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Letter from Martin W. Landon

This is a transcription of a letter from Martin W. Landon to his brother Archie B. Landon. They were the sons of Thomas Wesley Landon and Elsie Jane Blake Landon - who lived in Landonville, Somerset Co. It details some family tree info on the Blake, Landon and few other branches. Many thanks to Kelly Wessell for sending this in!




March 31, 19__?

This continues that part of letter written on the 27th. I may as well start over.

Dear Archie:

We have about ten days of rain with occasional light snow; the air damp and heavy and the ground soggy, particularly in my garden it seems because there is no grass nor weeds to hide the moisture. I couldn't write yesterday as I worked every minute from 8:20 to 3:30 except for a half-hour off for a quick lunch. This making for Oliver an analysis of several radio stations and the coverage to be anticipated and expense of using versus sales at the present level.

And today at noon I have told a newspaper representative that I would meet him for lunch at the Statler and now I wish that I hadn't made the appointment because I should stay here and being tabulation of the radio bills for February. But the man has been a good friend of mine for many years and it has become traditional for us to have lunch together whenever he is in Buffalo, which is only about once per year.

I started to give you such information as I possess about our forbears and would have done so yesterday if I had had the opportunity. I know very little and most of it is a matter if memory which may be inaccurate but part of it is history and reliable.

Father was born October 31, 1843, son of Samuel and Jane Ford. Samuel's father was Richard (known as "Dickie" Landon). He lived and died before my time and I am of the opinion that Samuel died about the time when I was born, maybe a little before my time and I am of the opinion that Samuel was quite well off for those days, owned considerable acreage and built many large boats, the "pungies" of those days and seagoing schooners. Much of the timbers and spars were hewn from large trees which then abounded in Potato Neck and were part of his own property. He had slaves, but how many I am unaware. I knew but one of them, "Aunt Laura Paten", who continued as grandfather's servant until he died and then served father the remainder of her life, dying when I was probably eight or ten years of age. I am quite sure that he had other slaves when Lincoln issued the Proclamation of Emancipation before the end of the Civil War. Politically, he was an Abolitionist (supporter of Lincoln and Republican of that era) and I recall having been told that his former slaves relied upon him for subsistence and depleted whatever wealth he then possessed.

Father inherited substantial values and his father must have been well off because he left to father and Aunt Jennie a lot of money and property. But father lost all of his just about the time I was born; was robbed by a clerk in his store and became a bankrupt after he recovered from a year of illness, then known as walking typhoid. Uncle Frank purchased his store building and prospered during that time of my young days when father was desperately poor.

Returning to grandfather, Samuel, I have always thought he was born and raised in Potato Neck and as far as I know, so was his father, Richard. It is my opinion that Samuel was born close to the year 1800 and died before I was born, perhaps close to 1875.

Samuel's wife was Jane Landon and she I remember well. She was born before the end of the 18th century and was in her 90's when she passed away. Her maiden name as Jane Ford and I think she, too, was a native of Potato Neck. I have reason to think that Potato Neck then included all of the peninsula (neck) between Manokin and Annamessey Rivers, over an area which extended from the present Westover to what is now Rumbley. The Upper Fairmount of today was then located in the center of Potato Neck and Drum Point, Hazards, and the Ridge were populated to the river shore and had many fine farms where now is desolation.

Grandmother Jane regaled my young mind with tales of her girlhood days (about 1812-?2??) or earlier when her parents lived in a dense forest, nearest neighbor three miles away and a tribe of Indians camped around their home for a few weeks every year. I shall tell you more about her narratives when we converse because relating on paper would take many pages of type.

I think Samuel and Jane sleep in the Landonville graveyard, which he one time owned as part of his farm, as was most of Landonville from the "corner" to Teeds Creek. And in his day the marsh along the road to Teeds Creek was high and fertile farmland - even much of it when I was a boy. It was my early impression that still sticks that Samuel sold the John Travis farm Jim Tull later owned, the Pearson farm, the Noah Thomas farm, and others and later father sold many small properties in order to settle debts which accrued when he was ill. But father still owned a lot of land when I was a small boy.

I know very little about great grandfather Richard but recollect that mother referred to him as "Uncle Dickie" but mother wasn't born until 1848 and it would seem that Richard died before then. I have always thought of his generation as probably from 1775 to 1840 or somewhere near. I think he is buried in the old cemetery which adjoined the old store of Ap Cox' that was burned when I was young. Some of the very old gravestones are still standing and we must make a point of investigating when we are in Fairmount. I do not think his wife was name Nellie, as you surmised. Perhaps you think of "Nellie" because Nellie Rich, mother of George Rich, was a very old woman in your infant days and there may be some mental association. I do not know who immediately proceded Richard. But, incidentally I had an adventure when I was a conductor on a Phila. Street car which helps weave a long story.

