Kent Island AG-78 - History

Kent Island AG-78 - History

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Kent Island

An island in the Chesapeake Bay, Md., where a trading post was established in 1631 by William Claiborne.

(AG-78: dp. 5,766; 1. 441'6"; b. 56'11"; dr. 23'; s. 12.5 k.; cpl. 883; a. 15", 12 20mm.; cl. Belle Isle)

Kent Island (AG-78) was launched 9 January 1945 by New England Shipbuilding Corp., South Portland, Maine, under a Maritime Commission contract; sponsored by Mrs. Nan Hatch; transferred to the Navy 19 January 1945; commissioned the same day, ferried to Todd Shipbuilding Co., Hoboken, N.J.; decommissioned 23 January 1945 for conversion to a barracks and issue ship; and recommissioned I August 1945, Comdr. W. C. Ball, USNR, in command.

After shakedown in Chesapeake Bay, Kent Island cleared Norfolk 31 August for duty with the Service Force of the Pacific Fleet. She arrived Pearl Harbor 9 October via San Diego to commence operations in Hawaiian waters. She sailed for Okinawa 17 October to receive Navy veterans for transportation to the United States, and returned San Francisco 30 November. Kent Island cleared San Francisco 3 January 1946, transited the Panama Canal, and arrived Hampton Roads 26 January. Following upkeep, she put into Orange, Tex., 15 March where she was placed out of commission In reserve 22 June 1946. She was redesignated AKS-26 on 18 August 1951 and struck from the Navy List 1 April 1960. Kent Island was sold to Southern Scrap Material Co. 2 November 1960 to be scrapped.

The Kent Island Heritage Society

The Kent Island Heritage Society was founded in 1975 for the purpose of discovering, identifying, restoring and preserving the heritage of Kent Island in Maryland. It works diligently to facilitate the processes by which both its youth and mature history enthusiasts can acquire an appreciation of Kent Island's place in the history of Maryland and of our nation.

Latest News!

The Smithsonian/Maryland Humanities Voices and Votes exhibit has arrived in Queen Anne's County!

Queen Anne’s County Historical Society hosts Voices and Votes at Kennard African American Cultural Heritage Center June 12–July 24, 2021. The center is located at 410 Little Kidwell Avenue in Centreville. The exhibition will be on view Wednesdays and Fridays, 3:00–7:00 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays, 10:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m. Special arrangements for other viewing opportunities can be requested by calling (410) 708-0151. Queen Anne’s Historical Society and Kennard African American Cultural Heritage Center will follow specific COVID safety protocols. Learn more at or call 410.708.0151

Historic Sites to Reopen the First Saturday in August!

We are pleased to announce that our historic sties in Stevensville (Cray House, Train Depot, Bank, Christ Church, and Post Office) and Chester (Kirwan House, General Store, and Museum) will reopen to the public the first Saturday of August from 12 noon to 4 pm. Docents will be available to tell our story and answer your questions. We appreciate everyone's patience while we, along with everyone else, weathered the Covid-19 storm. Please check back for important announcements.

Kent Island Heritage Society docents.

In the meantime please visit us virtually and explore what we have to offer online. Future updates will be available on our website and our Twitter and Facebook accounts which you can access at the top of this page.

Stay healthy and we hope to see you soon!

The History of the Isle of Kent (Kent Island)

Learn about the early settlement of Kent Island in 1631 by William Claiborne and why it is not considered the first English settlement in Maryland even though it is the fourth oldest permanent English settlement in the United States, after Jamestown, Virginia (1607), Hampton, Virginia (1609–10), and Plymouth, Massachusetts (1620). Discover the conflicts that have shaped the history and culture of the island: beaver pelts, oysters, mosquitos, wars, bombing ranges, and more by clicking below!

Kent Island Heritage Society Presentation

Did You Ever Wonder What Kent Island Used to Look Like?

View what Kent Island used to look like from the present all the way back to 1937. You'll be amazed! You can even compare two years side by side! Link here .

Zoom to History!

The Kent island Heritage Society has suspended all in person presentations until further notice, however, we are able to Zoom some of the presentations. Please stay tuned for updates! The Heritage Society has various historical Kent Island presentations available for your school, local organizations, or groups.

Click the link below to read summaries of the historical presentations or download the brochure:

Please allow a month's notice and, if possible, we will provide a speaker from the Heritage Society for that interactive session.

Each presentation runs forty-five minutes to an hour.

The Society works diligently to assist our youth and mature history enthusiasts to acquire an appreciation of Kent Island's place in the history of our state and nation.

Blast from the Past!

Enjoy this video from 2012 starring our Nancy Cook (Queen Anne's County Historic Sites Chair) and Linda Collier (curator of the Kirwan House General Store and Museum). Two Minutes of History

Kirwan House Beautification

The Kirwan House general store roof was recently renovated. Look at how beautiful the house looks: ready for some visitors in August!

