Happy Hour at Historical Society of Kent County February 2


The Historical Society of Kent County will have a Happy Hour to discuess “The People of Rose Hill” with Dr. Lucy Maddox. The event will take place on February 2, 2018, 4 PM, at Bordley Building.

Life at Rose Hill Plantation, on the Sassafras River in Cecil County, was documented from 1814 to 1845 by Martha Forman, the plantation mistress, in a diary she kept for those years. The diary offers insights into the workings of the plantation, the lives of the Formans and their many friends and relations, and especially into the community of enslaved people who kept everything running. This presentation will look briefly at the people of the plantation, especially the black people, and consider the problems of researching the histories of the enslaved.

Please arrive early to ensure a seat.

First Friday: Historical Society of Kent County Presents the “Old Chester River Bridge” 


Bayly Ellen Janson-La Palme shares her research on the history ice cream in Chestertown at a previous First Friday Lecture.

Join us at the Bordley History Center (301 High Street), on November 3rd at 4 pm, to hear Dr. Bayly Janson-La Palme speak about the history of the “Old Chester River Bridge.” The history of the bridge contains many “ups & downs” and perils along the way. A toll ferry connected Chestertown and what is today Kingstown beginning in 1800.  The crossing was slow — up to an hour — and sometimes dangerous. Work on replacing the ferry with a bridge across the Chester began in 1805; however, the bridge was not fully operational until 1821. To hear the whole story of our beautiful bridge and its predecessors stop in for our First Friday lecture (and enjoy some wine while you are here!)

For more information, visit the Historical Society of Kent County’s website or call 410-778-3499

The current Chester River Bridge at Chestertown on Rt 213. Note the small guard house where the bridgekeeper used to raise the draw bridge.  It is not the first bridge across the Chester at this location.


Talkin’ Baseball at the Historical Society


the Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame

The Historical Society is pleased to announce a special lecture, Hot Air and Hubris: Baseball and the Rural Culture of the Eastern Shore”, that will coordinate with our window exhibit  “When Hometown Baseball Was King.” Marty Payne and Donnie Davidson, both representing the Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame, will be with us to discuss baseball and just what it means to this area. The talk will focus on how technology brought baseball to the Eastern Shore, the social and economic impact that this had on the region, and the quality of players and teams.

Payne is a member of the Society of American Baseball Research and has presented his findings to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Davidson is one of the premier collectors of Eastern Shore baseball historical items and is the historian for the Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame.

The talk is at 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20, in the Bordley Building. We hope to see you there! Ifor more information, call 410-778-3499 or email atadmin@kentcountyhistory.org.


Hemstock Tells of Freaks, Fables & Fires at History Happy Hour


Kevin Hemstock

Join members of the Historical Society of Kent County at the Bordley Building, 301 High Street, at 4 p.m. October 6 for the latest installment of History Happy Hour, where Kevin Hemstock will give a talk on The Freaks, Fables & Fires (and Added Mysteries) of Kent County, Md.

Hemstock will discuss his recent book project on the quirks of Kent County history, including topics such as the Chestertown cannon, ghosts in the courthouse, the old Chestertown cemetery, the tea party truth, Millington money, exiled editors, the Galena silver mine, buildings moved here and there, fountain fun, and of course – fires and explosions!

Kevin Hemstock lives in Millington with his wife, four dogs, and four or five cats. Before, during and after a career in journalism spanning three decades, he has had a strong interest in local history. In 2000 he moved to Maryland to work as editor of the Kent County News, where he published hundreds of columns on the topic of local history. He currently operates Old News, a genealogical and historical research service and ephemera shop in Millington. His book Injustice on the Eastern Shore was published by The History Press in 2015; he has self-published numerous other titles including The 13 Most Sensational Murder Cases in Kent County and Millington: A Small Town Defined by Fire.

For more information call the Historical Society of Kent County 410-778-3499 or visit our Facebook page.



