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Gazetteer of Maryland, 1904

General Description of the State

Maryland is one of the Eastern States, bordering on the Atlantic Ocean, about midway between the northern and southern boundaries of the country. It lies between latitudes 37° 53' and 39° 44', and between longitudes 75° 04 and 79° 33'. Its neighbors are Pennsylvania on the north, West Virginia and Virginia on the west and south, and Delaware on the east. Its north boundary is Mason and Dixon's line, and its east boundary is, in part, a nearly north-south line separating it from Delaware and Pennsylvania, and, in part, the Atlantic Ocean. On the south the boundary is an irregular line across the peninsula separating- Chesapeake Bay from the Atlantic Ocean; then across Chesapeake Bay to the southern point of the entrance to Potomac River; thence following, the low-water line on the south bank of the Potomac to the head of the north branch of that river, at a point known as Fairfax Stone, excepting the area of the District of Columbia. The west boundary is a meridian drawn through Fairfax Stone northward to Mason and Dixon's line.

The gross area of the State, including that part of Chesapeake Bay in its borders, the broad estuaries at the mouths of the rivers, and the lagoons on the Atlantic coast, is 12,210 square miles, of which 9,860 square miles are land area.


The topography of the State is extremely varied, ranging from level lands, but slightly elevated above the sea, to mountains and plateaus in the western part of the State, 3,000 feet in altitude. The peninsula east of Chesapeake Bay and a narrow strip west of that body of water constitute what is known as the Coastal Plain. This has an area of 5,000 square miles, or more than one-half of the land area of the State. The peninsula is very low and level, nowhere rising 100 feet above tide, and much of it, especially near the shore of the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay, is marshy. The Atlantic coast is bordered by sand bars, including broad lagoons of shallow water on their landward side. On the west side of Chesapeake Bay the Coastal Plain reaches an altitude of 300 feet in places, and shows much relief. Of the twenty-three counties of the State, the following are comprised in the Coastal Plain: Worcester, Somerset, Wicomico, Dorchester, Caroline, Talbot, Queen Anne, Kent, and Cecil, on the peninsula, and Prince George, Charles, Calvert, St. Mary, and Anne Arundel west of Chesapeake Bay.

Along a line running- through Havre de Grace, Baltimore, and Washington the granitic rocks rise to the surface. This is called the "fall line," from the fact that streams have rapids or falls where they flow across the first hard ledges. West of this line granite or allied rocks predominate, while east of it, on the Coastal Plain, are soft Cretaceous and Tertiary formations. This region extends from the fall line to the Blue Ridge and has an area of about 2,500 square miles. It is known as the Piedmont Plateau and comprises the following counties: Montgomery, Howard, Baltimore, Harford, Carroll, and Frederick. This region presents much more relief and is higher than the Coastal Plain.

The third zone that of the Appalachian Mountains, extends from the Blue Ridge to the west boundary of the State, and has an area of about 2,000 square miles. It includes the counties of Washington, Allegany, and Garrett. In the main this region consists of an alternation of valleys and mountain ridges, the latter rising to altitudes of 2,000 and 3,000 feet. In the western part, mainly in Garrett County, is a plateau with a rolling surface 2,500 feet above sea level. The mean elevation of the State is estimated at 350 feet.

Maryland was first settled in 1634: under a charter to Lord Baltimore, settlement being made at St. Marys. It was one of the thirteen original States, having adopted the Constitution on April 28, 1788. In 1791 the State ceded to the General Government for the purposes of a capital an area of about 70 square miles, which constitutes the present District of Columbia.

In 1780 Maryland was the sixth State in the Union in population. In 1900, although its inhabitants were 3.7 times as numerous, it had dropped to the twenty-sixth in rank, owing to the rapid growth of the newer States in the Mississippi Valley. In 1900 the average density of population was 120 persons to the square mile. It has five cities which exceed 6,000 inhabitants, of which Baltimore has over half a million. The other four are as follows: Cumberland, 17,128; Hagerstown, 18,591; Frederick, 9,296; and Annapolis, the capital, 8,525.

These five cities contain 46.9 per cent of the population of the entire State. In cities of more than 2,500 inhabitants live 48.8 per cent, or nearly one-half the population of the State, while the remainder, 51.2 per cent, may be regarded as rural. In 1900 the population was divided almost equally between the two sexes, 49.6 per cent being males and 50.4 per cent being females. The Negro population, though large for a border State, is diminishing in proportion to the whites. In 1900 the whites formed 80.2 percent and the Negroes 19.8 per cent, or nearly one-fifth of the population. The number of foreign-born inhabitants was also small, the persons of native birth forming 92.1 per cent, while those born in foreign countries were 7.9 per cent. Immigration from other States has not been large, since it is found that of the native population 13 per cent were born in other States.

For a State containing so large a proportion of Negroes, the illiteracy is slight. In 1900, persons of 10 years of age and upward who were unable to read and write constituted 11. 1 per cent of the population. The illiterates comprised only 4.1 percent of the native whites over 10 years old, 13.4 percent of the foreign born, and 35.1 per cent of the Negroes.

Of the population, 15 years old and upward, 37.9 per cent were single; 52.9 per cent married; 8.5 per cent widowed; 0.2 per cent divorced; and the conjugal condition of the remainder was unknown. The average size of a family was 4.9 persons, being somewhat larger than the average for the country.

Agriculture is one of the leading occupations. In 1900 the State contained -16,021 farms, of which seven-eighths were occupied by white farmers and one-eighth by Negro farmers. Two-thirds of the farms were owned by their occupants, and one-third were rented, either for money rental or on shares of the products. The farms had a total area of 5,170,075 acres. The cultivated area amounted to 3,516,352 acres, or more than two-thirds of the farm area and 55.7 per cent of the total area of the State. The average size of the farms was 112.4 acres, being considerably less than the average for the United States. The total value of all the farms was $204,645,407.


Maryland Gazetteer | Maryland AHGP

Source: Gazetteer of Maryland, by Henry Gannett, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1904.


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