More exciting details about this historic African American neighborhood in this article!
There’s beginning to be a lot of buzz about The Hill, perhaps the oldest established African-American neighborhood in the country. Read three recent articles in the Star Democrat at the links below:
What’s more, the neighborhood’s two historic African-American churches, both of which hosted speeches by Frederick Douglass
when he visited Easton, are slated to receive preservation funds in Governor Martin O’Malley’s budget this year.
If you are interested in learning more about The Hill, donating towards the preservation and archaeological work, or getting involved as a volunteer, please visit the Historic Easton web site or send us an email!
For those interested in learning the latest on the explorations and research into The Hill neighborhood in Easton, please plan to join us on Saturday, November 3, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
We believe “The Hill” is the oldest African American neighborhood in the country, predating what is thought of as the oldest documented African American neighborhood: “Treme” located in New Orleans, LA.
“Uncovering Our Past” will take place at the Talbot County Senior Center (400 Brookletts Place) and will provide a debriefing on the on-going documentation efforts regarding “The Hill” and a discussion on the role of archeology and historic preservation. Professor Dale Glenwood Green of Morgan State University School of Architecture and Planning and Dr. Mark Leone of the University of Maryland College Park Department of Anthropology will highlight a panel discussion followed by a open session for sharing and collecting stories of the neighborhood history. Light refreshments will be available.
For more information on this project, please see:
Below are photos from a visit I made along with other members of Historic Easton to the Miller’s House in what is now Wye Mills back in April. The Miller’s House was built by Edward Lloyd III in the 1700s to attract a miller to the area as local agriculture transitioned from tobacco-based to grain-based.
After sitting vacant for years, the home has fallen into quite a state of disrepair. Historic Easton is trying to stabilize the house before it falls down. While we have grants to help cover some of the work, we are seeking support from anyone interested to help offset costs (donations can be made via Paypal to email@example.com).
Click on the photos below to view larger versions:
There is a cemetery on the property — I’ll be helping to map out the gravestones when the weather cools and vegetation dies back.
Photos below are from the archaeological dig going on at the “Buffalo Soldier’s House” in The Hill area of Easton, Md. (323 South Street). Visitors are welcome to stop by this upcoming week, Monday thru Friday, between 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., to observe the dig.
The house (built c. 1880) belonged to relatives of William Gardner, a Buffalo Soldier. The archaeological dig is part of a process to help save the house and also is part of a wider investigation of the history of the entire neighborhood.
(click on the photos below for larger versions)
Photos of the house itself:
I had an amazing time today at the presentation about The Hill in Easton — I got to hear stories from current and former residents about the way African Americans developed this neighborhood from the late 18th-century to today. We took a walking tour and stopped into one of the churches that is at the neighborhood’s core. I also discovered that I had happened upon a real gem during a prior project that has value for the history of The Hill.
Below are some photos and tidbits from the day (click on the photos for larger versions):
Now, for the coolest part of the day for me. In a talk about the “Buffalo Soldier’s House,” local historian Priscilla Morris mentioned two black women from The Hill, Ann Eliza Skinner Green Dodson and her sister, Temperance
(whose son was the Buffalo Soldier, William Gardner). [4/2: Oops! I was a little confused during this presentation -- I was so excited when I realized I had the photo. Temperance's sister Ann was an early owner of the property known as the "Buffalo Soldier's House." The house passed to Temperance's son before it was sold to the Gardner family.] Morris mentioned that Temperance was a servant of the Hambleton family, who lived in the building that is now the Bartlett Pear Inn.
I realized I had a photo of Temperance.
When I did the history of the Bartlett Pear Inn, I came upon a stereograph image of the building (the top photo on the poster here) at the Historical Society of Talbot County. Pictured on the front porch are members of the Hambleton family. On the sidewalk, with two of the Hambleton children, is the Hambleton’s African American servant. Temperance.
No one at today’s meeting had seen the image before — I was able to show it to them on my phone. It was so exciting to share this rare piece of history with the group!
I hope those in the Easton area can attend this event on March 31 (click on the poster for a larger view):
I’m really looking forward to learning more about this area from the residents and to participate in the walking tour. I’ll post a follow-up blog post when the event is over!
Recently, I was hired to do a property history for a new property owner’s birthday present. The 18th-century home and land I researched were purchased last year for conversion into a vacation rental. Below is the land’s history and some photos of the property (click on the images for larger versions).
The property today known as Mulberry Point can be traced back to the mid 1660s. It has seen many owners and names over the years. Residents and owners participated in the War of 1812 and the Revolutionary War. Some residents were slave owners. Several residents died on the property and at least one was buried there.
The ownership history of the waterfront property, located on Broad Creek near Bozman, Md., is quite complicated — pieces of the property were split up and reunited over the years, in different configurations.
The main home was built in 1752 and has undergone extensive renovations. The windows and the front door, with its transom, lead me to call this a Georgian-style home.
One of the outbuildings may be even older. Check out the details on the doors of this shed below.
The Harrison family held the land for the longest period of time. Margaret (Harrison) Benson and her husband George* sold the land to a different family in 1865 for the sum of $4,325. It has changed hands many times since.
Margaret Benson was the daughter of James Inloes Harrison. The Bensons took over the land from Harrison’s sister, Mrs. Ann Caulk, widow of William Caulk.
The Bensons were slave owners, as evidenced by an exchange of slaves between the Harrisons and the Bensons in the distribution of the estate of James Inloes Harrison. Ann Caulk’s will, which distributed slaves to her heirs, was disputed by heirs of her brother, James. In the resulting ruling, Margaret Benson was awarded the following slaves: Thomas who was 28 years old and valued at $800; a 10-year-old slave named Harriet, valued at $400; a 24-year-old woman named Molly, valued at $250; an infant also named Molly (6 months old), valued at $50; as well as another 10-year-old girl named Frances, valued at $350.
