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Somerset County is celebrating its 350th birthday here in 2016, and that is the sort of occasion that can make grown men get a little emotional and go a little over the top. I would doubt, however, that anyone doing any speechifying nowadays will be able to top the writer Clarence Torrence in the Department of Purple Prose.

Here is how Mr. Torrence opens his 1935 book extolling the joys and virtues of Somerset:


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Somerset, eighth of Mother Maryland’s family of “country children,” is no longer young. In truth, she is ancient, for the passing years since her birth have carried her well past the mark of two and a half centuries—her natal day having been the 22nd of August in the year of our Lord, 1666.

But her life has been one so filled with nobility of purpose and great interests that ancientness rests upon her like a mantle of glory. Beauty, as in youth, adorns her countenance, grace lingers in every contour of her fair form; her heart is filled by strong mother-love, nurturing the ever-increasing generations of her line; and her ample bosom is in very truth home to hearts who claim her blood. “Her children rise up and call her blessed.”

Cecil, Lord Baltimore, Lord Proprietary of the province of Maryland, … announced the erection of Somerset County on the Eastern Shore of Maryland … “bounded south with a line from Watkin’s Point to the Ocean on the east; Nanticoke River on the North & the Sound of Chesipeake Bay on the West.” Great virgin forest, flowing stream, billowy way and graceful isle are here enshrined, abounding natural beauty and resource for subsistence.”

That is from Torrence’s book, Old Somerset on the Eastern Shore of Maryland: A Study in Foundations and Founders. And yes, if you were following along in your mind with those boundary lines, then you will remember that the original Somerset County included much of today’s Worcester and Wicomico counties as well.

So happy birthday to all three of you!

–research and writing by Jim Duffy

–published on Sept. 16, 2016




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