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  • Writer's pictureBecky Fifield

I Spy…Rural Commerce in the Nineteeth Century

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

In this one corner of the county, I spy…

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

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