In 1634, the first settlement in the proprietary colony of Maryland was established at St. Mary’s City. It was the fourth permanent English settlement in the New World, after Jamestown in 1607, Plymouth in 1620, and Massachusetts Bay in 1630. Lord Baltimore Cecil Calvert was 27 years old – my age – when he received the charter for the Maryland colony in 1632. Whew. Makes me feel rather unaccomplished.

Last Tuesday, we stayed where we were and explored Historic St. Mary’s City. I highly recommend it as a family trip. It’s a very hands on experience for the kids. October seems to be a great time to go, too. The place was empty except for a couple school groups. We were able to join in with their tour and hear their guide when we wanted to, but also explore some of the sites totally on our own with the exception of the interpreters, who were, on the whole, excellent.

The favorite of the kids was the Maryland Dovea replica of one of the two original ships the first Maryland settlers arrived on. They ran up and down the boat and got to try out the bunks and the bilge pump.

They even got to try out the old fashioned knotmeter.

I appreciated the memorial for Margaret Brent, who served as executor for Governor Leonard Calvert’s estate, and in that capacity twice demanded and was refused a vote in the General Assembly.

Next to the Maryland Dove, the kids’ favorite part was the “Indian hamlet,” their recreation of a Yoacomaco village, with parts representing the village as inhabited by Yoacomaco and after the settlers purchased the lands from them.

The reproduction church will probably be very nice once the interior is completed – for now it’s basically empty inside except for a concept drawing. The downside is that it is based entirely off (educated) guesswork. They don’t have any contemporary descriptions of what the church actually looked like.Other notable sites include the replica of the 1676 State House and Maryland’s oldest barn. The historic city is nicely spread out, which allowed the kids plenty of room to stretch their legs after being cooped up on the boat for a day. It was a really lovely trip and we’ll certainly have to go again by car to check out the Plantation, which was a far enough walk from the city part of the historic site that we skipped it. It was a really lovely family day.

After we, by which I mean Alan, rowed back to the boat, we had a lovely evening drinking wine (which we poured right from the bag as the box had disintegrated in the cooler) and watching the St. Mary’s College rowing and sailing teams practice. The college is just beautiful; Savannah was even musing that she might want to go there. After dinner we rounded out the evening with hot chocolate, hot apple cider, and our first ever Jiffy Pop. Family time with absolutely no electronic devices – probably something we could use a lot more of.

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