History of Selby-On-The-Bay
Beginning in 1652 - Captain Edward Selby
Our close locality to Annapolis, a very early American settlement, has given our peninsula a very rich and colorful history. The first documented owner of the peninsula was Captain Edward Selby in 1652 or 1658 in a land grant of 490 acres, which came to be known as "Selby's Marsh" from the Second Lord Baltimore, Cecilus Calvert. Though, not accurately documented, Selby's Marsh appears to have consisted of a large section of the MayoPeninsula that includes the existing communities today from Selby on the Bay, Holly Hill all the way to Carr's Wharf. "Selby Marsh" was either a descriptive name, pointing out this "tidal" area's main feature or a combination of Edward Selby's and Thomas Marsh's last names.
In those times, several other gentlemen had also obtained ownership of small parcels of the Peninsula: Edward Lloyd, Thomas Meeres, Richard Day, Thomas Marsh, George Kemp and John Norwood all left Virginia with Captain Selby for Maryland in search of religious freedom. In 1665 and 1688, Edward Selby added contiguous tracts to expand his estate, they were known as "Popular Hill" and Selby's Stopp".
Captain Selby thrived in this area - his wealth from tobacco and his prominence in public affairs helped to make him one of the most important gentlemen in the region. It also helped him to acquire most of the Peninsula up until his death in 1688, when, at that time he owned 1400 acres of the property between the Rhodes and SouthRivers.
Before his death, Edward Selby leased property to John Gresham II in or around 1686. On that property still standing today is the residence that John Gresham II had built there. Surely one of the first fine homes in the area. "Gresham" is possibly the oldest structure in the area outside of Annapolis and is located in the woods across Mayo Road from River Club Estates.
The Gresham estate is also referred to in old documents as "Love Neck".
1653 - The Gassaway's and William Cotter
Upon the death of Captain Edward Selby, Sr., "Selby Marsh" was divided (250 acres each) between his son, Edward Selby Jr. and his daughter Thalmon (Selby) Clarke, who was the wife of Benjamin Clarke. After some financial failure in 1693, a portion of Edward Selby, Jr.'s property was sold to William Cotter who was the husband of Jane Gassaway, daughter of Colonel Nicholas Gassaway of Birdsville.
William Cotter, apparently was a very elegant gentleman and won over the aristocratic Gassaway family easily. "Old Rough and Ready" Colonel Gassaway, a powerful Anne Arundel County political figure and prominent local aristocrat, surely must have felt Cotter to be a decent husband for his daughter to allow them to marry after courting for such a short period of time. Colonel Gassaway died shortly after his daughter's wedding and never learned of his son-in-law's illegal maritime hobbies. Colonel Gassaway's Tombstone Marker was discovered at the Gresham Plantation being used as a footstep - it was moved to St. Anne's Church in Annapolis, Maryland in the 1960's.
In 1696, a ship from England landed and moored at the Port of Annapolis and secret conferences were held in the city. News traveled through the countryside that the English official's were searching for pirates in our region. The locals were surprised when the pirates were taken into custody by the Englishmen and the pirates were discovered to be locals John Blackmore and Selby's own, William Cotter.
The two men were sentenced and released "To stand and be indebted unto our Sovereign Lord William, the third, King of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland in the sum of five hundred pounds sterling each... That they, the said John Blackmore and William Cotter shall personally appear and be forthcoming whenever His Majesty's pleasure is known concerning them, in the meantime to be of good behavior as to any acts of Pyracy."
After 1698, John Blackmore and William Cotter purchased the parcel of Selby closest to Loch Haven, "Bessendon" from John Purdy. At his death in 1702, William Cotter, Sr.'s land transferred to his younger son William Cotter, Jr. the eldest son having died before his father.
After a dashing bachelor's life and increasing his family's fortune, William Cotter Jr. died without ever marrying and without any direct heirs in 1749. His property went to his nephews, the sons of his sister Sarah and her husband and cousin, Captain John Gassaway, the grandson of "Old Rough and Ready".
