Captains of the Wheeler Steamboat Line

Charles W. Wright was master of the Ruggles, Minnie Wheeler, and Chesapeake. He resigned from Wheeler employ in 1887 to accept the post of captain of the new steamer Choptank, of the Choptank Steamboat Company. Two years later, he joined the United States Steamboat Service and became an inspector in Baltimore.

Captain William Henry Harrison Perry joined the Wheeler line in 1881 and remained in Wheeler’s service until the latter’s death in 1899. Perry commanded the Easton from the time she was commissioned in 1896 until she was sold to the B. C. and A. Railway Company. He left the Wheeler line to continue at the helm of Easton.

Read more about C.C. Wheeler steamboats on the Choptank and Tuckahoe.


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C.C. Wheeler’s Steamboats on the Choptank and Tuckahoe

Caleb Clark Wheeler of Gilpin Point

Caleb Clark Wheeler was born in 1839 at Gilpin Point in Caroline County. At age 12 he began work as a cook on a sailing schooner that shipped goods and passengers between the Choptank and Baltimore. By age 18, he was a schooner captain, and at 21, he was part owner of the schooner John Nichols.

Wheeler could not read or write, but he had sharp business acumen. He opened a general store at Gilpin Point in 1862, at age 22, and served as middleman between Choptank River farmers and Baltimore merchants.  Wheeler moved his business from Gilpin Point to Hillsboro in about 1870.

Continue reading C.C. Wheeler’s Steamboats on the Choptank and Tuckahoe

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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.

Continue reading Check in @1875

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A Veteran’s Day salute to Cpl Wm. H. Carney, 38th US Colored Troops

Grave marker at Union Church

Union Church is located a few miles northwest of Greensboro, MD.   A grave marker still stands a few yards from the church door.  The name on the stone is faded but still legible:

Wm. H. Carney
Co I
38 U.S.  C.I.

No date of birth or death is shown.

2015-05-25 memorial day (1)

Corporal William H. Carney, Company I, US Colored Infantry

Cpl Carney is listed in rosters of the 38th Regiment, U.S. Colored Troops.  The 38th Regiment was formed in January 1864 near Norfolk, VA and saw hard fighting in these battles around Richmond during September-October 1864:

  • Chaffin’s Farm
  • New Market Heights
  • Deep Bottom
  • Fair Oaks

One narrative of the Battle of New Market Heights describes the fortitude and heroism of non-commissioned officers of the 38th USCT such as Cpl Carney.  Casualty totals for these regiments at the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm also tell of courage and heroism.

USCT losses Chaffins Farm
From all engagements in 1864 and 1865, the 38th USCT lost

  • 1 officer and 42 enlisted men killed and mortally wounded
  • 2 officers and 192 enlisted men lost to disease.
  • Total deaths: 237

After the surrender of Confederate armies in Virginia and North Carolina, the 38th USCT was deployed to Texas to counter  France’s military intervention in Mexico.  The regiment served at Brownsville, at various points on the Rio Grande, and at Brazos Santiago, Indianola, and Galveston until January 1867. Cpl Carney and his black comrades were mustered out on January 25, 1867.

Civil War veteran William H. Carney of Goldsboro, MD

A search of Denton Journal articles from 1865 produced a few details about Caroline County’s black Civil War veteran.  In 1893, William H. Carney was listed among the Civil War veterans in Caroline County who were still receiving veterans’ pensions.  In March 1895, Carney sought damages from the county when his horse fell through the roadway of the county-maintained bridge between Goldsboro and Bridgetown, DE.

Grave photos and Denton Journal images are here.

The Corporal William H. Carney grave site is here:

View larger map

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Your local blacksmith: Not on Angie’s List

Robert Jacobs, Blacksmith, Ridgely, Maryland
Robert Jacobs, Blacksmith, Ridgely, Maryland.  In 2014, Age 13.


Continue reading Your local blacksmith: Not on Angie’s List

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River Heritage in TweetView

Mapper Eric Fischer has created the most detailed tweet map ever.  Six billion tweets over 3.5 years – worldwide:

tweets earth

What does the map look like closer to home?   Zoom in here and look around:

Zoomed out, it looks like a population density map.  Like a census map but with a bias toward showing population segments more likely to be engaged with social media:

tweets delmarva

Zooming in, we see other patterns and try to understand their meaning.  Near Denton, the local hotspots for tweeters are North Caroline High School (upper left) and McDonald’s near MD 404 (lower right).  The NCHS hotspot is easy to interprist:  a  population more likely to be active in social media:

tweets NCHS & McD

But why are tweets coming from farm fields?   Tractor and harvester operators are tweeting while they plow furrows or harvest soybeans?

tweets in farm fields

And why are all these tweets coming from the middle of the Choptank River and from the marshes north of Denton and the MD 404 bridge?   Waterfowl hunters?  Seems unlikely.  Bad geolocations in the Twitter data are always possible.  But why scattered here?

tweets in choptank

And, of course, you have to wonder about all those tweets along Routes 404 and 50.  Those just passengers tweeting, right?  Can’t be drivers !

tweets 404
Got ideas?  Write to me:  cartographer @



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Skipjack, fertilizer sack, mule, boy. Repeat.

As many as four or five two- and three-mast sailing vessels at a time were often tied up at the Denton wharves.  I often had the job of leading the mule forward to lift the bag out of the vessel’s hold, and backing him up again to drop the bag onto the wharf and to lower the tongs back into the hold for another bag. You get the picture – the mule and the boy – back and forth all day until the last bag was out of the hold.

Continue reading Skipjack, fertilizer sack, mule, boy. Repeat.

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Choptank & Tuckahoe culture, inventoried

The Old Harford Town Maritime Center (OHTMC) in West Denton is no more.  But OHTMC’s legacy continues.

Choptank River Heritage sites were first catalogued by OHTMC and published in two volumes:

Maryland’s Upper Choptank River and Tuckahoe River Cultural Resource Inventory (1999)

Lower Choptank River Cultural Resource Inventory (2002)

These studies were funded by the Maryland Historical Trust.  They identify many types of historic sites and structures, including:

  • towns
  • landings
  • wharves
  • warehouses
  • canneries, and
  • sunken vessels

Since the inventories were published, Choptank River Heritage (CRH) continues the work of OHTMC by publishing historic maps, site descriptions, and stories of people and places of the Choptank River watershed.

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Ships in a sea of Eastern Shore corn

You fly down Route 404 across the Delmarva Peninsula,
like Lawrence and his Arab fighters across the Sinai,
380 horsepower and Camels on the dash.  

Through a sea of sand toward Suez.
Through a sea of corn toward Rehoboth.    

Traffic comes to a dead stop.
It’s a line of ships blocking your route.


It’s 1873, here.

Continue reading Ships in a sea of Eastern Shore corn

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Change was inevitable. So was the map.

If change was inevitable,
so was the map that shows it.

1875-1897-1905 compare


See changes in Caroline County, 1875 – 1897 – 1905.



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On Maryland's Eastern Shore