|The full extent of Stoney Batter Road|
The original question, which we've attempted a few times already, is this -- Where did the name "Stoney Batter" come from in Stoney Batter Road? In the past, I attacked it from an etymological standpoint, trying to determine what the words were supposed to mean. I came up with a few ideas. One could be right, but likely not. However, now after prompting from a few comments, I feel like that mindset might be missing the point. I now think the relevant question is not what was Stoney Batter, but where was Stoney Batter.
As I was reminded, depending on where you look and who you ask, the name of the road is either Stoney Batter or Mermaid-Stoney Batter Road. That second one conceals an important point -- namely, that the road ran from Mermaid (meaning the Mermaid Tavern on Limestone Road) to Stoney Batter. This implies what should have been obvious, that Stoney Batter was a place. Also prompted by the same comments, Donna Peters provided me with a slew of early 20th Century newspaper articles (some interesting, some funny, some downright sad) that really drive home the fact that Stoney Batter was a place. Frustratingly, though, they seem to widen the target area rather than narrow it.
Since, for the most part, I don't have much to add about any particular article, I'll just show you a selection of them here. I'll have a few words about a couple of them afterward.
While there's nothing Earth-shattering in any of these articles, they do help to make our case a bit. The first two make text what was subtext in the name -- that the road went from Mermaid to Stoney Batter (or the other way around). That makes clear that Stoney Batter was, in fact, a place. Add to that the fact that the last article states that the road was still dirt in 1929, and we can dispense with any theory of the name that has to do with it being paved with a "stony batter" of concrete.
Another sort of side note on the road -- I was at first confused when I saw several mentions (up into the 1950's) of "the intersection of Stoney Batter Road and the Newport and Gap Turnpike". I thought, "They don't even come close to intersecting." What I soon realized was that the road was originally considered to run not from Limestone Road down to Mill Creek Road, but from Limestone down and around and back up across McKennans Church Road all the way to Newport Gap Pike. The 1881 map segment at the top of the page may help this make more sense. At that time, Mill Creek Road didn't make the left up the hill and away from its namesake, it continued on along it, down to Limestone Road. An upcoming guest post by Dave Olsen will go into more detail about this lost road.
And speaking of Dave, this last part is thus far setting him up to be the hero of the story. So we've concluded that, A) Stoney Batter was a place, not a description, and B) it was located somewhere at the bottom of the hill near Mill Creek. In my mind, right now, there are two prime candidates. The first, which was always my front-runner, was the woolen mill estate on the west side of the creek, owned by Aquila Derrickson on the 1881 map. However, now thanks to work by done by the aforementioned Dave Olsen, my money is on the farm across the creek from there, labeled on the map as H. S. Stewart. It was owned by an Irish immigrant named Hugh Stewart, and it had on it at least two quarries.
|The four quarries of the Stoney Batter area (courtesy, Dave Olsen)|
There is certainly more to be learned about the history of these quarries. Just about the only other thing I can add right now is that the 1910 Census does show several Italian quarry workers in the area. This means that at least one of the quarries (probably Q2) was a "professional" operation. There are also a few mentions of stone coming from the area for use by the Levy Court on roads. And although these date from a few years after Hugh Stewart's death in February 1896, I now think that he may end up being the key person in the story. I've not yet found any report that specifically states for certain which farm was "Stoney Batter", but my money is on Stewart. If you look at two of the reports of his passing shown below, you get the sense that he was well-known enough that his farm could easily have lent its name to the surrounding area. (And on a side note, I think this 1896 article is the earliest mention of Stoney Batter that I've seen.)
|Reports of Hugh Stewart's passing in February 1896|
As I noted at the beginning of this post, we still haven't arrived at any sort of conclusive answer to the origins of Stoney Batter. We've even raised more questions with the discovery of the quarries (thanks go to Dave Olsen for this -- no, you're not just a crazy guy walking in the woods). But I'm more confident than ever that the name derived from a specific place, and I think it may very well be the Irish, cock-fighting, quarry man/farmer Hugh Stewart who ends up being at the center of the answer.