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Quantico, Maryland

This article was originally part of a paper presented on 11 Jan 1938, by Mrs. Elizabeth Phillips Myers, to the Samuel Chase Chapter of the DAR. The article appeared in Vol. 9 No. 1 of the Lower Delmarva Genealogical Society's newsletter, "More From The Shore" in the Spring of 1990.




There is not a section of old Somerset County that has more historical lore to be preserved than the ancient town of Quantico which immediately calls to mind the age when there were no white inhabitants on the western continent. Tradition says Quantico was an old Indian village long before the first settlers came to these shores. The Nanticoke Indians called it "The Dancing Place" and a dancing place it remained for many generations. In the year 1670, Augustine HERMAN, famous as the first naturalized citizen of Maryland, drew a map of the peninsula upon which Quantico Creek is designated by name. Definite records prove that the town dates to the first part of the 18th century. the town is considerably older than either Baltimore or Salisbury.

The stage coach line, running from Princess Anne to Cambridge by way of White Haven, Mardela and Vienna, had Quantico as a stopping place on its route. the old tavern, a cherished landmark which burned down several years ago, was the resting place for drivers and occupants. Here the horses were changed.

Quantico is noted as the town where Methodism had its earliest beginnings. In the summer of 1778, Mr. and Mrs. William RIDER visited Broad Creek and heard the Rev. Freeborn GARRETTSON preach. They were so impressed that they invited him to preach on their farm, "Midfield", and hold religious meetings there. Later this farm was called "Calm Retreat", and is situated on the Quantico Creek. Until recent years and old log meeting house stood near the landing. Here preached such notable ministers and Frances ASBURY and Whitefield. The latter was sent to this country by John Wesley and made 13 voyages across the Atlantic to serve his American followers. Later he repudiated the teachings of Wesley and became a Calvinist. In Bishop Asbury's Journal, he mentions his visit to Quantico, November 5, 1778.

On November 20-31, 1784, the first church was dedicated by Bishop Thomas COKE just 1 mile south from the present site. This church was burned and another built on the same location in 1820. This building was taken down and moved to its present site in 1847, and dedicated March 26, 1848. This church was rebuilt in 1873, removing the side galleries. the bell was cast in Baltimore in 1847, and the Bible was presented by the Sons of Temperance, a church organization, in 1848. This bell has tolled for every President of the United States that has died in office since Abraham Lincoln.

During the Civil War, southern sympathizers put up the rebel flag in Quantico. Lincoln sent a detachment of soldiers to take down the flag and to punish the rebels. The Federal Officers and soldiers used the church building and grounds as their quarters. A rebel inhabitant escaped them and fled to the South by hiding under the bridge over which the officers passed. The colored church near Quantico was burned at this time, and the inhabitants of Quantico were assessed. Dr. Albert SLEMONS was assessed $30.

There are several famous landmarks which are still standing. Lying on the north side of Quantico Creek is the old WATERS home built in 1773. Perhaps no house still standing better exemplifies the plantation house of this period, built with bright gable ends and frame sides. The main doors of the dwelling are panelled on the outside, but have diagonal patterns on the interior. Here dwelt in regal splendor the Waters family, descendants of Lieutenant Edward Waters of Somerset House, London, whose son, William, immigrated to the colony of Virginia where he was "High Sheriff and Burgess". In 1663 Major William patented 1200 acres of land in Maryland called "Water's River". The patent was given him prior to the erection of Somerset County, and ever since that time, the Waters family have executed powerful influence here. John Waters III was the builder of the Waters home on the Quantico Creek and in the graveyard is to be seen the marble slab of his daughter's tomb with the following inscription:

Here rests with her virtuous parents
Mr. John and Mrs. Elizabeth Waters
Mrs. Sarah Dennis, wife of Dr. Robert Dennis
Born 10 July 1757
Married March 1, 1786
Died 6 October, 1820

Just below this house is the well-known Nutter's Neck section, where once dwelt the KINGs, NUTTERs, PIPERs, JACSONs and HARDYs. An old deed, dated qpril 16, 1736, reads that "Matthew Nutter of Quantico Creek bought of John Huett Nutter for a certain amount of tobacco, certain land known as 'Shile's Choice' and 'Dorman's Delight' situated on the east side of the Chesapeake Bay, south side of the Nanticoke River between Creeks of Quantico and Manumco in a neck called Nutter's Neck". This John Huett Nutter was the eldest son of Ann LECKIE, who was Ann Heuett (sometimes spelled Huett) and afterwards Ann Nutter. She was the daughter of the Rev. John Heuett, the first Episcopal minister in "Old Somerset". Her granddaughter Anne married Robert Hardy, and they heired part of the land called "Riceland", "Jones Hole" and "Sunken Grounds", which once had been the property of the Rev. Heuett. This land lies north of the Wicomico River, just opposite to the mouth of the Wicomico Creek.

