1877 map of Dorchester County; Bucktown District; note presence of “D. Hughes,” father of Rev. Enoch Hughes


An Illustrated Atlas of Talbot & Dorchester Counties, Maryland. Compiled, Drawn and Published from Actual Surveys of Lake, Griffing and Stevenson. 1877


Lost History Notes: U.S. Marshal Frederick Douglass entertained with President of Dorchester & Delaware Railroad in Cambridge; planned to speak in Somerset County’s Princess Anne

From research collection of William Alston-El and Old Anacostia Douglassonians. Copyright enforced with full force of US Constitution and Criminal Code.

Before presentation of “The Lost History of Frederick Douglass in Cambridgelast September at the Harriet Tubman Museum and Education Center in downtown Cambridge the consequential September 1877 visit of United States Marshal of the District of Columbia Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass, in company with Hon. John Mercer Langston, to Cambridge was unknown in the local, regional, statewide, national and international mythology of the Eastern Shore’s most famous prodigal son.

With nearly 100 people attending the dual presentation of Master Eastern Shore Historian Dr. Linda Duyer and Old Anacostia Douglassonian John H. Muller, hosted by Honorable Mr. Donald Pinder and Honorable William “Bill” Jarmon of the Harriet Tubman Organization it is evident there is an abundant interest in the lost history of Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass within Cambridge and adjacent communities of the Delmarva Peninsula.

Continuous scholastic investigation has yielded more context and perspective to the lost history of Frederick Douglass in Cambridge and the expanse of the Delmarva.

Closely connected within and to Shore communities through associations and affiliations with both the Baltimore Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the Delaware Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Dr. Douglass was associated with fraternal organizations on the Shore led by members of the Bailey Tribe, as well as networks within fields of education, politics, and journalism on the Delmarva.

Covering unknown tens of thousands of miles criss-crossing the country and world by ferry, steamboat, stage coach, street car and railroad for more than a half-century Dr. Douglass was a travelling man.

On several occasions across years of research we have found Dr. Douglass involved with what today would be called public policy issues of “urbanism,” such as petitioning the United States Senate to approve a proposal for extended service of the Anacostia and Potomac River Railway Company, a company in which Douglass was an investor and held stock.

As an advocate for organized labor and integration of transportation accommodations, there are several lines of discussion Dr. Douglass and W. Wilson Byrne, President of the Dorchester and Delaware Rail Road, could have maintained during the course of their entertainment in Cambridge.

“Dorchester and Delaware Railroad.” Poor, Henry V. Poor’s Manual of the Railroads of the United States, 1870 – 1871. Vol. 3. New York: 1870. p. 451.

Based in Cambridge, Bryne organized investors and a survey in the late 1860s, with the line from Camrbridge in Dorchester County to Seaford, Delaware completed in 1869.

In future posts we will discuss more of the lost history of Frederick Douglass and the railroads as it relates to a collection of railroad lines, train stations and executives. We know folks out there love railroad history and therefore the lost local history of Douglass on the Shore is also the lost local history of Delmarva railroads.

Ghost Visit of Dr. Douglass to Princess Anne, county seat of Somerset County

During the course of known and lost visits Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass made to the Shore — St. Michaels, Talbot County (June 1877); Easton, Talbot County & Cambridge, Dorchester County (September 1877); Easton, Talbot County & Cambridge, Dorchester County (November 1878); Queenstown & Centreville Queen Anne’s County (October 1879); Salisbury, Wicomico County (February 1880); Wye Island and Wye House [Talbot County], June 1881; Denton, Caroline County (November 1883); Port Depost & Rising Sun, Cecil County, (December 1885) and Easton & St. Michaels [Talbot County] (March 1893) — we have found at least three “Ghosts Visits.”

These are at least three occasions Douglass had confirmed and intended to visit and speak within a community of Maryland’s Eastern Shore yet for reasons beyond his control, such as bad weather grounding travel across the Chesapeake Bay, he was unable to meet his ambitious schedule.

Along with Ghosts Visits to Caroline County (1879) and Kent County (1889) we can confirm Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass had full intention to speak in Princess Anne, the county seat of Maryland’s southernmost Somerset County (1877).

1877 map of Somerset County, Potatoe Neck District; Fairmount, community of Frederick Douglass godson Henry Augustus Monroe

Due assistance from the superb reference librarians at the Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture at Salisbury University we have been able to confirm the general whereabouts of the Wilson family (families) in the Potatoe Neck area of Somerset County’s Fairmount community.

An 1877 cartographic survey of Maryland’s Eastern Shore counties and communities yields clues more than a century later to understand the lost history of a drummer boy of the Massachusetts 54th Infantry (US Colored Troops) being deployed to the southernmost county of Maryland’s Lower Shore by his Godfather Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass where he would marry into a local family before yet twenty years old.

According to the 1870 census Henry August Monroe is living in the Potatoe Neck, the southernmost green area on the below map.

A review of the 1877 map of Fairmount reflects a clustering of “Wilsons” in an area west of “Upper Freetown.”

In late 1868 Christiana A. Wilson of Fairmount, Maryland wed the educator and Civil War veteran Henry Augustus Monroe of New Bedford, Massachusetts. Reportedly the Wilson family of Fairmount was prominent in the oyster trade and leaders in local religious and political affairs.

Points of Interest:

William Wilson House

Historic Churches of Somerset County; Somerset: An Architectural History (1990)

Centennial United Methodist Church (razed)

Upper Fairmount School

Upper Fairmount Historic District

Mt. Zion Memorial Church (Princess Anne)


The 1877 Atlases and other Early Maps of the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Bicentennial Edition, 1776 – 1976. Wicomico Bicentennial Commission. Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture collection.