Wednesday, September 30, 2009

St. Marys, Md.

The first time we discovered St. Marys was by accident, eleven years ago.  We were trying to get out of the way of some high winds and rollicking waves as we tried to cross the Potomac.  We turned up the Potomac and turned in to the St. Marys River, followed it up to a nice quiet basin with room for lots of boats.

We went ashore to discover St. Mary's College and asked where the town of St. Marys was.  A look of confusion was our answer, there is no city - it's really just an archeological site.

St. Marys City was the first capital of Maryland (1634) and after the capital was designated as Annapolis, it became farmland.  Currently it is being rediscovered by archeologists who have determined where the former buildings were and what they probably looked like and they are being rebuilt, and it is slowly being turned into a Williamsburg-like attraction, complete with docents, animals, buildings, a replica ship, pathways, visitors centers.

It is still called one of Maryland's best kept secrets.  There were very few visitors while we were there.  But here's our story in pictures.  You will be able to see that it's worth a visit.  We spent 2 afternoons.

Our first night at anchor in St. Marys we were treated to a pretty sunset.

At anchor near us on a trawler was Don and Patty and Don's sister Gail.  They joined us for sundowners soon after we arrived.  He is also a Morgan Out Island owner, same year as ours and wanted to see what we had done to ours.  Turned out he was a good mechanic and taught me what I needed to know to fix my dinghy engine.  (Which I did, and it started first pull - thank you, Don.)

Next morning we watched pretty girls on little sailboats from the St. Marys College sailing school.  (Well, I looked at the pretty girls; there were a few hunks for Suzi to look at, too.)

As you enter town you are treated to the "Freedom of Conscience" statue.

Apparently, the birds need their freedom to poop on such statues.

When I see pretty flowers with butterflies on them I feel compelled to photograph them and share them with you.  I hope you don't mind.

The State building is the first you come to.

...built in 1676, as the wind vane says.

Interior views and details show the effort that the restorers have gone to to replicate the original.

Outside the statehouse was the pillory.   We were told that there was no incarceration or capital punishment, because they needed everybody for the work that had to be done.  So anyone convicted of a crime was simply subjected to humiliation and ridicule.  Maybe we should try that.

Here's Suzi entering the gift shop, and getting her wallet out.  (Just kidding, we are after all The Frugal Mariners)

It's cute, so here it is.

One of the many buildings which have been added to the village.  You're encouraged to go inside.  There are docents in many of them explaining what they were for.

Two ships, the Ark and the Dove brought the settlers and traveled back and forth from England bringing supplies and retuning goods, mostly tobacco.  (Non-filter tipped variety.)  This and the next few photographs are of their idea of what the Dove (the smaller ship) must have looked like.  As you can see from the next few photos, they spared no attention to detail.


Suzi wanted to fire it but they said no.  Just as well, it may have been pointed at our boat.



 Even a cozy fireplace on board! It must have required some careful tending when the seas were high.


A wooden sextant (actually probably a quadrant).  I can't imagine how inaccurate it must have been.  But I suppose it's hard to miss an entire continent.  Up at the top is a glass barometer.

My navigator sitting at the navigator's table.

One of the docents explaining all about the ship.  They are very knowledgeable and go through a great deal of training.  Their explanations don't seem to be just a fixed, memorized patter. And the can answer the hard questions, too.  Like, "Where is the bathroom?"  "They crapped over the rail." "Oh."

Moving on to some other buildings.  This one was decidedly sturdier than many.



This is the style of printing press they used.  Newspapers were not printed as most could not read.  It was mostly for legal documents such as Indenture Papers.  Two identical were printed, one kept at the state house, and the other by the indentured servant.  When the time of his indenture was up (usually five years) he could present his copy at the statehouse.  They had to match so no one could fake it.

Unusual flowers.  Anyone know what they are? We sure don't.

