The History of Caroline County, Maryland, From Its Beginning, 1920, pp. 284-288


SMITHVILLE
Chestnut Grove and Nabb's

SMITHVILLE AND COMMUNITY

                                                                        Days have come, days have gone;
                                                                                People have lived and died;
                                                                        No longer the woods seems to be
                                                                                Where once we played "hide."

                                                                        Houses spacious now are standing,
                                                                                Fields of grain and fruits galore
                                                                        Where once the folks of this community
                                                                                Lived several years before.

                                                                        In the morn the flowers bloometh,
                                                                               All its beauty fadeth soon;
                                                                        In the spring the birds call,
                                                                               But winter calms their tune.

        Changes!  Ah, yes, there are many more.  We, even change in our dress, appearance and habits as the years roll by.  Places change too.  How surprised our forefathers would be if they could see the little village of where once they lived and helped to build; buildings where once their dead were laid away; and roads where years ago were nothing but acres and acres of tree.  Since those days many changes have taken place.
        Instead of the pleasant country and the little village which we now see, in the years long ago, there were only Indians camped here and there.   If we were to take a walk down the pond now we would see many kinds of  flowers blooming on tall bushes.  Some of these were probably planted by the Indians.  We can also find their curious looking darts scattered over the country which they shot from their arrows, and bricks which they made their floors of can be seen yet, thus indicating that a tent was once there. Now, some people wonder what has become of the Indians. But, we can soon tell.
        When the white settlers first came over here they wanted the land for their own.  They knew that they must get rid of these red faced people, so they kept driving tribe after tribe away until at last all left.   Mr. Richard Liden was the first man to come from England who helped drive them away.
        The white people had come to a beautiful land; a land rich in valuable woods, bountifully supplied with game and streams abounding with myriads of waterfowl.  Many years went by, each year bringing more people to this country.  What were they to do?  Make it a place suitable to live in and to support themselves.  So they began to clear up the land by cutting down the trees, using what they could and destroying the rest.
        The next question which arose was the building of homes.  Where were they to build?  The Indians selected their site on the bank of a stream.  This stream led up to a place called old Bloomery where there were several shops.  Yet, many years elapsed, people lived and died, between the time the first homes were built and the beginning of these shops.  But, John and William Douglass about 1800 came to this section and bought land, presumably for the purpose of erecting iron works, since it has been supposed there was a bright prospect of iron ore, and one of these men was an excellent iron master.   They were successful with their work for a while and thus before their coming the place was without a name, but when all the pits got on fire they called it "blummg," naming the place "Blumery."  The term Blumery was also given to the tract of land from which the iron ore was thought to be found. In late years the "oo" has taken the place of the "u" now spelled Bloomery.
        This country was very thinly populated then.  Following the stream, it led to a place where one brick building and two small one story houses stood.  A Mr. Dukes lived in one of the two small houses.  It seems that Peter Jenkins once lived in the brick structure and kept a little store. Later Mr. Wheeler occupied the same building and was the owner of several acres of land surrounding his home.  About the year 1840 Samuel G. Smith bought the land and property from Mr. Wheeler.   In 1869, Robert Bullock bought it and lives there at the present time.  Mr. Smith was a very industrious man, always thinking or carrying out some plan for the betterment and improve- ment of the community.   He was the one that built the first saw mill at this place, although there were mills there before he came, namely,  James Houston was the owner of a grist mill where the road from Federalsburg to Blumery leads across Brights Branch--which is the outlet of the millpond.  James Wright, also, at one time owned the mill and probably Levin and Isaac Smith before him, that was before 1800.   Mr. Samuel G. Smith bought the same mill site about 1849 and conducted an up and down saw mill, but later discontinued it and carried on a grist and bark mill there.  It was he that built the brick mill now standing but remodelled by Mr. William T. Hignutt, he being the owner of it for several years.
        The coming of that man, Samuel G. Smith, to our  village gave it the name of Smithville which name has never been changed.
        He was interested in the spiritual welfare of the people as well as the industrial. He hadn't been located here very long before he started tent meetings near old Bloomery where the church now stands.  After some time they built a small meeting house.  This was used for religious worship until the people were able to afford better, which was in the year 1854, when they constructed a new church which has always carried the name of  Bloomery.
        The first school in this section was apparently located between Brights Branch and Old Bloomery.  In 1798 James Wright sold to several persons a lot of land, one acre, and provided a small house thereon to be used for a school reserving unto himself and his heirs one twentieth of the rights of the school.  We presume he intended to reserve the privilege of his children attending there. The consideration was one pound, or five dollars.   The children probably went to this school until they began to think it was too far to walk and the way was somewhat sandy.  For a while they sent them to Liden's School, but still it was too far away.  This belief caused a school to be built in a more central place near the crossroads by the big hickory tree.  This was called Hickory Hill.  It did not stand many years before it was burned.  William Edward Liden and Bennett Todd were the chief instruments in the construction of the next school.  Mr. Liden giving a corner of his land near the cross roads for it to be built upon.  After some years they discontinued its use, and Caroline County bought almost an acre of land from Thawley not quite midway between the big hickory tree and the village of Smithville for a new school to be erected.  This remains to the present day.
        By this time, mail had become a very important matter.  About 1850 the people in this community drove to Denton after it.  Later their post-office was at Federalsburg.  There wasn't any way provided for them to get it only when they went to town, which was not very often as travel was not only slow but rude in those days.  To improve upon this method the government established a post-office at Smithville. After the post-office was built drivers were appointed to bring the mail from Federalsburg to certain named centers as, Smithville, Concord, American Corner. It was delivered once about every two weeks, later once weekly and eventually every day.

