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


Bishop Wayman never lost touch with the Tuckahoe and Denton, Maryland (a brief note)

Bishop Alexander Walker Wayman of the AME Church with members of ...

Inside the sanctuary of Union Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, near the corner of 5th & Lincoln Street in Old Denton, Maryland, is a framed portrait of indigenous Caroline Countian Bishop Alexander Walker Wayman.

On Saturdays present-day members of the Wayman family can be found fixing vehicles and lawn mowers in backyards around the corner from the church while on Sundays the pews fill with Wayman descendants, as well as other surnames whose families have made contributions to Caroline County since its founding more than two hundred years ago.

Bishop Wayman, and his immediate and extended family, were close friends with not just the family of Frederick (Bailey) Douglass and Anna Murray Douglass, but members of the larger and extended Bailey family throughout the Eastern Shore and Baltimore City.

As we can determine, an accounting of the history of Bishop Wayman has not yet been rendered in modern times. In the past twenty years monographs of the establishment and growth of the AME Church in the American South have given new insights into the range of Wayman’s travels and his lasting legacy.


To wit, any telling of the local, statewide, regional and national history and contributions of Bishop Wayman must tell it properly.

That proper telling is that, as with his dear friend Frederick (Bailey) Douglass, as Bishop Wayman rose in notoriety and influence, counting presidents of countries and presidents of universities among his friends, he never lost touch with the Tuckahoe.

Just a year before he passed, in 1894 Bishop Wayman delivered eulogy for his friend, Civil War veteran and local school board member, Stephen Henry Bailey in Denton.

The next year, Wayman delivered a eulogy for Stephen’s first-cousin Frederick in Washington City at Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, around the corner from the White House.

We share a brief article from the Baltimore Sun in July 1882 showing the movements of Bishop Wayman on both sides of the Chesapeake Bay. A little more than a year later Frederick Douglass would speak in Denton on the court house lawn. Part of the local welcoming committee to greet Douglass upon arrival in Denton was his cousin Stephen, as well as members of the Wayman and Murray families.



Muller, John. Lost History of Frederick (Bailey) Douglass on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. “Bishop Wayman never lost touch with the Tuckahoe and Denton, Maryland (a brief note).” 22 April, 2020.

Copyright strictly enforced with full force of the law.

“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.”


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 —