Star Democrat, “Douglass park plans to be discussed at library” (Easton, January 9, 2020)

Douglass park plans to be discussed at library

QUEEN ANNE — Dr. Barbara Paca will discuss her plans for the new park on the Tuckahoe River dedicated to Talbot County’s most famous native son, Frederick Douglass, at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 9, at the Talbot County Free Library.

In addition to her professional degree in landscape architecture, Paca has a Ph.D. from Princeton and is a past recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship. She holds a post at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J.

Paca is the only American landscape architect ever awarded an Order of the British Empire, and she serves as a commissioner on America’s first Commission of African American History and Culture.

Paca is based in Oxford, New York City and Paris, where she is the principal of Preservation Green LLC.

All library programs are free and open to the public. Patrons do not need to pre-register to attend this program. For more information, call the library at 410-822-1626, or visit



“Lost History of Frederick Douglass in Queen Anne’s County,” October 20, 2019 @ Centreville Libary (photos by Prof. Mike Dixon)

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Photo: Prof. Mike Dixon, Upper Eastern Shore & Lower Susquehanna Douglassonian

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Photo: Prof. Mike Dixon, Upper Eastern Shore & Lower Susquehanna Douglassonian

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Photo: Prof. Mike Dixon, Upper Eastern Shore & Lower Susquehanna Douglassonian

Thank you Upper Shore Douglassonian Prof. Mike Dixon for documenting the presentation!

Extra special thanks to Queen Anne’s County Library for hosting a well-attended presentation on the Lost History of Frederick Douglass in Queen Anne’s County!
Continued gratitude to the reporters and editors of the Star Democrat, Bay Times, Times-Record, Dorchester Star and all local media for kindly helping to get the word out about presentations and tours.

Pleasantly surprised to see several friends from DC and Baltimore cross the Bay Bridge to attend the presentation, as well as several friends from the Lower and Mid-Shore.
Thank you to Prof. Chad Dean of Caroline Past And Present for the continued support of uplifting and promoting local history and heritage.

Glad to have a strong delegation of attendees from nearby Kent County, including Mr. Nathan Shroyer, who we connected with later in the evening at Sumner Hall.

Infinite gratitude to Master Historian Prof. Dr. Jeff “The Dude” Sarvey, disciple of Master Shore Douglassonian Honorable Dickson J. Preston.

“William C. Samuel Adams, 72, chronicled black communities,” Baltimore Sun; 26 October, 2005

William Crawford Samuel Adams, a retired administrator of the city’s school bus system and a historian of Baltimore County African-American communities, died of cancer Saturday at Gil- christ Center for Hospice Care. The Columbia resident was 72.

Born in Lutherville, Mr. Adams grew up in a historically African-American neighborhood on Bellona Avenue. He later researched the lives of the families who lived there and published his findings.

He attended the old Lutherville Colored School — and years later was named director of a museum created at the former segregated school.

In 1950, he quit Carver High School in Towson to join the Maryland National Guard’s black unit, the Monumental City Guard. He served in a segregated trucking battalion in Virginia, where he and members of his unit appeared as extras in a 1952 war film, Red Ball Express, with Jeff Chandler and a 25-year-old Sidney Poitier. Mr. Adams later contributed his military service recollections to a book, Forgotten Road Warriors, by his friend, Louis S. Diggs.

After his military service, Mr. Adams completed his high school education through the GED program and earned a degree from LaSalle Extension University.

He worked for the city school system more than 30 years, retiring in 1997 as chief of school bus operations. Family members said he oversaw 26 school bus contracts for special-education students on nearly 400 routes.

Mr. Adams became interested in family history while watching a television miniseries based on Alex Haley’s best-selling book, Roots.

“Based on the lingering impact of the series, I decided to investigate the roots of my Adams ancestry,” he wrote five years ago of his family, who once lived on the Eastern Shore.

“I was pessimistic about finding any information, but I wanted to try. I thought I would hit a dead end with the slavery period. How wrong I was,” he wrote. “I was able to discover a rich heritage of freedom extending back over 300 years. The more I researched, the more I found about the fascinating life of free blacks in Colonial Virginia and Maryland.”

He traced his lineage to Peter Beckett, a slave, and his wife, Sarah Dawson, an indentured servant on a plantation on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. The results of that work were published in the 2000 book, Free Born — 350 Years of Eastern Shore African American History — The Adams/Beckett Family.

He continued his research and self-published books on the history of Lutherville’s African-American community and a history of Baltimore County’s segregated schools. Using census records from 1860 to 1930, he compiled a list of the county’s African-American residents.

