Kings Town (Kingston Landing)

Other names:  Kings Town, Kingstown, Turners Granary Wharf

Cultural Resource include: Choptank River “ancient” port town, landing with 19th century tobacco warehouse, two wharves, and granaries; steamboat landing from at least 1898 to 1921.

Kingston is apparently named after King’s Creek, located about two miles above Dover Bridge on the west side of Choptank River. Henry Parker gave the name Kingston to his property located on this creek. The mouth of the creek on the Choptank provided an ideal place for shipping as it possessed solid ground and water of depths from 28 to 30 feet. A ferry may have operated here.

“An Act for Advancing the Trade of Tobacco” passed in 1683 required all imports and exports after August 31, 1685, to pass through one of at least 31 designated sites. The Act also required that each site provide facilities (warehouses) for the storage of tobacco for any planter who did not maintain a warehouse in the town. A charge of not more than ten pounds of tobacco annually was established for each hogshead of tobacco so stored. In 1683 Kings Creek (Kingstown) was the first site so designated on the upper Choptank River. These towns were to be ports “where all Ships and Vessels, trading into this Province, shall Unlade and put on Shore, all Negroes, Wares, Goods, Merchandises and Commodities whatsoever.”

Kingston or Kings Town was first officially used as the name of this port in 1706 when the General Assembly passed an act “for the advancement of trade,” at “Kingstown in Great Choptank.” The Act of 1763 called for the establishment of a public warehouse for grading and inspection of tobacco “on lots of William Gale and William Wilson.” James Barnwell, Jr. and Samuel Register were the tobacco inspectors in 1780.

Kingston is shown on John Hill’s 1781 map “Plan of the Peninsula of Chesopeak Bay” based on sounding he made in 1777; but he shows the location as near Dover Ferry rather than two miles furthers upriver. Kingstown is properly located and designated as “King’s T.” on the 1787 map “the Peninsula between Delaware and Chesopeak Bays.” Kingston is also properly located on Dennis Griffith’s 1794 map of Maryland.

Kingston was ordered by the county Levy Court to discontinue the town’s tobacco warehouse in May, 1796. While Kingston declined as a town it continued as a landing for shipping of grain and as a steamboat landing from about 1858 to at least 1918. The wharf and granary were owned by Caleb Clark Wheeler of the Wheeler Transportation Line during the later portion of the 19th century.

In 1885 the local farmers in the neighborhood complained that the waterfront at Kingston Landing, which in colonial times was a “public convenience” and available to all, had some 17 to 30 years ago been leased by private individuals and “two substantial wharves and granaries” were built, but recently these had become controlled by one company and the wharves useable only by their vessels. Because of marshes below and above the landing on the Talbot County side, shipping to other landings was a hardship and therefore a new public landing was requested. It is not known about the outcome of this request.

The town however never grew to any importance. Footner noted “half dozen old houses” at Kingston Landing in the 1940s. This landing is marked on “Index Chart of Natural Oyster Bars, Crab Bottoms, Clam Beds and Triangular Stations of Maryland surveyed by Maryland Shell Fish Commission in cooperation with U.S. Bureau of Fisheries and U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey,” 1906-1912; “Topographic Map of Caroline County” 1950 revised 1971; and “Map of Maryland” 1961 revised 1973.

(Choptank River Cultural Resources Inventory, 1999-2002)

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