Cambridge Branch

1922 - Library housed an exclusive collection in the Cambridge Women's Club House on High Street.

May 22, 1922 - Nettie V. Mace, library secretary, was the driving force behind the donation of the Cambridge Woman's Club's 1,500 books as an official "free library" collection.

Home and community clubs added shelves to their own buildings, which were supported with books from the Dorchester County Library.

The Mes Ames Literary Society, an African-American Women's organization displayed a shingle, reading "Cambridge Library," and received monetary assistance from the Woman's Club, and help from Nettie Mace and local librarian, Mrs. Margaret S. Henry.

East New Market, Hurlock, and Vienna worked to establish their own libraries with the help of the county organization (though currently, only Cambridge and Hurlock branches exist).

1927 - New space provided in a spare room in the (former) Cambridge Municipal Building on Gay Street.

Miss Nettie V. Mace, Secretary of the library association, continuously pushed for wider use of the library and its materials, saying: "There must be ample room for the housing of this wealth of knowledge."

1939 - Miss Mace's hard work was rewarded with the acquisition of a $20,000 red brick building (adjacent to our current location) as a Public Works Administration project (currently houses City Council meetings).

Glass case of preserved birds, created circa 1920's, can still be found in the Children's Department Area.

1973 - Current library building, styled in Federal architecture, was completed on the former Wallace Property lot, donated by the City of Cambridge.

September 1974 - Agreement with the Dorchester County Historical Society to place their library collection on loan within the public library (removed in 2011 to begin digitization process).

Virginia M. Webb bequeathed monetary funds and many books from her personal collection to the library. Webb actively supported the library community as Library Official, Historical Society Secretary, and County Library Trustee.

Family histories, genealogy documents, land records, and Indian land records compiled by James McAllister, former historical society librarian and liaison with the public library are still housed in our Maryland Room.

1999 - Library renovations completed with addition of elevator, automatic doors, new adminstrative offices, updated book cellar for Friends of the Library book-sales, and updated Maryland History Room, which became the Virginia M. Webb Memorial Maryland Room.

2015-2016 - Former Director Frances Cresswell enancted renovations for both buildings: new HVAC systems, new carpet, and new patron chairs.


Hurlock Branch

Near the end of the 19th century, Mr. Henry Walworth moved to Hurlock from Baltimore and in 1898 started the first newspaper in town called “The Hurlock Advance.”

Started in 1900 by Mr. Henry Walworth, the Hurlock Free Library as it was then called, is the oldest library on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and the second oldest in the state. Mr. Walworth, who combined books from his own collection with those sent to him by Dr. Bernard C. Steiner, then head of the Enoch Pratt Library in Baltimore, opened his home to the reading public on Wednesday evenings and on Saturdays. Mrs. Walworth served as librarian for many years, until her failing health caused the library to close.

A group of younger people calling themselves the Village Improvement Association intercepted the library at this point, and in the spring of 1907 the library was moved into what had been Mr. Harry Constable’s store on Poplar Street. The members of the V.I.A. persuaded the Town Board to pay the building’s rental fees.

During the ensuing years, the library’s location changed several times. In 1908, after the sale of Mr. Constable’s store, the library moved to the home of Mrs. Elizabeth Barber, where it stayed for the next 15 years, with Mrs. Barber serving as librarian. In 1923, the library moved to the former Heverin Barbershop. Three years later, the library moved again to the basement of the new theater building on Main Street, where dampness adversely affected the books and necessitated yet another move to still another location.

By this time, a library board had been formed. In 1929, the board purchased the former one-room schoolhouse on Main Street from the Dorchester County Board of Education. Funds to improve the building were raised through the efforts of Dr. Alfred Perry.

For more than two-thirds of its 120 year history, the library has remained at this same location, serving the town of Hurlock and the surrounding communities.

