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Port Tobacco in Charles County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

The Port Tobacco Jail

 
 
Port Tobacco Jail Marker image. Click for full size.
National Park Service, Thomas Stone National Historic Site, November 10, 2018
1. Port Tobacco Jail Marker
Inscription.  You are standing near the site of the last jail associated with the County Courthouse at Port Tobacco. The jail was built in 1860 and was demolished in 1906. Imagine a two-story brick building with a slate roof. Each floor had two cells or rooms divided by a staircase in the middle. Accused vagrants, lunatics, escaped slaves, and criminals were housed here.

(Text box for two images of Port Tobacco. One is about a century old and the other is contemporary.)
The Port Tobacco jail is revealed in the image below after the center portion of the courthouse was burned in August 1892. To the right shows the reconstructed courthouse today.

(Text box for image showing five artifacts)
Artifacts found from recent archaeological testing provide clues to the material culture of the jail occupants.

(Text box for image of a fireplace, which is identified as the "Jail at Lancaster Courthouse, part of the Mary Ball Washington Museum & Library, Lancaster, VA.)
The 1860 jail had fireplaces in each cell and sash windows with bars. Rings were mounted in the floor and walls to restrain prisoners if necessary. The cell
Port Tobacco Jail Marker image. Click for full size.
National Park Service, Thomas Stone National Historic Site, November 10, 2018
2. Port Tobacco Jail Marker
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was bare except for mattresses on the floor and a chamber pot. At times both men and women would be in the same cell.

(Text box for image of the exterior of Burch House in Port Tobacco.)
The last jailer was Washington Burch, an African American, whose house you can see in the southern part of the town. Burch would attend to the prisoners by providing basic food and drink and ensuring the jail's overall cleanliness.

(Text box for two logos.)
This panel was sponsored by the Port Tobacco River Conservancy and funded by the Charles County Government, Department of Recreation, Parks and Tourism.
 
Erected by Port Tobacco River Conservancy & the Charles County Government, Department of Recreation, Parks and Tourism.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansLaw Enforcement. A significant historical year for this entry is 1906.
 
Location. 38° 30.65′ N, 77° 1.267′ W. Marker is in Port Tobacco, Maryland, in Charles County. Marker can be reached from Commerce St, 0.2 miles west of Chapel Point Road. Start at front doors of the Port Tobacco Courthouse. Walk 50 feet south to the small cemetery. Then walk 200 feet west to reach the marker. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 8430 Commerce St, Port Tobacco MD 20677, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Port Tobacco: Commerce (about 300 feet away,
Port Tobacco Courthouse exterior image. Click for full size.
National Park Service, Thomas Stone National Historic Site, March 14, 2015
3. Port Tobacco Courthouse exterior
measured in a direct line); Port Tobacco: Conspiracy & the Plot to Assassinate President Lincoln (about 300 feet away); Port Tobacco (about 400 feet away); John Wilkes Booth (about 400 feet away); On to Yorktown (about 400 feet away); Port Tobacco: A Maryland Mosaic (about 400 feet away); St. Columba Masonic Lodge (about 400 feet away); a different marker also named Port Tobacco (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Port Tobacco.
 
Also see . . .
1. Port Tobacco Jail, Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties. (Submitted on January 21, 2019.)
2. Port Tobacco Historic District, Maryland's Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties. (Submitted on January 21, 2019.)
3. Port Tobacco Historic District, Maryland's National Register Properties. (Submitted on January 21, 2019.)
 
Port Tobacco Jail Marker & Port Tobacco Courthouse exterior. image. Click for full size.
National Park Service, Thomas Stone National Historic Site, November 10, 2018
4. Port Tobacco Jail Marker & Port Tobacco Courthouse exterior.
Port Tobacco Village Signs Along Chapel Point Road. image. Click for full size.
National Park Service, Thomas Stone National Historic Site, July 15, 2017
5. Port Tobacco Village Signs Along Chapel Point Road.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on November 23, 2019. It was originally submitted on January 21, 2019. This page has been viewed 336 times since then and 84 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on January 21, 2019.   5. submitted on January 21, 2019, by David Lassman of Waldorf, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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Aug. 9, 2022