Below is text from the cover, title page, and introductory pages of Voices from the Land, A Caroline County Memoir, by Mary Anne Fleetwood.  

The text was digitized, edited, and prepared for re-publication by CCHS volunteers Dave Ellis and Don Barker.  Copyright for the original and re-publication is held by the Caroline County Historical Society.

See all of our re-published interviews by Mary Anne Fleetwood here.

 

Front Cover

Back Cover

Mary Anne Fleetwood and Hal Rummel

VOICES FROM THE LAND: A CAROLINE COUNTY MEMOIR

 

Voices From The Land honors one of the Eastern Shore’s primary farming communities – Caroline County, Maryland – and its people.

 

Mary Anne Fleetwood, whose family has lived in Caroline County for many generations, interviewed thirty-five oldtimers who give accounts of their lives on the flat, fertile farmland of Caroline around the turn of the century. The original language of the people, telling stories of their community and their lives, makes the days of steamboats, hog butchering, camp meetings, quilting, school wagons, and country stores come alive in a dramatic and meaningful way.

To complement the text, Hal Rummel has provided eight photographs of some people interviewed. Each black and white portrait captures the character and richness of these people of the land. In addition, there are rare, old photographs of Caroline County as it used to be, courtesy of the Caroline County Visual History Project developed by Betty Callahan and sponsored by the Caroline County Commis-sioners. The result is a deeply felt tribute to one of the Eastern Shore’s more isolated, yet culturally rich communities and its people.

Mary Anne Fleetwood earned the B.A. at Hood College and the M.A. in English from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. She has worked as a college teacher, journalist, editor, and fundraiser. She has published numerous articles. Voices is her first book.

Hal Rummel’s photographs have frequently appeared in Maryland Magazine. A resident of Baltimore, he teaches commercial photography and operates his own photography studio.

Title Page, Dedication, Copyright 

Voices from the Land: 

 A Caroline County Memoir 

 

 Text by Mary Anne Fleetwood 

Photographs by Hal Rummel 

Edited by Betty Carroll Callahan 

Sponsored by Caroline County Historical Society 

 

Published by The Queen Anne Press, Queenstown, Maryland 

Since Voices from the Land as an oral history is a book about what people believed happened and is accordingly in large part quoting the words of the interviewees, the Caroline County Historical Society, Inc., the Caroline County Commissioners, The Queen Anne Press of Wye Institute, Inc. and Mary Anne Fleetwood are not responsible for any statements of the interviewees which may be inaccurate or false. 

 

DEDICATION 

 

To my family—Mrs. Henrietta B. Eaton, Tom Fleetwood, and Hunter and Christina Fleetwood—and the oldtimers of Caroline County. To several who passed on yet endure—Carville Fleetwood, Emory Dobson, Rachel Collison, Bill Irwin, and the Reverend Tom Turkington. 

 

 Historical photographs courtesy of the Caroline County Visual History project. 

Cover Design by Vicki Rummel 

  

ISBN 0-937692-02-6 (cloth) 

0-937692-03-4 (paper) 

 

Library of Congress Card Catalog No. 83-062826 

 

Copyright © 1983 Mary Anne Fleetwood 

and the Caroline County Historical Society, Inc. 

Contents

Introduction iii

Where the Community Historians Live iv

Author’s Note v

MEMOIRS OF

Country Villages 1

Hobbs—Elmer Butler 3

Williston—Marjorie Knotts 9

Farming 13

Hog Butchering and Other Stories—Kemp Todd, Sr. . . . . 15

Wheat Threshing and Bird Dogs—Henry Lister 21

The County Seat 27

Denton—Francis Yeoman 29

Denton—Bill Irwin 41

The Brick Hotel—Grace Jackson 51

The Almshouse—Helen Mae Brown 57

Wish Sheppard 61

Wish Sheppard Waits—Allee Allaband 63

The Ghost—Sheriff Louis Andrew 67

Women 71

In Town—Margaret Knotts 73

On the Farm—Elizabeth Spiering 81

On the Farm—Catherine S. Wright 85

Preston and Choptank 89

Preston—Henrietta Blades Eaton 91

Preston—Dr. Harold Plummer 99

Choptank—Estelle Wright 105

Patty Cannon 111

The Johnson Tavern at Reliance—Clara Smith 113

Patty Cannon’s House at Reliance—Mary Handy 117

The Northwest Fork 121

Federalsburg—Jerome Framptom, Jr 123

Federalsburg—Francis Holsinger 131

Canning at American Corner—Gil Wright 135

Black Families 139

In Town—Camilla Boston 141

On the Farm—Enoch Friend 147

North County 153

Greensboro—Mabel Rich 155

The Jarrell Farm at Goldsboro—Elbert Jarrell 159

Marydel—Virginia Butts and Amos Wyatt 163

Bridgetown—Mary Dautrich 169

Tuckahoe 173

Tuckahoe Neck—Ed Satterfield 175

Slavery in Tuckahoe—Audrey Lake 181

Hillsboro—Elsie Fleming 183

Ridgely and The Plains 187

The Plains—Sister Hildagarde Quinn 189

Ridgely—William N. Rairigh 197

Ridgely—Hilda and Burton Wilkinson 205

Epilogue 209

Appendices 213

Biographies of the Interviewees 227

Where the Community Historians Live

Introduction

Author’s Note

This project began three years ago with a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to plan an oral history project for the Caroline County Public Library.  The purpose was to gather information about Caroline County, Maryland, as a farming community on the Eastern Shore. Although much had been written about the watermen of this tidewater region, little had been published about the agrarian people, an important segment of the population on the Eastern Shore. 

