History of Kent County, Maryland

The superintendent of the schools of Kent County, Prof. J.L. Smyth, in his long experience as a teacher and in his present position, feeling the great need of some historical data concerning our home county of Kent and its county town, Chestertown, requested the writer to compile this book, which is here presented to the public. It is hoped that it may, at least, be the foundation, or incentive, for someone to produce a book, with other data discovered and other facts recovered from the dim ages of the past.

In the completion of this volume, "The History of Kent County, Maryland," we realized the enormity of the task when we began. Impressed, however, with the great need of some record in book form of even a few of Kent's historical facts, we have undertaken this work. It is based on a careful study of the means at hand and of persistent effort in exhuming facts contained in books, newspapers and articles by various writers. Among the latter to whom we are indebted are: Percy G. Skirven, who contributed the chapter on the old Court House, Caulk's Field and some P.E. Church history; Hanson's family history, Hon. James Alfred Pearce, files of the Kent News, Mrs. Harriett Hill, Swepson Earle, who furnished us six pictures of old homes, and others whom we regard as authority on the subjects discussed.

"There is nothing," says a well-known writer, "that solidifies and strengthens a nation like reading the nation's history, whether that history is recorded in books, or embodied in customs, institutions, and monuments." It also is true as regards a county. Not to know what has been transacted within our own borders in former times is to be always a child. If no use is made of the labors and happenings of past ages, we must remain always in the infancy of knowledge.

Kent, as a county, is rich in precious historical gems, and the object of this book is to present in a clear, connected and authentic manner some of these events. The author has had three chief objects in view^accuracy of statement, simplicity of style, impartiality of treatment.

It has been written in the midst of a busy life, but if it shall give to the future generations a reason to feel proud of this "Garden of Eden," and also preserve the noted events in its life from extinction, then our labor will not be in vain.


Table of Contents

1. Events leading up to the founding of Kent County 15
2. The Isle of Kent 24
3. The County of Kent 29
4. Tench Tilghman's ride through Kent 38
5. The battle of Caulk's Field 41
6. Burning of Georgetown and story of Kitty Knight 64
7. Freedom of religious thought and worship Ancient Shrewsbury 72
8. Old St. Paul's Church, built in 1713 78
9. Emmanuel Protestant Episcopal Church Where the name originated 85
10. The Friends' Meeting House 88
11. Methodist records Catholic Church First Sunday School Colored Churches 92
12. Schools, public and private Founding of Washington College 103
13. Records of first sailing vessel and early steam-boating on Chester The first railroad 114
14. Financial institutions and their official boards 123
15. First military organization Musical organizations 129
16. Kent in the War of 1812-14 138
17. Four United States Senators from Kent Other notable men 140
18. Old records showing transfers of land in old Kent 147
19. Some weather records of other days 157
20. Women vote in Still Pond, first place in State 160
21. Some records on the farm 162
22. Old-time Christmas in Kent 169
23. Chestertown The County Town Its early history 173
24. "The White House" Farm, on a part of which Chestertown stands 179
25. Throwing tea overboard in the Chestertown harbor Plays Racing events Novel ordinances 182
26. The noted Chester Bridge Lovers and fishermen Some noted events 190
27. Notable houses in Chestertown Newspapers First hotels 197
28. Rock Hall Its early history Great oyster centre. 205
29. A noted resort Tolchester Beach Founded 1877 212
30. Fish Hall, Betterton's first house A lonely place 217
31. Shell banks made by Indians Happy council places 220
32. "Monomac" An Indian tale 225
33. Some recollections Old residenters Kent's silver mine Vote on local option A great prize fight Negro superstition Crow Hill 229
34. The old Court House 241


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The Virginia colony was jealous of Maryland chiefly for three reasons. First, Maryland had once been a part of the territory of Virginia; secondly, Maryland was ruled by Catholics, while Virginia was Protestant; thirdly, the commercial rights and privileges of Maryland were much greater than those of Virginia. Thus for a time Maryland's sister colony and nearest neighbor unfortunately became her worst enemy. The Virginians were represented by William Claiborne, their Secretary of State. This man, not unjustly called the evil genius of Maryland, was the prime mover of mischief from first to last, and devoted all the energies of his unusually determined and persevering nature to the task of ruining the Maryland colony. For twenty years his influence seriously affected Maryland history, and more than once nearly brought about the colony's destruction.