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).


Monthly Report of Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, Education Division; Hartford, Talbot & Somerset Counties (Maryland); October 1868

To properly uplift the lost history of Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass on Maryland’s Eastern Shore there must be a greater understanding of the communal, religious, education, social and political institutions before and after the Civil War.

Reconstruction in the border state of Maryland brought forth the establishment of schools for “colored students” under the authority of the Freedmen’s Bureau, a subject of scholarship lost within the cocktail society of today’s disinterested and unknowing tax-payer funded historical organizations and institutions of higher learning.

In our survey of the Shore bibliography there is a small list of books, journal articles and other sources which discuss the Freedmen’s Bureau in Maryland but it would appear the history has largely been lost on the Shore.

Specifically, the history of educator Henry Augustus Monroe has been lost within its local, regional and national consequence.

It is our understanding Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass assisted and/or encouraged Monroe, a native of Massachusetts and drummer boy for the famed 54th Infantry, to go down South to Maryland’s Eastern Shore and use his education to reach one teach one.

At the recording of this document Monroe is either 19 or 20 years old.


United States, Freedmen’s Bureau, Records of the Superintendent of Education and of the Division of Education, 1865-1872

Talbot County Council approval of $15,000.00 request from Frederick Douglass Honor Society [Meeting Minutes, January 23, 2018]

Muralist Rebeka Ryvola installing a mural at 16th & W Street SE in Old Anacostia, assisted by History Ambassador Mr. Kevin Cubbage, in February 2018. Mural was supported with donations and contributions from local and international Douglassonians.

“They talk about the community … HELLO! … The community is here. I am the community.” – Master Historian Honorable William Alston-El, Founder of Old Anacostia Douglassonians.

Published in October 2012, Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C.: The Lion of Anacostia, was apparently produced, for all intents, constructions and purposes, with disappearing ink and invisible images.

Since appearance of the book throughout local and international Douglassonian communities, primary and secondary schools, libraries, community colleges and universities, book stores, television, radio and print media I’ve never had an opportunity, inquiry, invitation nor request by members of the Frederick Douglass Honor Society to speak, present or simply visit.

Since September 2018 the author of Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C.: The Lion of Anacostia has made presentations on the Lost History of Frederick Douglass in: 1) Cambridge and 2) Denton, with a presentation in October for 3) Centreville.

At a June 2019 meeting of the Maryland Commission of African-American History at Asbury United Methodist Church in “The Hill” community of Old Easton no officer nor representative of the Frederick Douglass Honor Society was present and accounted for to speak on: 1) an award for its redundant FD 200 activities, 2) public updates for the planned Frederick Douglass on the Tuckahoe Park, which has yet to hold a public meeting after cancelling January 2019’s scheduled meeting less than a day in advance, and 3) the annual Frederick Douglass Day scheduled for September 2019.

Although asked by several individuals over the past year to bring attention and an accounting of the questionable and dishonorable conduct of several FDHS officers towards members of the local community, regional Douglass scholars and members of the Bailey Tribe of the Eastern Shore I have been silent.

No more. No longer.

As we document Frederick Douglass on the Eastern Shore in this space we will equally bring attention to the wonderful and committed individuals and institutions that have advanced the cause through the studying, preserving, protecting and uplifting of local history. Inversely, there is no shortage of dirty rotten scoundrels, opportunists and small world simpletons in the form of persons and groups that have betrayed all in the community, all nationalities from all walks of life.

Look no further than the Frederick Douglass Honor Society, which received $15,000.00 in public dollars from the Talbot County Council in January 2018.

If and when in receipt of public dollars you are accountable to the community. I am the community and the community is now speaking up.

County Manager’s Report: A.

Request from Frederick Douglass Honor Society – Requested Council approval for a $15,000 contribution to the Frederick Douglass Honor Society to assist them with their year-long celebration of Mr. Douglass’ 200th birthday; funding for the request will come from franchise fees paid to the County each year by the County’s cable provider, part of which are designated for educational purposes.

Upon motion by Ms. Price, seconded by Mr. Pack, the Council approved the request by voting 5 – 0 as follows:

Ms. Williams – Aye Ms. Price – Aye Mr. Bartlett – Aye Mr. Pack – Aye Mr. Callahan – Aye

Talbot County Council (Maryland), Meeting Minutes; “County Manager’s Report.” January 23, 2018. p. 5 – 6. (accessed 16 July, 2019)