Somerset County MDGenWeb
"The following is a transcription of a booklet entitled "The History of Oriole and Its Satellites" written by the late Marion Hall in 1964. The transcription is by John H. Herold, 3/24/1998. I make no claims to the accuracy of anything in the document and I have made every effort to transcribe it as written, with whatever spellings and punctuation Marion chose. The author, Marion Florence McDade Hall, died in July of 1982 and is buried in St Peter's Cemetery near Oriole in Somerset Co, Maryland. Accordingly, I have on 4/23/1998 obtained verbal permission from her oldest offspring, Russell William Hall Jr., to reprint or otherwise make available this work in any way I choose." - John Herold
Many thanks to John for providing this wonderful transcript, and to Mrs. Hall's son for permitting us to put the transcription online.
In order to get a true picture of the history of Oriole, it is necessary to go back in history to the earliest settlers, known to have settled in the area nearby, and tell a little of the history of some of their families and their homes.
One of those early settlers was Thomas Bloyce, Jr., who moved to Somerset County from Virginia in 1649 and acquired a lot of land along the Big and Little Monie Creek. Among the grants were "Success", "Bloyce's Hope", "Eosen's Venture" and "Pennywise". He was a direct ancestor of the Lawson family.
He built a handsome brick house, which is described as being "wide-walled and massive" on one of his tracts of land, lying along the little Monie Creek (across from what was later known as the Lawson place). He built another brick home on Big Monie Creek. The building on Little Monie stood until 1855 when it was destroyed by fire. At the time of the fire, it was occupied by Robert Patterson, Esq. The home on Big Monie also burned down.
In the early 1650s, John and Peter Elzey (sons of John Elzey, a merchant in Southampton, England) sailed to America. They settled on the Eastern Shore and were the first Commissioners of lands in that area.
John built a home on the Manokin River (near Oriole) which he named "Almodington". Almodington, consisting of 1000 acres, was surveyed November 10, 1663 for John Elzey. John Elzey's son, Harold, who figured so highly in the Revolution, is said to have built the big brick house now standing there. The exact date of the building of Almodington, as of other estates, is unknown. By its architectural details, however, it must have been built in the middle of the eighteenth century.
In 1695, John Elzey is recorded as a Deputy in Calvert County Court.
In 1719 and 1732, Arnold Elzey was naval officer of Pocomoke.
In 1778, James Elzey was commissioned second lieutenant in Captain David Wilson's company.
The Elzeys, like the rest of the Eastern Shore people, were planters. They raised tobacco until it became unprofitable, then turned to growing wheat. They loaded their crops on their own wharves and shipped them to England and the West Indies, accompanied with orders for finery and other luxuries. Great excitement was shown at the arrival of these fineries.
John was always interested in and desirous of taking part in public affairs. Peter desired only to become a large land-owner. John and Peter were both members of the Church of England and they and their descendants were loyal to the Crown until the War of 1812. Two of the Elzeys served as Captains in this War.
In 1661, Lord Baltimore (Governor Philip Calvert) appointed a commission of Colonel Scarburg, Randolph Revell and John Elzey, to arrange to accept settlers to the Eastern Shore, below the Choptank River. All of these men were residents of the Shore.
Two years later, a Quaker by the name of Stephen Horsey was substituted for Scarburg, who declared allegiance to Virginia. John Elzey and Randolph Revell claimed allegiance to Maryland.
By the year 1662, two well established settlements were on the Manokin River. These settlements increased in size as the years went by.
The first Episcopal Church stood at a point (now covered by the waters of the Manokin River), between the Almodington and Elmwood estates. The All Saints Church, in Venton, was the immediate successor of this church.
During the residence of Isaac Atkinson at Almodington, Fred Waters, of Oriole, then a young boy, was a frequent visitor. He loved walking with Mr. Atkinson around the vast fields. He recalled Mr. Atkinson riding through them on horseback. One scene he remembers so vividly there was that of lunch time. Mr. Atkinson, before the War, owned many slaves. After they were free, they were hired by him to run the farm. At this particular lunch time, the colored folks all sat in a circle, with large bowls of clabber in their laps, on which they poured black molasses, accompanied with white potatoes. They ate it with such gusto and delight that young Waters never forgot the scene. On Saturdays, they lined up, near the meat house, for their weekly ration of pork and bacon which, in those days, was their pay for the week.
In later years, 1918, when the Almodington estate became the property of Mr. Aldridge, the paneling of this beautiful home, dating between 1750-1775 and the living-room mantle, dating between 1800-1810, was sold and is now in the Museum of Art, New Your City, New York.
The Almodington Room in the Museum of Art in New York City is redolent of the traditions of the early settlers, where true tolerance and liberty prevailed in the early days. Country homes were made as comfortable and as attractive as possible in order to entertain friends and relatives in the style they were accustomed to, in the city. In this room, the interior is as it must have been in the time of the Elzeys. Mr. And Mrs. Elzey would probably pause in amazement at beholding its great beauty. It contains a beautiful settee from the second quarter of the eighteenth century, a Philadelphia armchair with pierced back, a tea table with cabriole legs and slipper feet, a tea table with flaring skirt and Dutch feet, a veneered and inlaid highboy and low boy, a silver teapot by John Burt (1691-1745) of Boston, a silver teapot by Bancker (1703 - c 1761) of New York, walnut chairs, upholstered with old English needlework and an English japanned tall clock with portraits on case. It typifies the home of a wealthy planter before the Revolution.