Since the Bensons sold the property in 1865, one can imagine that when they had to give up their slaves after the Civil War, they might not have been able to maintain the property anymore, forcing them to sell. It’s just a theory, but it fits the timeframe.
James Inloes Harrison died at Mulberry Point 30 October 1855 (he is buried in Bozman Cemetery). Arthur Harrison, the son of James Inloes Harrison, was buried at Mulberry Point and his tombstone was eventually found in the water on the north side of the house by the children of more recent owners.
Ann Caulk and James Inloes Harrison were the children of Thomas Harrison and Elizabeth Inloes. Ann Caulk died in 1854 and is buried at Mulberry Point. Her husband William was a major in the War of 1812 and was known as a prosperous farmer. William served under General Perry Benson in the 26th Talbot Regiment. William resided at a plantation by the name of Lostock near Mulberry Point. Ann Caulk presumably moved to Mulberry Point after the death of her husband.
Ann Caulk was left Mulberry Point by Samuel Harrison, her uncle. Samuel Harrison obtained the land from William Harrison in 1825 for $1,940.50, but it does not appear that he lived there. At that time, the pieces of land were called Harrison’s Security and Freeman’s Rest & Vacancy Added, totaling about 167 acres, as well as part of a tract called Harrison’s Partnership.
The Harrisons obtained these lands from Robert Haddaway in the late 1790s. Broad Creek at that time was known as Second Creek. It appears that tracts by the name of Haddaway’s Discovery and Hap Hazard were located to the south of what is now Mulberry Point.
The lands were passed down to Haddaway by his parents, William Webb Haddaway and Frances (Harrison) Haddaway, who obtained them through the will of her father, John Harrison.
Robert Haddaway was a house carpenter according to land records (he also is listed as a farmer in a mortgage to Thomas Harrison). The main residence at Mulberry Point was built in 1752, according to tax records. The owners at that time were Robert Haddaway’s parents — might he have helped to build the structure?
William Webb Haddaway served in the Revolutionary War in the 38th Maryland Battalion, eventually achieving the rank of colonel. He was a slave owner, as the 1776 Maryland Colonial Census lists several blacks in his household.
John Harrison’s will of 17 July 1744 gave his lands to Frances Harrison (William Webb Haddaway’s wife). John appears to have been willed the land by his grandfather, Robert Harrison, in 1718.
Robert Harrison inherited lands called Prouses Point and Haphazard from his wife, Alice Oliver, when her mother, Mary Oliver, died. The portion containing Hap Hazard appears to have been given to John Harrison’s brother James and is to the south of what is now Mulberry Point. Prouses Point appears to have evolved into what is known today as Mulberry Point.
Mary Oliver had been married to James Oliver, who obtained Prouses Point from George Prouse in 1668. Prouse had the land surveyed in 1664 at 100 acres. It appears he was an immigrant to Maryland and the original owner of the land patent for the property.
*It’s possible that Margaret Benson’s husband George Benson was the great-grandson of Perry Benson, an officer in the Revolutionary War and War of 1812. George Benson’s father was Robert F. Benson (born in 1807). Perry Benson’s son James had a son by the name of Robert, also born in 1807. It is possible he was the father of George Benson.
This aerial photo was taken in 1981:
Ancestry.com. “Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s.” Record for George Prouse. (http://ancestry.com : accessed 8 February 2012).
Ancestry.com. “Maryland Colonial Census, 1776.” Record for William Webb Haddaway. (http://ancestry.com : accessed 8 February 2012).
Covington, Antoinette H. Harrisons of Talbot County. Tilghman, Md.: 1971.
Leonard, R. Bernice. Talbot County Maryland Land Records 1740-1745. St. Michaels, Md.: 1987.
Maryland, Talbot County. Distributions 1858-81, Liber NR 5, 33, distribution of the estate of James I. Harrison 25 Oct 1858. Circuit Court of Talbot County, Easton. Maryland State Archives microfilm, CR 90,289.
Seymour, Helen. Caulk Family of Talbot County, Maryland. St. Michaels, Md.: 2002.
Seymour, Helen. Thomas Harrison Descendants. St. Michaels, Md.: 2003.
Stewart, Carole. Caulk Family Genealogy, 2007.
Talbot County, Maryland, Deed Records, Circuit Court of Talbot County, Easton. Digital images. MDLandRec.net. http://MDLandRec.Net
Talbot County Free Library. “Map of Talbot County, Maryland.” Maryland Room — The Starin Collection – Talbot County. (http://www.tcfl.org : accessed 12 January 2012).
Drivers on the Eastern Shore of Maryland who take the Unionville Road bridge over the Miles River are treated to a view of Gothic church ruins. These are what is left of St. John’s Protestant Episcopal Church, which was finished in 1839. The money for the church was donated by Miles River Neck landowners who wanted a parish closer than the one in nearby St. Michaels, Md. It was one of the first Gothic Revival churches on the Eastern Shore.
The walls are made of granite. The church was deemed structurally unsound in 1900 and it continues to crumble. A photo of the ruins in “Where Land and Water Intertwine” (1984) shows a turret at the front of the church, but is has since fallen away.
These ruins are not to be confused with Dundee Chapel, a circa 1720 church built further inland in Tunis Mills near what is now the intersection of Unionville Road and Todd’s Corner.
Information for this post came from “Where Land and Water Intertwine, An Archictectural History of Talbot County, Maryland” by Christopher Weeks (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984), pages 105-106.