I Spy…Rural Commerce in the Nineteeth Century

I was using this Martenet Map of Harford County from 1878, viewable on the Library of Congress website, to do some family research. I was as intrigued by the business enterprises going on in the Halls Cross Roads area. This area was mostly farms and vegetable packing houses, but the small city of Havre de Grace was nearby, full of stores, mills, warehouses, and wharves. Baltimore, Wilmington, and Philadelphia were all short train rides from Aberdeen or Oakington stations on the Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore Railroad (over which Amtrak runs today). Today you’ll find I-95 cutting through this area and much of the coast home to Aberdeen Proving Ground.

In this one corner of the county, I spy…

Three grist mills, a saw mill, a combination grist and saw mill, Old Mill Store and post office (as well as other post offices and stores), a tanning shop, a distillery, two blacksmith shops, two combination blacksmith and “Wh.W” shops (wheelwright?) Thompson Store, Wesleyan Chapel, three schools (including the one my great grandmother taught at forty years later), Odd Fellows Hall (still there today), and Grove Presbyterian Church.


About Becky Fifield

Becky Fifield is a cultural heritage professional with 25 years experience in institutions large and small. She is currently Head of Collection Management for the Special Collections of the New York Public Library. An advocate for preventive conservation, Ms. Fifield is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation, Chair of the AIC Collection Care Network, and former Chair of Alliance for Response NYC. She is also a scholar of 18th century female unfree labor and dress. There's a bit of pun in the title The Still Room, delineating a quiet space brimming with the ingredients of memory, where consideration, analysis, and wordcraft can take place. Ms. Fifield’s interests include museum practice, dress history, historic preservation, transit, social and women’s history, food, current events, geneaology, roadtrips, and considerations on general sense of place. Becky and her husband, Dr. V, live in the Hudson Valley.

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