Almodington is now owned by Mr. And Mrs. John Honnecker. Many church picnics were held on the spacious lawn of this beautiful estate in the years gone by.
Elmwood was the home of the Jones family and later the Fitzgeralds. One section was built in 1810, by Arnold Elzey. His son, Arnold, who was born here, graduated from West Point and served in the Seminole and Mexican Wars. He became a Major General in the Confederate Army. The Elzeys and Fitzgeralds were said to be related to General Patton, who served in World War II. It was rumored, at one time, that General Patton was interested in buying the estate.
The home is now owned by Mr. Norman Taylor, who is world famous as a Botanist and is also the author of garden manuals and text-books.
Homewood was part of the Almodington estate, belonging to John Elzey. It was built for a daughter who married a Waters, in or near the year 1810. Doctor Waters came here from Scotland. He was married at the age of twenty-five. He lived to be ninety-six. He, also, was a slave owner.
Peter Elzey, the brother of John, had the grant of land, consisting of 400 acres, extending from St. Peter's Creek to Genngaukin Creek. This, in later years, was divided into several tracts. Oriole is built on a part of two tracts of land called "Littleworth" and "Brother's Agreement". As more and more settlers appeared, they, also, were anxious to have property of their own. The original tracts were then divided and sold into smaller ones. In the present day, very few acres remain of the original tracts.
Many families settled at the head of St. Peter's Creek. So many, in fact that in no time at all, a village sprung into being. It grew and grew. It seemed well on its way to becoming a town and so requested a post-office of its own.
William Thomas Smith, a farmer, builder, storekeeper and leading citizen, wrote to the Post Office Department and made the request officially. It was granted and Mr. Smith was given the privilege of providing the name.
St. Peter's was the logical choice. There was St. Peter's Creek, the local church, St. Peter's Methodist, and the community lay within St. Peter's election district. The only thing the matter with the name, postoffice officials ruled, was that there was already one St. Peter's in Maryland. (It is no longer listed).
So Mr. Smith, (sometime around the year 1886) chose the name Oriole, because of the large number of Baltimore Orioles, which nested in the area at that time. The postoffice was located in Mr. Smith's store. One of his sons, Sidney Smith, became the first postmaster and held the job eight years. Then Captain John Walker, also a store-keeper, got the appointment and ran the office from his place of business. Later, another of William Thomas Smith's sons, Edward J. B. Smith, got the job. In the writer's day, Mr. William Bennett served as postmaster, then his son Willie John. Clarence Muir became postmaster after Willie Bennett and served in this post until his death. Mrs. Ruth Muir then became the postmistress and moved the postoffice into her home. She is the postmistress, at the present time.
Oriole continued to grow until it had more than three hundred residents.
It had a four-room school house, a big Methodist Church, a sawmill, four stores, a camp-meeting ground, a resident doctor and its own telephone exchange. There were also many other businesses.
James Wilson operated a blacksmith shop across from the present home of Everett Lawson. All kinds of blacksmithing was done, such as farmwork, ironing wagons, buggies, carts and etc. Oyster dredges and tongs were made and repaired. As many as five to six men were employed there, both in winter and summer. His sons later had their blacksmith shops, in Oriole.
J. S. C. Furniss was a well known plasterer, brick layer, contractor and builder.
William T. Hastings was a manufacturer of all kinds of lumber. Custom work was done at all times.
Captain John Walker was a dealer in drygoods, groceries and etc.
Miss Maud Smith, daughter of Edward J. B. Smith, considers those early days the golden days of Oriole.
Mrs. Mamie Wilson, for many years the exchange's "Central", as she was called, was always cheerful about passing on the time of day and the weather report, to subscribers. When Miss Smith's father was postmaster, he called "Central" every day, got the weather report, and then announced it to other citizens of Oriole, by way of colored flags, which he flew on a mast in front of the combination store and postoffice. An all white flag meant, fair weather. A white flag, with a black center, meant bad weather. There were all sorts of other weather flags, too.
Oriole, at one time, had a merry-go-round, located where Miss Cora Muir now resides and was operated by Jesse Phoebus. Many a person today, fondly remembers those rides of long ago.
It also had three skating rinks, owned (individually) by Harry Phoebus, Edward Smith and Joseph Croswell. Here, young folks in Oriole and the surrounding areas, would gather for evenings of fun.
Mr. Tom Willing operated a store that carried all the commodities one could ask for, from groceries to dress goods, china, furniture, farming needs equipment and wearing apparel. Everything imaginable, was sold under its roof. At Christmas and other holidays, it would be crowded to the door. It was situated on the site where Billy Sharpless now has his home.
A dentist, by the name of Dr. Hatch, had an office in one of the rooms of Dr. Hoyt's home, the present home of Senator Phoebus.
In the writer's day, and ice cream store, operated by the Willing Brothers (Wes, Paul, and Clarence), was at the center of the village. Here, as in the other stores of the community, the men gathered and exchanged the news, gossip and jokes of the day.
The main road, into Oriole, remained unpaved for many years but that didn't stop the little town from thriving.
Methodism originated in England under John Wesley. In America, the real beginning was under the preaching of Philip Embury. The early followers preached in houses, barns and sometimes, open fields.
