East New Market

Property Reports

12 Main Street

Smith Cottage (ca. 1840s)

Smith Cottage

The Smith Cottage was named for Mary Louisa Ennalls.  She married Silas Collins in 1846 and bought the house and lot in her name in 1847.  In 1859, she divorced Silas Collins.  In 1861, she married James T. Smith thus becoming Mary L. Smith.  James T. Smith died later that decade.  Mary L. Smith lived there until her death in 1900.

The Laskowski Papers - F. Arthur Laskowski - The Old Smith Cottage

In the 1930s, F. Arthur Laskowski wrote several stories about Dorchester County based on interviews with local residents.  These stories were published by the Dorchester County Historical Society and called the Laskowki Papers.  The story below is about the Smith Cottage.  Athur Laskowski interviewed John Collins, a grandson of Silas Collins and Hamil Smith, a grandson of Mary Louisa Ennalls.  On April 28, 1846, Silas Collins married his third wife, Mary Louisa Ennalls.  Mary Louisa Ennalls Collins bought the Smith Cottage in 1847.  At the time Silas Collins was living in the house.  They lived there until they separated in 1855 and divorced in 1859.

Smith Cottage

On the Main Street of East New Market proper are five very old buildings, one of which is a small dwelling with a moss-covered roof that dates back to the later part of the 18th century.  It is built on a lot of land which was part of a tract called New Market and aside from its antiquity there is an amusing little story connected with it known only by members of the family that formerly owned the property.  Being sensitive about the rather personal nature of this incident, the present generation does not furnish the names of the actors and it was upon the promise not to use names that the story was forthcoming.

Some years ago the old house was owned for quite a while by various members of the same family.  In the days when gentlemen wore beaver hats, the place was owned and occupied by a certain gentleman who, sad to relate, did not get along very well with his estimable spouse.  Since the ship of matrimony was sailing on rough seas, many unhappy scenes were enacted in the old dwelling and the irascible husband indulged in many fits of temper.  The series of disputes and bickering culminated in a most unusual denouement.  Becoming weary of the unending series of storms, the gentleman in a fit of temper made a most unusual business deal.  While in the good old days, the ubiquitous horse dealer swapped horses, it was a quite unheard of proceeding to swap wives.  Yet this is what the beaver-hatted gentleman did.  On one occasion in a burst of indignation, he gave up his wife and the little gray house for another wife and a feather bed.  Though we hear of many queer business deals, it is seldom we run across a man who trades a house and his wife for another wife and a feather bed.

Perhaps the gentleman should have obtained the feather bed sooner, as with the acquisition of this downy couch and the second wife, the stormy matrimonial seas seem to have subsided and he lived happily thereafter - two children blessing the second union..."

Silas Collins did not remarry and have 2 children after the divorce to Mary L Ennalls.  He did have 2 children by Mary L Ennalls.  Mary L Ennalls did remarry to James T. Smith in 1861 and had a son James M Smith in 1866.  James T Smith died before 1870.  Silas had 3 children by a previous marriage to Sophia Smith.  I am not sure if James T Smith was previously married.    Below is the divorce record for Silas Collins and Mary L Ennals.  It would lead one to believe the story is about them.  John Collins was 5 when his grandfather Silas Collins died, so some of the details of the story could have been fuzzy.

Mr. Laskowski also provided some additional information: 

It is a 1 1/2 stories with a one story kitchen to the rear.  The front faces east toward Main Street.  The old roof is covered with moss and the house is painted a gray or slate color.  Grounds - The land about the house contains about 3/4 of an acre and is the usual small country-town plot of land.  A small lawn with some flowers and shrubs is about the house and the space for a vegetable garden to the rear.


Smith Cottage Rear

Dorchester County Court Record - 15 February 1859

To the Hon. Thomas A Spence, Judge of the Circuit Court for Dorchester County, sitting in Equity.

