Friday, July 10, 2009

Neat and new finds from Poplar Grove

The Poplar Grove Collection seems to have something about everything and anything that has happened in Maryland’s history. This is what I’ve learned in my short time as a summer intern here at the Maryland State Archives working in special collections here on the Poplar Grove project. The newest find that I have come across is a vast group of records dealing with the Eastern Shore Rail Road­ note that the word railroad was two words back in the 1800’s.

In the first week of my internship I was shone a badly damaged and eaten plat that showed a path proposed for the Eastern Shore Rail Road. This plat is in series 13 of our Poplar Grove special collection and can be found at the Maryland State Archives web page, through special collections. It was determined that this plat was the original of a printed version of this plat at the Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division, as State Archivist Dr. Edward Papenfuse notes in his online transcription of the plat.

Since this short introduction of what Poplar Grove has concerning the Eastern Shore Rail Road I had not come across anything else concerning the E.S.R.R. until recently.

Thomas Emory’s dream was to see a railroad on the eastern shore of Maryland. He spent part of his life trying to achieve this feat. It would only make sense that I would find a vast collection of documents dealing with the railroad while scanning his papers. While some of the documents are in surprisingly good condition, many are not. For this reason the exact span of time of these documents is not known; however, one could conclude that from the documents that I came across, the earliest date is from the 1830’s spanning until the documented date of 1871 on one fascinating piece, which we will get to later.

My recent finds are not yet up on the MSA webpage since they have only just been scanned, but I hope they will be shortly.

One interesting find is resolution papers of the E.S.R.R. These are from what is believed to be 1836, but this is not documented. These papers tell of resolutions concerning the railroad, ranging from stock selling in an attempt to financially support construction of the railroad, to an agreement on the importance of a railroad on the eastern shore as well as how the people deserved a railroad.

A survey of Maryland’s Eastern

Shore, marking pickets for a

possible rail line from Rice

Creek towards the Green

Swamp was one of my favorite

discoveries while scanning.

The survey marks roads and

rivers on the line as well, should

things cross like“Road to

Sockwood’s folly bridge

and “Middle River”.

A bill draft for the railroad, possibly from the 1830's, was discovered that appears to have been ripped or cut in half. This bill dealt with a

variety of topics, such as, how the Eastern Shore Rail Road

would be set up and run by directors,how the elections for

directors would be organized and how land owners of land

needed for the railroad should be dealt with.

A short excerpt about director’s elections...

"Sect. 2. And be it enacted, that the elections of Directors, required by the Act, referred to, in the proceeding section, other that State Directors, shall be conducted in the following manner, that is to say; The Directors, for the time being, shall, annually, appoint two of the Stock holders, not being Directors, to the Judge of said elections, and to conduct the same, after having severally taken and subscribed an oath, or affirmation, before a Judge, or Justice of the Peace, well and truly, and according to the Law, to conduct such elections..."

The last two finds I want to note are a Queen Anne’s and Kent Rail Road ticket from 1871 and an Eastern Shore Rail Road Company seal from 1836. I was really excited to see these and was amazed by their wonderful condition.

Thomas Emory’s dream and life’s work towards a railroad for the Eastern Shore of Maryland, is both fascinating and important to the eventual development of the oft- forgotten Eastern Shore. I certainly hope to find more documents concerning this matter, and I’m sure I will. After all, Poplar Grove is Maryland history 101.

Many thanks to Dr. Edward Papenfuse’s helpful transcription and of course Thomas Emory, for saving such a valuable collection of information for future generations to preserve and learn from.

Until next time…

Your trusty intern,

Nathan Miller

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