Advertisers used to lead people to believe that tobacco is grown by cowboys in the mountains, but it was grown right here since before the county was chartered in 1696. Tobacco was even used as money. “At the first meeting of the county court, the sheriff was ordered to have a cage, pillory, whipping post, and stocks erected; which was done at a cost of 4600 pounds of tobacco.”1Tobacco was long the major crop of the area and was grown here until the Tobacco Buy-out which ended in 2005. Upper Marlboro, which used to be called “Marlborough”, is now the county seat.
This is the area of the beginning of Prince George’s County. “The first session of Prince George’s County Court was held in St. Paul’s Church in Charles Town on April 23, 1696.”2 St. Paul’s Church is now located in Brandywine, and Charles Town, which was located on the Patuxant River, no longer exists.
Brandywine, which is thought to have gotten its name from the Battle of Brandywine in Pennsylvania, developed in the mid to late nineteenth century as a railroad town. You can see Brandywine on the 1895 map of Prince George’s County on the Baltimore & Potomac Railroad (also see: map of 1944 here). It was expected to grow into a city as is indicated by this plan of Brandywine City.
The railroad was an important part of Brandywine at the beginning of the twentieth century. “The Pope’s Creek Railroad…took several hours to weave its way from Baltimore to Pope’s Creek, below LaPlata on the Potomac River…the main transportation link with Baltimore…. Otherwise, if you wanted to go to Upper Marlboro in muddy weather, it was questionable that you’d get there.”3“You know, the train that goes through Marlboro…comes through Brandywine, and goes on throughout St. Mary’s County. Now, when I [Eunice Turner, age 87 in 1984] went to school in Baltimore, I would get the train up at Brandywine, and go on to Baltimore from there.”3
For more history of this area, see People of Note in the Brandywine area, Historic Houses of Southeast Prince George’s County.