The McCready-Hurley Ledger: Confederate Price List, 1865

The following list of prices appears in the McCready-Hurley Ledger after the official Confederate records, and immediately after a list of notable dates in history (including the dates of many Civil War battles, but also older events like Columbus’s discovery of the Americas, the birth of William Penn, and the Battle of Trafalgar). The latest year listed is 1863, although the preceding official records begin in 1864.

It’s unclear when this list was compiled, or why. Meshack McCready’s journal entries dated 1867 begin two pages later. The evacuation mentioned is assumed to be the evacuation of Richmond in April 1865. The placement of some of the periods/decimals is unclear in a couple of places, appearing under the numbers rather than between them. I confess that I don’t know much about Confederate currency, and am unsure about how to read a couple of these prices, but I’ve transcribed them as written, adding only the colon between each item and the corresponding price.

Note the distinction between sweet potatoes and “Irsh” (Irish) potatoes.

Confederate list of Prices in 1865 just before the evacuation

broad cloth per yard     :     $2..50..00

Silk per yard     :      1..00.00

Home Spun wolen Cloth per yard     :      50..00

Cotton Cloth per yard     :     25..00

Boots per pair     :     800..00

Shoes per pair     :     400..00

Felt hats A peis     :     300..00

Socks and home knit gloves per pair     :     25..00

Groceries , Sugar     :     25..00

Coffee     :     50..00

Flower per barrel     :     1..4..00..00

Corn meal per bushel     :     1..25..00

Corn per Barrel     :     5..25..00

Cabages per head     :     1500

Bacon per pound     :     25..00

Beef per pound     :     20..00

Fresh Shad A peice     :     75..00

Herings per Dozen     :     25..00

Sturgeon per pound     :     10..00

Sweet potatoes per quart     :     10..00

Irsh potatoes per quart     :     5..00

Aples per barrel green     :     2..50..00

Aples Dried per bushel     :     1..50..00

Peaches Dried per bushel     :     2..75..00

Peaches green 12 per Dos     :     12..00

Turnips per bushel     :     80..00

Shirts p A peace     :     200..00

While these numbers might not mean much to us today (particularly since they’re in Confederate dollars rather than U.S. dollars), presumably they indicate runaway inflation, and would have been astonishing to the Virginians of the time.

– Chris Slavens

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The McCready-Hurley Ledger: “A Pleasant Romance,” story fragment

The following short story fragment appears in the McCready-Hurley Ledger amidst pages of penmanship practice and hymn lyrics. It’s unclear whether the writer was copying an existing story, or writing an original draft. I’ve searched Google for several specific phrases to see if the material was published, with no luck. Some of the periods might represent commas.

A Pleasant Romance

On the evening of the 27 of January 1869. We all assembled at our new home Chery Hill Va. We. I say we for there was 9 of us the old servants not indentured. Oh what a mery time we had we left our old home in Md on the 22nd and was on the Boat near a week and when we did get on land again we were Delighted. But what pleased us most was when we arrived at the Hill, there stood the Great Old House in all its Granduer the Lofty Elms spreading forth [thear?] Magnificen Branches in silen

Sadly, the story ends mid-word, but even so, these few sentences are fascinating. Today there is a Cherry Hill Road in Northumberland County, Virginia, fairly close to places mentioned in Meshack McCready’s journal entries such as Burgess Store and Heathsville. This fact, plus the reference to “Md” (Maryland), plus the trip on the boat, plus the fact that both Meshack McCready and the Hurley family were from Dorchester County, Maryland, strongly suggests that this fragment was intended to be a firsthand account of somebody’s trip across the Chesapeake Bay to Cherry Hill, or perhaps a fictional story based on it. The reference to “old servants not indentured” is especially interesting.

An article in the Rappahannock Record dated October 21, 1948, mentions a historic home called Cherry Hill which was believed to have been built nearly three centuries earlier by Roger Jones.

Despite some spelling errors, the writer obviously had talent; his or her image of the grand old house and its lofty elms is striking. Hopefully, further study of the ledger and the family who owned it will shed more light on this tantalizing piece of writing and its relationship to their story.

