Don Barker writes Caroline County and Choptank River History

Dickinson’s Mill Rediscovered with Lidar

Ruins of a mill dam survived on Fowling Creek Branch on Wiltshire Manor and have been identified as either a Blades Mill or Dickinsons Mill by Mrs. Clara Mitchell of Preston, October 17, 1967. This land at Grove near Preston had been owned by Henry Dickinson and several generations of Isaiah Blades heirs. Read more…

First Black Churches

First Black Churches

Jarena Lee (1783-1849) was the first female preacher of the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church. She left her Philadelphia home in 1824 to visit Baltimore then travel and preach throughout the the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her autobiography, The Life and Religious Experience of Jarena Lee, contains many references to people and places in Caroline and other Mid-Shore Counties, including many of the earliest Black Churches.

So Long, Southern States

The Times-Record reported last week that the old Southern States building in Denton was demolished in a controlled burn carried out by the Denton VFD. The vacant and dilapidated building was burned because the town determined that it was a safety hazard. The VFD also...

Setting Sail from Denton

Stand in the Place: The Age of Sail returns to Denton and the upper Choptank River Sailing the Choptank was never easy. Even so, schooners, bugeyes, pungies, and skipjacks tied up at Denton from the 1700s till the 1930s. Now you too can sail with us from Denton down...

The town that sprawls across 3 counties, 2 states, and 3 centuries

It’s a bit of a stretch to call Reliance a town. Officially, it’s an unincorporated community. It’s a place that straddles two states and three counties – Caroline and Dorchester counties in Maryland, and Sussex county in Delaware.

But in its heyday, Reliance was a place to be reckoned with — a hub of local commerce that served local farms and towns by storing and shipping goods between city and farm. Known as Johnson’s Crossroads, it was the starting point for the boundary that carved the new county of Caroline out of Dorchester County in 1774. And it was still making headlines a hundred years later.

Why was Johnson’s Crossroads (Reliance) so important in 1774? A contemporary map of Maryland (1794) offers clues.

Where the Dead Rise Up

You might not see them from the road. You have to stop and get out. Walk around for a closer look. Crypts floating to the surface.

This is St. Paul AME Church. It’s one of dozens of segregated black churches that organized in Caroline County and throughout the Eastern Shore of Maryland after 1865.


Haunted by the Heroes of 1776

Caroline County sent six regimental, militia, and staff colonels to war against British imperial troops during 1776-1783:

Col. Peter Adams
Col. Matthew Driver
Col. Philip Feddiman
Col. Benson Stainton
Col. William Richardson
Col. William Whiteley

We know where they fought. But we know nearly nothing about the civilian life and final resting place of most of them –  Adams, Feddiman, Driver, and Stainton.

The tombs of Richardson and Whiteley are in forgotten places. The rest are lost.

How Old Black Churches Die

I visited the St. Paul’s AME Church a few weeks ago. The scene was incredible. Pulpit, piano, pews, and stained glass were still in place. I found hand-hewn sill timbers – evidence that the building was indeed built in the early 1800s, as noted by one source.

The roof is caving in. One of the newer headstones in the graveyard was deliberately toppled off its pediment. Within a generation, this old church building will die and disappear into the landscape like many others. The gravestones will remain hidden under tangled vines for a thousand years. Then they will disappear, too.


Socialist radicals on the Choptank

Gilpin Point on the Choptank River was once the site of a colony of radical economic reformers. The small colony of “Georgists” advocated the economic philosophy of Henry George. They held property in common at Gilpin Point, called for a single-land-tax economy, and hoped to create a model utopian community on the Choptank River.

Check in @1875

Check in @1875

The 1875 and 1897 maps of Caroline County show where hotels, stores and shops, churches, fairgrounds, and many other kinds of places were located over 100 years ago. After you check-in, look for the View larger map link where you can check-on and check-off the 1875...

I walked 16 miles home to Tuckahoe

I walked 16 miles from Easton to my father’s. I knocked at the door and said, “Who lives here?” Father answered by saying, “Who is that?”
I said, “Me.” Then mother said, “That’s Alexander”– showing a mother never forgets her child.


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