Prince George's County

prince george county seal

Prince George's County, located on the state's western shore, is bordered on the north by Howard County, the northeast and east by Anne Arundel and Calvert counties, the south by Charles County, and the west and northwest by the District of Columbia, the Potomac River, and Montgomery County. The county was formed from Calvert and Charles counties by Chapter 13, acts of 1695. It is named for Prince George of Denmark, husband of Queen Anne.

Like other southern Maryland counties, tobacco has always been an important crop in Prince George's County. Upper Marlboro, the county seat since 1721, has always been a tobacco marketing center. During the eighteenth century, shallow draft boats carried hogsheads of tobacco from the town down Western Branch to the Patuxent River, where ocean-going vessels anchored. From 1748 until about 1818, all locally grown tobacco was inspected here at a public warehouse before shipment overseas. Today, tobacco is sold at public auction at leaf tobacco auction houses in the county. Tobacco auctions are of prime economic interest to farmers in the area, because within a matter of minutes at auction, a planter's whole income from a crop sown at least 12 months beforehand is determined.

The history of Prince George's County is reflected in the numerous historic houses and sites located in the county. A few of the historic houses to be seen in the county are Bel air Mansion, the home of Samuel Ogle, who served three terms as provincial of Maryland, and his son Benjamin Ogle, governor of Maryland from 1798-1801; Montpelier, one of the famous five part houses in Maryland; and the Surratt House, where in March of 1865 John Surratt and fellow conspirators hid guns and ammunition as part of a plot to kidnap Lincoln. The county is also the home of the University of Maryland College Park campus, Goddard Space Flight Center, and Andrews Air Force Base.

image of school with students
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In 1908, the State of Maryland purchased the Baltimore Normal School and moved it to Bowie. The school was intended as an institution for training African-American teachers. The college maintained an elementary school where teachers could practice their skills, seen here in 1931.

main street laurel
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It was the Fourth of July 1908 when photographer Robert Sadler focused his camera on Main Street in his home town of Laurel.

image of farmers in cornfield
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Although most of northern Prince George's County would soon become densely populated, there were still a few cornfields in 1905.

image of Glen Echo Lock
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Some traces of the Native American heritage remains in Southern Maryland. This family appears to be of both African American and Native American blood, c. 1908

image shows quaker women sitting in a row
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For three weeks in October 1909, Wilber Wright gave lessons in aviation at the U. S. Army Flying School at College Park. The aviators made an average of four or five flights daily, usually in early morning or late in the evening to avoid attracting crowds.