Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Stuffed Ham - The Great Debate

It’s edible.  It’s mysterious. And it’s controversial.  Stuffed ham, that iconic food, is one of the best representations of St. Mary’s County.  For centuries people have argued over how to properly stuff the ham, what greens are used, and its origins.  There are no less than three stories about how stuffed ham came to be.  One story that I grew up hearing was that the enslaved at a plantation owned by Jesuits in St. Inigoes, in the southern part of the county, were the first to create it.  Enslaved people in the county received rations of food.  The meat in these rations usually consisted of things such as fatty pork or rancid meat. Sometimes during the holiday season, the enslaved would receive the jowl meat from pigs butchered. The meat was then mixed with greens.  Some say that the earliest versions of stuffed ham included dandelions, wild onions, and field cress, or whatever greens the enslaved could harvest from the wild or gardens.  This version of the origin story suggests that the Jesuits and others were intrigued by this boiled concoction of ham and greens and had the meal recreated using a better cut of meat.  The ham used today is called a corned ham.  Similar to corned beef, the less common ham version, was something that the English colonists would have brought over to Maryland. Corned ham is unique and is quite different from the Smithfield style ham one would get if they crossed over into Virginia.  This is no honey glazed, spiral cut piece of meat.  Corned ham is a fresh ham that has been taken a saltwater bath.  Instead of taking months to be ready, it only a matter of days for it to be prepared.  
Stuffed ham’s controversy centers around a few key points. One issue is what kind of opening do you create in the ham for the stuffing? Do you create X-shaped slits in the ham or are you one of those who makes a diagonal line in the meat?  Are you as precise as a surgeon or are you more independent and creative with your cuts?  Some families are very particular with what style of cut they use for the stuffing. The most contentious issue concerning stuffed ham is what mixture of greens are used.  Some parts of the county stuff the ham with a mixture of cabbage and kale that’s pretty even.  Other locations add more kale or use almost entirely cabbage and seasoning. Are you on Team Cabbage or Team Kale? Personally, I like just about any version of stuffed ham as long as its spicy.  There is also a debate over just how spicy the stuffing in the ham should be.  Red pepper flakes can add a bit of a kick to the meal.  Some people prefer to abstain from the red pepper while there are others tend to go overboard with it. 
Part of the appeal of making stuffed ham is that it can serve as a way to connect the past with the present.  Grandparents, parents, aunts, and uncles can all come together to lead the process of preparing the ham and greens. Older (and not so old) relatives can share with the younger generations their family’s oral histories.  They can pass down their family recipe for stuffed ham and other stories. 
While there are other stories that dictate how stuffed ham came to be, no one can agree on just one version.  The legend of stuffed ham has been passed down throughout the county, through families each generation adding their own embellishment to the story.  As a result, stuffed ham while delicious and aromatic is clouded in a dense fog of mystery.   One thing many can agree on is that stuffed ham is a holiday food.  I say that stuffed ham should have its own holiday.  Stuffed ham can be found as the centerpiece of tables throughout the county (and parts of Charles County) from Thanksgiving through Easter.  Families start preparing the ham at least a couple of days in advance and the aroma of the ham and greens cooking lingers even after the meal has been eaten.  As we dive into the holiday season there will be a demand for greens and corned ham.  Those that don’t have the ability to commit to making it will gladly wait in line in small stores across the county in order to purchase it pre-made.  
Stuffed ham isn’t just food.  It is more than that; it’s a sharable link to the past.  It’s unique to the history of southern Maryland.  It’s a part of our region’s heritage.  And yes it’s amazing.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Keeping Memory - Thanksgiving in America

