Deal Island, Maryland and Better Days Gone By

A news report I read recently quoted a local calling Deal Island, Maryland a dying community. That image was a potent siren call. I had no choice but to investigate, particularly since Deal Island is an icon of Bay culture, and losing it would be a significant blow to a 400-year-old heritage.

Deal Island dangles mid-Bay off Maryland’s Eastern Shore a stone’s throw from the Virginia state line. You have to want to go to Deal Island; it is 15 miles west of the Shore’s north-south artery, U.S. Route 13, through dense woods and the broad, flat marshes of a state wildlife management area.

Isolation drew people here long ago, including the Chesapeake’s shiftier characters, pirates and the like, which is why the adjacent communities of Deal Island and Dames Quarter are buttery adaptations of the original names Devil’s Island and Damned Quarter. (Two more communities that comprise Greater Deal Island are Chance and Wenona).

The other asset that brought settlers to this remote stretch was the saltwater lapping Deal Island’s shores. The approach to Deal Island shows just how closely the communities here are tied to the Chesapeake: timeworn signs offer bait and seafood; neat stacks of idle crab pots fill front yards, waiting for the right season. The bridge to Deal Island proper overlooks a harbor that glimmers with activity, relevance.

My first impression was anything but that of a dying community. I visited early in the morning and found an island stirring with familiar routines. Locals gathered for breakfast and conversation in an inauspicious down home diner. Commuters zipped off east to their jobs, to the larger towns.

No doubt many residents would disagree that Deal Island is dying. There’s little evidence of decline in the well-kept residences. A respectable methodist church gleams white, hemmed in by a handsome cemetery. And all about there are signs of a deep connection to the Bay, lines of well-used workboats tied up at wharves, waterside shedding houses ready for soft crab season. This is the community identity so lacking from modern strip mall cities the world over.

SAM_1916      SAM_1968

                                     Shedding house                                      St. John’s United Methodist Church

Beneath all Deal Island’s vibrance, though, lie subtle clues that better days have come and gone. There’s a handful more vacant homes than you’d wish to see in a community with such a sense of place. A number of boarded windows started as some temporary fix but became permanent.


The Old Deal Island Bank  is idle, boarded, wanting some repurpose. The charming early-20th century structure housed a bank that tanked with the Crash of ’29. The building languished for some time and was once a machine shop, but has fallen once again into disrepair and obscurity.

John Wesley United Methodist, too, exhibits some greater past that’s been forgotten, neglected. The church was once a cornerstone of the African American community on the island, but declining membership caused it to be shuttered, and a decade of neglect shows in the glassless windows, the cracked and waterlogged cemetery vaults. A restoration effort appears not to have picked up much steam.

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There’s no doubt that Deal Island is an old and well-loved community, but that it’s slipping away somehow. According to William B. Cronin in The Disappearing Islands of the Chesapeake, Deal Island once held a tomato cannery and a hotel, both lost to the ages. Gone, too, are the enterprises that once sustained the watermen’s community here, a oyster shucking house on nearby Little Deal Island and a sail loft, kept in business by the iconic Chesapeake skipjack.

Even though you can now count Deal Island’s skipjacks on once hand (there were once hundreds that worked the bay), the sailboats remain a source of pride for the community; every Labor Day weekend Deal Island hosts skipjack races.



Deal Island is losing people and ground. The population dropped from 578 to 471 in the first decade of the 21st century. All the while, Deal Island has been shedding land at about six-and-a-half acres a year, and the rising seas threaten to take ever more, raising the possibility that the Bay culture here will be consumed one day by the very water that created it.

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About Ben Swenson

Ben lives in Williamsburg, Virginia. He is writing a book on places of historic value that have been forgotten and are being reclaimed by nature. Abandoned Country is a companion blog to that project. You can contact him at
This entry was posted in Bay Islands, Cemeteries. Bookmark the permalink.

156 Responses to Deal Island, Maryland and Better Days Gone By

  1. Randy Bethke says:

    great perspective on Deal Island. I have been first hand witness to the island shrinking both geographically and by population for the last 33 years. Even so, change is unavoidable. Influx of retirees and vacationers is changing the culture. I think as long as the local culture prevails, the island will be OK. Like you said- you have to really want to come here. It IS isolated.

  2. Deborah Harrell says:

    My family have come from the whole Eastern Shore including Deal Island. The Webster are buried in the St. Johns’s Cemetery.

    • Emma Marshall says:

      I am Robert Lee Shores grand daughter. I have a lot of relatives with the last name Webster.

      • Lary Jones says:

        Any relation to Delmas Shores. He and his wife used to run the store and post office in Dames Quarters next to the Methodist Church and across the street next to their home prior to straightening out the curve in the road. We used to have a summer cottage on what is now called Fulbrook Lane.

        • My family started right there on the hill of dames quarter, i was a little girl going to my grandma’s house walking down to the little post office to get a nice cold cola, out of the antique sods machine , so many family reuions, and family’gatherings, with the White’s and Bozman’s, my mom mom +pop pop are on the hill of the cemetery, that we would go visit every yr , God rest there soul, Mrs Ada white Bozman and John Bozman, i havent been back on so long ,I live across the bridge now , but i still have apart of my heart and heritage there in deal island, and dames quarter , even though the misqutas are big as birds lol , it has the beautiful sunset and sunrise around , , and wow did I ever remember I knew I was there when I seen the methodist church and the post office , and of course the long long Lane that went all the way in the back with no one around , me and my cousin Michelle’ cuglar would go as children in the summer, and im now 49 yrs old , and so wish all that was back , to be with all the family again, love to all in deal island and dames quarter

          • David Nyberg says:

            Wasn’t Deal Island once known as Damned Island? Some unsavory characters “made land”
            No reflection on those who live there now and most who lived there years ago.
            I, as a kid, stayed at the old Waterview Hotel which was vandalized and burned to the ground years ago.

            • Cindy Abbott says:

              Deal Island was once know as Devils Island. Rev. Joshua Thomas changed the name. Dames Quarter I was told had the name Dammed Quarter.

          • Linda Gilbert says:

            Hi Tamara
            I noticed you mentioned the Whites, I have been checking out my ancestry I know they are from Dames Quarters,my Great grand father is John H. White,my grandmother is Linda Oleta White.Are you a realtive.

            • Joe Austin says:

              THe Whites are part of my family as well. The family White were on the original passenger manifesto for the Mayflower. I suspect that the Whites from Dames Quarter were actually done of the pilgrams that said it was too cold to live in Plymouth so they moved south to Dames Quarter. Actual seven families moved south and started a community called Pidgeon House, a russet of high ground on the marsh between St Stephens and Dames Quarter.

            • Elizabeth White says:

              John Hamilton White was my grandfather and he was married to Lona Maxfield Lee of Dumfries, VA
              Go to any library that has genealogy and the book entitled Daughters of founders and patriots volume 38 and you will find the approved and accepted by John Frederick Dorman on the family lineage.

            • Karon Miller says:

              I have Whites in my lineage from Deal Island. Still wrapping up all the details but I have a William and Peter White. I also have Websters, Shores and Coffins.

            • Lateef White says:

              Melvin M White is my great grandfather. I still visit the island.

        • Brian Shores says:

          Delmas and Eva Shores were my grandparents, Robert Lee Shores would be like a 3rd cousin I believe. I grew up there until I was 13 then we moved to Cambridge, I now live in Florida but every time I come up home I go down to the Island to see family

    • Catherine Fritz says:

      My daughter is traveling Maryland on business and asked where her grandmother was born. Lue (LuLu) Webster Krukowski was born in DamesQuarter to her parents Mildred Baker Webster and Creston Webster in the early 1930’s….perhaps related? I have very little information on my Webster side and would love to learn more.

      • Mara (Guzzi) Still says:

        My grandfather was Gilbert Morgan Webster. He was born and raised on Deal Island. His father was Capt. Julius Webster, His mother was Cynthia Leonard or Windsor. My grandfather was apprenticed to Mr. Brown who was a sail maker on the island. It’s been over 30 years since I’ve been to the island. I took Grandpop back to see the island before he died in 1986. Grandpop told me that Mr . Brown’s sail loft was rickety when he apprenticed there; when the wind blew hard they’d prop poles against the building to keep it standing, when the wind direction changed, they’d move the poles. Grandpop had his sail loft in Germantown, PA for several decades. I remember as a child going with Grandpop on his yearly trips to the Deal Island. My grandfather was tough as nails but was the gentlest, kindest man I ever knew. He remained a waterman his whole life and was never truly happy unless he was on the water.

