The early government of Maryland was modeled after the Palatinate of Durham in England, with a few added "powers" which made the Governor scarcely less than a king.
Of all the Colonial organs of government-The Hundred, the Manor etc.-the County had more functions and more powers than any other, especially in the executive and judicial lines.
II. WHY CAROLINE
What was the need that led to the organization of Caroline? The inland sections of Dorchester and Queen Anne Counties had developed and were now rich and productive. Trade as well as population had increased and as a whole this section had become somewhat prominent in the respective counties much on account of the fertile soil in this inland section.
Crime too had increased, due in a great degree to the cosmopolitan nature of a new and rapidly growing population. The carrying of prisoners from this section to Queenstown in Queen Anne County or Cambridge in Dorchester County naturally became a problem. With these points in view-
1. Needs of increased population,
2. Needs of increased trade,
3. Need for increased crime,
a more central government began to be discussed. Then too because of distance and difficulties of travel in that day the right of suffrage was in a sense practically denied many free-born citizens.
Having in mind these needs of the people the colonists in this section presented a petition to the General Assembly of Maryland, which met at Annapolis, Nov. 1773, praying that the right to organize a new County be granted them.
Below is given the Act passed by this Assembly.
"WHEREAS, a considerable body of the Inhabitants of Dorchester and Queen Anne’s Counties, by their petition of this General Assembly, have prayed that an Act may be passed for the division of the said counties, and for erecting a new one out of the parts thereof; And whereas it appears to this General Assembly, that the erecting of a new county out of such parts of Dorchester and Queen Anne's will conduce greatly to the ease and convenience of the people thereof: Be it therefore enacted, by the right honorable, the Lord Proprietary by and with the advice and consent of the Governor and the Upper and Lower Houses or Assembly, and the authority of the same, that after the Monday of the second Tuesday in March next such parts aforesaid two counties, Dorchester and Queen-Anne's, are contained within the bounds and limits following to wit:
Beginning at a point on the north side of the mouth of Hunting Creek in Dorchester County, and from thence running up and with the said Creek to the main road at James Murray's Mill, thence by that road by Saint Mary's Chapel Parish church to Northwest Fork Bridge, thence with the main road (that leads to Cannon's Ferry) to Nanticoke River, thence with said river to and with the exterior limits of Queen Anne's County to Intersect the main road that leads from Beaver-dam Causeway to Dovertown, in Kent County upon Delaware, thence with the said road to Long Marsh, thence with said Marsh and stream of the branch of Tuckahee Creek to Tuckahoe Bridge, thence with the said creek to Great Choptank River and with the said river to the first beginning at the mouth of Hunting Creek, shall be and is hereby erected in a new county by the name of Caroline County."
The land approximately was as follows: From Queen Anne County that part of Caroline lying west of the Choptank River. From Dorchester County that part of Caroline County lying east of the Choptank River with a somewhat indefinite boundary along what is now the Delaware line. Of this section there was yet some question as to Maryland's valid title and probably for this reason the land was largely uncleared.
In addition to the two parts above given Caroline has now a small portion of land-probably a few square rods-included within her boundaries that was in the early surveys a part of Talbot.
III. NAMING THE COUNTY
The new county was named Caroline in honor of Caroline Calvert, sister of Frederick, last Lord Baltimore, and wife of Robert Eden, last colonial governor of the Province of Maryland,
IV. COMPLETION OF ORGANIZATION
While these enactment’s were all in 1773, the actual organization of the county did not take place until 1774 at which time it was necessary to make some changes in the Eastern boundary line as laid out by Assembly in 1773, owing to the fact that although a map had been made and the “visitor” run by the surveyors completed yet the exact location of the “division” seemed indefinite in the minds of the legislators.
V. THE FINANCES
The Assembly, too, in the Acts at time of organization secured to the county the greater part of the monies for a Court House. Besides authorizing assessments the following was ordered by Assembly:
“Some time prior to the organization of Caroline County the taxpayers of Dorchester County were assessed for the purpose of constructing a Court House at Cambridge. The taxpayers residing in that portion of Dorchester County which subsequently became a part of Caroline County, had been assessed in a similar manner and paid to the commissioners of Dorchester County, 70,000 pounds of tobacco.
When arrangements were made for organizing Caroline County, the justices of Dorchester County were authorized to pay to the commissioners of Caroline County 70,000 pounds of tobacco, the quantity to be credited to tile taxpayers residing in that section or Caroline County which formerly was known as part of Dorchester County. The taxpayers of that section of Caroline County formerly a section of Queen-Anne's County were assessed in proportion to the amount received from Dorchester County. This was to be placed to the credit of the previously mentioned former taxpayers of said section and to be used towards building the Court House and prison in Caroline."
VI. FINAL SEALING OF BOUNDARIES
The first difficulty about boundaries has been mentioned before-namely the Maryland-Delaware line. Beside this, other changes were made in the line which separates Caroline from Dorchester. These changes were three in number and below we give them quoted from Wright.
"1. Alteration of 1793
"The first alteration took place in 1793, when John Smoots, Eccleston Brown, and Thomas Nichols of Dorchester County, with James Summers and Edward Wright, Sr. of Caroline County were authorized to have a new bridge constructed to span the Northwest Fork River, about 150 yards or 19 ½ perches below the site of the old bridge that had been washed away; they were also to have the road that led from Hunting Creek Church to Cannon's Ferry altered, to traverse across the new bridge and thus annex to Caroline County a stretch of land formerly in Dorchester County."
2. Alteration of 1878
“The second and less important alteration was made during 1878 in the dividing line and road leading from Hynson to Federalsburg, and it was in reference to straightening the road for a short distance between the lands of William A. Noble and S. Frank Pool residing in the opposite adjoining counties. The expense incurred In making this alteration was borne by these two enterprising gentlemen."
3. Alteration of 1880
“The third and most important alteration of the boundary line occurred in 1880. Early in that year each of the seventy voters of the section that was proposed for alteration, petitioned the General Assembly of Maryland, that whereas Federalsburg standing upon the dividing line between Dorchester and Caroline County, hence causing divers difficulties; therefore the boundary line between these counties should be altered; beginning at a dividing line approximately one and a half miles north-west of Federalsburg, between the lands of Wm. H. Alburger and Mrs. Ann Noble; then with the same reversed through the lands of Robert McCrea, A.W. Flowers, and others, until the North-west fork of the Nanticoke River is reached then along the river to Miles' Run; along Miles' Run to the road leading from Johnson's Cross Roads to Federalsburg."
By this survey lands lying between the new and the old boundary became part of Caroline County. Then a census of all voters within this limit was taken. With one exception the voters were in favor of Alteration and as a final matter Caroline paid Dorchester $600 for the land.
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