St. Mary's County, Maryland

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Saint Mary's County, Maryland
Seal of Saint Mary's County, Maryland
Seal
Map of Maryland highlighting Saint Mary's County
Location in the state of Maryland
Map of the United States highlighting Maryland
Maryland's location in the U.S.
Founded 1637
Named for Mary the mother of Jesus
Seat Leonardtown
Largest town Leonardtown
Area
 • Total 764 sq mi (1,979 km2)
 • Land 361 sq mi (935 km2)
 • Water 403 sq mi (1,044 km2), 52.8%
Population
 • (2010) 105,151
 • Density 291/sq mi (112.4/km²)
Congressional district 5th
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
Website www.co.saint-marys.md.us

Saint Mary's County (often abbreviated as St. Mary's County), established in 1637, is a county located in the U.S. state of Maryland. As of the 2010 census, the population was 105,151.[1] Its county seat is Leonardtown.[2] The name is in honor of Mary, the mother of Jesus.[3]

St. Mary's County is part of the Southern Maryland region. The county was the home to the first Maryland Colony, the first capitol of the Colony of Maryland and is considered to be the birthplace of religious freedom in North America.[4]

It is also home to the Patuxent River Naval Air Station and also St. Marys College of Maryland.

St. Marys County has been traditionally known for its unique and historic culture of Chesapeake Bay tidewater farming, fishing and crabbing communities; but with the advent of the military bases, growth of an extensive defense contractor presence and the growth of St. Marys College of Maryland, as well as increasing numbers of long-distance Washington D.C. commuters, it has been undergoing a decades long transformation.[5] The county's population has doubled since 1970.[5]

History[edit]

1634: First Settlement of the Maryland Colony[edit]

The settlement of Lord Baltimore's Maryland began with the arrival of passengers from England at St. Clement's Island in the Potomac River in what is now southwestern St. Mary's County on March 25, 1634 (the anniversary of this landing being annually celebrated as Maryland Day). The passengers arrived in two vessels, the Ark and the Dove, which had set sail from the Isle of Wight on November 22, 1633. The county is also home to the first Catholic Mass celebrated in one of the original thirteen colonies -after they'd become English colonies (masses were said in 1526-7 at San Miguel de Gualdape).[6]

Due to the small size of the Island, and its lack of resources, the intention was never to make a permanent settlement there. Instead it was used as a base for the settlers while scouting for a more suitable site. This was how a bluff overlooking the nearby St. Marys River was chosen for numerous reasons, and became the site of the first permanent settlement. It would soon be named "St. Marys City".

First Capitol of Maryland[edit]

St. Mary's City, Maryland is the site of the first Maryland Capitol and remained so for over 50 years until 1695, when the capitol was moved to Annapolis.

Today Historic St. Mary's City is a major attraction in Maryland with four museums, a reconstructed colonial village and the reconstructed Maryland Dove settlers ship. It is also now one of the top archeological research sites in North America.

1637: Establishment of St. Marys County[edit]

St. Mary's County was the first county established in Maryland, in 1637, probably by an order of the Governor.

1649: Birthplace of Religious Freedom in North America[edit]

In 1649, Lord Baltimore, with the Maryland General Assembly, passed the Maryland Toleration Act, which provided religious freedom for any (Christian) sect, and which was the first law of its kind in the New World.[7] There is a statue in St. Mary's City commemorating this event, along with extensive museums, a reconstructed Colonial town, living history actors, and a replica of the Maryland Dove

War of 1812[edit]

St. Mary's County is where Francis Scott Key, the author of a poem which became The Star Spangled Banner, and professional wrestler Scott Hall grew up. St. Mary's County was the birthplace of Dashiell Hammett, and Orlando "Tubby" Smith, head basketball coach at the University of Minnesota. The largest employer is Patuxent River Naval Air Station and its related aerospace contract firms. There are both Amish and Mennonite communities who follow traditional ways. Tobacco, once dominant crop, has declined in recent years. The Maryland International Raceway (Budd's Creek) attracts many auto racing enthusiasts.

Wide Range of Historic Buildings[edit]

St. Marys County has some of the oldest still-standing buildings in English North America. Many of these of properties are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[8] These buildings range through many historical periods, starting from the 1600s and running through the 1700s, 1800s and also notable buildings of the early 20th century.[8]

United States Colored Troops Memorial Statue[edit]

The United States Colored Troops Memorial Statue is a memorial to the more than 700 African-American soldiers and sailors from St. Mary's County who served in the Union forces during the American Civil War. It includes an educational display. Special celebrations are also held there each year.