– Chris Slavens

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The McCready-Hurley Ledger: Meshack McCready’s Weather Journal

Previously I shared a number of journal entries written by Meshack McCready between 1867 and 1872; they focused primarily on his walk with God, and the happenings at his local church in Northumberland County, Virginia. The McCready-Hurley Ledger also contains a weather journal covering several months in 1867. (Since the entries begin after a page of spiritual journal entries dated December 1867, initially I assumed that he had made the same mistake we’ve all made one day or another, and wrote the old year on the first day of the new one. However, since the days of the week are also noted, it’s easy to confirm that the series of entries is dated correctly.) McCready was 39 at the time.

A conjecture of the weather for the year 1867

Tuesday January 1th There is snow on the ground to the depth of six inches and is cloudy all day with mist of rain and snow all day with freezing and sleet

Wensday 2th It has snowed to day and is still cloudy with the wind N W

Thursday 3 Clear and worm this morning but cloudy and cold this evening

Friday 4th It is clear and worm over head today and the snow is melting very fast

Saturday 5th Clear and worm wind S. Snow melting

Sunday 6 Clear and worm wind S. W.

Monday 7 Cloudy and cool wind N. W.

Tuesday 8 It is cloudy to day N. W. snow to night

Wensday 9th It is clear and worm and the wind S. snow melting

Thursday 10th It is cloudy all day. North wind.

Friday 11 Clear to day

Saturday 12 Clear and warm this morning

Sunday 13 Snow this morning but clear this evening

Monday 14 Snow all day to day wind N. W.

Tuesday 15 Snow this morning but clear this evening

Wensday 16 Clear and cold here to day Wind S.

Thursday 17 Clear and very cold to day Wind W.

Friday 18 It is clear and cold here to day wind N. W.

Saturday 19 Clear and cold

Sunday 20 It is snowing very fast all day to to day and rain and blewing to night

Monday 21 Cloudy with plenty of snow to day

Tuesday 22 Clear and cold to day wind N. W.

Wensday 23 Clear and cold to day wind N. W.

Thursday 24 It is clear and moderate this morning it has been worm to day clear and cold hear to night wind N. W.

Friday 25 Cloudy and worm the snow is melting to day

Saturday 26 Cloudy and worm to day here but clear and cold to night wind N. W.

Sunday 27 Clear and moderate this morning

Monday 28 Clear and cold here to day wind N. W.

Tuesday 29 Clear and cold and freezing all day N W

Wensday 30th Clear and cold and wind N. W. in the morning and N. E. in the evening

Thursday 31th Cloudy with some snow this morning but clear and worm this evening Wind S.

February 1 1867 Friday It is smokey and very worm and it is thawing very much to day here

Saturday 2th Cloudy with rain and very worm and smokey with a general thaw wind S.

Sunday 3th Cloudy and worm wind S. and S. W. and W. and North West

Monday 4th It is cloudy and worm to day the ice in the river broke yesterday being 37 days that it has been frozen over this winter

Tuesday 5th Clear and worm to day Wind W. N. W. N. I have been spliting rails for the last two days itis the first towards farming we have don this year

Wensday 6th Clear and worm to day wind N. W.

Friday 8th It has rained all day wind N. E. the sun has not been seen here to day

Saturday 9th It has rained all day and late this evening it rained very fast wind S. S. W. and W.

Sunday 10th Clear and cold to day and freezing very hard and the wind blowing a gale from North. N. W.

Monday 11th Clear and cold to day. Wind N. W

Tuesday 12 Clear and worm wind S and S. E.

Wensday 13th Clear and worm this morning cloudy and worm this evening Wind E. S. E.

Thursday 14 Clear and very worm to day but cloudy to night Wind. S. E.

Friday 15th It has rained all day to day wind blowing from North East N. E.

Saturday 16th It is cloudy and smokey with some rain Wind North East but west to night

Sunday 17 Clear windy and worm Wind N. W.

Monday 18th Cloudy and worm Wind S East

Tuesday 19th Clear and worm this morning wind South. Cloudy and worm this evening wind S. E.

Wensday 20th It snowed some last night but has rained this morning wind east and it is cloudy and windy this evening and and to night wind N. E.

Thursday 21th Cloudy and rainy all day to day wind N. E. this morning and West this evening and blowing hard and raining to night

Friday 22th Cloudy and windy this morning clear and windy this evening Wind N. W.

Saturday 23 Cloudy and cold this morning Wind E Clear and pleasant this evening Wind E

Sunday 24th Cloudy and looks very much like rain this morning wind South East it has rained this evening wind N. W.