Later, under the sponsorship of the Caroline County Historical Society, I spent five months interviewing the old-timers who gave their stories for this memoir. During that time, I was deeply moved by the warmth, honesty, and simplicity of the people and by their stories. These people provided the substance for the project which began as an NEH grant. I am pleased to have been a participant in their journey to the past, a journey which preserves in writing some parts of a unique heritage. 

The memoir honors not only a place—Caroline County, Maryland—but also the people who shared their lives and stories with me. A collection of interviews about Caroline County in the late 1800’s and the first four decades of the twentieth century, Voices from the Land describes a way of life which has now vanished with the changes of the modern world.*

This book is not a history although there are footnotes which corroborate the oral texts. It is a book of memories. In many instances, our interviewees recalled events which occurred thirty, forty, and even eighty years ago. Others passed on the stories they heard as children. By its nature, however, memory is never one hundred percent accurate. Although I do not maintain that everything they said actually occurred, I believe they told the truth as they saw and recalled it. Often what people believe happened is as important as documented fact. Thus our purpose was not to reconstruct history but to preserve and honor the old way of life in Caroline County. 

Caroline is an inland county washed by the Choptank River, the Northwest Fork of the Nanticoke River called Marshyhope Creek, and a tributary of the Choptank called Tuckahoe Creek. Originally part of Dorchester and Queen Anne Counties, Caroline became a county in its own right in 1774. Its old, agrarian traditions remained very much the same until recent decades because of the geographic and cultural isolation of the Eastern Shore. 

Until 1952 when the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was completed, the Eastern Shore people’s primary access to the metropolitan centers of Baltimore, Annapolis, and Washington, D.C., was by boat. Caroline was isolated to a greater extent than other Eastern Shore counties because it was not a port of entry on the Chesapeake Bay.  Further, until recent decades there was a lack of significant immigration. In about two hundred years, Caroline’s population only a little more than doubled—from 9,501 in 1790 to 23,143 by 1980. 

Caroline’s story, then, is laid out against a landscape of old farms, small villages, and sleepy towns. The oldtimers who related the saga also lived it. Not only are they the storytellers; they often are the stars of the stories. Their language, their individuality, and their humor sometimes convey as much about life in old Caroline County as the information they provide. 

 In helping preserve the past, the interviewees were performing a natural function of the aging—to pass on recollections for community record. Not everything related is in the vein of nostalgia; there are humorous stories, sad stories, exciting stories, and even tragic stories. The variety and honesty of their memoirs portrayed life as they recalled it and included the full range of human experience, things wonderful, things old, things innocent, and things which may have been painful for them. 

Verbatim transcripts from the original tapes were not used because the text would have been too long. Because the interviewees themselves did not intend to glorify their way of life to be something it was not, we tried in the editing process to maintain the balance between the light and the heavy, the mundane and the exciting which was present in the original interviews. Since the language of the speakers was an important part of preserving the past, only minor changes were made in some sentences to ensure clarity. The speakers’ grammar remains intact. 

 I am especially grateful to the people I interviewed. They gave more than their stories. They gave their love, courage, and trust to the readers of this book. There were also many others who helped make this project possible.

I wish to thank the Wye Institute and Jim Nelson for support throughout all phases of the work. I also wish to thank the National Endowment for the Humanities and Abbie Cutter; the former Caroline County Commissioners (Tom Eveland, Harvey Fleetwood, and Charles Dean); the Caroline County Chapter of the Maryland Arts Council; the Caroline County Historical Society (especially Bob Jarrell); and the Caroline County Public Library (George Sands and staff). 

Many professionals made contributions to this book: Cay Cutright, editor of the first draft; Rusty Orme, artist; Betty McKeever Key of the Maryland Historical Society; Margaret Dougherty, retired editor of Maryland Magazine; Dr. Polly Stewart at Salisbury State College; and Mrs. Patricia N. Rampmeyer, manuscript typist.                           

Others provided support, information, and assistance. Although it is impossible to name them all, I wish to mention Mrs. June Werlwas Hutchinson (for continuing encouragement and guidance), Francis and Ruth Yeoman, William N. Rairigh (for the diary of Olive Seward Rairigh), Mr. and Mrs. A. J. Fletcher (for the diary of Mary Louie Ramsdell), Jane Maloney, Hubie Nichols, Francis and Dorothea Holsinger, Dr. Monroe Martin, Mrs. Quentin Walsh, J.O.K. Walsh (for information and leads), Mr. and Mrs. George Clendaniel, Mrs. Dorothy Kemp, Mrs. Wilsy Kitchen, Paul Wise, Monica Agapaloglou, Sharon Clendaniel, Martha Pate, Leroy Rowe, Steve Hickman, Mrs. Marjorie Rice (for the history of Federalsburg), Mrs. Fulton Bradley (for the nineteenth century Denton Journals), Judy McCauley, Robert T. Fleetwood, Claire Stevens, Roberta Leggett, Judge Marvin Smith, and many others who have been part of the journey.  

* Some of the material collected for Voices relates to people/events in the early 1800’s. Stories about Patty Cannon, who lived in the early 1800’s, were included because Patty Cannon has been part of the continuing folklore about Caroline County. Also, anecdotes from the Civil War period and before were included because they were part of the county’s tradition. There were also stories about events from the mid-1900’s to modern times, namely ghost stories. Again, these were included because they were part of the continuing folklore of Caroline County. 

Mary Anne Fleetwood 
April 1983 

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