In 1810, three brothers, in a crude fashion, build a little church in Oriole, 20 x 30 feet and called it the Phoebus Methodist Episcopal Church. The people used the little church for fifty years and were served by pastors on the Princess Anne circuit (ministers supplied from the Philadelphia Conference.)
In 1862, an additional lot was bought by the church. The first church then was replaced by a long, brown frame church building lovingly referred to as "The Little Brown Church" by Miss Maud Smith. It was built where the present church now stands.
As some of the members still wanted it called Phoebus Church and some wanted it called St. Peter's Methodist Episcopal Church, a dispute arose. For fear the Church would be called Phoebus, the corner stone was stolen and hid in the woods. It was found later by woodsmen, covered with straw. For many years, it was used as a door step in front of the home of Annie Laird, in Jerusalem. The name "Phoebus" was clearly discernible during its use. Its present whereabouts is unknown.
The first pastor of the charge, of which there is any record, was the Rev. George Wilcox. He came to the charge in 1885. The was the year of the ending of the Princess Anne Circuit. It was also in this year that the parsonage lot was purchased and the parsonage built. Rev. Wilcox was followed to the charge by Rev. E. S. Mace. During the pastorate of Rev. Mace, the people felt the need of a large and more comfortable building. When Rev. Warren Burr came to the charge in 1891, the mighty task fell on his able shoulders. A steeple and Sunday School Room were added and the architecture changed. On June 9, 1928, this church was completely leveled by a tornado. The mortgage had just been paid two hours before. This terrible misfortune caused great sorrow and consternation in the community. Services were held at the camp-ground, later at the Ladies Aid Hall and finally in a partially finished church. A new church (much larger than the former) was raised in the same site, under the pastorate of Rev. Ward Mills. The work was done by George Noble and sons, of Monie, a well known builder.
On December 31, 1938, on the last day of the month and year, the people moved into the new completed building. The spring-like weather couldn't have been better.
The trustees for this enormous enterprise were R. Ward Mills (Pastor), Lydie Hall, B. Frank Laird, John W. Smith, George West Bozman (President), Edward James Hall, William Tom Bozman, William Croswell, William S. Bennett, (Secretary) and Harry T. Phoebus.
Many beautiful windows were given in memory of loved ones, long departed. A pulpit Bible was given in memory of a former pastor, the Rev. Howard McDade and his wife, Carrie. Alkanah Parks, a choir member (now deceased) made the Baptismal Font for the Church. Bulletins, telling of the church's activities, were printed first by Rev. Turner. An electric pipe organ was bought, installed and first used in August 1947. Chimes were bought the same year as memorials for several families. Choir gowns were first used during the pastorate of Rev. Albert Turkington. During the past few years, the Dames Quarter Church has been added to the charge, because of the shortage of ministers. Rev. Turkington has served the Oriole charge for eighteen years and his able and talented wife, Emily, has organized and directed the three Choirs (The Tots, Young People's and Senior Choir) for the same number of years. She is also the teacher of the Men's bible Class.
The preachers who served the charge are as follows, in their consecutive order:
George W. Wilcox , 1885-1888
E. S. Mace, 1888-1891
Warren Burr, 1891-1896
George Hardesty, 1896-1901
Asbury Burke, 1901-1902
M. D. Nutter, 1902-1906
E. H. Derrickson, 1906-1907
W. W. Sharpe, 1907-1908
C. W. Strickland, 1908-1909
G. W. Stallings, 1909-1911
A. W. Goodhand, 1911-1915
Daniel Wilson, 1915-1919
E. C. Kanopp, served ten months
G. S. Allen, 1920-1924
Howard R. McDade, 1924-1926
H. S. Dulaney, served nine months
Roland Nelson (local minister), three months
Ward Mills, 1927-1934
Rev. Short, 1934-1935
Grayson Wheatley, 1936-1940
Rev. McFarland, 1940-1942
Rev. Turner, 1942-1946
Rev. Turkington, 1946-1964
Rev. Howard McDade led the way to the purchase of the tabernacle and camp-ground. Many wonderful meetings were held there with many prominent speakers. Forrest E. Dager, a well known Philadelphia speaker, gave Russell Conwell's well-known lecture "Acres of Diamonds". Admission of ten cents a person was charged at the gate, to defray the expenses of the camp. A small building was on the camp-ground, where candy and cracker-jack was sold. On the opposite side of the camp-ground was a long building where an individual, or the ladies of the church, would serve and sell sandwiches, either of oysters or crabs. Cottages were built in a semi-circle, where the infirm members sat and listened to the services. The young folks, also, fixed up cottages where they entertained their friends and listened to the services, too. At the conclusion of the services, the young men watched the young girls promenade 'round the tabernacle. The young men would pick the girl of his choice and ask if he could walk with her. She nearly always said yes. Many a girl met her future husband in this way.
During the pastorate of Ward Mills, the church members decided not to hold any more camp-meeting services. The camp-ground was sold to a farmer, who converted the tabernacle into a barn.
The Hyland family consisted of only two persons, Dr. Hyland and Annie, his spinster sister. He, also, was unmarried. Three human skulls were reported seen lying on a shelf and one entire human skelton hanging from the rafters, in the attic of this home. They were probably used for study by Dr. Hyland. Their present where abouts is unknown.
An interesting fact about the great grandfather of Maud and Bertie Smith, that the writer thinks is worth relating, is as follows. When William Henry Smith was a young man, he served in the War of 1812. The British, en-route to Baltimore, made prisoners of all the young soldiers they captured. Young Smith and a friend hid in the Hyland family attic for four days while the British searched for them. Their meals were carried to them, secretly, by the Hyland family.