Monday 25 Cloudy and rainy to day Wind S. E.

Tuesday 26th Clear and worm to day Wind N. W.

Wensday 27th Clear and worm Wind N

Thursday 28th Cloudy and windy and cool Wind S. E

Friday March 1th It is rained all day to day there has been a big fall of water with the wind South east

Saturday 2th It has rained all day with the wind all a round the compass

Sunday 3th It is cloudy and cool this morning wind N. W. it rained this evening wind S. E.

Monday 4 It has rained all day Wind N. E.

Tuesday 5 It has rained and snowed all day to day with the wind N East

Wensday 6 It has snowed all day with Wind N. E.

Thursday 7 It rained this morning Wind N. E. It is variable this evening Wind N. W.

Friday 8 It was clear and worm this morning Wind N. W. Cloudy this evening and cool Wind E

Saturday 9th It was cloudy and pleasant this morning Wind E. It has rained this evening Wind N. E.

Sunday 10th It has rained all day with the Wind N. E.

Monday 10th Clear and worm Wind N. W.

Tuesday 12th Cloudy and rainy to day Wind N. E.

Wensday 13th Cloudy and rainy to day Wind S. and S. E.

Thursday 14th It has snowed all this morning Wind N. W. And cleared off this evening Wind N. W. And it will freeze hard to night

Friday 15 It has been clear and worm this morning Wind [N?] Cloudy and worm this evening with wind east E

Saturday 16th It has snowed all day fast wind N. E.

Sunday 17th It snowed all the morning but cleared off this evening and the sun shone bright and worm the wind N. W.

Monday 18th It has been clear and worm all day to day after the morning Wind N. W.

Tuesday 19th Cloudy and snowed this evening Wind N. E.

Wensday 20th Cloudy and snowed all day Wind N. E.

Thursday 21th It has rained and blew a storm to day with the wind at North east N. E.

Friday 22th It rained and blew a storm all this morning with the wind North east N. E. and it has snowed all this evening and is snowing and blowing a gale to night Wind North West N. W.

Saturday 23th Cloudy with rain this morning wind N. E. Cloudy this evening Wind North east

Sunday 24th Cloudy all day to day and cool Wind N. E.

Monday 25th Clear and worm to day Wind N. West

Tuesday 26th Clear and worm to day there was some ice this morning Wind North West

Wensday 27th It rained all this morning Wind South Cloudy and worm this evening West W.

Thursday 28 Cloudy and windy and cool this evening [W. N. ?] Cloudy cool and very windy this evening wind N. w

Friday 29th Cloudy cool and windy wind N. W.

Saturday 30th Clear and worm to day Wind N. E.

Sunday 31th Clear and worm to day Wind S. N. W.

Monday April 1th Cloudy and rain to day Wind S. W.

Tuesday 2th Clear and windy wind N. W.

Wensday 3th Clear and windy wind to day N. W.

Thursday 4th Clear and windy to day ind N. W.

Friday 5th It has rained to day wind S. E.  S. and S. W.

Saturday 6th Clear and windy to day wind N. W.

Sunday 7th Clear and windy to day wind N. W.

Monday 8th Clear and worm and windy wind N. W.

Tuesday 9th Clear and worm to day wind North

Wensday 10th Clear and worm to day wind E. S. E.

Thursday 11th Clear and worm to day wind W

Friday 12th Cloudy and worm to day wind S. W.

Saturday 13th Clear and worm to day wind W.

Sunday 14th Clear and worm to day wind N. E and E

Monday 15th Cloudy and worm to day wind South S

Tuesday 16th Cloudy and worm to day wind South S

Wensday 17th It has rained to day wind South S

Thursday 18th Clear and worm to day wind S. W. W. and N W

Friday 19th Clear and cool to day wind N. W.

Saturday 20th Cloudy and worm to day wind South S

Sunday 21th Clear and worm to day wind North east and E

Monday 22

One wonders why the entries stop at this point. Perhaps with the arrival of spring and consistently warm weather, McCready was just too busy to keep up with them.

