Cultural Resources: Shipbuilding site 1850s-1860s, steamboat landing 1878.
Jamaica Point is located at the end of Jamaica Point Road, west bank of the Choptank River, below Raccoon Creek and nearly opposite Warwick River, Talbot County. Jamaica Point may stem from the Delaware Indian term “ktemaque” which means beaver, or more likely comes from some trading connection with the British colony of Jamaica where slaves, sugar and coffee were imported.
Jamaica Point was an important shipbuilding site, located on the west side of the Choptank River nearly opposite of Warwick River and town of Secretary. William R. Hughlett, Jr. (1816-1885) was the owner and Nathaniel Leonard the master shipwright. The yard produced a number of schooners and at least one brig, the Argyll, launched in 1856, one of if not the last brig built on the Chesapeake Bay. Leonard left the yard in 1866 to form a new shipyard partnership with William P. Benson at Oxford (see Oxford). A portrait of Hughlett in the Historical Society of Talbot County, done by Thomas Coke Ruckle, shows the shipyard in the background. A late-Federal-style house built in 1838 has a brick marked with “W.R.H.” and one below it marker “1838" beside the kitchen door. This refers to William R. Hughlett, the builder of Jamaica Point. Hughlett also built Belmont and Chancellors Point, the later where he died in 1885 (see Belmont and Chancellors Point; see also Ingleside and Cherry Grove for other Hughlett related sites). Apparently an earlier shipyard which operated from 1796-1810 by Thomas Haddaway(?) was located at Jamaica Point.
Maryland Steamboat Company’s Highland Light and Kent provided nightly service from Baltimore to Choptank River including a stop at Jamaica Point in 1878. The Baltimore, Chesapeake and Atlantic Railway Company used this landing at least until 1911.
Side Bar: William R. Hughlett, Jr. was considered by his slaves to be a moderate and fair master though “he was in the habit of flogging his slaves – females as well as males” for petty offences. Josiah Bailey, a slave, employed as foreman of the farm and shipyard at Jamaica Point, was in 1856 “flogged very cruelly by his master” for quarreling with a fellow slave. Bailey had had enough; he rowed across the Choptank to the home of Benjamin Ross, father of Harriet Tubman. He asked that the next time “Moses,” as Tubman was called, comes to take slaves to freedom, to let him know. With three companions Tubman took Bailey along the marshes on the east bank of the Choptank, across into Delaware, north to Wilmington, over the Delaware River bridge into New Jersey and Pennsylvania eventually to Canada where Queen Victoria has declared it a free territory in 1839; then the only free sanctuary for runaway slaves. Hughlett offered $1,500 reward for Bailey’s return. When Bailey reached the middle of the Niagara River bridge, traveling by train, Harriet Tubman is reputed to have rushed over to him, shook him and said, “You’ve shook the lion’s paw. You’re in Queen Victoria’s dominions. You’re a free man.” Bailey was forced to leave his wife and three daughters behind.