A widely respected politician as "High Sheriff" and "Keeper of the Public Gaol" in Annapolis in 1753, Captain Gassaway was elected to the Lower House of the General Assembly of Maryland to represent "Ann Arrundl Covnty." The fine Captain had his son's, William, Thomas and Henry Gassaway inheritance land surveyed in 1750. The resurvey or consolidation of "Selby's Marsh, Popular Hill and Selby's Stopp" renamed their part of the peninsula to "Cotter's Desire", probably after their renowned pirate grandfather.
Cotter's Desire remained in the Cotter and Gassaway family's hands for the next 121 years.
1765 - Admiral Joseph Mayo, U.S.N
Around 1765, Joseph Mayo bought 622 acres of the peninsula, which included the Gresham Plantation for $10,000 in silver. By the time of the American Revolution of 1776, Benjamin and John Selby, probably grandsons of Edward Selby Jr., owned the remainder of Selby's Marsh that had been in their family since their great grandfather had been given the original land grant from Lord Baltimore.
In 1814, Joseph Mayo deeded the Gresham Plantation and parts of the area in Cotter's Desire (that would later become Selby on the Bay), to his nephew Commodore Isaac Mayo.
More so than any of his ancestors who owned large parts of the Mayo peninsula, Commodore Isaac Mayo is responsible for the notoriety of his family's name in our area and why this area became known as the MayoPeninsula.
Commodore Mayo was an intelligent, adventurous sailor, as well as a family man. In 1835, Mayo married Sarah (Battaile Fitzhugh) Bland the daughter of Chancellor Bland, Consul to Brazil. Within a few years of their marriage Sarah gave birth to a daughter, Sarah Battaile Mayo.
Having fought and commanded naval battles around the world, Commodore Isaac Mayo was a highly-decorated and respected naval officer of the United States Navy. It is said that his influence helped to determine the use of the FortSevern site as the new United StatesNavalAcademy in Annapolis in 1845.
In 1850, Mayo was named Commander-in-Chief of the US Naval Forces in the Mediterranean and off the West Coast of Africa, his flagship being the USS Constitution.
Commodore Mayo sympathized with the south at the start of the Civil War and in turn directed his resignation to President Lincoln protesting the Union's policy of coercion. The president refused his resignation and dismissed Mayo and six other officers of similar rank for their support of the Confederacy. After a long and revered naval career, serving in the War of 1812, receiving the Medal of Valor, commanding for the US in the Seminole & Mexican wars, and being appointed a Commander in Chief for the US Navy, Isaac Mayo left the service shunned by the American Government.
Commodore Mayo died shortly after his disgrace and his name was never cleared by the United States Navy.
A portrait of Commodore Mayo "in his finest" hangs in the LegislativeOfficeBuilding in Annapolis, Maryland.
1865 - End of the Mayo Pennisula Landlords
Sometime near the death of Commodore Mayo in 1865 Thomas H. Gaither, Sr., the son of John and Jane Gaither, (who owned property at the head of the South River) married Sarah Battaile Mayo, daughter of Commodore Mayo. On February 26, 1878, Commodore Mayo's grandson and trustee of his estate, Thomas H. Gaither, Jr. donated property on old Turkey Point Road for the then Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church which is now known as the Mayo United Methodist Church in Turkey Point.
By 1878, Joseph Buick owned 267 acres of Selby and Judge Harry Jones Tuck owned part of Selby near the Gresham Plantation. Judge Tuck was the son of Washington Greene Tuck, a physician at St. John'sMedicalSchool of Annapolis and Lucie Ann Jones. He was the reported builder of the Birch Manor House on Hillside at Sixth Avenue in Selby on the Bay.
Birch Manor was named after a later owner, Thomas S. Birch the husband of Dr. John Collison's daughter. Thomas Birch obtained the 268 acre property from his father, James R. Birch, who had purchased it from William H. Turk in 1865.