The "Ker House" was one of the first homes in Quantico belonging to the distinguished minister and physician, Dr. Samuel J. KER. the home was built by a Dr. AUSTIN, which was later sold to Dr. Ker. The house today is in good repair and represents a period long past.

Another very prominent family of this section was the Gale family which descend from Colonel George GALE and his wife, Betty DENWOOD. Prior to his coming to Maryland, Col. George Gale had married Mildred WARNER of Washington, widow of Colonel Lawrence WASHINGTON and Grandmother of General George Washington. Henry Gale of Levin was the founder of the Gale line of this section. He was Captain of the Quantico Company in the Revolutionary War and left many descendants. Dr. George Gale lived on the main road leading to Rewastico before his going to Baltimore.

Many prominent names are associated with Quantico. The famous American actor, Joseph Jefferson married a Miss DASHIELL from Quantico. His wife's sister, Mrs. Mary Dashiell AUSTIN, is buried in the church yard. The first democratic governor of Pennsylvania, Governor PATTISON, was born in Quantico. The house where he was born is still standing, belonging to the OVERTON family. His father, Reverend Robert Pattison, was pastor of the Quantico Methodist Church from 1850-1851. Isaac D. JONES, State Comptroller; Thomas F.J. RIDER, Wicomico's first Clerk of Court; William HARVARD, Wicomico's first sheriff and Andrew J. CRAWFORD, State Senator were from reputable families of and near Quantico. It is interesting to note that seven doctors lived in Quantico at one time -- Dr. Samuel J. KER, Dr. Harlan KER, Dr. Albert SLEMONS, Dr. Edwin RIDER, Dr. Harrison DASHIELL, Dr. John Wesley TAYLOR and his son, Dr. Zachariah TAYLOR.

Quantico can boast of having one of the earliest Maryland post offices. The post office was established Jan. 1, 1808, during the administration of Thomas Jefferson. Levin FARRINGTON was the first postmaster, and a list of postmasters during all the presidential administrations is still preserved.

There is one special event for which Quantico alone was noted. That was the turtle dinner held every year in June at the old hotel. At this meeting there was an open bar and plenty of good things to eat, including turtle pie. Here the politicians met and prepared the Democratic slate for the coming campaign.

Slavery was firmly rooted in this section. One great result of the unceasing toil and labor of slaves is still to be seen. It is a veritable young canal, 8' deep, 10' wide at the bottom, and 3 miles long. It required 7 slaves at continual labor for 7 years to complete the work. The purpose of the ditch was to carry the water from the dam of a gristmill farther down to the dam of a saw mill where water was less plentiful. There are still traces of the old water mill with its partially decayed mill wheel.

Wicomico County was sued in 1859 by Jesse WALTER of Quantico for damages to this mill dam. (Ed. note: Note that Wicomico County was not created until 1867) When the flood gates were opened to allow the overflow from the pond to escape, the stream caused a rugurgitation which undermined the dirt road bed which endangered the dam and the road. The trial was taken to Snow Hill, and Mr. Walter was assisted by the legal warrior, John H. HANDY. The trial caused much discussion among the new Wicomico Countians. The only expert testimony was given by Reverend FULTON, an Episcopal clergyman, from Snow Hill.

Some of the earliest factories on the Eastern Shore were found at Quantico. A tanning factory was built and operated there. Large holes marke the ground and are still pointed out where the huge vats were sunk below the surface. The first canning factory on the Shore was built here, and the first tomatoes were canned. There is a house here which is known as "The World's Goosemarket". Here hundreds of geese were driven in the fall from the country and auctioned at good prices. At one time, the world's largest single center of output of geese was here.

Many changes have taken place since Quantico was the social center, but the little village remains firmly rooted with the glory of 200 years as its birthright.


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