Sunday, November 28, 2010

The History Of Pocomoke By Murray James (22)

Formerly New Town. 163 CHAPTER XXV!. 


The temperance cause as a distinct organization was unknown in the early history of New Town. The only thing- bordering on temperance was the denunciations against drunkenness from the sacred desk, which declared that " drunkards shall not inherit the kingdom of God." Notwithstanding this first out-beaming ol the temperance cause from the pulpit, professed Christians would some- times be seen with flushed cheeks and tongues unbridled, as the result of the too frequent use of the glass.

Indeed, the habit of drinking spirituous liquors, with the exception of a very few. was quite common in families, in social gatherings and in business life. In all these relations the social glass was indulged in freely. I have already stated in another part of this history that to be successful in merchandising it was considered absolutely necessary to sell liquor. Hence all who engaged in the sale oi goods, without an exception, sold spirituous liquors. In view of this state of things it cannot be wondered at that there should be drunkards and a plenty of them too. While the vender would fatten upon his ill-gotten gains,

164 History of Pocomoke City,

his victims with their families and children would be left destitute, in want and clothed in rags, and sometimes it was the case that the wives and little ones would be sitting over a lew coals of fire contemplating their wretched condition, with scarcely a ray of hope for the future, with no refuge to fly to except to Him who heareth in secret.

Oh ! how many broken-hearted wives have poured forth their bitter cries for help in His Almighty ear and told their tale of sorrow and inquired of Him, " How long, O Lord, how long shall this state of things last?" Well, their prayers have been answered, but not in stopping the vender from his wholesale ruin of men, women and chil- dren ; not in restoring to her former condition of happiness rand joy that mother who was being murdered by piece meal; not in restoring to hope and cheerfulness the forlorn condition of the little children. But their prayers have been answered in another way.

Time rolled on and brought its changes. The vender with his victims have passed away to a future reckoning, and to that tribunal whose decisions are in righteousness. If I could, I would call the vender back and inquire of him who they are that accuse him before the throne, for their name is legion. There was no material change in society upon the subject of temperance until 1835, when the Rev. Mr. Dorsey of the Baltimore conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church came down here and lectured upon that subject, and organized a temperance society. That society only forbade the use of spirituous

Formerly New Town. 165

liquors as a beverage. Up to this time all the stores sold spirituous liquors. The first one to break ground and give up the sale of it was Rev. John D. Long who was at that time but a youth not having arrived to his majority. He had but recently joined the Methodist Episcopal Church and listening to the lecture became convinced that the sale of it was wrong and determined to give up the practice forthwith.

It is true that Mr. Long sold goods at the ferry, now the bridge, on the identical spot where the phospate factory now stands, but I associate him, in this instance, with New Town, because he was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church here, because his associations were here, and because he was identified with the temperance movement in New Town. He was telling a veteran Methodist of his determination to quit selling liquor, when the old soldier said to him "Brother Long if it is wrong for you to sell it, it is wrong for me to distil it." Forthwith they abandoned the manufacture and sale of it.

The temperance cause now began to be agitated in New Town. In 1836, Wm. Townsend opened the first store for the sale of goods, without spirituous liquors, in new Town. After awhile the old Washingtonian club of reformed drunkards, which was organized in the City of Baltimore, began to create a stir in favor of temperance. Some of their number came down here and lectured. Thus the temperance cause progressed until the organization of the Sons of Temperance, in 1847.

The Sons of Temperance, 166 History of Pocomoke City,

was also a beneficial society, it prospered for a while and seemed to be well adapted to the circumstances of the times. During its palmy days, the society built a fine temperance hall, which at present is owned by C. C. Lloyd, Esq., and has been occupied by him, as a drug store, for several years past. The upper story was in one entire room, and was occupied by the society. The lower room was fitted for store purposes, and was first occupied by Irving Merrill, Esq., who sold goods on strictly temperance principles.

The society had placed in the gable end of the building a marble slab, with the following carved upon it : " New Town Division, Number 43, Sons of Tem- perance, instituted March 29th, 1847 ; ' which still exists as a monument of the prosperity of the temperance cause at that day. This society existed, however, but a few years, when it was dissolved and the beautiful temple was sold, and went into other hands.