– Chris Slavens

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The McCready-Hurley Ledger: Meshack McCready’s Journal

Several months ago I mentioned an old ledger I had bought at an auction. It had been incorrectly advertised as containing the names of Civil War soldiers from Dorchester County, Maryland; in fact, it seems that the ledger’s original purpose was to record the names, ranks, and status of Confederate soldiers from various Georgia regiments. Students of the war will be interested to know that a pig pen cipher key is written in pencil at the top of one of the first few pages. I still hope to transcribe and publish all of the information pertaining to the Confederacy, which will take some time, but in the meantime, the book contains numerous other records, journal entries, notes about the weather, hymn lyrics, and many pages of penmanship practice.

The following journal entries were written by Meshack McCready, who was from Dorchester County, but was living across the bay in Virginia in the 1860s and 1870s. A number of specific places are mentioned, including Burgess Store, Heathsville, Wainrights Chapel, and Corinth. I’ve edited the text slightly to make it more readable; many words are capitalized unnecessarily, some that should be capitalized (like “I” and “God”) are not, and he seems to have capitalized the first word of nearly every line, whether he was beginning a new sentence or not.

November 29th, 1867

To day is my fortieth birth day and I have been happy all day long I have experienced the blessings of God to my poor heart I feel as though God has been with me this whole day for I have felt his presence with me and could and did prais him for all of his goodness to me a poor sinner and to night I feel that I am on my road to Heaven.

November 30th, 1867

To day has been one of hope for I can claim the promise for I can prais God that I have been happy with the presence of the Holy Spirit to day

December 1th, 1867

Prais the lord, oh my soul and all within me rejoice for all his goodness to me for I feel him near me to day

December 2th

I can say with a truth that the Lord has been good to me to day and I can say before to his holy name pray for me and I will pray for you that is the way the Christians do I love the Lord for he first loved me

December 3th

To day I have felt that the Lord has been with me for I can pray his holy name I have been blest to day glory to his holy name I do believe with out a dout that if I hold out I shall be saved in heaven at last

December 4th

To day I have experienced divine blessings from on hy and I can pray God for it I do thank him for all of his goodness to me so [despondent?] for I feel my unwerthaness but I have the witness in my brest that I am a child of Gods

At this point the entries are interrupted by what appears to be a parallel journal of brief notes about the weather from January 1st, 1867, through April. (One wonders whether it was really 1867, or he made the same mistake that we’ve all made one time or another, and wrote the old year after 1868 had begun.) Then the spiritual entries resume for another page and a quarter.

December 5th

To day I have temptations and trials but I look to God and he helps me to over come I can prais him to night for all of his goodness to me I can do and will trust him for his grace

6th

To day I feel as though my Lord and my God is with me for I have lifted my poor heart to high in prayer all day and he has blessed me for it I can I do and I will put my whole trust in him I will throw my hole heart upon his promises I have had some temtations to day but I find if I go to him his grace will help me in time of need

7th

To day I have had crosses and trials but [illegible] God his grace has been poured out upon me and I have praised him for his goodness to me I feel to night that he is ever ready to answer prayer if we ask in the right spirit

8th

To day I went to the dedication of Wainrights Chapel and the surmont was preached from the XI chapter of Hebrew 5th verse, by faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death now by [mr weston?] and I was greatly blessed and have been full of the love of God all day

9th

To day I have felt divine presents with me and can say with the poet prais the Lord oh my soul and all within me rejoice for all his goodness to me

10th

I have to day experienced the goodness of God I thank him for the many blessings I enjoy I can say to night to prais the Lord oh my soul and that is within me bless his holy name for all of his goodness to me

11th

It has rained now two days the first for three months to wet vegatables to the roots 3rd Saturday and Sunday of September

Although I am deprived of going to hear the gospel preached to a dying people I can sit at home and read the word of God and be happy in his love for I love the Lord and I know he loves me as unworthy as I am for I have his promice that he will never leave or forsake them that puts their trust him him

M. J. McCready

After many pages of other material (mostly penmanship practice, and a few notes written in a different hand), there is another series of entries written by McCready.

