Posts Tagged Talbot County

Did Frederick Douglass meet Anna Murray in Talbot County in 1824 / 1825? [Part 1]

Rev. A. W. Wayman, D.D.

Rev. A. W. Wayman, D.D.

According to the standard and accepted lore in Douglassonian Studies, Frederick Douglass met Anna Murray, a free person of color, in Baltimore, Maryland in the 1830s. This telling has maintained in all known and existing works of scholarship.

A seminal fact may be missing, evading the preceding investigations of all amateur and lettered Douglass historians equally.

In a conversation a couple years back with a decades-long Douglass scholar it was discussed that Anna may have met Frederick while he was still under the care of his grandmother on the Tuckahoe. The memory of their childhood connections in the Maryland backroads and creeks were still strong in both Anna and Frederick when they then met again as adolescents in the city of Baltimore. To this fact, Anna’s lifelong bond to her husband, Frederick, was first forged in the Maryland countryside and helps explain the depths of her commitment to him over nearly forty-four years of marriage, the scholar suggested. The scholar is a long-time Douglass re-enactor. To here him to describe, in person as Douglass, the feeling he had upon seeing Anna, his childhood friend, in Baltimore and the accompanying overwhelming rapture of emotion was powerful.

“Wait, wait,” I said. “Where did you hear this story? Where is this from?”

Two sources, the scholar said. Back in the late 1980s or early 1990s, he toured Talbot County with some locals. They tromped through the old land holdings of Col. Edward Lloyd to locate the presumed birthplace of Douglass. While trekking through the brush, some locals shared with the scholar the long-known story that Frederick and Anna had met as children on this hallowed ground. His senior, Anna had babysat Frederick, the local legend holds. Struck by this, the scholar asked more questions and was benefited to further stories confirming that Frederick and Anna were well acquainted before meeting in Baltimore.

Anna Murray was the first of her parent’s  children born free. Anna’s eldest daughter recalled her mother was from Denton in Caroline County, Maryland. Anecdotes and official documents have confirmed Anna’s genesis. 

In Douglass’s 1855 bio he writes:

The first experience of life with me that I now remember – and I remember it but hazily – began in the family of my grandmother and grandfather, Betsey and Isaac Baily. They were quite advanced in life, and had long lived on the spot where they then resided. They were considered old settlers in the neighborhood, and, from certain circumstances, I infer that my grandmother, especially, was held in high esteem, far higher than is lot of most colored persons in the slave states.

He also recalled his grandmother’s trade and travel. “She was a good nurse, and a capital hand at making nets for catching shad and herring; and these nets were in great demand, not only in Tuckahoe, but at Denton and Hillsboro, neighboring villages.”

Did young Frederick travel to Denton with his grandmother as she sold these nets? Would her grandmother’s patrons have included the Murray family?

According to James Monroe Gregory’s 1893 work, Frederick Douglass the Orator: Containing An Account of His Life, complete more than a decade after Anna had died, tells:

His wife, Anna Murray, came originally from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and lived for seven or eight years in Baltimore, where Mr. Douglass first met her. While she did not have the advantages of education in her childhood days, she was a woman of strong character, with much natural intelligence. As a housekeeper, she was a model, and the practical side of her nature made her a fitting helpmate to her husband in his early struggles and vicissitudes. In manner she was reserved, while he, as is well known, is of a jocose disposition.

She was the financier of the family. It was a settled principle with Mr. and Mrs. Douglass never to incur debts. If an addition was to be made to their home, or if they had under consideration any matter requiring the expenditure of money, they first counted the cost, and then made sure that the means were in hand before entering upon their plans.

In her death, which occurred in Washington in 1881, husband and children suffered a great loss and a severe trial, for she was a good mother and a faithful wife.”

In the primary document historians have used to mine information about Anna Murray, Rosetta Douglass’s 1900 address to the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, the telling of Anna meeting Frederick in Baltimore holds true.

Anna Murray was born in Denton, Caroline County, Maryland, an adjoining county to that in which my father was born. The exact date of her birth is not known. Her parents, Bambarra Murray and Mary, his wife, were slaves, their family consisting of twelve children, seven of whom were born ill slavery and five born in freedom. My mother, the eighth child, escaped by the short period of one month, the fate of her older brothers and sisters, and was the first free child.

