“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
St. Mary's City in St. Mary's County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Who Worked Here?

Who Worked Here? Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones, August 30, 2019
1. Who Worked Here? Marker
Inscription.  This barn was an important element of the Mackall and Brome plantations. We know the people who worked here growing wheat, corn, tobacco, and caring for livestock were enslaved Africans or African Americans. Maryland had a large enslaved population, although there were also many free African Americans living in the state before the American Civil War.

During the War of 1812, John Mackall, Jr. lost 12 of his enslaved Africans who escaped with the British fleet as they raided along the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River. His estate received compensation for this loss in 1828.

Archaeology tells us that during the decades after the American Revolution, the homes of most of Mackall's laborers stood on the land between this barn and what is now Maryland Route 5. In 1840, a new row of houses was ordered built west of this barn by Dr. John Brome.

When the new Maryland Constitution of 1864 ended slavery, African Americans continued to work this land as tenant farmers or hired laborers of Brome. They lived in the 1840s slave quarters, one of which was inhabited until 1950. When the family of Solomon Milburn finally moved
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away in that year, it ended 250 years of life and labor in this place by people of African ancestry.

By the 1760s, wheat had gradually joined tobacco as a cash crop in this area. Both John Mackall and John Brome grew wheat around this barn, as evidenced by the concentrations of pollen found under the building. This picture of wheat harvesting in the 1930s shows little change from what might have been seen here a century earlier.

We know little about the many generations of African Americans who lived here, but historical documents tell us some of their names. The names below come from John Mackall's 1814 property inventory and, to the right, is an 1867 list of enslaved persons owned by John M. Brome in 1864 when the new Maryland constitution ended slavery in the state.

Advertisement from the St. Mary's Beacon for a runaway slave, William Washington Walton, who was the property of John Brome.

This photo of a pair of quarters that stood near Dr. J. M. Brome's home in St. Mary's City was probably taken before 1910.

Erected by Historic St. Mary's City.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansAgricultureWar of 1812. A significant historical year for this entry is 1812.
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38° 11.001′ N, 76° 25.785′ W. Marker is in St. Mary's City, Maryland, in St. Mary's County. Marker can be reached from Point Lookout Road (Maryland Route 5) 0.4 miles west of Rosecroft Road, on the left when traveling west. The marker is inside the open-air barn. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 16721 Point Lookout Road, Saint Marys City MD 20686, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Dating Changes in a Building (here, next to this marker); Agricultural Change and Environmental Damage (here, next to this marker); What Kind of Barn Was This? (here, next to this marker); A Pressing Situation (here, next to this marker); To Market! To Market! (here, next to this marker); Constructed With Colonial Ideas (a few steps from this marker); Tree Growth Rings (a few steps from this marker); Carpenters' Marks (a few steps from this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in St. Mary's City.
Credits. This page was last revised on September 3, 2019. It was originally submitted on September 2, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 72 times since then and 9 times this year. Photo   1. submitted on September 2, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.

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May. 25, 2022