Rock Run, Maryland

Day 1116

     The Susquehanna River, named for the Susquehannock tribe, is the Chesapeake Bay’s main tributary, providing nearly half of the Bay’s fresh water, stretching from New York to Maryland.

     Back when our Country was being developed, many settlements grew up along the Susquehanna River. One such settlement was Rock Run. We are hiking along the Susquehanna River above Havre de Grace (see Day 1047).

     We took the trail of the old railroad bed that paralleled the river. We were told this trail was not maintained

     and they weren’t kidding

     Of course, we kept an eye out for wildlife:

     We did not realize it until we came upon this lock,

     that we were hiking between the river and the old Susquehanna & Tidewater Canal.

     We hiked from Rock Run to Lapidum. This settlement traces its history to 1683 with the granting of land patents for the tracts along the river. As the surrounding land was transformed from wilderness to farmland, Lapidum grew in importance as a commercial center. Corn and tobacco grew along the river bank at Lapidum and a bustling fishing and ice harvesting industry developed here. When we arrive here today, about 2 miles from Rock Run, all we found was a parking lot with no evidence that at one time it was a thriving community. From dust to dust.      

     Hiking back to Rock Run, where our car was located, we came upon the Rock Run Grist Mill. The mill, erected in 1798 by prosperous businessman and landowner John Stump, is a former flour mill. During its most successful years, flour from the mill was sold to both local and international markets.

     On the hill which overlooks the mill stands the Carter-Archer House. The 14-room stone structure was built in 1804 by John Carter, a partner of John Stump in the Rock Run Mill. When Carter died a year later, the house passed to Stumps’ daughter, Ann, and her husband, Dr. John Archer, Jr.

     James Jay Archer was born in this house on December 19, 1817 to John and Ann Stump Archer, the 8th of 11 children. He studied law at the University of Maryland and established a successful law practice. In 1847 he left the practice of law to enter the U.S. Army as a Captain. 

     Captain Archer resigned his commission and joined the Confederacy in 1861. Ultimately he rose to the rank of General, leading many campaigns. He was captured at Gettysburg, July 1, 1863, being the first General captured from Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. 

 

Oldest Building in Havre de Grace, Maryland

Day 1114

     John Rodgers, born 1726, and his wife Elizabeth were immigrants from Scotland and one of the first families to settle in Susquehanna Lower Ferry, now Havre de Grace, Maryland. They owned and operated Rodger’s Tavern. The Rodgers home, built in 1787, survived the British attack in 1813, and is still standing as the oldest building in Havre de Grace.

      Unfortunately, today it is an abandoned, dilapidated building. 

     John and Elizabeth Rodgers had eight children.Their son John, born near Havre de Grace July 11, 1772, was a career navy seaman. In the War of 1812, he captained the 44 gun three-masted frigate, USS President, which engaged the British ship, HMS Belvidera on June 23, 1812, five days after the war had started, in the first naval battle of the war. 

      Tidbit of Information: In 1789 the House of Representatives voted as to the permanent location of the Capital of the United States. It was tied between Havre de Grace, Maryland, and what would be Washington, District of Columbia. The deciding vote was casted by the Speaker of the House. I am not going to tell you his vote.

     John Rodgers’ son, also named John Rodgers, commanded ironclads in the Civil War. (So, John Rodgers’ father’s name was John Rodgers, his son was named John Rodgers, obviously no imagination in naming their children in this family.) The Rodgers family includes four generations of naval officers.  

     Keep your eyes out for future blogs.

Duck Carving in Maryland

Day 1097

     Back in the early 1900’s Havre de Grace, Maryland, was known mostly for its duck carvers. Because of it’s position on the Susquehanna River, migratory ducks would stop here. Duck hunting was a major sport.

     Because duck hunters are basically lazy, they wanted the ducks to come to them. Hence the industry of duck decoys. 

     Decoys are models of birds used to draw waterfowl within shooting range of hunters. The Indians made decoys of straw long before the first settlers arrived in the area. By 1812, wooden decoys, carved and painted as a particular species, were common in duck hunting.

     Decoys were a simple tool designed to enhance a hunter’s chances. Decoys were made for one purpose, to kill ducks. It didn’t have to be a work of art, but every decoy maker had an idea of what they were supposed to look like.

     The decoy was hand made of wood and hand painted. Each decoy maker had his own design of painting. Decoy making soon became an art form.

     Sinkboxes resembled a floating coffin. The sinkbox is surrounded with over 200 decoys. The hunter sits down in the box where it was difficult for the ducks to see him. A hunter could expect to bring in over 100 ducks a day. The sinkbox rig was too successful at luring in ducks. It was outlawed in 1935 to protect the declining duck population. 

     Are they live or memorex?

     If you know what I am talking about, you are really, really old. 

     Ok, bottoms up!