In 1870, another temperance society was organized in New Town, with the name of Good Templars. This society was also of short duration, it existed about two years, when it also became extinct. From 1872 to 1881, there has been no regular temperance society in New Town, now Pocomoke City. During 1881, a society was organized in the place, in support of Local Option Reform, and the friends of temperance are mustering their forces for victory. But while temperance societies have been organized and dissolved, it only shows that the war. for the extirpation of spirituous liquors, in

Formerly New Town. 167 Pocomoke City,

has been going on without any compromise. The churches also have kept up the war cry and are pressing hard upon this demon of destruction, and they are forcing him, by the power of the Gospel, to surrender.

If the question should be asked by a stranger, what are the signs of complete victory for the cause of temperance in Pocomoke City ? This question will be answered in the following way : whereas, in 1836, every store in New Town sold spirituous liquors, now in 1882, there are thirty-two business houses in Pocomoke City, and not one of them sells it except the apothecaries who sell it as a medicine. So thorough has been the revolution in society, upon the subject of temperance, that I might venture the prediction that there is no one who could, now, succeed in merchandising, in Pocomoke City, who would also sell liquor.

It is true that there are two places in Pocomoke City where spirituous liquors are sold as a beverage, one is a saloon the other is the hotel bar, but the friends of temperance, I am apprehensive, will not cease their efforts until these places will be so restricted by legislation that it will not pay to sell it.

168 History of Pocomoke City, 


The schools are a very important factor in making up the history of New Town, now Pocomoke City, and I have no doubt a description of the school in its early history, together with the school-house, will be quite interesting. The school-house was sixteen square : it had two doors and two windows, and there was a writing desk which reached nearly across the room, and benches without backs for the scholars to sit upon. This school-house stood on a piece of ground facing on Second and Cedar Streets, about twenty feet on Second Street and running down Cedar Street about seventy-five feet to the junction of Captain John H. Clarke's and Captain Jas. H. Young's lines. This piece of ground belongs to the heirs of Wm J. Long, deceased. It formerly belonged to David Long, the falher of William J. Long, and he charged twenty-five cents rent for it, which was done simply to hold possession of it. The old school-house stood on this piece of ground and was occupied for school purposes until 1837 or 1838, when it was sold and went into other hands.

If the youthful reader is anxious to see the old school-house in which their parents and grand-parents were educated, they

Formerly New Town. 169

will find it occupied as a kitchen at the corner of Commerce and Walnut Streets, the property being owned by Thomas S. Stevenson, Esq. The only teachers of whom I have any information or knowledge in the early history of New Town were : George Furnis, a Mr. McFadden, Levi Bishop, Samuel Carey, Michael Murray, Dr. John B. H. W. Clarvoe and James Stevenson. These were all good teachers of the branches of education which they taught.

The different branches taught were letters, spelling, reading, writing, and arithmetic. When a scholar could cipher through Pike's Arithmetic, understanding]}-, he was considered a finished scholar in that school. Steel pens were not then invented and writing was done with pens made out of goose quills. It was one part of the teacher's duties to make pens for the scholars, and when scholars had learned sufficiently to make a pen out of a goose quill, they were advancing finely. Although the teachers of this school taught but few of the branches of common English comparatively, yet so thorough was the training that there are but few now, if any, who would surpass the scholars of that school in these branches. The boys in that school would sometimes have a little fun, sometimes with the teacher and sometimes with each other. For instance : the scholars had to get lessons in the definitions in the spelling book, this they called grammar. Some who had to get those lessons and recite them to the teacher had been out too long, at play, they would resort .to the older scholars to put them through in a hurry,

170 History of Pocomoke City,

"Well!" says the advisor:' when you go up to say your lesson commencing with ball a round substance, yon- say b-a-l-l, cattle or horses." In these lessons the scholar was required to spell the word and define it. The time for recitation came. "Well!'' says the teacher, "commence ! ' scholar: b-a-double-l ball." Teacher. Well!' what does that signify ? ' Scholar : "cattle or horses." Teacher. "Cattle or horses!,!' Scholar. "Yes sir. Cattle or horses ! ' The teacher having his black gum switch by his side commenced giving it to him che-wi-o r che-wi-o, until he had given him a good sound thrashing and then sent him to his seat to get his lesson better.