Song About St. Marys County[edit]

Grammy Award winning singer and songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter wrote a song about St. Mary's County, called "Down in Mary's Land", in 1989.[9] She is known for having great affection for St. Mary's County.

Notable residents[edit]

  • Steny Hoyer: Former State Senator and Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives. He is currently the House Minority Whip.
  • Tubby Smith: College basketball coach. Grew up in Scotland, Maryland.
  • Alfred Gough: Screenwriter, author of scripts for numerous Hollywood films. Born and raised in Leonardtown.
  • John Dorsey: Also known as Johnny Dorsey. General manager of the Kansas City Chiefs professional football team, NCAA College Football winner and professional football player. His pro football career was cut short due to injuries. Born in Leonardtown
  • J. Frank Raley: State Senator and state representative, trustee of St. Marys College of Maryland. Credited for helping to establish St. Mary's College as a four-year institution and playing key roles in its development into a nationally top-ranked public college. Born and raised in St. Mary's County.
  • Mary Chapin Carpenter: Grammy winning folk, country and rock singer and songwriter. Wrote a song about St. Mary's County and has lived in St. Mary's County at various times.
  • Ted Koppel: Journalist and former host of the news show Nightline. Lives in Southern St. Mary's County.
  • Louise Daniel Hutchinson: noted historian of African American history. Was born in Ridge, Maryland.[10]
  • Michael Glaser: Poet, educator, literary editor. Was the Poet Laureate of the State of Maryland from 2004 through 2009. Awarded the Andrew White Medal for contributions to intellectual and artistic life in Maryland. Taught at St. Mary's College. Lives in St. Mary's County.
  • Sylvester Stallone: Award-winning actor and director. Attended Charlotte Hall Military Academy and boarding school in St. Mary's County as a teenager.
  • Norton Dodge: Economist, collector of dissident Soviet era art. Smuggled thousands of Soviet dissident paintings, prints & sculptures out of communist Russia over a series of visits and at great risk to his own life. Amassed one of the largest collections of Soviet-era art outside the Soviet Union. Taught at St. Mary's College in St. Mary's City.
  • Norwood Sothoron Athlete, soldier, commandant of Charlotte Hall Military Academy. Inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1972. Born and raised in Charlotte Hall, Maryland.
  • Betty Currie: Personal secretary to the President of the United States (Bill Clinton). Was also personal secretary to the Director of the Peace Corps.
  • Scott Hall: Former professional wrestling star and professional wrestling entrepreneur. Born and raised in St. Mary's County, Maryland.
  • Robert E. Hogaboom: Four-star Marine Corps General, Chair of the Historic St. Mary's City Commission and advocate for decades for the reconstruction and development of Historic St. Mary's City.
  • Francis Scott Key: Writer of the Star Spangled Banner. Grew up in St. Mary's County.
  • James H. Harris: Medal of Honor recipient, for heroism in the Battle of Chaffin's farm during the Civil War. Harris was an African American Union soldier. Grew up as a free Black tenant farmer in Great Mills.
  • William H. Barnes: Medal of Honor recipient, for valor in the Battle of Chaffin's Farm, while serving in the Union Army during the Civil War. Was a free African American farmer from St. Mary's County.
  • Richard Henry Alvey: Chief Justice of the Maryland Supreme Court and also a Federal Judge in the 1870s and 1880s. Born and raised in St. Marys County.
  • Benedict Joseph Fenwick: Catholic Bishop of Boston from 1825 until his death in 1846. Born in Leonardtown.
  • William C. Somerville: Author, historian, diplomat and War of 1812 soldier. Born and raised in St. Mary's County.
  • Margaret Brent: English immigrant to the first Colony of Maryland. Lived in St. Mary's City. Early (indirect) advocate for women's rights by asserting her own right to run an estate and vote. Was the first woman in the English North American colonies to appear before a court of the Common Law.
  • William and Dinah Nuthead: Established the first printing house in the Southern Colonies in St. Mary's City, Maryland.
  • Mathias da Sousa: A former indentured servant in Maryland's first colony in St. Mary's City and eventually gained his freedom. Da Sousa was the first person (possibly) of African descent in North America to hold a legislative office (assemblyman in the first Maryland Colonial Assembly, also in St. Mary's City) and to (very probably) have cast a vote in a legislative assembly.
  • Father Andrew White: Jesuit priest and settler on first voyage to establish the new Maryland colony. Also one of the founders of first Catholic Mission and Parish in North America. Instrumental in negotiating peace and territory deals with the Piscataway Indian tribes in St. Marys County. Lived in St. Marys City, Maryland.
  • Leonard Calvert: Leader of the first English settlers in Maryland and first Governor of the Maryland Colony. He lived in St. Mary's City.
  • Charles Calvert: 3rd Baron Baltimore (1637–1715). Second long-term Governor of the Maryland Colony (his Uncle Philip Calvert also ruled before him, but only very briefly). Lived in St. Mary's City.

