“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Big Pool in Washington County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Nathan Williams

A Prosperous Farm

Nathan Williams ~ A Prosperous Farm Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, October 22, 2006
1. Nathan Williams ~ A Prosperous Farm Marker
Inscription.  Nathan Williams was the son of Samuel “Big Sam” Williams, a slave who in 1826 bought freedom for himself, his wife, and his four children. In 1839, the elder Williams purchased a farm near Four Locks, about 3.5 miles east of Fort Frederick. There, Nathan Williams fell in love with a slave named Ammy on adjoining farm and bought her freedom for $60 in 1847. In 1860, just before the Civil War, the couple acquired the Fort Frederick tract for $7,000.

When the 1st Maryland Infantry (U.S.) garrisoned the fort in 1861-62, officers occupied the Williams house, which was located near the present park gift shop and Ammy Williams cooked their meals. Nathan Williams sold produce to the soldiers here as well as to the Confederates across the Potomac River. He justified his fraternization with the Confederates by passing information to the Federals.

After the war, Williams dismantled most of the fort’s northwest bastion to construct a barn. Inside the fort he built animal pens and planted grapevines, vegetables, and a small orchard. He also cultivated the fields outside and bought more land to expand his farm as he prospered.

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1884, Nathan Williams died, and the farm passed to his family. By the 1890s, public sentiment in Maryland spurred efforts by the state to reacquire the fort. In 1911, the Williams family sold 189.5 acres with the fort. The state bought it in 1922 to create Fort Frederick. Maryland’s first state park.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansAgricultureForts and CastlesWar, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Maryland Civil War Trails series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1826.
Location. 39° 36.615′ N, 78° 0.292′ W. Marker is near Big Pool, Maryland, in Washington County. Marker is on Fort Frederick Road south of Big Pool Road (Maryland Route 56), on the right when traveling south. It is front of the Sulter Souvenier & Concession Shop. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Big Pool MD 21711, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Fort Frederick (here, next to this marker); Fort Frederick Officers’ Quarters (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Fort Frederick (about 400 feet away); “...a place of Arms...would be absolutely neccessary” (approx. 0.2 miles away); "Old Fort Frederick" (approx. 0.2 miles away); “ protect, preserve...and provide access thereto for the public.”
Detail from Marker: Nathan Williams (right) and Family image. Click for full size.
2. Detail from Marker: Nathan Williams (right) and Family
(approx. 0.2 miles away); Western Maryland (approx. ¼ mile away); The National Road (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Big Pool.
Regarding Nathan Williams. Like many other farmers in the area, Williams likely shipped his produce to markets east and west on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, which bordered his property.
Additional commentary.
1. Nathan Williams
My name is Angela Tobery. My mother, Louise Bennett Campbell is the great grandauther of Nathan Williams. Her grandfather, Henry Williams, in 1860 was a year old making him the youngest of Nathan Williams children. —Angela Tobery.
    — Submitted September 14, 2007.
Markers and Fort Frederick image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, October 22, 2006
3. Markers and Fort Frederick
The photographer is standing approximately where the Williams farmhouse stood, in view of the fort walls.
Inside Fort Frederick image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, October 22, 2006
4. Inside Fort Frederick
The walls have been repaired and replicas of the barracks buildings have been built where Williams planted fruit trees and grapevines, penned his animals, and grew vegetables. The northwest bastion, the one closest to his house outside the walls, is in the distance.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on January 20, 2007, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. This page has been viewed 3,680 times since then and 51 times this year. Last updated on February 21, 2008, by Christopher Busta-Peck of Shaker Heights, Ohio. Photos:   1. submitted on January 20, 2007, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.   2. submitted on January 20, 2007.   3, 4. submitted on January 20, 2007, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.

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Apr. 13, 2024