Thursday, April 15, 2010

The History Of Pocomoke by Murray James (8)

50 History of Pocomoke City,

The dwelling houses are of modern style, and are, with few exceptions, fine buildings, indeed, some of them are of a palatial character, while the churches, seven in num- ber, are all good buildings, and amply accommodate, with seats, the church going people of Pocomoke City. Before closing our history of New Town, in its buildings and general improvements, from its earliest history to the present, we are compelled to record the fact, that its old name is no more, it has passed away, together with its former inhabitants, and they all lie in the grave together.

The reader will be informed that the citizens of the place, by an almost unanimous request, petitioned the Legislature of Maryland for a new name, setting forth in that petition their desire that it should be called Pocomoke City, and by an action of the General Assembly of Mary- land, held in 1878, it was so named.

The credit of this change is due chiefly to the Rev. T. O. Ayres, who was the prime mover in the whole affair. Now we take rank with other names of modern date and with modern advancement, with a population of 1500 inhabitants.


In presenting the Mercantile aspect of New Town, now Pocomoke City, I shall give with it, a brief sketch of the lives of many who have been and are still engaged in the sale of goods. I have no information of any merchant in New Town earlier than 1790 or 1800. Formerly New Town. 51 During that period, there was a Frenchman, by the name of Boozee, who settled in New Town, and com- menced the sale of goods.

He lived on the lot which faces on Market, Front and Willow Streets ; his store was on the corner of Market and Front Streets. How long he was engaged in the trade I have no information ; he was a man of some wealth, and when he died, Colonel Levin Pollett settled his estate.

He had a wife and one child, his wife died some time after him ; they were both buried on the lot where they lived. What became of the daughter I have no information. In 1803 Michael Murray settled in New Town, and commenced the sale of goods; his dwelling and store house both were on the lot where William J. S. Clarkenow lives. He was also engaged in the shipping business.

He sold goods until 181 8 when he retired from mercantile life. He accumulated considerable property. For several years after he retired from the busy whirl of mercantile life, he served as Post- Master for New Town. In 1827, he moved to the City of Baltimore, where in 1 83 1, he died, being at the time of his death sixty-nine years of age.

Somewhere near 1803, Edward Stevenson settled in New Town, and commenced merchandising. He lived on the lot where Mrs. Mary Merrill now lives. His store- house was on the Hargis lot adjoining William Redden's Tiouse.

Afterwards he built the store house, where Town- :send and Stevenson sell goods, at the corner of Front 52 History of Pocomoke City, Street and Public Square ; here he continued store keep- ing until he died, which event took place in 1816. Sometime after he came to New Town, he built the dwelling house now occupied by his grandson, Jacob- Stevenson, and lived in it until his death.

He left a widow and six children. He also amassed considerable wealth, and left each one of his children a handsome property* His tomb is in the Methodist Episcopal Church burying ground, of this place, with the following inscription upon, the marble slab that covers his remains : " In memory of Edward Stevenson, who was born,. February 14th, 1771, and died the 22nd day of September,, 1 8 16, aged fourty-five years, seven months and eight- days." During the time aforesaid, there were several other- stores in New Town, kept by Jesse Henderson, Stephen Redden, Joshua Sturgis, and a young man by thenameof Bounds; but Michael Murray and Edward Stevenson were, the leading merchants of their day. The articles of merchandise, by the leading stores, were the finest dress goods, such as silks, satins, cambrics, Irish: linen, broad cloths, cassimeres, together with all other dry- goods, hardware, crockeryware, and a general stock of groceries and spirituous liquors.

The other stores dealt in groceries, liquors and the more- common dry goods. As Jesse Henderson, Stephen Redden and Joshua. Sturgis were old citizens of New Town, it is but just to Formerly New Town. 53 their memory that the following tribute should here be inserted : Jesse Henderson was a ship carpenter by trade; when "he commenced the sale of goods, and how long he was engaged in it, I have no knowledge. With him, his wife, •daughter and grandchildren, I have been most intimately acquainted. He was an honest, upright man in his deal- ings, very retired in his disposition, and highly respected by the entire community.

He was great grandfather to Edward H. Clarke and Mrs. Mary Quinn. He died in 1832 or '33, and his remains rest in the old Long Burying Ground, on the farm now occupied by William W. Quinn, where the most of the Long family, who have deceased, are buried. His wife, aunt Polly Henderson, for so we used to call "her, was a most exemplary woman, I knew her well from my infancy to the time of her death. While I am giving some account of her husband, I feel it due to her name to say that she was my ideal of a model wife.

She was a keeper-at-home, no gadder-about, no tattler, no busy-body in other people's business. I never heard her speak an unkind word of any one; always had a pleasant word and pleasant face.

She died in a good old age, and was buried in the Methodist Episcopal Church Burying ground, of this place. Stephen Redden sold goods, in New Town, for many years, and, although his stock in trade was not so exten- sive as the heaviest merchants, yet his business yielded 54: History of Pocomoke City, him a comfortable support.

He raised an intelligent family of children, one of which was considered to be the smartest young man in New Town, in his day ; I allude to his son, George S. Redden, whose history will be given under another heading - . Stephen Redden was a good citizen, peaceable, inoffen- sive, and full of fun ; he was somewhat beyond middle life when he died.

He was buried in the Methodist Episcopal Church burying ground, in New Town. Joshua Sturgis was one of the best of men, and his wife was equally as good as he was. They were the salt of the earth in all that was good and great ; great in the sense of natural and mental gifts, for they raised a family of boys, whose talents for mathematics have never been excelled by any boys raised in New Town. They both passed away, at a good old age, as ripe shocks of corn ready for the garner.


Anonymous said...

The descendants of Stephen Redden are still here, on the old Redden farm, once known as "Aberdeen Tract". Stephen Redden purchased it in 1770 and it has been in the family ever since. One problem with the Stephen Reddens, though, is that there were several of them. Fathers, sons, uncles, nephews, but they were all the same family and one has to be careful to refer to the correct Stephen Redden. Probably the person with the best handle on this situation is Kelly Stevens who lives on the original Aberdeen Tract and is married to a direct descendant of this Stephen.

The Public Eye said...

Thanks, that's great info... and I didn't think anyone was following this book

Anonymous said...

PPE, I'm following these installments of the history of Pocomoke and have found it very interesting.
One of these days I would like to reread them all again. Would it be possible to have them all together with maybe a link on the side of the page? It would make it easier to go back and find the chapters that way.

The Public Eye said...

Yes, I will do that at the end of the last chapter, in fact maybe I should place a link at the bottom of all the upcoming chapters that will direct readers to the previous chapters