This is another section from the book regarding some geography relative to the family. 

A Brief Lower Eastern Shore Geography Lesson  

The Lower Eastern Shore encompasses the Maryland counties of Caroline, Dorchester, Wicomico, Worcester and Somerset; Sussex County in Delaware; and Accomac and Northampton Counties in Virginia.  Since the founding of these counties, their boundaries have varied quite significantly.   

Old Somerset, founded in 1666, was the original county on the lower Eastern Shore of Maryland.  As shown, it was bounded to the west by the Chesapeake Bay and up the Nanticoke River to about modern-day Bridgeville, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the south by the Virginia line (though this was disputed for a time) and to the north by a line extending from the Nanticoke River eastward to a line roughly from Georgetown to Millsboro and down to the modern Delaware-Maryland state line..  This includes the cities of Salisbury, Princess Anne, Snow Hill in Maryland and Laurel, Delaware.  Figure 1 illustrates the approximate boundaries of “Old Somerset” overlaid on to the modern-day county map as it existed prior to 1742. 

Old Somerset also was comprised of nine (9) sub-units known as the “hundreds.”  Their names were:  Nanticoke, Wicomico, Pocomoke, Monie, Manokin, Annemessex, Baltimore, Bogerternorton, and Mattapany; the last three having been formed at a later date than the others.  The hundreds basically were political subsets of the county that had their own constables (who collected taxes) and overseers of the roads (assigned to maintain the roads, bridges and ferries).  Figure 2 illustrates the rough boundaries of the hundreds of Old Somerset.  

In 1742, Worcester County was formed by splitting Old Somerset roughly in half on a north-south dividing line.  This dividing line extended from about Laurel, Delaware in the north continuing south through the heart of Salisbury, Maryland .  It extended further to the south through modern Fruitland, Maryland and further south along an ancient road from Fruitland to Princess Anne until it picked up Dividing Creek.  Dividing Creek became the boundary until it empties into the Pocomoke River where it was the boundary down to the Virginia line.  Snow Hill became the county seat of Worcester. 

More notably, the northern boundary of Somerset was then defined along the Nanticoke River only as far north as Broad Creek to a line extending eastward roughly to the Indian River inlet in modern-day Delaware.  All of “Old Somerset” north of Broad Creek became part of Worcester County after 1742.  Thus, after 1742, Somerset County roughly looked like the RED-oulined area on the map in Figure 3 and Worcester looked like the area outlined in BLUE.  

In the 1760s, Old Somerset was further reduced in size when Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon conducted their famous survey to finalize the boundary between Maryland and Pennsylvania/Delaware as a result of the transpeninsular survey of 1750.  The survey shaved about a 7-to-10 mile wide strip of land from the northern side of the old county (it also shaved a good chunk of land from the eastern side of Dorchester and Caroline Counties – from the Nanticoke River west to the new state line).   

In 1867, the loss of land to Old Somerset was made final by the formation of Wicomico County.  Wicomico took roughly equal portions of land area from Somerset and Worcester Counties.  Worcester lost its land in its northwest quadrant and Somerset from its northern third – about from Wicomico Creek in the south to the Nanticoke River and Delaware line in the north.  Salisbury was relieved of its dual-county personality split between Somerset and Worcester and made county seat of the new Wicomico County.  

All these different and changing boundaries for the states, counties and hundreds, makes for a difficult task for the researcher to find his ancestors in the old records – especially when they were domiciled near one of these old borders.  Adam Hitch and his descendants seemed to have a propensity for settling near borders thus elevating my frustrations!  To track many of these folks, I was obliged to search records in Maryland for Somerset, Worcester, Wicomico, Dorchester and Caroline Counties as well as Sussex and Kent Counties in Delaware.  Even contemporay sources may have one record listed in one county and another in the adjacent county.   

One example of this is my 5x great grandfather Benjamin Hitch (1738/1740 – 1814) and grandson of Adam through Samuel Hitch.  Ol’ Benny purchased 150 acres of land from George Wilson in 1764 called “Mount Pleasant ” situated – you guessed it – on the border between Somerset and Worcester Counties, “lying near the head of the main branch of Wicomico Creek.”  Today, this land lies near the boundaries of the three counties (with Wicomico included).   In 1770, Ben sold off 50 acres of the tract to Thomas Price and the records describe it as land that was "then situated in Somerset, now part in Worcester part in Somerset."  The next mention of the land in records is in the Maryland Tax Assessment of 1783 where “Mount Pleasant ” fully attributed to Somerset County.  The same is true in the Somerset County Assessment Records for the years 1793 through 1796.  

In the Federal Assessment of 1798, Benjamin Hitch is shown as owner/occupant of the tract in Somerset County but "…situated on the road that divides Somerset from Worcester…”  The Somerset County Commissioners of the Tax Report verify the location of the land in Somerset for the years 1798 through 1803.  During this time, Ben Hitch subdivided “Mount Pleasant ” further by selling 50 acres to his son Joseph in 1800.  Joseph subsequently moved to Pendleton County, KY in 1807 and sold his portion of “Mount Pleasant ” to brother John Hitch in 1809.   

By the time Ben bequeathed the final portion of the tract to son Samuel through his will in 1814, the land was again described as divided between the two counties, “to my youngest son Samuel Hitch , plantation I now dwell 50 acres part in Worcester County  and part in Somerset County ."  The land passes on to Samuel Hitch’s son Handy Irving Hitch in 1848 through WORCESTER County records.  From then until the time the land passed from the family by auction of Handy’s estate in 1901, it was considered to be fully in Worcester County.