January 1th 1872 Sunday

I went to church to preaching today and heard Dr James Smith preach from Hebrews the twelfth chapter first and second verses it was an able discorse and I hope I was profited

Wensday 10th

We have had fresh herrings for supper to night that was caught to day it is worm

Heathville January 13th 1872

I went to quarterly meting to day and brother Daves text was the 40th chapter of Isaiah and the 31st verse

January 14th Went to preaching and brother Daveses text Act the 14th chapter and 17th verse

January 21th Snowed to day and I did not git to go to church to day and I stayed at home and read the Bible and was very much edified as I prize it above all other books

January 28th Went to church to day but it was such bad weather there was no preaching as there was no pastor and no congregation there was but three of us Willie [illegible] Lewis [Littrell?] and my self although I was disapointed in hearing preaching I have read the Bible and prayed and was blessed very much

February 4th I could not go to preaching to day on the account of bad weather but I read a sermont delivered by the Rev. J. M.Mcentyre of the Louisiana Conference     M. J. McCready

February 11th I went to church to day there was no preaching although we expected to hear our circuit preacher but was disappointed he has not preached since the second Sabbath in October for us at Corinth. M. J. McCready

February 18th Yesterday was a stormy and snowey day and to day I did not get to go to church but have stayed at home and read my Bible and the home journal and have read five sermons on holiness by Rev Rufus Underwood and have been greatly blessed in so doing and in prayer I am still striving for the kingdom

February 25 Clear and worm went to church and heared a very surmon by Stark Jet from the text Luke 21th 36th verse

March 3th Snowed yesterday a storm and I did not get to go to church to day and therefore I did not get to hear preaching for the creek frozen over so that I could not git across and the snow was so deep I could not get across but I did not go to sleep am blest

March 10th The snow is not gone yet and it has rained to day and I did not get to go to church to day but I have read five sermons on perfect love and three chapters in the gospel by St. Mark and have been much edified by so doing

March 17th Sunday did not git to go to church to day

March 24th We were disapointed in hearing of preaching today on the account of our quarterly meeting at Smyrna and we have no other meeting but preaching and I am getting very tired of such coldness in both preachers and members of the M.E. church South we have four preachers on our circuit and we don’t have preaching one half of the time at Corinth

March 31st We had no preaching to day as it was not preaching day old father Evins is very sick at this time and brother Covington has been unable to preach any this year and brother Crocker has quit preaching as he cannot make money enough in that way and it leaves us with only two preachers the one to preach on the first and the other on the fourth Sabbath in each month

April 7th I went to church to day and there was no body at church but myself and as it rained I went in and neeled down and prayed and was much blessed in so doing and have had comfort all day

April 14th No preaching to go to to day had to stay at home and read and prais and have been much edified in so doing grace will help in time of need if we seek a in faith

April 21st Had no preaching at Corinth to day

April 28th Had preaching by Stark Jet to day

May 5th Had preaching to day by James Smith and we organized our Sabbath School

May 12th [no entry]

Although this is the last section, chronologically, that was clearly written by McCready (there are many other pages of notes, some signed by members of the Hurley family, others not signed at all), the following entry near the end of the book is signed by McCready and dated two years earlier. It seems to be a draft of a letter to the Methodist Home Journal alluded to above. I haven’t been able to find out whether the letter was published.

Dear Journal as you do not hear from this part of old virginia I take this opportunity of wrighting to inform you of what we are doing there in Northumberland County of three weeks with great success for the glory of God it has not been my privelidge to attend such meetings for many years there has been about sixty five (65) sinners that has professed to have thier sins forgiven and believers built up in their faith we are Methadist but poor we bilt a church in eighteen hundred and fifty six (1856) and have not got it paid for yet but hope by the grace of God to pay for it some time but we have to strugle hard to pay our preachers and the one that we have this year has laboured faithfully for us this year he is a man the people both in the church and out of it like much for he just tells us how we have got to live so as to enter into the straight gate there has been as many as (20) penitents at the alter at one time for prayers we have not had scarce any class meetings for many years past but we begin to revive them again this half we have not had any rain now for near three months that is to wet the corn to the roots and therefore shall not get much of a crop but thank God we shall get enough to eat

If you see proper to to publish this you are at liberty to do so but to God be all the glory through the name of Jesus Amen

Burgess Store Northumberland, September 5th 1870

M. J. McCready

I hope to publish more information from the ledger in the near future, probably beginning with McCready’s weather journal.

– Chris Slavens

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40th Annual Nanticoke Indian Powwow, Sept. 9-10

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July 30, 2017 · 12:54 pm

Matthew Hosea: An Early Settler Near Trap Pond

This week I’ve been looking at an interesting early settler in the Trap Pond area named Matthew Hosea (pronounced Hozey). I don’t know when he came here or where he came from, but he received a patent for a 100-acre tract named New Dublin in 1716, and was a head of household in 1723, according to the earliest tax list. That’s very early for the neighborhood in question.

