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 Somerset County Maryland

Welcome to Maryland American History and Genealogy Project we are in the process of building new State and County pages for the states where the coordinator has moved on to other projects. Somerset County is looking for a new Coordinator would you be interested? If so please contact Webmaster. Many of the present coordinators are always willing to give help and suggestions to newcomers, you can learn, I did and that was after 60!! Read our About Page and see what our requirements are, pretty easy!

Court House at Princess Anne

Somerset County was erected August 22, 1666, by an order of the Provincial Council, and embraced, "all that Tract of land within this our province of Maryland bounded on the South with a line drawn from Wattkin's point (being the North point of th't bay into wch the river Wighco formerly called Wighcocomoco afterwards Pocomoke & now Wighcocomoco again doth fall exclusively) to the Ocean on the East, Nantecoke River on the North & the Sound of Chesipiake Bay on the West;" which was erected in the name and as the act of the Lord Proprietary "into a county by the name of Sommersett County in honor to our Deare Sister the lady Mary Somersett." The commissioners, Stephen Horsey, William Stevens, William Thome, James Jones, John Winder, Henry Boston, George Johnson and John White were empowered "to enquire by the Oath of good & lawful men of all manner of felonies, Witchcraft enchantments, Sorceries, Magic Arts, Trespasses, forestalling engrossing & extorcons" and "all & singler other misdeeds and offences."

The order appointed "Edmond Beachchampe Clark and Keeper of the Records," and the Council issued the same day a commission to Stephen Horsey to be "Sheriff of Somersett." The first effort to settle the long standing boundary dispute with Virginia resulted in Scarborough's line depriving Somerset of 23 square miles of territory.

Like Dorset, Somerset has jurisdiction over several islands, one of which, Deal's Island, was celebrated early in the last century for its Methodist " Parson " Thomas, who, tradition says, foretold the death of Ross in the attack on Baltimore and preached to the British on his island. The southeastern corner of Somerset is separated from Accomac, in Virginia, by the Pocomoke River, and the division line continues through Pocomoke Sound. The Western Shore is washed by Tangier Sound and the Bay. The area of Somerset is 362 square miles, and it heads the list of oyster counties, half its population being engaged in that industry.

The value of the annual oyster yield from Somerset waters is $2,000,000, and the packing houses along the southern and western shores utilize from one to one and a half million bushels yearly. In summer oystermen find employment in the crabbing industry, and these shellfish are shipped in enormous quantities to city markets, 250,000 dozen going from Crisfield alone in a single season. Terrapin are more plentiful in Somerset than in other counties, and "diamond-back farming" is successful.
Agriculture is profitable in the interior, and truck farming is carried on along the lines of the New York, Philadelphia and Norfolk Railroad. Crisfield, near the mouth of the little Annemessex River, with a population of 3,165, is a port of entry for hundreds of vessels, and has extensive industrial and commercial interests.

The county seat. Princess Anne, was founded in 1733. Other towns are Fairmount, Oriole, Mt. Vernon, Dame's Quarter, Kingston, Costen, Hopewell, Marion and Westover.

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 Maryland AHGP

Source: History of Maryland, by L. Magruder Passano, Wm. J.C. Dulany Company, 1901.

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