September 30th, 2014

Who Was Augustine Herman and Why is There a Highway Named for Him?

AHHaving lived in Cecil County for nearly 20 years, I’ve often wondered who Augustine Herman was and why he had such an impact on the region. A school, a river, and numerous developments in the south county area bear the name of his estate, and Augustine Herman Highway (Route 213) is a major thoroughfare connecting north and south ends of the county.

It turns out this Czech merchant has a fascinating history: he was an explorer, statesman, mapmaker, and land baron who established the Bohemia Manor plantation in Cecil County in 1661.

Herman was born in the eastern European region of Bohemia (now called the Czech Republic).  He later settled in the Netherlands and eventually sailed to the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam (present-day New York City.)

In 1659 New Amsterdam’s governor sent Herman to the Eastern Shore of Maryland to gather information on a border dispute that was occurring between Maryland and Dutch settlements along the Delaware Bay.

Maryland must have appealed to Herman as he returned in 1660. He made a deal with Cecil Calvert, Second Lord Baltimore that he would draw an accurate map of the colony (Herman was trained as a surveyor and was skilled in sketching and drawing) in exchange for ownership of land on the Eastern Shore.

Augustine Herman received 6,000 acres of land for his map. He named the property “Bohemia Manor” after his homeland. In addition to the land grant, he was also named a naturalized citizen, the first of the colony. Along with holding many county offices, Herman spent years charting the colony and eventually drew what was then the most accurate map of the Chesapeake Bay. Many people living in England first learned what Maryland looked like from Augustine Herman’s map.

If you are interested in learning more about the life of Augustine Herman, the Cecilton Branch Library is hosting a program on October 21 at 6:30 pm.  To register, stop by any branch, call, or register online.

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July 22nd, 2013

Fun Things to Do in Cecil County This Summer

Little Girl Blowing Dandelion SeedsAh, summer.  The season for enjoying nature, barbequing, spending time with family and friends, and hearing the dreaded three words… “Mom I’m bored.”  The further we get into summer, the more my kids are looking for something to do and looking at me to suggest it.  My usual ideas like clean your room, unload the dishwasher, and vacuum the living room only generate exaggerated eye-rolling, or blank stares followed by, “I’m hungry–what do we have to eat?”  Luckily, there are lots of fun things to do with your kids in Cecil County this summer, most of which are free or very cheap.  Here’s my top ten list:

1.  Take a hike on the Blue Trail to Turkey Point Lighthouse at Elk Neck State Park.

2.  Travel back in time with a visit to historic Mount Harmon Plantation.

3.  Attend the 60th Annual Cecil County Fair July 19-27 and make sure to stop by the Cecil County Public Library’s booth!

4.  Visit the animals at the Plumpton Park Zoo.

5.  Explore the historic Main Streets of one of Cecil County’s great towns. See the canal and bridge in Chesapeake City, admire the granite cliffs in Port Deposit, or window-shop the boutiques in North East.

6.  Drop by Hart’s Peach Festival for music, puppets, and peach goodies at Hart’s Amphitheater in North East on Saturday, August 10 from noon-4 pm.

7.  Wander the trails, walk the covered bridge and play in the creek at Fair Hill.

8.  Cruise to the Cecil County Dragway.

9.  Pick your own fruits for a healthy, delicious summer treat. Click here for a list of the many wonderful orchards and markets in our county.

10.  Don’t forget to sign up for summer reading! People often think it’s too late, but that’s not true.  Any reading your kids (or you) have done since June 1st counts, so sign up today. You have until August 3rd to turn in your reading logs and kids, teens and adults can win awesome prizes. The library also has a variety of entertaining (and free!) summer events for all ages. Click here to search the library’s calendar.

What are your best ideas for summer fun in Cecil County?

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