Negro Island along Muddy Hole Road

20130908_133544Muddy Hole Road is a dirt road partly in marsh between Clara and Jesterville in Wicomico County, Maryland.  This has to be the loneliness road in the county and one I resisted driving until today.  There are signs warning that Muddy Hole Road is a rough road and cautions that you drive it at your own risk.  But a friend said it was fine, so I set out on this road driving west from the crossroads called Clara.  It was perfectly fine…. until the end at the approach to Jesterville Road where there were deep ruts and the one sign saying to use a truck.  A truck???  It would have been nice to know that coming from Clara.  So I recommend using a truck, and be sure the weather has been dry for quite some time.

I had been told that once a community lived along this road, though admittedly I do not know much about that.  I heard it was largely a black community, and indeed, there was once a black school and church at the end of that road, at Jesterville Road, at least on the 1877 Atlas, at an area referred to as Oak Grove.  It was a road linking Nanticoke and Whitehaven.  And a friend told me she knew of gravesites in the woods not visible from the road and remembers the locations of some the old houses.

1877 Atlas Tyaskin_highlightedBut I also knew that along this road was Negro Island.  It may be shocking to some that there’s a “Negro Island” but in fact, that name was changed from a more racist term not only for the marshy island but for a small watery gut.  Google Earth labels it as Negro Island.  But older maps….  The location is at the area where there is a small bridge over Broad Creek.

I have long been into maps having worked with them considerably years ago.  And I am aware of the racism in map making.  There was also an attempt to segregate on maps.  The 1877 Atlas referred to “Col’d” churches and schools.  For researchers, that has been helpful in identifying locations of old structures.  Below the maps is a photo taken from the bridge at Broad Creek, looking south.  This was proof I was there.  And while driving along this lonely place I pondered the name, wondered how it came to be named at all, and about the people who once lived in the area and traveled that road.          — Linda Duyer

Negro Island 2011 and 1942 and bridge



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