Remaining with her parents until she was seventeen, she felt it time that she should be entirely self-supporting and with that idea she left her country home and went to Baltimore, sought employment in a French family by the name of Montell whom she served two years. Doubtless it was while with them she gained her first idea as to household management which served her so well in after years and which gained for her the reputation of a thorough and competent housekeeper.

On leaving the Montells’, she served in a family by the name of Wells living on S. Caroline Street. Wells* was Post-master at the time of my father’s escape from slavery. It interested me very much in one of my recent visits to Baltimore, to go to that house accompanied by an old friend of my parents of those early days, who as a free woman was enabled with others to make my father’s life easier while he was a slave in that city. This house is owned now by a colored man. In going through the house I endeavored to remember its appointments, so frequently spoken of by my mother, for she had lived with this family seven years and an attachment sprang up between her and the members of that household, the memory of which gave her pleasure to recall.

The free people of Baltimore had their own circles from which the slaves were excluded. The ruling of them out of their society resulted more from the desire of the slaveholder than from any great wish of the free people themselves. If a slave would dare to hazard all danger and enter among the free people he would be received. To such a little circle of free people-a circle a little more exclusive than others, Frederick Baily was welcomed. Anna Murray, to whom he had given his heart, sympathized with him and she devoted all her energies to assist him. The three weeks prior to the escape were busy and anxious weeks for Anna Murray. She had lived with the Wells family so long and having been able to save the greater part of her earnings was willing to share with the man she loved that he might gain the freedom he yearned to possess. Her courage, her sympathy at the start was the mainspring that supported the career of Frederick Douglass. As is the condition of most wives her identity became so merged with that of her husband, that few of their earlier friends in the North really knew and appreciated the full value of the woman who presided over the Douglass home for forty-four years.”

[* In the 1837 Baltimore City Directory Peter Wells of “69 Caroline st.” is identified as a “letter carrier.”]

If Douglass and Anna knew each other before their mutual time in 1830s Baltimore, wouldn’t their eldest and outspoken daughter know and retell this key article of import? Why doesn’t Frederick Douglass mention Howard University in Life and TimesIn the field of Douglass studies these questions, among many others, have not thoroughly studied.

Wait, what about Young Frederick Douglass: The Maryland Years, one of the most thorough and original Douglass biographies yet published? What does Dickson J. Preston write?

On page 149, Preston writes that Frederick met Anna in Baltimore, citing Rosetta’s claim.

Case closed? What if all of these previous works, for more than one hundred years, have obscured and overlooked one vital source?

Though not a man of the cloth, Frederick Douglass was frequently addressed as Reverend. He was a disciple of Charles Lawson. His earliest public orations were in the church. He knew the leading theologians of his day, of all denominations – both of European and African descent. (Douglass’s relationship with the church and its leaders is another subject severely understudied.)

A prominent theologian of Douglass’s day, who has been lesser remembered by history, was Bishop Alexander Walker Wayman. Wayman, like Anna, was born free, in Tuckahoe Neck, Caroline County, Maryland in 1821. Wayman and Anna knew each other as children. In adulthood, Wayman and Douglass attended events and camp meetings together. In January and April 1894, Wayman wrote a letter to Douglass addressing him as “My Dear Old Friend.”

How long did Wayman and Douglass know each other?

In 1881 Wayman wrote an autobiography. In the first pages he reveals a clue as to the origins of Frederick and Anna.

“The first A. M. E. Minister, that I heard of, who visited the Eastern Shore of Maryland, was Rev. Shadrack Bassett. He came over from Baltimore and went to the town of Easton, in Talbot County, and preached under some trees, selecting for his pulpit a cart. He read for his opening hymn, “Oh! tell me no more of this world’s vain store.”

And when he came to that verse:

“To dwell I’m determined on that happy ground,” he pointed in a certain direction. The people thought that he intended to say, there was the place for him to build his Church. And upon that very spot the first A. M. E. Church of that region was built.

From Easton Rev. Shadrack Bassett passed up to Caroline County, and stopped at my father’s house. Learning that there was a certain local preacher by the name of Samuel Todd, living in another part of the County, and if he could get him (Todd) to join his Church, he would have a strong man, my father gave him the direction where to find him. Mr. Bassett started, and after walking some miles he reached Todd’s house, and inquired for him. His wife suspected what Mr. Bassett wanted with her husband. She reluctantly told him he was out in the field ploughing, and he moved off in that direction. When he drew near to Mr. Todd, he said, “Turn out those oxen;” and by the time he was up to where Mr. Todd was the oxen were unharnessed, and he was ready to go to the house.

