Sometimes you’re just a town, doing your town stuff, and the U.S. government turns you into a B&B.

What’s In A Name Week continues with more of the stories behind some pretty special names.

It’s a pretty special date as well in the town of Brookeville, Maryland, the day in 1814 that this small town gained its nickname of Capital for a Day.

In 1814, the United States was in the thick of the (by-then-inaccurately-named) War of 1812.

And it was one of the worst parts of that conflict, too: this is when British forces rolled through the city of Washington and burned both the Capitol and the White House.

Nearly everyone in town fled, including President James Madison.

At first he rode south toward Virginia, but then decided he would instead try to meet up with the U.S. troops making their way to Baltimore.

Along the way, he stopped in the small, mostly Quaker community of Brookeville.

Later there were stories told that several households there had actually turned President Madison away because they didn’t approve of his policies, but actually most houses were already full up with people who had fled D.C.

The president stayed at the house of Henrietta and Caleb Bentley, and while they had set up a place for him to rest, eyewitnesses said the president just worked through the night, writing messages while his officers slept.

He headed back to Washington soon after, though not to the White House.

The president and First Lady Dolley Madison would have to stay elsewhere while the President’s House was rebuilt.

Back in Brookeville, the Bentleys turned that armchair Madison used into a family heirloom.

Not every family can say the president ran the country from their house, and not every town can say they were the seat of government, even if just for a night.


How did a town in Pennsylvania get the name of a famous pop singer before that pop singer did?

There is a town in northern Pennsylvania called Glen Campbell, and it’s not named for him.

The town was named in 1889.

Glen is the Scottish word for valley, and the Glen was named for Cornelius Campbell, the superintendent of a coal company that operated there.

Glen Campbell the singer paid a visit to Glen Campbell the town in 1971, putting a few clips of the visit on his TV show.

If you know of a town that goes by my name, I’ll be glad to drop by and talk about it on this show.

“Here all seems security and peace!”: How Brookeville, Maryland Became United States Capital for a Day Became United States Capital for a Day (Gettysburg College)

Town of Brookeville

When Glen Campbell Visited Glen Campbell (Hip Quotient)

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Photo by Preservation Maryland via Flickr/Creative Commons