JAMES TILGHMAN
Submitted by Donna Sneeringer
 

James Tilghman, a prominent and extensively known citizen of this county, died at the residence of his son-in-law, Beddenfield Spencer, at an early hour last Tuesday morning of general debility, he having been complaining for a year past and confined to the house and bed for the last several months.

James Tilghman was the oldest son of the late Col. John Tilghman, and was born at "Melfield," his grandfather’s homestead, June 19th 1820, and would have reached his seventy-six year had he surivived until the 19th of June next. He was a descendant of one of the most prominent and noted families of Maryland and of the fifth generation, every one of which have furnished distinguished men and women, who figure in colonial, national and state history. From 1845 to 1860, the palmy days of Eastern Shore agricultural and social life, there was not a resident of this, or adjoining counties, better and more favorably known in business and social life than James Tilghman of John, as he was then designated. Possessed of considerable means and the recipient of a good English and classical education, he dispensed a liberal and cultured hospitality to hosts of friends in this and Talbot county. Added to his means and liberal education he was a very agreeable and companionable man, his ready wit, politeness and courage always at his command. It was during these years that he acquired the soubriquet of "Headlong." This name was given him for what was generally considered recklessness. Much more in those days than now, in this section, cross country fox-chasing was very much in vogue, and much less in those days than now in the same section of country, where rivers and creeks were as numerous as public roads, did bridges abound. A journey, in those days, of ten or fifteen miles was often necessary to reach your home, when you were only a mile away on the opposite side of the river. This was the case of the subject of this sketch, a cold bleak December day, on one occasion. He had been following the hounds from early morn until about set of sun, when the fox was killed on the opposite side of Corsica river, within sight and less than a mile from his house. The smoke was curling gracefully and invitingly from the many chimneys of his hospitable residence. He said to his companions of the chase, "Boys there is my home only a mile across and ten miles around. Two hours afterwards many of his fox hunting friends arrived at his residence to find him safe and joyous as ever and a plenty of good cheer to welcome them. From that day to the day of his death he was known as "Headlong Jim" Tilghman and his residence as "Headlong Hall". This was, it is believed, some time in the forties. The deceased kept up the sport of fox chasing until about two years before his death. Another incident in his life was the recapture of a small sloop in Corsica river. The boat had been loaded by Southern sympathizers with medicines and goods for the Confederacy, and was lying in one of the Kent Island creeks ready for her trip but waiting for some persons who wanted to go with her. She was there discovered and captured by the local guard and brought to Centreville Landing. This was in 1862- during the civil war. Many ways and means were devised and suggested to recapture the boat and guard in charge of her without a fight. It was proposed by "Headlong" to become friendly and social and, in the mean time, become acquainted with their habits &c. This program was strictly carried out until the domestic habits of the crew were known and their suspicions disarmed.

When all on board were asleep, the deceased and a few friends rowed noisely to the sloop, quietly boarded it, fastened the cabin door and placed a plank over the stove pipe. The remedy was effectual, the cabin was filled with smoke, the crew believing the little craft had been fired, and almost suffocated with smoke, quietly surrendered without a struggle and without bloodshed. For this offence "Headlong" was arrested and sent South by the federal authorities. He joined Gen. Ewell’s corps under the immediate command of Gen. Bradley T. Johnson. He was subsequently captured and lodged in Fort McHenry, from which he was released to the close of hostilities.

The deceased was among the first in the county to engage in fruit culture and his eight or ten thousand trees come into bearing just as the was broke out and he was sent South. Mrs. Tilghman and her daughter, Mrs. Spencer, took charge of the farm during the husband’s and father’s sojourn South, and when he returned, after an absence of four years, he found all his debts canceled and several thousands of dollars on the credit side of the bank account.

James Tilghmen was educated at the Centreville Academy, Dr. Spencer’s Academy, of Talbot county and Van Rensellaer Institute, Troy, N. Y., from which he was graduated in 1840. For the first year or two after his return home, his father, Col. John Tilghman, who was then Clerk of the Court, took him in the office as one of the deputies. The records disclose to-day some of his handiwork in plotting surveys and penmanship in recording. James Tilghman married his cousin, Harriet Tilghman, daughter of Peregrine Tilghman, who survives him. Three children also survives, Mrs. Beddenfield Spencer, John and George Tilghman.

Funeral services were held last Thursday at noon, at St. Paul’s P. E. church, Rev. A. Batte officiating, Rev. James A. Mitchell being confined to the house by sickness. Interment at "Melfield." The bearers were Henry Paca, W. H. Wilmer, Richard Hollyday, Daniel Friel, J. R. H. Embert and E. B Emory.
 

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