In 1835, Gecrge S. Redden, Esq., commenced teaching school here. He taught, in addition to the other branches which had been taught, English grammar and geography. With him dates the beginning or introduction of these branches of education in the school in New Town, and with him begins, also, the day of progress in the pursuit of scholarly attainments. Mr. Redden taught school in New Town at two different periods, but how long I cannot say. He was born in New Town, in 1803, after going to school until he was old enough to go to a trade, he was then apprenticed to Jacob Rogers, in the City of Baltimore, to learn the hatting business. While he was an apprentice he went to a night school, taught by Mr. Kirkham, author of Kirkham's grammar. After his majority, he commenced the hatting business in New Town. How long he continued I have no definite knowledge, but probably not more than two years, after which he returned to Baltimore and continued there until 1835, when he returned again to New Town, and commenced as before stated, to teach school.

Formerly New Town. 171

After he gave up the school in this place, he taught in the schools on the Western Shore of Maryland and in the Academy in Snow Hill, during which time he read law, graduated and practiced at the Snow Hill Bar. Mr. Redden was one of the most intellectual young men of his day, that was raised in New Town. He died in the City of Baltimore about the year 1868, aged sixty-five years. Dr. John L. Hearn succeeded Mr. Redden. As I have given a history of Dr. Hearn under another heading, I will here pass him by. In 1838, the old Academy was built and Dr. William Marsters was employed to take charge of the school. He remained, however, but a short time, and afterwards settled near Ouantico, in Somerset County, now Wicomico County, and graduated in medicine and practiced till he died, which event occurred but recently. A Mr. Schooler succeeded Dr. Marsters and taught in the Academy until, probably, 1842, when he resigned the position and went away. Of his antecedents I have no data upon which to write his history. Nehemiah Holland succeeded Mr. Schooler, and taught school two or three years. He finally resigned the position on account of feeble health, and went South. He settled in Texas, where he read law, graduated and practiced his profession until his death, which event occurred but recently.

172 History of Pocomoke City*

Mr. Holland was a native of Worcester County, Md., and a brother of Mrs. L.Jane Dennis, widow of the late John U. Dennis, of this county. He was a graduate of Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Mr. Holland was a christian gentleman in the highest sense of that term. I have already stated that George S. Redden taught two terms in New Town, his second term followed Mr. Holland, then followed in succession : Mr. McGarry, George W. Curtis, C. C. Holtzman, Edward W. Stevenson, J. Allen Graves, Dr. Joseph L. Mills anel Rev. Joseph L. Polk. During Mr. Polk's charge of the Academy, the High School Building was erected, which was in 1867. The Academy was occupied for school purposes twenty-nine years, when it was sold and went into other hands. It is at present owned by Ralph Ross, Esq., and is occupied as a carpenter shop, on Commerce Street. Messrs. McGarrey, Curtis anel Holtzman were strangers of whose antecedents I have no knowledge, and consequently can only say of Mr. McGarrey and Mr. Holtzman that they were good teachers ; but of Mr. Curtis I have this to say : that it was conceded, by the citizens of New Town, that he was the best teacher that had taught school in New Town up to his day. He did not, however, continue long in New Town. He finally removed to Harford County, Maryland, where he established a school of high grade, preparatory for college, and is principal of the same to the present day.

Formerly New Town. 173

Edward W. Stevenson succeedeel Mr. VIZ Holtzman and taught school in the Academy for nine years. Mr. Stevenson is a native of New Town. He received his education partly in New Town and partly in the Snow Hill Academy. After he resigned his position as teacher in the New Town Academy, he moved to Philadelphia where he engaged in mercantile pursuits. After being there for sometime, he removed to Marietta, Ohio, where he still resides and is still engaged in mercantile business. Mr. Stevenson is a man of high moral character, and is living to bless the present generation with a fine family of prosperous children, who will no doubt make their mark in due time.

J. Allen Graves succeeded Mr. Stevenson in the principalship of New Town Academy. How long he occupied the position I cannot say, and of whose history I have no information, consequently I can only say that lie was an acceptable teacher.

