Star Democrat: “Carney celebrated with historic marker in Denton” (May 4, 2022)

DENTON — A new historic marker, commemorating African American Revolutionary War hero Thomas Carney, was unveiled in front of the Caroline County Circuit Courthouse in Denton on April 30. A crowd of local politicians, distant family members, Daughters of the American Revolution and the local chapter of the NAACP gathered in folding chairs on a sunny morning for the occasion. Carney served in the Continental Army, was a survivor of Valley Forge and fought in nine battles from Pennsylvania to South Caroline. During the Siege of Fort Ninety-Six, Carney saved General Perry Benson of Talbot County in battle and they became lifelong friends.

“The fact that Denton is recognizing Mr. Carney is important and the tenacity of Mrs. (Helen “Betty”) Seymour for finding this information. She chased it for five or six years,” said Fred Minus, who was dressed head to toe in Revolutionary War garb.

Historian and DAR member, Seymour was the unnamed star of the day.

“The most exciting day was the day I found out where he lived. I was in Annapolis and I asked for the papers. There was a bill for his rent. That is how we know where he lived and who he was paying rent to. It was on Adams Landing Road,” Seymour said. “Cheryl Smith was a big help to me. I enjoyed the search. This unveiling is long overdue.”

Her research friend Smith also is in the Daughters of the American Revolution.

“Our chapter is dedicated to General Perry Benson, and Thomas Carney saved his life. There usually isn’t a lot of information about a black man from that period, but if you look it up, there is an amazing obituary about Thomas Carney. A real hero, but nobody knows where he is buried,” Smith said.

Reisha Rainey, the first Daughters of the American Revolution member who is an African American, is also a direct descendent of Thomas Jefferson.

She said, “I am excited the community is here and there will be a standing monument for the contribution of an African American soldier who contributed to the founding of the independence of America. I love the ladies. The sisterhood of the organization is great.”

The memorial stayed cloaked as senators and delegates gave citations. The large Carney contingent mixed with the NAACP members There weren’t enough chairs to hold all the people interested in being a part of the event.

Caroline County Commission President Larry Porter said, “You get a phone call and say, ‘how are we going to pull this off?’ There’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes. Our staff and people who put the pole up, Parks and Rec, Mark Lasocha was out here, making sure everything looks good.”

There were many speeches.

“Thomas Carney deserves honor and recognition for his sacrifice and contribution to the war for independence. Congratulations to the General Perry Benson chapter of the DAR with the NAACP Caroline County Branch on this historical celebration of Denton’s unsung hero,” Maryland State Society DAR Vice Regent Elizabeth Deerin.

Del. Johnny Mautz and Sen. Addie Eckardt gave citations to the Caroline County Branch of the NAACP, Seymour and to the General Harry Benson Chapter NSDAR.

Deerin recalled some of Carney’s story: At the battle of Camden, Carney was described with unshakable courage and credited with participating three bayonet charges. At another battle Carney boasted of killing seven men with his bayonet. It was the battle of Fort Ninety-Six that Carney served with Captain Benson. Benson got a severe wound to his arm. Mr. Carney carried Benson and, reaching the doctors, fainted from shear exhaustion. Carney stayed with Benson while he got his medical attention. Benson became a General and helped Carney to get a pension from the State of Maryland and the federal government and helped him lease 50 acres of farmland in Denton. Carney died in 1820 at 74.

“We place a marker here today on this courthouse green as a tribute to his life for his service in both wars to ensure the United States remained free for the centuries to come. Mr. Carney we salute you,” said Deerin.

Dr. Willie Woods, president of Caroline County Branch of the NAACP, said, “I am pleased to say there was 100% agreement that the NAACP should proceed with this collaboration for the installation and unveiling of this historic marker. The marker aligns with our mission to ensure freedom, justice and equality of rights for all persons. After saving Captain Benson, it resulted in a lifelong friendship revealing an inspiring example of racial harmony, unity and mutual respect. We also want to thank Mrs. Seymour for her research and persistence. Remembering African American roles have often been overlooked or not recognized. This marker will memorialize Mr. Carney for generations to come.”

With the help of two people and a walker, Seymour made it to the podium.

“I did see an ad in a magazine for an exhibit down in Virginia. So with my husband in tow, we went down to Virginia and visited the museum. We met the curator at the exhibit. And then to Annapolis, we looked up the loose papers and his obituary. We looked over these papers and in it we found this paper which is a copy of his of his rent bill, which clarified what we had been thinking all along,” said Seymour.