Law and government[edit]

St. Mary's County Courthouse, July 2009

St. Mary's County is governed by county commissioners, the traditional form of county government in Maryland.

Board of Commissioners[edit]

Position Name Affiliation District
  President Jack Russell Democratic At-Large
  Commissioner Cynthia L. Jones Republican District 1
  Commissioner Daniel L. Morris Republican District 2
  Commissioner Larry Jarboe Republican District 3
  Commissioner Todd B. Morgan Republican District 4

County executive[edit]

The county commissioners exercise such executive powers as exist in the government of the county.

Circuit Court judges[edit]

  • Hon. David Densford,
  • Hon. Karen H. Abrams, Administrative judge
  • Hon. Michael J. Stamm

Law enforcement[edit]

St. Mary's County has the oldest documented sheriff's office in Maryland and one of the oldest in the United States.[11] In 1637 James Baldridge was appointed sheriff. Since 1776, sheriffs in St. Mary's County have been determined by election. Tim Cameron is the current sheriff.[12]

Geography[edit]

The county has a total area of 764.5 square miles (1,980 km2), of which 361 square miles (930 km2) is land and 403 square miles (1,040 km2) (52.78%) is water.

Bordering waters and interior character[edit]

Located on the St. Mary's Peninsula, St. Mary's County is largely bordered by water: the Patuxent River (northeast), the Chesapeake Bay (east), the Potomac River (southwest), and the Wicomico River (west). It's coastline also has many coves, tidal creeks, bays and inlets. Many coastal areas are made up of mixed clay-and-sand cliffs and bluffs, which protect many parts of the county from storm surges, however there are also low-lying coastal areas with coarse sand or gravel beaches or tidal marshlands.

The interior of much of the county is hilly to varying degrees, with forests and agricultural fields. There are also coastal plain areas, much of which are also under agriculture or under new development. Residential development has been steadily increasing for decades.

The county's very extensive waters are mostly brackish, ranging from significant degrees of saltwater in tidal areas, on or near the Chesapeake Bay, to a greater predominance of freshwater and lower salt concentrations in it's interior tidal waterways and also further up it's bordering rivers.

Adjacent counties[edit]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 15,544
1800 13,699 −11.9%
1810 12,794 −6.6%
1820 12,974 1.4%
1830 13,459 3.7%
1840 13,224 −1.7%
1850 13,698 3.6%
1860 15,213 11.1%
1870 14,944 −1.8%
1880 16,934 13.3%
1890 15,819 −6.6%
1900 17,182 8.6%
1910 17,030 −0.9%
1920 16,112 −5.4%
1930 15,189 −5.7%
1940 14,626 −3.7%
1950 29,111 99.0%
1960 38,915 33.7%
1970 48,388 24.3%
1980 59,895 23.8%
1990 75,974 26.8%
2000 86,211 13.5%
2010 105,151 22.0%
Est. 2012 108,987 3.6%
U.S. Decennial Census[13]
2012 Estimate[14]

2010[edit]

Whereas according to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau:

2000 and 2010 Census[edit]

As of 2010, there were 105,000 people in St. Marys County,[15] up from 84,000 in the year 2000.[16] families residing in the county. The population density was 238 people per square mile (92/km²). There were 34,081 housing units at an average density of 36 persons/km² (94 persons/sq mi). The racial makeup of the county was 81.57% White, 13.92% African American, 0.34% Native American, 1.80% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 0.61% from other races, and 1.68% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.00% of the population. 14.8%[16] were of American, 13.9%[16] German, 13.3%[16] English and 12.1%[16] Irish ancestry according to Census 2000.