Dr. Joseph L. Mills succeeded Mr. Graves in the Academy. He was born in New Town, Md. in 1840. 1 he was left at an early day without father or mother, but was tenderly and carefully raised by his grandmother. He had all the advantages of education in the New Town Academy, until he was old enough to go to a trade. His grandmother then placed him under the care of James T. Dickinson of this place to learn the cabinet and undertaking business. Some time after his majority he was united in marriage to Miss Marietta Dickinson, daughter of James T. Dickinson. At an early day Mr. Mills connected himself with the Methodist Protestant Church, and it was not long before the Church discovered that he had talents lying dormant that ought to be called into exercise, and soon he was licensed to preach, and afterwards was received in the Maryland Annual Conference of the Methodist Protestant Church as a traveling preacher.

174 History of Pocomoke City,

He had not traveled long, however, before his health failed and he was induced to retire from the active work for awhile. It was during this retirement that we have him before us as principal of the New Town Academy. He had for his assistants, his wife Mrs. Marietta Mills and Miss Mary M. Hearn. It was under his tutelage that the school seemed to spring into new life, and some of the scholars learned as thev never had before. He did not, however, teach more than, probably, two years, when his health was sufficiently restored to enter again the active work of the ministry. Dr. Mills is quite a popular preacher in his denomination; he has filled several prominent appointments in that church, and he had, several years ago for distinguished abilities, the Doctor of Divinity confered upon him. Dr. Mills is yet, but in the prime of his life and reflects great credit upon his birth place. There were two other schools in New Town beside the Academy, one was the Parish School, which was under the supervision and control of the Rector of the Protestant Episcopal Church. It was organized in 1847. This school was taught severally by the following ladies, Mrs. Lore, the Misses Magruder, Mary O'Dell, Mary Canon, Jennie Adams, Mary Crosdale and Clementine Meziek. All •competent and faithful teachers.

Formerly New Town. 175

The other school was organized in 1855. It was gotten up in view of the Academy being over crowded with scholars, and it was also thought to be more suitable for girls and smaller boys. This school was taught severally by the following persons, Mrs. Rev. William Merrill, Mrs. Leach J. Stewart, the Misses Emma Huston, Cynthia Primrose, Serena Hall, Rose Humphries, Mary E. Truitt, Millie Stevenson, Nettie Clayville and Rev. William Wilkinson. These were all well qualified as teachers, some of them being graduates of Seminaries.

176 History of Pocomoke City,


I In 1865, The General Assembly of Maryland passed a general free school bill for the state, and in 1867, the High School Building, in New Town, was erected. Its dimensions were fifty-six, by forty feet. It is two stories high, with two vestibules fourteen by twenty feet, containing in all six school rooms and two vestibules. Four of these rooms are twenty eight by forty feet, and two of them are fourteen by twenty feet, and will furnish sittings for, probably, three hundred scholars. This High School Building has been pronounced, by the Superintendent of the Public Schools of Maryland to be the finest building of the kind on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. It stands on a plat of ground on about three acres, in an eligible part of the town. It is well laid out with trees of different kinds, and is enclosed with a plank fence, with a good hedge coming on. The tree public High School of New Town was opened in 1867, with Rev. Joseph L. Polk as principal. His successors in that office were, William X. Page, R. K.W 'imbroughand Dr. Sidney W. Handy who is the present principal. They have had the following named persons associated with them as assistant teachers, Nettie O'Daniel. Mary M. Hearn, Charles H. Council, Millie Primrose, John W. Murray, George S. Bell, Eudora E. Hay, Ebenezer Hearn, Julius T. Hall, Richard A. Wilson Fannie Matthews, Maggie Webb, Rose Tull, Hillary T. Stevenson, John S. McMaster, William S. Dix, Emma Robinson, Ella Scott, Rose Marshall and Sally Henderson.

