Wicomico County MDGenWeb

Spring Hill

This is the second of the articles written in 1938 by Elizabeth Phillips Myers which were presented to the Samuel Chase Chapter of the NSDAR. The article appeared in Vol. 9 No. 2 of the Lower Delmarva Genealogical Society's newsletter, "More From The Shore" in the Fall of 1990.

As we leave Quantico and follow the old post road towards Mardela, we come to "Old St. Giles", a tract of land originally granted to one William Wilson on May 20, 1705, and upon a part of which is situated the town of Hebron. Here planters settled in sufficient numbers which necessitated the building of another Chapel of Ease as Stepney Parish, Green Hill, was too far away for members to attend regularly.

In 1724, a chapel was built about one mile east of "Old St. Giles" called "Spring Hill Chapel", taking its name from the patent name of the tract of land on which it was erected. The earliest reference made to this chapel is in a reply made by the Reverend Alexander Adams, rector of Stepney Parish, to inquiries made by the Bishop of London.

The "Spring Hill" tract of land was the property of Colonel Francis Jenkins and passed at his death to his wife, Mary, who later married John Henry, and after his death married John Hampton. In November, 1738, Madame Mary Hampton conveyed to the

"Vestry of Stepney Parish the piece and parcel of land whereon the chapel now stands at Spring Hill in the said parish and two acres of land to the same adjoining."

The land is described as

"beginning at a marked white oak on north side the head of the Rewastico Branch near an Indian path and footbridge over said branch and at an elbow or turning of said branch on the northeast side of an Indian field where it makes up to the branch side." (Somerset Court - Deed - Liber 020 - F. 18)

By 1768 the chapel had fallen into a ruinous condition and unfit to be repaired. The Vestry petitioned the Assembly to be allowed to rebuild it. By Chapter 9, Acts of Assembly, 1768, the Assembly directed the Vestry to

"purchase two acres of land near unto the place where the Spring Hill Chapel now stands and to erect a chapel thereon",

and a levy was directed to be raised, to be collected in 1770 - 1773 with one John Hobbs contracting for the building. Items in the old account books of Stepney Parish show that John Hobbs gave his bond January 8, 1771, for building the chapel for 509 currency. 2 was deducted from his account because of poor work.

The church, which is still standing the the forks of the road, is on the north side of the Rewastico Creek - a location practically identical with the location of the older Chapel (1724 - 1773) as described in the deed of its donor, Madame Mary Hampton. Madame Hampton was a member of the Presbyterian church, and widow of a Presbyterian minister. In 1770 a third Chapel of Ease was built at Broad Creek near Laurel, Delaware (Maryland, then). At that time Stepney Parish extended to the Maryland line, part of Worcester County as the Maryland - Delaware boundary line was not definitely settled.

Many legends are connected with the ancient edifice of Spring Hill Chapel, one of which tells the story of the "haunted woods" in back of the church. An old graveyard is situated in this tract of woodland, and near it was supposed to be a buried treasure. Legend relates that an intrepid surveyor braved the spirits of the night and discovered the "end of the rainbow". Tradition has it that the same haunted woods was the rendezvous of Patty Cannon, leader of a nefarious band of desperadoes, and her infamous son-in-law, Joe Johnson, who secreted their victims until they could be placed aboard a vessel in the Nanticoke and shipped to southern planters.

The old Spring Hill home, which burned several years ago, belonged to Reverend Hampton. There is a spring on the top of the hill from which the tract of land takes its name. the hill was a great gathering place in the community that they might watch the horse racing in Spring Hill Lane.

Near Spring Hill is the famous "Coscoway" farm owned by Thomas Walker. He left about one hundred acres to his three daughters, Sarah Fletcher, Jane Lucas and Rebecca Walker. The land began at the head of the Rewastico Branch and extended a distance down, lying between Rewastico and Quantico Creeks. It was on a part of this land that Clement Bell Fletcher, who became Governor of Missouri, was born. Part of this tract is owned by the Adkins heirs and is called today the "Cosquay Farm".

There is another church of such historical importance near the plantation of Old St. Giles. The original Presbyterian Church of our country was built on the Anderson Farm at Upper Ferry and moved in 1776 to the cross roads of Rockawalkin Creek. In 1918, Ushers Association of Wicomico, desiring to perpetuate the name of the famous old church at Rockawalkin, used bricks from the structure to erect a memorial upon which a tablet was placed with this inscription:

Presbyterian Church
Organized by
Francis Mackemie
Built at the Upper Ferry
Rebuilt at this Place
May 18, 1767
Merged into Wicomico Church
About 1830

NOTE: The Old Spring Hill Church, built in 1773 as a chapel of ease for Stepney Parish, was tragically destroyed by fire on July 22, 2014, less than 10 months after it had celebrated its 240th anniversary.

Spring Hill Chapel Fire

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