Posts Tagged Talbot County
Star Democrat, “Community discusses long-term vision for Frederick Douglass Park” [front page, October 28, 2020]
Residents gathered Oct. 24 at Frederick Douglass Park on the Tuckahoe to discuss a long-term developmental vision for the new park. Supporters debated what the open land — which could attract visitors from across the country once fully developed — should offer the public, while also honoring the legacy of one of the most prominent Black Americans in history.
Many floated the idea of walking trails while others wanted more ambitious projects, such as a replica village to visually display how Douglass grew up.
The meeting was the last public hearing before the master plan for the park will be presented to the Talbot County Council in February. The Design Minds, one of a group of designers for the park, spearheaded the meeting.
“Our goal is not to create static exhibits or a static experience, but one that continues to grow and allows people to contribute stories,” said Michael Lesperance, the principal of Design Minds. “Whether that’s somebody recollecting an ancestor talking about what life was like here then or about boats coming up the river — we can capture those stories and integrate them into the displays.”
Lesperance suggested incorporating Douglass’ influence on the local area, because the historical figure inspired free black communities such as Unionville. He also said information about Anna Murray-Douglass, Douglass’ wife, will be displayed. She grew up on the other side of the Tuckahoe River.
Residents came up with a list of ideas as well.
After discussing ideas in groups, community members presented them to each other. Some asked for a picnic area, an auditorium, an educational center that showcases videos about Douglass’ life, even informational panels and lunch areas for children to gather at on school trips.
Others vouched for trail accessibility to the Tuckahoe River and panels along the way, explaining what water sources were like back then.
Local history researcher Priscilla Bond Morris said there should be a balance between the personal stories and the land, and there could be a garden or a symposium added to the park.
“The natural landscape and the verbal stories — they go hand in hand,” she said. “There’s a balance to be met. There’s an international scope. You can come here if you’re a local for an event, but if you’re a Douglass scholar you can experience his formative years.”
Though proposals from residents were numerous and ambitious, Cassandra Vanhooser, the director of economic development and tourism for Talbot County, said they will be collected and analyzed before drafting the master plan. She added that “all ideas are welcome” at this stage, and that more ambitious projects could be phased in over time.
“Right now, we’re all just talking in concepts,” she said. “We’re all dreaming, and we should dream big. We got big sky, big land, big water — we should dream big.”
Vanhooser, who sits on the Park Advisory Committee with eight others, said the first step is the interpretive plan, which “tells the stories” in the park, and then the master plan, which will go into detail about locations and pathways for each amenity. After the master plan is approved next year, the committee will begin to examine funding and grants.
The park means a lot to Terrence Bailey Sr., a descendant of Frederick Douglass’ brother. He said there should be “marble steps and pillars” and interactive, state-of-the-art amenities.
“You put this up, you can guarantee people will come from far and wide,” he said. “If it’s not up to the standards of a man who was the face of abolition — “ he paused — “you know, if there was no Frederick Douglass, where would we be at now? There are no limits to what you can do with this land.”
Frederick Douglass Park on the Tuckahoe was officially established in 2018, on the 200th birthday of the influential black leader and abolitionist. Most of the 107-acre land on the Tuckahoe Creek, located just south of the town of Queen Anne, was acquired by Talbot County in 2006 with the help of a $1.8 million grant from the state.
Douglass, a leader of the abolitionist movement and a prominent author and activist, was born near Tuckahoe in 1818, and the park serves to commemorate his legacy.
Vanhooser was the brainchild behind using the acquired land to honor Douglass near his birth home.
“When I first came here, I was like, ‘Isn’t this where Frederick Douglass was born?’ I could see possibilities,” she said. “There’s a wonderful opportunity here. It’s a beautiful, beautiful space. This is a celebration of how far we have come, and the world is our oyster.”
Since it was announced in 2018, the park has had little development. COVID halted the master and interpretive plan process in the spring, which just resumed with the Oct. 24 meeting.
Preston Peper, the parks and recreation director for Talbot County, pointed to three panels along an asphalt road, overlooking the Tuckahoe Creek. He said the panels are the first additions to the park, but they will serve as a gateway to the master plan.