Like a sleuth sifting through dusty old papers she found evidence of Carney living in Caroline County. Part of the sleuthing was also finding any descendants of Carney’s. They found some Carneys outside of Philadelphia whose grandfather had been in the Civil War. Seymour teamed up with J.O.K. Walsh, who is president of the Caroline County Historical Society, to track them down.

Relative Wayne Carney said, “Jerry Seiler, Betty Seymour, J.O.K. Walsh — people I have been talking to — made this day possible to bring the story of Thomas Carney to life. So, I thank them.”

The DAR ladies removed the black cloth to reveal the marker. Everyone cheered heartily, and Denton has another interesting reason for visitors to check out downtown. Carney is remembered in formal fashion.

With that all available parties lined up for two separate group pictures. One with the NAACP and the Carney family and the other with the Daughters of the American Revolution.

STAR DEMOCRAT: Carney celebrated with historic marker in Denton


Lost history note on Bishop Wayman’s mother Matilda Wayman, Anna Murray Douglass, Caroline County, Loadman Shields and the fugitive slave case of “Priss”

1850 United States Census, Caroline County (Maryland); NARA Series M432, Roll 288. “Francis Wayman;”

In closely reviewing the field research and historic notes meticulously maintained by Choptank Heritage on Bishop Alexander Walker Wayman (1821 – 1895) I wondered about the extant record of his mother, Matilda Wayman (b. ca. 1797 – 1872).

In recent years an industry of mythomanes have suggested more research need be done, and therefore a fuller recognition occur concerning the consequential life and times of Anna Murray Douglass (1813 – 1882). Little original research has been forthcoming and therefore no fuller historic recognition has occurred in recent years other than repeated sentiment of incomplete myth.

Simply put, there is work to be done and too few workers.

According to Bishop Wayman’s 1881 Recollections, his mother, Matilda, was friendly with Anna Murray and entrusted the future Mrs. Frederick Douglass to watch her children, including the future 7th Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Miss Anna Murray, now Mrs. Frederick Douglass, came and kept house for my mother while she was attending this camp-meeting.

My Recollections of African M. E. Ministers, or Forty Years’ Experience in the African Methodist Episcopal Church (1881)

Whereas Alexander’s older brother, Charles Henry, was born enslaved in 1812, and Alexander was born free in 1821, we can deduce that their mother, Matilda, attained her freedom sometime between 1812 and 1821.

Reportedly, Matilda and her husband, Francis Wayman, born enslaved in ca. 1787, were both free and well-known within the community, frequently hosting and lodging Black Methodist preachers visiting Caroline County and the region, in the 1820s and 1830s.

Living within the area at this time were the parents and family of Anna Murray. According to Rosetta Douglass Sprague daughter (1839 – 1906), her mother:

… was born in Denton, Caroline County, Maryland, an adjoining county to that in which my father was born. The exact date of her birth is not known. Her parents, Bambarra Murray and Mary, his wife, were slaves, their family consisting, of twelve children, seven of whom were born in slavery and five born in freedom. My mother, the eighth child, escaped by the short period of one month, the fate of her older brothers and sisters, and was the first free child.

My Mother as I Recall Her

Most historians have dated Anna’s birth year to around 1813, around the time of the birth of Bishop Wayman’s older brother Charles Henry, born enslaved in March 1812.

Therefore, within Caroline County around 1812 – 1813, Anna’s mother, Mary, had obtained her freedom whereas freedom had yet to be obtained by Bishop Wayman’s mother, Matilda.

Other than Choptank Heritage’s editor, family genealogists (family historians) of Maryland’s Eastern Shore and a visiting academician who has since gone home, we are unaware of any ongoing public work to discuss these close associations, connections and affiliations between and within the families of the Waymans, Murrays and Baileys, as well as other prominent descendant families.

Why does this matter, you may be asking? It matters because untold public treasury is expended every year to continue to repeat a flat, limited and mythologized history. It matters because school children ask to be taught local history and in return are not told.

His color was black, his voice commanding, deep. | Choptank River Heritage

Although it has now become vogue to ponder the history of Anna Murray and her family – and her community – the detective work has yet to be done, although organizations and staff exist locally, regionally, statewide and nationally to do so. Grants and public monies abound but the history continues to be lost and unrecognized.

