Taverns, or ordinaries, were one of the pillars of life in the colonial villages that dotted the Chesapeake Bay shoreline in the early days of our country. These establishments were woven into the very fabric of a community’s economic, political, and social activity. Typically situated at busy crossroads, ordinaries served both locals and travelers. The tavern owner also often functioned as postmaster, real estate agent, auctioneer, arbitrator, and referee.

The Maryland colony began licensing ordinaries in 1658, but there were any number of taverns and ordinaries operating around the Eastern Shore by this time. In fact, it’s likely the first tavern in what would become the state of Maryland was located in the long-gone bay-side village of Broad Creek on Kent Island, dating back to the 1630’s or 1640’s.

The Chesapeake region was known for its home-cooking and hospitality for generations, up to and through the Civil War Era. In…

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