As with most traditional holidays and celebrations in the United States, they are a mixture and hodgepodge of stories, culture and commerce, manifested and celebrated today by our present generations.  The Thanksgiving holiday in our country is no different.
Abraham Lincoln set the day in 1863, during the Civil War on the fourth Thursday of November, for giving thanks and prayer.  Various days of harvest feasting throughout our history and official days of prayer had been celebrated in the past.  Thanksgiving was not a recognized “day off work” until 1941, just before the United States entered WWII.   
The events in Massachusetts by the Separatists, (a.k.a.) Pilgrims, is a mixture of myths with some fact.  The Separatists did have a harvest feast that November. People in Massachusetts began relating the story of the Native Americans and Pilgrims by the 1830’s, although by 1640 Native Peoples where either dead or gone from Plymouth.
Many holidays like Thanksgiving and even Christmas were used as psychological weapons of war on the enemy to break their spirits and will to fight.  Later, these days became infused with American marketing and commerce and we end up with our present forms of remembrance and celebration. These also vary across the country and ethnic cultures of our people.
At Sotterley, Thanksgiving was a time chosen by the owners of the 20th century, Herbert and Louisa Satterlee, to visit from New York.  We know this because there are photographs taken during this time of year, and it became a tradition for their descendants, Mabel Satterlee Ingalls and even her children and grandchildren visited Sotterley in the fall, usually just before or during Thanksgiving. Oysters, both roasted and as the ingredient in stuffing are traditional dishes in the Tidewater region for the holiday.
 No matter how your family chooses to spend this long weekend, remember to share and listen to the stories and history of family around you. Taste, smell and share the culinary traditions of your loved ones.  It is the perfect time to ask questions and write down all of your shared history, stories and culture that you want to remember and pass on to the young. Holidays are about making and keeping memory.  

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Veterans of Sotterley

Historic Sotterley’s history includes the people that served in the military. As usual, this is not a simple story.  George Plater III (Shown Right), owner of Sotterley in the years leading up to the American Revolution and contemporary to George Washington, served on the Colonial Governor’s Council. He then joined the Patriot cause and served on the Maryland Council of Safety, procuring supplies for the war effort. Many of his extended family remained Loyalists. Some enslaved people at Sotterley went with the British. 

George Plater’s son, John Rousby Plater, who served as master of Sotterley during the War of 1812, was a Federalist who did not vote for President Madison, and was against going to war with Britain, reasoning that it would disrupt trade and the United States was not prepared militarily to protect the Tidewater region. Even though he was correct on both counts, he did serve the U.S., while at least 48 enslaved persons from Sotterley left seeking freedom on British Ships for places like Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Trinidad. The British did burn tobacco stores and a structure that housed some U.S. militia, but miraculously, Sotterley’s Manor House was not burned during these two wars with the British.  

The Civil War was no less complicated. Maryland, one of the Border States that remained in the Union but still held on to the institution of slavery, had soldiers on both sides of the conflict. Sotterley’s owner, Walter Hanson Stone Briscoe, helped to arm citizens in St. Mary’s County. His sons, Henry, David, Chapman, and Samuel, fought for the Confederacy in Virginia. As known sympathizers, Union troops kept a close watch on travel between Southern Maryland across the Potomac to Virginia, and of course, on Sotterley.  All of Briscoe’s sons survived the War.
One enslaved man from Sotterley, his name listed as George W. Briscoe, was actually named, Barns, but the Army changed his name. The reason given was, “there were too many people named Barns.” Joining the United States Colored Troops at age 26 in 1863, he went to Camp Stanton, near Benedict in Charles County, Maryland. He was assigned to the 7th Regiment, Company I.  He served at Petersburg, Virginia in the same time period as Henry Briscoe, the son of his former master. At the close of the War, the 7th Regiment was sent to Indianola, Texas for guard duty. There was an outbreak of cholera, and George died there, just before the 7th returned to Baltimore.
Sotterley’s owner from 1910-1947, Herbert Livingston Satterlee, had served in the Spanish American War with the New York Naval Militia. Serving as Asst. Secretary of the Navy under Teddy Roosevelt for the last months of his administration, he was a lover of the Navy and helped in the creation of the Naval Reserves.  Satterlee served on the Board of Visitors of the Naval Academy in Annapolis.  He helped to retrieve the body of John Paul Jones from Paris to have it interred at the Academy. On a visit to Sotterley today, one can quickly see through the things Herbert collected, his love of all things Navy.
Pictured Above: Left Col. Herbert Satterlee, Gen Edward Hayes,Col. John Jacob Astor IV, Gen. M.O. Terry.

