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The County Courthouses and Records of Maryland -- Part 1: The Courthouses
Volume 545, Page 56   View pdf image (33K)
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petition, but in so doing it also fixed the location of the new courthouse precisely at "the point
where a certain William Thomas Lived on Elk River known by the name of Long Point on
Bohemia Manor and on the East side of the Creek called Broad Creek being nearest the centre
of said County"; and they also set a limit of 60,000 pounds of tobacco for both the land and
the county buildings.7

At the August term of court in the same year, two acres of ground so situated were
purchased from Ephraim Augustine Herman for 300 pounds of tobacco.8 At the November
term of court, 1717, the same Colonel Herman was granted 35,000 pounds of tobacco to build
the courthouse.9 The following November he received a contract for building the new prison
and for pillory and stocks; and he also received an additional payment of 24,600 pounds of
tobacco for the courthouse.10 In March 1718/19, the justices held court "at the Court house on
Elk River." 11 The sequel is quickly told: at August Court, an order was given to clear several
roads to the new courthouse;12 at November Court, it was ordered that the two acres around
'the courthouse be laid off in lots and it was also ordered that the land and buildings on
Sassafras River be sold to the highest bidder.13 Apparently, Colonel Herman found it unprofit-
able to build the stocks and pillory as he had contracted to do, for at November Court 1719,
Captain Abell Van Burkaloo promised to bring the old stocks from the old courthouse to the
new.14 The next reference of the court to the courthouse contains the inevitable supplemental
grant to the contractor: "Ordered that Coll Ephr Augt Herman be allowed Three thousand
pounds of Tobacco for his Extraordinary Expenses defrayed about building the Court house." 15

Johnston points out that about this time a rift appeared in the court, one which was not
settled without an appeal to the governor and council, and that may explain why the final
acceptance of the courthouse and the release of Colonel Herman from his bond were so long
postponed. There were at least three commissions appointed to examine the building and close
the business, but when this volume of court records was filled, there was no certainty that
even the last of these commissions had done its duty.16 Meanwhile, the old courthouse, which
had been scheduled for sale several years before, was still in the hands of the county late in
1721, for at that time John Ward was given full power to rent the building and land to those
persons then in possession or to any others.17 Unfortunately, the court records for the next
few years are missing and so these curious little problems seem destined to remain unresolved.
Tradition has it that this courthouse on Court House Point was made of brick, but there is no
proof, and even tradition does not give us any other details.

Courthouse at Charlestown

The justices of Cecil County continued to meet at Court House Point for many years, even
though the site did not prosper any more than had the previous site on the Sassafras. But by
the time the courthouse became dilapidated the center of population and activity had shifted
again, and many of the inhabitants of the county petitioned the General Assembly for permis-
sion to move the county seat. This petition was granted at the session of 1781.18 The Act
provided for a referendum to be taken the following February. It also provided for the sale
of the old courthouse and the building of a new one at whatever site the largest number of
voters should choose.19 The record of this election has not been preserved, but presumably

7 Ch. 6, Acts of 1717, Laws Liber L.L. No. 4, ff. 360-61, Ms.
This Act appears never to have been printed, either in the
Archives of Maryland or in earlier compendiums.
8 Cecil County Court Records, 1717-1118, O.K. No. 1, f. 41, Ms.
9 Ibid., f. 74.
10 Ibid., f. 150.
11 Op. cit., S.K. No. 1, f. 1.
12 Ibid., f. 130.
13 Ibid., t. 164.
14 Ibid., f. 207.
15 Ibid., f. 269.

16 November Court 1721, ibid., p. 428.
17 Johnston states that it was sold February 9, 1719 to John
Ward for 5,700 pounds of tobacco, but this does not seem
possible. Op. cit., p. 248.

18 Ch. 9.

19 The Honorable Joshua Clayton in a fine oration delivered
at the laying of the cornerstone of the present courthouse at
Elkton stated that the courthouse at Court House Point was
burned by General Howe's troops in August 1777 and that the
records were carried away. There is reason to believe that Mr.
Clayton was misinformed, at least about the burning of the
courthouse.

56



 

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The County Courthouses and Records of Maryland -- Part 1: The Courthouses
Volume 545, Page 56   View pdf image (33K)
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