Saturday, April 10, 2010

The History Of Pocomoke by Murray James (7)

This is where the book starts getting interesting, it leaves the description and starts with the city's people, business' happenings etc.

44 History of Pocomoke City

The reader is already aware that this place was called Ware House Landing, and that name continued until 1780 or thereabouts, when it was changed to New Town. There is no record of the fact, why, or by whom the change was made.

I remember about forty years ago, of having an interview with a man by the name of Reville, who said that he gave to this place the name of New Town. Be that as it may, there are some reflections presumptive of the fact. He was at the time of the interview eighty or ninety years old, so that at the time the place was named, he was twenty or twenty-five years old, admitting the fact that he was not a conspicuous man in the community, and that such changes generally take place by men of distinc- tion, yet it will be remembered that the inhabitants of the place were very few, and the surrounding country sparsely settled, so that there is a possibility that his statement is true, though I leave the reader to form his own con- clusions, CHAPTER II. TOWN LIMITS.

We will now proceed to consider the geographical position or town limits of the place. There were no incorporate lines encircling it then as we have now, so that I shall have to prescribe them for the town as it existed as late as 1820. As the Hill or Public Square was the center of the town, the reader will start with me from this place, and go out Front Street as far as the Bridge Causeway, or Colonel Merrill's property, thence Formerly New Town. 45 take a straight course to the corner of Market and Second Streets, thence out Second to Willow Street, thence down Willow to the junction of Willow and Front Streets, thence on Front to the Hill or Public Square.

These limits may be safely considered as the boundary lines of New Town as late as the above date. In order to have a more perfect view of the place, at this date, we will begin with a description of its County Wharf, Public Square, Streets and Houses. The County Wharf lies directly between Messrs. Clark, and Smullen & Brother's granaries, and is twenty-eight feet long. I have tried to find the date when this wharf was built, by having the record of Worcester and Somerset counties both searched, but have failed ; the presumption is, however, that it's date reaches back to 1700, which is the date of the build- ing of the Tobacco Warehouse.

The reader may now stand upon this wharf and contemplate the fact, that sixty years ago there was naught on either side of it, but bramble, tuckahoes and mud flats. It is true there was a shoal or canoe landing at the foot of Willow Street, more in the direction of Fontain's ice house, where we used to fasten our canoes, and also a landing at the old Shipyard : the same place that is used as a shipyard by James T. Young. The Public Square or Hill, as we used to call it, was sixty years ago, a hill of some prominence, but time has leveled it.

It was then, as now, entirely surrounded by houses, though of a different character, while now they are all business houses ; then they were all family resi- 46 History of Pocomoke City, dences, with one or two exceptions, Consequently the hill was the center of the town for business and social life. Here the men and boys would meet in the evenings and have their sports, plays and social pastimes ; here, too, the merchants would pile their lumber, consisting of planks, laths, &c. Here, on this hill, I have witnessed many a hard fight, and many funny scenes. There were four principal streets, which were called roads, namely : Market Street, which was called Virginia road ; Second Street, which was called Cedar Hall Road ; Front Street, winding round into Linden Street and onward, was called the Snow Hill Road ; and lastly, the old Ferry Road, which had its convergence in the Snow Hill Road, leading to the Hill or Public Square. There were two or three other streets, which were of minor importance, only one of which might be recognized as a public thorough-fare, and that was Willow Street.

Within the limits of the town, there. were twenty-eight dwelling houses and seven or eight business houses com- prising stores and mechanical shops. Outside of those limits, there were five houses, occupied by families, which might be considered suburban residences.

The old Methodist Episcopal Church that stood on the site of the present one, which now is in the heart of the town, was then in the suburbs, in full conformity with the old custom to put the Church out of town. The houses were mostly one story high, they were built out of good material, and in workmanlike order, for those days. Some were finished inside with beaut'.ful formerly New Town. 47 jDanel work, others again were lathed and plastered, while many were never finished at all. In order to ascertain the population of the town, we may calculate five to a family, the probabilities of which the reader can determine, as well as myself, we have then 'within its limits one hundred and forty-persons ; if we include the five suburban families, on the same basis, we "have twenty-five more, making the aggregate one hundred and sixty-five persons living in New Town and its precincts • as late as 1820. I have thus given a description of New Town, of its County Wharf, Public Square, Houses, .'Streets, and Town Limits, up to 1820, and shall close this part of the history by saying that the old Tobacco Ware- house, which had served its day during Colonial times, , was, after the independence of the Colonies and the •establishment of the currency of the Republic in dollars -and cents, left to decay, and having stood until about 18 19 •was finally torn down.

CHAPTER III. GROWTH, CHANGE OF NAME, ETC, Of the enlargement and general improvement of the '■town, from 1820 to the present time, (1882.) For the first two decades there was no advancement of ■any extent in this direction. From 1840 to i860, enterprise seemed to lay its hand ^pon New Town and claim it for its subject. New build- ings were erected, of modern taste, comprising store houses, dwelling houses, churches and an academy ; some 48 Ilut-ry of Poco moke City, of them reaching out into the suburbs. For all the- country from the corner of Market and Second Streets, all' around, was unoccupied save a few dwellings which were- scattering. Where the Protestant Episcopal and Methodist Pro- testant Churches now stand, together with all other - houses on the eastern side of Market Street, was a farm,, and the old homestead was where Captain Isaac N. Veasey now lives. All the country on the south-west side of r Market Street, save a few unimportant small dwellings,, was cultivated lots and woods.

All the land from Littleton. Duer's coner, the south-eastern side of Second Street, running to Cedar street, embracing the high school and', beyond, was a field in which I have worked many a day, when a little boy. "hoeing corn." "In 1S65, an act of incorporation was secured, and in it' full power and authority was given the Town Commis- sioners to widen and straighten old streets, and to lay out* and construct new ones, and to perform such other acts* as, in their judgment, might be required to secure the health, happiness and prosperity of the town." " At the first election held under this charter, the people -hose C. C. Lloyd, W. S. C. Polk, Charles Marshall,. Joseph Riley and W. J. Long, for Town Commissioners,, all good and active men, who soon showed, by their acts,, that they were intent on improvements." " They appointed a commission composed of Edward. S. Young, Dr. John L. Hearn, and William S. Dickinson,, to make a survey of the town, and to straighten and widen.- Formerly New Town.

49* the old streets and lay out several new ones.

They per- formed their duty promptly and well, and soon the town' began to assume something like proportion and regularity. No one, unacquainted with New Town at that period, can imagine the vast changes and improvements made by these acts." The above quotations I have taken from Dr. John T. B. McMaster's Centennial Address, delivered before the people of Pocomoke City, on the 4th of July, 1876.

The reader will learn that the above commission extended the limits of New Town about three-fourths of a mile, in every direction, from the Public Square, save from its north-western course, as in that direction it is bounded by the Pocomoke river, upon whose southern side the town lies.

From 1865 down to the present day, progress, unprece- dented by the past, has marked its course, so that now we have in New Town, or Pocomoke City, well laid out- streets, some of which are macadamized and contribute, in no little degree, to the enjoyment of an evening drive.

There are within the limits of the corporation about two- hundred and twenty-five houses, comprising dwellings, store houses, mechanical shops, steam mills, churches, the- Clark house and high-school building, both of which are ornaments to the place. Indeed, the high-school building is of such a character as to call forth, in terms of praise,, the declaration from the Superintendant of Public Schools of Maryland, in an address, delivered before the citizens of New Town, that "it was the finest school building 011 the Eastern Shore of Maryland."

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