“These went up about a month and a half ago,” he said of the panels, which explain in detail Douglass’ life. “For a long time people would show up and there was nothing here. So the first step is the placeholder for these panels. Now we can get people thinking about these in proximity to” their ideas.
One resident protested the direction the committee was taking.
Local scholar John Muller, who has written books about Frederick Douglass including The Lion of Anacostia, said more of Frederick Douglass’ personal history should be told, not a “nursery rhyme history.”
“A complete story cannot be told when the complete story is not known,” he said. “There are not efforts to reach out to subject matter experts who have the expertise and knowledge of Douglass here on the Eastern Shore.”
Muller said there should be a direct connection from the park to Cedar Hill, Douglass’ estate in Anacostia in his later years. In the panels, the park notes other historical sites, including Cedar Hill, and connects them on the map.
Still, most of the residents gathered were enthusiastic for the new park. Dale Green, a descendant of Bishop Alexander William, who was a relative of Douglass, noted that the comments today were “impactful.”
Green, who sits on the advisory committee, said the finalized plan will incorporate big ideas.
“We learned that there are those who want to see a building, and those that want to see the water,” he said. “It’s important to understand all the different dynamics we heard from people today.”
The Tuckahoe’s community of Black American Patriots that raised up Frederick (Bailey) Douglass toughening his knuckles to combat the world
Old Bets (c. 1772 – 1849) was known as an old settler along the Tuckahoe.
Delivering children for generations and vending sweet potatoes, fishing nets and shad in the towns of Cordova, Denton, Hillsboro, Queen Anne, Starr, Thomasville, Williston Mill and nearby mill towns the maternal grandmother of Frederick (Bailey) Douglass held command and respect equally among the families and community whom served as officers alongside General George Washington and General Marquis de Lafayette, as well as those who served Washington, Lafayette and other historic American revolutionaries as trusted confidants, body servants and aide-de-camps.
The revolution that was and is America is due revolutionaries.
Frederick Bailey was raised up around Black American patriotic revolutionaries. These men knew George Washington and his officer corps, as well they knew Old Bets and her family.
To describe the Tuckahoe community as a “backwater,” as Yale professor David Blight does and did while touring throughout the country’s universities, libraries and historical societies is not only harmful, and in conflict with the historical legacy and documented record of the community which raised the subject of his Pulitzer-Prize winning book, but it is scholastically disgraceful, thoughtless and blasphemous.
The same year Frederick was born Congress passed the Revolutionary War Pension Act of 1818, granting lifetime pensions to surviving members of the Continental Army who served at least nine months and were in need of assistance from their country.
The next year, within a week or so of Frederick’s 1-year birthday, Thomas Carney of Caroline County walked through the doors of the courthouse to affirm his Constitutional right to a pension for his service to his country and state.
According to Carney’s pension application:
On this 24th day of February 1819, before me, the subscriber Chief Judge of the Second Judicial District of Maryland, personally appeared Thomas Carney aged about Sixty years, resident in Caroline County and the said State, who, being by me first duly sworn, according to law, doth, on his oath, make the following declaration, in order to obtain the provision made by the late act of Congress, entitled “An act to provide for certain persons engaged in the land and naval service of the United States in the revolutionary war:”
[T]hat he, the said Thomas Carney enlisted for the term of three years in the Spring as he thinks of 1777 in Caroline County in the State of Maryland in the Company commanded by Captain John Hawkins of the Regiment commanded by Colonel William Richardson in the line of the State of Maryland, on the Continental Establishment; that he continued to serve in said corps, or in the service of the United States, until he enlisted for the war at the close of which he was discharged from service at Annapolis in the State aforesaid, , that he was in the battles of Brandywine [September 11, 1777], Germantown [October 4, 1777], White Plains [October 28, 1776], Monmouth [June 28, 1778], Camden [August 15-16, 1780], Guilford Court House [March 15, 1781], Ninety Six [May 22-June 19, 1781], and of Eutaw Springs [September 8, 1781] and that he is in reduced circumstances, and stands in need of the assistance of his country for support.
