Two Johns Wharf

Other names:  Two Johns Landing,  possibly Towers’ Wharf

The wharf was located on the east side of the Choptank River between Williston and Ganeys landings. A “new” wharf, along with a storehouse and freight building was also built in 1886, which was later leased, to the steamboat company. A granary was built at the site by 1887. An 1887 advertisement mentions a “first-rate shell pile [shell road] leads to Two Johns Landing.” The Two Johns wharf was in ruins when visited by Footner in the 1940s.

Three canneries operated at Two Johns: Howard, Charles & Son (1889), Hudson Trice (1910), and S. J. Hurst (1917-1918). The wharf did a considerable business until a vessel capsized and sank near the entrance to the landing, making it difficult to put in at the wharf. Because the wreck was not moved steamers began to bypass the wharf.

The name Two Johns came from John Stewart Crossy and his son John Hart Crossy, two rotund vaudeville actors who looked very much alike and called themselves John Stewart Crossy and John Crossy Stewart. They called their act “The Two Johns.”

In 1884, at the peak of their act, they bought a farm along the Choptank River and called it “Two Johns.” They improved the farmhouse by adding a three-story addition and made the structure into a flamboyant 21-room manor including a theater inside, porches, gables, gingerbread, etc. At the water’s edge they built a pavilion for dancing and theatrical performances.

The steamers brought swarms of their friends including Paul Dreiser (pen name Dresser, songwriter of On the Banks of the Wabash), his sister Louise Dreiser, and Ada Kline. To win the support of the locals, the Two Johns chartered a steamboat and invited the entire town of Denton to one of their shows.

The Baltimore to Denton steamboats brought folks to Two Johns for dancing and theatrical performances “in the round house on the shore.” This site was used as a steamboat landing at least from the 1880s to 1921. A general store was built by the wharf and operated by Butler Crossy, the youngest son. The Crossy’s left the area and the farm was foreclosed in 1887.

The 1897 Caroline County Map prepared by M. L. Saulsbury indicates that W. F. Towers owns the store at the Two Johns Wharf. A steamboat vacation brochure lists Mrs. H. Trice having a guesthouse able to accommodate up to six guests.

The Two Johns house burnt to the ground in 1947.

It is marked as “Two Johns” with no indication of a landing on “Topographic Map of Caroline County” 1950 revised 1971,” and “Map of Maryland,” 1961 revised 1973.

(Choptank River Cultural Resources Inventory, 1999-2002)

 

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On Maryland's Eastern Shore