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Q: Where is Black Island, MD ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Where is Black Island, MD
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: richardstanley-ga
List Price: $25.00
Posted: 10 Apr 2004 12:14 PDT
Expires: 10 May 2004 12:14 PDT
Question ID: 328181
I have relatives from a place called "Black Island" located in
Maryland, perhaps near Aberdeen.  This place is mentioned in the 1880
census and referenced in personal letters we have from that time
period.  However, I can't find any reference to a "Black Island" in
Maryland.  I would like to know what it is called now and where is it.

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 10 Apr 2004 15:58 PDT
Hello Richard,

I've found two references to Black Island dating from the 1800's. 
Unfortunately, they are not precise as to the location, other than to
indeed place it in the Chesapeake Bay, near Aberdeen, and within a few
miles of a few other landmarks.

With a good map of Chesapeake Bay (which, unfortunately, I do not
possess), it may be possible to make some educated guesses as to where
Black Island was in the 1800's -- it may or may not still exist today,
as I believe that some islands were essentially joined to the
shoreline with an abundance of backfill.

I took a good look at some old USGS maps (Aberdeen quadrangle) of the
Chesapeake for the year 1900, but did not find a Black Island in the
area.  However, I would be glad to direct you to these online maps, if
you wanted to search around a bit more on your own.

Let me know if this information would constitute a reasonable answer
to your question, or whether you will only accept an answer that
postively indentifies the current location of what was once Black


Clarification of Question by richardstanley-ga on 10 Apr 2004 16:37 PDT
Thank you for the work you have done thus far.  We have checked the
old maps, but could not find the Black Island reference.  Even if it
was backfilled in, we would like a fairly positive location as to
where it was located.  You've given us some insights, but I'm afraid
that it's not significantly more than what we knew already.  We would
need more details on its current location before we could accept the

We have relatives in the area who will want to visit the location and
thus the additional details are necessary.

You mentioned that you had found some landmarks.  If you had something
like 3 miles south of this landmark and 4 miles north of that landmark
or information like that which would allow me to triangulate it, that
would be sufficient.

Thank you

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 10 Apr 2004 18:06 PDT
I can put you in the right general area, but I don't think I can get
you close enough to really triangulate.  However, perhaps this small
excerpt will be of assistance...Black Island is mentioned in the
second line of the second paragraph:

ISLANDS.?Kent, the largest island in the
Chesapeake bay, is situated opposite to Anna- 
polis, and constitutes a part of Queen Anne's
county. It is twelve miles in length; and about
half that in breath, having a number of good
farms, and a population of some hundred souls.
This island was resorted to by the British, du- 
ring the late war. Admiral Warner landed and
encamped several hundred men upon it, in the
summer of the year 1813, where they remained
for six weeks.

Spesuti island, formed at the mouth of the
Susquehannah; Black island, a few miles below;
Pool's island at the mouth of Gunpowder river;
Poplar island, below Kent, and Sharp's island, at
the mouth of Choptank river; James' island
and Hooper's island are all situated in the Ches-
apeake bay, in this state, as well as two or three
of the range of Tangier islands, which are form- 
ed opposite and below the mouth of Potomac


Best of luck.

Clarification of Question by richardstanley-ga on 10 Apr 2004 23:37 PDT
We checked a map and followed the various islands you found and can
sort of see where Black Island should have been from the description. 
However, we can't find any island in that area, even one with a
different name.  It is possible that the Aberdeen Proving Ground took
over the island, but we don't see any unnamed islands that belong to
them.  We tried to find areas where there many have been an island but
landfill made it a peninsula of the mainland and didn't find anything.

What would really wrap it up is some historical information which said
that Black Island became whatever or that landfull was used or
something.  You certainly have gotten closer, but we're still at a
lose as to where it could have been and what happened to it!

Thanks for closing in on it, but I don't think we're home free yet.

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 14 Apr 2004 07:40 PDT
This question has been bugging me, so I kept digging.  

I finally found some old maps that show Black Island, a few miles
below Spesutie Island.  However, I haven't yet found anything
regarding the fate of Black Island, or how to account for its

I'll let you know if anything else turns up.

Subject: Re: Where is Black Island, MD
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 14 Apr 2004 10:45 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Richard, we go.

I am virtually certain that Black Island is now part of Aberdeen
Proving Grounds, a military installation.

Here's how I came to this conclusion.  You can see Black Island on
several maps made available on the web by the Historical Society of
Cecil County, who's main web page is here:

and the links to the maps themselves can be seen here:

The 1795 map is nicely detailed, and you can see Black Island ("Black
I" on the map) just below Spesutie I:

Black Island then seems to pop on and off the remaining is
still in evidence on the 1874 map:

...but is nowhere to be found on the 1877 or 1895 maps of the area.

And as I mentioned in my earlier comments, Black Island is absolutely
non-existent on the highly detailed USGS Topo maps dated 1900, which
can be seen here:

and here:

(wouldn't you know it...the area of interest is right on the dividing
line between two sections!).

Unfortunately, in these low, swampy areas of the Bay, the precise
shape of the shoreline changes quite a bit from map to map, making it
challenging to line up corresponding points over the years.

But if you have a look at this modern-day map:

you can see some key features that correspond nicely with the 1795 map.

The old map shows Black Island lying in between the mouth of Mosquito
Creek to the north, and Delf Creek to the south.  A bit further south
lies the mouth of Romney Creek.

The three creeks are still distinctly visible on the present-day map. 
What was once Black Island now exists as the bulge of land attached to
the shore in between Delph Creek and Mosquito Creek.

An the piece de resistance:  the northernmost point of this bulge of
land is labelled...Black Point!

You can see it more clearly on this smaller-scale version of the map:

I hope this is enough information to convince you of the fate of your
family Island.

If you have any problem with links -- or if you need additional
information -- please let me know before rating this answer.  Just
post a Request for Clarification, and I'll be happy to assist you



search strategy:  I conducted quite a number of Google searches, but
the key turned out to be a search on [ cecil county historical ],
which led me to the early maps of the area that showed Black Island. 
The topo maps were found by using bookmarked sites.
richardstanley-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $10.00
This researcher is fabulous!  He understood my need for more details
with each preliminary response and had incredible perserverance to
totally answer my question.  I could not have asked for more.

Subject: Re: Where is Black Island, MD
From: pafalafa-ga on 14 Apr 2004 13:06 PDT
Thanks for the kind feedback and the generous tip...both are much appreciated.

Hope you and your family get to make the trip one day, and set foot on
land that was once known as Black Island.

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