Newsletter of
The Maryland State Archives
Vol. 16, No. 5
March 11, 2002

Page 2
The Archivists' Bulldog
by  Pat Melville

As with previous counties, information about roads in Queen Anne's County appear as short entries in the court minutes, recorded in (Judgment Record) in series C1416. The earliest extant minutes date from 1709, three years after the county was established. The (Judgment Record) contains the administrative and judicial minutes and the recorded criminal and civil proceedings of the county court. Images of the contents of the first book in the series, ET B, 1709-1716, are available online as part of for Queen Anne's County. That record plus four others were surveyed for the types of road information found within the minutes. 

In the first entries about roads, the court in November 1709 appointed three overseers of roads, including John Pemberton for the area from the Talbot County line to Edward Satterfoot's plantation, Maj. John Hawkins for the area from Queens Town to Chester Church, and Thomas Fisher for the area from Elizabeth Town to Tuckaho Bridge. The earliest records showed the justices appointing overseers whenever a vacancy occurred or new roads were established. In 1710, only two new overseers were named, and they were John Johnson for the road from Collins Mill over the head of Double Creek Marsh and James Bennett for the rest of the road to the head of the Chester River. In addition, Bennett was directed to clear Rawlings Road from his plantation to Nicholas Massey's. 

By 1715, the clerk was recording many appointments of overseers without a description of the area or road. The entries for March 1715 listed Edmund Thomas replacing Robert Walter, William Mounsier in place of Gilbert Tate, and Thomas Hynson Wright in place of George Jackson. In one instance a term of office was given. In June 1729, the court appointed James Earle, Jr. as overseer for two years.

Provincial law required an annual compilation of public roads and the one for Queen Anne's County first appeared in March 1730. By the next decade, the list was being recorded on the mandated annual basis. The records also included the names of the overseers. The 1730 list contained the following road and overseers: 
  • From Queens Town to Richard Bennett's plantation to the wading place of Kent Island and back to Queens Town. John Smith, overseer.
  • From Queens Town to Wye Mill to William Coursey's plantation back to Queens Town and from Arthur Emory's to William Merson's plantation. William Dawson, overseer. 
  • Lower Kent Island Hundred. James Hutchins, overseer.
  • From Collins Mill to White Marsh Branch. William Burton, overseer. 
  • From Thomas Burk's plantation to the branch between Solomon Yewell's and William Hemsley's plantations. Thomas Routh, overseer. 
  • From the widow Mounsieur's plantation into the Forrest, from Frenches Landing to the rolling road into the Forrest, and from Coppinge's old field near Red Lyon Branch to the Chappel in Red Lyon Forrest. Daniel Newman, overseer. 
  • From Whittels Branch to the prize house opposite New Town and to Augustine Thompson's plantation. John Dempster, overseer. 
  • From Chester Mill to Wye Mill and from Thomas Yewell's plantation to William Clayton's bridge. Arthur Emory, Jr., overseer. 
  • From the main road at Thomas Punny's to the ferry over the Chester River at Old Town to the road over Elliots Branch to the road from Punny's to Collins Mill and from that last mentioned road back to the ferry. John Earle, overseer. 

By 1741, the list of roads had grown to include twenty-seven areas and remained at that level through at least 1765. 

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The Archivists' Bulldog 
Page 3
ROADS (continued from Page 2)

Petitions from residents usually involved requests for new roads or alterations or restorations of existing routes. In 1709, John Nicholson wanted a road from his house convenient to church and mill. The court ordered a road established from the head of Double Creek to William Wyatt's plantation. In 1710, Joseph Atwell complained that his dwelling on Parsons Point on Kent Island was blocked by "his unkind neighbours having fenced in the ancient road." The justices gave him the right to reopen the route. In 1715, William Mounsier asked for a change in the path of a new road through his land so he could plant corn.The judges directed the altered route to run on the north side of Humphrey Well's plantation. 

In 1730, James Earle petitioned for a new passage over Elliots Branch where he was building a mill that would flood the existing bridge. The court ordered several residents to lay out a new route for that part of the road from White Marsh Branch to Collins Mill. In 1764, several citizens requested a new road about five miles long. The justices agreed and directed the road laid out from Great Bridge at the head of Old Town Branch (near the plantation of the late Absalom Swift on the road from Choptank Bridge to Gum Causeway) across the Choptank River Branch at Robertson Steven's plantation to meet the road from Dover Town and Forrest Landing. 

Sometimes individuals constructed roads for their own use.  Neighbors seeing advantages to such routes could petition the court to make them public roads.  In 1730, several residents of the upper part

of the county filed a request to make public the road John Dempster cleared from the main road to the New Town Ferry. The request was granted. 

The county court also considered matters concerning bridges and ferries. In 1711, John Lawrence was paid for constructing a bridge 
over Tuckahoe Creek between Mr. Grundy's and Mr. Pemberton's. His fee was expected to cover the cost of repairs in the future. This arrangement apparently did not last long because, two years later, Thomas Fisher was authorized to hire workmen to fix the bridge. The court ordered additional repairs in 1728 and 1754. 

The county justices licensed and regulated the keepers of public ferries. The first mention of a ferry in the Queen Anne's County minutes was the one at the wading place [probably Kent Narrows] at Kent Island in 1711 when John Oldson was reappointed keeper. In 1741, the keeper at the wading place, John Hart, was given a reduced allowance because he failed to run the ferry according to the contract. 

The ferry over the Chester River was operated from the Kent County side. In 1742, John Hollingsworth defined the need for one on the other side. The court granted him the right to keep on at Kings Town.

The Queen Anne's County court minutes provide researchers with a fairly complete picture of the road network pattern within the county during the mid 18th century, primarily because of the annual listing of roads, a feature not found regularly in the Somerset and Kent county records. 


SC 5154: Brown Family Bible Collection, var. d. Genealogical information from Brown Family Bible, including descendants of Edward Lewis Brown, son of Absolom O. and Phoebe Brown and Hanna Elizabeth Hart, daughter of John and Isabella Hart. 
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SC 5161: Comptrollers of Maryland Photographic Collection, c.1895-c.1970. Oversized photographic portraits of former State Comptrollers. Prints and negatives of Comptroller Gordy. Restricted. 

SC 5162: South River Club Collection, 1952-1992. Two record books of the South River Club: 1952-1981 and 1982-1992; field notes and plans of the South River Club House created by Colonial Williamsburg. 

SC 5168: Horvath Collection, 1987. Map, Original Land Grants of Howard County. Made by the Rouse Company copied for the Shipleys of Maryland by George J. Horvath.