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Port Tobacco Courthouse

The Port Tobacco Courthouse, Charles County, MD, is verifiably associated with the UGRR, because there Mark Caesar (presumably free from Charles County) and Bill Wheeler (from Charles Co., master Benjamin Contee) were tried in 1845. Mark Caesar was considered an "accomplice of slave flight." While some contemporary white accounts refer to an "insurrection" led by the two, it is possible that the African Americans involved considered it a break for freedom and were equipped with weapons for self-defense. Mark Caesar and Bill Wheeler left Charles Co. and were accompanied by more and more armed freedom seekers. The group reached the area of Rockville, MD, where 31 were captured and others continued to flee, some as far as Carroll Co., MD (which borders with PA). Although court records of the trial are missing, Maryland State Archives researchers found documentation of Mark Caesar in the MD Penitentiary Prisoners Record (1850), found a special law passed to ensure life imprisonment for Wheeler if he were not executed, and found numerous newspaper accounts of the 1845 escape, which frightened local whites by its daring. Previously, Mark Caesar did not enter official documentation -- not in the censuses for Anne Arundel Co., Baltimore Co., or Charles Co. (1830-50) nor among landowners listed for the 3 counties.

Visitor Information: Currently open to public.

Location: PO Box 302, Port Tobacco, Calvert, 20677

National Park Unit: No

Ownership: Restoration Society of Port Tobacco

Location Type: Site

Freedom Seekers: Bill Wheeler,Mark Caesar