Many boats were built in Oriole and the surrounding area at this time. A famous bateau, named the "R. L. Webster", built by Sylvester Muir, is still in use and is owned by Eldon Willing, of Chance, Maryland. Tourists, visiting in the New England area, reported seeing boats there, built by this talented man. (Now Deceased)
Another well-known boat-builder of the community, George Smith, built a boat for a Frenchman by the name of Gladwin. Mr. Smith thought so much of the Frenchman that he gave two of his daughters the name, Gladwin, as their middle names.
Whenever a boat was finished and launched, the community took on a festive air. There were four launching sites. One at the head of the Creek, in Oriole, one at Champ, one across from the Smith homestead, known as Fender's Point, and one at St. Stephen's, on the right of the highway, by the Sandy Bozman property. On the day of the launchings, watermelon and other good things to eat were served. As many as one-hundred and fifty to two-hundred people would attend. The folks looked forward to these launchings and planned, days ahead, to attend them.
A blacksmith shop was operated by Wil Wilson who later moved to Princess Anne and opened a shop there. Another blacksmith shop was built by John Wilson, brother to Will. When John moved to Baltimore, another brother, Dwight, operated the shop.
Mr. Fred Phoebus has a bottling works next to the parsonage, on the opposite side of the automobile business. This was very successful while it was in operation. The building, later owned by Orsby Thomas, burned down.
A swimming pool, known as "Sandy Deep Hole", is near the head of St. Peter's Creek. Here, youngsters of all ages loved to congregate for a day of fun. Many a boy learned to swim there from being pushed by other boys into its cooling waters.
Next to the parsonage, on the right, Senator Harry Phoebus had a flourishing automobile business. Housed upstairs, in the same building, the Knights of Pythias, later changed to the Junior Order of Mechanics, held their meetings. During the following years, the Phoebus car business was moved to Princess Anne. The building it formerly occupied was used as a dwelling. After the tenants moved away, the building stood empty many years. Recently, it was given to St. Peter's Methodist Church by the heirs of Clarence Willing. Due to its dilapidated condition, the church folks had the Princess Anne Fire Company burn it to the ground.
A Livery Stable, also owned by Senator Phoebus, was behind the building that housed the automobile business. Mr. Phoebus bought horses in Baltimore, had them brought by steamer to Deals Island, from where they were driven to Oriole.
A large baseball diamond, near the home of the Smith sisters, was the scene of many exciting games. Teams from Princess Anne, Mt. Vernon, and the surrounding communities came to compete with the Oriole team. Large crowds attended the games.
Miss Maud Smith operated a millinary shop on the corner where Bennett's store now stands. This was a double store, built and owned by Mr. Barnette. It burned down. She then assisted Mr. Tom Willing a short time, as his milliner. Later, she opened a dress-making shop in a shop formerly occupied by her father, at the end of the lane.
Miss Kitty Wilson, a milliner, rented a room from Mrs. Mamie Horner, at her residence, and carried on the same business.
One day, the school building burned down and classes were held in the church hall. The hall also burned down and was re-built across the road. A two-room school was then built on the former school site. Several years later, the county schools consolidated and the school in Oriole was closed. After a few months, the former school was sold, torn down, moved and built into a home. The children were sent to school, by bus, to Princess Anne.
A large store, operated by the Croswell's, was at the end of Herman's Bennett's lane (on the road from Oriole to St. Stephen's).
A beauty parlor was operated by the minister's wife, Emily Turkington, for many years in the back upstairs room of the parsonage. When the Turkingtons built a home of their own, they moved from the parsonage and established the beauty parlor in their new residence.
There is only one store in Oriole, at the present time, and that is operated by Willie John Bennett and his wife, Evelyn.
The old election house was abandoned and the citizens now vote at a new building (formerly a store) in the center of the village.
Some of the village men are still watermen and farmers but the majority of them work in the canning factories and manufacturing plants in neighboring towns. Many of the farmers, near Oriole, have gone into the business of raising chickens for market.
The Oriole home, where the Smith sisters live, is typical of the community's architecture and contains many pieces of antique furniture, some dating back to the 1700's. The house is a big white frame building, sitting in an old-fashioned yard.
Oriole had its share of Somerset's native sons. Senator Harry T. Phoebus, who has done so much for Somerset County, was born and raised there. He still makes it his home, with his beloved wife, Vera Beauchamp Phoebus.
Many vacant houses, sadly in need of repair, still dot the community.
Much of Oriole, however, now lies in its past. The saw-mill is gone, the telephone exchange has long since been made a part of the Princess Anne office. The physician, who once lived in the community, died and nobody came to replace him. Sick people now go to Dames Quarter and Princess Anne for medical help.
But although Oriole has declined in population and trades, many folks from other states are finding it the ideal spot for retirement and have bought homes there.
The Church still plays the biggest part in the life of the community.
On the following pages, the places named are, or have been, near Oriole. Those still existing, are now as important to Oriole as the businesses were in the past. The life of the church and the community's civic affairs, depend on their help.
Even though some of those mentioned are non-existent today, their memories live on in the old timers, who once shared their joys and sorrows.