Story of a “Ghost Island” at Bordley Center


The Historical Society of Kent County will hold the latest installment of their History Happy Hour Lectures at 4 p.m. on Friday, September 1,2017.

This month’s program will feature author Ann Foley and her book Holland Island: Lost Atlantic of the Chesapeake. Located just six miles south of Bishop’s Head, in Dorchester County, and seven miles north of Smith’s Island, Holland’s Island has become a ghost island of birds amid the remnants of a once thriving community.

Join us at the Bordley Building, 301 High St., as we hear the fascinating history of the island that once held over 360 residents! Refreshments will be served.

First Friday: History Happy Hour at the Bordley Building


Elmer T. Hawkins

The Historical Society of Kent County will hold the latest installment of their History Happy Hour Lectures at 4 p.m. on Friday, August 4. Join us at the Bordley Building as  we discuss African American Teachers in Kent County presented by Airlee Johnson, Bill Leary, Susan Kenyon and George Shivers, members of the Community History Committee of the Historical Society of Kent County. They will present the results of their recent research into the experiences of African American teachers in Kent County prior to integration.  Interviews with retired teachers and relatives of deceased teachers reveal that they were well prepared, shared a special sense of mission to educate black children to be competitive with their white contemporaries, and were understandably proud of the work they did.

A related new exhibit at the Bordley Center presents the results of interviews with teachers and close relatives, including their recollections of the legendary principal of Garnet, Elmer T. Hawkins, and their comparative assessment of segregated and integrated schools.  It also includes an annotated map of Kent County showing the locations of over 30 African American schools in the 1920s. Information from school board records illustrates the growth of segregated public schools from their beginnings in 1872 to the consolidation of schools in the 1940s. Short biographies of 32 teachers also can be viewed at the Bordley History Center at 301 High St. in Chestertown.

The former Afridan American schoolhouse in Worton Point

Legacy Day Honors African American Teachers


As school reunions go, the fourth annual Legacy Day in Chestertown breaks the mold.  This reunion will have a parade and block party in downtown Chestertown, and no one will care where you went to high school.  Everyone is welcome.

Legacy Day always attracts a large and diverse crowd and this year’s celebration should be the largest yet.  The parade will start down High Street at 5:00 on August 19, and from 6:00 to 10:00, the nine-member band “Soulfied Village” will make music while old friends and new, locals and come-heres, mix, mingle and dance in the street next to Fountain Park.

Every Kent County Historical Society Legacy Day highlights the county’s past.  In 2014, the first Legacy Day celebrated Chestertown’s Uptown Club, a stop on vaudeville’s Chitlin Circuit that featured stars as bright as Etta James, James Brown, BB King, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Otis Redding, Ray Charles and Patti Labelle.

The stars this year are the African American teachers who taught pride and excellence along with academics before county schools were integrated in 1967.  Now in their 70s and 80s, nearly 30 teachers, or, in the case of those who are no longer living, their relatives or friends, will ride in the parade in classic cars and, appropriately, on a school bus.

The Grand Marshall of the parade, waving from a 1937 Buick Roadmaster convertible, will be Garnet High social studies teacher Lauretta Freeman.

“The teachers were surprised when I called,” said Airlee Johnson, chair of the Legacy Day Committee.  Physical education teacher Gloristeen Powell Pinckett exclaimed, “Thank you for remembering us old gals!” and Mildred Upshur said, “Oh my gosh!  You all had the brightest minds.  I’ve always wanted to know what happened to you.”

For many, Legacy Day will be a reunion worth the drive from as far off as Georgia.  For others—too young to remember the pre-Brown v. Board of Education days or who attended all-white schools—it will be a chance to share stories and party.

Bill Leary, a white member of the Historical Society Board and a member of the Legacy Day Committee, says he attended segregated schools in Washington’s Virginia suburbs when he was a boy.

“I love Legacy Day because it is a genuinely interracial celebration of African American culture in Kent County,” Leary said.  “It is also great fun, as hundreds of people gather in downtown Chestertown to listen or dance to great music, eat good food and catch up with old friends.”