        • Catherine Fritz says:

          As I had said I know very little of my grandfathers’ family tree. I do have more info on my grandmothers’ side (Mildred Baker Webster) due to the fact most relation on her side is in Michigan where I grew up. I do know my grandfather Creston Emerson Webster left Maryland at age 17 to join a crew on a boat as a cook. I assume a fishing boat only because when he came to Michigan he continued to peddle fish during the depression years and later. My mother LuLu Webster was born in Maryland in 1933 and lived there until the age of approx 5-6 when her mother became ill and Grandpa moved her and her mother and 2 younger sisters Gloria and Nancy back home for family help on the Baker side. I beleive the youngest, Joan was born in Saginaw, Mi and I know she was just months old when their mother died. Joan was 15-16 when she remembers going back to Maryland with her father Creston to see his father who had a stroke. It was his first trip home since leaving to work at age 17. His brother had passed during this visit back, too Joan remembered. In fact heart disease ran in his family. He passed at age 57 of a heart attack. My mother was the first in the family to live past the late 50’s and died at age 70 in 2003. Her sister Gloria recently died at age 81 of luekemia but had also struggled with heart disease young. I hope to get more info and try to follow a tree lineage this winter as things slow down. I need to meet with Joan and get more info from her memory, too. I will ask her if the names you mentioned sound familiar to her. It has been a pleasure learning more of the Webster family whom I am sure are tied together somewhere in the Maryland history! Thank you for replying to my comment 🙂

          • Bill Kelley says:

            Catherine – I am also a Webster descendant – my grandparents were Mabel Alice Webster (from Mount Vernon) who married Reginald Hardesty Wilson (from Oriole) in 1920.
            I do have Lue & Creston Webster in my family tree and – if you’re still looking for information – I would be happy to send you a file with as much info as I have on them. For starters, I show Creston’s parents were Thomas Bain Webster & Mary Frances White.
            My email address is

            • Catherine Fritz says:

              Bill…it has been a long while since I checked in here and so this is the first I’ve seen your reply. I am sure the Creston in your family tree is my grandfather…especially if Lue is listed as his daughter. My mother was born LuLu on her birth certificate, but legally changed it to Lue in later years. The reason I am so sure of our connection is the spelling you used “Lue” and not the common “Lou”. I would give anything to have a copy of the family tree Mom and I worked on together when I was in 6th grade! Also, after my grandfather remarried in his later years, he had another daughter whom he and his wife name Mary Frances… I am sure the link is strong. Thank you! (

        • Ms. Still,
          I believe your Grandfather made a set of cotton canvas sails for the original builder of my boat around 1960. I still have them and have used them in the past. The craftsmanship is of the highest quality.
          If OK with you I would like to learn more about your Grandfathers sail business and background. I can be reached through my web page “Hove to off Swan Point” at I also have a public FaceBook page under the name Sjogin.
          If any interest, I’d be pleased to take you and any of Mr. Webster’s descendant’s sailing using your Grandfather’s fifty year old sails. I keep Sjogin on upper Barnegat Bay in Brick, NJ.
          Hope to hear from you,
          Russ Manheimer

          • Mara Still says:

            Hello Mr Manheimer – I was so happy to receive your email and shared your story with my Mom who is Grandpop Webster’s eldest daughter. Grandpop’s sail loft was in Nicetown, below Germantown, in Philadelphia. He wanted to move to New Jersey but my Grandmom wouldn’t move. He did have a summer home in Ocean City, NJ, which allowed him to be near the ocean, which he loved. Grandpop made sails for the Moshulu and there were many pictures of my Grandpop displayed in the restaurant. Unfortunately everything was destroyed in the fire in the restaurant in the 1980’s. I understand there is a small boat in the Mariner’s Museum in St. Michael’s, MD, which has sails made by my Grandpop. His stamp is on the sails. I am so pleased to know that you have sails which my Grandpop made. He was a man of few words but when something pleased him his blue eyes would flash and his smile would warm your heart. He’d smile knowing his sails were still in use after so many years. Thank you for your invitation! I don’t get to NJ often but I would love to see the sails and your boat. I’m not on Facebook but my email is I’ll stay in touch. I look forward to hearing from you again and thank you for sharing your story.

  3. Craig Webster says:

    Deal Island is a great community! My family has lived here since at least 1790. As far as the Bank Building the owner boarded it up for a hurricane and never took the boards office. It was talked about in one article as “THE PLACE TIME PASSED BY” Our Community has a blue ribbon school and a lot of people who have moved from other places to Deal Island for retirement. Joshua Thomas made Deal Island famous and so did Skipjacks(the last commerical sailing fleet in North America)

  4. Patrick Ryan says:

    My Great grand parents are from the Island (Milford Benton & Emma Harris), they are buried at the St. John’s Church. I remember going down from Baltimore when I was a little boy and all I remember is the mosquito’s. I am looking into my family history , if anyone has any info to share please contact me @

  5. Renee Chapman (Jones) says:

    My family has also been on Deal Island since the 1700. They are buried at the John Wesley UMC cemetery. I grew up in Philadelphia but spent my summers hanging out with my Great Uncles on the water crabbing and fishing. Presently I am on the board of the association that is working to restore the John Wesley UM Church and cemetery and the work is not stalled. Hurricane Sandy did a substantial amount of damage to the church building and the cemetery. The new roof is at over 95% complete and the association has applied for several grants to help with the cost of this endeavor.

    • Anthony Jones says:

      Ms. Chapman, I am very interested in the restoration efforts to John Wesley UM church. My great-great-great grandfather is from Deal Island (John S. Jones). Would really like to make contact.

      • Jennifer Sparcino says:

        I believe that everyone who had relatives and ancestors living on Deal from the 1600’s on must be related somehow. I too have Jones, Bennett, Webster, Kelly, Shores, Taylor & Shockley within my last 5 generations.
        I would love to be able to spend a few days just wandering around…

        • JOY WARNER says:

          Jennifer Sparcino in reply to your message. My family name is Kelly and they are from that area. I noticed you mentioned you were related to Kelly’s as well. May I ask what connection you have to the Kelly’s? Please see below for my connection.
          I noticed in one of the comments that there might still be Kellys living on the island. My great great great grand father was William JT Kelly married Neva Howard. My cousin sent me this information below. Has anyone ever heard anything about the pirate connection? It has been speculated that the pirate Black Beard’s first mate, William Howard could have been her (Neva Howards) relative because Black Beard and his crew hung out near Ocracoke N.C. too. It was rumored Blk Beard buried his treasure on the island at Springer’s Point. Ruth Kelly (my great aunt) was Neva and Wm Kelly’s daughter. Ruth’s husband, Sam Jones, bought Springer’s Point and is buried there himself. Wm. JT Kelly was a brother of your grandfather. Wm was the oldest of the kids. He is buried in Va, near Norfolk. Any information would be appreciated for my genealogy research. Are there any Kellys on the island related to Newton or Isaac Newton Kelly.
          Thanks. Joy Kelly-Warner

        • susan shaffer says:

          I am in Australia and there are a bunch of cousins here who descend from a man born in London in 1817. We are getting DNA matches to people who have family trees rooted in Deal Island. Some are showing up as 4th cousins but from what I see from the trees the families married again and again so there is a lot of endogamy. Evidently some common ancestor moved to Deal Island from UK.

          • Joyce C says:

            Early settler surnames on the islands included Thomas, Tyler, Evans, Crockett, and Parks. I have ancestors who lived in the Monie/Oriole/Dames Quarter areas (Wilson, Shores, Bozman, Phoebus). Also, I have noticed a few Australians showing up in my DNA relative list. Any of these names connect?

          • Connie Taylor Sode says:

            I’m a Taylor from the Deal Island area and I’ve seen a lot of “cousins” from Australia show up on my FamilyTreeDNA matches and on MyHeritage DNA matches.

      • Anthony, was you 3Xgreat father named John Stanley Jones. If so we are cousins. My grandmother was Eliza Jones. We would love to have more family involvement in the restoration efforts. Please let me know if you are still interested in making contact.

  6. Ann Jeffrey says:

    In late June, my family had the privilege of staying a week on the island. We traveled all the way from Florida to visit. We savored the isolation and the bay’s beauty, but loved the locals more. Everyone was friendly and hospitable. We met locals whose families have been there for centuries. Some shared their stories (and crabs) with us. To any Deal Islanders that read this… Thank you!