 By this example, one can see that, although this land was purchased in Somerset County in 1764 – and obviously did not move – it was variously attributed to Somerset, Worcester and a combination of the two over the years.  This makes for a difficult study for a researcher into this line.  Numerous other examples of Hitch property can be cited that faced similar confusion over the years, therefore, any research that might follow this work should take this into very careful consideration.  However, one should not be discouraged into not reviewing the land records as they can offer excellent insight into the family and various kinships as demonstrated in the following paragraphs.




Adam Hitch and his Descendants in Maryland and Delaware

Adam Hitch first shows up in Maryland with the ownership of a land tract called “Beaver Dams” in 1687 which he bought from William Jones Jr.  After this, Adam Hitch dealt in quite few large land transactions during his lifetime.  A summary of Adam’s extensive land holdings in the late 17th and early 18th centuries follow:  





Beaver Dams: 300 acres

Half of New Holland



New Holland: 600 acres

Six miles up the Wicomico River



Allerton 75 acres of 250 acre “First Choice” tract on the Annamessex River  (from Wm Foxson)




Green Recantation: 200 acres

Near the Nanticoke River and north side of main branch of Quantico Creek



High Suffolk : 1,450 acres

Headwaters of Wicomico River


Sold some to Francis Langake (later Lank) and John Cordrey Jr. in 1721.  Dispensed some to heirs in 1728.  Willed rest to heirs in 1731.

Come by Chance : 563 acres

South side of (20 poles from) main/mill dam branch of Cottingham Creek (later Rockawalkin), about 2 miles north of Wicomico River

1707 (survey), 1721 (patent)

Sold some to Francis Langake (later Lank) and John Cordrey Jr. in 1721.  Dispensed to heirs in 1728. Willed rest to heirs in 1731

North Wales: 500 acres

South side Nanticoke River



Faurtum:  50 acres




From this, one can see that most tracts were temporary – and maybe speculative - holdings with the exception of “High Suffolk ” and “Come by Chance .”  It is unknown where Adam Hitch lived until he purchased “High Suffolk ” in 1700 and “patented “Come by Chance ” in 1707.  In his will, Adam Hitch states, “…part of my dwelling plantation which is included between Samuel Heatch 's land and the mill branch, with part of a tract called "Come By Chance ", and part of another tract called "High Suffolk ".  This suggests that the family residence was located on a portion of both tracts.  

It is difficult to determine exactly where within the “High Suffolk ” or “Come by Chance ” tracts Adam Hitch’s residence was located.  According to the records, a mill was definitely kept by Adam on the “Come by Chance ” increasing the possibility that it was the ultimately the place where Adam Hitch built a home for his family and the words in his will seem to indicate that he favored the “mill branch” facing spot.  Thus, the Adam Hitch house may be surmised to be located on or close to the Rockawalkin Creek about two miles north of the Wicomico River.  

On a modern-day map, “Come by Chance ” can be located in Wicomico County bounded by the Salisbury-Nanticoke Road to the south, Rockawalking Creek  to the west and the intersection of Levin Dashiell Road and Rockawalkin Roads to the north.  The tracts then takes on the shape of a upright letter “L.”  Figure 4 illustrates the location and shape of the “Come by Chance ” tract in BLUE outline.

The patent for “High Suffolk ” is less descriptive in its location, but we know from the “Come by Chance ” survey in 1721 (and re-survey in 1793 as “Dumbarton ”) that it bordered “Come by Chance ” to the east.  With a common bounder stone located “near the head of” Rockawalking Creek , we can plot the metes and bounds of “High Suffolk ” as given in its patent.  Figure 4 shows “High Suffolk ” in RED outline.  The two tracts together – at about to 2,010 acres represent about 3¼ square miles in the area north and west of Salisbury, Maryland .  

The reader is cautioned that there exists a belief that the Adam Hitch house still stands on the north bank of the Wicomico River today (2000) – in the Howard C. Hitch family.  That house is located on the north side of the Wicomico about 2 ½ miles west of where Rockawalkin Creek empties into it.  This is approximately 3 miles southwest of the closest portion of the location of the tract “Come by Chance .”  See Figure 4 for more details.  No evidence exists that shows that Adam Hitch even owned land at that location during his lifetime and the “fact” that the house there today is that of Adam Hitch is just a good example of family legend. 

By examining the land records closely, the approximate divisions of “Come By Chance” and “High Suffolk” over the years can be ascertained.  Figure 5 shows a close-up of the two tracts as they would approximately appear on a map of today and as they were prior to 1721 when Adam began selling off some of the land.   Figure 6 illustrates the divisions of the two tracts at the time Adam Hitch died in 1731.  It accounts for the following land transactions:

Adam Hitch’s male children received a substantial legacy of land from both the “High Suffolk ” and “Come By Chance” tracts as “deeds of gift” to Samuel, William, John and Solomon in 1728 and through his will to Elgate Hitch in 1731.  Adam also bequeathed land to John Price, son of his daughter Mary Hitch Price.  Most of these transactions have metes and bounds laid out in the land records (except the last two).  From that, I plotted the approximate configuration of the land in 1731.  This is shown in Figure 6. 

Note, the layout in Figure 6 represents an approximate map of the local community in that area 270 years ago.  Note that Adam Hitch’s “dwelling plantation” was bequeathed to Elgate Hitch and contained his mill.  It makes up the SW part of the map.  John Price married Mary Hitch and received the 90 acre plot in the center. Francis Langcake (later Lank) and John Cordrey also had familial ties with the Hitch family as will be shown later in this volume.  It should also be noted that William Hitch died in 1730 – before Adam Hitch died in 1731 but after his 1728 land allotment and his land was devised to his four (4) sons viz, William (b. 1719), Thomas (b. 1720), John (b. 1722) and Nehemiah Hitch (b. 1724) through his will. All were minors and Thomas Hitch died before 1732 so his share of the land went to eldest brother William.