Samuel Todd then and there agreed to unite with the African M. E. Church. He subsequently filled Baltimore City station, Washington, D. C., and New York. When stationed in Baltimore City, on one New Year’s Eve, while singing “My soul would leave this heavy clay, At that transporting word,”

I heard the late Rev. Robert Collins, of Philadelphia, say he was converted.

In the autumn of 1837 he died in Philadelphia. My father was on a visit to that city at the time, and when he returned home was speaking of being present at the funeral of his old friend and brother, Rev. Samuel Todd. How long Rev. Shadrack Bassett remained in that part of Maryland I have no means of knowing.

The next minister that I recollect hearing them speak of was Rev. J. G. Bulaugh. How long he remained there I do not know. The first minister that I recollect seeing was Rev. William Richardson. He was very kind to children, and therefore they all loved him. During his stay he held a camp-meeting at a place called Dick’s Old Field. Miss Anna Murray, now Mrs. Frederick Douglass, came and kept house for my mother while she was attending this camp-meeting.

There was one thing about this meeting that was very disagreeable, as I heard those who were there speaking of it. Several attempts were made to kidnap colored men; one man was seized by them, but he cut his way out.

This must have been about 1824 or 1825; for I recollect hearing the old people speaking about persons going to Hayti. There occurred one circumstance that makes me think it was about that date. A white man named George Calahan owned a slave who was called Moses. On account of bad treatment he ran away and went to the free country. After he was gone some time a colored woman went to Philadelphia, and when she returned home, Bamberry Murray, Mrs. Frederick Douglass’ father, told Mr. Calahan that this woman was just from Philadelphia, and perhaps she had seen Moses. He made haste and rode up to her house and called to her, and said, “I hear you have been to Philadelphia?” She answered, “Yes, sir.” Then she said, “I had a boy by the name of Moses, that went away for no cause.”

This excerpt is not as revealing as one might hope but it does establish, firmly, that Anna Murray and Frederick Bailey were both in Talbot County at the same time in the early / mid 1820s. So, what does this mean?

(To be continued…)

 

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Easton, Maryland Celebrates the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass

Posted: Tuesday, September 23, 2014 12:29 pm

EASTON — The Town of Easton and the Frederick Douglass Honor Society will celebrate Frederick Douglass’ life and legacy Saturday, Sept. 27, during Frederick Douglass Day.

The celebration will feature a parade with bands, keynote address by a Douglass scholar, musical performances, children’s activities, food and retail vendors, a tour of “The Hill,” a historically oriented scavenger hunt, oral history interviews and a free screening of “12 Years a Slave.”

Born into slavery in Talbot County, Douglass became an author, human rights activist, teacher and writer. His bronze statue was erected in front of the Talbot County Courthouse on June 18, 2011.

At 10:45 a.m., the Frederick Douglass Day parade will form on Glenwood Avenue, then march to West Street and Federal Street, ending at the statue at about 11:15 a.m. Eric Lowery, president of the Frederick Douglass Honor Society, will welcome attendees, and present musical performances and a reading by the winner of the Frederick Douglass Essay contest.

“Frederick Douglass and African-American history is part of us all,” Lowery said. “We hope the community and visitors will enjoy this incredible day of learning, celebration and entertainment. One of my favorite Douglass quotes is ‘… It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.’”

Afterward, participants can stroll to the event’s central location on Dover Street, in the parking lot next to the Talbot County District Court building. There will be live entertainment, food and retail vendors, and a knowledge village, where exhibitors from various organizations will share information on their missions and histories.

From 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Dale Green will lead a tour of “The Hill,” an area in Easton recently discovered to be the oldest African-American community in the nation, populated by free blacks and some whites, all living in relative harmony. Green, chairman of the Historic Preservation Program at Morgan State University in Baltimore, has played an active role in archaeological digs in “The Hill” neighborhood. At 3 p.m., he will present an update on “The Hill” and its latest archaeological findings at the Talbot County Free Library.