Historic Bank for Sale

The historic Stevensville Bank is up for sale! There was no bank on Kent Island before 1900. With limited resources and a concerted effort a corporation was formed in 1903. The name of the corporation was “The Stevensville Saving Bank of Queen Anne’s Country.” Later in 1912 the name was changed to “The Stevensville Bank of Maryland.” The president of the new corporation was Charles B. Downs. Original bank-directors included: Charles Percy Kemp, Milton Hysore Price, Issac Grollman, B. Harrison Bright, William E. Denny, Sr. Hugh A. Legg, and John Fletcher Ruth.

The Kent Island Heritage Society has submitted a grant to the Maryland Historical Trust to help pay, in part, for the acquisition of the bank. We are planning to create a new heritage tourism center which will provide much needed information for the community and visitors. Stay tuned for more information about this exciting development.

Please use the following link to search our collection

  • Search terms are not case sensitive.
  • To conduct a simple search, use the keyword method.
  • To search for several keywords, enter all words and records containing all of those words (in any order) will be returned.
  • To search for keywords in a particular order, surround the exact term with quotation marks.
    Example: American Revolution (without quotes) will give you all the records containing those two words in any order and even if they are not related to each other. “American Revolution” (with quotes) will give you all the records with those words in that exact relation to each other.
  • To choose which content and records are to be searched, click the appropriate box under the heading “Content [Records] to Search.”
  • To browse records by letter of the alphabet, use the “Click and Search” option at the top of the Search page.
  • To search for keywords in specific fields, use the “Advanced Search” option at the top of the Search page.


Books in the Library collection are in the process of being cataloged using a unique system. The library contains both published and unpublished books and booklets, with a focus on local and regional history, Maryland and Kent County genealogical resources and family histories.

  • You may do a keyword search for a title of a specific book by typing in that title. It is suggested you type the main words or phrase in the title so that the search is not too specific. For example: Kent County wills. This will return a search for the book titled: “Abstracts of Kent County Wills” as well as the search term/subject “Wills-Kent County.”
  • A keyword search for subjects or search terms may also be effective. Try a general search, such as: American Revolution. You can then narrow your search if necessary.

The map collection contains original maps, as well as copies of historic maps primarily of Kent County and its towns and Maryland. Select images of our maps can be found on the “Maps” section of this website.

  • To find a listing of all maps, type HSKC Maps Collection using
    a keyword search.
  • Use keyword search to find a map of a specific place or town. For example: Chestertown map.


The Society holds both collections of documents, as well as miscellaneous documents grouped by categories and subcategories. The miscellaneous document categories are: Architecture and Engineering Business and Industry Culture Education Ethnic and Cultural Groups Family/Genealogical History Government Legal Records Maps and Atlases Maryland Military and War Natural History Oral History Organizations and Religion. Miscellaneous documents have been categorized as of January 2010 visit the Library to view these documents.


The Society holds collections of photographs, as well as miscellaneous photographs grouped by categories and subcategories. The main categories are: Architecture and Engineering Business and Industry Culture Education Ethnic and Cultural Groups Family/Genealogical History Government Legal Records Maps and Atlases Maryland Military and War Natural History Oral History Organizations and Religion. Distinct collections of photographs will be cataloged together, then identified and inventoried individually when possible. This will be a time-consuming process. The Usilton/Kent County News Collection contains over 5,000 images, for example. Eventually, select images may be available online.

Historic Sites

The Society maintains files for all historic structures in the Kent County Historic Sites Inventory originally conducted by the Maryland Historic Trust. Additional sites and structures will continue to be added to this “K-file” listing. The files contain the inventory form, photographs and additional documentation collected by the Society.

  • To find a listing of all files, enter a keyword search: Historic Sites Inventory
    *To search for a house or street name, enter that term or phrase in a keyword search. For example: Queen Street or Middle Hall.
  • The K-files will eventually have multiple subjects listed under search terms, which can be found using a keyword search. For example: African-American.

Oral Histories

The Society has a small collection of oral histories, with a goal of expanding these holdings in the future.

  • To find a list of all oral histories, use the keyword search: Oral history collection.
  • To locate a specific interview, try searching by surname or first name.
  • Search terms for the subject(s) of the interviews will eventually be added. For example: agriculture.

Vertical Files

The vertical files are collections of newspaper clippings, articles and copies of documents organized into a system of categories and subcategories. The main categories are: Architecture and Engineering Business and Industry Culture Education Ethnic and Cultural Groups Family/Genealogical History Government Legal Records Maps and Atlases Maryland Military and War Natural History Oral History Organizations and Religion.

  • You may find a list of all vertical files in our holdings by doing a keyword search for: “Vertical file” (singular, no “s”). Then, browse all file titles there are over 1000.
  • You could search for all of the vertical files in a main category by searching the keywords in each category. For example: Maps atlases vertical file.
  • Vertical file titles are designed to be descriptive of the contents. Therefore, browsing may be helpful, along with a simple keyword search of the subject and the term vertical file. For example: Revolution vertical file.

Finding Aids

These maps come from the Lake, Griffing & Stevenson atlas of Kent and Queen Anne’s Counties, 1877. The thumbnails take you to larger maps which you can examine. Our library also holds many other maps from various periods, available for research here.

