Dodon is a 550-acre tract of land in Davidsonville, Maryland near the Patuxent River, about ten miles west of Annapolis.
Steuart Pittman, Jr. and his six siblings are the 8th generation of the family to own the farm. Three generations of Pittmans currently reside on the farm including Steuart's mother, Bobby; Steuart, his wife Erin and their twin sons, Andy and Sam; Polly and her clan in their house by the pond; and Romey and her family way back in the woods. Polly and Tom are working on a new venture at Dodon - The Vineyards at Dodon. So far, the wines are excellent - what could be better than wine and horses?
While much of the farm and family history was destroyed along with the old house in a fire in the 1950s, we do still have records to tell us what our ancestors did here, and of course there is a family graveyard where ghosts appear from time to time to check up on us.
For most of its history, the farm produced tobacco. When that market began to fade out we raised beef cattle. But the farm always had horses. In 1753, colonial Maryland's Governor Sharpe appointed Dr. George Steuart of Dodon "Colonel of the Horse Militia." Dr. Steuart and his friends bred Thoroughbreds and held match races at what is now the Parole Shopping Center. His most famous horse was Dungannon, who he imported from England to run against his rival Lord Calvert's horse. Dungannon won but the silver cup (The Annapolis Subscription Plate) somehow ended up in a museum in Baltimore. During the Civil War, we understand that horses were bred and trained at Dodon to serve in the Confederate Army.
From 1890 until 1929 Dodon was owned by the Catholic Church. Two of Steuart Sr.'s great great aunts donated the farm to the Church, forcing their brother and his family to leave the farm. The priests held a Dodon Fair each year, and held mass each Sunday for local residents, but they considered the place too remote and some said that the old house was haunted, so they decided to sell it. The brother's daughter (who had grown up at Dodon) returned to buy the property back, thereby restoring it to the family. She was Steuart Sr.'s grandmother, Annette Steuart Pittman.
Steuart Pittman, Sr. grew up mostly in New York, but spent vacations at Dodon as a teenager with his beloved pinto horse, Patches. When he inherited the farm he oversaw the production of tobacco and then later raised beef cattle all while practicing law in Washington, but his passion was the horses. Fox Hunting gave him a reason to ride and a reason to breed on a small scale. One line of his homebreds began with Molly, who pulled a plow on the farm and was crossed with a Thoroughbred to produce Amy, who was crossed with a Thoroughbred to produce May-Do-Well, who was crossed with a Thoroughbred to produce Steuart Jr.'s first event horse, Lucaya. Lucaya later become a field hunter for Steuart Sr. and then Bobby. Both have hunted for decades with the Marlborough Hunt, sometimes starting from Dodon. Both Bobby and Steuart Sr. stepped down from their horses in their early eighties, though Bobby is still an active member of the Hunt Club.
The area around Dodon has been developing in recent years, but Steuart Sr., Bobby, and the seven children sold the farm's development rights to the county and the state. The deed to the property now disallows any future development outside of a handful of homes for family members.
The name Dodon is said to come from the French, "Dieu Donne" meaning "from God." It may also be a derivative of the Greek, Dodona - a prehistoric oracle in Greece dedicated to Zeus and the "mother goddess," Dione. It was said that by listening to the sound of the wind in the oak trees of Dodona, one could hear the future.
Read the Wikipedia entry for Dodon Farm here.
Article on the Roedown Races and revival of the Annopolis Subscription Plate from the Capital Gazette. April 4, 2008.