  7. Forrest says:

    When our daughters were little and getting ready to start school (first grade) we decided to move away from the Baltimore suburb we were living in,we didn`t want them to be raised in a big city environment,like we were.
    Maybe it was fate or just dumb luck that we stumbled across Deal Island while exploring the eastern shore.We fell in love with the place the first time we saw it.We decided right then that this was the place that we wanted to live and raise our kids in.
    We packed up our stuff,sold our house and moved to Deal Island.
    Our kids are grown and have left home now,we`ve never regretted moving here,we couldn`t have picked a better place to have raised our kids.
    I`ve lived almost half of my life here and I expect I`ll die here and that suits me just fine.

  8. Christina Baideme says:

    My dad and I first talked to a lovely young lady-Amanda on the phone
    at the little general store restaurant-Think it’s Arby’s in Wenona. She was the sweetest, friendliest, most helpful stranger I ever had the pleasure of talking to. Because of her, Dad and I drove from Delaware to Deal Island and fell in love with the place and the people we met while visiting that day. Total strangers went out of their way to help us. What a treasure we found there. Can’t wait until we can return to stay for a week. GOD created a paradise when HE created Deal Island, MD.

  9. Elaine Drennan says:

    I love these comments. we hve been searching for a reasonably priced home and I too, fell in love with Deal Island. We are retirees and laid back and love country life. I have always wanted a vintage two story home to decorate and love. We have three picked out to look at already and will look at more. We live in Oregon and my son is in Salisbury and I want to get closer to him and his family. I am concerned about a few things. maybe some of you can helpme. how many schools on the Island and close by? I am a substitute teachedr.
    Is there a problem with many of the wells on the properties on the Island that you know of?
    What abut the septic tanks? Any real big problems and very often?
    what about the weather? lot of rain, or impossibly hot in the summer? what about humidity?
    I am from Alabama and I know hmidity.
    Any mosquito prolems of any magnitude? do they come around and spray for them?
    Any van or bus service? I am sure there is not, just asking
    can you buy fresh fish at the harbors?

    Maybe one of you can help me, if so, God Bless!
    Elaine Drennan

  10. Gordon Thompson says:

    This was a most helpful and enlightening article. I am hoping that Mr. Swenson can assist me in locating the family of Emma Berdis Jones, the mother of the celebrated African American writer, James Baldwin.
    I am seeking information for an autobiography of Baldwin and would like to see if I can speculate on who his father might have been. I understand that Emma is from Deal Island, but I do not know which community in particular.
    Thanks for any assistance you may be able to provide.
    Gordon Thompson

    • Starlene Jones Johnson says:

      Berdis Jones was my great great aunt. You have cousins who stil live in Deal Island and the area. Pastor Janice Humphrey is your cousin who lives there might be able to help you.

      • Renee says:

        Cousin Berdis and my grandmother Eliza Jones were very close cousins. They both moved to Philly with Aunt Della before Berdis later moved to NY. My grandmother would come down from Philly when Cousin Berdis came down from NY to Princess Ann to visit with her. Their sons Jimmy and Clifton were room mates for a while in NY in collage.

        • My grandmother is Della Mae Schofield(Jones) Father,Stanley Jones. Uncle John, Berdis father. Moved to Phila to live with Aunt Della in Germantown, in Phila.

          • I remember you!! I am Marlene daughter!!

          • My grandmother,Della and Berdis moved to Germantown in Phila, with Aunt Della before Berdis had her son cousin James Baldwin.

          • Starlene Jones Johnson says:

            Aunt Berdis was my grandfather Thomas Jones aunt I knew Mr Stanley when I was a kid you use to be at our house all the time with my grandfather

            • Rick Benton says:

              Hi,my name is Rick Benton-born and raised in Wenona.I knew Mr Stanley well-I crab scraped as a boy in the fifties-He had a nickname-they called him Wad-Maybe because he chewed tobacco-one day on the water-I noticed that he was in trouble-I came along side and asked him-his trouble. I can hear him now as he stuttered-aye aye aye aye I think I lost my fire-meaning a dead battery-well I got him going again.He also sold his crabs to our business-Paul Benton Sr. and Sons on Wenona-He also had a friend named Reds that sold crabs to our company-some precious memories od my early years on the Island.

  11. Great article……..Being born in Chance and raised partly in Dames Quarter and attended Deal Island School. So…..I can appreciate all you have put into the article about Deal Island. I am president of Skipjack Heritage, Inc., a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization, out of the Deal Island area that is helping the skipjacks survive, their owners and watermen in general, and we are doing a tremendous amount of work with the heritage and culture of the Deal Island area in order to preserve the culture of the area and its residents for future generations.. You can go to our website, to see some of the work we are doing. I’ll be glad to provide you with additional information on what we are all about so you may put in future articles if you desire. My email is . Also, don’t miss our newsletters that are posted in our website. They describe a lot of the work we have done in the past few years. We also have opened a museum, the Skipjack Museum and Heritage Center in Chance, Maryland and are in the process of starting on major renovations to the building. Our organization has grown from 6 members to about 200 in just a short 3 years and would like to have you all join us as a member to assist us in our work. Thank you…….BUNKY CAREW, President, Skipjack Heritage, Inc.

    • Andrea Baumann says:

      Will be checking out your sites, thanks for mentioning.

    • Emma Marshall says:

      Im Bob Shores’ grand daughter. I went to the skipjack heritage museum on Labor Day last year.

      • Larry J Shores says:

        My grandfather and father names were Allen James Shores of Dames Quarter MD. They lived on Long Point rd. I wonder if Bob Shores was related in anyway. Dames Quarter and Deal Island have so many Shores. I am trying to find an old picture of a Store/Post Office that sat on the corner of Deal Island and Long Point rd. back in the early 1950’s.

        • Brian Shores says:

          Would like to know more about Allen James, I to come from Dames Quarter and have alot of info on the Shores from that area and I cant find Allen James in any of my info

        • Jennifer Sparcino says:

          Good Morning,
          I saw your reference to a store/post office that once sat on the corner of Deal Island and Long Point Road. I am wondering if this could be my second great-grandfather’s
          ( James L Bennett) store? This would have been back in the 1880’s. He died in 1914. He outfitted the skip jacks in the area. Would love to have some pictures of anything during that era.
          Thank you

    • Elizabeth White says:

      I am the grand daughter of John Hamilton White of Dames quarters, Maryland and I so enjoyed reading all of my families history here on your site. My great grandfather was captain William James Carroll White who schooner was used in the battle of the Chesapeake, war of 1812 and I am a current member of daughters of the war of 1812, San Diego chapter. And for those who are interested, the White family line has been documented and approved and accepted by the genealogist John Frederick Dorman for the daughters of founders and patriots of America and I was in the recent past I was national membership chairman and my sister was national headquarters chairman. My name is Elizabeth White H Hay and I am president emeritus of the Oder of the first family of Maryland founded by my father Eldon Lee White. Thankyou so much for all of this information and time spent. I’d like to know more about the Skipjack Heritage Inc. and last but not least, my father Eldon Lee White was born in Dames quarters, Md in October 3, 1911

      • DONALD O."SPEC" CAMPEN , Jr. says:

        I WAS BORN IN CHANCE,MD. August 5,1920 at the fish hook lane residence of Charles Henry Wesley and Julia Jones Price’s residence. They and kin of years before are buried in the Cemetery of ROCK CREEK United Methodist Church in Chance. Possibly some of your’s may also.
        would like to explore my genealogy in your grand association.
        Don Campen

  12. Charles Collier says:

    I enjoyed this article and appreciate the comments and positive responses from those who have discovered what a great place this is to live. But, I can’t totally agree with the writer about this small island and the surrounding communities. I live on the west side of the island and my wife and I are truly blessed to see the sun set every clear day. I see first hand the effects of erosion on our shoreline in the low uninhabited areas and if you want to call that “sea level rising” so be it. We do have occasional high tides and some flooding when hurricanes pass by and we should prepare such events, but this is a great place to live through all four seasons. I grew up on the island and as children we had great freedom from exploring through the marshes and along the shoreline, wading in the clear shallow water for crabs, fishing, swimming, and playing ball until dark. Most of the time our parents would call us home around supper time. Everyone knew each other and there was a great deal of respect for neighbors, the elderly, and other people’s property. Since my then I have lived in many places but none have compared to the”Island”. Even though we didn’t have much we were rich and I would not change my childhood days. Many of the things I have mentioned are still available today, I hope it never changes.

