Storied Past

For one week in October, museums, such as the Calvin B. Taylor House Museum, and historic sites throughout Worcester County will pull out all the stops to share with visitors the rich and complex history of the region

Written by Ian Post
Photography and imagery courtesy Worcester County Museums Consortium 

Thousands of years ago, Native Americans from Algonquin tribes, such as the Pocomoke, were the first people to inhabit the land that has become Maryland’s coastal county. The storied threads of Worcester County history follow back to this time, woven by people who sought refuge or fortune in Colonial Maryland, were captured from Africa for slave labor or remained here even when many Native Americans were forced to flee west. From Whaleyville to Ocean City, Pocomoke City to Bishopville and everywhere in between, people have continued to work and enjoy the land and water here, sharing traditions and arts and stories over the centuries.

To help explore this heritage, museums and historic sites across the county offer exhibits and events throughout the year. Visitors will find engaging stories in places like Furnace Town and the Julia A. Purnell Museum, in Snow Hill; the Sturgis One Room School Museum and the Delmarva Discovery Center, in Pocomoke City; the Calvin B. Taylor House Museum, in Berlin; and the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum, on the boardwalk. While the history is old, “new” historic sites, like Rackliffe House, have joined the celebration of Worcester County’s history in recent years.

While it can be easy to forget that such rich histories surround us, for one week this year, cultural organizations across the county will be pulling out the stops for the community to interact with our heritage through some incredible special events. There will be theatrical and musical performances, enlightening tours, entertaining presentations, a photo competition and many other festivities. Don’t miss out on History Week in Worcester County, hosted by the Worcester County Museums Consortium.

DAYS OF YESTERYEAR Postcards of old Ocean City depict a time when its beaches and Boardwalk weren’t nearly as crowded as they are today. 

WEEKLONG

Photography Competition: Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum
In memory of board member Lou Parsons, the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum is hosting a photo competition throughout the week. Submit your photos — $10 for five photos — and winners will be announced throughout History Week.

Spirit Award: Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum
The Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum created the Spirit Award to recognize a person or organization that has made strides in preserving Ocean City’s cultural or natural history. To nominate, submit a 500-word (or fewer) description of the nominee’s contributions to the preservation of written documents, structural preservation, artistic renderings, educational material or interpretation of Ocean City. 

Discounted Annual Memberships & Tours: Sturgis One Room School Museum
Support the mission of this historic rural African American schoolhouse museum by purchasing one of the Sturgis One Room School Museum’s discounted memberships or tours for Worcester History Week.

OCTOBER 10

Historic House Tour: Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum
10 a.m.–4 p.m., $25 members/$30 non-members

Spend the day discovering the history of your favorite beach town! This event will allow visitors to step into the past as the tour goes through some of Ocean City’s oldest homes, churches and establishments. At each location, an educator will be on-site to discuss the unique history of the building.

Homecoming Harvest: Calvin B. Taylor House Museum
2 p.m.–5 p.m., FREE

The Homecoming Harvest celebrates the past, present and future generations of families in Berlin with musical performances and lots of history. Record an oral history or start climbing your family tree with genealogy records made available by the Calvin B. Taylor House Museum.

History Panel: Ocean Pines Association
2 p.m.–4 p.m., FREE

The Ocean Pines Association will host a panel featuring guest speakers with a long history in the Ocean Pines community. Attendees will hear firsthand accounts of the speakers’ experiences as Ocean Pines evolved from a small resort community to a thriving, year-round home-and-vacation destination.

OCTOBER 13

Storytelling by Cheryl Doughty of the Pocomoke Indian Nation: Delmarva Discovery Museum
11 a.m. Regular admission ($10 adults, $8 seniors, $5 children 4 and up, Military with ID free, Members free)

Join Cheryl Doughty of the Pocomoke Indian Nation to learn about the indigenous roots in Worcester County during this storytelling at the Delmarva Discovery Museum.

OCTOBER 13-14

History of Libraries in Worcester County: Worcester County Public Library
Oct 13, 5 p.m. – Snow Hill Branch, FREE
Oct 14, 2 p.m. – Ocean Pines Branch, FREE

Did you know that some of the libraries in Worcester County date to the early 1900s? Join Worcester County Library’s Local History Librarian to learn more about the history of our local libraries.

OCTOBER 16

Harbor Day at the Docks: West Ocean City Commercial Harbor
All Day, FREE

This waterfront festival celebrates our rich history and maritime heritage, as well as the exciting sport-fishing and commercial-fishing industries. Highlights of the day include seafood cooking demonstrations, crab-picking contests, fish-cleaning demonstrations, local-fisherman displays, nautical artisans, educational exhibits, entertainment, food and fun kids’ activities, all for free!

FiberFest! Traditional Arts & History Festival: Julia A. Purnell Museum
10 a.m.–4 p.m., FREE

Bring your family to discover local fire and traditional arts, history and culture at this annual festival held on the museum grounds. There will be food trucks, craft vendors, live music, craft demonstrations, animals and more fun for the entire family.

Ocean Pines Players present Clara Barton: Calvin B. Taylor House Museum
2 p.m.–4 p.m., Members: free; non-members: $20/person or $30/family

The Ocean Pines Players will perform an original play about the life of Clara Barton to coincide with a newly displayed letter written by her to residents of Worcester County. CS