The Bill of complaints of Mary Louisa Collins of said County, humbly complaining, showeth unto your Honor, that she is a resident of said County in the State of Maryland and she has been during her life. That sometime on or about the 28th day of April in the year 1846, she was married by the Rev. Mr. Murray, a Methodist Minister, in the City of Baltimore, to Silas Collins, then and now a resident of the County of Dorchester in the State of Maryland and from that time until in the month of June 1855 she resided and cohabited with the said Silas Collins as his wife residing in East New Market in Dorchester County. And during all that time, she deported and conducted herself toward her said husband as a good, virtuous and obedient wife should do, and that she has never that she is aware of committed any act to give her said husband and cause to treat her in the manner hereinafter complained of by your Oratrix.

And you Oratrix, further complaining shows to your Honor that sometime and about one year and six months she was married as aforesaid, the said Silas Collins, her husband for no cause or reason known to her except it be his habit hereinafter alluded to, of using opium to excess, commenced abusing conduct toward her, using harsh , outrageous and indecent language from time to time, so as to render her life miserable and shock every virtuous sensibility. And after that at different times and frequently from time to time, threatened personal violence to her and finally threatened to maim her and to kill her, and this on several occasions. So frequent was this, so violent his conduct and threats, that your oratrix was in constant fear and dread that he would carry out his threats into execution. And her life was in constant misery. And on several occasions, he made threats against her life with a gun loaded in his hands. On one occasion with a pistol presented in his hands, and at another time with a large butcher knife in his store at East New Market threatened to cut her throat, accusing her of taking from him money, the proceeds of her maiden property hereinafter mentioned.

And you Oratrix further shows to your Honor, that this conduct on the part of her said husband continued from time to time up to the end of the month of June 1855, and during all this time he was in the habit of taking laudanum in large quantities which seemed to have the effect of making him more irritable and violent, unfitting him for business and causing him to set at defiance the amenities and decencies of life and making the existence of your said Oratrix one of almost uninterrupted bitterness and mortification, so that your Oratrix was obliged to take refuge from his violence, on one occasion at least in the house of a neighbor, Dr. Houston.

And you Oratrix further shows that in the latter part of the month of June in the year 1855, on Sunday morning, but the day of the month she cannot recollect, the said Silas Collins her husband rushed into the house in a great rage and violently struck and kicked your Oratrix and caught her by the hair, pulling out a part of her hair, and using all the time the most indecent language. And finally after your Oratrix in her fear of him, had privately requested his daughter Sarah Ann Collins, to go and hide his gun. He searched for the gun and not being able to find it, by threats compelled his said daughter to inform him where it was, which she did begging him at the time not to shoot your Oratrix. And the said Silas Collins having procured the gun threatened to take the life of your Oratrix, which compelled her to leave his house. Learning, as your Oratrix then did, that he would carry his threat into execution, and she then fled from the house in which they were living and took refuge in the house of her sister, Mrs. John Dean. And your Oratrix further shows to your Honor that the said Silas Collins, her husband frequently among other abuse charged her with the crime of adultery.

And your Oratrix further shows that at the time she was thus compelled to leave her said husbands house. She was actually and really in dread and fear that her would carry the threat of taking her life into execution or at least so far carry it into execution as to do her serious bodily harm if it did not result in death. And that he had actually and seriously injured her by his kicks, blows, and pulling out her hair, that since that time he has at no time requested her to return to his house, or sought her return, or give her any such assurance of kindness or affection as to warrant her to dare to return to him to live and cohabit with him and has not done so. And she now actually believes that if she were to return to live with him, her life or person would be in great danger from his violence and her existence be one of almost perpetual dread, mortification, and sorrow. So that your Oratrix charges that her said husband had driven her away from him and has abandoned her from the time of the said occurrence in June 1855 as to the present time.

