Sunday, October 7, 2012

TIME MACHINE ... 12 Years Alone On An Eastern Shore Island.

(Reader-friendly viewing of newspaper archives material)

November, 1920

(Appleton Post-Crescent- Appleton, Wis.)


CRISFIELD, Md.- Self-banished from society, cut off from mankind, on Watts Island, 15 miles from here, Charles H. Hardenburg spent 12 years of his life.

Hardenburg is truly a modern Robinson Crusoe. Like Crusoe, he had finally found deliverance from his "Island Of Despair" and returned to civilization.

There is a lighthouse and frame building (on Watts Island) built by Hardenburg's ancestors in 1784. His uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. F.H. Doremus, lived thirty years on Watts, and four of his ancestors are buried there.

Hardenburg, Princeton graduate and wealthy attorney of Jersey City, was sick, and his physicians told him that unless he "went back to nature" he would die. Dr. Daniel S. Hardenburg, Charles' brother, and an eminent Jersey physician, was so sure his brother's death was imminent that he bought Watts Island from his aunt and gave it to Charles.

Then came the exile and the long sojourn on the tiny "continent" alone with the seabirds and his dog, with the ceaseless booming of the surf and the eery calls of the seagulls as the only sound to break the silence.

"I hadn't been there long until I knew that life on the island was my only way to health," he said. "I truly believe I would be in my grave today had I not gone to Watts. So when people say that I wasted 12 years of my life, I disagree."

At times fate, too, held Hardenburg its captive. Two years ago the sea to shoreward was frozen over and Hardenburg's supplies grew low. He lived on unleavened bread, the fat of a goose he killed, and coffee. When the ice broke, the people of Onancock, Va., sent relief supplies.

"Rover," his dog, lived seven years. Hardenburg brought a "Tabby Cat" to his island and a year later a fisherman from Tangier brought him a "Tom cat." Now there are "wild cats" all over the island. And they are wild!

Life was pretty much "one thing after another" to Hardenburg. He rose at sunrise, cooked his meal, and cleaned his house. Then he rowed his boats to his fish traps and in the afternoon hunted geese, brant, and swan. There was an inexhaustible supply of shellfish at his door.

In the summer Hardenburg kept a garden and in the winter spent most of his time with books.
Now Hardenburg finds it a little hard to readapt himself to the ways of civilization. He has a clerical job in Tifton, Ga.
Erosion has claimed all of the former Watts Island and the location is now charted as "Watts Island Rocks" and is marked only with a lighted buoy. (Wikipedia)

June, 1974
(The Salisbury Times)


Lt. McGee Given Farewell Dinner

By RICHARD CULVER Of The Times Staff.

OCEAN CITY- In a testimonial dinner, highlighted by humor, a stellar audience, and a moving salute to his family by guest of honor, Edwin D. McGee, the Salisbury barrack "E" commander was given an affectionate farewell by friends and fellow officers this weekend.

He is retiring July 1 after 33 years with the Maryland State Police.

First Lt. McGee, 57, who was born near Pocomoke City, came to the Salisbury barrack after a short hitch as a rookie in the Belair area, at the start of his career in 1941. Remaining here, he became barrack commander in 1969.

At the gala Friday evening dinner-dance, a host of well-wishers took the podium to tell "Big Mac" anecdotes and present him gifts.

April, 1912

(The Daily News- Frederick, Md.)

Roosevelt To Speak At Salisbury

Salisbury, Md. April 30.- The followers of Roosevelt in Wicomico county are jubilant over the news received that Mr. Roosevelt will be here and address a political meeting on May 3.

April, 1916
(The New York Times)


Mr. And Mrs. Wilson Cheered By Throng At Crisfield, Md.

CRISFIELD, Md., April 2.- President and Mrs. Wilson, who are on a cruise down Chesapeake Bay, stopped here today. They arrived at 230 P.M. on the Mayflower, and came ashore on the tender. About 5,000 persons cheered them. Mrs. Wilson received a huge bouquet of sweet peas and violets.

The entire police force of Crisfield acted as an escort.

November, 1890

(Peninsula Enterprise- Accomac)

Reprinted from Pocomoke City Record and Gazette

Mr. E. D. Bates of Pocomoke City, has leased the property in Virginia known as "Red Hills," and intends making of it a first class summer resort.

August, 1895

(Peninsula Enterprise-Accomac)

New Church

There were about 5000 people at the Red Hills, Wednesday, from all parts of the Eastern Shore of Virginia and Maryland.

December, 1973

(Salisbury Times)

RED HILLS. This long-forgotten little resort on Chincoteague Bay sat on a little hill by the bay just below the Maryland line, reached by turning left at Sign Post, Va., on the Stockton Road. Only foundations are left.

Footnote: Red Hills' specific location was at Sinnickson. In the mid 1950's local radio personality Eddie Matherly promoted Sunday afternoon live country music shows there. The location was given as 14 miles south of Pocomoke City..turn off Route 13 at New Church to Horntown and then turn left. Anyone have recollections of Red Hills? I recall a Pocomoke neighbor speaking of going to Red Hills for bathing in the 1950's.-tk  
(Back In Time From Around The World)

September, 1910

(The Lock Haven Express- Lock Haven, Pa.)

A House In the Air.

In 1863 a balloon of 200,000 cubic feet capacity was constructed at Paris. It was named the Giant and was intended to show the possibilities of the air. The car attached consisted of a small two story house, fitted with every modern comfort, lavatories, dining room, bedroom, kitchen, parlor, etc. Thirteen passengers made the first assent but the journey was of only four hours duration.
The last assent was for seventeen hours and was abruptly terminated by a high wind, which when the balloon descended, dragged the little house bumping over the ground. The remains of this giant of the air was for a long time exhibited in the Crystal palace in London. 

Do you have a local memory to share with PPE readers.. such as a big snow storm, a favorite school teacher, a local happening, something of interest your parents or grandparents told you about? It can be just a line or two, or more if you wish. Send to and watch for it on a future TIME MACHINE posting! 


Anonymous said...

Actually, Red Hills was not quite located at Sinnickson. Sinnickson was on the left fork of the road, where the small boat harbor and Sparrow's Oyster Bar were located. Red Hills was reached by taking the right fork and proceeding farther down the road. Sinnickson and Red Hills were close, but still at least one half to one mile apart.

Your friend,

Anonymous said...

I visited the Watts Island lighthouse several times last week. I look forward to my next visit.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure you visited the correct island? Last time I was there I didn't see any lighthouse, just some smelly goats.

Anonymous said...

The story is correct. There was a lighthouse on Watts Island, though it now resides some 200 yards off the island. It was toppled in a strong northeast wind and now lies under 9 feet of water running NE/SW.

Anonymous said...

Are the goats still there?

Anonymous said...

NO goats. Grilled the last one this summer.

Anonymous said...

Eeeeewwww! I can't believe you ate that stinking thing! I bet you had diarrhea for two weeks!