During World War II, loved ones of the families that lived at Sotterley served our country in the military, listed here are some of those veterans:  Noah W. Callis, Jr., U.S.M.C., James Victor Scriber, Jr., U.S.N., James Franklin Scriber, U.S. A., Francis Ford Barber, Jr. U.S. A.
Sotterley’s descendants continue to serve our nation today.

Pictured Right: Noah W. Callis, Jr. USMC

Monday, November 4, 2019

November 1, 1864 - Emancipation in Maryland

November 1, 1864    Emancipation in Maryland

In October 1864, the Union controlled government of Maryland ratified the third of four state constitutions. It abolished slavery in Maryland only with the help of votes from returning Union soldiers.  It failed to franchise anyone except white males who pledged loyalty to the Union. Maryland was a border state, along with Delaware, Kentucky, and Missouri, which meant they did not succeed from the Union but kept slavery.  Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation did not apply to Union slave states.  On November 1, 1864, slavery officially ended in Maryland.  Many slave owners petitioned the government for compensation for their lost property years after the war ended.  With government power shifting to Democratic southern sympathizers, the 1864 constitution was replaced by the present constitution of 1867. Racial discriminatory laws and social practices continued in Maryland.  St. Mary’s County, Maryland school desegregation began in 1968 and the process lasted into the early 1970s.

Above: Alfred Edwards, pictured here, was enslaved at Sotterley along with his mother, Priscilla. 

He was emancipated at age 17 on November 1, 1864. In 1910, Alfred and his wife Alice, with their seven children and grandchildren, were living in an old slave quarter on what was once the Billingsley farm adjacent to Sotterley.  Mr. Edwards died in the early 1930s.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

In Honor of United Nations Day: The bridge between Sotterley and the UN.

FDR coined the name “United Nations,” that represented 26 nations joined together to defeat the Axis Powers in WWII.  After the war, 50 countries helped to create its charter, and the UN was officially signed and then came into being on Oct. 24, 1945. Remember that the United States and Soviet Union fought together against Hitler’s Germany during WWII. The UN was founded to solve disputes and conflicts to avoid wars and armed conflict. The UN charter includes these directives:
Maintain International Peace and Security, Protect Human Rights, Deliver Humanitarian Aid, Promote Sustainable Development, Uphold International Law. 

UNESCO is the United Nations, Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
UNESCO helps preserve culture and history throughout the world, part of this is designating World Heritage Sites, of which some are in the United States. In December 2018, Sotterley was designated a UNESCO Slave Route Site of Memory, which promotes education, heritage and healing. 

In April 7, 1948 the World Health Organization was established, a concept of the United Nations.  WHO is a specialized agency of the United Nations that has its own charter and concentrates on international public health. Sotterley’s last private owner, Mabel Satterlee Ingalls, used her expertise and education in bacteriology and public health during WWII and also was a liaison officer between the World Health Organization and the United Nations. She conducted surveys of health services in developing countries. Ingalls’ daughter, Sandra, married Jan van Heerden, who served as vice deputy director with the United Nations Development Programme. 

Mabel Satterlee Ingalls, last private owner of Sotterley, shown far left 
& former Sotterley Trustee, Grace Horton, shown right.

UNESCO Day of Remembrance Event at Sotterley,
August 23, 2019 

Link:    United Nations Day  https://en.unesco.org/commemorations/unitednationsday

LinK:  World Health Organization  https://www.un.org/en/essential-un/

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Museum Day at Sotterley!

FREE TOURS and Admission
on Museum Day
Historic Sotterley will offer free tours and admission to the public on Saturday, September 21st as part of Museum Day, sponsored by the Smithsonian magazine.
Museum Day is an annual celebration of boundless curiosity, which brings together museums, zoos and cultural centers from all 50 states to offer free admission to all Museum Day ticket holders. Museum Day represents a national commitment to access, equity and inclusion.
The Museum Day ticket provides free admission for two people on Saturday, September 21, 2019. Guests to Historic Sotterley will need to present their complimentary ticket(s) at the Visitor Center. Tickets will be available for the public to download at: www.smithsonianmag.com beginning at midnight on August 15, 2019.

Pirate Gold Just Ahead!