  13. There is a book published by Arcadia Publishing about the island. It is called “Deal Island Then and Now”. It is a pictorial history of the three communities (Dames Quarter, Chance, Deal Island and Wenona)commonly referred to as “Deal Island”. I wrote this book and gave it to our local volunteer fire company, they make all the profit on the book sales. The book was published in 2009 and a few things have changed since then but this is the only place I will call home. I am a come here but don’t consider myself one. This is a friendly place to be, might not be the end of the world but I believe you can see it from the end of Deal Island Rd in Wenona.

    • oops! that should say four communities, not three

    • Mary Austin says:

      What is the timeline of history? Particularly Dames Quarter. Some of my ancestors came from there. John Roberts(b.1670 d.1726)

      • REFERENCING AGAIN my recent visit with kin in CHANCE AND AREAS, It has been a GOD send that i have been befriended by WILLIAM WHEATLEY . he has been a creative salvation in his abilities,steadfastly committed, unselfishly in assisting me in the many legs of our ancient family history and kinfolk lineages over the ages.
        HIS FACEBOOK PAGE of AREA is n ongoing traveloque of info that has awakened old and young to submit info that broadens knowledge of humans, places, time and references a plenty on the histories of broad areas of these few communities, via photos,kept jewel letters, other pertinent qualifying facts.
        I am so very loudly acclaiming regularly far and wide my thankfulness to have been “BORN” On FISH HOOK LANE into that great CHANCE,SOMERSET COUNTY,M.> COMMUNITY AND LOVE TO REFER TO ME BEING AN “ORIOLE” Donald “SPEC” Campen

  14. Donald O."SPEC" Campen ,Jr. says:

    I was bornAugust 5th,1920 in Chance by my mother Evangeline Rebecca Price,daughter of Charles H.W. Price and spouse Julia REBECCA . My mother was married to Donny O. Campen ,a native of HERTFORD,Perquimans County, N.C. a veteran of WWI.
    I lived there for 6 months.
    I returned on summer vacations and upon deaths.
    My Grandad had large frame two story home, with two horse stall barn, covered wagon space,loft and feed room,aroofed, had large fruit garden with chicken yard around it, with vast vegatable garden area, located down a narrow lane ,located off the then main road leading past my UNCLE MILLARD PRICE’s home, and in the right turn of that lane to the left was the home of PETER PRICE.It was two story frame dwelling. As PETER’s, Granddad’s was a spacious well built structure painted white with hip steep roof angles.
    Granddad had long tree sail schooner, as i recall ,that he used as a seafood buyer purse boat during those watermen’s working seafood seasons, buying off skipjack boater watermen, then sailing his purchases to Philadelphia,Baltimore etc. to sell at docks and to merchants.
    . He was a truck farmer during the summers of watrmelons ,canterlopes ,vegatables that he raiseds on a large plot of land next to the water that is is now as i recall a state park.
    He would load off that shore thru the surf onto hos schooner that then he sailed to those mentioned buying centers.
    I recall going on such with him and crew.Remember BOOKBINDER business.
    I learned to handle two horse hitches to wagons, turns,backing and horse sound signals. also one i hitch carts as well.
    Years passed ,WWII, then back to their homeplace to find their home burned down and Peter Price’s empty home with roof collapsing.
    I collected some melted window glass as only piece of it.
    He died and Grandmom “MISS JULIE”, we youngsters called her, came to live in my home in ELIZABETH CITY,N.C.Tthey are both buried in the Cemetery across DEAL ISLAND Road from the NOW , ROCK CREEK UNITED METHODIST CHURCH in Chance.
    I returned to CHANCE and DEAL ISLAND to attend my AUNT ELIZABETH’s, MRS.CHARLES H.W.WESLEY Price ,Jr. burial, in that same cemetery, reception at firehouse, with so many knifolks that I had never seen , after funeral service in PRINCESS ANNE.
    HER SON WESLEYAnd Uncle Millard”s son MILLARD,JR. were the only two children that I ever really knew having spent time with them on vacations there.i recall corner store and posrt office located where you turned right off DEAL ISLAND ROAD, comng from PRINCESS ANNE to get to GRAND parents home.
    I recall some heavy weather crossing the bay on heavy rolling ferry boat going and returning from CHANCE. ON COUPLE TRIPS on a steamer from NORFOLK, our car had gas drained as it went aboard and upon it’s departing in CAPE CHARLES the ferry company would replenish gas taken. We then drove to CHANCE.
    . I, AND to be sure many more very broadly, must be greatly appreciative for WILLIAM WHEATLEY’s,BUNKY CAREW’s, MR .WILLING’s and the LIONS Club group for their unselfish committed dedications to preserving the SKIPJACK HERITAGE . every soul with any remotest tie to that Somerset area should promptly forthwith join as annual dues paying members of that thriving growing association. I JOINED IMMEDIATELY upon learning of this valued endeavor..
    Furthermore,thanks to WILLLIAM WHEATLEY for his DEAL ISLAND HIGH SCHOOL HISTORY NOTES, so well distributed in medias.
    I live in Henrico ,Va.

    I am proud of my heritage in Chance,DEAL ISLAND WENONA ,DAMNS Quarter and my MARYLAND kinfolk all therein. JUST WISH THERE COULD BE A REALLY WELL ORGANIZED GRAND PRICE kinfolks rally planned real soon.

  15. Great article and fantastic comments. I just wanted to put a plug in for the Deal Island Marsh and Community Project, which is attempting to address many of the issues raised here:

    • Donald O."SPEC" Campen ,Jr. says:

      great efforts. conservation is worthy mission. lovely surrounds. much to be preserved and cultivated, via many multi media outlets, now and continuing, onslaught to all viewers asnd listeners of all ages
      congratulations to the splendid citizens that are putting their commitments to this project.

  16. William Wheatley says:

    Deal Island Area was my home for 38 years except for my time US Marine Corps. We had small high school that would always excelled in sports. Three of my team members are now in the Eastern Shore HOF. Our teachers were wonderful they were some of the best in Maryland. I often think of those days at Deal Island High School and the impact that our teachers had on my life. It was a great place to live as child. Mom’s hot rolls and crabs, fish in the summer and oyster in the winter.
    Working with my Dad crabbing or tonging for oysters was part of my growing up. He had worked on the Chesapeake Bay area from the age of 12 years sailing Skipjacks to market with a load produce or lumber in the summers and catching oyster in the winter.
    There was always a great love among families, if there was a need our people would rally to the cause. It was a great place to live.

    • Donald O."SPEC" Campen ,Jr. says:

      thankfully, there are a few elders that were and are an integral part of the history of areas.
      YES, their braun and grunt wisely used sustained them through tough times and histories many changes upon all these days. they ,by their close knitted families, have kept the history alive and nurtured the obvious improvements ,many, they worked diligently to improve . they preserved the natural conserved features ,in face of many of nature’s changes, and rolled to succeed another day in tonguing,crabbling,net repairs, vessels’ up keeps, community involvement for all troubled meaningfully therein, while determined that the areas children got good education, athletics competively recorded and sustained their indiviual religious faith’s they held strength in to bring them home safely from their watery work places of varying endangerments,withj worthy catches to sustain themselves,their families and help cooperativly their communities. AMEN for their lifetime commitments
      bless them all now living and before and their youth in war and peace that,NOW,Most dedicatedly are preserving immortals history of areas.
      Donald O. “SPEC” Campen , Jr.

    • Serena Witherington says:

      Is there a local Middle and High school on Deal Island?

    • My name is Winfield Broadhurst and I went to deal Island School from 1947 until 1955. Would you remember me?

  17. Rose Donoway says:

    Does anyone have a photo of the hotel? I believe it was the Anderson Hotel. I am the Branch Manager at the Princess Anne Library of Somerset County. A patron is hoping for a photo. It was there during the 1933 hurricane.

  18. Donald O."SPEC" Campen ,Jr. says:

    last Saturday,march 21,2015 in VIRGINIA BEACH,.VA. at our CAMPEN SPRING REUNION at my neicee’s and hubby’s home, FRANK AND LAURA ROBERTSON,i had the grandest delight of my few years on this earth , in that I and my CAMPEN KIN assembled, of my MOTHER REBECCA JULIA PRICE CAMPEN, met face to face my kin from MD WILIAM WHEATLEY,LILLIAN My cousin ,”BECKY”RINGGOLD,my 1st cousin and her daughter cousin CINDY JOHNSON.
    Moreso, importantly, a photo of my grandfather CHARLES H.WESLEY PRICE ,SR.
    upon my viewin I recognized my facial features and a look a like of him in me
    CINDY, had noted it earlier. I had neve rseen the photo..

    It is the first persons of my CHANCE ,where i was born, KIN that I have seen since my AUNT ELIZABETH PRICE’S FUNERAL several years ago.
    SUCH A PLEASANT SETTING and such warm appreciative receptions of new faces melding personalities so rapidly meaningful SATURDAY.
    my grateful thanks FOR THESE 4 traveling to meet us.
    NOW WE CRAVE such a grand broadly attended event sometime this summer of all our PRICE AND CAMPEN RELATIVES. BLESS ALL THAT CARE ABOUT THOSE GREAT SOMERSET COUNTY ,Md. SPACES OF GREAT HISTORIES,fascinating lives,heroic veterans in all wars and other skirmishes and continuing success of the HERITAGE SKIPJACK MUSEUM. every kin that had origins of life and kin in that glorious area of Md. and beyond should annually support the Museum and other endeavors to preserve and commemorate all our herirages there.
    Donald O. “SPEC” Campen ,Jr. I am a member of that museum. you too can help ,so write your membership to “NUBBY CAREW” after rerading my thoughts. thanks and I pray I will soon read where many new members have joined..

  19. Lisa Wunderlich Taylor (Emory/Webster) says:

    I’m a Webster descendant from the mid 1700’s….my mom was born in Dames Quarter along with her 8 brothers and sisters (Emory). My grandparents were John W. Emory and Mary Eva Webster (Daniel Webster & Leah VA “Jennie” – her parents). Would love to come “down home”, as my mom would say, sometime soon. Many of my relatives are buried on Pigeon House…..not even sure if it exists any more. 🙁 Anyone like to join me?

    • Judy Ford Robinson says:

      My dads family Fords are from Dames Quarter. I grew up in Dames Quarter and we go fishing at Pigeon House. The area is marsh now and you need a boat to get there.

      • Claudia Mouery says:

        when I was writing Then and Now Deal Island, I learned about Pigeon House. It is all gone now. There is a group of trees in the center of the marsh. That may have been where it was located (just my opinion). I was told there was a cemetery, school and several houses.

    • Joe Austin says:

      My family Austins and Whites as I understand settled pigeon house with 5 other families around 1630. I never new there were grave sites on Pigeon House. I do know where it is though. I believe the last resident on Pigeon House passed in the 1930’s so I’ve been told.

      • Joe Austin says:

        My family Austins and Whites as I understand settled Pigeon House with 5 other families around 1630. I never new there were grave sites on Pigeon House. I do know where it is though. I believe the last resident on Pigeon House passed in the 1930’s so I’ve been told.

      • Catherine Fritz says:

        Joe…as a very young child of approx 11-12yrs (I am now 63yrs) I had to do a family tree in grade school. With my mothers help the two of us wrote letters to Maryland libraries and records offices to get as much info as possible. One lineage took us to a “Daniel Webster” and is the one thing that remained in my memory for all these years. Since so many years have passed I have no idea where the “tree” ended up…other then the memories of it. Perhaps there is a connection with your Daniel Webster. However, I am sure it was a common name. Who knows? Anyhow, as cold weather approaches I hope to seriously begin to restudy my past connections.

    • Catherine Fritz says:

      Lisa…please read the post I left for Joe Austin…I had mistakenly thought it was he who mentioned Daniel Webster. Sorry

  20. Cynthia says:

    I love Deal Island even til this day. I grew up in Chance and attended Deal Island School for years. I worked from age 11 in the crab house with my mother every morning before school. I had the best teachers. They set the proper foundation for what was to come. When I started college, each evening, I would come down to Deal Island and Weona and sit by the water, sometimes looking out at the water and other times laying back and easing. It was so peaceful. I have seen a lot of people pass away in that area. But, the serenity of the area is still there. I was down there a few months ago, and I still remember the feel of the breeze as it would hit my face. It is fresh and calm. I love that place. It will always be a part of my history.

  21. Donald O."SPEC" Campen ,Jr. says:

    THANKS FOR THIS SPACE,allowing many to use meaningfully beneficial for others memories to be aroused and inspiration of creating a tallied history of their’s and This cherished historic area and it’s people. All should grasp this opportunity freely and refer it to others they know having connections to Somerset County’s
    AREAS herein noted.

  22. Ann Wallis White says:

    A cousin & I ventured down to Princess Anne as we vaguely knew that our great grandfather was sent there to his mother during the Civil War to keep him out of trouble. We vaguely knew that he gravitated towards the oyster business, and that there was (used to be) an island called CRAB where WHITE & FURNESS ancestors have been for many generations. We had tried to find the island when we were in our 20’s/30’s/40’s — and probably should have tried harder but DID get a BLIP on the GPS this time — near Oriole & Monie & Dame’s Quarter. We were both mesmerized — probably by the long-spectrum yellow light — but drove down to find KATHRYN — on Deale Island & the skipjack museum. We had met some NICE folks in the Teakle Mansion Museum / Texaco Station Shop. . . so we just followed the road a bit further. What we did NOT know — and found out in a phone call when we pulled off the road was that our family BUILT boats on CRAB, and that reportedly – John T. White built (?) the BUGEYE Rebecca Jane White (nee Furness of Dame’s Quarter ) in 1885 (?). Now we know WHY we felt such a strong connection!! We hope to find out more – and hope we can be of help in some way in the region.

  23. Stephanie White says:

    I am related to the following families from Dames Quarters, Deal Island and some surrounding areas: The White, Websters, Wallaces, Wrights, Kelly, Jones, Elzys; just to mention a few. Would very much enjoy hearing from anyone related to these names. I hold memberships in Founders & Patriots of America, DAR, DAC, 1812, DCH, SDA, D. of the Cincinnati, CDAXVIIC, and several other organizations. William B. Neal was very helpful with our family’s research many years ago. Are there any reunions planned? Thank you, Stephanie White, October, 2015

    • I just returned to Richmond,va. area, from a grand Reunion at the ROCK CREEK UNITED Methodist CHURCH that was full of persons with your listed names. They have it each year about mid October. had very varied eal also.
      I notice that you are not a member of the HERITAGE SKIPJACK MUSEUM in Chance that was opened for reunion. Membership is only $25.00, but, generous donations welcomed. it is in it’s own building now.
      I Was born in Chance August 5,1920 of the Charles H.W.SR. and Julia Jones Price
      Parents,Of Fish Hook Lane ,Chance.
      I suggest you contact SHIRLEY WILLING MASSEY,23255 Haines Point Rd,Chance,Md. 21821 of that church for more thorough information.
      I trust you will and also promptly jopin the MUSEUM membership with generous contribution and annual dues of $25.00.-23529 Deal Island Road,Chance,Md.21821,ATTENTION of Wiliam G. Wheatley

    • Carson Wallace says:

      I am a Wallace grew up in dames quarter born in 41 father Richard Wallace

    • Cynthia R. Johnson says:

      Hi Stephanie, I too have White, Webster, Kelly and Jones connections. Additionally, Bradshaw, Rowe, James, Shores and Price, etc.. Would love to hear from you to see if any trees connect!

    • Michelle Holden says:

      My grandparents and aunt and uncle and other cousins are from Dames Quarter. Riley Roberts Road in Dames Quarter is name after my grandfather. My grandmother and aunt were Jones. My cousin is a White, Philmore and we are also related to the Wigfalls. I thought Dames Quarter was one road. I had never heard of Pigeon House. My aunt was Susie Jones Roberts and was married to Fred Roberts. If you have any knowledge of these people, please contact me.

  24. Bill Wishnosky says:

    Just enjoyed the weekend on Deals island. If you like quiet, rural, 1950s type living, this is a stop you need to make. Leave the cell phones at home and enjoy the quiet days and dark nights.

  25. MY MARCH 24,2015 post hereon came to fruition on October 10th and 11th,2015.
    I spent Friday night in a lovely home in LINKWOOD,Md. and with many new kion i had not known. THEN on Saturday, annual uplifting ROCK CREEK UNITED METHODIST CHURCH REUNION SERVICE OF ABOUT !00 in attendance and there met other unmet kinfolk. THEN, because that church’s fellowship hall was in repair had terrific varied lunch at ST. John CHURCH, again other unmet kin,
    traveled to HERITAGE MUSEUM OF SKIPJACKS, ROCK CREEK CEMETERY of family kin, , to docks, to my late Uncle Millard Price’s home,ate figs off tree then to grassed now land plot in the right base L turn of FISH HOOK LANE on which my grandparents Charles Henry Wesley,Sr., and Julia Rebecca Jones Price’s large two story home with two large chimneys, barn and other small structures stood on my birth date there.. On manyyears ago, prior visit that dwellings foundation was visible in shape etc. to the let of lane’s straight line to the L turn, there was the roof collapsing two story large home of my UNCLE PETER PRICE. all of it is gone now and has crops use..
    THIS OVERNIGHT TRIP WAS SO MEANINGFUL TO ME AND MY YOUNGEST SISTER AND HER HUSBAND. so glad I got this opportunity. Bless all the forebearers of SOMERSET COUNTY’s past and present living there and others trying to preserve it. IT IS TREASURE TO BE loved and preserve with knowledgeable conservation engineered measures of state,federal,business and communities.

  26. The Old Home is were I grew up as a kid with my great grandmother. From this old house, with no running water, electricity, or any of the modern day convenience Grandma taught me to love The Bible and read to me every evening by an old coal oil lamp beside a wood burning cook stove. If I have been blessed with any small measure of success in touching the lives of others for Jesus across this great contry as Minister and MSP Chaplain for over 52 of my 74 years I owe so much to those years at Grandma’s knee with an Open Bible. I have this picture framed and hanging over my bed as a reminder of my rich heritage growing up in this lovely Tri-Community Area of Deal Island, Chance and Wenona. This Old Home-Place is truly, “The Old House On The Hill” (Poem) Thanks for sharing. With Appreciation Chaplain Sonny Benton (MSP Retired)

    • My name is Winfield Broadhurst. I lived in Chance from 1943 until 1956. I started elementary school at Deal Island in 1947. I think I remember your name. Do you remember a Lawrence “Snookie” Collier or a Carol Ann Webster? My dad was Captain Win Broadhurst. He oystered and fished in the winter, fished and crabbed in the summer, and took out fishing parties on his 41 foot boat.

      The school principal was Mr. Bozman and my first grade teacher was Edna Smith.

  27. Geri (Tankersley) Garnett says:

    My maternal grandparents are Websters & my fraternal grandparents are Tankersleys. I lived on the island as a little girl with my grandparents Thelma & Jennings Tankersley. My father Paul would be there occasionally.

    My grandparents, the island and its inhabitants provided stability a peace unsurpassed through the years. I am in the “autumn of my years” now approaching the winter ones. I visit now & then for a short time, visit the cemetery where so many of my ancestors rest. I have recorded a history of the Tankersleys going back to Tankersley, England, Yorkshire area, and to 900 hundred A.D. I hope to work on the Webster side of my family soon. Proud to be a part of this history and place.

    • Lynn Gibson Isaac Vizas says:

      Hi there Geri my name is Lynn and I know just a little about my Tankersley branches. William Tankersley (1803) married Elizabeth Snow their son Hoiram D. Tankersley (1841) married Biddie Ann Shores and is buried at St. Johns Cemetery. Their daughter Fannie Ella Tankersley (1870) married Thomas Henry Gibson. Their son William Leon Gibson married Augusta Heise who are my grandparents on my mothers side. I’ve been trying to find more information about the Tankersley’s and Snow families and I’m wondering if you could help me? Regards Lynn

  28. Brian says:

    Great read..

  29. Brian says:

    How receptive are the good people of Deal island to people like myself, who may want to have a place to split time. From the city, but love eastern shores and the more secluded the better. I’ve been going to Chesapeake my entire life, mostly Cecil and Kent county. That area has changed since my first visit in 1980. I wouldn’t want to change anything, the watermen heritage is something I admire greatly, but I would actively participate in any community revitalization project.

  30. Mildred.(Graham)herbert says:’’s..regards.

    • Don Graham says:

      Hello Mildred. I am a Graham from the John J and Nancy L Webster family. I believe James T and Kate (your parents ?) were siblings of my grandfather, Charles Emory. I’ve been poking around in Deal for some more details about my family. I have a pretty good grasp on my GreatGrandfather’s tribe, but I’m hung up getting past John J Graham. I think I found Nancy’s parents Wallace T Webster and Eliza J Rowe. It’s been a lot of fun finding all of those folks. I’m thinking about visiting cemeteries to see what else I can find, and if I can confirm John J’s parents. I know that’s a lot harder than digging online, but the records are sparse. Maybe you have some clues?

      and this is a really cool article! Makes me want to visit.

      • betty a palmer (maiden name Norton) says:

        My name is betty Palmer. My uncle was James Madson Graham. My aunt Tillie was married to James and they have 2 daughters, Dorothy and Mildred who are still living. If you have any information about the family I would love to be able to continue my search for my cousins. My uncle was born 28 Sep 1910 and passed in 1945. James sr. was married to Katie. They married Websters and he is buried at Deals Island at the church with his family.

        • Don Graham says:

          Hi Betty. I am descended from John J Graham and Nancy L (Webster) of Deal Island (my Great-grandparents) I have been trying to connect to some of the Grahams from the Eastern Shore. I’ve only been on it for maybe 2 months, but I have found a treasure trove of information online that neither I nor my surviving family members knew. It’s been exciting!
          But I don’t think that James M Graham is related, unless it comes from above my G-Grandfather. He was born in 1833 or 1836 and Nancy was 1850, best as I can tell. Don’t know when they passed yet, but it was after 1910.

          I’ll keep your note about James M and Tillie (real name?) Maybe we’ll get connected from farther back if I can find some older records.

          • Jonel GrahamMorgan says:

            Hi Don, My name is Jonel Graham-Morgan. I have been trying to trace my family tree back for sometime, however I have ran into a brick wall when it come to my family down there. I do know my great grandmother Ella Graham is from there. she moved to Philadelphia,Pa sometime around her late teens or early twenties. I know her mother name was Emma. Emma was married I believe three times before she settle with Frank Graham. They had quite a few kids. But thats it. I know nothing else after that. Ella was born some where around 1915. She had quite a number of kids herself, one of them being my grandmother. Oh I almost forgot Emma maiden name is Roberts. At least that what was placed on Ella Death certificate. Does any of this sound familiar to you. I do know Ella passed away in Philadelphia Aug 10, 1958, but she was buried down there.

          • Jonel GrahamMorgan says:

            I also know the names of her brothers and sister as well as her children.

            • Don Graham says:

              Hi Jonel
              Looking over your remarks I think that I cannot come up with a connection to my family. I did have a family member named Emma but she was a Graham by birth, not marriage as you indicated. Most of the relatives that I have been digging up were born before 1900. My Dad was born 1918, and I have all of his siblings and such connected up here in Baltimore, mostly because I knew them. I wish I could help you more. Have you dug around in the census information and tried to follow your folks back to the late 20th century?
              This is a very time consuming process and I’ve only just begun digging! My next efforts will be at the Maryland Archives in Annapolis, trying to confirm all of the marriages that I think I know. I also plan on visiting Deal Island come spring to tie off on some of the other loose ends that I have.
              Good luck in your searches!!


    • My grandmother,Della and Berdis moved to Germantown in Phila, with Aunt Della before Berdis had her son cousin James Baldwin.

      • Della,
        I am Renee and my grandmother was Eliza Jones before marring Cliffton Craig. Cousin Berdis and my grandmother Eliza moved to Germantown with Aunt Della my grandmother’s oldest sister. My mother is Marlene one of the twins. I am sure we met many, many years ago maybe at Aunt Della church for one of her special events. Many of our ancestors are buried on the island around James Wesley church.We have a non-profit on the island working to save the James Wesley Church. We are trying to reach relatives we have lost touch with. We are always looking for family to help with events on the island. Let me know if you can help out with at least getting us in touch with other family members.

    • Don Graham says:

      Hi again Mildred
      I have found a lot of connections in the Deal Island tree! You and I are 2nd cousins! We should get together (skype or zoom or something like that) and compare notes. I have found a lot of information since I last messaged you. And I just spent a day on Deal Island searching out information from the cemeteries. It was both fun and sad, especially looking at all of the graves of children. Wow! Anyway please get back to me and let’s see how much we can put together with what you have and what I have found.

  31. Chris Brumwell 3rd says:

    Great article. I am,only 29 but I was blessed to grow up on the island where we all know and trust one another. Its a peaceful, beautiful place to live. I loved growing up there and being able feel safe playing,outside until the street lights (the very few) came in. We were taught respect and to love Jesus. Anyone looking for a nice place to kick back and retire, deal island MD is the place to go. God Bless

  32. Rick Benton says:

    Im an Old Island Boy-Grew up in Wenona-Crabbing with my Dad when I was just six years old-from Hooper Straits to Kedges Straits-On the Tangier Sound is where you would find me on a hot summer day-Dad bought me my first boat when I was just fifteen-He said son you’re a man now-go get em-and get em I did-did some shaft tonging between crabbing and oyster season -dredged with my Dad on two different skipjacks-the old Ethyln Dryden in the 61=62 season and the Geneva May in the 62-62 season-left the Island in 1964-worked at Dupont Co. the next 38 years-living in Ft Myers Fl. the last 7 years-I still have mud between my toes-Lots of Precious Memories from the Island-many relatives still live there-What a Heritage-Im proud to say that I was a Deal Island Waterman. I am blessed to have been born there-In closing-My roots there and my fruit is here.

  33. Rick Benton says:

    Im an Old Island Boy-Grew up in Wenona-Crabbing with my Dad when I was just six years old-from Hooper Straits to Kedges Straits-On the Tangier Sound is where you would find me on a hot summer day-Dad bought me my first boat when I was just fifteen-He said son you’re a man now-go get em-and get em I did-did some shaft tonging between crabbing and oyster season -dredged with my Dad on two different skipjacks-the old Ethyln Dryden in the 61=62 season and the Geneva May in the 62-63 season-left the Island in 1964-worked at Dupont Co. the next 38 years-living in Ft Myers Fl. the last 7 years-I still have mud between my toes-Lots of Precious Memories from the Island-many relatives still live there-What a Heritage-Im proud to say that I was a Deal Island Waterman. I am blessed to have been born there-In closing-My roots there and my fruit is here.

  34. Ann Kondos says:

    I have not been to Deal Island since 1996. I am a Texan and have lived in the Gulf Coast area for many years.
    My brother-in-law and wife purchased one of those old homes that are so familiar on the island. It was just across from the post office. Each Summer we would visit them in the city and then go to Deal Island for several days. It is definitely a unique island. We considered buying a Summer home. It was so beautiful and peaceful. I would love a return visit….maybe someday.

  35. Melvin M White, Great Grandson says:

    My paternal grandparents were Melvin and Gladys White whose property I now own which is located on “Melvin White Rd.” My grandfather was a self-made man who made his good fortune delivering ice on the island. Needless to say, everyone of that era knew him for his daily delivery of ice. During that time his “ice house” was located at the base of the base in Chance, Md. He moved the ice house on the property where it still stands today, at bit weathered needing some repair but it stands in memory of his heyday. Yes, it does appear that the island is ever so slowly fading away, but I will continue to remember those good ole times as a child when I would visit. Nonetheless, I will continue to maintain the property and enjoy all that there remains to enjoy of a simple quiet life on the island.

    • Joe Austin says:

      Your story reminded me of a nickname of the local undertaker who has since passed named “Hot Ice”. Anyone know why he got that nickname.

    • Rick BENTON says:

      Yes I knew Mr. Melvin personally-A fine gentleman indeed. I used to play the pinball machines at the ice house.When I would lose all of my money to the machine I would be very upset. Then Mr. Melvin would reply. Look at all the fun that you had.

    • John Burnett says:

      My father used to come down to Deal Island from Philadelphia in his early teens with his father Roger Burnett. He would work at the ICE house with Melvin White’s son. I have a picture of my father and Melvin White when we visited Deal Island back in the 1990’s.

      • Maurice White says:

        Would consider perhaps scanning a copy and send to me. Would Greatly appreciate that!

        Maurice White, Grandson

    • Wayne says:

      Hi, remember the names Melvin and Gladys White as a child. My uncle’s name was Gritcle or Grit Carter. I had an Aunt named Jay.

  36. Kim Baldacchino says:

    My ggg grandmother was Milky Anna Jones, born on Deal Island in 1835. She was with her parents, Joseph H Jones (an oysterman) and Milcah (Milky) Anna Webster in 1850 in Dames Quarter. Our family story goes that Milky and her sister Mary (b 1840) came over to Robbins in Dorchester County to find Indian husbands, where she married Planter (Planner?) Parks Robbins and her sister Mary married Planter’s brother Wood (William) in the 1850s. These families can be seen in the 1860s and later censuses and there are photos of Milky in her later years (she died in 1928).

    Can anyone tell me more about either Milky’s Webster family on Deal Island or about Indians on Deal Island in this timeframe?

  37. Betty A. Palmer says:

    My uncle was James M Graham. He was married to my aunt and they had 2 daughters, mildred and Dorothy whom are still living. My aunt was Matilda “Tillie” Hoehn. He is buried in the church cementary along with his family – mother Katie andfather James; We know he passed in 1945 but unable to get the information so we can continue our search for family members. If you can help in anyway we woul;d appreciate it. Thanks again

    • Don Graham says:

      Hi again Betty
      Since we last chatted I have found a lot of good information about our ancestors there on Deal Island. I was just there on Friday gleaning information from the cemeteries and I would be glad to share that with you if you are interested. I’m also preparing to head to the Maryland Archives to try to tie down some of the marriages, and maybe find some more burial places. It looks like we are cousins! You said that Tillie and James M (Jr) were your aunt and uncle….who are your parents? Please let’s compare notes.

  38. Jamet Welsh says:

    My name is Janet Welsh , and I also grew up on “The Island ” . My mothers maiden is Taylor and I named my first daughter after her . Someone posted a comment about roaming the island as a child and coming home at supper time . I too was blessed as a child to have that carefree lifestyle . We spent a lot of our time on the beaches having Bonfires , digging for soft shell clams crabbing , you name it . We had the freedom to explore the islands many gifts for us . Now I am so so saddened when I take Taylor there and cannot explore it’s many treasures with her . “The Outsiders ” have taken that away from us . An outsider is one who wasn’t raised there or may not have any real connection to the place. They also feel they can put up thier fences and not allow access to the beaches in fear that someone may take or destroy something of theirs . Well you have done just that to us and many generations to come. Please allow us to share our memories there with our children as a free fun loving place to roam , explore, imagine and most importantly keep it the way God intended. Please tear down those fences. In love and gratitude , Janet

  39. Jennifer Sparcino says:

    My family has been in Deal Island since the 1600’s. I am looking for any information on Catherine T. Shores and her family. I have some information on William D Kelly (her husband) but he disappears from the census and all records in 1880.
    I live in Buffalo, NY so my on-site searching is limited to a few days a year when we are in OC.
    Any help is appreciated.

    • Brian Shores says:

      What kind of info are you looking for she was my 3rd great aunt. I descend from her brother John William Shores. Would be happy to share any info I have.

      • Joe Austin says:

        I went to and worked hard for three months. Put together a family tree that was incredible thanks to many that had done the work before me. The first settlement in the area was I believe in 1632 on a little tusset of land between St Stephens and Dames Quarter called Pidgeon House. A family of seven came from the UK I suspect through Plymouth Mass. we were some of the colonists that thought that the New England states were entirely to cold for humans at that time so we headed south to Somerset county. As I recall a family of seven settled Pidgeon House. Austin, White and others. Perhaps Shores. I would research this avenue for more info. The NAAB Center at Salisbury University has a wealth of information. A gentleman working there is from Deal Island and is very helpful and enjoys family research of the community. Hope this helps.

      • Jennifer Sparcino says:

        Fabulous, so nice to meet you! I am trying to get information on her husband (or who I assume is her husband) William D. Kelly. I have him up until the census of 1880 but after that he disappears. It seems no one thought to ever ask my GG Grandmother about her husband. He was an oyster man, so I assumed he may have been lost in a storm one winter, but I can’t find any newspaper articles, obituaries or any mention of him, I know that the court house in Snow Hill turned down so a lot of information was lost.The accuracy of my tree depends on this William Kelly being her husband. If you can find out I would be so grateful to you!

        • Joe Austin says:

          I would jump on They have excellent records. Somewhere in the mid 1800’s only the head of household and wife were listed in census reports by name. I think they didn’t start adding children on census report until 1860.

          • Joe Austin says:

            I misread your comment. Thrush is if he just disappeared one place to look is unfortunately the nearest prison. They did census for inmates too. I’m sure of it. I found my great great grandfather there in the 1920’s. It happens.