How did Anna Murray’s parents obtain their freedom? How did Bishop Wayman’s parents obtain their freedom? From whom did they obtain their freedom? What were the circumstances and/or conditions of their freedom? Do records exist that can answer and/or confirm these questions? Where may these records be? Has anyone ever looked for these records?

These questions led us to a brief obituary for Matilda Wayman circulated in newspapers within communities of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

March 1872. Library of Congress.

According to the obituary, Matilda Wayman had been enslaved to Loadman Shields, who shows up in records within Talbot and Caroline County. A rudimentary search of familiar databases and archives did not reveal substantial information about Shields and his connections to Matilda Wayman.

However, an interesting 1836 newspaper clip from the Public Ledger (Philadelphia) surfaced with mention of Loadman Shields of Caroline County.

According to the report, a “negro women named Priscilla was arrested as a fugitive slave,” and brought before Judge Randall in the Court of Common Pleas.

A deposed witness from Caroline County confirmed that Priscilla was “the slave of Loadman Shields, who now claimed her.” The witness testified to have known the young woman, believed to be in her early 20s, since she was “six or seven years old.”

Reportedly, Shields had hired out Priscilla. Another witness testified to have known Priscilla’s mother, Tilly, who “was also Mr. Shield’s slave.”

Fugitive Slave Case -
“Important Decision of a Slave Case.” September 22, 1836. Public Ledger (Philadelphia), p. 1

An 1816 deed of manumission was admitted to the court “by which Loadman Shields manumitted Tilly, the mother, to be free when she was 30 years old, (she being then 23,) and also manumitted ‘negro girl Priss,’ the present prisoner, ‘aged three years the 1st of December, 1816, to be free when she arrived to the age of 30 years.” Shields sought the court to return the young woman to Caroline County and his service until December 1, 1843, when she would therefore be 30 years old.

Apparently, the young woman “had been claimed on a former occasion” and was subsequently discharged from arrest.

In her second case future Philadelphia mayor Charles Gilpin (1809 – 1891), represented Priscilla arguing that she had been properly previously dismissed thus “it was not lawful to sue a claim for which had already been decided.”

Future Congressman Henry Meyer Phillips (1811 – 1884) represented Shields arguing the Constitutional property rights of slaveowners to “show property and title” and duly “have the fugitive reprimanded.”

Just months before the 1837 incident which would eventually result in the 1843 ruling of the US Supreme Court in Prigg v. Pennsylvania, the court delivered a decision in which “the case was compromised.”

How did Priscilla make her way from Maryland’s Eastern Shore to Philadelphia? Who assisted her? What route did she take? From whom and/or where did she escape from the Shore to Philadelphia? What happened to Priscilla?

Further information on “Priscilla,” Loadman Shields, comparable fugitive slave cases originating from Caroline County and the impact of this case – or lack thereof – in Maryland and Pennsylvania case law has not yet been sought but there is a $400,000 grant currently dedicated to “mapping” this respective lost history.

Whereas Frederick Bailey’s family members who fled have been focus of scholastic attention and public recognition a more comprehensive examination of the community of Eastern Shore freedom seekers and their families, methodologies, associates and destinations has yet been undertaken.

Despite development of helpful databases the public history is still presented as largely an ephemeral myth which does not instruct the modern scholar and classroom student.

“Following the footsteps of Frederick Douglass” (Times-Record, March 4, 2020; Caroline County, Maryland)

Following the footsteps of Frederick Douglass
Author and expert on the life of Frederick Douglass, John Muller, speaks to students at Lockerman Middle School.

DENTON — “If you’ve been on Market Street in Denton, you’ve been following Douglass’ footsteps, the same places he walked as a young man,”author of Frederick Douglass in D.C.: Lion of Anacostia and renowned historian John Muller told the students he visited last week at Lockerman Middle School. Muller has spent years of his life tracing and chronicling the the details of Douglass’ life.

Bringing history to life for middle school students is not an easy task, but Muller engaged and pulled the students into Douglass’ life drawing lines from the past to the present – tracing family lines —Anthonys, Baileys, Downes, Greens, Groces, Murrays, Rosses, and Waymans and several others who have been connected across centuries from the 1700s until today in Caroline County.

Muller knows not only the past, but how it is tied now to the present. Through his interactive presentation, students read excerpts from Douglass’ autobiography. “It was very special to witness the young lady with the surname “Murray” read and share with her classmates the local history of Anna Murray Douglass,” said Muller, “It was a powerful moment for me.”