The manor was originally a plantation house for the tobacco and tomato farming land that today makes up Selby on the Bay. The estate originally controlled all of the land in Selby and where the American Legion Post 226 stands and supposedly maintained a large peach orchard as well.
Serving as a boarding house in the 1930's & 40's, Birch Manor acts as a private residence today remaining with the iron rings on the walls of the basement, in the slaves quarters. Though always considered part of Selby's Marsh and Cotter's Desire, this area was also known as Brown's Discovery.
The remainder of Cotter's Desire that was owned by the Gassaway's was sold and transferred to various individuals by William Stewart, the trustee of Dr. John Gassaway's estate, the last remaining Gassaway.
The remaining property of Commodore Mayo stayed in the Mayo Family's hands until Thomas Gaither Jr. sold it to Oscar Keys in 1915.
In 1916, Cotter's Desire received its first division when Mr. Keys sold 8-acre parcels to Albert Bull, Leander Jackson and John Evans. The balance of Cotter's Desire was sold in 1920 to Maurice Ogle, a descendent of Maryland Governor, Samuel Ogle.
The area now known as SelbyBeach, was the most popular swimming and picnicking spot around the area in 1920, and was called "The Cedars" because of all of the beautiful cedar trees that scattered the waterfront- it later would be called "Cedar Grove".
Much of the Birch's property in Selby on the Bay was cleared land for farming tomatoes and tobacco. In 1923, Mr. Birch sold 254 acres of his plantation in Cotter's Desire to Enoch P. Johnson. Just prior to 1923, Mr. Birch sold a total of 13 acres on the east side of Winding Road to seven newcomers to Selby on the Bay. In 1928, Captain F.S. Crismond purchased a large tract in Selby, including SelbyBayYachtBasin, an icehouse and three tenant houses for marina workers.
Mr. Crismond developed the Cedar Grove portion of Selby, located on Cedar Grove Road near SelbyBeach. The Selby Bay Yacht Club, would not be founded until 19 years later in 1947, by Walter Podrog of Washington, D.C.
Mr. Dewitt Knickerbocker and his wife, arrived to Selby around 1930 and stayed here seasonally, using his cabin as a hunting lodge in the Winter months, and as a vacation home for his wife in the Spring and Summer. His cabin was located on Beach Drive Boulevard and faced SelbyBay, in Selby Proper. He and his wife spent all of their summers in Selby until his death in 1965.
1930 - The Beginning of Selby-On-The-Bay
The beginning of real growth in our community came when developer's Otis L. Williams, Jr. and Alvin G. Branham purchased 206 acres on SelbyBay in 1930 from Enoch P. Johnson of Baltimore and started the Selby on the Bay Properties Company, Inc., 1121 Vermont Avenue NW, WashingtonD.C. Phone: NAtional 4933-34.
Mr. Williams and Branham purchased the large tract of our community from Central Avenue (Mayo Road) up to SelbyBay and began platting the Selby on the Bay community into building lots and using a sales concept that was relatively successful.
From its start the "company" knew the best way to sell the marshy property was to give the buyers something for their money. The Selby on the Bay Properties Company dredged the point off of the current HolidayPointMarina and dumped the murky sand onto what is now SelbyBeach. The company also built a picnic pavilion, which it also used as a sales office to sell the lots on which families could build their dream summer vacation cottages. The sales method they used was known as a "Lunch and Lecture" seminar, where salesmen would perform their sales pitch while invited guests and other prospective customers stared out at lovely SelbyBay and had a free picnic lunch.
Imagine what in 1930, the view that they were lured by must have been like; a very serene and welcoming waterfront on SelbyBay. Most of the Selby on the Bay Properties Company's customers were Baltimore-Washington middle-class looking for the quiet and calming effects of private beach community life.
Along with their purchase, was the verbal promise from Branham and Willimas of each new property owner's exclusive use of the developing CommunityBeach, Pavilion and Park.