“The Great Fight Between Tom Hyer & Yankee Sullivan, for $10,000,” James Baillie, printer. Source: Print Collection, Maryland Historical Society.

This Week’s Kent County History Quiz Question: In what area of Kent County did the great prize fight between Tom Hyer and Yankee Sullivan take place?

a. Edesville
b. Lynch
c. Still Pond
d. None of the above.

This Week’s Answer: Still Pond

The great fight between Tom “Young America” Hyer and James “Yankee” Sullivan was reportedly America’s first championship prize fight. The purse was $10,000. The fight took place on February 7, 1849 at a bluff overlooking the Chesapeake Bay at Still Pond Heights near Still Pond. Boxing was illegal at the time. A ring was improvised using stakes and sailing rope from one of the vessels that had transported the fighters to Kent County.

The Maryland Historical Society published an excellent article on Underbelly, the MdHS website. The fight was described as “a symbolic bout between the nativist and pro-immigrant forces then waging battle on the U.S. cultural and political landscape.”

Hyer was a second generation American prize fighter and member of the No Nothing Party. Sullivan was an Irish immigrant, allegedly a career criminal with the reputation as a dirty fighter who reached America from County Cork via an Australian transportation detour. That is just the beginning of the story.

The Kent County History Quiz is a weekly local brainteaser. Kent County historian and author Joan Horsey contributes to the quiz’s development. Our goal is to create an opportunity for local learning and discussion. Have quiz idea to share, email steve@kentpilot.org.