Newsletter of
The Maryland State Archives
Vol. 16, No. 21
November 25, 2002
circumstances, reserved by the State for public purposes. Maryland law relating to vacant land is designed to insure that the property is added to the tax rolls expeditiously, or is designated for public purposes, with the State reimbursing a private discoverer for reasonable costs incurred in identifying the land as vacant. 

On November 20, 2002, the Board of Public Works approved the first Land Patent issued to a private citizen since 1985. Governor Glendening signed the Patent and presented it to the applicants. This brief ceremony was the culmination of over five years of intensive research by the applicants and nearly a year of research by the Deputy Commissioner of Land Patents. The applicants identified two small pieces of land in Carroll County, 0.8397 acres in the North Parcel and 3.4776 acres in the South Parcel, as vacant land. 

The land patent process provides safeguards for the legal rights of the applicant, adjoining property owners, and others who may have an interest in the land. The Commissioner of Land Patents is required to notify adjoining property owners and others that a warrant to survey or resurvey has been issued. The adjoining property owners and others can file objections to the issuance of a land patent. A public hearing is held to determine the merits of the applicant's evidence and the issues raised by objectors. 

In the case of this most recent Land Patent, documentary evidence on the record, the applicants' testimony, and the testimony of the applicants' surveyor established to the satisfaction of the

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Commissioner that vacancies exist as shown on the survey plat and as described in the boundaries description. The applicants submitted an exhaustive title search and followed the evolution of each relevant property line from the original patents through subsequent deeds, surveys, and equity court cases to the present. The Deputy Commissioner's independent title search confirmed all of the applicants' assertions and the relevant property lines through time. 

The granting of the Land Patent to the applicants achieved the primary goals of the land patent law:  to provide a simple, convenient, and prompt method for promoting the private ownership of vacant land or reserving that land for public use; to eliminate uncertainties caused by the existence of vacant land; and to benefit the community by expanding the tax base. 

by:  Pat Melville 

As in other counties, information about roads in Dorchester County appears as short entries in the court minutes, as recorded in (Judgment Record) in series C704. The books contain the administrative and judicial minutes and the recorded criminal and civil proceedings of the county court. Normally the clerks placed the minutes at the beginning of the record for each court term, followed by proceedings of the cases being heard. In Dorchester County the minutes are interspersed in clusters throughout the records for each court term. In addition, few judgment records from the colonial period have survived. Surviving materials cover the years 1690-1692, 1728-1729, 1733-1734, 1742-1745, and 1754-1755. 

The earliest entries involved complaints of John Makeebe, Jr., overseer in Fishing Creek Hundred,

and John Lecompt, overseer in Little Choptank Hundred, about several citizens who failed to provide the legally mandated labor to help clear roads in 1690. The court justices issued summons for all to appear and answer the charges. 

Most complaints came from the residents themselves. In 1733 the inhabitants of Fork Neck objected to the work on the road from Transquaking Bridge to the Lower Bridge of Chickacomica because the route was inconvenient. They wanted their labor assigned to a path through Fork Neck that was overgrown with bushes and blocked with old, downed trees. The court granted the request and appointed an overseer for the road. In 1744 several citizens petitioned for relief from excessive work that included maintenance on the road from Thomas Mace's bridge to Manning's gate along with construction of a new road from Arthur Whitely's plantation to Mr. Stephen's plantation. Especially objectionable was the need to build several causeways through swampy areas. The justices agreed, but did not specify an alternative. 

Petitions for and orders to clear new roads occurred regularly. In 1690 the court ordered the overseer in Fishing Creek Hundred to clear a road from the dwelling plantation of Arthur Whitely to the town of Islington. Residents of Lawsons Island in 1743 cited the lack of a ferry or public roads to provide means of transportation of people and goods. The justices approved the building of a road from widow Comfort Hopkins' to Holland Straights. Two years later petitioners requested a new road from Kennerlys Mill down Transquakin and over Haywards Dam to Transquakin Road at a place where Mathew Skillit formerly lived. The request was granted. 

Some roads probably disappeared through
neglect of maintenance. Some were reopened 
by petitioning the court. In 1742, citizens 

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