Establishing a county government is the first step for people building a stable community and a strong trade economy.
The first Kent County Courthouse was located at New Yarmouth, a 17th-century settlement abandoned when county lines were changed in 1706, That year, a new county seat was established at Chestertown (then known as "New Town") and its courthouse was built on this site. In 1860, the old colonial courthouse was torn down and replaced with the current building; its construction date can be seen above the door.
In early plantation days, tobacco was the common medium of exchange. It took 55,000 pounds of tobacco to rebuild the courthouse after a fire in 1719.
A complex Legacy
Country records house here span 350 years. They include land deeds, wills, court decisions and certificates of freedom given to manumitted slaves.
The Courthouse hosted public meetings at pivotal moments in American History. In 1774 patriots met to protest importation of tea from Britain. During the Civil War, General (and future U.S.president) James A. Garfield delivered a pro-union speech here; disgruntled locals expressed their own views by pelting him with eggs and rotten vegetables. The building has a darker legacy. Slaves seized to pay their masters' debts were once auctioned off on the granite steps at your right. In 1892. 24-year-old James Taylor, a black man, was dragged from a cell by a mob of local whites and lynched nearby.
This Church Made History
As Chestertown grew, so did the need for a larger church. In 1772, parishioners built a new Anglican house of worship on a lot deeded from courthouse land. Chester Parish Church, as it was called, made religious history in 1780, when, in the spirit of Revolution, clergymen met here and renounced the term "Church of England" in favor of "Protestant Episcopal Church" — a name later adopted throughout the United States. In 1882, the building was substantially remodeled and consecrated under its current name, Emmanuel Church.