Hosea probably lived closer to Trussum Pond and James Branch than to Trap Pond. His “neck of the woods” was called both Hosea’s Neck and the Great Neck, and as early as 1730, surveyors noted a path leading from Matthew Hosea’s to Indian River. I suspect this path crossed either Trap Pond or Raccoon Pond, and parts of it probably survive today. In 1734, a 50-acre tract named Snow Hill (not to be confused with other tracts named Snow Hill) was patented to Hosea; its first bounder was “a Marked White oake standing one the north side of a branch of Broad Creek called the bald Syprus Branch a Littell Distance from the side Of the sd branch and a bout two hundred pole [1,100 yards] above wheere Matthew Hosey Now Lives in a Neck called the Great Neck…”

Hosea’s descendants held onto his land for a long time, possibly even into the 20th century, and a local schoolhouse was labeled Hosey School on maps as recently as 1945.

It would be irresponsible to try to guess what kind of man Hosea was. Why did he settle in what was then an untamed wilderness, far from neighbors and even churches? Was he a sort of free spirit who craved independence in isolation? Or was he a sterner sort of fellow who simply settled where he could afford to?

We can only be sure of one thing: He had to work very, very hard just to survive, build a farm, and provide for his family, out here on the outskirts of civilization.

– Chris Slavens

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A Brief History of Broad Creek Town

This article was first published in the Laurel Historical Society‘s newsletter.

The Nanticoke Indians who moved to Broad Creek in or around 1705 were, in many ways, a defeated people. In the nearly one hundred years since their ancestors had welcomed Captain John Smith’s barge with a barrage of arrows, their numbers, power, and wealth had diminished due to a series of wars and treaties. Even their reservation at the junction of the Nanticoke River and Chicacoan Creek was threatened by aggressive, trespassing English newcomers. This story would require many pages to tell. For the sake of brevity, suffice it to say that they were desperate and discouraged—but perhaps hopeful that they would be able to preserve their culture in their new home, farther inland with only a handful of English neighbors.

The refugees settled near a site known as the Wading Place, which was one of the easier points at which to cross Broad Creek. It is possible that there was already a village or camp there, although the records seem to imply that the location was a new one for the tribe.  Whether there was an existing Nanticoke settlement at the site or not, the land on both sides of the creek had been granted to Englishmen in the 1680s. The Nanticokes might not have been aware of this—or they might not have cared. Evidently the English did care, and told the Nanticokes that they might have to relocate yet again, for in October of 1711, the Maryland legislature was informed that “the Nanticoke Indians are much dissatisfied they may not be permitted to continue at Broad Creek where they are set down…” Perhaps indicating that the dwindling tribe was still a force to be reckoned with, the provincial government decided it would be unwise to evict them, and instead empowered commissioners to purchase and reserve three thousand acres on Broad Creek for their use.

In a matter of weeks, surveyor William Whittington, Jr., laid out two tracts, one on each side of the creek. The northern tract consisted of the entire 2,500-acre tract known as Greenland, originally granted to William Green. The southern tract consisted of 500 acres on the east side of Little Creek, and included 133 acres of a tract known as Batchelor’s Delight, originally surveyed for Col. William Stevens, but subsequently transferred to James Wythe and Marmaduke Master.

A jury of twelve local freeholders determined that Greenland was worth 50,000 pounds of tobacco; the portion of Batchelor’s Delight, 2,666 pounds of tobacco; and the remainder of the southern tract, 7,334 pounds of tobacco. Additionally, they awarded Henry Freaks 3,000 pounds of tobacco “for his Damages in building Clearing and fencing on the said Land…” and William Denton, Jr., 500 pounds of tobacco “for his damages for work and repareing to build and setle on the Land…”

Note: The exact location of each tract, particularly that of the northern tract, is not entirely clear. The placement of the northern tract on the map below is largely based on shaky assertions about its western boundary made in deeds dated 1816. Personally, I am bothered by the fact that records from 1711 state that the southwestern bounder of the northern tract was on the east side of a small creek which does not seem to appear on modern maps or satellite imagery. I am also bothered by the fact that, according to this placement, the eastern boundary of the northern tract follows today’s Route 13, rather than the much older Alternate 13. It is possible that the entire northern tract should be shifted to the west or to the east. However, its approximate location is known, and the placement of the southern tract is much more precise, although I’ve deliberately matched its western boundary with today’s Little Creek, rather than its slightly different location three centuries ago.

