An open letter to the Editor, Times-Record
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”.
Looks like Tuckahoe Park (since 2006) was simply renamed Frederick Douglass Park, and they made a new sign. “X” shows the birthplace location. – DB
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.
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.
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
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.
“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.
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.
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.
The Wheeler Crowd
J.S. Dodds tells how Minne Wheeler symbolized the ”hometown” atmosphere and service that Wheeler offered his clients along the Tuckahoe: