30. Caroline Courthouse

Site of Slave Auction and Jail

Although reconstructed after the Civil War, the courthouse’s place in the middle of town is symbolic of the central role it played in the past. The courthouse symbolized white legal, political, economic and social power during the antebellum period. A slave market was located here, where slaves were auctioned to buyers and traders. Courthouse Square was also the site of the jail where captured runaways and Underground Railroad conductors, like Hugh Hazlett, were held. Hazlett, a 27-year-old Irishman, was arrested in Greensboro for assisting seven people to escape slavery in 1858. After being jailed, Hazlett and the seven others were transported to Cambridge by steamboat for trial. Greeted by an angry mob, Hazlett was sentenced to 44 years in prison.

In 1853, African American residents celebrated the escape and return of Richard Potter, a free black youth, who had been kidnapped by a local farmer and smuggled to a Delaware boat captain to be sold as a slave. Punishments for “stealing slaves” or “enticing slaves away” or outright kidnapping included long prison terms, heavy fines, and confiscation of property.

For more information, call 410-479-2055.



Courthouse Square
Denton, MD 21629

GPS Coordinates: 38.886442,-75.832752

Practical info
  • ParkingKiosk with maps/info
  • Museum of Rural Life
  • Byway interpretation and exhibits
  • Restaurants nearby

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