This was an area where the slaves, belonging to William Henry Smith, lived. Cabins and homes were built by him and the slaves continued to live in them until long after the Civil War, when they were set free. The property was later owned by Edward J. B. Smith. The homes are gone now and the descendents of those folks have homes elsewhere.
At one time Locust Point was laid off for a Port of Entry when Somerset was formed in 1666 but was never developed. A canning house was operated there by Pernell Muir. It also had a wharf. It was never a settlement.
Not caring to travel over the long, rough road to Oriole to church, the people of Genngaukin and surrounding territory built a church nearby, where the traveling was of shorter duration. This little community soon had a school house, surrounded by many homes. The school house was later converted into a summer home. A little store, operated by the Lawrence family, did a thriving business. The store is still operated by the daughter, Anna Lawrence McDorman. The biggest day for the community is "Homecoming Day". On this day, many former residents and friends return to the church of their youth. Great joy and happiness is displayed at the re-union of old friends and relatives. How they love to reminisce of the past years they shared together.
Monie is a quiet little community, not far from Oriole. Thirty-nine years ago, it boasted of six homes and a general store and postoffice combined, operated by P. H. Cannon. The store served lots of people on the out-lying farms. At that time, it was on the main road to Habnab, later known as Venton.
One of Somerset's oldest residents lived there. Mrs. Charlotte Noble, the grandmother of the writer's husband, lived to be 101. Her husband , George Noble, was reputed at one time to have been a wealthy slave owner and owned many acres of land. Mrs. Noble had a large family and was left a widow when the youngest son, Denwood Noble, was only two years of age. Many of Mrs. Noble's descendents still live in the little settlement.
The Cannon store was eventually torn down and a new post office was built on the corner of George Noble's yard, with his wife, Madaline, appointed as postmistress. At her death, the postoffice was moved to her sister's home, Mrs. Harry Noble, who then became the postmistress and who still has that post at the present time. The post office also serves the community of St. Stephen's and out-lying farms, near Monie.
The sixteenth Governor of Maryland, Governor Winder, is said to be buried on the Lewis farm, not far from Monie, but at the present date, his grave has never been located.
Several homes were in this section, right in the deep woods, off from Oriole. They are gone now and only lilies tell where they stood. The families, who lived there, have all died.
A little settlement of fifteen or twenty homes was built along this Creek. A church and store were also built there. Many bricks can still be seen at the site where the church formerly stood. A Club House is in the area now.
How this little settlement got its name is not known by the writer, but it was below St. Stephen's, on the marsh. The first settlers there were a family by the name of Whittington, followed by the Bozmans. More folks followed. Later, a store was built, operated by John Bozman. He sold many commodities. A church named Bethel, and a school house were also built. As the marsh crept slowly in, the people moved to higher ground. The little church was moved to Oriole, to be used as a church hall. It later burned down. Miss Maud Smith, of Oriole, has an old Atlas containing a map showing where all the homes stood in this area, and the names of the families who lived in them.
The writer was told that the first owner of Crab Island was said to have been a man from Smith Island. The first store there was said to be owned and operated by Mrs. Maria Furniss. The Island passed through many others' hands before it belonged to Captain John Walker. He sold it to a man from Mathews County, Virginia, by the name of John White. Mr. White put pilings around its shores, backed by oyster shells, to keep the soil from washing away. Through the years, the oysters shells were multiplied many times around its banks. A combination store and home was at the water's edge. Here the storekeepers did a thriving business, selling supplies to ships. Captain Walker also built a store nearby, on the mainland. Mr. Jim Wilson had a blacksmith shop there, too. Two more homes were built there. A small foot bridge connected the island to the mainland. Travelers had to pass through the Walker farm to reach Crab Island by land. Many residents of Oriole were born there. The store remained open for many years. Then, as business dropped off, the stores closed, but families continued to live in the homes. Finally the homes were deserted and the houses rotted away. The foundations of Crab Island can be seen at any time, but the road leading there has now grown into a wooded area. Many Orioles residents relate how beautiful the boats were, lying in the harbor, in the early days of the Island's activities.
Genngaukin, in the not too distant past, had many families living there. At that time even more than lived in Oriole. The largest home there, that of Sammy Davis, had a fire place that extended across the length of the house. Many prayer meetings were held in the home. Mrs. Annie Noble, a well known dressmaker in the area, made the shrouds for all the dead, and the wedding gowns for the young brides. She was also organist for many years at St. Stephen's little church.
During the War of 1812, one of the ladies of the settlement kept a sharp lookout for British soldiers. On seeing them, she hung a tin basin up a tree so the light of the sun would reflect on it, warning the men in the woods, working on their boats, of the danger.
In the book "Chesapeake Bay" can be seen the picture of a skip-jack called the "Lady Eleanor". It was built by William A. Noble (a resident of Genngaukin) in 1915. The picture shows it dredging for oysters, off from Rock Hall, Maryland in 1941. Another skip-jack, also built by William A. Noble, named the "Jesse Price", built in 1908, can be seen in the same book. It is an oil painting by Louis Feuchter, 1948, and is owned by the Mariners Museum.
One by one, the people moved out of this little community, until no one was left. The houses rotted away and the woods reclaimed it. Old water pumps can still be seen where the homes once stood. Many folks are buried there in a large grave yard. Most of the present families in Oriole are descendents from those folks.
The County has had a large ditch cut from the State Road, back into Genngaukin, under the mosquito control program.
