Category Archives: People

Haunted by the Heroes of 1776

Caroline County sent six regimental, militia, and staff colonels to war against British imperial troops during 1776-1783:

  • Col. Peter Adams
  • Col. Matthew Driver
  • Col. Philip Feddiman
  • Col. Benson Stainton
  • Col. William Richardson
  • Col. William Whiteley

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.

The Tomb of Colonel William Whiteley

Col. Whiteley’s remains lies in the Whiteley family cemetery near Whiteleysburg. The Whiteley mansion is gone. The burial ground now lies isolated in a large farm field.

[Credit to Gale P. Nashold of Greensboro for locating and documenting this site.] 

GPS Destination

The Tomb of Colonel William Richardson

Col. Richardson’s tomb is located on a plot of publicly-owned land at Gilpin Point, where the Tuckahoe flows into the Choptank.   There is a decades-old, rusted marker miles away on MD 16.

By the 1920s, Richardson’s tomb was reportedly “crumbling”, and the manor house at Gilpin Point was already gone.  The Caroline Historical Society added brick work and the existing memorial plaque apparently after that time.  Today, the parcel is owned by Caroline County and is maintained as a public river access site.

Stand in the Place

The map below shows you the way.

Share what you know.  Leave a comment or email me.

 

 

 

Don Barker
choptankriverheritage@gmail.com

GPS Destination

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The Bicentennial Search for Frederick Douglass’s Birthplace

We updated our map app that shows clues in the Search for Frederick Douglass’s Birthplace.  See the full-size app here.

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Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Park and Birthplace

An open letter to the Editor, Times-Record

Mr. Polk,

​I  would like to point out a couple of inaccurate ideas about Frederick Douglass’s birthplace which are presented in your article, Douglass Park opens on bicentennial, in the Times-Record, February 21.

You misquoted Douglass as having been born “in the town of ‘Tuckahoe’, which was located on the shore of Tuckahoe River but no longer exists.”  In fact, there never was a town by that name.  Tuckahoe was a rural place, the entire west bank of the Tuckahoe south of Queen Anne.  Douglass stated simply, “I was born in Tuckahoe, near Hillsborough”.

Your article also suggests that the location of Douglass’s birthplace is not precisely known.  In fact, you can stand within 30 yards of the exact site of the cabin where Douglass was born  and raised by his grandmother, Betsy Bailey.​

Drive east on MD 303 from Cordova to the stop sign on Lewistown Rd. – a junction known as Tapper’s Corner.  Look toward the woods across the farm field.   The closest trees mark the head of a gully that was called “Kentucky Ravine” in Douglass’s day.  The cabin where he was born stood at the edge of the woods near the head of the gully.  Kentucky Ravine may have eroded several dozen yards deeper  into the farm field (toward Tapper’s Corner) in the past 200 years.  But its head is still very close to the birth site.

The site of Douglass’s birth was researched from Talbot County land records, Douglass’s autobiographies, and Lloyd family historical sources by Dickson J. Preston and published in his book, Young Frederick Douglass – The Maryland Years, in 1985.

Preston’s book was not widely known until my daughter, Amanda Barker Doran, and I first published his findings online with photos and maps  in 1996.  I have updated The Search for Frederick Douglass’s Birthplace website since then.  The web site has attracted hundreds of visitors and email notes from historians, students of African-American history, and tourists since we first published it.

Your readers can learn more about Frederick Douglass’s connections to Caroline and Talbot County at ChoptankRiverHeritage.org.  Search on “Douglass”.

Don Barker
Ridgely, MD


PS:

Looks like Tuckahoe Park (since 2006) was simply renamed Frederick Douglass Park, and they made a new sign.  “X” shows the birthplace location.   – DB

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The black blacksmith with a bellowy laugh

In West Denton … there were two blacksmith Shops serving the farmers and residents of the area. One was operated by a Negro named Walter Moore …  I doubt if any kingdom ever fell because Walter’s nails came loose.

Continue reading The black blacksmith with a bellowy laugh

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The true reason why Frederick Douglass gave his heart to Anna Murray

Rosetta Douglass Sprague wrote in the memoir about her mother, Anna Murray Douglass, that young Frederick Bailey “gave his heart” to Anna Murray, and she “sympathized with him and she devoted all her energies to assist him” to escape slavery in Baltimore.

Why Anna Murray?

Because she was the girl from down home in Tuckahoe Neck.

Continue reading The true reason why Frederick Douglass gave his heart to Anna Murray

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First woman President of NAACP got her start in Denton

The first woman president of the NAACP, Dr. Enolia P. McMillan, started her professional career as a teacher in Caroline County in 1927, when she taught at the Denton segregated black high school.  Continue reading First woman President of NAACP got her start in Denton

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Helicopter Flyover: Historic sites of segregated black schools, 1875-1900

Almost all of the old buildings are gone.  But we can lay old maps over aerial and satellite imagery of Caroline County to find the places where they once stood.

Do the “helicopter tour” of the school sites as they look today.  We fly north to south –  1000 feet above each of 14 sites.  Click any site name to explore the site in an interactive map.

The helicopter route map below shows all 14 sites.

Continue reading Helicopter Flyover: Historic sites of segregated black schools, 1875-1900

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News went back to Caroline that I was shot and killed

“You know the feelings of the white people here in Delaware.
Are you ready to die?”

I said, None of these things move me.
I never was so inspired to speak since the day I was born.

And news went back to Caroline,
that I was shot and killed.

Continue reading News went back to Caroline that I was shot and killed

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Meet the young black woman from Caroline County who helped Frederick Douglass escape

She was born free in Caroline County.  He was born across the river in Talbot, enslaved.

They followed separate paths to Baltimore.  Anna met Frederick for the first time at the city wharves.  He was 19, she was 24.

Frederick was an enslaved shipbuilder.   Anna had a day job and her own business.  She had means.  She told him he should escape his bondage and live free.

Anna would lose everything if caught aiding and abetting a slave’s escape.  She gave him sailor’s clothes for disguise, money for the trip north, and contacts with the Underground Railroad.

Continue reading Meet the young black woman from Caroline County who helped Frederick Douglass escape

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Socialist radicals on the Choptank

The Single-Tax Colony at Gilpin Point

Gilpin Point on the Choptank River was once the site of a colony of radical economic reformers. The small colony of “Georgists” advocated the economic philosophy of Henry George.  They held property in common at Gilpin Point, called for a single-land-tax economy, and hoped to create a model utopian community on the Choptank River.

Continue reading Socialist radicals on the Choptank

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