Formerly New Town. 177

The school is graded into primary, grammar and High School departments, and is at present taught by the principal and five assistant teachers, who are infusing a spirit into their scholars, to excel. There have already gone out, from this school, young men well qualified for any position to which any of the various callings of life might invite them. Some are ministers, some physicians, some lawyers and some teachers. While there are others filling the most important places of trust and responsibility in business life. Many of the young ladies, who have graduated at this school, are teaching various schools in this and the adjoining county. I shall close the subject of the High School and the grand work it is performing, by giving a brief sketch of the principal and teachers, or make such remarks in regard to them as I may be able.

178 History of Pocomoke City,

The Rev. Joseph L. Polk, was born near Princess Anne, in Somerset County, Md and was educated in the academy of that place, and at Jefferson College, Penn. After graduating at the latter place with honor, the degree of A. M. was confered upon him. He then commenced teaching school in Dorchester County, Md; but feeling that he was called to preach the gospel, he entered the theological seminary at Princeton, X. J., where he remained for two years, when he received a unanimous call to become the Pastor of the Pitts Creek, Presbyterian Church at New Town, Md. To this work he gave his earnest and ardent efforts, and was very successful. When the New Town High School was established in its new and handsome buildings. Mr. Polk desirous of seeing the cause of education placed upon a higher and more advanced plane, was induced to apply for the position of principal, to which he was appointed by the County Board of School Commissioners. For this position he was peculiarly fitted, having a deep interest in the young, and being a natural educator and fond of the work, and withal a man of large public spirit, he entered upon this work with energy and zeal. Being aided by a competent corps of teachers, this school was at once placed in the front rank and was soon recognized as the best organized and most successful school on the Eastern Shore.

Parents from the adjoining counties and some from a distance recognized the character of the school, and wishing to have their children under its instruction, availed themselves of this opportunity, and the school increased in numbers until over three hundred pupils names were on the school registers.

Formerly New Town. 179
Then it became necessary to enlarge the corps of teachers and two or three more assistants were added. To Rev. Joseph L. Polk the citizens of Pocomoke City and vicinity owe more perhaps than they are aware of, for while the work of education went gradually on without ostentation or display on his part, it is a fact that whatever success has attained by and through this institution, it is due largely to his ability and to his wise and judicious management in the organization and conduct of the school.

As a minister he was popular and greatly beloved by his church. After serving them faithfully for seventeen years he was urged to take charge of the Academy at Newark, Del., and he felt constrained by a sense of duty to his growing family to resign his charge and accept tinproffered position.

180 History of Pocomotce City, Md.
Mr. Wm, N. Page succeeded Mr. Polk as principal of the High School. He, however, only remained one year in that position. He was a native of Virginia; he had a fine education and was a high-toned Christian gentleman. After resigning the position he returned to Virginia again.

In 1872, Mr. Richard Iv. Wimbrough succeeded Mr. Page in the principalship of the High School and held that position for three years. Richard Kelly Wimbrough, the son of a respectable farmer, was born in Accomac County, Va-, in the year 1843. At an early age he lost both of his parents and came under the guardian care of Mr. Nehemiah W. Nock, a farmer and merchant of Mappsville in Accomac County. This gentleman took young Mr. Wimbrough to live with him, treated him with great kindness and sent him to school whenever there happened to be any school open near enough for him to attend. At ten years of age he had him apprenticed in Snow Hill, to learn the trade of a tailor. Nothing was observed at this time either in the young apprentice's conduct or disposition that indicated for himself a career different from that of other boys of his class and circumstances ■ in other words, it was supposed he would make a tailor simply. But shortly after he acquired a great fondness for reading and developed an earnest disposition to study. From the Academy boys who used to frequent "the shop" and often prepare their lessons there, he obtained books, the boys becoming his teachers. But no time was given him for study ; his method was this :

While working on the board he would keep his book propped open at his side, at whose jeweled page glancing from time to time he would glean from it the substance his young ambition so much craved. All spare moments, too, were given to .study. In winter he would sit up long after " working hours" and often with no other light than that furnished by the door of the store, he would pore over page after page of spelling, English grammar, arithmetic, geography or history, regardless of the lateness of the hour or the labors of the ensuing day. In this way these studies were successfully pursued and that foundation laid upon which was based afterwards, effected by the same unremitting toil and diligence, a fine classical education. In the meantime occured an event which would have been of the greatest benefit to Mr. Wimbrough if his influence toward securing it had been equal to the measure of his deserving it.