Genngaukin is an Indian name. Many folks differ on the spelling of Genngaukin but the map, in the old Atlas, spells it like the above. The Eastern Shore of Maryland is said to be the earthly Garden of Eden. A long time ago, a beautiful Indian maiden was said to have dwelt there. A mighty Indian brave, upon seeing her great beauty, beseeched her to become his bride and asked her what her name was. Genn-Gin-Jin-Genngaukin, the maiden told him. The young brave, on trying to repeat her name, fell into the water. He never arose to the surface again. Where he disappeared, whirling insects arose. Seeing them, the maiden told the insects that the warrior's name was Quito, to take his name and that she would ever after-Miss Quito. For this reason, so the legend says, mosquitoes will always be plentiful on the Eastern Shore.
A section, to the north of Oriole, is known as Jerusalem. The Phoebus tract called "Brother's Agreement", extended into this area. It bordered a ditch that was the dividing line between it and a large far, known as "Wright's Conclusion". "Wright's Conclusion" had six owners thru the years, namely the Wrights, Dashiells, Parsons, Hastings, Langs and the Halls. Seven families lived there but one was a tenant. The home burned down several years ago. The farm is still owned by the Halls but of a different branch of the family.
In reading "Parson of the Island" the writer noted several references to a man named Lewis Phoebus. Recalling that a grave in Jerusalem bore that name , she looked up some data about him. He was born August 29, 1772, and was one of four sons. He settled in a section, later called Jerusalem, that was part of the tract called "Brother's Agreement". He married a lady by the name of Sally R. Their union was blessed by sixteen children. One of his daughters, Emily, (later married to a Furniss), held a private school in the back rooms of the home. Here, one day, in teaching her niece, Mary, Mary and a friend misbehaved. They were sent to the room directly over the school room. Being of a mischievous nature, Mary threw an object thru the venilating hole in the floor. Pandemonium broke out and needless to say, school was dismissed for the day and Mary was punished more severely. A son, Harrison, settled near Newsport News. He became so famous over there, a town, that of Phoebus, Virginia, is named for him. His nephew, Mitchell Wilson, while visiting him, was found dead at the bottom of an elevator shaft. How the accident occurred is unknown. When Alex Furniss was courting Marie, another daughter of Lewis and Sally, he called the area Jerusalem, probably because he thought that the place his beloved dwelt was sacred. The area has been known as Jerusalem ever since. Another daughter married a minister, the Rev. Isaac Wilson. Their union was blest by seventeen children. The minister often expressed the wish for twenty, in order to have an even number.
Lewis Phoebus, from all accounts, was very well known and liked, through all the County. He was probably one of those very early settlers. The first deed for Antioch Church, dated June 1, 1832, was given to him and others by John Waters. These men served on the Board of Trustees at that Church. He was a member of the Quarterly Meeting conference of Annamessex Circuit. The meeting, at which resolutions were made against the sale, use, and manufacturing of intoxicating drinks. Being a class leader, he, along with the other members, was given a copy of these resolutions. They were to try and use their influence among neighbors and friends. He also served as a trustee of St. Peter's Methodist Church at Oriole. He loved camp-meetings and attended all within reach. He became a close friend to Thomas Barbon, a Portuguese emigrant, who became converted into the Christian faith from hearing the preaching of Joshua Thomas. Lewis and Sally's home was well known for their hospitality. Joshua Thomas found in Lewis a willing and hard working Christian. He was one of the Board of Managers for the first Deals Island camp-meeting. His and Joshua Thomas's age was about the same, although Joshua out-lived him by ten years. He died on October 31, 1843, and lies buried beside his wife, Sally and his daughter, Elizabeth in the cemetery in Jerusalem. He is referred to in "Parson of the Island" as of "precious memory", giving the reader the impression he was loved by many. He left all his property to his beloved wife, Sally, and at her death it was to go to the children.
A little story regarding Sally is as follows: One bright, sunny day, Sally started to walk to church. On looking back, she saw her little dog following along behind. She chased it back repeatedly but it still followed. Finally, in desperation, she took a rag from her knee (it had been holding up her stocking) and tied the dog to a bush. She then proceeded to church. On her return home, she found the little dog, still tied to the bush but dead of strangulation. An amusing incident happened many years later. A little boy, returning home after dark from Oriole, saw a little dog with something on its head, running along beside him. He tried repeatedly to chase it away but it still kept trotting along beside him. Finally, he kicked at it and his foot went clear through the dog's body. Naturally the little fellow was scared to death. He ran all the way home, a distance of at least three quarters of a mile. When the little boy became a man, he told his girl about his experience with the ghostly dog. Long afterwards, during their married life, whenever the story was told, it caused much merriment in the family. On hearing, recently, about the Pheobus dog, the young son turned to his Dad and said "Daddy, that must have been your little dog". Everyone laughed and his Dad squirmed in his chair but still story that he has told through the years. Is the story true that anyone or anything that dies by violence never get the rest they deserve? If so the poor little dog must be mighty tired of running by now.
Many years ago, quite a few homes were in Jerusalem but at the present, it boasts of five. Most of the former inhabitants have died and many have moved away. Some of the former home sites are marked only by rose bushes, daffodils, and grape vines.