“This guy had so much information, and he was so generous in sharing what he knew,” said Mr. Diggs, a local historian and author based in Owings Mills. “He wanted more people to be aware of our history.”

Mr. Adams recently donated his library of 200 books to the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African-American History and Culture in the Inner Harbor. His donation is to be named the William Adams Special Collection.

He also was a practitioner of the martial arts, achieving the rank of sixth-degree black belt in Shorin-Ryu karate. He taught many young men and women at a Cherry Hill club called the Avengers, later running Shibumi martial arts studios in Park Circle and in Columbia.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s he taught T’ai Chi Chuan to seniors at the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks. He also enjoyed motorcycling, horseback riding and camping.

A celebration of his life will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Meeting House, Oakland Mills Interfaith Center, 5885 Robert Oliver Place in Columbia.

He is survived by his wife of 26 years, the former Carolyn Greenfield; four sons, Ali Hassan of Altadena, Calif., William Samuel Adams Jr. and Reginald Adams, both of Baltimore, and Bryan Adams of Haddonfield, N.J.; a daughter, Yolanda Robinson of Columbia; two brothers, Allan Adams of Lutherville and Maynard Adams of Baltimore; a sister, Celeste Adams of Lutherville; 32 grandchildren; and 19 great grandchildren. A daughter, Montressa Clarke, died in 1994. His marriage to Bernice Ollie Williams ended in divorce.


“From oysters to politics, Perkins made his mark” (Kent County News, March 10, 2011. Craig O’Donnell)

CHESTERTOWN — Oysters and ice cream might seem to be strange partners, but they were a big part of life here during much of the 1800s.

From oysters to politics, Perkins made his mark
An 1863 ad in the Kent News urges custormer to visit the Rising Sun Oyster Saloon. Courtesy image.

It was all due to one man, who built up a small empire around food and real estate. He was famous enough to have been mentioned, from time to time, in New York and Cleveland newspapers.

The man was William Perkins, an African American referred to in records of the time as a “colored freeman” who was among Maryland’s wealthiest black businessmen in the mid-1880s. In 1884, his holdings were estimated at $12,000, a big sum at the time.

His father was a waterman, Samuel Perkins. An 1828 newspaper ad touts Samuel’s “Masonic Hall Oyster Establishment – Best York River Oysters.”

William Perkins was born about 1820. By 1841, he ran his own ad for “OYSTERS!” served in a newly renovated “cellar under the Odd-Fellows’ Hall.”

Periodically in the 1840s and 50s, ads for “Oysters, Barbering, etc.” appeared under the name Samuel Perkins, where his son seems to have learned his trade. By 1856 father and son both had a reputation as restaurateurs.

Perkins was married, sometime after 1850, to Frances Ann “Fannie” Anderson. He was 49 in 1870’s census (her age varies from census to census, but she was a bit older). They had a 14-year-old son William.

By 1857, William Perkins opened an eatery under his own name and called it the Rising Sun, at Maple (then called Fish Street) and Cross streets. It was still open for business as late as 1891, but the ownership by then isn’t clear.

He clearly understood marketing. While the Kent News didn’t carry an ad of his in 1868, he got press anyway. On June 6, the paper reported “A SURPRISE – Printers, as well as preachers, are sometimes the subject of a surprise!

“This was the case a few days ago, when we received from the establishment of the well-known caterer, William Perkins, a basket well laden with ice-cream, strawberries and cake.

“On trial, we found the ice-cream to be the real article itself, the strawberries fresh and sweet, and the cake, of different varieties, most excellent.

“Our readers may imagine that we had a nice time of it; and of they should feel a revival of the latent appetite for these good things, just in season, it may be speedily gratified by walking around to ‘Bill’s’.”

Over the years, he got an unusual amount of press in the local papers, owned by white men who rarely said much about local African American affairs. Much of that was because he wasn’t afraid to step out, in the late 1860’s, as a political figure.

By 1884 the newspaper referred to him as “the great leader of the colored Republicans in Kent,” but noted “Bill has had a severe spell of sickness lately.” Editorial style in those days isn’t always direct. This could have meant he was ailing, or it could have meant that his businesses and investments weren’t doing well.

The national recession of 1882-85 caught him, and he had trouble repaying mortgages, loans and bills from his Baltimore ice supplier.

No wills were recorded in Kent records for Perkins and wife Frances. Apparently, after business reverses in the mid-1880s, he sank into poverty and left Chestertown for Baltimore. Frances can’t be traced.

