Perhaps you wonder why over twenty years elapsed between the formation of the county and the building of the court house. Here is the explanation as given in the records of the county court, General Assembly and Convention of Maryland of 1774-97.
Just previous to the establishment of Caroline, Dorchester county had levied a tax for the purpose of building a court house at Cambridge. That part which had been paid by people living in the section included in Caroline (70,000 lbs. of tobacco) was ordered to be given to the new county. The inhabitants of the section taken from Queen Anne’s were to be taxed in the same proportion (56,000 lbs. of tobacco) and the monies therefrom used for the building a court house at Pig Point (now Denton). Although this seemed to assure the financial side of the undertaking, the dark days which were ahead for the entire colony caused a delay. With the outbreak of the Revolution, the Convention which now took the place of the late Assembly, suspended all levies until after the war. Dorchester’s tobacco had been turned into paper money and at the close of the war its value had so depreciated that it was necessary to cause a new levy to be made upon the county of £1000. The commissioners were ordered to “demand, sue recover, and receive all monies previously levied and collected and use it for the same purpose.”
While this was being done and things again at a standstill, Bridgetown renewed her plea for the county seat. The compromise spoken of in the preceding chapter occurred at this time and four years elapsed before further decision was made reached in the matter. In 1790 it was finally decided that as the removal of court to Pig Point would be for the convenience and advantage of the inhabitants of the county the clerk should move the records, rolls, and books to that place and there, “safely deposit, keep, and preserve the same in some convenient house” before March 1st, 1791.
New commissioners were at this time appointed as follows: William Richardson, Zedbiel Potter, Joseph Richardson, Peter Edmonson and Joshua Willis. These men were to purchase land, have it surveyed, laid out and plotted, collect all monies and tobacco previously levied, and contract for the erection of court house and jail
On April 27, 1791, they contracted with William Benson of Talbot county to build the court house. The original contract called for £1300 current money, but later, Mr. Benson finding this insufficient, an additional £500 was allowed. In 1797 the building was finally completed and stood until 1895 a tribute to the perseverance of the people of Caroline county and the splendid workmanship of Benson.
Upon the completion of the court house, monies which had been intended for use in building the jail were entirely used. Thomas Huglett, Zebdiel Potter, and Thomas Allen Sangston were appointed commissioners and authorized to levy a tax of £500 in the years 1797 and 1798 for the purpose of building the prison. Not all of this money was needed, however, and the remainder was used in building a causeway on the east and a wharf on the west side of the Choptank at Denton.
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