Ghosts of Port Street: Part I (Stephen Bohdal, The Wonderful Wireworker)

Ghosts of Baltimore
900 n port

900 N Port Street, home to the Bohdal family beginning in 1908

The house at 900 N Port Street was only a year or two old when the 1910 census was taken. In that house lived the Bohdal family: Stephen, the 26 year-old head of the household (at least as listed on the census) lived with his wife, Eva, who was 28. The two of them had emigrated from Austria several years before, and lived with their three daughters, Annie, Antonie, and Mary. Filling out the household were Stephen’s mother, Dora, his brother, Michael, and a boarder named Jack Kardos. Oh wait, there’s more- Charles and Rose Nence, another Austrian couple, lived in the house, as well.
That makes 10 folks sharing the 900 square feet or so of 900 N Port Street.
A pile of reclaimed wood sits waiting to be processed in the Bohdal's living room, 107 years after they moved in

A pile of reclaimed wood sits waiting to be processed in the Bohdal’s living room, 107 years after they moved in.

Stephen Bohdal was a wireworker, as was his brother, Michael, and their boarder Jack. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what sort of wire factory these fellows worked at- turns out that there was once a television show that had something to do with Baltimore and wire, so a Google search for “Baltimore + wire” isn’t too helpful.
But wireworking was once a popular trade here in Baltimore; window screens, steel cables, telegraph lines all relied on folks like the Bohdal brothers toiling away in wire factories.
Bohdal Wire works

(Image taken from 1914 Annual Report of the Bureau of Statistics and Information of Maryland)

But Stephen Bohdal would not toil forever: by 1913, Stephen Bohdal owned a wire factory at 701 Ensor Street, and by 1930 he owned a bigger factory and was living down in Curtis Bay.
To what do we attribute his success? All those years messing with wire seemed to have paid off for Mr. Bohdal, as his familiarity with the material resulted in him being awarded a patent for a “Combined Coat and Skirt Hanger” in 1925. See his fantastical contraption below:

bohdal hanger

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