Wicomico County MDGenWeb

Mardela Springs

This article, by J. Howard Adkins, originally appeared in the inaugural issue of the Lower Delmarva Genealogical Society's newsletter, More From The Shore, in the Spring of 1982.

Land grants in the area date from the 1660s. The present town, believed to be the second oldest town in Wicomico, was founded on the tracts Ill Neighborhood, Young's Purchase, and Miles End. A settlement had existed about 1 mile east, the outgrowth of this settlement being called Barren Creek Mills. It consisted of a grist mill, a sawmill, and a store, together with several dwellings. These are still listed in the 1798 Tax Lists for Somerset County.

Indians introduced the new settlers to the bubbling medicinal springs, and by the early 1800s a spa of some size existed, becoming locally famous by the 1840s. A large hotel was built and many notable people came to "take the waters". The grounds were the site of large political rallies, Independence Day celebrations, etc. The waters were also bottled and sold in a number of the large East Coast cities. The springhouse still stands, but the hotel was destroyed by fire in 1914.

The town was called "Barren Creek Spring" until about 1880, then "Russum" for a prominent neighborhood family, and, about 1900, the present name of Mardela Springs became official.

A Mason - Dixon 5-mile marker is northeast of the town, appropriately marked as a historic site.

A center of commerce, the 1877 atlas lists 5 stores and a post office. Train Bounds operated a ship yard on the creek west of town, building schooners for the bay trade and smaller vessels for local use. Thomas B. Taylor established a canning operation for evaporation and processing of peaches, giving the community a financial boost and forming an outlet for locally produced fruit. The coming of the railroad in the 1890s made a connection between the farming community and the large outlets in the cities. Trapping of muskrat, or marshrabbit, still is in much demand, and the furs of the animals can be sold.

Mardela is more proof that the "Land of Pleasant Living" is in our own backyard.

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