“The News of Yorktown” painted by Jean Leon Ferris (1863-1930) painted in 1921 depicts Lt. General Tench Tilghman, General George Washington’s aide-de-camp, announcing the news of the surrender of the British in the Battle of Yorktown. Source: digitalmaryland.org.

This Week’s Kent County History Quiz Question: In what year was the first public road cut and constructed in Kent County?

A. 1675
B. 1725
C. 1775
D. None of the above

The Answer: A. 1675

As early as 1675, Rock Hall Crossroads, as Rock Hall was known then, lived up to its name by acting as the gateway to the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. It also provided access to the shortest route to the northeastern colonies and their larger and politically important settlements.

Kent County had been founded in 1642 and was shortly thereafter commanded by law to begin settlement and economic development for England’s Crown. It is not surprising that the first road cut in Kent County should have occurred in Rock Hall in 1675. History tells us that it used to be part of today’s Main Street intersection.

Just south of Rock Hall Crossroads on Eastern Neck, 1675 was also the year that James Ringgold and Samuel Tovey laid out New Yarmouth and began that short-lived settlement’s two decades of fame as the county seat, before the courthouse was moved to Chestertown.

The first leg of the new road apparently went to Edesville, which, at that time, was more developed than Rock Hall Crossroads. The famous route taken by George Washington and other patriots, about a century later, with hooves pounding, continued on from Edesville to Sandy Bottom Road, past St. Paul’s Parish, and onto Ricaud’s Road, up Langford Road and into Chestertown.

Tench Tilghman used the route on his famous ride from Yorktown to Philadelphia to report the news of the British surrender.

A railroad was never built to Rock Hall for the shipment of its famous sea fare, although it continued to be included in the plans. Who knows why, except the bottom line apparently was not attractive enough.

Rock Hall remains today a fun-loving bayside retreat, where delightful hours can be spent enjoying many activities–on the water skillfully wielding a rod and reel, or relaxing at a paper-covered table, hammer in hand, enjoying each morsel of a blue crab or other delectable delicacy–fresh-caught nearby.

That almost three-hundred-fifty-year-old stretch of road, though its surfaces may have changed, continues to be ready and waiting to support all travelers.

Another footnote in the volumes of history. Thanks to all who remembered.

The Kent County History Quiz is a weekly local brainteaser sponsored by The Peoples Bank. Kent County historian and author Joan Horsey, local newsman and history sleuth Kevin Hemstock, and columnist Kate Meehan contribute to the quiz’s development. Our goal is to create an opportunity for local learning and discussion.

Do you have a Kent County history question? Send it to steve@kentpilot.org.