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The Passing of a Legend

Despite declining health and failing eyesight, Mendes remained a public figure into his 80s.


The last surviving member of Nicholson’s Fencibles, Mendes visited Fort McHenry one final time at age 79. He was also known for walking the streets near his home in Mount Vernon, regaling strangers with stories of his participation in the Battle of Baltimore.


Mendes died on May 7, 1879, aged 84, and was buried in the family’s private cemetery on Saratoga Street. (The family’s plot was later moved to a section of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation’s Bel Air Road Cemetery.) Obituaries that appeared in local papers lauded his many accomplishments.

Historical sketch of Mendes, The Baltimorean, May 20, 1876, a few days before Mendes’s 80th birthday.

Mendes’ Legacy

Although he never married and had no children, Mendes was a beloved uncle to many of his brothers’ children. His namesake nephew, Mendes Cohen, not only inherited many of Mendes’ physical possessions but also continued the Cohen legacy of civic service. He served on several boards including the B&O Railroad and Maryland Historical Society where he was president from 1904 to 1913.


Young Mendes' decision in 1884 to donate his uncle's Egyptian antiquities to the Johns Hopkins University significantly contributed to the University's Archaelogical Museum. The institution still exists today on the Homewood campus.

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