Local Revolutionary War hero General Perry Benson affirmed Carney’s patriotic service.
Carney was awarded his rightful pension, as well as other Black American Patriots of the Tuckahoe.
Old Bets knew the community and the community knew Old Bets.
Among the elders and leaders of the Black community of the Tuckahoe, Old Bets knew these patriots and these patriots knew her – and her grandson.
Instilled with an entrepreneurial intellect and the gift of gab from his grandmother, Frederick Bailey recognized the status and movement of his grandmother among the white and Black communities of the Tuckahoe from the preachers to pensioners of the Revolution.
Among the informal ranks of the Caroline County Black Chamber of Commerce of the 1820s Old Bets was regarded and respected among other Black American vendors, tradesmen and tradeswoman -enslaved, indentured and Free.
Within this service economy James Due was a shoe cobbler.
Extant records and meeting minutes of the Caroline County Black Chamber of Commerce of the 1820s have yet to be discovered but we are confident there would be notations of the conversations and possible business interactions between Old Bets and Honorable James Due.
Frederick Bailey would have been and was right there. They all knew Old Bets’ grandson. Just ask Daniel Lloyd, the governor’s son.
None of this research nor history is contained within a solar system of David Blight’s speculative and scandal-mongering drivel. Master Douglassonian Dickson J. Preston gives hints and clues but never goes where he could have and/or where his research was inevitably going.
Nobody knows. We do.
The history of the Tuckahoe abides.
Community Meeting & Project Launch -> Frederick Douglass Park on the Tuckahoe [Sat., November 2, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM; *RAIN or SHINE* @13213 Lewistown Road, Queen Anne, Maryland 21657]
The Talbot County Department of Parks and Recreation and the Talbot County Department of Economic Development and Tourism will be holding a community meeting on Saturday, November 2, 2019 beginning at 2:00 p.m. regarding plans for the future development of the Frederick Douglass Park on the Tuckahoe.
13213 Lewistown Road
Queen Anne, Maryland 21657
The purpose of the meeting is to receive input regarding future plans for his park honoring Frederick Douglass. The design consultant hired by the County, LSG Landscape Architecture, will make a brief presentation and gather input of those in attendance regarding future development of the park.
Please contact Preston Peper, Director of Parks and Recreation at 410-770-8050 with any questions.
Book review forthcoming: “The Princeton Fugitive Slave: The Trials of James Collins Johnson” by Prof. Lolita Buckner Inniss (Fordham University Press, 2019)
James Collins Johnson ran with Frederick Bailey. Whereas in 1836 Collins evaded incrimination and capture, in 1839 he made his own move out Easton in Talbot County, Maryland.
As a late night rider of the Underground Railroad James Collins Johnson uplifted his humanity.
A lost legend of history they never wanted you to know. The Shore holds secrets not whispered for generations and history not told for centuries.
Must acknowledge Princeton University and express gratitude to Prof. Lolita Buckner Inniss for honorably recognizing this sacred story of a friend of peasants, students and presidents.
ST. MICHAELS — St. Michaels Museum will open a new exhibit in June about historic St. Mary’s Square.
St. Mary’s Square has a long history covering 240 years. It was the center of a 1778 town plan put together by James Braddock during the American Revolution.
Braddock’s plan featured the square surrounded by 20 lots, a market house and two gates, north and south. It was the center of the early town, and featured over the years Sadis Chapel, the early St Luke’s Church and several schools (public and private).
Today, it is the location of St Michaels Museum.
In addition to the new exhibit, the museum offers docent-led walking tours on Saturdays through Oct. 26. Walking tours of the town start at 10 a.m., and cost $10 for adults and $5 for children 6 to 17. Private tours are available for $50. Other days and times can be arranged by calling Kate Fones at 410-745-4323.
“Frederick Douglass, as a Slave, in St. Michaels 1833-36” is offered on the first and third Saturdays of each month.
This is a 90-minute walking tour giving a view of the early life of St. Michaels’ most famous 19th century resident and the most important African-American abolitionist of the Civil War era.