Printed copies of these maps, on ivory 8-1/2″ by 11″ paper, are available. Several maps are available at 8-1/2″ by 14″ and some actual-size, approx. 20″ by 27″ depending on the map. Society members receive a discount. Check our Gift Shop to see the maps which we have in stock. Copies of many of our maps may also be purchased at Finishing Touch, in Chestertown, for which we receive a commission on the sale.

Kent County

Betterton, Lloyds and Turners Creek

Queen Anne's County

Crumpton is the site of Callister's Ferry across the Chester River. This was the ferry crossing upriver from Chestertown. Crumpton is locally notorious for its auction sales every Wednesday.

Delmarva Region

These interesting Delmarva regional maps are in our files. The Chesapeake & Delaware Canal maps are from a stock prospectus ca. 1828 while the Wilmington map is a copy of a 1736 map which dates from 1845.

A Little Early Island History

Thomas & Elizabeth Marsh – 1715 & 1718 – Two of the oldest found headstones on Kent Island

A Little Early Island History

Founded in 1631 by William Claiborne, Kent Island is third in line of permanent English settlements after Jamestown, VA (1607), also originally surveyed by Claiborne, and Plymouth, MA (1620). Prior to Claiborne’s settlement, Kent Island or Monoponson as it was first called, was inhabited by the indigenous Susquehannock and Matapeake tribes. Originally founded as part of Virginia, Claiborne purchased Kent Island, named after his hometown of Kent, England, from the Susquehannocks for “truck” worth 12 pounds sterling! Quite the deal considering the average cost per acre of commercially developable land on KI goes for over $240,000 today. Yessir, Claiborne had found a diamond in the rough which would bring as much pain as it did profit.

By 1638 the population had grown to 120 Englishmen plus women and children, but the preceding few years had been quite tumultuous bringing the first naval battles in America to the Chesapeake Bay. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, swashbuckling skirmishes and cannons blazing right where today’s watermen catch your favorite seafood. All this friction would lead to a massive turning point in American history.

You see Kent Island was a hot spot for trading and everyone knew so, including King Charles I over in England. He granted a charter to the Calvert Family to establish a colony in Maryland. The Calverts decided Kent Island was part of this land grant and went to claim it as theirs. Claiborne and his Kent Islanders obviously disagreed. The year was 1635 tensions grew, words were exchanged, and open hands quickly turned to closed fists. Cue naval battles.

At least two known naval engagements took place around the island in 1635 amounting to four deaths, three of which were Claiborne’s men. The fighting continued for three years until Claiborne returned to England on business in 1638. The Calverts took advantage of this, overpowering and outnumbering Fort Kent, and seized the island. After a long and failed legal battle, Claiborne and his family returned to his estate, Romancoke, in Virginia and Kent Island was ultimately settled as part of Maryland. Since becoming part of the land of pleasant living, Kent Island has experienced many other significant events and has developed a laundry list of lore and legends. We will go into detail about these events in the future, but here’s a few noteworthy ones in the meantime:

Kent Island Parks

Living on Kent Island gives you access to several great parks. One of the largest is Old Love Point Park in Stevensville, consisting of 30.5 acres of sports fields, tennis courts, and basketball courts. There is also a playground for children, a picnic pavilion, and concession stands.

Terrapin Nature Park has 276 acres with a 3.25-mile trail through wildflower meadows, tidal ponds, woodlands, and a sandy beach on the Chesapeake Bay.

Mowbray Park, also in Stevensville, is another great spot for families. It has tennis courts and softball facilities and a large playground and is located by the Matapeake School complex.

For a dog park head to 200 Pine Street Stevensville. Kent Island Dog Park has two fenced areas, one for little dogs another for larger breeds. Each is equipped with agility equipment for your dog’s pleasure. The park also offers benches, picnic tables, and a water fountain designed to serve both people and dogs!

Another great spot for dogs with their own designated swimming area is Matapeake Clubhouse and Public Beach. As well as a swimming beach, it has a picnic area and an outdoor amphitheater.

Ferry Point Park is another great spot for fishing, walking on trails, and watching the fireworks each July fourth.

Living on Kent Island also gives you access to several great fishing Piers as well such as the Matapeake Fishing Pier and boat ramp and the Romancoke Fishing Pier and which is also great for kayaking.

Transitions in the Antebellum Period

Introduction: By the 1800’s, the era of international trade for Kent County was over. Baltimore was now the hub for shipping wheat and other products abroad. The transition from sail to steam enormously enhanced the ability of the Eastern Shore farmers and merchants to send their produce West. In 1813, Chesapeake became the first steamboat to cross from Baltimore to Rock Hall. By 1827, it was also offering service to Chestertown. Kent’s early transition to wheat and grains, and innovations in farming techniques also reinvigorated the economy and attracted newcomers such as George Burgin Westcott. “Wheat is in demand…and looking up. You may calculate on an advance price…except something unfavorable should take place abroad,” wrote William R. Stuart, a Baltimore merchant, to Joseph Wickes of Chestertown on November 13, 1829. Nevertheless, Kent County and the Eastern Shore were in a period of political transition. Wealthy landowners no longer dominated local politics on the Upper Shore, and a rising class of small farmers, merchants, artisans and laborers sought their own place in government. These tensions came to a head during the War of 1812, but continued through the years leading up to the Civil War.