On May 11, 1895, the Kent News copied a Baltimore Sun obituary:

“William Perkins, colored, aged seventy-five years, died Saturday at the Home for aged colored People, on Lee street, near Sharp.” (This is probably the Aged Men and Women’s Home for Colored People at 214-216 West Lee St, opened in 1870.)

“He was born in Kent co., where he resided the greater part of his life. He kept a restaurant in Chestertown many years and was well known to the people of the Eastern Shore. He served as delegate to State and county republican conventions, and during President [Benjamin] Harrison’s administration was appointed to a position in the custom-house [in Baltimore].”

Harrison was president from 1889-1893. The paper offered that Perkins favored James G. Blaine, a Republican U.S. senator and secretary of state, who was defeated for the nomination several times and lost the presidential race in 1884.

“For years he had a very wide reputation as an oyster cook. Indeed many people to-day declare that Bill Perkins could beat the world cooking oysters! He succeeded by industry and application to business in acquiring considerable property, but lost it all ‘in politics,’ and died very poor.”

And yet his final resting place remains unknown.

Between 1841 and 1895, Perkins worked hard for himself and for the local black community. It seems he touched every major African American social issue in his time.

As early as 1852, he was concerned with rights for African Americans. With his neighbor James A. Jones (a butcher, grocer, and tavern owner, called a “mulatto”) he went as a delegate to the 1852 Baltimore Convention. There they spoke in favor of an African homeland for freed slaves. They were appointed to its platform committee.

After emancipation in Maryland in 1864, Perkins became especially active in Radical Reconstruction politics in the late 1860s, and remained a stalwart Republican.

The elections of 1870 and 1872 pitted Perkins against Plummer and Usilton of the Kent News. But 25 years later the local obituary called him “one of the noted colored men of the land.

“Perkins was probably the most popular leader of his race in Maryland – certainly on this shore. … He was not an educated man – not having the opportunities of his race in the present time to this end – but he had by self application and study gained a sufficient ‘book learning’ to enable him to conduct a successful business and take a leading part in all the church and charity organizations of his race in Chestertown.”

It said the Janes’ Church congregation is “indebted for the substantial and really handsome church property now owned by that organization.”

That may refer to a $1,500 loan he took out from the Preachers’ Aid Society in 1877, secured by several lots. It is likely the loan went to build Zion Church, which was near today’s Wilmer Park. Eventually, when Perkins went bankrupt, the Preachers’ Aid Society took possession of his “Perkins’ Hall.”

Perkins Hall was a meeting room built in 1862. It was located on the “Foot of Cross Street,” now Philospher’s Terrace, near his house on the corner, near his 1858 ice house. The hall was used for entertainment and holiday gatherings. In the 1880s it was the starting point for the Decoration Day Parade, organized by Charles Sumner Post No. 25, G.A. R., for both white and African Americans.

Thank you Cambridge & Salisbury for honoring and uplifting the local history of Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass & Rev. Henry Augustus Monroe (PHOTOS)

In less than twenty-four hours this past weekend a trinity of events organized in the Eastern Shore cities of Cambridge in Dorchester County and Salisbury in Wicomico County helped to spread the good news of the consequential local, state, national and international history and influence of the visits and connections of Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass to the Mid-Shore and Lower Shore.

We would like to thank all organizations and individuals who assisted with the organizing and promoting of the events and especially those who attended the presentations and walking tour.

In no special order we would like to acknowledge and thank the Dorchester County Historical Society, the Dr. Charles H. Chipman Cultural Center, Pine Street Douglassonians, Maryland Delegate and Speaker Pro Tem Sheree Sample-Hughes, Maryland Delegate Johnny Mautz, Maryland Senator Addie Eckardt, Salisbury City Mayor Jacob Day, Miss Shirley Jackson, Honorable Mr. William Jarmon, Honorable Mr. Tyrone Jarmon, Honorable Ann Phillips, Sharon Lucas, American University Professor Tony Gualtieri, Master Historian Jeff “The Dude” Sarvey, Kate & Jeff Fones of the St. Michaels Museum at St. Mary’s Square, Mr. Jim Dawson of Unicorn Book shop, the Washington Informer, the Star Democrat, the Salisbury Independent, the New Bedford Historical Society, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, Salisbury City Heritage Marker Committee Chairwoman Linda Duyer, Salisbury City Council President John “Jack” Heath, Wicomico County NAACP Branch 7028 President Mary Ashanti, Fran, James, William Robinson of the University of Maryland – Eastern Shore, the Douglass Family and Bailey Tribe of the Eastern Shore, and Old Anacostia Douglassonians, among many others.