Formerly New Town. 181

A free Scholarship became vacant in Washington College, a state institution situated at Chester- town. It was to be filled by a competitive examination of the candidates. Many of young Wimbrough's friends being desirous that he should become a candidate and promising aid to secure his release from his indentures if he should be successful, he applied for the position.

The contestants came from the several academics of the county, fresh from their books and their teacher's instructions ; young Wimbrough came from "the shop." But by some ill luck, although it was known that the result of his examination was not inferior, he did not receive the appointment- It was a sad blow to his hopes, but did not check his ardent eagerness for learning- He went back to "the shop" and his books, to try again. Another opportunity might occur, he would be prepared the next time. But no such ever occured : his college goal had to be reached by means wholly of his own making.

These efforts, directed in the way I have described, could not fail to attract notice and win friends. His intimate associates were the more advanced students among the academy boys, who now one, now an other had been mainly, his teachers. The older men, too, often spoke kind and encouraging words. But his most valuable friend was found in Mr. Sewell T. Milbourn, a young man ot superior talents and of high social position, who had recently returned to Snow Hill, from Dickinson College' where he had graduated with distinction.

182 History of Pocomoke City,

This young man became his friend and teacher, inspiring him by his  own learning and giving time and personal care to his instructions. The influence of this connection was of the greatest service to young Wimbrough,'as it enabled him to pursue those higher branches, —

Latin and Greek, algebra, geometry and higher English, which he was soon to turn to a practical use. In 1859. his health broke down so that he was unable either to work or study. A plan was therefore arranged by which he might purchase the remaining years of his apprenticeship. With some means he had in his guardian's hands this was done ; after which he was free to pursue his studies exclusively. But for a long time he remained delicate and was unable to make much progress. In 1861, Mr. Milbourn removed to Cambridge, Dorchester County to practice law. Thither, the next year, Mr. Wimbrough, now a young man of nineteen, Followed, and engaged in the teaching of a private school, in which he was so successful that after a year and a half he was elected principal of the Cambridge Academy, in this he was equally successful, but resigned after two years to take charge of a goverment office connected with the Internal Revenue; engaging at the same time in conducting a newspaper, the Cambridge Harald, of which he was both proprietor and editor. In 1867, having disposed of his paper, he went to Dickinson College, where he entered the Junior class thereby graduating in two years. As an evidence of how well he had studied in former years, besides the fact that he was able to pass over the first two years of the college course, he was noted in College for his accurate knowledge of the English language and unusual proficiency for a student, in Latin; on account of which he was allowed optional attendance in that department during the whole of the junior year. He was graduated a Bachelor of Arts in 1869, and took the Master's degree three years after.

Formerly New Town. 183
Since graduating, Mr. Wimbrough has engaged mosly in teaching. He was elected principal of the New Town High School in 1872, continuing in the same till 1875, a period of three years. Afterwards he was principal of the Snow Hill High School for four years. As an instructor Mr. Wimbrough is thorough, earnest and capable. From his life gleams this great truth : "Honor and fame from no condition rise : act well your part ; there all the honor lies." Rev. Joseph L. Polk succeeded Mr. Wimbrough in the High School and continued in the position until 1877,. when he resigned, and was succeeded by Dr. Sidney W. Handy. Dr. Handy was appointed principal of the High School in Pocomoke City in the fall of 1877 and has continued in that position to the present. Dr. Sidney W. Handy was born in Somerset County, Md., on the 4th day of October, 1845. He was educated partly in his native county and at the Columbian College in Washington, D. C, at which latter place he went through a four years college course and graduated in 1868.

184 History of Pocomoke City,

He attended the first course of lectures in medicine at the University of Virginia in 1869  and 1870, and the second at the Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia. Perm., graduating in 1872. Dr. Handy, although a graduate in medicine, has never practiced his profession, choosing rather the position of an educator as being more in accordance with his intellectual taste. In his wise and judicious management of the High School he is meeting the highest expectations of the Trustees and Board of Education whp have placed him there, and is at once a scholar and a Christian gentleman.

Next; Formerly New Town. 185 CHAPTER XXIX. SCHOOLS (CONTINUED.)

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