Saturday, March 27, 2010

The History Of Pocomoke by Murray James

This is a great read, well written and very interesting times of old in and around Pocomoke, Stevens Ferry, New town, and Back to Pocomoke.

It's long a story (book) that tells of City merchants, the ship yard, trading and people of interest from the poor to the well-to-do from the years of old when Pocomoke was first settled.

I will be posting chapter by chapter (somewhat) on at least a weekly basis, maybe more often when I think of it. Keep checking back for the latest on "The History Of Pocomoke" it's a wonderful story.

'To all my fellow-townsmen who feel an interest
in Pocomoke City, is this History
respectfully dedicated by the



History, Preface of 7

Author's Life, Sketch of 9

New Town, Origin of 40

" " Limits of 44

Growth, Change of Name, Etc 47

Mercantile Aspect 50

Manufacturing 86

Trades 91

Shipping Interests 106

Eastern Shore Steamboat Co 108

^Ship-Building in

Hotels, Livery Stables, Etc 121

Physicians 123

Lawyers 138

Post Office 144

Printing Offices 149

Social Aspect 151

Moral Aspect 161

Temperance 163

Schools 168

Churches 196

Secret Societies 233



In writing a history of Pocomoke City, formely New Town, I wilF
say, the subject never presented itself to my mind until recently,
and then I only contemplated a brief sketch of some of the early
inhabitants together with their business life, the habits, customs
and social bearing of society in "ye olden times." But as the
subject loomed up before me into greater proportions, and as there
never had been written a history of the place, only in scraps for
newspaper publication, and as I have been repeatedly solicited to
write such a history, I have submitted to undertake the arduous

The subjects comprised in this history will, therefore, be the
geographical position or town limits of the place together with a
description of its Houses, Streets, County Wharf and Public
Square. The Mercantile, Shipping, Manufacturing, Steam
Milling, Hotel and Livery Stable Business. The Practice of
Medicine and Law. The Post-Office, Press, Social Life, Moral
Outlook, Temperance, Schools, Churches and a brief sketch of the
lives of its leading business and professional men.

In writing this history I have not aimed at literary display, if I
had, the book itself would expose my weakness. But I have
simply aimed at giving a statement of facts, and chief among my
aspirations has been the rescuing from oblivion, the names and
history of persons living in New Town in the days of yore, names
precious and dear to many who are still living in Pocomoke City,
together with Incidents of Social Life that will be of interest to
read. The whole history covering a period of over two hundred


In giving a sketch of my own life, separately, I must say, in

justice to myself, that the subject never once entered my mind

until I had been repeatedly requested to do so, finally I yielded,

hoping that my eventful life would be both a warning to the youn

not to pursue those paths of vice into which I had fallen, and an

encouragement to all, that it is never too late to turn over a new

leaf, never too late to do good. The, fact of my joining the

Virginia Conference, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, when I

was in the fifty-sixth year of my age, undertaking a four years

course of Conference studies, leaving a loving home and going

among strangers for three successive years, in the valley of

Virginia, and on the Mountains of West Virginia, and traveling

in that Conference for six years, averaging the first three years,

probably, fifteen hundred miles a year on horse-back, is an

adventure of my life, at which I am truly amazed. Although I

was in Orders when I entered the Conference, I was required to

go through the usual course of studies, and I mention, in detail,

the subjects upon which I was examined and the books to be

read, simply to show the amount of labor I had to perform at my

advanced age, and yet by application I succeeded.