Concord Point Lighthouse

Day 1092

    John O’Neil was born in Ireland on November 23, 1768, and came to America at the age of eighteen. He was a gunsmith and served in the military under General Harry Lee during the Whisky Insurrection in 1794. Lt. O’Neill also served in the Navy in 1798 against the French. He married and moved to Havre de Grace, Maryland, where he ran a nail factory.

      As stated before, the British attacked Havre de Grace on May 3, 1813. Because the citizens knew the attack was eminent, they all fled. As a member of the militia, O’Neill was manning the Potato Battery cannons at Concord Point when the British ships appeared. He commenced firing, but his fellow militiamen ran away. Firing the cannon alone, he was injured by the gun’s recoil and fled into town. British forces landed at Concord Point and eventually captured O’Neill who had continued to resist with musket fire. Word reached the town that he was to be hung as a traitor the next day.  His 16 year old daughter, Matilda, rowed out to the British vessel bringing evidence of his commission in the militia, and pled for his release, which was granted.

     His courage earned O’Neill a presidential appointment as first keeper of the Concord Point Lighthouse on November 3, 1827 for a salary of $350 a year. Lt. O’Neill served as keeper until his death in 1838. Four generations of the O’Neills would serve as keepers at the Concord Point Lighthouse until it’s automation in 1920.

     The Concord Point Lighthouse was built in 1827 by local contractor John Donahoo, who built 13 of the earliest lighthouse on the Chesapeake Bay. It only measures 26 feet tall with a lantern on top, bringing the total height to 36 feet. The walls at the base are 3’1” thick and narrow to 18” at the top. It has 27 steps and a six rung latter to the lantern. 

     The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1975. We could not go into the lighthouse because it is now closed. I guess they couldn’t find a keeper. 

     Aunt Jemima says hi:

We Are Now Water Front

Day 1091

     One of the great things about traveling in the Sphinx is what adventure or challenge will meet you around the next corner. We are currently in Abingdon, Maryland in a campground on the Bush River. Because of unforeseen circumstances we have been here for 3 months and will winter here.  We anticipate departure shortly after my father’s 99th birthday on the same day Christ was born. 

     Bar Harbor RV Park & Marina is on a peninsula in the river. It has short term stays waterfront. Long term stays are half the price and we are about 200 yards from the river. Last night I went out to see the sunset and found water around the Sphinx. 

     We were still on dry ground, but the water came up to our electrical box. 

     I got Barbara up and we walked the high ground to the camp office and saw this sign:

     This morning the water receded and did not actually reach the Sphinx itself. Other’s were not so lucky. Those who paid the high priced water front were surrounded by water, but not flooded out. We became waterfront at the reduced price. 

     Isn’t life great?

Havre de Grace, Maryland

Day 1047

     The history of Havre de Grace, Maryland, begins with the voyage of Capt. John Smith here in 1608. In 1652 a treaty with the Susquehannock Indians led to settlement of the area.

     Godfrey Harmer was born in Sweden in the year 1598. The land on which the town of Havre de Grace now stands was laid out for Godfrey Harmer on July 19, 1658 and called Harmer’s Town. Naturalized as a citizen of Maryland in 1661, he transferred his allegiance from the King of Sweden to Lord Baltimore. Harmer was an Indian trader and interpreter.

     The town sits at the confluence (I love that word) of the Susquehanna River, (which originates 444 miles north at Otsego Lake in Cooperstown, New York) and the Chesapeake Bay. 

     The city got it’s current name from the Marquis de Lafayette [statute above] who visited this town shortly after the Revolutionary War, and said it reminded him of the French port city, Le Havre de Grace, which means “The City of Mercy”. The residents incorporated the town as Havre de Grace in 1785.

     We walked the 3 mile Lafayette Trail which took us to all the still standing historic sites, like the Aveilhe-Goldsborough house,

built in 1801.

     Most of the house in Havre de Grace were destroyed by the British on May 3, 1813. During the War of 1812, the British burned Washington and then proceed up the Chesapeake Bay, bombarding Fort McHenry, and then proceeding to Havre de Grace to destroy the Iron Foundry here. Like Fort McHenry, they fired Congreve rockets. They were developed by Sir William Congreve, born May 20, 1772 in Kent, England. The rockets gave inspiration to Francis Scott Key to include in his poem: “and the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air”.

     The 45 mile long Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal was completed in 1839 and ran from Wrightsville, Pennsylvania to Havre de Grace, Maryland. In fact, it ended at the spot I am standing,

where the Susquehanna River meets the Chesapeake Bay. Barges would travel the canal, pulled by mules, until 1897, when railroad signaled it’s death knoll. The canal was stilled used locally until 1909.

 

Bar Harbor, Abingdon, Maryland

     Unforeseen circumstances has brought us back to Maryland. We are camping at Bar Harbor, on the Bush River in Abingdon, Maryland, for the next couple of months.

    Abingdon is the birthplace of William Paca, third Governor of Maryland, and is named after the same place in England. 

Technical Stuff: Placid Drive, Md. to Bar Harbor, Maryland: 23 miles

1 hour 2 minutes 

7.5 MPG

Diesel: $2.86