From 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Dover Street location, Kentavius Jones and his band will perform live music. Other musical performers will include the Bay Country Chorus, Gene Edwards and the SPAA Singers (Society for the Preservation of African American Singers)

At 1 p.m., keynote speaker David Blight, a Yale University historian and director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition, will talk about material from his forthcoming book on Frederick Douglass’ life at the Talbot County Free Library.

Sanfoka Dance Theater will take center stage at 3 p.m. to present authentic African art in the form of dance music, and folkways.

A free screening of “12 Years a Slave” will be held 6:30 p.m. at Easton Premier Cinemas. The film, based on a true story about one man’s fight for survival and freedom, earned three Academy Awards — Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress for Lupita Nyong’o and Best Adapted Screenplay for John Ridley.

On Friday, Sept. 26, the Frederick Douglass Honor Society will host a fundraising event at the Avalon Theatre, with live music by the XPD’s, who Motown, R&B and funk songs. Tickets are $35 and available online at www.avalontheatre.com.

Except for the fundraiser, all Frederick Douglass Day events and the movie screening are free and open to the public.

For more information, email ericlowery@atlanticbb.net, or call 410-375-7879 or 410-463-5789.

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Frederick Bailey walking tours … St. Michaels Museum at St. Mary’s Square presents historic walking tours

Dr. Dodson House in St. Michaels

Dr. Dodson House in St. Michaels

ST. MICHAELS — During its 2014 May to October season, St. Michaels Museum at St. Mary’s Square will continue to offer docent-led historic walking tours every Saturday at 10 a.m. beginning May 3.

The major tour, “Historic St. Michaels: its People, Places and Happenings,” will be offered on the first three Saturdays of each month. This tour will give highlights of St. Michaels during the 19th century, chronicling the rise and fall of the shipbuilding industry, the War of 1812 and battles of St Michaels, and the rise of the seafood industry. These stories will be told by viewing many restored structures from that era and describing life of famous and typical residents of these times, including Frederick Douglas. On the fourth Saturday, the museum’s signature tour, “Frederick Douglass, a slave, in St. Michaels 1833-36,” will give a more detailed view of the early life of St. Michaels’ most famous 19th century resident.

These Saturday tours last about 90 minutes and are available for $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 6 to 17, with the fee including both the tour and museum entry fee. Detailed schedules can be found on the museum’s website, www.stmichaelsmuseum.org. Email stmichaelsmuseum@atlanticbb.net for reservations and information. Subject to docent availability, either of these tours can be offered at other times for groups of five or more. Email stmichaelsmuseum@atlanticbb.net or call 410-745-0530 for information on schedules or special group rates.

The new “Historic St. Michaels: its People, Places and Happenings” tour will begin at the museum where a diorama highlights the British attacks on St. Michaels on Aug. 10 and 24, 1813, and the impact of these battles on the St. Michaels community. This will be followed by a walk through St. Mary’s Square to Muskrat Park and then on to Navy Point. Along the way, participants will see many original and restored houses from the 1800s while learning about life in a small waterfront village and the vibrant shipbuilding and seafood industries of that era. Featured are colorful stories of many of the people and events. Highlights include the history of the layout of St. Michaels by James Braddock, the cannon involved in the battle of St. Michaels and the Cannonball House that was struck by a cannon ball that rolled down the interior stairs and frightened a woman holding her baby.

At Muskrat Park, visitors will learn of the transition of Church Cove to Muskrat Green and see replicas of the cannons from 1813. Continuing down Locust Street, they will come to “Hells Crossing,” and at the foot of Carpenter Street is the Higgins Boatyard, the oldest continuously operated boat yard in town and one of several in operation in 1812. Then comes the Dodson House site of Frederick Douglass’ 1877 return to reconcile with his former master. Following on to Navy Point, visitors get a view of St. Michaels Harbor and will hear how Honeymoon Bridge was named, how the seafood industry developed on Navy Point and more about 19th century activities in the harbor.

On the “Frederick Douglass, a slave, in St. Michaels” tour, participants can follow in the footsteps of Frederick Douglass during his teenage years in St. Michaels. Arriving as Frederick Bailey, 15, in 1833 and leaving in 1836 determined to acquire his freedom, his years in St. Michaels were critical in the development of this great man.This tour will offer an historical perspective of Douglass’ life in enslavement and his return to reconcile with his former master.