 Down the road we encountered this macabre sight.  We had no idea why deer's feet would hang there like this, but as usual there was a good and practical explanation.  When the settlers first arrived, they purchased shelters from the Indians until they could build their own.  The Indians taught them that if they hung such things as these, it would attract bugs away from the huts.  Also, the bugs would eat the feet until only the sinews and hooves remained, which the Indians used to make strings for their bows and other tools.   I actually could have gone my entire life without knowing this, but now that I've shared it with you; got bugs in your back yard?

 Now what could this be for?  These were built near a garden, and a child was assigned to sit there and throw stones at any little animals trying to feast in the garden.

Primitive? Yep.

Leaky? You betcha!


A dugout canoe at the first stages of construction.

We like interesting flowers.  Suzi says she's going to start a new hobby to figure out what each of them is.
I'd bet we could just make stuff up and very few would know. This is, for instance, a herbiflores posificum, of the genus unlikelycus.

This is the skyline of the visitor center.  I liked the geometrics.  If you don't like it, don't look at it.

That evening, an interesting looking wooden boat anchored near us.

This is a reconstruction of the Chapel.  You can see that no expense was spared.  Religion played a very large part of their lives and the idea of religious freedom started here.  At the time, Protestanism was paramount and Catholicism was not allowed.  Lord Baltimore, who ran the place, was Catholic and the original charter for the Colony included religious freedom as one of its tenets. This was one of the reasons that the city lost its 'Capital' of Maryland status.  Then, as now, if your beliefs are not my beliefs, then your beliefs are wrong.

The altar is still under construction pending funding.

The lock and handle was built by one of the few remaining blacksmiths.

Suzi closed the doors to see if they really worked.

Split rails saves nails.

Okay, I'll have to explain this one.  It was a long walk to the tobacco farm, so we stopped along the way at a convenient bench to rest.  The phone rang and it was Tara, so as Suzi chatted I got bored, spotted a big spider and threw some grass into his web.  He immediately began to pick out and discard each blade.  So I took his picture (her picture?)

Clean nest, happy but slightly peeved spider.

Tearing me away from the intriguing spider photography, Suzi approached two men from the 1600's working on a fence.  One introduced himself to us as John Prentiss, an indentured servant and offered to show us around the farm.  He spoke in 'ye olde English' and never broke character the whole time as he explained everything we came to.  It was fascinating.  We were the only audience and he spent about 45 minutes with us. This was the best part of the whole experience, and by itself, worth the trip.  We recommend it for anybody who has a spare weekend.

John explains about the pigs - who pretty much run loose, as do almost all of the farm animals, because the cash crop is tobacco, the subsistence farming has to be low maintenance.

Mr. Prentiss explains the growing of tobacco.

and the drying and preparation for shipping.

Chickens roamed the yard and into the house at will.  The white one is the boss rooster. His name is Baron. He doesn't come when he is called.

This is the rooster second in command.  Son in law, John, DO NOT LOOK AT THIS NEXT PICTURE!

Baron will allow John to pick him up and we were able to touch him and pet him.  (The rooster, not John.)

Then he shows us his masters home...

The master was considered quite wealthy to have possessions such as these.

...and to feast as well as this.

Servant's and children's sleeping quarters in the attic.  Men in one room, women the other.

John shows Suzi a kitchen to die for.  (Suzi has only a small galley on a small boat.)

Suzi asked what the bongo drums were for.  John explained that it was used to prepare cornmeal.

Outside, this device, a very large mortise and pestle used in all sorts of food preparation.  My guess is that everything was gruel.

A very suspicious looking cow says goodbye to us.  He didn't really say it, but you could see it in his beady little eyes.  Maybe it was more, "Get the hell outta my yard." but we were in a charitable mood and took it to mean "goodbye."

Back at the store where we couldn't purchase anything because their only means of exchange was tobacco. And we don't smoke.

So we bid goodbye to St. Marys, Md.  Our next stop Onancock, VA.  (Until we got there, we thought it was pronounced On-a-cock, and we giggled a lot.  But it's pronounced o-NAN-cuk.  It isn't as funny that way.)