MARYLAND MANORS

Genesar c1730 on the Atlantic Ocean: The unfortunate but inevitable destruction of the colonial manors of Maryland during the last century may be summed up in the great brick pile Genesar, still lifting its proud but tottering head above the Atlantic Ocean beaches in Worcester County, Md. With the gradual ruin of the Purnell manor, Maryland loses the most interesting manor of transitional style architecture on the Eastern-shore,  if not the entire state! Its rich glazed brick patterned walls are currently being held in place by telephone poles. The history of Genezar goes back almost three hundred years to Major John Purnell, 1732. Among the legends of the Seaboard Side is one which recounts a ship of the British Navy during the War of 1812 which fired upon the manor. Maryland's WPA Guide states there were bullet holes in the walls. During the American Revolution, a British ship came through the North beach inlet which no longer exists, and the owner of Genezar, Thomas Purnell, became alarmed. He feared a landing party. He armed his servants and marched them to the beach and back in a show of force giving his family time to pack their possessions, bury the family plate, and flee.   [Colonial & Historic Homes of Md: 3 -11]  Don & Caroline Humphrey bought the house in 1966, but have been unable to finish restoration due to high cost. (Stump, Bruce "Architectural Gem Falls to Wayside," delmarvanow.com)

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Fairfield, near Spence Landing on Chincoteague Bay, Worcester Co, Md., was historically the long-time residence of the Purnell-Robins families. It is significant for the survival of three brown sandstone grave markers decorated in distinctive New England-style carving, a combination of death masks and crossed bones which embellished the top of the stones marking the graves of Thomas Purnell Sr. (1695-1769), and Mary Purnell, wife of Thomas, and their daughter, Ann Purnell. The stones were shipped to Worcester County on one of the Purnell family ships. Mary Purnell's stone reads: "In memory of Mary Purnell, wife of Thomas Purnell Sr., and daughter of John & Mary Outten, b. Nov. 25, 1702, d. June 27, 1772. Thomas Purnell Sr.'s stone reads: "Thomas Purnell Sr., son of Thomas & Elizabeth Purnell, b. Sat. Nov 9, 1695, d. Monday, Aug. 17, 1769.   Hon. James B. Robins (1770-1826) gravestone is located next to the house site. The initial Fairfield tract of 800 acres was patented to William Stevens in 1676, later assigned to Thomas Purnell.

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Our Redden Pedigree includes Ellen Redden Dawson (1837-1921), wife of Noah Dawson of Bracken Co, Ky., and her father Purnell Burch Redden (1802-1881), whose father, Shadrack Redden (c1780-1828) married Susannah Robins of Accomack Co Va.  Nehemiah Redden Sr. (?-1795), father of Shadrack,  resided on West Chester, near Stockton in Worcester Co. before the Revolution. Purnell was used by Redden family as a given name to remember Maryland roots. Great-grandmother Ellen Redden Dawson placed the accent on the first syllable when pronouncing the surname: Per'-nal, not Pur-nell'. While visiting the Eastern Shore a few years ago, I found Fairfield had became a Bed-and-Breakfast inn. Purnell descendants may, therefore, sleep in the home of their ancestors! Be sure to visit the family cemetery.

Source: Along the Seaboard Side: Architectural History of Worcester Co Md., Paul Baker Touart, p. 249. 


WEST CHESTER c1790

West Chester is a three part frame house, part of a small collection of stepped dwellings that survive in southern Worcester County near Stockton. The oldest section, late eighteenth century story-and-a-half one-room plan house was enlargedaround 1840 with the construction of a hyphen and a parlor addition. Long abandoned in the middle of a wheatfield, the original patent was owned by Edward Kellam in 1723 who sold 200 acres to John Dubberly. In 1792 William & Nancy Kellam & Leah Dubberly agreed to divide the tract;  and in 1792 James Jones sold to William & Nancy Kellam 65 acres to settle lines. In 1793, William & Nancy Kellam and James & Betsy Jones agreed to divide 80 acres with Shadrack & Leah Redden. In 1802, William Kellum sold 61 acres to Ezekiel Kellam; and finally in 1803, Moses Payne sold to Wrixam Payne 185 acres of West Chester and other tracts ending the Kellam-Redden ownership.                  

Along the Seaboard Side, p. 255; Land Records of Wor. Co Md. 1666-1810, by Ruth T. Dryden, Family Line Pub., 1992, pp. 663-4 

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End of Controversy

Historical Society of Talbot Co Md. conducts guided tours of two Quaker cabinetmaker homes in Easton, county seat of Talbot County. In the back garden is a reproduction of a Quaker home circa 1670. H. Chandlee Forman, historical archaeologist of Maryland, used the manor as his office. Without his photographs & measurements of colonial manors, much valuable data would have been lost. His book Early Manors & Plantations of Maryland published in 1934 drew attention to the valuable resource of historic architecture which was still standing, although many like West Chester and Genesar were used as barns. Many Maryland manors had their interiors stripped by vandals or by absentee owners selling to museums like the Chicago Art Institute.

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