            • Jennifer Sparcino says:

              Great advice! Once I renew my membership to my goal is to track him down!
              I already found out that one of my relatives murdered one of William Wheatley’s, who I am also related to!!!

      • Don Graham says:

        Hi Brian
        I read your response to Jennifer and am interested in contacting you. I believe my Grandfather’s brother George Graham married Etta Shores in about 1889 or so. I also believe that they had a child Daisy in 1893 or 1894. Seems like Etta died between then and the 1900 Census as George is listed as Widowed and Daisy is living with him and his parents, John and Nancy Graham there on Deal Island. I have not confirmed this info but my research strongly suggests that it is correct. I need to get the Maryland Archives to review marriage and death records as they are not available online.
        Please get back to me and let me know if you can confirm any of this information. While I am not descended from George and Etta, I’m trying to fill in holes in the family tree.

        Don Graham

  40. Mr Graham James Fisher says:

    with respect, I am trying to trace my family history on my fathers side, which led me to Deal Island, his name was, James Madison Harrison, born Deal Island, 29th June1920, his father, my grandfather was Linwood Mariner and his mother was Margaret Gram who lived in Rehobeth MD.
    But I can not find any trace of either my grandfather or grandmother, although I have actually visited her last home in Rehobeth,
    I also have had contact with Allan Webster who I believe to be one of my cousins, I would appreciate any advice or information from your members with regards to my grand parents, sincerely yours, Graham James Fisher.

    • Joyce C says:

      In 1930 Census, Brinkley District (which includes Rehobeth), Somerset Co., MD, Linwood and Margaret Mariner are included with son, Madison, aged 10.
      Before that (1910 Census) Linwood is with parents, Pierson R. (a storekeeper) & Olivia Mariner in same district, along with siblings Bessie and Dorcas. The 1930 Census has Olivia, a widow, living with daughters Ressie and Lois and a brother, Richard B. Adams.

      • Graham James Fisher says:

        Thank you so much for the information that you have supplied, I very much appreciate it, which now gives me new references to follow up on.
        It means so much to me, to follow up on my family heritage to be able to pass down to my son and grandson.
        sincerely yours.

  41. Robin K Martin says:

    Hi All,
    I am a graduate student at UMBC and have been writing a thesis regarding encounters during the 17th and 18th centuries on Maryland’s Easter Shore. I have heard rumor, or lore, that at some point in the 1700’s Deal Island wanted to enact a law where if you were of Native American heritage you could no longer live on the Island. This may or may not be true, however, at that time supposedly a man named Webster, feeling remorse for those residing there, adopted the remaining tribe. I thought this was extraordinarily kind and was wondering if this story had been passed down to any of the Webster ancestors. I do not know this particular persons first name but would be greatly interested in whether this story holds any authenticity. Thanks in advance for any information. Please feel free to contact me by email

    • Jennifer Sparcino says:

      I think most everyone who had ancestors on Deal Island had a Webster in their family, myself included. I will look into my tree and see if anything looks interesting.

      Our family lore includes the story that at one time (back in the 1600’s) when John Rolfe married Pocahontas one of our ancestors also married a native American woman…

  42. Kim Baldacchino says:


    See my post of 16 Sep 2016. I have heard this story in my family and would also be very interested in its authenticity. Other descendants of these families are also aware of their Indian heritage and the lineage is recognised by the Nause Waiwash tribe. If you share your email, I’d be happy to correspond further.

    • Robin Martin says:

      Thank you for replying and yes I would very much like to correspond regarding this information. My email is
      I heard about this from a woman working with the Dorchester Co. Historical Society which is located in Cambridge, however, this was all the information she knew. If I find any more references of importance I will definitely share them with you.

    • Joe Austin says:

      Drugs killing everything we hold truecand dear. It’s reality

  43. Robert H. Waller (Bob) says:

    Raised in Chance (Rock Creek), Md., (1937-1956) attended Deal Island, High School, parents- Capt. George Scott Waller & Dorothy Marie (Price) Waller; grandparents – Capt Isaac H. Waller & Emma V. (Scott) Waller and Capt Millard E. Price Sr. & Dorothy M. (James) Price. Left Chance, Md. ,1956 since resided in Washington, DC, Kansas City,Kansas; Newark & Camden, NJ, and Merritt Island, Fl. Grandfather Capt Isaac H. Waller owned Chesapeake Bay Skipjack “Maggie Lee”; grandfather Capt Millard E. Price Sr. owned Chesapeake Bay Skipjack “Flora A. Price”. Many Tangier Sound (Deal Island, Wenona, Chance, Dames Quarter families migrated from Virginia in the 1600 & 1700s. My friend & cousin (DIHS classmate) William G. (Bill) Wheatley is the area historian and genealogy researcher.

    • Jennifer Sparcino says:

      Thank you for your comments. I am related to Bill Wheatley. Living in Buffalo, NY he has been such a great help with our family tree and scouting out graveyards for me! He and I share a great-grandmother (Sallie Eleanor Taylor Bennett) so perhaps we are related as well.

  44. JOY WARNER says:

    I noticed in one of the comments that there might still be Kellys living on the island. My great great great grand father was William JT Kelly married Neva Howard. My cousin sent me this information below. Has anyone ever heard anything about the pirate connection? It has been speculated that the pirate Black Beard’s first mate, William Howard could have been her (Nevada Howards) relative because Black Beard and his crew hung out near Ocracoke N.C. It was rumored Blk Beard buried his treasure on the island at Springer’s Point. Ruth Kelly was Neva and Wm Kelly’s daughter. Ruth’s husband, Sam Jones, bought Springer’s Point and is buried there himself. Wm. JT Kelly was a brother of your grandfather. Wm was the oldest of the kids. He is buried in Va, near Norfolk. Any information would be appreciated for my genealogy research. Are there any Kellys on the island related to Newton or Isaac Newton Kelly. Thanks. Joy Kelly-Warner

  45. JOY WARNER says:

    Hello I don’t see Deal Island on the map. How does one go about getting there say from Ocean City, Maryland. I see Rock Hall and Chestertown on the map. I have family buried in a Stillpond Cemetery and am familiar with Rock Hall. My family grew up in that area.
    Thanks so much, Joy Kelly-Warner

    • Don Graham says:

      Hi Joy
      My family is from Deal, Grahams and Websters and Rowes. Deal Island is west of Princess Anne off of US.Rt 13. Take Rt 13 south from Salisbury and at Princess Anne take Rt 363 (Deal Island Rd) out to the island. It’s an interesting place, at least to me, ’cause my folks are from there an I had never been there before this past spring. St John’s cemetery and have been great resources.


  46. S. White says:

    For several years, the Whites, Websters and Wallaces would meet at reunions. Now of course, people are meeting via emails and websites. If anyone is interested in putting together a directory for the purpose of connecting our roots, please add your comments to this website and we all can have a starting point to meet and share our mutual ancestry records.

    S. White

    • Joe Austin says:

      Our family of Austin’s and Whites has a wealth of information on We will be glad to share. A good start is that the Whites are on the Mayflower manifesto. Same Whites that started Whitehaven apparently.

      • stephanie white says:

        Let’s share some email time to discuss these wonderful families. Eager to learn more and to share what information my sister and I have.


        Stephanie White

  47. Rose Milbourne Wright says:

    John Wesley Church
    The John Wesley Church is an historic African American church located in Deale Island that is currently being restored by the John Wesley Historical Trust.

    John Wesley M.E. Church is a late Victorian T-plan Gothic Revival church, dating from 1914. It is a prominent landmark in the low, marshy landscape between the settlements of Deal Island and Wenona. A black congregation has continuously worshipped on this site since at least the third quarter of the 19th century. The building will be used as a heritage-focused cultural and interpretive center.

    For more infrmation or to donate to the John Wesley Restoration Project, contact the John Wesley Historical Trust, Inc. 410.895.2678 or 410.430.3201

  48. Barbara says:

    My name is Barbara Webster Budelmann. My grandfather was James G Webster, born 1877 on Deal Island. His father was James Gillis, as well, and mother was Eleanor, born in 1851. I seem to have hit a road block, and can’t get any further back. Does anyone have any connections with this branch. Have never been to DeL Island, but would love to go!

    • Jennifer Sparcino says:

      Good Afternoon Barbara, I am from a long line of Websters. Let me look on my ancestry page to see where we connect from. Or, if you are on Ancestry, feel free to take a peek at my page “Kluge/Townsend” Family tree.

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