“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)

An Innovative Entrepreneur

An Innovative Entrepreneur Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), August 30, 2019
1. An Innovative Entrepreneur Marker
Inscription.  Garrett Van Sweringen was an innovator. He tried new approaches to meet the needs of the small colonial "city" with bravado and skill. Unlike most Marylanders who focused on growing tobacco, Van Sweringen had many economic ventures. His business activities included operating an ordinary and later running Maryland's finest private inn, sometimes called a lodging house, along with a brewery and a fashionable coffee house. He also provided medical services to city residents, oversaw construction, and conducted trans-Atlantic trade. Van Sweringen was a talented entrepreneur — his capacity for creating new opportunities became a defining feature of the American economy.

Van Sweringen "served the Countrey" by meeting the needs of travelers and government officials at Maryland's first capital. He provided quality services in an atmosphere much less rowdy found in typical ordinaries.

In 1677, Garrett Van Sweringen began plans to "... set up a brew house and leave ordinary keeping..." This was one of the first breweries in Maryland. His plan also involved opening a private lodging
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house to attract elite customers.

In 1674, Garrett Van Sweringen was paid eight hundred pounds of tobacco for "...building the stocks and whipping post in St. Maries Citty..." Public forms of punishment were common in the 17th century.

Trading vessels brought goods into St. Mary's City from places up and down the coast as well as from foreign ports.

As part of the expanding Atlantic world of commerce, Van Sweringen had extensive merchant connections.

"...Garrett Vansweringen...being possessed of a man Servant named Robert Harper Skilled in phisick & Chirurgery...and exercised the same for the cureing diverse deseases...with good Successe..."
Proceedings of the Provincial Court 1676

In the 1670s, Garrett Van Sweringen employed a servant named Robert Harper who had skill in medical treatments and procedures. He was known for his success in treating different diseases. Van Sweringen continued offering medical services into the 1690s.

Bloodletting was a common medical practice. Central to early theories of human health was keeping the four humors (blood, bile, black bile, and phlegm) in balance. One way to achieve this balance was to take blood from a person. Archaeologists found part of a fleam, a tool used to open veins for bleeding, in excavations
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at St. Mary's City. A complete fleam is seen to the right.

Erected by Historic St. Mary's City.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Colonial EraIndustry & CommerceScience & MedicineSettlements & Settlers.
Location. 38° 11.129′ N, 76° 26.045′ W. Marker is in St. Mary's City, Maryland, in St. Mary's County. Marker can be reached from Old State House Road west of Point Lookout Road (Maryland Route 5), on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 47414 Old State House 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. The Van Sweringen Family (here, next to this marker); The Van Sweringen Site (here, next to this marker); A Busy Enterprise (here, next to this marker); Meet Garrett Van Sweringen (here, next to this marker); From Many Lands (here, next to this marker); …Adjourn to the Arbour at Vansweringens (a few steps from this marker); Tobacco... "our meat, drink, clothing and monies" (a few steps from this marker); Keep It Clean (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in St. Mary's City.
Credits. This page was last revised on November 22, 2019. It was originally submitted on September 4, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 233 times since then and 59 times this year. Photo   1. submitted on September 4, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.

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Jul. 25, 2024