East New Market


Preston News and Farmer

7 March 1940 - Choptank Steamboat Company

While the "Tred Avon" was still being held in popular opinion as the grandest of steamers, The Choptank Company brought out the "Cambridge," so elegant she almost beggard description for want of superlative adjectives that had been used to praise the "Tred Avon."

The "Cambridge" was reputed to be so fast it required two people to mention her passing, one to look up the river and say "Here she comes," while the other looked down the river and yell "There she goes." When she was new and on the Choptank route

Her actual running time between Sharps Island Light and Lazaretto Light was three hours and she had a record of several minutes less than three hours that has never been exceeded by any steamboat in her class. Her whistle siren consisted of three units of chiming tones that could be reconciled to the tune "Shall we gather at the river," when she blew the regulation three blasts approaching a wharf.

Mr. Joseph Helsby, a prominent farmer of East New Market, who always expressed his opinion with droll wit was among her first passengers gave a detailed account of her electric lights, spring bottom furniture, the barn door size looking glass where he say Joe Helsby just like other people saw him and the carpeting so soft he sunk down up to his hocks wading through the high nap. –If hocks means heel strings, Mr. Helsby did not exaggerate much the "Cambridge" had wonderful rugs that were in keeping with all her other beautiful furnishings.

In August 1894 when the Choptank Steamboat Company was at the apex of its progressive career of eleven successful years, sold out to the newly organized Baltimore Chesapeake and Atlantic Ry. Co. at what was rumored to be a fabulous profit.

Captain Perry was correct in saying, "They knew when to begin," and better still, "They knew when to quit" The Chesapeake Steamboat Company was basically a cooperative organization created and developed from the East New Market Navigation Company which still exists, but inactive. According to notes from Pilot House Yarns and some papers written In 1855 by Nimrod Newton, a notary of East New Market, The E. N. M. Navigation Company was inspired by John Webster and other representative citizens of East New Market building the schooners "Sebastpool" and "East New Market" in 1855 and established a packet line between Secretary Creek and Baltimore.

Captain M. S. Fletcher was the first commander of the schooner "East New Market" and the Rev. Robert Hazzard commanded the "Sebastopool," after one year of service Captain Pletcher returned to his mercantile business In East New Market and Captain Hazzard to the conference where they remained 'till their death forty years later. The packet line was kept in continuous service but the next captains I have record of was Captain Jim Perry who commanded the "Sebastopool" at the time of his death in the early seventies and was succeeded by Captain Billy Johnson (William E. Johnson) while the schooner "East New Market" was commanded by Captain Bridge Johnson (Elbridge S. Johnson).

Captain Bridge and Captain Billy were not near kin but always closely related commercially. In the late seventies Captain Bridge retired from his position on the schooner "East New Market" and was succeeded by Captain Billy. In 1880 the "Sebastopool" was sold to Theophilus Wheatley and Saul Vincent of Galestown who had 'her rebuilt and renamed "Hattie C. Wheatley." She was still in service less than ten years ago at Reedyville, Va. In 1883 the schooner "East New Market" was sold to Captain Johnston Frampton of Dover Bridge who freighted tobacco from Rappahannock to Baltimore the next thirty years.

When Captain E. S. Johnson retired from Sailing he bought the long established mercantile business of Quince Leckie in East New Market which he sold to Thos. L. Trice, Sr., when he was made president of the Choptank Steamboat Company he organized in 1883. Thos. L. Trice, Jr., still maintains the high standard in his store in Preston that has a direct unbroken lineage of a hundred years of honor. It's the same business founded in 1840 by Quince Leckie, the only change has been location and ownership. The Choptank Company's methods will appear in later yarns.