J. M.



I was born in New Town, Worcester County, Maryland, on the
11th day of August, 1814. My father's name was Michael Murray.
He was born in the town of Armagh, in Armagh County, in the
North of Ireland. He received quite a liberal education in his
native country, and was reared, by his parents in the Roman
Catholic faith. My mother's name before she married my father,
was Nancy Maddux. She was born and raised in Potatoe Neck,
now Fair Mount, Somerset County, Maryland. She received such
an education as the schools of her day were prepared to
impart, and in her religious faith she was brought up a Methodist.
My father came to. America soon after the revolutionary war
ended and engaged in merchandising, at Maddux's Island,
Somerset County, Maryland. How long he continued there I
cannot say, it was there, however, that he married my mother. In
the course of time he moved to Rehoboth and continued mer-
chandising some years, when, in 1803, he moved to New Town
and continued in the mercantile and shipping trade in New Town
for fifteen years. Of my mother were born seven sons and one
daughter, all of whom lived to be grown. All of the boys learned
trades except the youngest, and after their majority they all
pursued other avocations, more or less. Of my six brothers and
sister, I am happy to say, they all had good minds, and some of
them shown with lustre, and of my sister, especially. I would say
if the fair sex would not look at it with an eye of egotism, that
she had an intellect above the ordinary class of her sex* They
have all passed away except my youngest brother William who
lives in Sumner County, Tennessee. I have said my father was a

10 A Brief History of the AiUhoi^s Life.

Roman Catholic. He would bold family prayer on Sabbath
morning, and would teach the children the prayers of that Church,
such as the Lord's prayer, the Salutation and Invocation to the
Holy Virgin Mary, the Apostles Creed, etc. But with these facts
before me I must conclude that he was a broad minded, liberal
man, for he contributed to the building of the Methodist Episcopal
Church, in New Town, and had all his children baptized by
Protestant Ministers. I have been at a loss to account for my
early religious impressions, in view of the fact that my father was
but a nominal christian, while my mother, during the lifetime of
my father, did not belong to church. I can recollect distinctly,
when but a child, that I was not afraid to die, and when the good
spirit of the Lord so moved upon my little heart, as to soften it
into tenderness and love.

I can also recollect, when in my early youth, that I was afraid
to die, that I had a consciousness of sin and was afraid of God,
and in view of such convictions, when I would retire to my bed at
night, I have engaged in prayer, repeating the Lord's prayer and
those my father taught me and concluding -with : Now I lay me
down to sleep, etc., until my little eyes would close in balmy sleep
"nature's sweet restorer." I pursued this course under the impres,
sion that Satan would not come after a person while they were
praying, for I was frequently afraid the Devil Mould get me
before morning. The reader will recollect the Cat Story in
relation to myself, which is told under the head of Social Life in
New Town.

I have, if possible, a thousand times reviewed my father's course
in raising his children. While in some instances he was very
strict, yet in others he was remiss in his oversight of them. I
suppose there have been but few families, especially in the days of
my boyhood, but what there would be more or less fighting by the
boys. Sometimes when my brothers and myselfwould be at work,
we would get into a fight, and as I was the youngest, I would

A Brief History of the Author's Life. 11

generally get whipped. I recollect instances when I was not in
fault, I would go to my father and tell him of it, instead of
inquiring into the matter, he would give me another whipping and
send me off to work again. I then had no appeal, and many a hard
fight I have had with my dear brothers. I have said my father
was very strict. If he promised me a whipping I was sure to get
it. I recollect times when I would run from him to avoid punish-
ment and he would say, in his broad Irish accent, "niver mind boy
I will pay you." I felt that moment that my doom was sealed,
and my feathers fell.

My lather whipped his boys with the cowhide. It has been said
of the Irish that they were the greatest people in the world for
whipping the Devil out of their children. But it is a problem for
solution, whether such whipping whips the Devil out of, or whips
the Devil into, the children. I recollect very well my brothers and
myself would get hold of the old cowhide, that had punished us so
severely, and we would take it to the wood-pile and chop it into
mince meat with the axe.

