By Diana Bara
Located southeast of present day Washington DC, Charles County is just northwest of St. Mary's county which was the Maryland Colony's first settlement. More than a few Maddox familes migrated the short distance into what would become Charles County in 1659. Most of the population of St. Mary’s County was on the east side of the Wicomico River. As early as 1638, Maryland’s original settlers were granted land on the west side of the Wicomico. The proprietary manor of St. Thomas, owned by Thomas Copley, a Jesuit Priest, was granted in 1638. It was located on east side of Port Tobacco Creek, deep in the wilderness and many miles away from the City of St. Mary’s.
In 1651, 1,600 acres around Newport, was made into the Manor of
and owned by Thomas Gerrard. Numerous other Proprietary
Manors, such as Zachia Manor, Pangiah and Calverton were created
to 1658. More
on Maryland and its Manors...
All the land west of the Patuxent River was intended to be part of Charles County from the beginning. Due to the original vague boundary, and the convenience of water transportation, the settlers living in the water shed area of Patuxent River, probably transacted their business in Calvert County.
This section should have been originally part of Charles County, and now lies in Prince Georges. This is something one needs to keep in mind when locating ancestors who were later found to be in Prince Georges County, that they might be found among the records of Charles or Calvert. The same can be said for St. Mary’s and Charles counties, that the records found in the counties of Prince Georges and Calvert, should be included in any search.
The first courthouse of Charles County, was built in 1697 and was not in the town of Port Tobacco according to the original deed. It was located on a parcel of land owned by Thomas Hussey, called Moores Lodge, which was four miles from the head of Port Tobacco River. It was probably on one of the branches of Zekiah Swamp, called Clarkes run which is about three miles south of La Plata. In 1727, an Act of Assembly authorized a new courthouse to be built at Port Tobacco, because the location of the current court house was too remote and too far from water access, which was a primary means of transportation. The erection of the Courthouse and prison would be on the East side of Port Tobacco Creek, in Charlestown, which was called Port Tobacco. Court proceedings and many papers were lost in a 1746 fire at the clerk’s house, where they were stored. The records have been partly reconstituted.
In 1815, a supplementary act of the legislature provided for the erection of another new court house. It was ready in 1821 and is the courthouse most well known as the Port Tobacco Courthouse, because it is the one remembered by the oldest generations of Charles County. This courthouse burned on August 3, 1892. Even though many records were saved, there were heavy losses of loose papers and of administrative and financial records. Near the site where it stood is the Catslide House which was built in 1720. To replaced the burned courthouse, a new court house building was built in 1896 in La Plata, where the county seat is located today.
The town of Port Tobacco from 1727 until the end of the 19th century was the center of political and social life. It was larger then the other towns in the area and was also the center of commerce for the entire area. A spot called Warehouse landing which was down Port Tobacco Creek a short distance from Port Tobacco Town was the Naval Port of Entry, where goods were weighed and ships unloaded goods for the colonists that were necessities and sometimes luxuries. It is where the colonists loaded their hogsheads of tobacco for trade that was sent to England.
Klapthor, Margaret Brown and Paul Dennis Brown. (1958) . The History of Charles County, Maryland, Written in its Tercentenary Year of 1958. La Plata: Charles County Tercentenary, Inc..
Hammett, Regina Combs. ( 1994). History of St. Mary’s County, Maryland 1634-1990. Ridge: Regina Combs Hammett.
Schweitzer, George K.. (1991). Maryland Genealogical Research.
Photo: Catslide House (1720) Chapel Point Road
Thomas Gerrard, Lord of the Manor
St. Mary's County, an overview
Notley Maddoxes of St. Mary's and Charles Counties
Kings, Calverts, and Gerards, more on Lord Baltimore and the First Colonists
Notley Maddox and Nancy Ann - a disputed placement from Roberta Wiley
Religious Freedom in Maryland
Cornelius Maddox, Charles Co land owner
The Thomas Gerrard link to Maddox
The Warren Family of Charles and St. Mary's Counties
Diana Bara's Research - Notley Maddocke of Pt Tobacco