War of 1812

Baltimore emerged as one of the top commercial cities in the United States in the late 1700s thanks to the productive agricultural lands throughout Maryland. But by 1807, the economic tensions with Great Britain that fueled the American Revolution flared again. Great Britain refused to recognize America as a neutral party in the European war, which led the States to declare an economic boycott that was especially devastating to wealthy farmers. This landed gentry, along with merchants and bankers, dominated the Federalist Party, which opposed the embargo and the war declared in 1812. In Kent County, the more egalitarian Republican Party made up of small farmers, merchants, artisans and laborers had risen in popularity after the war, but citizens dreaded the risks of a new war. Anxiety over skirmishes and the bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore brought the anti-war Federalists temporary support, but in the end, American victory in the War of 1812 meant victory for the more “democratic” Republicans.

The threat along the Chesapeake Bay was very real. By 1813, a British blockade had nearly closed the Bay and ships constantly threatened farms and towns. In May 1813, the British were positioned at the mouth of the Sassafras River and sent a detachment of about 500 men to burn Georgetown and Fredericktown. After burning the lower part of the town, the British set fire to a brick house at the top of the hill when a woman named Catherine (“Kitty”) Knight implored them not to burn the house as there was an old woman ill inside. Kitty Knight kept protesting as the men proceeded to the next house, until finally they left. The heroic Kitty put the fires out and saved the structures that would later be known by her name.

The burning of the Capitol in Washington in August 1814 sent a wave of anxiety along both shores. Seven miles west of Chestertown, the 21st Maryland Militia under Colonel Phillip Reed was encamped near Fairlee when news reached them that a British frigate and two smaller vessels were headed toward them. British captain, Sir Peter Parker, had been ordered to prevent the militias from crossing the Bay to defend Baltimore. On August 28th, Parker landed 100 men near the mouth of Fairlee Creek and burned every building on the farm of John Waltham, the wheat in his granary and the stacks in his field. Two days later, they burned Richard Frisby’s farm and made plans to capture Colonel Reed and his men. Instead Colonel Reed learned of the surprise attack and was waiting when they arrived. The two sides met in a field belonging to Isaac Caulk. Despite being outnumbered and running out of ammunition, the Americans pushed back Parker’s men until they retreated. Over forty British were killed or wounded, with Parker among the dead.

19th Century Businesses

Although international trade declined in Kent, thriving mercantile establishments rose in Chestertown to serve the surrounding area. Thomas Eliason, Abel Reese, B.B. Perkins, Thomas Hynson and William Albert Vickers were among those who advertised clothing, dry goods, groceries, hardware and farming implements in the mid-19th century. Ladies such as Mary Perkins and Eliza Smith ran millinery shops.

African American Businessmen and Women also Prospered

Levi Rogers operated an ice cream saloon, serving oysters and terrapins in season. William Perkins owned the Rising Sun Saloon, with an “oyster room” for men only, and the “east room” for ladies and their gentlemen guests. James Jones earned a reputation for high quality roasts at his grocery and butcher shop. Maria Bracker owned a restaurant offering customers sponge cakes, ice cream and lemonade.

Click here to download a printable PDF of the brochure Walking Tour of African American History in Chestertown, MD 1700s to the Present.

Click here to download a PDF of the African American History Map of the Underground Railroad in Kent County and Chestertown.

The links below are to some of the catalog records of historic site surveys contained in our research library pertaining to this time period. Please visit our library (Wed-Fri, 10-3) for further information and photographs on these properties. Many of these records are also accessible through the Maryland Historical Trust, in their Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties, found online at These site surveys are the product of a significant site documentation project conducted in the 1980s through a partnership of the Historical Society of Kent County, the Town of Chestertown, Kent County, and the Maryland Historical Trust. Following this survey, the Historical Society produced and published Historic Houses of Kent County, an unequaled work of architectural history, now in its second printing and available for purchase through the Society.

Caulk’s Field house, built 1743
Structure near the site of the famous battle of 1814.

Rose Hill, c. 1760
Martha Ogle Forman documented life on this plantation from 1814 to 1845 in her diaries, published by the Historical Society of Delaware.

Kitty Knight House or Archibald Wright House, built c. 1773
Home which Kitty Knight convinced the British not to burn during their raid on Georgetown in 1813

Grantham and Forrest Farm, c. 1815
Benjamin Tillotson escaped from enslavement here in 1857 during a camp revival meeting. Tillotson, afraid of being sold to slave traders from Georgia upon the death of his master, plantation owner Samuel Jarman. Tillotson narrowly escaped slave catchers who relentlessly pursued him

Early Christmas Traditions
“The Yule Log:” Remembering Christmas in 18th-century Kent County,” reminiscence by Peregrine Wroth, 1858.

War of 1812 on Chesapeake
“Rediscover 1812” website with resources and information on the War in the Chesapeake region.

Fort McHenry
Fort McHenry National Monument website.

Philip Reed
Brief biography of the Lt. Colonel and U.S. Senator from Kent County, 1806-1813.

