This project is to identify early settlers and notable people of the region now called "Southern Maryland" click for map
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Southern Maryland in popular usage is composed of the state's southernmost counties on the "Western Shore" of the Chesapeake Bay. This region includes all of Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary's counties and sometimes the southern portions of Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties.
Southern Maryland was originally inhabited by Piscataway Indians. Captain John Smith explored the area in 1608 and 1609. In 1634 St. Mary's City, at southern Maryland's lower tip was the site of the first Roman Catholic English settlement in North America (the site is now a living history museum). Tobacco plantations flourished in southern Maryland during slavery.
"Maryland was a Proprietory Colony of England, which had unique characteristics as compared to the other English colonies in America. One of these was that Proprietor, Lord Baltimore, a member of the Calvert family over several generations, made grants of lands to favored members of the aristocracy, also called the landed gentry (with the title, Esquire), of thousands of acres each in exchange for transporting colonists to America to populate the colony. These grants were referred to as manors, and they paid rents to the proprietor. In turn, smaller acreages were "sold" to individual planters. The "sale" was actually the right of leasehold, that is, they had the opportunity to pay rent to the manor "owner" who, in turn, of course, paid the rent to the proprietor. The proprietor retained ultimate "ownership" of the land - until it was forfeited as a result of the Revolution, of course."
"After the 1700s, there were few newcomers to the shores of the Potomac, so those that stayed inevitably married among themselves. The limits of travel by horse and boat in a rural region meant that social and business contacts were local and few. In fact, social circles were much narrower, almost always separated by race, usually by religion, and often by wealth and social status. Not surprisingly, families spent most of their social life with their relatives, close neighbors and fellow churchgoers."
"By the mid-1800s, many of the Catholics around the Jesuit missions in Southern Maryland were cousins of their neighbors or even their spouses."
With a slave economy during the American Civil War, regional white sympathies were very pro-Confederate (as evidenced in the official state song lyrics). From the war's beginning, however, large numbers of Union occupying troops and patrolling river gunboats prevented the state's secession, although nighttime smuggling across the Potomac River with Virginia took place. John Wilkes Booth was helped by local people in his escape through the area after killing President Abraham Lincoln.
- On March 25, 1634, the Catholic passengers of the "Ark and the Dove" assembled at a mass celebrated by Father Andrew White, S.J. – the first Roman Catholic mass in the 13 English-speaking colonies.
- George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore, had decided before his death that Maryland was not to be a colony just for Catholics, but a place where Christians of different denominations could practice their faith without impediment.
- Two former First Ladies of the United States hail from southern Maryland: Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams, wife of John Quincy Adams, and Margaret Mackall Smith Taylor, wife of Zachary Taylor.
- Co-discovers of the North Pole, Matthew Henson and Captain Raphael Semmes of the CSS Alabama, were born near Nanjemoy, Charles County.
- Prominent American Revolutionary War statesmen John Hanson, Thomas Stone, and William Smallwood were from Charles County.
- Dr. Samuel Mudd, convicted of conspiracy to murder in the Abraham Lincoln Assassination, was also a native of Charles County.
- Maryland State Archives
- Southern Maryland Studies Center
- Charles County Archives
- Search: 1658-1758 Charles County MD Families "The first 100 years"
- Southern Maryland Online
- St. Mary's City - articles & resources
- Southern Maryland Families
- Search: works by Mary Louise Donnelly
- Exploring Maryland's Roots: Bios
- Passenger List of "The Ark and The Dove," 1634
- St. Mary's Families
- Who's Who in Southern Maryland
- "All of us walk together."