Wicomico County MDGenWeb

Bivalve, Maryland

This is excerpted, with permission, from Bivalve United Methodist Church Centennial Celebration 1886-1986 by Paul Willing. We are grateful to Mr. Willing for allowing the online publication of this entertaining and informative article.


Water's edge at Bivalve about 1907. In the foreground are a group of log canoes tied up to poles. On the beach to the right of the barn is a skiff. Boat owners used them to reach their boats and left the skiffs tied to the mooring pole when the log canoe was in use.

from John E. Jacobs, Jr.'s Salisbury and Wicomico County, A Pictorial History, used by permission.

Bivalve is a quiet little country village on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in Wicomico County. It lies along the eastern banks of the Nanticoke River on Md Rte. 349, between Tyaskin and Nanticoke, about 18 miles west of Salisbury.

There seems to be no recorded documentation as to the original settlement of the village. It lies within an area known in the original land grant of the 17th century as Nanticoke Hundred, Somerset County, in the Province of Maryland. It can be assumed that the village developed as people sought to live near the river for the plentiful seafood it offered, and because it was the major artery of transportation. Wicomico County, incorporated in 1867, was formerly part of Old Somerset County.

In 1883, the village was called Waltersville, named such because it was the boat landing for the Walter family plantation, located about one mile east of the River. Members of the Walter family are buried within an iron fenced enclosure in the Bivalve Cemetery, immediately behind the Church building.

In 1887, a post office was established in the village, and Mr. Elrick Willing was appointed the first Postmaster. Because there was already a Maryland post office named Waltersville (presumably the one in Frederick County), Mr. Willing was charged with naming the new post office. He named it "Bivalve" (two valves), taken from the oyster, mainstay of the watermen's livelihood. This resulted in the community also taking the name, Bivalve.

Leaders of the local citizenry at that time were Larmores, Insleys, Messicks, Harringtons, Willings, Dunns, Horners, and many other families. Most of the people made their living on the water. Some sailed on the schooners, bugeyes and batteaus to Baltimore, Seaford, and Norfolk. The largest group tonged oysters from the first of September to the last of April. Oysters sold for 30 cents to 40 cents a bushel. A few families farmed in the summertime. The prevailing wage was 75 cents for an eleven-hour day. There was very little money in circulation.

The population today is not much larger than it was in 1883, but farmers and watermen are a lot less prevalent.

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Saturday, 12-Aug-2023 21:10:20 EDT