Antebellum Life in Kent
Brief description of book, “Plantation life at Rose Hill: The diaries of Martha Ogle Forman, 1814-1845,” a valuable primary source on Kent County history (out-of-print). Originals at MD Historical Society, MS 1779.

Philip Reed and Caulk’s Field
Remarks given at the dedication of a memorial at Caulk’s Field in 1902.

1790 Kent County Census
Transcription of census record.

1800 Kent County Census
Full text of handwritten census records.

1810 Kent County Census
Full text of handwritten census records.

1820 Kent County Census
Full text of handwritten census records.

1830 Kent County Census
Full text of handwritten census records.

1840 Kent County Census
Full text of handwritten census records.

Monument and Flag at Caulk’s Field near Fairlee, where Kent militia defeated men from the British frigate Menelaus in 1813.

Parts of Georgetown were burned by the British in 1813.

Portrait of Philip Reed, who led the Kent County Militia at Caulk’s Field in 1813.

HMS Menelaus, captained by Peter Parker, and which anchored with several smaller ships in Fairlee Creek in 1813.

Peter Parker
Portrait of the British commander of the HMS Menelaus, killed at the Battle of Caulk’s Field.

Kent County Courthouse
Drawing from 1907 Bird’s Eye View of Chestertown showing the oldest section of the Kent County, HSKC

Armory and Market House, Chestertown
Drawing of the armory and market house from Martenet’s 1860 map of Kent County.

Cape May Saloon advertisement
Free black Levi Rodgers operated the Cape May Saloon in Chestertown in the 1840s.

Chestertown Merchants advertisement
Merchants Wilmer & Francis and Thomas W. Eliason sold merchandise of all kinds at their establishments in the 1840s.


Music & Concerts

One of Rhode Island’s best country music venues – ALL music events and Main Stage concert are included with your Fair admission ticket that day!

Midway Rides

Ferris Wheel to Zipper, Rockwell Amusements presents a classic midway with rides for all ages…with enticing new attractions, such as the largest traveling roller coaster in New England and a tented circus featuring clowns, jugglers and traditional acts.

Food & Concessions

Hungry for more than excitement? Perfect! Over 130 food and craft vendors set up shop throughout the fair for a day of tastings and shopping. From burgers to BBQ and seafood to freshly-squeezed lemonade, enjoy an enormous variety of Rhody delicacies and outdoor festival fare.


Late on Tuesday, January 24, 1978, surface maps revealed a moisture-laden Gulf Low developing over the southern United States, while a separate and unrelated low-pressure system was present over the Upper Midwest. In about 24 hours, the merger of the subtropical jet stream (containing a wind max of 130 knots) and the polar jet stream (containing a wind max of 110 knots) led the low-pressure system to undergo explosive cyclogenesis as it moved rapidly northward during the evening of January 25 (record low pressures were logged across parts of the South and Mid-Atlantic). [3] To be classified as undergoing explosive cyclogenesis, a storm's central pressure must drop at least 24 millibars, or an average of 1 millibar per hour, over a 24-hour period the Great Blizzard dropped by a remarkable 40 millibars in that span of time. [3]

The storm initially began as rain, but quickly changed to heavy snow during the predawn hours (as Arctic air deepened ahead of the storm), leading to frequent whiteouts and zero visibility during the day on January 26. As the storm headed for Ohio, it was "of unprecedented magnitude," according to the National Weather Service, which categorized it as a rare severe blizzard, the severest grade of winter storm. Particularly hard hit were Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and southeastern Wisconsin, where up to 40 inches (102 cm) of snow fell. Winds gusting up to 100 miles per hour (161 km/h) caused drifts that nearly buried some homes. Wind chill values reached −60 °F (−51 °C) across much of Ohio, where 51 of the total 70 storm-related deaths occurred. [4]

Canada did not escape the wrath of the storm as blizzard conditions were common across southwestern Ontario. London, Ontario, was paralyzed by 41 centimetres (16 in) of snow and winds gusting to 128 kilometres per hour (80 mph).

On January 26, the third-lowest atmospheric pressure recorded in the mainland United States, apart from a tropical system, occurred as the storm passed over Mount Clemens, Michigan. There the barometer fell to 956.0 mb (28.23 inHg). [2] In Detroit, air pressure fell to 28.34 inches of mercury (960 mbar). At around the same time, the absolute low pressure was measured at Sarnia, in Southwestern Ontario, Canada, where the barometer bottomed out at 955.5 mb (28.22 inHg). [2] Toronto pressure fell to 28.40 inches, breaking its record by 0.17.