Ghosts of Sotterley 2019
"The Curse of Greenbeard
and the Pirates of the Patuxent!"
October 18, 19, 24, 25 & 26, 2019
Tours begin at 7pm and run every 10 minutes
Greenbeard, the the scourge of the seven seas has been ambushed, and with his dying words, has summoned a sea demon to avenge him! Join us at Historic Sotterley to solve the mystery of the death of Greenbeard the pirate. As you walk through the wooded trails under the veil of darkness, you will witness several pirate crews as they go about plundering and pillaging. But stay alert and listen for clues to help solve the mystery of how Greenbeard met his untimely death! Those who solve the mystery by the end of the tour will be richly rewarded with pirate gold from Greenbeard's own treasure chest! A fun-filled, ghostly pirate adventure suitable for the whole family!
$15.00 per person (children under 2 are free).
Tour times begin at 7:00 p.m.
ALL SALES ARE FINAL – No Refunds or changes.
Group rates available for an entire block of time – please contact the office at 301-373-2280. Rain or shine!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Pickers & Sorters Needed in the Fields!

Paying it Forward
with Growing for Good!
July 27th
8:00 am – 12:30 pm 
Call for Volunteers: Harvesters and Sorters Needed! On March 30th our generous community stepped forward, got dirty, and planted acres of different varieties of potatoes. Historic Sotterley has earmarked this crop for donation to our local food pantries. After testing our fields (in between rain storms!) the time has come to harvest and sort! With our volunteers, together we will “Pay it Forward”, directly supporting families in need in our community.

From the potato fields to our neighbors in the community

Check in will be at our Farmer’s Market.
Note: We recommend hats, gloves, and shoes and clothes you are not afraid to get dirty!

Growing for Good
Growing Together!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

A GREAT, BIG Thank You!



Hey, Cool Cats!
This year's Gala "Grease Is The Word!"
was totally boss!

Because of the generosity of the nifty sponsors, the cool committee, the fab community partners, the keen volunteers, and our peachy guests, our 2019 Gala was a super, duper success! We were WOW-ed by the creative costumes, the party attitudes, and the competitive bidding for amazing auction items!

Each year, this important fundraiser directly supports our educational and cultural programming. This is what your support makes happen:
5,500 + Students, Children & Families
inspired through interactive learning each year by educational programming.
20 + Authentic Structures
and 94 acres of Tidewater environment bring our history and stories to life.
20,000 + Visitors & Guests
are engaged and enriched by special events and cultural presentations annually.
50,000 + lbs. of Produce
donated to local food pantries for those in need since 2013.
6+ years of Improved Environmental Stewardship
have decreased nutrient and sediment run-off into our local waterways by 80%.

 We have an Attitude of Gratitude for:

Platinum Sponsors

 Gold Sponsors
Julie Burk-Greer & Tad Greer
MedStar Health
John Felicitas & Christine Wray

Silver Sponsors
Baldwin Briscoe & Steinmetz, P.C.
Community Bank of the Chesapeake
The Goddard Companies
Lockheed Martin
Ginger Newman-Askew & Greg Askew
Naval Systems, Inc.
Old Line Bank
Resource Management Concepts, Inc.
The Nancy Ruyle Dodge Charitable Trust
Toyota of Southern Maryland

Bronze Sponsors
Jae-Nee Ausley
Jan & Tom Barnes
Bill LeWarne of Black Cat Design
Cherry Cove Group
Linda & Mike Colina
First Home Mortgage
Marian Gardiner, Gardiner & Associates
Bonnie Green & Bill Edgerton
Imagine One
Harry & Jan Mandel-Weitzel
Dawn Wood, O’Brien Realty
Sabre Systems
St. Maries Builders LLC
Sullivan Cove Consultants

Gala Committee
Chair—Julie Burk-Greer, Jae-Nee Ausley, Jan Briscoe, Lisa Briscoe, Linda Colina, Marian Gardiner Fegeley, Sally Harwood, Sheila Gibbons Hiebert, Beth Matthews, Mariana Nork, Staff—Ginger Newman-Askew, Jane Bachman, Nancy Easterling
Chair Emeritus—Ellen Zahniser