In addition to the block party and parade, Legacy Day will sponsor a Genealogy Workshop at 10:00 am on Saturday at Chestertown’s Public Library.  There will be a reception for the teachers on Friday.

Johnson says most teachers coming to Legacy Day taught at Garnet High, but some taught at elementary schools for African American children scattered throughout the county.  “Before I went to Garnet, I went to Worton Point,” Johnson said.  “It was a one-room school for grades one to four.  There was a table for each grade, a big stove and no indoor plumbing.”

A graduate of Garnet, Kent County Commission President William Pickrum will ride in the Legacy Day parade, but when he was a child he and his brothers walked 2½ miles to the three-room Coleman School from their home at YMCA Camp Tockwogh in Still Pond Neck.

Johnson says every African American school had the same goals.  “The expectation in our schools was that we would all excel,” she said.  “In a way, our schools were like exclusive private schools.  The teachers were preparing us to go out into the integrated world.”

Historical Society Presents Lecture on “Women and Work on the Eastern Shore and Beyond”


The Historical Society of Kent County is proud to present the third installment of it’s

“Labor Lecture Series”

Featuring Dr. Kara French

“Women and Work on the Eastern Shore and Beyond”

Please join us on May 5th at 4 pm for the latest installment of our labor lecture series. Featuring the collections of Salisbury University’s Edward H. Nabb Center for Delmarva History and Culture, this talk will explore how women have worked from colonial times to the present. We will not only discuss the types of work women have performed, but also the barriers women as workers have had to overcome. Special attention will be paid to the work Eastern Shore women performed during World War II.

4:00 pm Friday, May 5, 2017 Admission is free.

Historical Society of Kent County, Boardley Building, 301 High Street, Chestertown, MD  410.778.3499  www.kentcountyhistory.org

Author of the Immortals’ Story to Speak at Historical Society’s Meeting


The Historical Society of Kent County is collaborating with Maryland chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) to gather information about the Maryland 400. These Marylanders, “gentlemen of honour, family and fortune” who became known as “The Immortals,” are credited with protecting the Continental Army in a battle that could have ended the American Revolution almost at its start.

That battle was fought in August, 1776, when the British attacked the patriot army that had been holding Brooklyn Heights. With fierce and repeated bayonet charges, the Maryland regiment prevented the British from crossing the East River into lower Manhattan and enabled the Continental Army to retreat and survive. The Battle of Brooklyn felled 256 of the Maryland 400, but its leaders regrouped and, along with battalions from Delaware and fresh recruits from Maryland, went on to fight in most of the key battles of the Revolutionary War. These included Trenton, Stony Point, Camden, Cowpens, Guilford Courthouse and Yorktown.

The Historical Society and SAR are seeking anyone who has relatives who served in, or fought alongside, the Maryland 400. The organizations want to gather both family stories and artifacts, such as letters and objects, related to that Maryland regiment and those battles.

On April 27, the bestselling military historian Patrick K. O’Donnell will speak to the Annual Meeting dinner of the Historical Society about the Maryland 400. Mr. O’Donnell’s 2016 book, Washington’s Immortals: The Untold Story of an Elite Regiment Who Changed the Course of the Revolution, was recently named one of the 100 Best American Revolution Books of All Timeby the Journal of the American Revolution.

Mr. O’Donnell will be joined by Major General James A. Adkins (ret.), Eastern Shore native and Washington College graduate, who in 2015 completed his 40-year U.S. Army career serving as Adjutant General of the Maryland National Guard. General Adkins will discuss the Sons of the American Revolution effort, which he is leading, to reclaim and do justice to the memory of the Immortals.

Anyone who has information about the Maryland 400 or is interested in attending the Society’s Annual Meeting dinner may call or email the Society president, Stephen Frohock at the Society, 410-778-3499, or director@kentcountyhistory.org