Chestertown: What’s in an 1860 map?

Chestertown 1860A special thanks to the Martenet mapping  company for this 1860 map of Kent County, Maryland, specifically this map of Chestertown.  And thanks too for the “Historic Houses of Kent County” book  of 1998.  It is an amazing work of history.

For this map is like a snapshot into history.  And because the map makers distinguished 20131008_113909edit1between black and white occupants of structures, this map is particularly amazing for recording some of Chestertown’s African American heritage.  So I urge you to click onto the portions of the maps shown and see how many residents you can identify.  They are noted as “Cold” meaning “colored.”  Notice family names like Jones, Reed, Robinson and more.

The 1998 book included a number of African American structures, including that of James A. Jones.  The following is an excerpt from the book on Jones.  I am including poorly-reproduced section of the 1860 map showing his home at the end, my apologies.  Jones’ house was at the corner of Kent and Cannon Streets, and I believe it survives.

In the middle nineteenth century the house was owned by James A. Jones, a prominent member of Chestertown’s African American community.  Jones was a grocer and butcher along with being involved with the development of several lots along upper Cannon Street.  He was the most successful of contemporary blacks in Chestertown.  Jones was also a money lender, mortgaging property for William Perkins, a restauranteur on Bridge Street.  He was a founding member of Zion Methodist Church in 1831 and was active in the church for the remainder of his life.  He was a delegate to the 1852 Baltimore Convention on the movement to establish colonies for free blacks in Africa, which he favored.  Before the 1870 election, Jones actively organized he community to vote for Republican candidates and later sold one foot square lots to eleven African-Americans in an effort to enfranchise more of his contemporaries.

The book “Historic Houses of Kent County” is an extraordinary book, of not only the many historic houses of the county but for the amazing maps, including the wonderful 1907 birds eye view.

–Linda Duyer

Chestertown 1860 JA Jones

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