I had stopped at a postoffice sub station to send some flowers by special delivery to a girl friend and as I approached the window, at the next a man was standing who was my spitting image, only about ten years older. He had neglected, as required by postal laws, to write his name on a registry package he was mailing and the clerk called it to his attention and offered to do it for him. He apologized for his laxity and stated that his name was Elmer Landon. And as he turned around and saw me, he was astonished at the likeness. I greeted him "Hello Landon" and he replied with the same phrasing. No two twins could have resembled each other more closely except that he was the eldest of the two of us. Well, he was a silk importer and we walked together several blocks and I promised him that would later communicate but never did so, which have since regretted. He had our genealogy down to exactness; informed me that two brothers came from England early in the 17th century, one named Richard and the other name Soloman; that Richard settled in Maryland and Soloman in New England and we were the offspring of the two brothers. He knew the lineage of each and informed me but I have long since forgotten.

The strange part was that after 300 years we were so similar in appearance, although disassociated or close to three centuries. Aside from what he related to me as a history of the family tree I know nothing of it preceding Richard.

Mother was born March 9, 1848 and it adds up that she married father in 1861 or 1862 because she was then between 13 and 14 years of age and father 19. I think she was born in Accomac, Va. And her parents moved to Benedict, Maryland on the Patuxent River, inland from Solomons Island, when she was very young and where she spent her early girlhood days. I think her parents then moved to Fairmount to some location down that long road which led to Drum Point. I know that her two uncles had big farms and imposing houses far down beyond what was known as the "Flatlin" church.

Mother's father was Wesley Blake and I have a vivid recollection of him and saw him die when I was a small boy. Mother's mother was then dead and Wesley had married Mary Dryden, who was a good wife to him. She moved from Landonville to Jamestown after grandfather Wesley died. I have no information about mother's mother; don't even know her name nor where she died and was buried.

Mother was always interested in the family tree and knew the Blake's lineage for centuries past. She was proud that it started with Admiral Blake of England and knew the chronology thru all of the years. She also claimed close kinship with the 10th President of the United States, John Tyler. In fact, there were many Tylers living in or within the vicinity of Fairmount, all related to some degree. It should be noted that Somerset County then included Wicomico and Dorchester and from about 1600 to 1850, it was the essence of Colonial America, most of the landed proprietors being aristocratic English. It was the Protestant section of Maryland and had an active part in what was known as Claiborne's Rebellion, although South of Kent County where the fighting happened. The inhabitants established themselves as remotely as possible from the Lord Baltimore dominion and I know that many of the pioneers came from Jamestown, Va. John Smith having established several colonies on the Eastern Shore according to historical fact.

This has told you practically everything that comes to my memory. I think Elsie could elaborate more full and perhaps she has some of the memo. Left by mother. However, likely it is all lost or destroyed.

At one time, I think perhaps in the 1700's, Revels Neck was the county seat of the then large Somerset County. It was then sparsely inhabited and all around were magnificent country estates and homes. This was changed to Princess Anne as more people settled in that vicinity. It may have been a part, Revel's Neck, of was then Potato Neck. The oldsters certainly did a lot of necking! Didn't they?

Two books of ancient vintage, now out of circulation and probably few copies in existence, made mention of Potato Neck. The title of one volume was Parson of Islands and related a Joshua Thomas, an evangelist on Deals Island who visited all tideland communities. The other was the Entailed Hat, with locale and descriptive of Princess Anne and Somerset County. I could tell you a lot more about the region and events as they were related to me but it would have little association with genealogy.

Your letter of March 29th came yesterday to the house. Inasmuch as you are assembling the story for your grandchildren and my remarks may not fit with your material, I think it would save your time and effort to use mine only as addenda to what your are writing.

Well, Miss April is here. She is right pretty lass but weeps too much when she visits Buffalo. I read in this morning's paper that Denver had nine inches of snow. Buffalo, unlike Boulder, certainly needs none for irrigation purposes. Yet as wet as it is, at about five o'clock yesterday afternoon I planted a row of white radishes - in the mud. I don't know how long it takes peas to sprout but none that I have planted yet done so and likely will refuse. And the turnips I left in the ground are all as dead as an Egyptian mummy. The wet weather has added more irritation to my bronchial difficulty and last night I greased myself as one would a pan of flapjacks. I think it has loosened up a little of the sticky phlem but I don't feel as well as I could wish. However my radio and newspaper bills are in and I shall tackle them with seal (or sumthin') within a few minutes.

I think I shall be all set to go to Maryland toward the end of May and it is a good time except much too early for expectation of catching any fish other than hardheads but for eating purposes we should have no trouble catching some in Crisfield, with the most perfect of all bait. If it suits you, let's tentatively plan that you will be in buffalo on any convenient day during the last half of May and we will try to go to Maryland toward the end of May. I shall not mind this time if my audit of advertising bills may be delayed for a few days in early June. I think that you should be with us for a week or more in Buffalo either before or after we go to Maryland. Myrtus has written that she will be home, in fact, intends to go next week. But the weather would be bad for us in April or early May.

I won the March pool, which gives me a credit of $12.00 on the annual gamble of $56.00 per investor. So with four units gone and one winning I now stand three bucks ahead. And this all I now have time to write. Glen Randall has just been in and propose that we lunch today at Oliver's Restaurant. I said yes.

The man from who I get the Sweepstakes tickets sent $1200 to Dublin. Not one holder of his tickets won anything but a woman in Hamilton near Buffalo, got $140.000...

Brother, /s//MW L_____


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Friday, 14-Mar-2008 18:58:12 EDT