Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Maryland, My Maryland (Part 1)



I am a native Marylander, but a lifetime has passed since I was a resident. My mother’s family is from the eastern shore, and she grew up in Burtonsville (a tiny town outside of Laurel about twenty miles south of Baltimore, and according to my grandfather, only called Burtonsville because there were more Burtons than Woottens-his surname). I decided to set my current work in progress in Laurel because of its proximity to Fort Meade and Walter Reed Hospital (see what authors think about when creating a story idea?). 

Despite my knowledge of the state, I needed to research that particular area, specifically during the war. I learned that Maryland is comprised of five regions: Capital, Southern, Western, Eastern Shore, and Central, and I will be sharing about one each month through the end of the year. I hope you enjoy the journey. 

The Capital Region is located – you guessed it – outside Washington, DC, our nation’s capital and contains three counties: Frederick, Montgomery, and Prince George’s (PG as it’s known to locals). The area’s history spans three centuries, evidenced by the fact that Maryland donated land from Montgomery and Prince George’s counties to be used for the new capital city. Dotted by farms during the early days, the region is now famous for its high-tech industries and research centers in the fields of telecommunications, electronics, computers, health, and medicine. 

Pixabay/David Mark
Frederick County was home to Pennsylvania Germans who arrived in 1730 and named the county and county see for Frederick Calvert, the sixth and last Lord Baltimore. Francis Scott Key, author of The Star-Spangled Banner was born in Frederick and partnered a law firm with his brother-in-law Roger Brooke Taney who would later become Chief Justice. of the Supreme Court. The county is located in both the Appalachian Mountain and Piedmont Plateau regions and has more farms than any other Maryland County. The county’s two prominent ridges Catoctin Mountain and South Mountain form an extension of the Blue Ridge, with Middletown Valley lying between them. Many covered bridges can be seen throughout the county. There is a significant amount of Civil War history connected to Frederick. 

Montgomery County, where I spent my high school and college years was founded in 1776 by English, Scottish, and Irish settlers, and was named for General Richard Montgomery, a Revolutionary War hero. Because of its proximity to Washington, DC, there are quite a few government agencies in the county including the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Institute of Health, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In addition, the 150-year-old National Library of Medicine, the large medical library in the world, is in Bethesda. Bordered by the Potomac River, the county lies completely within the Piedmont Plateau and is made up of gently rolling hills throughout its 591 square miles. 

The 184.5-mile-long Chesapeake & Ohio Canal (C&O) runs alongside the Potomac and operated as a means of transportation and transport from 1831-1924. The tow-path (the dirt and stone lane built for canal mules to walk beside the water as they “towed” the boats through the waterway is now a heavily traveled hiking trail. And even in this age of advanced technology, you can grab a ride on White’s Ferry, the only ferry remaining on the Potomac. 

Prince George’s County is an interesting dichotomy of agriculture and technology where you can visit
Courtesy of nasa.gov
the National Colonial Farm Museum, Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, and Goddard Space Flight Center. Because PG County is close to Washington, DC, it is also home to several federal facilities such as Joint Base Andrews (formerly Andrews Air Force Base) and the U.S. Census Bureau. Named for Prince George of Denmark (husband of England’s Princess Anne) and founded in 1696, the county is filled with history. 

The county lies in the Atlantic coastal plain and is a mixture of rolling hills and valleys, but the terrain varies widely by location within the county. The Patuxent River forms the eastern border. Areas close to the capital tend to be characterized by suburban neighborhoods, while areas further out are more rural. Piscataway Park in Accokeek preserves many acres of woodland and wetlands along the Potomac River opposite Mount Vernon, Virginia (yes, George Washington’s Mount Vernon). Many well-known athletes, entertainers, and actors hail from PG county, but the most infamous is Mary Surratt, who was charged with conspiring to assassinate President Lincoln and was the first woman hanged by the federal government.

 _______________ 

Will she have to run from the past for the rest of her life?

Dinah Simpkins has no chance of making a good marriage in Baltimore. Her outlaw brothers and her father’s gambling addiction have ruined the family’s reputation. Then the Westward Home and Hearts Matrimonial Agency provides an opportunity for a fresh start. After Dinah arrives in Nebraska, she discovers her brothers played a part in the death of her prospective groom’s first wife. 

As a former Pinkerton detective Nathan Childs knows when someone is lying. The bride sent by the matrimonial agency may be beautiful, but she’s definitely hiding something, and he has no intention of marrying her until he uncovers the truth. But an easier solution may be to send her packing. Then his young daughter goes missing. He and Dinah must put aside their mutual hurt and mistrust to find her.


Linda Shenton Matchett writes about ordinary people who did extraordinary things in days gone by. A volunteer docent and archivist for the Wright Museum of WWII, Linda is a former trustee for her local public library. She is a native of Baltimore, Maryland and was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry. Linda has lived in historic places all her life, and is now located in central New Hampshire where her favorite activities include exploring historic sites and immersing herself in the imaginary worlds created by other authors. Learn more about her and her books at http://www.LindaShentonMatchett.com

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting today, and I'm looking forward to knowing more about your home state!

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    1. Thanks, Connie! And thanks for being such a faithful follower.

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