Lost History of Rev. Henry Augustus Monroe

Dorchester County County Historical Society


September 20, 2019

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L-R: John Muller, presenter, Old Anacostia Douglassonian; Jim Dawson, Unicorn Book Shop, Trappe, Maryland; Honorable Ms. Shirley Jackson, Dorchester County Historical Society, Waugh Chapel UMC; Honorable William “Bill” Jarmon, Harriet Tubman Museum & Education Center, Pine Street Douglassonian; Sharon Lucas, great-grand niece of Rev. Henry A. Monroe; Maryland Senator Addie Eckardt, District 37, Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot, and Wicomico Counties.

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Pictured speaking Honorable Ms. Shirley Jackson; Dorchester County Historical Society, Waugh Chapel United Methodist Church, Choptank Regional History Discussion Group, Dorchester County Douglassonian, Guardian of Cambridge History of Rev. Henry Augustus Monroe.

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Speaking Maryland Delegate & Speaker Pro Tem Sheree Sample-Hughes; District 37A, Dorchester and Wicomico Counties. The Honorable Del. Sample-Hughes is a respected public servant and steadfast presence in the indigenous Eastern Shore Douglassonian Communities of Cambridge and Salisbury. We thank Del. Sample-Hughes for her remarks recognizing and championing local history to empower local communities.

Walking Tour of Frederick Douglass in Cambridge, Maryland

Historic High Street, Historic Pine Street and Historic Race Street

September 21, 2019

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Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, est 1847. Historic Pine Street, Old Cambridge, Maryland.
Walking tour goers read the historic marker and take note of the historic church bell.

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Dennis the Menace Douglassonian from the Upper Shore holds two Osage oranges on High Street in Old Cambridge. Consulting arboriculturists have confirmed it is highly likely this tree is more than 150 years old and is a witness tree to the visit of United States Marshal of the District of Columbia Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass to Cambridge in 1877 and 1878. Photo by William Alston-El.

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Honorable Mr. Tyrone Jarmon, Pine Street Douglassonian, speaks with walking tour group about the history of his community over the past 70 or so years. We thank Mr. Jarmon, 1/2 of the duo of the “Charmin’ Jarmon Tour,” for his generosity, hospitality and authorizing our friend to ring the sacred church bell of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, est. 1847.

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Harriet Tubman Mural by local muralist of international renown Honorable Michael Rosato in downtown Cambridge.

Lost History of Frederick Douglass in Salisbury & the Lower Eastern Shore

Dr. Charles H. Chipman Cultural Center


September 21, 2019

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Shanie Shields speaks about the history of the John Wesley M.E. Church, today the Dr. Charles H. Chipman Cultural Center in Salisbury, Maryland.

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Linda Duyer, author of Round the Pond (2009), shares a cartographic view of the 1880 visit of United States Marshal Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass to Salisbury and movement to his speaking engagement in the extant Wicomico County Courthouse.

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Amber Green, a native Washingtonian and Eastern Shore media personality and activist, shares Robert Hayden’s poem, “Frederick Douglass.” Photo by Salisbury City Mayor Honorable Jacob Day.

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The Dr. Charles H. Chipman Cultural Center, the former John Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church, in Salisbury, Maryland dates to 1838 and is the oldest building on the Delmarva Peninsula independently built and maintained by peoples of African descent. A national landmark status is reportedly pending review.

MPT announces production of national documentaries about iconic Marylanders Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, filmmaker Stanley Nelson to direct / produce films for premiere in early 2022 [press release, July 23, 2019]

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Owings Mills, MD, July 23, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) —

Maryland Public Television (MPT) today announced that it will produce, in association with New York-based Firelight Films, two original documentary films about the lives of two of the state’s most important historical figures – Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass. Both one-hour films will be produced over the next 30 months and be distributed to public TV stations nationwide in February 2022.

Douglass, born in 1818 in Talbot County, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, escaped from slavery in 1838 and went on to become a leader of the 19th century abolitionist movement. He also gained national prominence as a social reformer, orator, writer, publisher, and statesman. He died in 1895. Tubman was born enslaved in Dorchester County, Maryland in 1820 and escaped in 1849. As the most famous conductor of the Underground Railroad, she guided more than 300 slaves to freedom. During the Civil War, Tubman served as a nurse, cook, laundress, spy, and scout. She lived the balance of her life in Auburn, New York, opening schools for African Americans and giving speeches on women’s rights. She died in 1913.

Pre-production on the two films is underway, with production beginning on one of the films later this year. Portions of the two films will be shot in locations including Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington, D.C.