The 956.0 mb (28.23 inHg) barometric pressure measurement recorded in Mount Clemens, Michigan, was the third-lowest non-tropical atmospheric pressure recorded in the mainland United States [5] and the lowest in the Central United States. [2] The lowest confirmed pressure for a non-tropical system in the continental United States had been set by a January 1913 Atlantic coast storm. [2] The lowest central pressure for the 1978 blizzard was 955.5 mb (28.22 inHg) measured in Sarnia, Ontario. [2] On rare occasions, extra-tropical cyclones with central pressures below 28 inches of mercury or about 95 kPa (950 mb) have been recorded in Wiscasset, Maine (27.9") and Newfoundland (27.76"). [6] In addition, the blizzard is the highest-ranking winter storm on the Regional Snowfall Index, with a maximum value of 39.07, and one of only 26 storms to reach Category 5 on the scale. [7]

The blizzard was the worst in Ohio history 51 people died as a result of the storm. Over 5,000 members of the Ohio National Guard were called in to make numerous rescues. Police asked citizens with four-wheel-drive vehicles or snowmobiles to transport doctors and nurses to the hospital. From January 26 to 27, the entire Ohio Turnpike was shut down for the first time ever. [8] The total effect on transportation in Ohio was described by Major General James C. Clem of the Ohio National Guard as comparable to a nuclear attack. [9] Michigan Governor William Milliken declared a state of emergency and called out the Michigan National Guard to aid stranded motorists and road crews. The Michigan State Police pronounced Traverse City, Michigan "unofficially closed" and warned area residents to stay home. WTCM radio staffer Marty Spaulding, who closed the bayfront location station the previous night at 11 pm, was called to reopen it the next day at 6am as regular staffers could not get there due to impassable roads. Upon arriving after a 45-minute walk in waist-deep snow from his home 10 city blocks away, he had to dig down "a foot" to put the key in the front door. [ citation needed ]

In Indiana on day two, just a half hour after the front blasted through, the Indianapolis International Airport was closed due to whiteout conditions. At 3 am, the blizzard produced peak winds of 55 mph. Temperatures dropped to zero that morning. Wind chills remained at 40 to 50 below zero nearly all day. Governor Otis R. (Doc) Bowen declared a snow emergency for the entire state the morning of the 26th. Snow drifts of 10 to 20 feet made travel virtually impossible, stranding an Amtrak train and thousands of vehicles and weary travelers. During the afternoon of the 26th, the Indiana State Police considered all Indiana roads closed. [10]

Classes at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio and the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana were canceled for the first time in the history of those universities at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana (where 25 inches of snow fell) for the third time in its history and, at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio for the first time since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. An inch or more, usually much more, of snow remained on much of that area for nearly two months. In Indiana schools were closed for as much as three weeks, [11] and the historic state basketball tournament would have to be postponed for 17 days. [12] The storm did much damage to the Ohio valley and the Great Lakes.

In Brampton, Ontario (northwest of Toronto) on Thursday afternoon, school buses could not get through deep snow to the then-rural campus of Sheridan College to take students home. Neither could any other vehicles, so some community college students had to stay on campus overnight. Muskegon, Michigan, had the most extreme measurements: up to 52 inches of snow in 4 days due to heavy lake-effect snow squalls after the blizzard hit with a whopping 30 inches.

The most extensive and very nearly the most severe blizzard in Michigan history raged January 26, 1978 and into part of Friday January 27. About 20 people died as a direct or indirect result of the storm, most due to heart attacks or traffic accidents. At least one person died of exposure in a stranded automobile. Many were hospitalized for exposure, mostly from homes that lost power and heat. About 100,000 cars were abandoned on Michigan highways, most of them in the southeast part of the state. [3]

Local History & Heritage

Take a trip to the past, and relive the historic culture found within Queen Anne’s County while visiting nearly twenty well preserved historic sites! Get a true feel for what life back in the early days was like. History is plentiful in the over three-hundred-year-old county.

Kent Island, the largest island on the Bay, is located at the eastern terminus of The Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Home to the first English settlement (Kent Fort Manor, settled by William Claiborne in 1631) within Maryland, and the country’s third settlement after Jamestown and Plymouth Rock.

Explore our History & Heritage!

Take a trip to the past, and relive the historic culture found within Queen Anne’s County while visiting nearly twenty well preserved historic sites! Get a true feel for what life back in the early days was like. History is plentiful in the over three-hundred-year-old county.

Kent Island, the largest island on the Bay, is located at the eastern terminus of The Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Home to the first English settlement (Kent Fort Manor, settled by William Claiborne in 1631) within Maryland, and the country’s third settlement after Jamestown and Plymouth Rock.

Explore our History & Heritage!

Kent Narrows

The channel, which separates Kent Island from the Eastern Shore mainland, provides convenient access for vessels traveling between the broad Chester River to the north, and Eastern Bay to the south. The foot of the Kent Narrows Bridge is a good place to view numerous examples of the shallow draft work boats used by generations of waterman who deliver their daily catch to local markets, restaurants and packing houses. Although few remain today, there were once a dozen packing houses in “the Narrows,” and seafood was shipped from here to markets nationwide. The Chesapeake Heritage & Visitors Center welcomes visitors with information and exhibits about the unique heritage, culture, and attractions of the region.

Centreville Streetscapes

The core of Centreville lies along two parallel streets Commerce and Liberty. Architectural styles, ranging from early Federal though late Victorian, illustrate the town’s development. See magnificent Victorian homes with ornate facades situated on Commerce Street, some of the earliest surviving homes in the town, dating back to 1794. Greek revival home designs (1830s) can be found along Liberty Street, while additional stately Victorian homes can be seen along Chesterfield Avenue.