“Historic St. Michaels: Its People, Places and Happenings” is offered on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month.
This 90-minute walking tour highlights St. Michaels during the 19th century. Stories will be told by viewing many restored structures from that era and describing life of famous and typical residents of these times, including Douglass.
The St. Michaels Museum is open from 1 to 4 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays.
More information is available at www.stmichaelsmuseum.org.
Maryland Commission on African American History & Culture -> Public Meeting, Mon., June 3, 2019 @ 11 AM (Asbury United Methodist Church, “The Hill,” Old Easton, Talbot County, Maryland)
Boyd K. Rutherford
Maryland Commission on African American History & Culture
Dale Glenwood Green
Tamara England Wilson
Notice of Annual Meeting
Historic Asbury United Methodist Church
The Hill Community (1788)
18 South Higgins Street
Easton, Maryland 21601
Monday, June 3, 2019
Please contact us by
phone (410) 216-6181 or by
The Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture (MCAAHC) is committed to discovering, documenting, preserving, collecting, and promoting Maryland’s African American heritage. The Commission also provides technical assistance to institutions and groups with similar objectives. Through the accomplishment of this mission, the MCAAHC seeks to educate Maryland citizens and its visitors about the significance and impact of the African American experience in Maryland. The MCAAHC is a unit of the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives.
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Maryland Commission on African American History & Culture
C/O Banneker-Douglass Museum
84 Franklin Street
Annapolis, MD 21401
Talbot County found itself in the spotlight in 2018 when the world marked the 200th birthday of the great abolitionist, orator, and writer Frederick Douglass. Harriette Lowry of the Frederick Douglass Honor Society pulled together more than 45 local organizations to form the Frederick Douglass 200 Committee. The group created a year-long series of events designed to honor the life and legacy of Talbot County’s most famous native son.
Events included a wreath laying at Douglass statue at the County Courthouse, a February 14 birthday celebration on the banks of the Tuckahoe, a speaker series at the Talbot County Free Library, performances by reenactors throughout the year, and the annual Frederick Douglass Day celebration. These events laid the groundwork for future efforts to create tourism products to tell the story of Douglass’ youth and to attract visitors looking for Frederick Douglass.
We look forward to future efforts to uplift the history with true dignity and honor.
Within the past year or so I’ve become more familiar with the waterways, wharves, churches, school houses, cemeteries, towns, cities, peoples, institutions and folklore of Maryland’s Eastern Shore as a street historian and Washington correspondent.
Although Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C.: The Lion of Anacostia was published by the History Press in 2012 and presented at such venerable national literary landmarks as Politics & Prose and the Library of Congress, along with features by the Washington Post, WYPR and C-SPAN’s BookTV, not a single institution nor individual from the Eastern Shore reached out in an interest to further a more scholastic, geographic and chononologic understanding of the Shore’s most famous and consequential native son.
At the commencement of the statewide Frederick Douglass Bicentennial last year I began a singular mission to uplift the lost history of Douglass on the Shore, as well as challenge the debilitating status quo that has suppressed and kept the fuller history lost and forgotten for generations.
Last year the Star Democrat published my “Letter To the Editor” (“Douglass college ties extended far and wide,” 1 Feb, 2018) demonstrating Washington College in Chestertown to be scholastically duplicitous and illiterate of its own history. In September of 2018, in collaboration with a well-respected community historian and the Harriet Tubman Museum and Education Center, more than 60 people attended the free presentation of “Lost History of Frederick Douglass in Cambridge.” The Star Democrat featured the lost history on its front page.
In February of this year more than seventy people attended a presentation of “Lost History of Frederick Douglass in Denton,” at the Caroline County Library. The Star Democrat wrote an advance story as well as highlighted the presentation and history on the front page of the weekly Times-Record, which exclusively covers Caroline County.
Gratitude and respect is in order for a number of public and private institutions, as well as private citizens and public administrators who have been receptive, helpful and supportive over the past two years.