Special Thanks!
Vintage Cars provided by: Eddie Bailey |  Sharon & Michael Clayton |  Whiteford Systems |  Graphics Arts Class at Forest Center  |  Wentworth Nursery  |   Auctioneer:  Dan Raley | Drivers:  Greg Askew & Robert DeVos  |  Joe Goldsmith & The Sotterley Staff: Emily Burke, Kim Husick, Eileen Miller, Arleen Strider  |  Volunteers: Sam Baldwin, Walt Gardiner, Joyce Knott, Ed Rule, Tammy Weiland

Wednesday, July 10, 2019


Saturday, November 9, 2019
4:00 - 9:00 p.m.
NEW! Join us around the bonfire at our newest event—NovemBEER, a craft beer tasting and a post-Halloween Party! Show up in your Halloween costume and you’ll get a special treat! Come and enjoy an incredible selection of popular craft beer, local musicians bringing a funky acoustic vibe, and food trucks with goodies (for purchase) appealing to all taste buds! On Saturday, November 9th 2019, the good times will roll from 4:00 - 9:00 p.m.
SHOUT OUT! We couldn't do this event without our good friends Sunny Malhotra of Taphouse 1637/Bollywood Masala and Josh Peeling of The Hole In The Wall, who are coming up with the beer menu!
ADVANCE over 21 Tasters: $20.00 includes admission, a signature pint glass and four (4 oz) tastings of selections from Maryland's fantastic craft brewers. Purchase additional tasting tickets on-site. Purchase in advance to SAVE your spot and SAVE $5! Limited amount of tasting admission tickets may be available at the gate ($25.00/ea.)
Over 21 Tasters: $25.
Under 21 & Designated Drivers (Non-tasters): $10.
FREE for children under 6.
Purchasers of tasting tickets must be 21 or older. Please bring a valid ID or entry to the tasting will be denied. Food & drink will be available for additional purchase. Tasters of the craft brews will have the option to purchase additional tastings. Please be sure to read all event information and policies before making your purchase.


The Party of the Summer!


Sotterley Barn Bash & Craft Beer Tasting!
Saturday, August 24, 2019
3:00 V.I.P. Early Party! |  4:00 p.m. regular ticket holders
The Historic Sotterley Barn Bash & Craft Beer Tasting has become the summertime, favorite event—and for good reason—an incredible selection of popular craft beer, live music from local favorites “The Snowblowers” and “Only 4 Tonight”, corn hole and other great games for the competitors, and food trucks with goodies (for purchase) appealing to all taste buds! On Saturday, August 24, 2019, the fun begins at 3:00 p.m. for the V.I.P. Early Party ticket holders and 4:00-9:00 p.m. for everyone!
SHOUT OUT! We couldn't do this event without our good friends Sunny Malhotra of Taphouse 1637/Bollywood Masala and Josh Peeling of The Hole In The Wall, who are coming up with the beer menu!
Something Special: An EXCLUSIVE BREW, Just for YOU!
For an additional $10, you will receive double tasting tickets, and one hour early entry to the party of the summer! V.I.P.s EARLY PARTY at 3:00 p.m.! Total price: $30 in advance; $35 at the gate.
ADVANCE over 21 Tasters: $20.00 includes admission, a signature pint glass and four (4 oz) tastings of selections from Maryland's fantastic craft brewers. Purchase additional tasting tickets on-site. Purchase in advance to SAVE your spot and SAVE $5!
V.I.P. Early Party: $35
Over 21 Tasters: $25.
Under 21 & Designated Drivers (Non-tasters): $10.
FREE for children under 6.
Purchasers of tasting tickets must be 21 or older. Please bring a valid ID or entry to the tasting will be denied. Food & drink will be available for additional purchase. Tasters of the craft brews will have the option to purchase additional tastings. Upon arrival, proceed towards the Warehouse to check in. Please be sure to read all event information and policies before making your purchase. 

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Butterfly Week!

Butterfly Week!
August 12 - 16th, 2019
10:00 am - noon

Become a Citizen Scientist and an official Historic Sotterley caterpillar and butterfly counter during Butterfly Week! Every morning during the week of August 12th-16th, come and learn about amazing and resilient caterpillars, moths, and other insects. Hear stories, play games, and seek, find & observe caterpillars and butterflies up close. Create butterfly baths, food and feeders, and mini-butterfly gardens. Many “make and take” activities!