Wye Island (Natural Resources Management Area)

A 1668 deed refers to Wye Island (2,450 acres) as the “Great Island in the Wye River.” Two of Maryland’s leading Revolutionaries acquired the land in 1700s William Paca, signer of the Declaration of Independence, owned the eastern half of the island, and John Beale Bordley a jurist, owned the western half of the island. Attacked by Tories during the American Revolution, Wye Island was defended by a gunboat, the Experiment. Paca, who was twice Governor of Maryland, is said to be buried nearby, on the mainland.


In Crumpton, the Chester River narrows, providing a convenient crossing point. In 1759, Henry Callister established a ferry, operated by pulling a barge by ropes between the north and south banks. During the cold winter months the area river’s would often freeze, shutting down other ferries, but the current in Crumpton kept this specific point in the Chester River free of ice, allowing Callister’s Ferry to operate. After Callister’s death, the ferry at Crumpton remained in use until the first bridge was built in 1865.

Digging into Kent Island’s Past

Archaeologist Dr. Darrin Lowery sits behind his desk in his office lined with display cases of artifacts he’s found during his career. Affiliated with the University of Delaware, where he works with graduate students, and working as a research associate at the Smithsonian Institution, he has a wealth of knowledge about geology, archaeology, and history.

Born in Easton, Maryland and raised on Tilghman Island, his story begins while growing up in the ’70s, when he tagged along with his father to look for artifacts on Tilghman and Poplar Islands.

“My spark came when I was 13,” he says. “I was watching a program on PBS called Odyssey, which would be called Nova today. The subject dealt with [wooly] mammoth remains found in New Mexico, which were about 13,000 years old.” That program greatly influenced him.

“What hooks you,” he says, “is the question—‘Why?’ Then that cascades into many ‘Whys.’” After he received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware, he was ready to begin answering some of those Why questions.

“I was a newbie fresh out of school in 1990, when I began working with some of the Kent Island Heritage Society members—Bill Denny, Audrey Hawkins, Marty Gibson, and Mary White.” They explored the fields and shores of the island looking for tangible evidence of its history.

He knocked on property owners’ doors and convinced them to give him permission to walk their fields and farms, and he managed to explore about 100 acres daily. He walked up the fields and then back down, which averaged 15–18 miles a day.

Between 1992 and 1997, Lowery estimates that he walked every tillable acre on the island, amounting to about 60,000 acres. Along the way, he found vessel fragments, remnants of clay tobacco pipes, projectile points (spearheads and arrowheads), and three clovis points, which are prehistoric tools used 10,000–13,000 years ago. On one memorable day, he discovered 42 projectile points all found on one site.

“It was the best education I ever got,” he says of those days.

After earning a Master’s degree at Temple University, he later he returned to the University of Delaware where he earned a Ph.D. Since then, he’s conducted numerous archaeological and geological explorations. He’ll often go out by himself or sometimes with Bill Denny, using tools such as shovels, spades, or trowels.

Every official archaeological site has to be documented. This is done by marking it by state, county, and by longitude. He then takes slides of the site.

“It’s easier these days because we now have GPS,” Lowery remarks.

When discussing the artifacts that he has found, which date back to William Claiborne’s settlement in 1631, Lowery holds up a segment of a small clay pipe and then two melted blue glass beads. The beads were commonly used for trade with the native tribes—two of which were known as the Matapeakes and the fiercer Susquehannocks. The beads and other trinkets were exchanged for tobacco, corn, and beaver furs. Lowery explains that the beads most likely melted when Claiborne’s fort caught fire in October 1631.

The settlement, located on the southern end of Kent Island, quickly recovered and by 1634, it was enclosed by a palisade that included a grist mill, courthouse, trading post, and a church.

In 1638, the Calverts, who maintained that Kent Island belonged to them since they had a charter from King Charles I, took control of the Island after fighting a few naval and legal battles with Claiborne, who had insisted that the Island was part of Virginia.

Today, no remnants of the settlement have been found. With shore erosion, whatever was left of it has most likely been swept away with the tides.

The Land that Once Was Eden

Meanwhile, the Native People, were being pushed out. Ravaged by disease and the insatiable push for land by the Europeans, they soon had no other option but to leave the Island. In her book The Land that Was Once Eden, author Janet Freedman, includes a letter written by James Bryan, a Revolutionary War soldier, to a friend.

“I remember the Indians their last dwelling place was upon the northwest side of the Island near the mouth of Broad Creek, and they lived in their cabins of bark upon a small tract of woodland. They always seemed friendly. I also remember the time of their departure. They left the island near the mouth of the creek and turned their faces westward. They were the last of the Indians upon the island.”

Christ Episcopal Church

The Reverend Mark Delcuze is the Rector of Christ Church located on Kent Island on Route 8. It’s a spacious and modern church with a light-filled sanctuary that can accommodate 400 parishioners. It’s also a far cry from the rustic building that was the first house of worship on Maryland soil, built soon after Claiborne and his settlers arrived.