The project is being led by MPT’s Managing Director, Content Division, Mike English. “Firelight Films is an ideal partner for MPT to collaborate with on these films. Stanley Nelson and his team are experts at telling stories of the black experience in America, as evidenced by award-winning films such as Freedom Riders and The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution,” says English.

Executive producers for the two films are Nelson and Lynne Robinson. The producer is Keith Brown, and lead writer is Paul Taylor.

“There are no two people more important to our country’s history than Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman,” Stanley Nelson said. “Their remarkable lives and contributions were a critical part of the 19th-century and their legacies help us understand who we are as a nation.  We are honored to share their stories with a country that continues to grapple with the impact of slavery and debate notions of citizenship, democracy and freedom. We’re hopeful that the accompanying conversation will serve teachers and students and the larger country about what these two remarkable individuals overcame and accomplished.”

The two MPT projects are being guided by an advisory board comprised of distinguished experts in areas including African-American history, archaeology, broadcasting, and related fields. The group serves as consultants to the production team to assure the films meet contextual and historical accuracy.

The advisory board is led by Donald H. Thoms, broadcaster, journalist, and president, ThomsMedia Group. Members are Dr. David Blight, professor of American History, Yale University, director, Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition, and author of the biography, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of FreedomDr. Kate Clifford Larson, Massachusetts-based historian, consultant, and author of the biography, Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American HeroAngela Crenshaw, Maryland Department of Natural Resources ranger and assistant manager of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park in Church Creek, Maryland; Chanel Compton, executive director of both the Banneker-Douglass Museum in Annapolis, Maryland and Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture; Wanda Draper, former executive director, Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture in Baltimore; Mark Letzer, lecturer and president and CEO, Maryland Historical Society; and Dr. Julie M. Schablitsky, author and chief archeologist, Maryland Department of Transportation.

“Now, more than ever, the stories of Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass need to be explored and told,” explains Letzer. “MPT has the proven ability and track record to bring this history to life for viewers in Maryland and across the nation.”

As part of this multi-faceted project, MPT’s Education Division will develop a companion website for use nationally in K-12 education.  Educators will be provided video assets, interactive learning experiences, and standards-based lessons to bring the lives and legacies of Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass into classrooms nationwide.

Other project elements include a year-long traveling exhibit in association with the Maryland Historical Society, supplemental short-form, web-exclusive content from MPT Digital Studios, and a comprehensive social media outreach campaign.

About MPT
Launched in 1969 and headquartered in Owings Mills, MD, Maryland Public Television is a nonprofit, state-licensed public television network and member of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).  MPT’s six transmitters cover Maryland plus portions of contiguous states and the District of Columbia. Frequent winner of regional Emmy® awards, MPT creates local, regional, and national television shows. Beyond broadcast, MPT’s commitment to professional educators, parents, caregivers, and learners of all ages is delivered through year-round instructional events and the super-website Thinkport, which garners in excess of five million page views annually. MPT’s community engagement connects viewers with local resources on significant health, education, and public interest topics through year-round outreach events, viewer forums, program screenings, and phone bank call-in opportunities. For more information visit

About Firelight Films
Firelight Media was born in 2000 to address the deficit of films made by and about diverse communities, particularly people of color. Founded and led by MacArthur “genius” Fellow Stanley Nelson and award-winning writer and philanthropy executive Marcia Smith in Harlem, NY, the organization has produced more than 25 hours of primetime programming for public television, received every major broadcast award, and had its first theatrical release (The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution).  Over 15 years, Firelight has established a track record of producing contemporary and historical social issue documentaries as well as developing diverse storytellers and audiences. Firelight Films is the premier independent production company dedicated to harnessing the power of story-driven media as a platform for education and action.

Best known for producing high-quality powerful productions for PBS and creating dynamic community engagement campaigns, Firelight is committed to making films about pivotal events, movements, and people in American history and in doing so has produced award-winning films, including Freedom Riders, Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple, The Murder of Emmett Till, A Place of Our Own, and Freedom Summer. For more information, visit

Thank you Star Democrat, “Muller to present lost history of Frederick Douglass’ godson” (Sunday, September 1, 2019, by Candice Spector)

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Thank you to the Star Democrat, the daily paper of record for the Upper and Mid-Shore of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, for the continued support of public history presentations throughout the Shore.

As Dickson Preston was a frequent contributor to the Star Democrat and was a historian of Eastern Shore newspapers we appreciate the support and press beyond language and print.



Muller returns to Shore to present lost history of Frederick Douglass’ godson” (STAR DEMOCRAT. Sunday, September 1, 2019. By: Candice Spector)