Off to one side of Jerusalem, lies an old cemetery. On some of the tombstones, the dates go back to the 1700s. Here, some of the families of the Wilson and Pheobus members are buried. Many graves are unmarked. Opposite the grave yard, in the woods, is a large, dug out place called the "Cow Hole". Reputedly called that because cows used to wallow there years ago, when the woods was a field. Here, in winter, the neighbors and the writer's children gathered to ice skate. The pond is still there and is ideal for little ones, as it is not too large, deep, or too small. It is lined by trees. Many happy days were spent there by the children in this area.
The small settlement had only one road of exit, in the past, and that opened into Oriole. During the late years, the County extended the old road and black-topped it. It now joins the State Road. This gives the inhabitants of Oriole a third road for entering and leaving the village.
In the Spring of 1963, the writer noticed a tree, shaped like a Cross, on the line between the Harry Walker property and the Hall farm. All summer long, it towered above the horizon and was an inspiration to all who beheld it. Its leaves turned to red and have now blown away. Whether it will be a Cross in the years to come, remains to be seen. It will always be remembered by the writer who composed a poem and took pictures of it.
This peninsula, formerly known as St. Peter's Peninsula, is now called Champ.
I. Frank Beauchamp, an optometrist, decided that the community was large enough to have a post office of its own. He wrote to the Postal Authorities and requested one, suggesting his name for it. They decided his name was too long but compromised and took the last part of it, "Champ". From then on, the peninsula has been known as "Champ".
The Ballard family is said to have been one of the first families in the area. Later, many more settlers arrived. Soon a little settlement was formed.
John West Tyler, a resident of Champ, was a sea captain and deep-sea fisherman, for many years. His wife was the granddaughter of Joshua Thomas, (the famous Parson of the Island). Their home was considered the most picturesque place around. Mr. Tyler built a conservatory on the south end of the house, where orange trees and flowers bloomed abundantly, all through the winter months. In summer, his garden was a scene of great beauty. Mounds, two feet high and two and one-half in circumference, were built of shells, collected in his travels. Every flower, of many varieties, was grown there. Mr. Tyler cooked the fish (that he caught himself) in a large furnace, housed in an octagon shaped building, for fertilizer for the flowers. People walked for miles, on Sundays, just to see the garden. He died in 1908 and his wife died in 1910.
Most of the inhabitants of this community were fishermen, boat-builders, and farmers.
At Champ Point, the biggest bugeye ever built to sail the Chesapeake Bay, was built by Rufus Miles. The boat's name was the "Nivingham". It was a bugeye, hewn out of a tree, (as the "Methodist" was of Joshua Thomas's) not thin lumber, and was bolted together. Two other of the largest boats were built there also, by Rufus Miles. One of those was named the "R. J. Miles". The name of the other boat is unknown by the writer.
Many more boats were built there, also, by other well known boat-builders, but the last boat built on Champ, was the "Helen B", built by George West Bozman, in 1954, for his son George.
To those who do not know just what the bugeyes and skipjacks were, the writer will try to describe them according to information obtained from the book entitled "Chesapeake Bay". The earliest known use of the name "bugeye" was in 1868. All evidence points to its development immediately after the Civil War. The bugeye was a simple, single log, trough shaped Indian dugout, as much as 85 feet in length. As the settlers became used to the canoes of the Indians, they figured ways to improve them. They sharpened both ends of the log, making it easier to propel. But no single tree could provide the needed width, so in time, the settlers learned how to join two or more trees together, to get the beam desired. They then learned to add topsides of hewn logs (later, of sawed plank). A keel was added and a sailing rig. After the center board was invented, it took the place of a keel. The bugeye was developed into a large canoe, fully decked, with a fixed rig. It had full accomodations for crew and had to be large. From development of canoe to bugeye, the log bottom was always apparent. As logs became difficult to obtain in large sizes, and much was wasted, bugeyes began to be built by frame and plank methods. The last boat, of that kind, (log bugeye) was built by Isaac Somers. A bugeye has recently been added to the collection of boats at the Marine Historical Museum in Mystic, Connecticut, a former shipyard, famous during the Revolution.
A skip-jack or batteau (as it was sometimes called) was the last type of sailing craft developed on the Bay. Just as the bugeye came from the canoe, the skip-jack came from the v-bottomed skiff, commonly used along crab trot lines. Skip-jacks were simple in design, required ordinary tools and hardly any hardware, rigging and equipment. They were cheap to build and operate and could be operated by one man. The first boats were those of the 1890s. They were small and stayed near the home waters. By 1901, the skip-jacks were large enough to carry cargo to Baltimore and other ports. They reached their peak in size with the building of the Robert L. Webster, by Sylvester Muir, in 1915. She was 60 feet on deck. The skip-jack is the only Bay sailing craft of size which has been built since 1918.
A school house, remembered with affection by many, stood next to the George West Bozman property. It was closed, sold, and moved up the Champ road, where it was converted into a home, next to the colored parsonage. The first school on Champ was a private school, held in the store-house of George West Bozman's, by Mrs. Emma Somers.
A store, operated by Isaac T. Parks, was across from the Herman Bloodsworth property. It sold many commodities (as in Tom Willing's store in Oriole).
On the road to Locust Point, at a place known as "Fitzgerald's Cove", a store and several homes stood. Supplies were delivered to the store by steamships.
The point of land, across from Crab Island, was known as the "Philipines". On it stood a hotel and a store. The store was operated by William T. Bozman, affectionately and better known, as "Bill Tom". The hotel burned down and the store building was moved up the Champ road. It is now the residence of Richard Bedsworth.
