The History of Caroline County, Maryland, From Its Beginning, 1920, pp. 18-22


THE HUNDRED—ELECTION DISTRICTS

I. Introduction

        The Hundred is a division antedating the county, the town, the manor or the parish.  When the Angles and the Saxons landed on English soil more than one thousand years ago, they formed bands of one-hundred for their protection and government.
        When the necessity arose in the colonies the early settlers adopted the Hundred as a civic division best suited to their isolated colonies.  It was not in the same form as that of the Anglo-Saxon for the personal Hundred—one hundred families or one hundred soldiers—was unknown here.  Maryland's division was made geographically.
        The necessity for this civic division came with the issuing of legal writs to freemen to meet as representatives in Assembly.  Thus you see Maryland's Hundred was originally a governmental district whose chief executive was the constable.
        Later when counties were formed and writs of election were issued to the sheriff, instead of the constable of the Hundred, this division remained under the constable who attended to many civic duties in his division.

II. Caroline's Hundreds

        At the time when the Assembly granted the organization of Caroline County, they also passed an act that the new county be divided into Hundreds.  In accordance with this Act the November Court, 1774 divided the county into five hundreds as follows:

        1. Fork Hundred beginning at the Northwest Fork Bridge and running the main county road that divides Caroline County from Dorchester County, to Cannon's Ferry on the North East Fork (Nanticoke) River, and from the said Ferry up the said river and branch to the head thereof, and so round and as far as is inhabited by the people of the Province of Maryland until it intersects the head of the main branch of the Northwest Fork Bridge.
        2. Great Choptank Hundred beginning at the mouth of Hunting Creek and running up said creek to the bridge over James Murray’s Mill Dam and from thence with the main county road that divides Caroline County from Dorchester County to the Northwest Fork Bridge and from thence up the said North West Fork Branch to Marshy Hope Bridge and from thence with the main road that leads to Nathaniel Potter's Landing on Great Choptank River and from thence down the said river to the mouth of Hunting Creek.
        3. Choptank Hundred beginning at Nathaniel Bradley's in Choptank, and runs with the first line to Tuckahoe Hundred, so as to include Francis Orrell's in Choptank Hundred and from thence up Choptank River, and the main branch of the said river to the Dover road and down with the said road to Long Marsh to the head of Tuckahoe Creek and down with the said creek to the said beginning.
        4. Bridgetown Hundred beginning at Nathaniel Potter's landing on Great Choptank River and running from thence with the main county road that leads to Marshy-Hope Branch, and from the said branch up the said Northwest Fork branch and stream as far as is settled by the inhabitants of the Province of Maryland, and all around as settled as aforesaid, until it intersects the main branch of the head of the Great Choptank River, and from thence down the said river branch to Nathaniel Potter's landing on Great Choptank River.
        5. Tuckahoe Hundred beginning at Nathaniel Bradley's upon Tuckahoe Creek, and from thence with a straight line to Francis Orrell’s on Charles Nichol's plantation on Choptank River, to Vincent Price's and up with Tuckahoe Creek to the said beginning.
        The court also appointed in 1774 the following constables for the Hundreds as follows:
Miscellaneous Orders and Business of the Court:
        “The Court (1774) appoints Christopher Driver constable of Bridgetown Hundred, Joshua Willis of Great Choptank Hundred, James Cooper of Fork Hundred, and Solomon Mason of Choptank Hundred, who respectively took the oath of Government, the oath of Constable, and subscribes the oath of abjuration and repeats and signs the test.”
        Owing to the indefinite boundaries of the Fork Hundred a change was found necessary as Cannon's Ferry proved to be in Delaware.  This change made the Fork Hundred so small that the part remaining was in 1776 incorporated in Great Choptank Hundred.
        Then the Great Choptank seemed large and unwieldy for civic purposes, and again, in March, 1780, another change was made separating this Hundred into two parts.  The Eastern part became   Fork Hundred while the Western part retained the name of Great Choptank Hundred.
        While the names of many of the boundary places have been changed they may be identified by reference to the map of Hundreds.

ELECTION DISTRICTS

        While the hundreds continued as subdivisions from 1774 to about 1800 all elections for county officers in Caroline County and members of the Assembly of Maryland were held at the county seat, and every voter who had the required qualifications, fifty acres of land, or forty pounds sterling in money or personal property, who decided to vote was obliged to go there to exercise his rights, not by casting a ballot but viva voce; that is, the voters told the Judge or Judges of the election, the names of the persons for whom the proposed to vote.  The Sheriff of the county was then judge of the election and made the official returns of the result.  At some period of this method of elections, the polls were kept open four days in succession for the convenience of voters who lived in remote parts of the county.
        Finding that the great inconvenience in getting to the polling places kept many from voting, the
General Assembly in 1798 enacted a law dividing the counties of the state into election districts of
which Caroline County was to possess three.  The following year a commission named by the
legislature divided Caroline County into the Upper, Middle and Lower Election districts which
superseded the several hundred then in existence.  Greensboro and Denton were polling places for
1st and 2d districts while the 3rd or Lower district voted at Hunting Creek.  In 1805 the voting place of the 3rd district was removed to "The Walnut Trees" near Hynson and in 1816 returned to Hunting Creek.
        Harmony became the election place of the Lower district in 1852, an honor evidently
coveted with much eagerness.
        The Legislature of 1854 erected district No. 4 which included about all of the territory which is now embraced in the Federalsburg district.
        In 1861 the provision was made for dividing Election district one into two precincts but the Act was repealed the following year at which time the county was divided into 5 election districts with Henderson, Greensboro, Denton, Harmony and Federalsburg as the respective polling places.  This arrangement continued until 1880 when the sixth or Hillsboro election district was organized.
        Preston, which had been known for some time as Snow Hill, became the voting place of the southern portion of the Fourth district in 1880 while Harmony continued only as the polling place for the 1st precinct of said district.
        In 1894 the section around and including Ridgely having developed rapidly it was found
necessary to erect the Seventh or Ridgely election district while at the same session the Eighth district  was formed from parts of the 3rd, 4th and 5th districts and American Corners designated as the polling place.
        Somewhat later the 3rd election district having become rather unwieldy for voting it was decided to divide the same into two polling precincts, an arrangement which still continues.


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