And your Oratrix further shows to your Honor, that she has three children, the fruit of her said marriage, namely - Thomas, aged about 9 years, Ann, aged about 8 years, and Joseph, aged about 6 years and that for some three or four years before she was driven away and abandoned by her husband, he did nothing for her support nor did he provide clothing for her or support of clothing for her children. He has raised some pork which he sold, that he furnished little or none of it for the family, which he kept, when slaughtered in a smoke house and kept the key to the smoke house, never offering to go to it. And that from her own labor in sewing and from the interest of a small part of her maiden property, she furnished the provision and clothing of the family before she was driven away and abandoned by her husband. And that since she has thus been driven away and abandoned, she has entirely supported and clothed herself and her children, receiving no aid of any kind from her said husband.

And your Oratrix further shows that the furniture of the house in which they lived was purchased by her or out of money realized from her maiden property and she is informed and believes that since her husband has thus abandoned her, her husband has sold the larger portion, if not all of it, in purchasing laudanum or morphine and supporting himself and family by a former or former wives.

And your Oratrix further shows unto your Honor that at the time of her marriage with the said Silas Collins, she was possessed in her own right jointly with her brothers and sisters of a farm called "Goose Creek" situated in Dorchester County, which was after her marriage sold upon application made before her marriage. And that her part of the proceeds of the sale amounted to some nine hundred dollars which was paid to her said husband. That with this money he purchased a lot in the town of East New Market from Dr. Edwin Hooper and wife and the same was deeded by them to your Oratrix in her own right together with the house and improvement thereon erected. And paid for principally out of her money as will appear by reference to a deed or a copy thereof herewith filed and marked Exhibit A. Which your Oratrix prays may be taken as part of this her Bill, with leave to refer to as may be necessary.

And your Oratrix further show unto your Honor, that the said Silas Collins is residing in her said house on the lot belonging to her in East New Market and has there resided ever since the same has been purchased and before, and he has exercised and is now exercising full and entire control over the same. And she has received and is now receiving no benefit from the same although she has to support herself and her children by him. And she has no means of any kind of property except her own industry from which she has derived any support or benefit.

And you Oratrix painfully convinced by the trials through which she has passed, her husband intemperate use of opium, her constant fear of his violence, his driving her out from him at the pine of her life, his utter abandonment of herself and her said children from the month of June 1855 until this time, his control of her property and means, and her condition of want, that she is remediless without the intervention of this Honorable Court to sever the bands of matrimony which now bind them and restore her property. Feels constrained, painful and mortifying as the alternative is to seek the dissolution of a band which can no longer yield happiness, peace, comfort, or safety to herself or children. And which said husband himself has virtually severed already by his cruel violence and abandonment and absorption and appropriation of all her little means of support.

To the end therefore, that the said Silas Collins may answer the several matters and things heretofore stated, and that the band of matrimony by which they are bound maybe dissolved and that the property of whatever kind of you Oratrix may be restored to her free and clear of all lein, interest, or control in any way or at any time of her said husband. And that she may have such other or further relief as her case may require.

May it please your honor to grant unto your Oratrix the unit of subpoena against the said Silas Collins of Dorchester County, commanding him to appear at this Court at some certain day to be therein named, to answer the premises and perform such duties as may be hoped therein and in duty bound.

Elias Griswold, Sol for Complainant

State of Maryland
Dorchester County to wit On this the 15th of February in the year 1859 - before me a Justice of the Peace in and for said County and State aforesaid, personally appeared the within named Mary Louisa Collins and made oath that the matters stated in the foregoing Bill are true to the best of her knowledge and belief.
Sworn before Jn R Leckie, Justice of the Peace

From the Maryland Historical Trust State Historic Sites Inventory Form

"Smith Cottage" is a story-and-a-half hall/parlor frame house that stands on the west side of South Main Street in the center of East New Market, Dorchester County, Maryland. The house faces east with the principal gable oriented on a north/south axis.

Built around 1825-1840, the story-and-a-half frame dwelling is supported by a minimal common bond brick foundation and sheathed largely by plain weatherboard siding. The steeply pitched gable roof is covered with wood shingles. Attached to the rear of the front block is a single-story hyphen which joins the one-room kitchen.