To minister to the small congregation was Claiborne’s cousin, the Reverend Richard James, who accompanied him to the Isle of Kent. Soon after their arrival, the record states, “Wee framed a church.” He also brought along “bibles and bookes of prayers for the howse and boates…and a black velvet cushion and black cloth for the pulpitt.”

“It must have been like being on the moon for them,” Rev. Delcuze says.

The Rev. James ministered to the congregation for three years and then left. As the settlement grew, so did the church, and in 1652 after the Calverts had chased out Claiborne, a new church was built near Broad Creek.

“During those days, everyone got around on water,” Rev. Delecuze says. “Everything was tied to the waterways because there were no roads.” This early church was used until 1712 when a new one was built on the same site. The 1712 church, which measured 25 feet by 40 feet,’ served the whole of the Island until it, too, was beyond repair. When it became quite apparent that a new church was needed, another structure was built in 1825 and was ready for occupation in 1826. Poorly built, this one didn’t last long.

According to historian Reginald V. Truitt, during a lecture to the Queen Anne’s County Historical Society, he stated that in 1959, a group of local citizens wanted to find the exact location and size of the 1652 church. Under the supervision of an archaeologist, the citizens were able to pinpoint where the remains of the church were buried. A digging team of 10 men shoveled up the earth and within an hour they struck the church’s foundation. Also, to their great delight, they struck another foundation—the cornerstones of the 1712 church. Both of the brick foundations were for the most part, intact.

Today, however, the excavations aren’t visible. “They were reburied to protect them from the weather and from vandalism,” Rev. Delcuze explains.

Along with the remains of the church are the remains of the many parishioners who were interred nearby in Broad Creek Cemetery, which was once the site of the church’s burial ground. “There’s been no excavations there,” Rev. Delcuze explains. “We want to respect their burial sites.”

One wonders about the lives of those who walked this ground so many years ago and now lie silently within it—interred in this sacred and beautiful place.

While the old churches have passed into history, a carefully preserved treasure remains. It’s Christ Church built in 1880, which still stands in the middle of Stevensville. When you step into this Gothic structure built in Queen Anne style, you first notice the thick, wooden beams arching up to the soaring ceiling. Topped by a steeply pitched slate roof and graced by stained glass windows, you marvel at the work and skill it took to build this church so many years ago. “That’s because the men who built this church were boat builders,” Rev. Delcuze says. “They knew how to build a solid structure.”

This unique church was acquired by Queen Anne’s County in 2003, which then began restoration projects. The church has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979. The rare 1754 Baskett Bible, 17 th century communion chalice, and the baptismal font from the 1712 church have been relocated to the present church near Broad Creek, where Rev. Delcuze proudly displays them. He’s also proud of the fact that he is currently serving the oldest continuous congregation in Maryland.

Kent Island Heritage Society

Jack Broderick, president of the Kent Island Heritage Society, enjoys nothing more than sharing his love of history with others, and you can often find him in front of a high school class impersonating a historical character. Or you might see him walking along the banks of Cox Creek looking for arrowheads and Native American tools, and he’s found a number of them. “There’s so much old stuff here,” he says. He doesn’t just read history, he looks for it.

He holds up one of his treasures—an old stone that resembles a dried-up russet potato. Thousands of years ago, it was in the hand of a prehistoric human who used it to grind corn, acorns, and seeds on a stone pestle. He points out the ancient fingerprints that are etched into the stone.

Next, he brings out a perfectly preserved black arrowhead. Then he displays his oldest treasure. “It’s a petrified oyster shell with a shiny black stone jutting out of it. It has to be about 20 million-years-old,” Broderick says.

As he brings out the stones, he remarks that when Claiborne came to the Island, bringing metal parts with him from England to build a pinnace (a small boat), the natives were anxious to trade their corn and tobacco for some of the metal—a much better material than their stone axes, arrows, and spearheads, some of which they had to fashion by chipping off a part of a stone with a piece of deer antler. These discarded pieces are called flakes by archaeologists.

Years later, when the natives had disappeared, their heaps of oyster shells called middens, were still discovered on Kent Island farms.

One of the Society’s interesting finds came when some of its members took metal detectors to the James Kirwan Farm and found tiny stamped tokens that the farm workers used as cash to buy goods at the Kirwan store.

Kirwin, who lived from 1848–1938, served in the Maryland senate for two terms. “He was an astute businessman and farmer—a renaissance man,” Broderick says. Kirwin is best remembered for using his influence to stop the federal government from designating Kent Island as an army base to test military ordnance. The base was then built at Aberdeen, Maryland.

This farm and the store the family owned now belong to the Heritage Society, along with the historic Stevensville post office and train station. One of the Society’s future endeavors is to build a working blacksmith shop on the Kirwin farm and open it up to the public.

To celebrate the 350 th anniversary of the founding of the “Isle of Kent,” a great celebration was held in 1981. Since then, an annual Kent Island Day has been celebrated in May.

From a small fort in the wilderness to a bustling metropolis, there’s still stories to tell about this island and places to look for them.

Watch the video: Historic Estate on Kent Island Tour: 314 Friendship Manor Drive, Stevensville, MD For Sale