Since the English had a habit of unimaginatively (and often misleadingly) naming any band of Indians after the waterway on which they lived, the Nanticokes on Broad Creek became known as the Broad Creek Indians, and their settlement was called Broad Creek Town. If they gave it a name of their own, it was never recorded.

The approximate boundaries of Broad Creek Town based on the original 1711 surveys.

Little is known of Broad Creek Town, other than its location. Was there a central village, or were the residents spread out? Did they live in traditional wigwams, or European-style cabins? We can’t be sure, but the best guess is probably “all of the above.” The historian J. Thomas Scharf later reported that they “cultivated the land to some extent” and built a “harbor.” Additionally, they probably interacted with the residents of Askecksy, a nearby Indian River Indian reservation established at about the same time.

A little more is known of the leadership of the Broad Creek Indians, but not much. The records of the time mention a number of Nanticoke leaders—notably Panquash, whose leadership stretched from the 1690s into the 1740s—but rarely specify whether they were from Chicacoan or Broad Creek. One such leader was Rassekettham, who accompanied Panquash and Tom Coursey in 1713 to inform the English that the tribe no longer recognized its former emperor, Asquash, who had moved to Pennsylvania. They also inquired as to whether the English had conspired with Asquash to kill Panquash and Rassekettham, and were assured that they had not and would not. Though Rassekettham was not explicitly identified as a Broad Creek Indian, the tributary known as Rossakatum Creek or Rossakatum Branch is assumed to have been named after him. It is likely that he was the chief of the Broad Creek band in 1713.

Another probable leader was King Toby, who, with fellow Broad Creek Indians Lolloway and Whist, traveled to the county court held at Dividing Creek in 1725 to complain that some of the Caldwells had mistreated them in some way. Lolloway might have been the same Indian named Lolloway who had been assaulted so badly in Somerset Parish the previous year that he nearly died. Other incidents reported in and around the various Indian reservations indicate that tensions continued to escalate during this time.

In the spring of 1742, the Nanticokes, Choptanks, Indian River Indians, Pocomokes, and some visiting Shawnees met in Wimbesoccom Neck to discuss a plot to massacre the local settlers and reclaim the Eastern Shore, supposedly with the help of the Iroquois Confederacy and the French. The tale of “the plot in the swamp” has been told elsewhere, but a few details are worth noting. Wimbesoccom Neck consisted of the land east of Wimbesoccom Creek (today’s Gray’s Branch) and north of the main branch of Broad Creek, which flows through today’s Trap Pond. The neck stretched into the outskirts of what would later be called Gumborough Hundred, and was probably heavily wooded and sparsely settled—an ideal location for a secret powwow. Interestingly, some of the Broad Creek Indians spoke of a “logged house” stocked with weapons, located a few miles into the swamp. Their leaders at this time were known as Simon Alsechqueck and Captain John.

But the plot was discovered and foiled, and numerous Indians arrested, and the tribal leaders were forced to sign an extremely restrictive treaty. Henceforth, the Nanticokes could no longer elect an emperor, and every member of the tribe was forbidden to own a gun without obtaining a license from the governor. It was the last straw. Just two years later, Simon Alsechqueck requested and received permission for the tribe to migrate north and live among the Iroquois, and by the 1750s, Broad Creek Town was said to be deserted.

In 1768, the provincial government authorized commissioners to sell what had become known as the Indian Lands, and according to later deeds, Joseph Forman purchased 518 acres at the western end of the northern tract, and John Mitchell purchased 2,236 acres. Barkley Townsend acquired part of the southern tract prior to 1776. Following Mitchell’s death in 1787, his portion was sold to a number of buyers including George Mitchell, George Corbin, and John Creighton. Decades later, Forman’s heirs divided his parcel into two lots and sold one to Dr. James Derickson, and the other to Benjamin Fooks and Kendall M. Lewis.

Today, the town of Laurel occupies much of the site of Broad Creek Town, and continues to grow, making archaeological investigation difficult. Even so, the stone artifacts that frequently turn up in nearby fields, and local names like Rossakatum and Sockum, survive to remind us of the first people to call Broad Creek home.

– Chris Slavens

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