Vienna Fire House Dedication - 1936
by James A. Higgins
On a beauty spot as you approach the town over the Rhodesdale road, a tablet bearing this inscription:
"Annocokoossimmon, Emperor to the Nanticoke Indians, lived about 1677 at Chiccacone, an ancient Indian town, north of this point. The Indian reservation was laid out by act of Assembly 1698, containing 5166 1/4 acres."
Vienna, a part of this acreage and known as Emperor's Landing. Commission appointed by act of Assembly to lay out ports and towns in Dorchester County, met in Cambridge, ye second day of July, in the fifth year of the reign of our Sovereign Lady Anne of England, Anne Dom 1706. Present Mr. Hugh Eccleston, Walt Campbell, John Rawlings, Francis Hayward, Joseph Ennals, John Kirk, Tobias Pollard, Thomas Hicks, Jacob Lockerman, clerk.
The christening of Vienna, then know as the Town on the Nanticoke River, up to July 11, 1706. At this meeting all commissioners present agreed on motion of Mr. Lockerman that the said town be named Vienna, and the name cut in a board and nailed to a post.
After this proceeding on July 22, 1706, and by virtue of the act referred to, Col. Thomas Ennalls, the surveyor, laid out about 100 acres, including a resurvey about 20 acres for Vienna Town—square form, with five streets, one in center, and lots, each street about 1,000 feet long.
The period mentioned, 1706, was, of course, when all the lands were under control and disposition of the Lord Proprietory, Charles Calvert.
The entire 100 acres bought by Mr. Anderson for 5,000 pounds of tobacco then equivalent to ten shillings, approximately $1.45, amounting to the enormous sum of $72.50.
Communication from county to county by ferries, one at Vienna across to Somerset County. Ferryman's annual salary 4000 pounds of tobacco in casks, about $48.00, money locally not used at that period. In fact, for nearly a century after, tobacco, the only currency, in public exchange and transactions. Some excerpts from Dr. Elias Jones, History of Dorchester County, Town of Vienna prior to 1709;
1742Six tribes of Indians conspired to massacre the whites but failed.
1744 Indians began leaving the county.
1763 Building public warehouse at Vienna for tobacco, inspector's salary 4,800 pounds, about $69.60.
1776 Vienna, a thriving place, when British gunboat ascended the Nanticoke river and fired shot at the town.
1812 Town prepared for defense with breastworks, company militia organized by the enemy did not return to attack their bravery.
1828 Bridge built across the Nanticoke, wood construction, then the main highway and old stagecoach line from Cape Charles, Va., to Baltimore and other places.
1860 The War Department ordered the stockholders to widen the draw to accommodate a line of steamers from Norfolk, Va., to Seaford, Del., to connect with the railroad there for Wilmington, Philadelphia and New York City.
The draw widened but never replaced, steamers continued this route for sometime. Finally bridge abandoned and ferry re-established.
1829 Vienna, the home of Thomas Holliday Hicks. In 1858, he was Governor of Maryland. During the Civil War, opposed secession and stuck fast amid frantic appeal to join the Southern Confederacy.
1791 to 1866 Vienna was a port of entry, with collectors of customs for 75 years. The old Custom House, the upper story wood construction rebuilt, the lower part brick. The Woman's Club has placed a placard on this old landmark. Vienna, long noted for its shipyards, a many swift and shapely vessels that sailed the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean built at Vienna.
The white oak forests, about a mile or two from the town, afforded the best material then known for naval construction and durability. Later the Lanibees from the State of Maine, bought some tracts of this white oak timber. In the fall they brought their families, workmen, oxen (these very large) carts and moulds, to fashion the ships frames.
Built tents in the woods for their abode and comfort, working all the winter. Their oxen were shod with iron shoes to prevent slipping on the ice and snow.
In the spring the wharfs and shore full of timber, waiting for a large vessel (having on board stone ballast, this used for the town sidewalk curb) to load and carry it to Maine.
Now, believe it or not; Before Baltimore was founded in 1729, the site at Vienna, was intended for Baltimore. Vienna, with a population of 500 or more, incorporated. Mayor and city council. Has a most charming situation on the high banks of the Nanticoke River. Depth of water about 35 feet to accommodate large vessels.
Beautiful half-million dollar concrete and steel bridge with attractive approaches, occupying a conspicuous location on the main highway of traffic, including pleasure and sight-seeing.
Central between Cambridge and Salisbury, 16 miles each, largest and most progressive towns on the Eastern Shore. Representatives of the Eastern Shore Gas & Electric Company of Salisbury, September, 1926, looking for a suitable location for a new million and a half dollar plant. Selected Vienna as the best site meeting their requirements. Then a year or more under construction. This plant supplies current for light and power for industries for the Eastern Shore and other places.
Vienna has packing plants for tomatoes, beans, etc. Packs about 250,000 cases. Lumber mills operated by a Pittsburgh, Pa. company. In 1935, a Philadelphia company installed tanks here for processing cucumbers, for pickle products of 100 acres as an experiment.
Have shirt factory, flour and feed mills, stores, shops, beauty parlor and gas stations, Methodist Episcopal, Methodist Protestant, Protestant Episcopal, Baptist Churches, bank and post office, elementary and high school building, value $50,000, railroad, new water supply, sewerage, tank, 70,000 gallons capacity, pumps, hydrants, and a volunteer fire company, incorporated, with an up-to-date equipment for protection.
The colored folks in the suburbs have two churches and a new school building. Of course, Vienna's streets from the square, extended out improved with buildings and attractive shrubbery. Farm and marsh lands, productive for wheat, corn, hay, rye and oats, tomatoes, beans, peas, cucumbers, cantaloupe, watermelons, strawberries and potatoes.
Marsh lands, valuable for its muskrat, fur, its meat on the hotel and restaurant menu cards as marsh rabbits. Our river has fish of various kinds and habits, shad in season, oysters, crabs and turtles. Wild duck and other game abound, only a few miles from town. Concluding, this, Vienna's past and present—the future as her citizens develop. Come to Vienna, look over her location, advantages and opportunities, for homes and industries.