Driving to Site # 1, you have passed through many of the old Lloyd farms, encompassing thousands of acres. Note the 1858 farm map below. Most of the farms are labeled Lloyd or Tilghman (a family intermarried with the Lloyds). Douglass lived on Lloyd land from 1824 to 1826.
Detail from 1858 Dilworth Map of Talbot County Farms. Source: Library of Congress.
Edward Lloyd V was a statesman as well as an agriculturalist. He served in state and federal politics throughout his life and was governor of Maryland before Douglass’s time. Lloyd was then a United States Senator from 1819-1826.His property in land and slaves constituted a giant agribusiness operating under a plantation system, which he built from 12 to 20 farms, each with an overseer.
By 1832, Lloyd owned, and was taxed on, 577 slaves in Talbot County, a 25% increase from 1817. Lloyd was personally involved in his farming operations but lived in Annapolis or Georgetown during legislative sessions and the social seasons. Douglass’s owner, Aaron Anthony, was Lloyd’s farm superintendent — the “overseer of overseers.”Anthony managed all of the overseers, the shipping and receiving of grain, and the on-site manufacturing necessary to run all the farms. In the spring of 1824, Douglass was summoned from his grandmother’s cabin to begin life as a slave in Anthony’s rented house at the central Great House Farm. He was six years old.
When Douglass lived in Anthony’s house on Great House Farm, he lived with Bailey kin including some siblings and aunts he met for the first time. They lived in the kitchen wing adjoining the main cottage, which housed two to five Anthony family members and 15 Anthony slaves. The household often included Lloyd’s boat captain, Thomas Auld, who was married to Anthony’s daughter Lucretia.
Photo from Historic American Buildings Survey E. H. Pickering, Photographer December 1936. Over 100 years after Douglass & Anthony were here. Kitchen wing on right.
Well over 100 of Edward Lloyd’s slaves lived on the central farm in quarters near the Anthony house, and those enslaved persons who labored on the surrounding farms would come periodically for food allowances. Thus young Douglass’s formative boyhood years were spent at the very hub of a planation slavery system that was both busy with industry and totally isolated by family out-farms and rivers. He observed slavery’s cruel realities. He was also mindful of the beautiful natural environment and the amenities of the wealthy and politically powerful Lloyd family. He described the extremes in three autobiographies, relying on sharp boyhood memories.
The names of the farms nearest to the home plantation were Wye Town and New Design.”Wye Town” was under the overseership of a man named Noah Willis. New Design was under the overseership of a Mr. Townsend. The overseers of these, and all the rest of the farms, numbering over twenty, received advice and direction from the managers of the home plantation. This was the great business place. It was the seat of government for the whole twenty farms. All disputes among the overseers were settled here. If a slave was convicted of any high misdemeanor, became unmanageable, or evinced a determination to run away, he was brought immediately here, severely whipped, put on board the sloop, carried to Baltimore, and sold to Austin Woolfolk, or some other slave-trader, as a warning to the slaves remaining.
— Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, Written by Himself
Site #1 is located between Miles River and Shaw Bay on the Wye River. Shaw Bay’s deep water anchorage still attracts sailing vessels and would have harbored the Sallie Lloyd, a state-of-the-art, luxuriously appointed sailing sloop commanded by Captain Thomas Auld, Aaron Anthony’s son-in-law.
courtesy Spocott Windmill
You are at the nexus of Wye Town Farm and Great House Farm, where a windmill served as a source of fascination to the young Douglass. The symbols of freedom and self-power in the sails of the vessel and the sails of the windmill’s wings recur throughout Douglass’s autobiographies.
The little tendrils of affection, so rudely broken from the darling objects in and around my grandmother’s home, gradually began to extend and twine themselves around the new surroundings. Here, for the first time, I saw a large windmill, with its wide-sweeping white wings, a commanding object to a child’s eye. This was situated on what was called Long Point–a tract of land dividing Miles river from the Wye. I spent many hours here watching the wings of this wondrous mill. In the river, or what was called the “Swash,” at a short distance from the shore, quietly lying at anchor, with her small row boat dancing at her stern, was a large sloop, the Sally Lloyd, called by that name in honor of the favorite daughter of the Colonel. These two objects, the sloop and mill, awakened as I remember, thoughts, ideas, and wondering. — My Bondage and My Freedom.
As you proceed towards site #2, all the farmland and woods on both sides of the road are part of Wye Town, Great House, and New Design Farms bserve the historic gates of the Great House Farm lane on your left as you pass.
Please Note: Now known as Wye House, Great House Farm is a private residence. Do not enter the driveway, farm lanes or private roads. The current owners will consider written requests for tours submitted by educational or charitable organizations. Requests may be submitted to the Talbot County Office of Economic Development and Tourism. Under no circumstances will requests from commercial tour operators be granted.
The current owners have contributed greatly to the history of American slavery by supporting nine years of archaeological investigation conducted by the Department of Anthropology of the University of Maryland at College Park. You can view rich online exhibits, including a searchable database of the enslaved people who lived on the property compiled from early Lloyd records.