Over the course of this year and the forthcoming year Eastern Shore Douglass-themed tours will be developed and a guide book to the lost history of Frederick Douglass on the Shore, which includes information on little to previously unknown visits and/or connections to the counties of Caroline, Cecil, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Wicomico, will be produced and published.
Names and institutions needn’t be named and identified but a close record has been kept of those receiving public funds that have demonstrated an incapacity to respond to emails, take the initiative to reach out and/or in any measurable way collaborate to advance, uplift, uphold and preserve this lost history.
For those who can taste that salt water right now this memo is for you.
In Washingtonian lexicon “across the bridge” means East of the (Anacostia) River, as in the neighborhoods and areas of Washington City separated by the Old Eastern Branch of the Potomac. In Eastern Shore lexicon “across the bridge” means across the bridge that spans the Chesapeake Bay.
No matter the bridges that require crossing, the history will no longer be dumbed down, obscured and lost. The individuals and institutions that have been obstinate will not be pardoned.
The contemporary urgency of now to uplift the fallen and lost history and thusly defend indigenous Douglassonian communities from those who seek to poison, destroy and mislead is the same sentiment contained therein the article below from more than a century ago.
Old Anacostia Douglassonians
DEFENDING THE EASTERN SHORE.
A Chicago Paper’s Criticism of Fred. Douglass’s Birth-Place Refuted.
The Chicago News recently published the following letter from Mr. Lewis A. Leonard:
Permit me to call attention to the gross libel which you unintentionally perpetrated in the Morning News today on a most intelligent community by quoting about the locality which gave Frederick Douglass to the world. These are the objectionable lines:
“His mother was a black slave and he was born on a remote plantation lying on the banks of the Choptank river in Maryland, February, 1817, amid the laziest and muddiest of streams, surrounded by a white population of the lowest order and among slaves who in point of ignorance and indolence were fully in accord with their surroundings. It is a remarkable fact that there was one, and apparently only one, exception to the general laziness and ignorance of the black population in the midst of which he was born, and that one exception was his mother. She could read, though how she could have learned has every [sic] been a mystery to her son.”
The truth is that river is not a lazy, muddy stream, but one of the most beautiful bodies of pure salt water on the face of the globe. For scenic impressiveness, as well as for the richness and excellence of its salt-water products, the Tread Avon, that arm or the Choptank near which Fred. Douglass was born, stands unrivaled. The county of Talbot, where he first saw the light, is made up of people as intelligent, cultured and hospitable as can be found on the Atlantic coast from Labrador to the Gulf of Mexico. Instead of being ignorance, the county was the first in one in the United States to provide a good system of free education, and these schools were generally patronized that when Fred Douglass lived there I doubt if there was a white adult in the entire county who could not read and write. Few such communities were to be found fifty years ago. Since 1817 the county has maintained a system of public schools unexcelled by those of any section of the country. For more than fifty years a good education has been provided, entirely free of individual expense, even for a book or slate pencil.
There is not anywhere a community that has produced more brainy and prominent men than the area embraced in a circuit of fifty miles from the birthplace of the distinguished Afro-American.
At one time the mayors of both Chicago and St. Louis – Rice and Thomas – were natives of the county. And within the area indicated are the birthplaces of Lecompte, of Kansas, whose name was given to the famous constitution, and Judge Delahay, the first chief justice of that State. Hooper, the well-known Mormon delegate, came from the same locality, and while he was in Congress another ex-citizen (Pearce) was serving a term from a district under the very shadow of Bunker Hill. Not five miles from the old home of Douglass still, stands the house built and occupied by the ancestors of Henry Clay, and Philip Francis Thomas, who was President Buchanan’s Secretary of the Treasury, lived and died within a dozen miles in the opposite direction. Others worthy of note might be mentioned, among them William Wirt, Luther Martin, Bishop Emery, James Alfred Pearce, John Bozman Kerr, Secretaries Kirkwood and Creswell, of President Grant’s cabinet, while on the edge of the circle in one direction lived John M. Clayton, of national fame, and in the other the eminent lawyer and pure jurist, who has been so fouily abused, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney.
