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The Best Delmarva Trip You’ll Never Get to Take: Cobb’s Island Hotel in the 1860s

Outdoorsman Alexander Hunter wrote an essay describing his visit to the Cobb Island (Va.) Hotel shortly after it opened on the barrier island of that name off of Virginia's Eastern Shore. The essay was published in a 1908 book, but the events it recalls go back much further. The hotel first opened in the 1860s. The Cobbs had no idea how to run a hotel--except…
MiscellanyQuote of the DayWay Back Machine

Life & Times in Old-Fashioned Country Stores, 1918 (with lots of photos!)

I was looking up something else in the February 23, 1918 edition of the Denton (Md.) Journal when I got distracted by the wonderful little essay below. It’s about the many roles that general stores and their shopkeepers filled in the communities of Delmarva around that time. There was no headline on the piece. Nor was there a byline. Old newspapers can be weird like…
Quote of the DayWay Back Machine

Celebrating the End of Slavery in a Black Church, 1864: ‘You belong to nobody but de Lord now.”

The way slaves in Maryland gained their freedom was a little bit different. The Emancipation Proclamation issued by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 applied only in Confederate states, not in the three Union states where slavery remained legal, even while the Civil War raged. It was up to Marylanders to end slavery on their own. In October 1864--22 months after Lincoln's proclamation--the state's voters approved a…
Quote of the DayWay Back Machine

“Now I’m Almost Home!” The Death and Funeral of Harriet Tubman, 1913

When her time came, Harriet Tubman was ready. Among the last recorded words of wisdom that we received from the Eastern-Shore-born heroine of the Underground Railroad comes to us by way of suffragette and civil rights activist Mary Burnett Talbert, who made a pilgrimage to upstate New York upon hearing that Harriet's health was failing. It was February of 1913. Harriet had been living in…
Quote of the DayWay Back Machine

Delaware Quote of the Day: The Great Turkey-Thief Crime Wave of 1934!

Here is a detailed report from the Wilmington (Del.) News Journal that appeared on Nov. 27, 1934 under the headline below. "Thieves Steal Fowl, Haul to City 'Fences':" A band of chicken and turkey thieves are operating from Harrington and Milford to the Delaware-Maryland line at Delmar, and hundreds of the fowl are reported to have been stolen within the past few weeks. The thieves…
MiscellanyQuote of the DayWay Back Machine

Harvest Time in the 1850s: The Key to Success Was … wait … Whiskey on the Job?

The Delmarva Peninsula "Quote of the Day" is a regular feature around here. What I do is share funny, enlightening, or otherwise interesting tidbits that I come across while reading up on the history and culture of our communities. This one comes from the 1976 book Trappe: The Story of an Old-Fashioned Town by Dickson Preston. Trappe is located just up from the Choptank River…
Quote of the DayWay Back Machine

A Day in the Life of a Child in Chopank, Md., early 1900s

I am not sure which individual is responsible for the memory I'm sharing here, as my source material was the work not of a single author, but of a committee of volunteers. Back in 1976, the Choptank Bicentennial Committee put together a little booklet to mark 200 years of American independence by celebrating life in their own little town, which lies on the river of…
Quote of the DayWay Back Machine

“Like a Visit to Another World:” Remembering Childhood Steamboat Trips on the Choptank River in Times Gone By

Sometimes, the best-laid productivity plans in a day go awry. I ventured into the Maryland Room of the Talbot County Free Library in Easton, Md. one day to research a very specific topic within a tight time window. Alas, I stumbled upon a little pamphlet titled "Memories of Choptank" while thumbing through a shelf. The title is a reference not to the river, but to…
MiscellanyQuote of the DayWay Back Machine

Saxis on a Saturday Night! Scene from the Eastern Shore of Virginia, 1928

Saxis is a remote, real-deal watermen community on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. I visited there while working on my book, Eastern Shore Road Trips #1: 27 One-Day Adventures on Delmarva. It's a quiet place nowadays, with one fun restaurant, one tiki bar, and a local history museum being the main attractions for visitors outside of the waterfront, the marshland scenery, and the local people.…
Quote of the DayWay Back Machine

QUOTE OF THE DAY: In Colonial Times, You Could Pay Your Tax Bill in Squirrels’ Heads

Taxes come due a little later than usual here in 2020. Because of the big pandemic, the government pushed the deadline back to July 15. My condolences to those of you still wading through paperwork. If it's any consolation, taxes were complicated back in colonial times, too--just in a different way, one that might have you donning camo garb and grabbing a gun instead of…