The Times-Record reported last week that the old Southern States building in Denton was demolished in a controlled burn carried out by the Denton VFD. The vacant and dilapidated building was burned because the town determined that it was a safety hazard. The VFD also got to practice its firefighting skills.
Before it was destroyed, there was one last chance the old building might live on.
These were the names of real places in Caroline County 50 or 250 years ago. The places are still there, but many of the place names are lost to memory. Now you can find them again and Stand in the Place.
In observance of Black History Month, we’re publishing Tuckahoe, a cycle of poems which beckon us to learn more about Frederick Douglass’s life and times – and to Stand in the Place.
Robert Madison wrote:
“By chance, in 1996 I moved to the northeast corner of Talbot County just as I was working on a production of my play about Frederick Douglass and John Brown, Prospect for Freedom. When I learned that Douglass was born only two miles away, I began a cycle of poems that looked at the county (and beyond) through his eyes as well as my own.
“Naturally, I have depended heavily on Douglass’s three autobiographies, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845), My Bondage and My Freedom (1855), and The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881), and on Dickson Preston’s Young Frederick Douglass: The Maryland Years. “
It’s a bit of a stretch to call Reliance a town. Officially, it’s an unincorporated community. It’s a place that straddles two states and three counties – Caroline and Dorchester counties in Maryland, and Sussex county in Delaware.
But in its heyday, Reliance was a place to be reckoned with — a hub of local commerce that served local farms and towns by storing and shipping goods between city and farm. Known as Johnson’s Crossroads, it was the starting point for the boundary that carved the new county of Caroline out of Dorchester County in 1774. And it was still making headlines a hundred years later.
Why was Johnson’s Crossroads (Reliance) so important in 1774? A contemporary map of Maryland (1794) offers clues:
Lord Baltimore commissioned the Bohemian-Dutch merchant Augustine Hermann to produce a map of his Maryland colony in exchange for a large land grant near the head of Chesapeake Bay. Hermann’s map was published in England in 1670.
Altogether, they fought at Harlem Heights, Camden, and Yorktown, and on fields of battle in between. They tracked down spies, safeguarded the national treasury, tried deserters, and put down rebellion back home. They conferred with General Washington and urged Maryland’s governor to send more recruits and supplies to the front.
We know where they fought. But we know nearly nothing about the civilian life and final resting place of most of them – Adams, Feddiman, Driver, and Stainton.
The tombs of Richardson and Whiteley are in forgotten places. The rest are lost.