Lower Marlboro is a small community filled with historic surprises. It has the largest concentration of historic homes than any other community in Calvert County. Patuxent Manor may be the oldest house, built in the 1700s and witnessing many historic events including the War of 1812 and the Civil War.
On Saturday, October 7, the town held Lower Marlboro Freedom Day, commemorating an event that occurred during the War of 1812. In the summer of 1814 the British came up the Patuxent River to advance on Washington. They encountered Commodore Joshua Barney and the Maryland Militia at St. Leonard Creek to battle in what would be the largest naval engagement to ever occur in Maryland waters.
Lower Marlboro was a bustling port, providing a transportation option to other towns and a location for farmers to ship their tobacco and other wears. The British laid anchor to “acquire” needed supplies. And as they had done in other sites, they offered refuge to enslaved people in exchange for their assistance as Colonial Marines. As an enticement, the British allowed them to take their families.
Lower Marlboro United Methodist Church provided the location for speakers who provided background on the enslaved people and their reasons for fleeing and documentation on the events that occurred. Michael Kent, President, Calvert County NAACP, welcomed the group and gave an overview of the speakers to follow. He introduced Tom Dugan, chair, Calvert County historic District Commission, who thanked those that were attending this important event.
Maya Davis, historian and researcher with the Maryland Archives, discussed her research of enslaved people that fled with the British, including 262 from Calvert County. They fled with their families to Nova Scotia and Trinidad where even though the conditions were harsh and difficult, they were still free. These included people with skills and children.
According to a biography of Levin Ballard in the Archives of Maryland, a slave, Charles Steward fled from Ballard’s plantation to the British ships. Steward would come back to the home of Ballard’s mother, Elizabeth Wheeler Ballard and leave with 12 other slaves including his wife and children. After the war, Levin Ballard would file a claim against the British on behalf of his deceased mother to receive reparations for these lost slaves.
Andrea “Chris” Banks, President, Calvert County Historical Society, in a living history interpretation, portrayed an enslaved woman of Levi Ballard who had heard the whisperings of the battles and the opportunity to flee. In her portrayal she is at her mother’s grave with questions, wondering if she should stay or should she go.
Catherine Couchman presented her research on enslaved people from Calvert County who found freedom with the British forces during the War of 1812.
Local residents were on hand to answer questions and to demonstrate crafts. Outside the church Tom Dugan portrayed a woodworker from the 1800s, demonstrating techniques and showing tools. A brochure with a self-guided walking tour was provided to visitors allowing them to view the exteriors of several homes built in the 18th and 19th centuries.
In the Lower Marlboro Hall there were War of 1812 displays from the Maryland Veterans Museum and the Southern Maryland Heritage Area Consortium. Anne Sundermann, author, provided information on the Lower Marlboro Wharf. Sundermann wrote The Money Crop, Calvert County After the Tobacco Buyout and Harbours, Creekes & Places: The Steamboat Wharves and Landings of Calvert County, Maryland. The Calvert County Historical Society had information on the Town of Lower Marlboro and where to find additional information on the War of 1812 in Calvert County.
Tours of Lower Marlboro United Methodist Church and its graveyard were offered. Also known as Largents Chapel, the church has been active since it was built 1868. There have been renovations over the years, including an addition and a steeple.
Naturalists from the Calvert County Department of Natural Resources provided free kayak tours of the Patuxent River.
Outside of the Lower Marlboro Hall, people talked with members of the community and enjoyed delicious food provided by Cutty’s Rock N Ribs.
For more information on the War of 1812 in Calvert County please visit:
- Calvert County Dept. of Economic Development, www.ChooseCalvert.com
- Calvert County Dept. of Natural Resources, http://www.co.cal.md.us/index.aspx?NID=1190
- Calvert County Historical Society, http://www.calverthistory.org/
- Calvert County NAACP, http://calvertnaacp.org/
- Maryland Veterans Museum, https://www.mdvets.cc/
- Maryland State Archives, http://msa.maryland.gov/
- Southern Maryland Heritage Area Consortium, https://destinationsouthernmaryland.com
Please enjoy the picture gallery below.
Joyce Baki / Calvert Beacon Reporter