For more information, call Chip Britt 410-745-0530.

 

Source:

The Star Democrat

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WYE HOUSE ARCHEOLOGY EXHIBITION OPENS AT ACADEMY ART MUSEUM ON AUGUST 24

Read about the exhibit in the Star-Democrat HERE

WYE HOUSE ARCHEOLOGY EXHIBITION OPENS AT ACADEMY ART MUSEUM ON AUGUST 24

 

Wye House Exhibit in Easton, MD. Photo by Chris Polk

Wye House Exhibit in Easton, MD. Photo by Chris Polk

Curator-Led Tours: 
Friday, September 6, 12 noon
Wednesday, September 25, 12 noon

Wye House is one of the most important and well documented plantations in Maryland. Joint Heritage at Wye House is a major interpretive exhibition shown at the Academy Art Museum, drawing on archaeological evidence from the slave quarters and from the Green House (later called the Orangery) at Wye House. The archaeological exhibition, on display at the Academy Art Museum in Easton, MD, from August 24 to October 13, 2013, contains archival sources, household objects, books, recipe collections, maps, and artwork related to the people who lived and worked at Wye House. Organized by Anke Van Wagenberg, Museum Curator, and visiting curators Mark P. Leone, Elizabeth F. Pruitt, Benjamin A. Skolnik, and Amanda Tang from the Department of Anthropology, University of Maryland College Park, Joint Heritage at Wye House explores the co-existing cultures and their creations at the plantation in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The archaeology of Wye House involves eight years of excavations on slave quarters, slave industries, and buildings associated with the shipping of agricultural goods that made the plantation wealthy. The Lloyd family, founders and owners of Wye House, owned a large numbers of slaves. The young slave Frederick Douglass (1818 – 1895) was among the people who lived and worked at Wye House. The exhibition concentrates, not on the evils of slavery, but rather on the culture made by Africans and African Americans on the property, including the combined work of the Lloyds and their enslaved Africans.

One section of the exhibition includes the history of Wye House, its structures, and people, including books on architecture. A second section focuses on excavation methods, materials excavated, and interpretations of the objects. A third section interprets the Green House (later called the Orangery) and its archaeological data and meaning, derived from pollen grains, food remains, and thousands of broken dishes. The Green House interpretation explores farming, domesticating new plants, and a native pharmacopeia. The population of Wye House section introduces the lives of the Lloyd family, enslaved Africans, and the free people who worked with them after the Emancipation Proclamation, and includes a searchable database drawn from previously unavailable lists of slaves, including hundreds of full names. The ability to fully identify the historical individuals who lived and worked the plantation is a rare and remarkable feature of the exhibition. In a related vein, historical family cookbooks will trace the introduction of local ingredients and the influence of African-American cooks in the emergence of southern cuisine.

On September 26, 2013 at 6 p.m., the Academy Art Museum in Easton, MD, will present a lecture in its Kittredge-Wilson Speaker Series entitled, “The Archaeology of Time Telling at Wye House for Black and White Production: Floral Clocks, Time and the Greenhouse” by Professor Mark P. Leone and Elizabeth F. Pruitt, Department of Anthropology, University of Maryland, College Park. Pollen grains found in the rooms of the greenhouse at Wye show an array of over 100 plants used for food, medicine, and household chores. This lecture sees the greenhouse not as a decoration, not as an isolated building, but as the pivot around which the woods, bogs, fields, and gardens at Wye were made to predict time, like a clock. In addition to food and medicine, the array of flowers and leafy plants in the greenhouse and in the surrounding formal garden could have been used to tell the time of day similar to the manner of a floral clock. The whole purpose of a floral clock at Wye House would be to have an independent measure of time beyond the factory bell that sent slaves to the field and the overseers’ commands that kept people there on the owner’s clock.

The exhibition is made possible by the generous support of Richard and Beverly Tilghman, the University of Maryland, College Park and the Frederick Douglass Honor Society. Additional support was provided by The Historical Society of Talbot County and The Maryland Historical Society, who generously loaned materials, as well as Patrick Rogan for exhibition design. The exhibition is made possible by funding from the Maryland State Arts Council and Talbot County Arts Council. This project was also made possible by a grant from the Maryland Humanities Council, through support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, or conclusions expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or the Maryland Humanities Council.

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