Check in at Visitor Center.
FREE for children under age 6.
$5 per person ages 6 and up, per day.
$65 Purchase family membership and bring your whole family to Sotterley all year! (Excludes certain special events.) Click HERE to become a member! 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Farmer's Market Heading to Cedar Lane!

“On the Road Again!"
Historic Sotterley heading to Leonardtown!
In an effort to continue our community outreach through the Historic Sotterley “Growing for Good” program, our Farmer's Market is heading to a new location - the Cedar Lane Senior Living Community at 22680 Cedar Lane Court in Leonardtown. On Wednesdays beginning on June 26th and running through September 25th from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., we will have fresh in-season produce, eggs, local honey, and more.
Over the last five years, the Historic Sotterley “Growing for Good” program has donated over 50,000 pounds of produce to local food pantries. Now the program has yielded an opportunity to set up a weekly Farmer’s Market to sell fresh produce at the Cedar Lane Senior Living Community.
“Our friends at Cedar Lane have graciously invited us to set up a mobile farm stand to serve the valued seniors in our community, many of whom are unable to make it out to the local markets,” stated Historic Sotterley’s Executive Director, Nancy Easterling. “We are able to accept payments under the WIC and Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. This is truly a wonderful opportunity for all of us!”

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Building Bridges to Common Ground

Building Bridges to Common Ground:
Resilience, Remembrance, Honor and Equity
September 5 - 7th

A multiple day event

From September 5th through 7th, 2019, Historic Sotterley will hold a three-day program continuing the 2019 theme and intuitive of Building Bridges to Common Ground: Resilience, Remembrance, Honor and Equity. Speakers, panelists, archeologists, historians, and Sotterley descendants will bring stories and experiences of their collective research and memory of ancestors, both enslaved and free, to modern relevance. This program is made possible in part by a generous grant from Maryland Humanities.
Thursday, September 5, 2019 at 7:00 p.m.
Interpreting Difficult History at James Madison's Montpelier
Elizabeth Chew, Vice President of Museum Programs, James Madison’s Montpelier, will discuss The Mere Distinction of Colour, the ground-breaking exhibition on slavery at Montpelier. Winner of six national awards, the exhibition considers slavery in the founding era, the lived experience of enslaved families on James Madison’s plantation, and the legacies of slavery in today’s society. It was organized by Montpelier staff in partnership with descendants of those enslaved by the Madison family.

Friday, September 6, 2019 - Registration 9:00 am
10:00 am - 12:00 pm Session: Power in the Name
Dr. Kenneth Cohen, Curator at the National American History Museum, speaks to colonial and early America’s naming practices among the ruling class and place names of indigenous peoples. TBD, African Studies from TBD speaks to African naming practices of peoples affected by the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and African American naming during slavery to the present day.

12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Lunch available for purchase or bring your own.

1:00 pm - 1:45 pm
Janice Curtis Green, a living history performer and American storyteller, brings Harriet Tubman to life in Walk a Mile In My Shoes.

2:00 pm - 4:00 pm Session: Rise to the East
Dr. Julia King and Dr. Elizabeth Chew, discuss burial sites and archeology’s importance and relevance to places of history, cultural justice, and remembrance.
Saturday, September 7, 2019 - Registration 9:00 am
10:00 am -12:00 pm Session: Descendant Panel discussion
Sotterley Descendants of owners and enslaved discuss their stories, challenges and Historic Preservation. Facilitated by Merideth Taylor and John Felicitas.

12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Lunch available for purchase or bring your own.
1:00 pm - 1:45 pm
Interactive Performance
Janice Curtis Green, a living history performer and American storyteller celebrates life with Fun with Animals and Family Folktales. Listen to stories for the young and the young at heart. Relive a time when animals walked upright, talked to each other and honored Mother Nature. Hear tales of how we got over. Enjoy tales traditional and contemporary stories with songs and audience participation.

2:00 pm - 4:00 pm Session

Zachary R. Wood, author and Ted talk speaker, presents: Uncensored, free speech, race, and dissenting opinions.
Programs and speakers are subject to change.
Free to the public, but limited seating – ADVANCE REGISTRATION REQUIRED. CLICK HERE to register!