There was no Sabbath School, in New Town, in my little boy-
hood days, and the boys to a great extent, were suffered to roam
about on the Sabbatb day. On such occasions I would learn a
great deal of wickedness. I learned to swear profusely, to play
cards, and as early as eight years of age I learned to chew tobacco.
I was the first one in my father's family to use tobacco, my father
and mother never using it. Many a night, after I would go to
sleep, my father would search my pockets for my tobacco and burn
it ; but it was all to no use, I conquered my father in my wicked
course, and when I grew larger I chewed, with impunity, in his
presence. This one instance of my boyhood life has caused me
many a heartache since, and often times in contemplating the sub-
ject, I have been so mortified and humbled that the tears unbidden
would steal from my eyes. At a very early age I learned to swim
and finally I became quite an expert at it. I was like a duck in

12 A Brief History of the Author's Life.

the water for diving, and several times I have been nearly drowned
by trying how far I could swim at the bottom of the river before I
would come to the surface again. At other times I have been
nearly drowned in playing with larger boys who would hold me
under the water too long. It used to be quite common for the
town boys to take their canoes, and go to the river swamps for
shingle billets and bring them home to burn. Frequently, after
loading my canoe with billets, I have taken the tow line in my
mouth aud swam along with the canoe as it would drift with the

In eighteen hundred and twenty-seven, my father moved with his family to Baltimore. I was then thirteen years old. Another event occurred in my early history of which I have, ever since felt deeply ashamed, and humbled. After my father moved to Baltimore, for sometime, I had nothing to do, and consequently I would be down at the wharves and on board the Eastern Shore vessels to see those I was acquainted with, and would engage in boyish sports, such as standing on the waist or spars of the vessel and jumping to a rope and catching hold of it with one hand, and exhibiting my activity ; during these visits I became acquainted with a man who had gone from this place. He followed the sea. He took a great liking to me for my activity and venturesome spirit, and persuaded me to go to sea. The pleasures of a seafaring life that loomed up before me, together with the idea of visiting foreign countries, were truly captivating. I determined on such a course at all hazards. I had not consulted my father or mother. I knew it would be of no use, that they would not give their consent and so I determined to act for myself. I had made seme little engagements with a captain of a Dutch Ship bound to Bremen. I was but a boy and had no where to stay of nights and consequently would sceak home at night and run off in the morning. This state of things lasted several days. I have since heard my mother say that my father has walked the A Brief History of the Author's Life. 13 floor wringing his hands and saying, in deep agony : "What shall I do with my boy James." Finally, he overtook me on Fell's Point, I was about to run from him, when he told me he wanted to talk with me, that he wanted to know where I was going, what ship I was going in, and how Jong I would be gone, and the wages I would get, &c. I had had premonitions that I was acting wickedly, but on this occasion I realized the heinousness of my crime. I felt as though the ground ought to open and swallow me up. I think the good Spirit of the Lord was showing me how wicked I was. I shall never be able fully to explain my feelings on that occasion. I was completely conquered. I went home and purposed to be a better boy. There was another event, during my first years residence in the City of Baltimore, which has been, ever since, a pleasurable thought to me. I attended the first Sabbath School that I was ever in, that year. It was at a little frame church called Frog- Eye, in South Baltimore. The Superintendent talked so sweetly about Jesus that my little boyish heart was completely captivated. I was all humility. I went home. It was on Sabbath afternoon, and at the supper table. I could not help weeping. I have often thought since, that if I had had any one to explain to me the nature of Christianity, its blessedness and experience, that then I would have become a Christian. In my fourteenth year, I was thought to be rather young to go to a trade, consequently I obtained work in a brick yard, with a man by the name of George Cline. This man was so illnatured, crabbed and peevish that I hated him. I recollect one day I was on the kiln tossing bricks to him, on the ground, and as he was not looking the bricks struck him on the foot. It was a terrible blow, he took up a half brick and said : "I have a great mind to knock you off that kiln." I had no faith in him, and was ready, if he raised his hand to throw, to jump off the kiln on the other side. I disliked this man so mnch, on account of his disposition .and the small pay I received, 14 A Brief History of the Author^ Life, which was one dollar a week and I board myself, that I framed a lie, and told my father, that he did not want me any longer. I then went to work with another man, in an adjoining yard, by the name of John Reese. This man gave me kind words, treated me like a father, and gave me a dollar and a half a week. The one I love to think of, tbe other I have long since forgiven.

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