Book Discussion by Alexandra Deutch February 3


On February 3, 2017, the Kent County Historical Society will present a book discussion by Alexandra Deutsch, Chief Curator of the Maryland Historical Society.

In her recent book, A Woman of Two Worlds: Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, Deutsch writes of Elizabeth Bonaparte’s life and world. This cultural biography details the experience of the famous beauty who married Jerome Bonaparte, Napoleon’s brother. Because of the Emperor’s machinations, the unapproved marriage was soon annulled. In spite of the unyielding forces against her, Elizabeth was eventually able to become financially independent due to her brilliance in the Baltimore real estate market.

Alexandra Deutsch has been the curator of several museums in the Northeast, Manager of Decorative Arts at Sloane’s Auction Gallery and now serves as Curator at Baltimore’s Maryland Historical Society. The discussion will take place at the Bordley Building, at the corner of Cross and High streets at 4:00 p.m.

We hope to see you there!

A Nice Little Chat on Kent County’s Only Mass Murder set for November 4


Kent County’s only mass murder took place 165 years ago at a farmhouse near Galena. But to this day there are many mysteries surrounding the case that resulted in five deaths and a very public, triple hanging outside of Chestertown.
What was the real motive of the three men convicted of 1st-degree murder? What part did the clock mender play? After his cohorts were executed, what happened to Stephen Shaw, the fourth member of the murderous cabal? Why did a Philadelphia murderer confess to the Cosden murder a year after the three, who were convicted, breathed their last at the gallows? And, what happened to the scaffolding after the executions?

Kevin Hemstock will examine these and other questions during History Happy Hour, Nov. 4.

Hemstock, former Kent County News editor and a local historian, is working on a comprehensive account of the sensational home invasion murder that horrified the nation in 1851. He also will have available his self-published book, The 13 Most Sensational Murder Cases in Kent County, Md.

It all starts at 4 p.m. at the Bordley Building, 301 High St.

Jon Powers Assumes Leadership at Historical Society


After an extensive search campaign, Steven Frohock, President of the Historical Society of Kent County, proudly announces that Jon Powers has accepted the position of Executive Director. He replaces Susanne DeBerry Cole, who has relocated outside the state. Powers began work on October 1, during the Society’s annual walking tour of historic homes in Chestertown. In its new headquarters on Chestertown’s busiest corner, the Society looks forward to innovative programs to make Kent County history more relevant to both the community and visitors.

kent-photo-amanda-002A Washington College graduate with a degree in Political Science, Jon Powers excelled in a university career that focused on development and outreach. He served as Director of Development at Dickinson, a private liberal arts college in Carlisle, PA, and as Vice-President for Development at a division of the University of Maryland. He is currently the founder and president of Mid-Shore Fundraising, Inc., a consulting firm that specializes in non-profit institutions. Powers looks forward to renewing contacts and friendships in Kent County, where he years ago wrote a column supporting the Humane Society for Kent County News editor Hurtt Deringer and worked as an on-air commentator for local radio station WCTR.

Amanda Tuttle-Smith will continue as Deputy Director and Curator, assisted by librarian Joan Andersen and a growing crew of volunteers. Powers expressed enthusiasm for new program opportunities at the Bordley History Center, on the corner of High and Cross Streets, where renovation work is complete. The Society’s research collection and genealogical materials are fully accessible on the second floor and the Alexander Rasin Learning Center has been transformed into an attractive space for exhibits, lectures and other public programs. Powers praised the new facility, commenting that “our next challenge is to reach out to members, residents and visitors to Kent County with programs to stimulate our imaginations and enrich our lives.”

The Society is grateful to its members and many other supporters who have made these changes possible. The public is invited to visit both the new headquarters and the Society’s website,, to learn more about ongoing activities.

History Happy Hour at the Bordley


Please join us at the Bordley History Center to hear board member Jane Nevins present her work entitled “How Washington Became a God.” Nevins’s book, Turning 200: The Bicentennial of the Constitution (Richardson & Steirman, NY, 1987), told the story of the founding of our government and was the start of her fascination with the Founders and founding. She was a journalist in California in the 1970s, an appointee in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations in the 1980s, and the head of a nonprofit publisher in the 1990s through 2013. Her interest in the American founding is purely an avocation, but she hopes to inspire others to admire and cherish America’s founders, especially George Washington. Come relish in your love for Washington during History Happy Hour at the Bordley, Friday, October 7, at 4pm.

46th Annual Historic House Tour


12-101-church-alleyCome spend the day in historic Chestertown! The doors to a selection of National Landmark Historic District homes will be open to you for the 46th Annual Historic House Tour. The houses are open Saturday, October 1st from 1pm to 5pm. Tickets are $25 in advance, and also available the day of for $35. All tickets are available beginning at 11am at the Bordley History Center, located across from Fountain Park at 301 High Street. Reservations for the tour are recommended. Please reserve by phone at 410.778.3499 or by visiting the Society website at

This year’s tour will feature the following homes/churches:

