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Bryantown Village

 

Bryantown is a village in Charles County, Maryland.

Since colonial times Bryantown has held a prominent place in the itinerary of an Southern Maryland traveler. It was a stopping place between St. Mary's City and Port Tobacco, among others. In the 18th century it was an important stage coach stop because it had a hotel with a dining room and saloon, known as Bryan's Inn.

Bryantown was also located on the main wagon train and stage route between the old capital cities of Maryland and Virginia. It drew passenger traffic not only from the general area of Bryantown Hundred, but, also, as far north as present-day Aquasco in Prince George's County and as far south as Allen's Fresh on the Wicomico River in southern Charles County.

Bryantown may have been the first inland center of commerce in the English colonies; it was active before the end of the 1600s.

Most towns and communities in colonial times were located on the coast: on the ocean, a bay or a river.

Bryantown was one of three leading communities in Charles Co for a period of time.

Bryantown was in Bryantown Hundred in colonial times.

Home life in colonial Maryland was neither quaint nor picturesque. It was difficult even for the landed gentry and nearly impossible for the small farmer who strove for survival against weather, disease and hard work.

Bryantown was/is located near the Zekiah Swamp.

A main road ran from Bryantown to the east to the town of Benedict on the Patuxent River.

The John Kinnick land, Scale of Head (sometimes appears to be Seale of Head), a small 66-68 acre tobacco plantation, was located on the north side of the road to Benedict, very near Bryantown: It was purchased in 1775 and sole in 1792 - 17 years it was in the family.

The Scale of Head tract was on the outer fringe of Boarman's Manor.

Maryland was a Proprietory Colony of England, which had unique characteristics as compared to the other English colonies in America. One of these was that Proprietor, Lord Baltimore, a member of the Calvert family over several generations, made grants of lands to favored members of the aristocracy, also called the landed gentry (with the title, Esquire), of thousands of acres each in exchange for transporting colonists to America to populate the colony. These grants were referred to as manors, and they paid rents to the proprietor. In turn, smaller acreages were "sold" to individual planters. The "sale" was actually the right of leasehold, that is, they had the opportunity to pay rent to the manor "owner" who, in turn, of course, paid the rent to the proprietor. The proprietor retained ultimate "ownership" of the land - until it was forfeited as a result of the Revolution, of course.

A central policy called for awarding 50 acres of land to each person who paid to transport a colonist to America. A person in England could pay for themselves and earn the 50 acres. A person could pay the way of another and that person would "earn" the passage thorough a process called "indentured servant" - the person transported to America worked for the person paying their way for from four to seven (even nine) years (depending on the details of the contract and sometimes the age of the person) at which time they were given their freedom and certain material goods in order to be able to live on their own. A large number of colonists arrived in America under this process.

Fifty acres was about the minimum size for a tobacco plantation at the time. Each plantation needed to be "self-sufficient" to a large extent, and was generally separated from other plantations be barriers of rivers, woods, and swamps. In addition to tobacco, each plantation had to raise enough corn to feed those who lived there. They also had a garden where they raised vegetables and herbs for a variety of medicinal purposes. A few pigs and cows were also common. They ran loose in the woods, with the fields and gardens fenced to keep the animals out. This way, also, they did not have to raise additional feed for the animals. The animals fed off the land not in crops. Fences were made in such a way as to be movable. Tobacco used up the nutrients in the land quickly. As soon as new land was cleared of woods, the fencing could be moved to the new fields.

Raising tobacco was a very labor intensive process. However, in the early colonial days of Maryland, it was such a lucrative cash crop that each plantation devoted maximum effort to raising the weed, and used the cash to buy all finished goods from England in exchange for the tobacco crop. Tobacco became a medium of exchange during the year from one crop to the next. Merchants kept accounts in "pounds of tobacco." Courts assessed taxes and fines in the same way. Government officials were paid in this manner, as well.