It’s not enough for me to research my ancestors from the comfort of my own home. I want to know them who they were and what life was like when they were alive. One way to connect with our ancestors is to visit the places they lived. Not only does it provide the opportunity to do some additional research, it also gives us the excitement of walking in their footsteps.
A few years ago, my husband and I had a wonderful opportunity to visit St Mary’s, Maryland where his ancestors first set foot on American soil. The early inhabitants of Maryland arrived around 1634 aboard two ships, The Ark and The Dove. The colony was established at the southern tip of Maryland, land surrounded by the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay. St Mary’s City, the first city and first capital of Maryland, was named for the wife of King Charles I. Although Charles was an Anglican, his wife Henrietta Maria of France was a Roman Catholic. The charter for the settlement of Maryland was given as a refuge for Roman Catholics and a place of tolerance for all religions.
St. Mary’s city is one of the most historical cities in the country with claims to may other “firsts” in the new world:
- First successful proprietary colony in English North America
- First Freedom of Conscience policy in America
- First effort to free religion from government in America
- First Catholic chapel in English America
- First woman to petition for the right to vote in English America (Margaret Brent, 1648)
- First legislator of African descent in North America (Mathias de Sousa, 1642)
- First evidence of baroque town planning in America
- First public inn in Maryland
- First government building in Maryland (the Secretaries Office 1664)
- First Protestant (Anglican) church in Maryland
- First official city in Maryland
- First state house in Maryland, The Country’s House
- First monumental public architecture in Maryland, the 1667 Brick Chapel
- First printer in the southern colonies of America
Today, St. Mary’s City is considered one of the best preserved archeological sites and is listed as a National Historical Landmark. When my husband and I visited there, we saw the remains of many of the original buildings and learned what life was like for the early settlers of St. Mary’s City. This was a rare opportunity because so many of our ancestors lived in cities and towns that have modernized over time, with very little semblance of what they once were.
If you are interested in learning more about St Mary’s City, visit their website Visit – HSMC. Whether you have family from that area or not, it is a great place to go to learn more about Colonial America.
Visiting St. Mary’s City and a few other family locales only makes me wish I could do this more often. I recently read a post Places to Visit | Wandering With Us that inspired me to give more thought and somehow make it happen. I don’t know if there is an RV in my future but the thought of traveling to the places my ancestors lived sure sounds like a great retirement plan.