Last fall we spent several days in Cambridge Maryland. Will’s father, Richard, was born and raised in Cambridge. We stayed in a lovely B&B just a few blocks from Richard’s boyhood home.
The Mill Street Inn
Right across the street is the Phillip’s family home, founders of Phillip’s Seafood Restaurant. The Phillips company started a century ago on Hoopers Island, where the A.E. Phillips & Son processing plant sourced fresh seafood from the Chesapeake Bay.
Down the street was Richard’s elementary school. It’s boarded up and abandoned now.
One block over is Choptank Avenue.
The house Richard grew up in is gone but we think this is the house his mother (Will’s grandmother) moved to later. Will has very vague memories of visiting her here.
Will’s grandfather was a minister at Grace Methodist Church.
Dinner time view of the Market Street drawbridge in Cambridge.
We found the Grandparents’ and Great Grandparents’ gravestones in the Cambridge cemetery.
One day we drove north of Cambridge to the little town of Oxford (700 residents). This is one of the oldest towns in Maryland. It started life as a port of entry to Maryland for ships coming from England. It fell into obscurity when Baltimore grew into a commercial port during the Revolutionary War.
The Robert Morris Inn (1710) is the oldest Inn in America. Robert Morris was friends with George Washington, who stayed here. It has been updated since then.
We had a wonderful soup and sandwich lunch at the Inn.
We took this ferry across the Tred Avon River. It is thought to be the oldest privately operated ferry in the U.S., started in 1683.
Once on the other side, it was a short drive to St Michaels on the Miles River. The river was originally called the St Michael’s River, hence the town’s name.
St Michaels is a pretty little town with tree lined streets, cute houses and shops.
Frederick Douglas lived as a slave in this area from1833 to 1836. He taught himself to read and escaped to the north where he became a noted abolitionist, orator and editor. In 1877, he returned as a U.S. Marshall for the District of Columbia.
Some of the friendly locals and their brew – it was almost Halloween.
Another day we drove south of Cambridge to visit Hoopers Island where some of Will’s family, the Tubmans, LeComptes, and Geohagens, settled before moving to Cambridge. There’s not much there there.
We wandered through several protestant cemeteries but saw no family names.
As we drove back toward Cambridge we passed St. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic church near Golden Hill.
Stop the car! The early family was Catholic! We’d been looking in the wrong cemeteries! Here we found the old family names.
At some point a Tubman married a Geoghegan who married a McAllister.
The land for the chapel, across the road, was donated by Richard Tubman II in 1767. The new church was built in 1872 and the graves of the early parishioners were moved to the new cemetery across the street.
I want to mention that the new Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center is near here. It opened in March 2017. Unfortunately, our trip was in Oct 2016, too early to visit. Harriet Tubman grew up in slavery in Dorchester County. She escaped slavery from this area and returned about 13 times over 10 years to lead around 70 friends and family members to freedom. We don’t know how our Tubman family may be connected. According to Wikipedia, Harriet Tubman, born Araminta “Minty” Ross, married John Tubman, a free black man. She changed her first name to Harriet, her mother’s name, soon after her marriage.
There’s a quote I like – “There are only two lasting bequest that we can hope to give our children – roots and wings.”
These are our roots, and our wings have taken us far and wide.