The title — bad play on words but today I could not help but be excited, because for the first time I found the name “Georgetown” in a deed. Alright, you are yawning, and I do not blame you, but for me it was a glorious sight.
Years ago I researched and wrote my book ‘Round the Pond, Georgetown of Salisbury, Maryland, a history of the old African American neighborhood of Salisbury once referred to as Georgetown. No where had I ever seen the word Georgetown written, other than a mention or two in one of the books by the late Richard Cooper. It is one of those things that simply bugged me, which shows you the nature of my life. It bugged me, I suppose, because the name was handed down by word of mouth and now only mentioned in a couple of history books, including mine.
And I have to thank the latest technology which allows you to search deeds far more easily, with a click of a mouse and tedious (but easy) browsing of the land records on line. At the time I researched my ‘Round the Pond book, this was not available to me, making the prospects of trudging out somewhere to do that research seem like a mind-numbing exercise, so I did not do it. I let others do it.
But now, in preparation for this next book, I can do the browsing in the comfort of my home (or with my laptop out at Viva coffee shop) and search as I see fit. There are stumbling blocks, like when marching backwards in time following the paper trail only to get stuck when the deed writer failed to include liber and page numbers for the older deed. That is when I curse and make the decision whether it is worth it to venture out and do the work.
Such is the case with this particular search, that of the old “colored” elementary school that was once on Commerce Street (formerly called Cemetery Street) at what is now an empty lot west of the railroad tracks.
Please forgive this burst of enthusiasm. But seeing the word “Georgetown” written in this 1896 deed for the property gladdened my heart in perhaps a perverse way — for it validated not only the name but the place, the neighborhood that was nearly as old as the town of Salisbury itself.
— Linda Duyer
P.S., the image below is from the 1899 Sanborn map for Salisbury. Interestingly, it shows the A.M.E. church just south of Cemetery Street, along Water Street. That was the first St. Paul A.M.E. Zion church built in this part of town; a newer and bigger church was built on Church Street just north of this image.