This locality was also the home of the Davis family, which gave to the country more distinguished men than any other known to history. At one time there is a public life of the family of intellectual giants Jefferson Davis, President of the Southern Confederacy, Jefferson C. Davis, a major-general of the federal army; Judge David Davis, of the United States Supreme Court; Henry Winter Davis, the most conspicuous and able member of Congress on the Union side from the South, and Colonel Davis of Virginia, then in the Confederacy, and still living, and who is regarded as one of the ablest lawyers in West Virginia.
The community is almost entirely engaged in agriculture, but the people have been distinguished for their intellectual strength from colonial times up to the present day. Two members of General Washington’s staff, Gen. Tench Tilghman, aid de camp, and Dr. Elbert, surgeon-general, were from within ten miles of the Douglass home and their descendants are among the leading people of that locality today.
Nor is it true that “the negro slaves were densely ignorant, and Fred. Douglass’s mother stood as the one exception to the general laziness and ignorance.” The colored people had the fostering care of their white masters to an unusual degree. Colonel Stevens, of the county, a merchant prince in his day, freed all his slaves and made the largest donation to the American Colonization Society which is ever received, and the republic of Liberia was a hobby of this man till the day of his death. As a result of his efforts many intelligent colored people from Talbot went to Liberia, and one of them became president and another vice-president of that republic.
Judged by any accepted standard, estimated by the intelligence, industry and progressiveness or her sons who have gone abroad or those who have remained at home, this grand old county will always be found marching right along at the head of the procession of progress and civilization.
“Defending the Eastern Shore.” Baltimore Sun, 03 Sep, 1891. page 1.
A nine-year archaeological dig at the site of a plantation where abolitionist Frederick Douglass once lived culminated in an exhibit at the University of Maryland’s Hornbake Library.
The exhibit showcases artifacts that shed light on the life and culture of Wye House, a former plantation near Easton, Maryland where Douglass spent two years as an enslaved child. Professor Mark Leone of the university’s Department of Anthropology co-curated the exhibit with his current and former graduate students
By: Lolita Buckner Inniss
Forthcoming Publication: September 2019
I never got no free papers. Princeton College bought me; Princeton College owns me; and Princeton College has got to give me my living.
James Collins Johnson made his name by escaping slavery in Maryland and fleeing to Princeton, where he built a life in a bustling community of African Americans working at what is now Princeton University. After only four years, he was recognized by a student from Maryland, arrested, and subjected to a trial for extradition under the 1793 Fugitive Slave Act. On the eve of his rendition, after attempts to free Johnson by force had failed, a local aristocratic white woman purchased Johnson’s freedom, allowing him to avoid re-enslavement. The Princeton Fugitive Slave reconstructs James Collins Johnson’s life, from birth and enslaved life in Maryland to his daring escape, sensational trial for re-enslavement, and last-minute change of fortune, and through to the end of his life in Princeton, where he remained a figure of local fascination.
Stories of Johnson’s life in Princeton often describe him as a contented, jovial soul, beloved on campus and memorialized on his gravestone as “the Students Friend.” But these familiar accounts come from student writings and sentimental recollections in alumni reports—stories from elite, predominantly white, often southern sources whose relationships with Johnson were hopelessly distorted by differences in race and social standing. In interrogating these stories against archival records, newspaper accounts, courtroom narratives, photographs, and family histories, author Lolita Buckner Inniss builds a picture of Johnson on his own terms, piecing together the sparse evidence and disaggregating him from the other black vendors with whom he was sometimes confused.
By telling Johnson’s story and examining the relationship between antebellum Princeton’s black residents and the economic engine that supported their community, the book questions the distinction between employment and servitude that shrinks and threatens to disappear when an individual’s freedom is circumscribed by immobility, lack of opportunity, and contingency on local interpretations of a hotly contested body of law.
Lolita Buckner Inniss, J.D., LL.M., Ph.D., is a professor at Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law, where she is a Robert G. Storey Distinguished Faculty Fellow. Her research addresses historic, geographic, metaphoric, and visual norms of law, especially in the context of race, gender, and comparative constitutionalism.