The Chesapeake Bay area was once the home of many curious and exciting things. There were people and creatures of all sorts living near the water’s edge, just as there are today. However, not many people today know about the history that might lie just out of sight or just beneath their feet.
In the woods of Dorchester County, not too far from the Bay, lies two gravestones of years long past. These two people, presumed to be husband and wife, sit far past the tree line in peaceful stillness of a place that remains mostly untouched to this day. Those who would happen to stumble upon them in their small grassy clearing could not miss them, as they shine as white as snow. Unfortunately, only the wife’s stone is readable and is able to give the reader any clues about the lives these people once lived. The part of the stone that is visible tells us her name, speaks of her marriage, gives us her age, and provides us with the day she “departed this life”.
This woman likely has some relatives within Dorchester County at the present time, but it is not likely that they would know where to find her now. So many others, like her and her husband, are buried somewhere beyond our current knowledge in this land that they used to call home. As was mentioned above, these two graves in particular were found in a small clearing surrounded by old pine trees. The clearing was probably the same area in which their house used to reside, though their stones are the only remaining sign that people ever set foot on that ground.
In another area a few miles away, a few bricks, some fruit trees, and another grassy clearing mark the site of an additional homestead. The region is littered with areas like this--places long since forgotten. Some, like the first site, still contain the remains of those who made a life here, while others have a true cemetery shared with multiple neighboring families.
Today, these sights are something to see. Through them, the past is revealed and we have a greater understanding of what life was once like in Dorchester County. Though we might not have known the significance of each person we come across, we see the impact they left behind on both the land and the people. It is quite common, for example, to see spots of daffodils within such clearings, which have bloomed year after year since Europeans first settled here. It is also within our abilities to reach out to the descendants of people we come across to expand their knowledge of their lineage.
While not all people would consider these sites to be of any great importance, we who love history find them to be portals through time that allow us to see things in a new light. We may walk on the very same paths that these people once took. We may be looking at the very same trees that surrounded their houses centuries ago. The same ground lies beneath our own feet. We feel fortunate to live upon the same land as our ancestors and those who were here before us. Perhaps we feel reassured by living here that we are fulfilling their legacy of making this land our home.
It is in those quiet clearings that the greatest messages resound: that life is not to be taken for granted; that though seasons pass and times fade, we still leave pieces of ourselves behind. Even the smallest daffodil is a testament to the lives of these people.
Today, those of us who love history enough to gain such understanding from an empty space left behind in the middle of the woods hope that the future heirs of Dorchester County will be able to see our area the same way. We hope that others are able to find it as rich in life and history as we are, and that they will be able to appreciate what may be just beyond our reach.
These are a few things that have been on our minds over the past few weeks, and we hope to make you think more about the history that might surround you. If you have stories to share, we’d like to hear them. If you have something you would like us to see, we’d like for you to show us. We are always open to learning more about our local history and the ways of the past. Please feel free to share with us your thoughts on Dorchester’s past and what is becoming of places like these.