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.
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.
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.
As many as four or five two- and three-mast sailing vessels at a time were often tied up at the Denton wharves. I often had the job of leading the mule forward to lift the bag out of the vessel’s hold, and backing him up again to drop the bag onto the wharf and to lower the tongs back into the hold for another bag. You get the picture – the mule and the boy – back and forth all day until the last bag was out of the hold.