John Ozmon: Captain of the Sea and Entrepreneur
Centreville Heritage Trail
Ozmon had granaries here on the wharf front, one of which stood on the location of this sign. This granary stored corn and wheat for shipping on the two upper floors, and phosphate fertilizer on the ground floor. Next door on one side was the coal business of R.J. Price. By 1873, Captain Forman was raising chickens and running his schooner business on the right side of the granary. Ozmon’s grain and wheat being so attractive to Foreman’s chickens, they became a nuisance. To quote the Centreville Observer of the time, “…this did not sit will on the stomach of Captain Ozmon, although he grinned and bore while wheat was less than $2 per bushel.” As the price of wheat went up, Captain Ozmon’s tolerance went down, and he shot five chickens and wounded others. Forman took Ozmon to court. Defendant and plaintiff were each represented
(Inscription next to the image in the upper center)
Captain Ozmon was a passionate promoter for Centreville business, and wharf business in particular. The Corsica River was so badly silted in that neither his ship nor others could get into the wharf. Goods had to be offloaded downstream and freighted up to in smaller boats. This letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is a demonstration of his efforts to promote Centreville’s wharf business. (Inscription next to the image in the lower center) The dredging had been intended for 1883 and the contract went to the American Dredging Company as seen from this document from the Army Corps of Engineers, but it took until the efforts and letters of Captain Ozmon and William McKenny to release the funds to accomplish the dredging. Photo credit: ad for Chesapeake Dredging Company.
When the Corps of Engineers dredging was completed there was a celebration noted in the Baltimore Patriot paper on May 19, 1887: “…The steamtug the Madden took an excursion down the creek to the mouth of the Chester River. The Madden took in tow the schooners Corsica and Chesterfield, both loaded with grain. The boats were gaily decorated with flags, and salutes were fired and whistles blown in celebration of the event. It was the first time in the history of Centreville, so far as known, that a loaded vessel passed from Centreville wharf down the creek, vessels heretofore being compelled to anchor at some distance from the wharf, and lighter the cargo to and fro.” Captain Ozmon, Clash and Bryan and Dr. R.M. Price contracted privately with the dredging company to dredge in front of their properties on the wharf to complete the effort.
(Inscription beside the image in the upper right)
Ozmon had a store just opposite this sign which is still standing but is now a home. The store was built in 1882 in anticipation of the dredging of the Corsica when he expected he would be able to get all freight offloaded at his landing. The store sold more than ship and fishing supplies. It was the grocery store of the Wharf. There was a walk-in safe, the door of which still remains, as pictured here. Photo credit: Centreville History Collection of MMR Goodwin.
(Inscription next to the image on the bottom right)
All accounts and notes were kept on boards in the office, one of which is pictured here. When Captain Ozmon died the safe held spices, tobacco products and a bag of gold dust. By 1919 the granary on this site was sold to the Superior Guano Company for $1300. Guano was a highly desirable fertilizer of the time. Photo credit: Centreville History Collection of MMR Goodwin.
Erected by Maryland Heritage Area Authority.
Location. 39° 3.173′ N, 76° 4.492′ W. Marker is in Centreville, Maryland, in Queen Anne's County. Marker is on Front Street. Touch for map. The marker is located on the grounds of the Centreville Landing. Marker is in this post office area: Centreville MD 21617, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Centreville Wharf (a few steps from this marker); Shuttled By Ship (within shouting distance of this marker); Chesterfield Avenue: River to Railroad Connection (approx. half a mile away); Queen Anne’s County (approx. ¾ mile away); Honor • Valor • WWI • WWII • Korea • Vietnam (approx. ¾ mile away); The Courthouse (approx. ¾ mile away); The Brass Pin (approx. ¾ mile away); Wright’s Chance (approx. 0.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Centreville.
Categories. • Industry & Commerce • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on February 7, 2015, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 156 times since then and 6 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on February 7, 2015, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.