During the 1950’s, the Hurlock Free Library became part of the county system. In the fall of 1974, the Hurlock Town Board made suggestions of building a new library. After meeting with the County Commissioners it was decided to add on the present building. Construction was begun in the spring 1977. Dedication was held in January of 1978.

In 1977, extensive renovations including a new heating system, restrooms, and exterior siding were completed, creating the comfortable, modern facility enjoyed by thousands of card holders and housing more than ten thousand volumes.

Today, the library functions as a community resource center with books, magazines, and DVDs to check out, and computers for public use. From its humble origins as a facility with only 300 books, the Hurlock Branch of the Dorchester County Public Library has grown into an integral part of the the North Dorchester community.

Adapted from the Hurlock Centennial - available to view as part of the Hurlock Maryland Collection.


The Mystery of the Wallace Office Property

The property on which the current library now stands was once known as the Wallace Property. A large brick mansion, nicknamed "The Hill," stood on these grounds, possibly dating back to the mid-1700's and the time of the Calverts.

It once served as home and headquarters of Sir Roger Woolford, a representative on the Eastern Shore to Lord Baltimore.

The gravestones on the property are those of John and Margaret Woolford, who died one year apart in the early 1770's, and must have lived in the mansion during this time, though little else is known of their history.

For a time, the mansion became home to James Wallace, a former Civil War Colonel with the Army of the Potomac at Gettysburg.

The property went through several other hands before being acquired by the City of Cambridge and serving as the Dorchester County Health Department from 1941-1971.

The building was demolished on March 11, 1971, but the property now carries the importance of history and learning through our current library building.

The Wallace Office Building, a small white building on the front lawn, is one of the oldest commercial building in Cambridge.

Former Dorchester County Commission President, Dr. Tom Flowers, once described the library as a "treasure to the community," saying that a treasure is a person, place, or thing that "lifts the spirits of all the people to improve the quality of life." ~ 1999

Library Board Trustee, George Ames, summed up the importance of libraries to the community by saying, "A library is the life and blood of a community, and is an important part of the community's lifestyle." ~ 1999


Brigadier General William Sulivane Muse

1842-1911

Son of Dr. William Muse and Elizabeth Sulivane Muse.

He was born in Dorchester County on April 8, 1842.

1861 - Served as orderly sergeant of the Dorchester Guard under the command of Col. James Wallace

1864 - Commissioned by President Lincoln as Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps.

1867 - Promoted to First Lieutenant and took command of the Marines on the U.S.S. Brooklyn (for the next three years this ship cruised the Mediterranean to reassure those countries that the United States was still a power at sea in spite of the Civil War).

1880 - Promoted to Captain and ordered to the U.S.S. Tennessee as the Fleet Marine officer of the North Atlantic Station.

1884 - Assigned to command the company sent for the protection of the Panama Canal explorations.

1891 - As Pacific Marine Officer on the Flagship U.S.S. San Francisco, was order to Chile for the protection of American interests during a revolution. His ground forces were instrumental in rescuing President Balmaceda and his staff.

1898 - During the Spanish-American War he received the surrender of Admiral Cuvera and other Spanish officers in Cuba and brought them to a POW camp in Annapolis.

Sent to China as a replacement commanding officer during the Boxer Rebellion, he retired shortly after for health reasons. He retired as a Brigadier General (the highest rank in the U.S. Marine Corps at the time) in 1900.

In retirement, he returned to Cambridge and managed the Hambrooks Land Development Company.

He died in Cambridge on April 16, 1911 and was buried in the Christ Church Cemetery.

"We honor Brigadier General William Sulivane Muse, as a citizen of Dorchester County, a Marine who moved upward to the top of the Corps. In the words of the Marine Hymn, "from the Halls of Montezuma, to the Shores of Tripoli," remember that General Muse served his country for thirty six years of that historic tradition." - Earl Brannock

The portrait of the Brigadier General was a gift to the Dorchester County Public Library from the Choptank Detachment of the Marine Corp Leage.

The above information was summarized from the July 18, 1981 program written by Earl Brannock