NABB'S

             Nabb's school, erected in 1909, was named for T. D. Nabb, who was the prime mover in the enterprise, and gave much of the lot upon which the school stands.  Miss Myrtle West was the first teacher.

Another Story of Patty Cannon

        One day Elgin Russell, a colored boy, and his sister were out looking for the cows.  Patty Cannon upon passing by thought this was a good chance to get some money, so she got out of  her gig and caught the two children, carried them home with her and put them in a closet; she told them not to say a word, the people came in search of the children for they knew that Patty Cannon was kidnapping people.  These people demanded Patty to give them the key to the closet for they had searched everywhere else but the closet; she told them that she had lost the key.  Just at that moment, Elgin put his finger through the knot hole in the closet; the people then told her that if she did not give up the key they would burst the door open; she gave them the key which was around her neck.    Contributed by Pupils.

CHESTNUT GROVE

        Chestnut Grove is in the Eighth Election district of Caroline County.  However it has not always been known as Chestnut Grove.  For a long time it was known as Chestnut Woods and it is on the map now as Agner.
        There are three different groups of buildings in Chestnut Grove: the school house, church, and store buildings, besides several farm houses  around.  The most important one to us children is the school house.  Its name is Chestnut Grove School. and like the place used to be called Chestnut Woods.  It got its name from the many chestnut trees growing around it.  The school was not always where it is now.  At first it was on the other side of the road and while there the pupils sat on slab benches.  In 1874 the Board of School Commissioners purchased a school site from John Lehman and Robert Rooks.  Then the people around Chestnut Grove subscribed enough money to build the school house which now stands on the Chestnut Grove road.  The building was put up in 1883 and shows its age quite a good deal.
        The Methodist Episcopal church standing  by the school house was built about 1885, by subscription.
        About thirty years ago a camp was held here.  It was called Chestnut Woods Camp.
        Besides the school house, church, and store building there used to be also a grist mill, saw mill, and post office, about one half mile from Chestnut Grove known as Morgan's mill pond.
        Years back a certain William Morgan, for whom the place is now called,  bought real estate and built a saw mill, also adding a corn mill thereon.  He also built a store house and kept store for some time.  After that it changed hands several times until at last a man by the name John Agner purchased it and continued keeping store there.
        The mill was run by water power and was the only one for miles around.  All the people came here to mill and as Mr. Agner also had the post office, it was of course quite a thriving place at one time.
        Later the mills were discontinued and the store moved to Chestnut Grove the postoffice, however, keeping the name of Agner until rural delivery came along.
                                                                                                          Contributed by Pupils.


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