1. Janes United Methodist Church

2. 106 South Queen- Bedingfield Hands House 

3. 106 Cannon Street/Garden- Bennet House

4. 106 South Water Street- Hynson Ringgold House

5. Custom House

6. 104 North Water Street- Turner/Crawford House

4-106-s-water7. 102 North Water- Wroth-Allspach House

8. 102 High Street- Wallis-Wickes House, Garden will also be open

9. 116 High Street- Buck-Bacchus Store

10. 101 North Queen Street- Hurst House

11. 119 North Queen Street- Ostrander House

12. 101 Church Alley- Geddes Piper House

13. Emmanuel Church

Geddes-Piper House Contents Up for Auction


Russum’s Furniture Auction will be selling a large portion of the Historical Society of Kent County’s Geddes-Piper House Museum contents at their auction house located in Crumpton (2017 Dudley Corners Rd. Crumpton, MD 21628) including furnishings, rugs, paintings, furniture, and artifacts of every type. The date has been set for Saturday, August 20th beginning at 9 am, with a preview of the items on Friday the 19th from 3-7 pm. Some of the items can be seen online at

For further information, contact Amanda Tuttle-Smith at (410) 778-3499. Or visit

Announcement of Position Opening and Search for Executive Director


historical societyThe Historical Society of Kent County seeks an Executive Director to assume overall management of programs, facilities, staff and volunteer workers. Principal among the executive director’s responsibilities will be interacting with the elected board of directors to develop strategies to effect the Society’s evolving vision for service to its community. Key concerns include expansion of membership and acquiring resources to support programs and projects.

Candidates for the position should have academic training and work experience in fields related to the work of the Society: history, historic preservation, library science to name a few. Candidates should present a record of success as volunteer leaders and/or staff members of not for profit organizations. The work of the executive director requires effective communication skills: oral, written, and digital competencies.

The Society occupies the Bordley History Center in the heart of Chestertown, the county seat of Kent County. A small part-time professional staff manages, with the help of volunteer docents and archivists, exhibits,education programs, archives/library, and a shop. Regular programming includes an annual historic house tour, historic walks, member receptions in historic houses and other spaces, and monthly lecture series. More information about the Society can be found at

The position of executive director is part-time, averaging 15 hours per week, and includes some evening and weekend involvement. Compensation is set at the rate of $20,000/year.

Submission of a letter of interest describing pertinent experiences and a resume are required for review of candidacy. Information may be submitted by surface mail or email.

Executive Director Search Committee
Historical Society of Kent County
PO Box 665
Chestertown MD 21620

Historical Society Furnishings to be Sold at Auction


With the sale of the Geddes Piper House soon to be consummated, the Historical Society of Kent County has closed its house museum and sent most of its furnishings to auction.

“We have retained those items we could identify as being from Kent County,” explained deputy executive director, Amanda Tuttle-Smith. The bulk of the Society’s clothing collection was donated to Towson University, where it will be part of the University’s permanent collection. The balance of the furnishings and other items have been returned to individuals who had loaned them or sent to auction.

The porcelain tea pot collection, two early 19th century maps, and two items of furniture will be auctioned by Alex Cooper Auctioneers at 12 noon on Saturday, July 23, at 908 York Road, Towson, Maryland. The items are included in Cooper’s online auction catalog available at

The bulk of the furnishings, including rugs, paintings, furniture, and artifacts of every type, will be sold by Dixon’s Furniture Auction in Crumpton. No date is set yet but is expected to be on a Saturday in mid-August. “So many Society members and people in the community wanted to purchase items that we decided the best and fairest way would be to have the items for auction locally,” said Tuttle-Smith.

For further information, contact Amanda Tuttle-Smith at (410) 778-3499.

Farewells at the Historical Society of Kent County


historical kent countyThis will be a busy summer at the Historical Society, with the departure of the Executive Director, Susanne DeBerry Cole, and the sale of the Geddes-Piper House, the Society’s former headquarters. The Deputy Director, Amanda Tuttle-Smith, will be calling on volunteers to help organize a farewell party for Susanne, the annual Legacy Day festivities in August and repurposing furniture and items from the house museum.

Dr. Susanne DeBerry Cole, who has ably led the Society for more than a year, will be relocating to Wisconsin, where her husband has accepted a position as Vice-President of Student Affairs at Marquette University. In addition to her responsibilities at the Society, Dr. DeBerry Cole taught history at Washington College, specializing in gender and world history.

While at the Society, she oversaw the physical move from the Geddes-Piper House to the new downtown headquarters in the Bordley History Center. With this enlarged space for lectures and exhibits, she ensured that the prime corner location presented engaging displays. Dr. DeBerry Cole also began a youth reading program at local elementary schools which will continue in the fall. Society President, Stephen Frohock praised her service, saying, “Susanne brought a rare combination of scholarship, common sense, and a real desire to engage with both residents and visitors to Kent County. We especially appreciate her efforts to engage school children in our activities.”

Mr. Frohock also confirmed that the Society has sold the Geddes-Piper House to a family with deep ties to Kent County. Settlement is expected in August and thus the last day for public tours will be Saturday June 25th. The building served for decades as a house museum, but with limited exhibit space and no accessibility for the handicapped, it was no longer suitable for the Society’s programs. In line with current preservation policies, members decided to return the house to its original use as a warm and inviting family residence.

The Society will be working over the summer to revise job descriptions and search for a new Executive Director, a part-time position with primary responsibility for strategic planning, development, and public outreach. While the library moved last year to handsome new facilities in the Bordley Building, the Society also will need to make the Geddes-Piper House ready for the new owners. This will involve “de-accessioning” most of the furnishings and a great deal of house cleaning. Amanda Tuttle-Smith reminds the community to visit the Geddes-Piper House before it closes on Saturday, June 25, 2016—and also invites local residents to volunteer for the Society’s various committees and programs. Information is available on the Society’s webpage: or by phoning 410-778-3499.

Contact: Deputy Director, Amanda Tuttle