Up until 1774 there was no Caroline County. The land where we now live belonged to Dorchester and Queen Anne's counties. Large tracts were uncleared and roads poor. When people living here had business at court, they had to make a long, rough journey either to Cambridge or Queenstown. Far-seeing men decided to petition the General Assembly of the province to make a new county out of parts of Dorchester and Queen Anne's, which they felt would result in a more rapid development of this section as well as prove a great personal convenience.
The petition was granted (in 1774) creating the new county and giving to it the name of Caroline. This was in honor of Caroline Eden, a sister of Frederick Calvert, the last Lord Baltimore, and wife of Sir Robert Eden, then English governor of Maryland.
The same Assembly provided that the new county be divided into hundreds. This was an English term for what we would call districts. A map given elsewhere in this history shows these divisions and you can readily find in which of the original hundreds you live.
The Assembly also appointed seven commissioners for Caroline county, namely: Charles Dickinson, Benson Stainton, Thomas White, William Haskins, Richard Mason, Joshua Clark, and Nathaniel Potter. These men were to buy four acres of land at Pig Point (now Denton) have it surveyed and recorded in the county records. Upon this land the court house and jail were to be built.
In the meanwhile, court was to be held at Melvill's Warehouse. This was a small settlement about a mile and a half above Pig Point, consisting of a tobacco warehouse, wharf, store, and a few houses. Elections were to be held there as well as other business transactions. As a result Melvill's Landing, the temporary county seat, became a place of considerable importance in the early history of Caroline. A prominent man at the Landing was James Barwick, who kept the inn, was jailor, provided the necessary rooms for court use, and kept the ferry which ran from Melvill's Warehouse to the causeway opposite. An old store house belonging to Edward Lloyd of Talbot was rented for a jail. It was evidently not in good condition, for the court ordered it put in better repair by placing logs under the sills and that these logs be sunk in the ground. The warehouse was a more substantial brick structure built previous to 1763 situated a little back from the river. Here the
great hogsheads of tobacco were received from planters, weighed, stamped and stored for shipment.
The first session of court was held March 15, 1774 at Melvill's Warehouse. It continued being held there twice a year in March and October until 1777, when Bridgetown (now Greensboro) succeeded in having it moved there. Later, however, it was decided for the convenience of public business, Melvill's Warehouse being most central, that court be held there as usual. Notwithstanding this fact, records prove that sessions were held at Bridgetown in August and November of '78 and June, October, and November of '79.
Feeling was strong concerning the permanent location of the county-seat. The people in the upper part of the county insisted upon Bridgetown, while those in the lower section were quite as insistent for Pig Point. In 1785 a compromise was effected by the General Assembly authorizing the purchase of two acres of land at Melvill's Landing. Matthew Driver, the owner of the Brick House Farm which extended nearly to the Landing, promptly deeded the required amount of land to the justices of the county to be used as a site for the court house and jail. All that happened within the next five years regarding this compromise we do not know, but in 1790, all the belongings of the county court were moved to Pig Point. A house was rented there, and used until the completion of the court house about 1797, for the court sessions.
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