… so fierce a tempest broke forth, ...that it seemed every minute as if we must be swallowed up by the waves... All control of the rudder being lost, the ship now drifted about like a dish in the water, at the mercy of the waves... - "Narrative of a Voyage to Maryland, 1633-34," by Father Andrew White, S.J., who came with The Ark and The Dove, Extracted from The Maryland Historical Society's Fund Publication No. 1, Baltimore, Maryland, 1874. Published at the "Society of The Ark and The Dove" website.
“Oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the U.S. Oldest European settlement in the U.S. Oldest continuously occupied English settlement in the U.S. Oldest permanent settlement in the U.S.”
When it comes to our identifying and ranking our oldest places, it can get confusing.
How about – “one of the oldest settlements and you don’t have to drive all the way down south to Tidewater?”
We’re talking St Mary’s, Maryland, founded in 1634, the fourth permanent settlement in British North America and the birthplace of religious tolerance. Maybe some day we’ll take a trip south to see the Tidewater Four of Jamestown/Hampton/Newport News/Williamsburg. For now, it was the hour and 45 minutes drive from Alexandria down Route 5.
The big caveat with St Mary’s City’s is that most of the town is gone. The exodus happened only 50 years after the founding, when the Maryland governor moved the capital to Annapolis in 1695. Farms and then a plantation stayed until the end of the 1800s. By no means, however, does it look or seem bare. The setting is lovely, a goodly number of historical markers tell their stories, and there are several reconstructed buildings as well as those of St. Mary’s College. A bonus touch is a re-creation of the Dove.
Much is gone, but much is left. The National Park Service has recognized St. Mary's City as "probably the most intact 17th-century English town surviving in our nation…represented entirely by archaeological resources." More than 300 archaeological sites have been documented here.
Wish I had more time for this one.
- The state was found here and St. Mary’s served as the first capital of Maryland from 1634 to 1694.
- Leonard Calvert. First governor of Maryland, led colonists to St. Mary’s on board the Ark, November 22, 1633 – March 3, 1634.
- Mathias de Sousa. First black Marylander. Shed bonds of indentured servitude and served in 1642 Maryland legislative assembly of freemen.
- During the commemorations of the 300th anniversary in 1934, a state house replica was built and a statue erected to honor religious tolerance.
- Margaret Brent. Pioneer women’s rights advocate and influential landowner who asked for a vote in 1848.
- William Nuthead operated a print house in the 1680s. His was the first press established in England's southern colonies.