Levi Lee’s Mill

The Search for Frederick Douglass’s Birthplace
Markers in the Landcape

 
Douglass wrote:
“Down in a little valley, not far from grandmammy’s cabin, stood Mr. Lee’s mill, where the people came often in large numbers to get their corn ground.  It was a watermill; and I never shall be able to tell the many things thought and felt, while I sat on the bank and watched that mill, and the turning of that ponderous wheel.  The mill-pond, too, had its charms; and with my pinhook, and thread line, I could get nibbles, if I could catch no fish.”  (My Bondage and My Freedom, ch. 2) Continue reading Levi Lee’s Mill
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Aaron Anthony’s Holme Hill Farm

The Search for Frederick Douglass’s Birthplace
Markers in the Landcape

 

 Douglass wrote:

“As I grew larger and older, I learned by degrees the sad fact, that the “little hut,” and the lot on which it stood, belonged not to my dear old grandparents, but to some person who lived a great distance off, and who was called, by grandmother, ‘OLD MASTER.'”   (My Bondage and My Freedom, ch.1)

“I have had two masters. My first master’s name was Anthony. I do not remember his first name. He was generally called Captain Anthony–a title which, I presume, he acquired by sailing a craft on the Chesapeake Bay. He was not considered a rich slaveholder. He owned two or three farms, and about thirty slaves.”   (Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, ch. 1)
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Wye House

The Search for Frederick Douglass’s Birthplace
Markers in the Landcape

 
Douglass wrote:

“My master was the [overseer] on the home plantation of Col. Edward Lloyd; had overseers on his own farms; and gave directions to overseers on the farms belonging to Col. Lloyd.  This plantation is situated on Wye river — the river receiving its name, doubtless, from Wales, where the Lloyds originated.  They (the Lloyds) are an old and honored family in Maryland, exceedingly wealthy.  The home plantation, where they have resided, perhaps for a century or more, is one of the largest, most fertile, and best appointed, in the state.”  (My Bondage and My Freedom, ch 2)
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Lloyd’s Long Woods

The Search for Frederick Douglass’s Birthplace
Markers in the Landcape

Douglass described the day his grandmother led him to Wye plantation, where he would begin life as a working slave:

“The distance from Tuckahoe to Wye river–where my old master lived–was full twelve miles, … my dear old grandmother– blessings on her memory!–afforded occasional relief by “toting” me (as Marylanders have it) on her shoulder.  … we happened to pass through portions of the somber woods which lay between Tuckahoe and Wye river.  She often found me increasing the energy of my grip, and holding her clothing, lest something should come out of the woods and eat me up.  Several old logs and stumps imposed upon me, and got themselves taken for wild beasts.  I could see their legs, eyes, and ears, or I could see something like eyes, legs, and ears, till I got close enough to them to see that the eyes were knots, washed white with rain, and the legs were broken limbs, and the ears, only ears owing to the point from which they were seen.”   (My Bondage and My Freedom, ch. 2)

Continue reading Lloyd’s Long Woods

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Between Easton and Hillsboro, there is no Tuckahoe.

The Search for Frederick Douglass’s Birthplace
Markers in the Landcape

 

Frederick Douglass told a Baltimore audience  in 1877:

“I am an Eastern Shoreman, with all that name implies. Eastern Shore corn and Eastern Shore pork gave me my muscle. I love Maryland and the Eastern Shore!”

Douglass also wrote:

I was born in Tuckahoe, near Hillsborough, and about twelve miles from Easton, in Talbot county, Maryland.  (Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, ch. 1)

Continue reading Between Easton and Hillsboro, there is no Tuckahoe.

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The Search for Frederick Douglass’s Birthplace

Markers in the Landcape

On the 100th anniversary of the death of Frederick Douglass, Ebony magazine urged its readers to plan family vacations so that the kids could see monuments to black history. They recommended you visit the birthplace of Frederick Douglass.

 

Why not?

Because you can’t get to Douglass’ birthplace by following the tourist guidebooks and roadside history markers.  They point you to the bridge that carries MD Route 328 across Tuckahoe River.  The bridge was rebuilt in 2013 and named in honor of Douglass.  A historic marker at the end of the bridge commemorates Douglass and his birthplace.  But the historic marker is 6 miles off.
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“Colored Church” at the Upper Choptank River Crossing

Satellite imagery and 1875 map of Caroline County, Md., were used to locate the site of an African-American church near an upper crossing of the Choptank River.

I recently digitized a paper copy of the map of Caroline County, Maryland, which was drawn by John B. Isler in 1875.  While geo-rectifying sections of the map (stretching and warping the images to match the “ground truth”), I noticed a building marked “Col Ch” on the road east from Goldsboro, at the crossing of a branch of the upper Choptank River.

Continue reading “Colored Church” at the Upper Choptank River Crossing

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The Choptank River – Its Heritage and Future

Choptank River Heritage is a coalition of volunteers working to preserve, interpret, and promote the natural and cultural heritage of the Choptank River and its tributaries.  We work with partners in local, state, and federal government, and with other non-profit organizations to attract visitors to the Choptank River and encourage participation in river conservation and sustainable economic development.

Continue reading The Choptank River – Its Heritage and Future

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On Maryland's Eastern Shore