There were 30,642 households out of which 25.90%[16] had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.10%[16] were married couples living together, 15.10%[16] have a woman whose husband does not live with her, and 34.90%[16] were non-families. 29.40%[16] of all households were made up of individuals and 12.90%[16] had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.72 and the average family size was 3.14.

In the county the population was spread out with 27.90% under the age of 18, 15.70%[16] from 18 to 24, 29.50%[16] from 25 to 44, 22.20%[16] from 45 to 64, and 9.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 101.80 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 119.10[16] males.

The median income for a household in the county was $54,706, and the median income for a family was $61,397. Males had a median income of $27,496[16] versus $23,035[16] for females. The per capita income for the county was $22,662. 7.20% of the population and 5.20% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 28.40%[16] are under the age of 18 and 19.10%[16] are 65 or older.

Cities and towns[edit]

Saint Mary's County includes one municipality, classified as a town under Maryland law: Leonardtown, the county seat (incorporated 1858).

Census Designated Areas[edit]

Unincorporated areas are also considered as towns by many people and listed in many collections of towns, but they lack local government. Various organizations, such as the United States Census Bureau, the United States Postal Service, and local chambers of commerce, define the communities they wish to recognize differently, and since they are not incorporated, their boundaries have no official status outside the organizations in question. The Census Bureau recognizes the following census-designated places in the county:

  1. California
  2. Charlotte Hall
  3. Golden Beach
  4. Lexington Park

Other unincorporated areas[edit]

Districts[edit]

Many St. Mary's natives with deep roots in the county have often historically referred to different county areas by their political districts. For example, one well-known area is called "Seventh District".

Colleges and universities[edit]

Military bases[edit]

The county has three military bases--

  • "Webster Field" is a smaller naval annex and secondary airfield and is located in Saint Inigoes. It used for avionics engineering testing and development.
  • Coast Guard Station St. Inigoes (also in St. Inigoes) is technically two bases because it comprises two separate areas. But it is all under the same command.

Transportation[edit]

Limited local buses are provided through St. Mary's Transit [1], and commuter bus service to Washington, D.C. is provided by MTA [2].

The nearest commercial airlines are Reagan National Airport in Washington D.C. and Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI) in suburban Baltimore.

St. Mary's County is also served by a general aviation airport called Captain Walter Duke Regional Airport near Leonardtown, Maryland

Notable Sites[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 24, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ St. Mary's County in Maryland State Archives
  4. ^ Cecilius Calvert, "Instructions to the Colonists by Lord Baltimore, (1633)" in Clayton Coleman Hall, ed., Narratives of Early Maryland, 1633-1684 (NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1910), 11-23.
  5. ^ a b "Bay Community in Flux: St. Mary's Peninsula Struggles to Cope with Growth", Christian Science Monitor, Adam Karlin, March 2005 http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1298&dat=20050328&id=0_EyAAAAIBAJ&sjid=zAgGAAAAIBAJ&pg=6552,7842571
  6. ^ http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10534b.htm
  7. ^ Perry G. E. Miller, "Colonial Religious History," Church History, Vol. 4 No. 1 (March 1935), 45-48.
  8. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15. 
  9. ^ Metro Lyrics, "Mary Chapin Carpenter Lyrics: Down In Mary's Land Lyrics", http://www.metrolyrics.com/down-in-marys-land-lyrics-mary-chapin-carpenter.html
  10. ^ "Louise Daniel Hutchinson Interviews". Record Unit 9558. Smithsonian Institution Archives. Retrieved 20 April 2012. 
  11. ^ St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office - Homepage
  12. ^ "Saint Mary's County – Maryland, Government, Executive Branch". Maryland State Archives. November 20, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-11. 
  13. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Census.gov. Retrieved August 24, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Census.gov. Retrieved August 24, 2013. 
  15. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Census.gov. Retrieved August 24, 2013.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s This is incorrect. It is the data for Somerset County.
  17. ^ "National Liberal Arts Colleges Summary: St. Mary's College of Maryland" U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges and Universities Ranking, 2014 http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/st-mary-s-college-of-maryland-163912/overall-rankings

Coordinates: 38°15′8″N 76°33′49″W / 38.25222°N 76.56361°W / 38.25222; -76.56361