Douglass’ wife Anna born in Denton to slaves Bambarra Murray and Mary, was born the first free child of the family. She would be instrumental in helping Douglass escape his slavery and find passage to freedom.

Muller led the students through Douglass’ early years — “I was born in Tuckahoe, near Hillsborough, and about twelve miles from Easton, in Talbot county, Maryland,” wrote Douglass, “My first experience of life, as I now remember it, and I remember it but hazily, began in the family of my grandmother and grandfather, Betsey and Isaac Bailey.”

Douglass (born Frederick Bailey) in his autobiography, recalls his grandmother, “She was a good nurse, and a capital hand at making nets for catching shad and herring; and these nets were in great demand, not only in Tuckahoe, but at Denton and Hillsboro, neighboring villages.”

Fishing — a recreational past time for many students — is another connection Muller drew upon, and it was moving to listen to Muller guiding these young students through the very places their ancestors were before them.

“I know next time I present to ask everyone what fish they catch in the Choptank when sharing Frederick Douglass’ grandmother fished in the same waters,” Muller quipped after his lecture.

Muller encouraged students to not only walk physically in the footsteps of Douglass, but also to follow his lead in other areas. Douglass, who left the shore to gain his freedom, traveled not only to New York and D.C. but also abroad. Challenging himself to learn more.

Not only was he a leader and innovator, but a supporter of his fellow man, noted Muller, speaking to churches, helping to establish schools, and working alongside abolitionists to better educate and provide opportunity for men of color.

He was well respected, but never let it go to his head; and was often written and asked for support, but never looked down on people who asked for his help, rather he treated them equally. His speaking engagements sold out – and Douglass made several appearances back on the shore after he left for D.C., Muller told the students.

“The announcement that Fred. Douglass, the noted colored man, would appear in the Republican meeting in Denton last Wednesday, drew a very large crowd of people. Three-fourths of the colored voters of the county were on hand, and they became much enthused by Fred’s speech and a brass band. Three hundred white people, men, women, and children, were also out to see and hear the celebrated colored man.” Denton Journal, November 3, 1883 (p. 3).

While it can be said Douglass used this “fame” to help people,“For those of you become famous, don’t forget I told you this,” said Muller, “follow the footsteps of Douglass and do good.”


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).

ARCHIVE Photo: “Lost History of Frederick Douglass in Caroline County” draw 100 people to Denton Branch, Caroline County Public Library, February 2019.

Image may contain: one or more people and people sitting
“Lost History of Frederick Douglass in Caroline County” drew nearly 100 people of all nationalities and walks of life to the Denton Branch of the Caroline County Public Library in February 2019.

Special thanks to Tara Coursey, Debbie Bennett, Amanda Watson, Linda Duyer, Robinson crew and Eric Zhang.

Walking Tour of Frederick Douglass in Denton (October 20, 2019)

Join local history enthusiasts and community leaders for a debut waking tour detailing a previously unknown high-profile visit Dr. Douglass made to Denton, Maryland in the fall of 1883. Arriving by train and escorted through town by a brass band from nearby Centreville, Douglass spoke at the old county courthouse in a political rally before departing by boat.

Following the successful presentation of “Lost History: Frederick Douglass in Caroline County” this past February at the Denton Library local historian John Muller returns to town to offer a unique walking tour for students and seniors alike interested in learning more.

Learn more about the many connections Douglass had to Denton and Caroline County from his childhood and through his wife and close friends from Caroline County.


John Muller is the author of Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C: The Lion of Anacostia (2012) and Mark Twain in Washington, D.C.: The Adventures of a Capital Correspondent (2013) and is at work on Lost History: Frederick Douglass and Maryland’s Eastern Shore. He has presented “The Lost History of Frederick Douglass in Western Maryland” at various venues such as the Washington County Central Library in Hagerstown, Ebenezer AME Church (Hagerstown) and Frostburg State University as well as presenting the “Lost History: Frederick (Bailey) Douglass in Baltimore” at the Enoch Pratt Central Library in Baltimore City. Muller has been featured on C-SPAN’s BookTV and C-SPAN’s American History TV, as well as in the pages of the Star Democrat and the ariwarves of NBC4, WAMU, WYPY and Delmarva Pubic Radio.



Tour will begin at the Wharves of Choptank Visitor and Heritage Center and conclude outside of the Union Bethel AME Church in Historic Denton.

Total walking is under two miles.

If inclement weather tour will be re-scheduled

— $8.75 TICKETS —