The east (main) elevation is a three-bay facade with a central entrance and flanking six-over-six sash windows. The two-panel Greek Revival style door is topped by a four-light transom. Sheltering the entrance is a single-bay porch with decorative sawn support posts and sawn Victorian fascia. The windows are
flanked by louvered shutters. The cornice above the windows is trimmed with a period bed molding. Lighting the loft are a pair of gabled dormers with six-over-six sash windows and diagonal board sides.

The north and south gable ends are largely alike with exterior five-course common bond brick stacks. The wide bases corbel to a narrow shaft. Piercing the wall to the east on each wall is a six-over-six sash on the first floor, while small four-pane windows light the loft. The gable ends are flush.

The west (back) wall of the front block is partially covered by the single-story one-bay hyphen. A board-and-batten door provides access through the south hyphen wall, and paired six-over-six sash windows light the hyphen room from the north.

The single-story one-room kitchen is covered by a steeply pitched wood shingle roof through which a small brick stove stack protrudes at the west end.  The kitchen is largely sheathed with plain weatherboards aside from some diagonal board siding above the hyphen roof on the east wall. The south wall of the kitchen is covered by a shed roofed porch with an enclosed pantry.

The interior has been reworked slightly but several features remain undisturbed. The north room or "hall" is fitted with a Greek Revival style mantel with simple pilasters, a plain frieze, and a thick shelf. The enclosed stair rises between the two rooms with board-and-batten doors providing access from each room. The south room is finished with the same Greek Revival style mantel. The second floor is divided into two small rooms that are simply finished with wide pine floors.

The hyphen room has been reworked as has the kitchen, which is sheathed with knotty pine paneling.

Significance - "Smith Cottage" is a well preserved story-and-a-half frame house that distinguishes the center of the East New Market historic district. Undisturbed layers of plain weatherboards, corbeled brick chimneys, gabled dormers, and Greek Revival woodwork distinguish this hall/parlor plan house. Attached to the back of the main block is a single-story hyphen that joins the one-room plan kitchen. This hyphenated floor plan, although well known on the Eastern Shore, is a rare feature in East New Market today.

From "Between The Nanticoke and the Choptank, An Architectural History of Dorchester County, Maryland"   Edited by Christopher Weeks, with contributions by Michael O. Bourne, Geoffrey Henry, Catherine Moore, Calvin Mowbray, M. Fred Tidwell.

Smith Cottage, another of the many houses in town that owe their origins to the Sulivane family, is a small, three-bay, one-and-one half story frame house across the street from the Edmondson House.  Each of the two rooms on the first floor is overwhelmed by its large fireplace, but neither of the upstairs rooms has fireplace heat.  These rooms are reached by a stairway in the rear of the house that branches into both of the two downstairs rooms rather than originating in a single staircase hall.  [Error Noted - House was not built by the Sulivane family].

From the pamphlet "East New Market - three centuries of history on the eastern shore of maryland - Maryland More than you can imagine" by the East New Market Town Council and the Maryland Historical Society.  It was likely first printed in the 1970s or 1980s.

Smith Cottage - Circa 1760.  A one and one-half story wood frame cottage believed to be of plank or log construction with two chimneys on either side of the front of the building.  The rear of the building indicates that what is currently the kitchen could have been a semi-detached unit.  Although documentation is vague, historians believe that the cottage may have been built by the O'Sullivane family.  As an early structure, it is very unlikely that the small porch on the front of the house is original to the structure, since it denotes a later style of Architecture. [Error Noted - House is most likely circa 1834-1846.  The Sulivane family have never been known as O'Sullivane, and did not build this house.]

From "Souvenir Program of the North Dorchester Heritage Festival at Hurlock, Maryland, June 5-11, 1955"

Also on Main Street is a small house with a moss-covered roof, "The Old Smith Cottage", which dates back to the eighteenth century.  [Error Noted - House most likely built circa 1834-1846, not 18th century.]