East New Market

Historic Sketches

1913 - Frank E. Loomis

The Daily Banner
Cambridge, Maryland
Thursday, August 29, 1935
From a presentation delivered to the East New Market Grange in 1913.

History of East New Market - 1871-1913
by Frank E. Loomis

I wish to tell you tonight of the East New Market of forty two years ago.  There is only one in this hall tonight, save my wife and myself, who personally has any knowledge of those who lived in this town or conducted its affairs then.  Hence, I thought a reminiscence of the past might be of interest to you whose parents were active men and women of the town.  The events I shall give you will be straggling and disconnected, but will be an evidence of the changing scenes.

In the spring of 1871 I landed in this town, a young man of 21 years.  I found everything in a religious fervor.  There had just closed the greatest revival, perhaps, which this town has ever experienced.  The pastor, I.N. Brown of the M.E. Church said to me at that time that everyone in the town was either converted or under conviction.  I will name a few of the many who were converted in this meeting, Arthur Saxton, Joe Hicks, Fred Atkinson, Thomas Helsby, Shade Carmine, Ned Shelkirk, Andrew Dukes, and Dr. Jones.  These are only a few of the converted.

At this time, East New Market had not been shorn of its territory.  A piece was taken to help make Linkwood and Hurlock has had two slices.  In those days there was only one dwelling in Secretary; there was none in Hawkeye, none in Rhodesdale, and no indication of a town in Hurlock; hence East New Market of necessity was the hub of Upper Dorchester.  On Saturday afternoons our streets were packed; people came from all sections, the Hurlocks, Andrews, Carrolls, Lowes, Hoopers, Charles, in fact all the people who made up Hurlock were seen on our streets.  The town at that time had four grocery stores kept by E.S. Johnson, M.S. Fletcher, Quince Leckie, &  W.H. Briley; the drug store was owned by Thomas Helsby; a millinery store was kept by Mrs. Colston; a blacksmith shop by Ed Reed; a repair shop by Jim Stevens; an undertaking establishment by W.W. Willoughby; a paint shop and large manufacturer ship by C.C. Seymour.  The brick hotel was kept by Mary Bramble; a good old soul but noted for her inquisitiveness.  A stop of twenty four hours with her would strip one of all his secrets.

There were four doctors - Dr. Henry Houston, Dr. James Phillips, Dr. G. P. Jones, & Dr. James T. Jacobs.  The magistrates were two, Thomas Hicks and William Abdell.  S.E. Collins was the constable.  Robert Christian was the academy professor.  The M.E. Parsonage  was what is now the Episcopal rectory. 

The postmaster was Nimrod Newton, a good man, but something of a moss back.  To illustrate; about this time the M.E. Church decided to have music in the worship, and place an organ in the church.  This incensed the old man for he believed the devil was in that organ.  He was too good to leave the church, so he concluded to separate the good from the bad by remaining outside until the second hymn was sung, then go in and come out before the last hymn.  One day he made a mistake and reached the "Amen Corner" before the second hymn was announced.  He was in a dilemma, but something had to be done at once.  They were going to play, so he got up and walked down the aisle and out of the church and remained outside and remained outside until the music stopped, then he returned.  Mr. Newton's attitude may seem puritanical, but he was not alone in his views as to the introduction of church music; thousands of other persons held the same opinion.

Now as to the appearance of the town at that time.  The growth since has not been great, yet the town has undergone much improvement, particularly in the alteration of the old houses, nearly all of which were one and a half story buildings; in fact there was none of modern architecture nor of modern convenience.  The houses then were numerically as follows:  on Railroad Avenue, then 2 now 12; on W. Main Street, then 2 now 8; on E. Main Street, then 18 now 26.  [likely referring to N. Main as W. Main and S. Main as E. Main and likely not including commercial property in counts.]  If I have made no mistake our dwellings now number 61, then 27, a slow growth, but better than going backwards.  At this time the railroad had been built about four years, owned principally by county stockholders.  The president was Wilson Burns of Cambridge.  Our station agent was James Murphy who married a sister of Dr. Jacobs and afterwards became conductor and I think remained so until the road went into the hands of receivers.

At this time, there were thousands upon thousands of peach trees (and by the way, they used to bear at that time).  The larger part of the peaches were shipped to Baltimore and they had to be hauled to Cabin Creek wharf or Sherman's principally Sherman's.  We could not drive out on the wharf, but had to push them out on that long pier on a small car.  This was done by helping one another  I will leave it to my patient heare(?) to decide how much our land has improved in fertility - for then a brag crop of corn was 26 bushels to the acre, and if a farmer raised 10 bushels of wheat to the acre, it was much talked of.  Understand these were the best crops.  As the soil has become more fertile, so have the minds of the people.  Then many of the older folks could neither read or write.  They were not abreast of the times.  I do not think there was but two daily papers in the district and these two by M.S. Fletcher and B.N. Corkran.  No one took more than the county paper and the old Baltimore Weekly Sun, which had for its agent George Stevens, who would solicit everyone he came in contact with.  In those days there was no diversified farming, wheat, corn, and peaches formed our money crops.  This gave the farmers many leisure days.

I wish to cite an incident showing what misunderstanding will cause.  In the days I write concerning, there was no clover grown.  Animal pasturage in the spring until crab grass it was corn stalks until garlic came again.  After buying a farm I returned to my former home for my wife.  Of course I had to relate what I had seen and the statement was:  "That bread they call Maryland Biscuit is the worst stuff I ever tasted.  Soon after returning to Maryland I found it was the garlicky butter instead of the biscuit which had tasted so unpleasantly.

The formality of today had not set in.  People did not wait for a special invitation to visit you.  Dearborns were the usual mode of conveyance and it was nothing to look out the window from 9 to 10 A.M. and see the whole family driving up, and then as the host came out and extended that old hospitable greeting of days gone by "Light and take out."  That meant a good all day's visit and a good dinner.  Perhaps the sitting hen had just been shut up for that offense might be called upon to sacrifice her life; at least there would surely be some of that good old ham which had derived its flavor from the mast of the forest.  What a contrast this is to our modern guests who come a few minutes before the meal, and my! the preparation that has to be made for them, all the new fangled dishes, even "scented" salads.

Life is like the shifting sands - today we are here and tomorrow we are gone.  There is not living, of the heads of the original families, over eight between Brookview and Cambridge.  In this town, but one, William Hooper.  There are not living today in this town more than six people of '71, and they were children at that time.  Where are they?  Read the inscriptions on those marble slabs in yonder cemetery and you will find they have gone - no, not entirely gone.  They have left an influence, a heredity that has gone down the line in posterity, like the pebble cast into the sea whose circle is ever widening until the further Shore is reached.