunt, younger brothers Lawrence, and Harvey, plus an older daughter, 26-year-old Hattie. All children had been born in Pennsylvania, but Julia was originally from Maryland, the daughter of Irish immigrants. Though only 23, he had an interesting occupation as an engraver.

By 1920, William was married and he was living with his small family at 125 Smithwood Avenue with his wife Lulu and 1-year-old daughter Ella.

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Hunt family in the 1920 U.S. Census
Hunt family in the 1920 U.S. Census

Ten years later in the 1930 U.S. Census, the family had grown quite a bit. Four sons, William Jr., John. Edward, and Lawrence were added to the family in the 1920s. So, it seems that in the photo above, my guess would be from left to right: William Jr., Edward, Ella, and John.

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

Another decade later and the Hunt family has changed again, but this time something is a little odd in the record. There is no more Richard, and there is the addition of another boy, Richard. Can you explain that? Edward would have been about 16 years old in the 1940 U.S. Census below.

Hunt family in the 1940 U.S. Census
Hunt family in the 1940 U.S. Census

Well, that was quite a rabbit hole to go down, just looking at one photo. Pretty fascinating how much you can dig up just with a few quick searches on Google and Ancestry.com.

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.

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  • James Hunt

    Where you write, “There is no more Richard …”, I think you meant, “There is no more Edward …”

  • Linda Kreider

    How would I find out about the front and side landscaping trees and bushes? My grandparents lived on Christopher Ave in Baltimore and had similar landscaping.

  • Popeye D. Saylorman

    I think hunt would have been to old for ww2, do you mean ww1?

  • Katherine Holtman

    Our family lived on the opposite side of Smithwood Avenue at 114 Smithwood Avenue. Most of the homes on that side of the street were built by our ancestors the Diehlmann’s and they did know Mr. Hunt and his family. It was a great place to live and grow up.