A store, operated by Will Campbell, stood near the George West Bozman property.
A desk, built for the granddaughter of Lewis Phoebus (a man well known in Joshua Thomas's day) is owned by Agnes Bloodsworth.
Today, Champ is still thickly settled but boat-building is a thing of the past. Many boat enthusiasts are finding their way to its shores, both in winter and summer. A ramp is at the wharf for the unloading and loading of boats and also a small railway, where they can be repaired and painted.
Many out-of-state folks have found it a delightful place for their homes and have retired there.
Two well known ballet dancers are dwelling in its midst. Michael Nicholoffe and Ray Williams, both experts in their field, operated a ballet school in Baltimore for twenty years. But more important, however, is the fact that Mr. Nicholoffe was the dancing partner of the world famous Ballerina, Anna Pavlova. Mr. Nicholoffe started dancing at the age of 16, in his hometown of Boston. In later years, when a pupil of Pavlova, he was asked to tour with her company of dancers, which he did. Nicholoffe's real name is Earl Alexander Schroder, but at Pavlova's insistence, changed it for stage purposes. He left the company in 1925. He met Mr. Williams in Connecticut and continued his ballet work with him. Now retired and living on Champ, they are living the life of Riley (as the saying goes). Champ is very proud in having these fine men dwelling among them.
Champ's postoffice is in the center of the settlement. The postmistress is Mrs. Beauchamp Bloodsworth.
A store is at the wharf, operated by Mrs. West. It is the only store in the community at the present time.
Venton was formerly called "Habnab". It had three stores, a postoffice, school house and two churches, the Methodist and the Episcopal. The Minister of the Princess Anne Methodist Church held services every Sunday afternoon at the Methodist Church. Finally the church was closed and many of the people then attended the church in Oriole. The church stood empty for a number of years. It was finally sold to another religious order, torn down and moved away.
The Episcopal Church, known as "All Saints Church, Monie," is the immediate successor to the church that stood at a place, now covered by water, between the Almodington and Elmwood Estates. Services are held at the Episcopal Church once a month, (the second Sunday of the Month) at the present time. The rector from the Princess Anne Episcopal Church conducts the services. The school house stood on the corner of the Matt Melson property. It was closed when the County schools consolidated. Later, it was moved and was used for the colored pupils of the community. Still later, it was closed again when the colored pupils were taken, by bus, to school in Princess Anne. The school building has now been converted into a dwelling.
Renee Newman and Ralph Cullen operated a store across from each other. George Bloodsworth operated a store on the site where Earl Smith now has his home. A colored store is now the only store in Venton. Jennings Muir operates a store at the entrance to Venton, on the Deal Island highway.
Across the way from the Muir Store, on the corner of Venton Road and the Deal Island highway, a large canning house was built by the Smith brothers, (Earl, Roy, Herman, and Mace). This was later sold by them. When operating, the canning house furnishes work for many folks during the summer months.
The post office in Venton, at one time, was in the home of Mr. Reese. In later years, Mrs. Dale Parks was postmistress and the post office was moved on that property. It was closed several years ago. At the changing of names from Habnab to Venton, many letters went astray and landed in Denton, Maryland. The people of Venton and nearby areas now get their mail at Princess Anne or by rural mail delivery.
Although nothing now remains of the homes on Crab Island, Pore Hall, Genngaukin, Cow Quarter or the Pidgeon House settlements, its been interesting learning about their past, and one can't help thinking about the present and future, of the places remaining, today.
This is the end of the history of Oriole and its nearby communities. The writer earnestly hopes the reader will enjoy her findings as much as she did in learning them.
Some of the material she acquired from the following books: The History of St. Peter's church by William S. Bennett, Chesapeake Bay by W. V. Brewington, Homes of Our Ancestors by R. T. H. Halsey and Elizabeth Tower, Mystery of the Eastern Shore by a contributor of Marylander and Herald. But most of the material was gathered from a remarkable lady, Miss Maud Smith, who is eighty-six years young, her sister, Bertie, Anna Bozman, Agnes Bloodsworth, Stell Windsor, Maud Jeffries, and some of the material was some of the writer's personal recollections, and that of many others. The writer wants to take this opportunity to thank them all, who contributed their time, records, maps and memories, making this manuscript possible.
(Written in the fall and winter of 1963-64, by Marion Florence McDade Hall.)
The writer is the daughter of the late Rev. Howard Ross McDade and his wife, Carrie. She was born February 14, 1908, in the little town of Cedarville, Pennsylvania, about a mile from Pottstown.
Her father (of Irish and Scotch descent) was a dedicated and forceful minister, evangelist and lecturer who served in both the Philadelphia and Wilmington Conference. Her mother was of good old Pennsylvania Dutch and French stock and was the mother of eight children. The writer was the second child of that union. After serving in pastorates in Pennsylvania and Delaware, the writer's father was sent to Oriole to serve as Pastor. While here, the writer became engaged to Russel Hall, son of a prominent farmer. When her father moved to Tilghman's Island she was married, on the island, by her father, to Russell. They returned to Oriole and have made their home in the nearby vicinity of Jerusalem. Their union has been blest by three sons and two daughters.
One day, during a discussion with her youngest son, Harry, the past history of the community in which they lived became the subject. Desirous of learning something of the place, now so dear to her, the writer decided to make inquiries of some of the residents. The above information is the result. All of it is true to the best of the writer's knowledge.
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