CAROLINE County, MD
Caroline County is a rural county located in the U.S. state of Maryland on its Eastern Shore. As of the 2020 census, the population was 33,293. Its county seat is Denton.
Caroline County is bordered by Queen Anne's County to the north, Talbot County to the west, Dorchester County to the south, Kent County, Delaware, to the east, and Sussex County, Delaware, to the southeast.
Caroline County was created via 1773 Maryland General Assembly legislation from parts of Dorchester and Queen Anne's counties. The county derives its name from Lady Caroline Eden, wife of Maryland's last colonial governor, Robert Eden. Seven commissioners were originally appointed: Charles Dickinson, Benson Stainton, Thomas White, William Haskins, Richard Mason, Joshua Clark, and Nathaniel Potter. These men bought of land at Pig Point (now Denton) on which to build a courthouse and jail.
Until the completion of these buildings, court was held at Melvill's Warehouse, approximately north of Pig Point. Elections and other business transactions were completed there. The first commissioner meeting was held on March 15, 1774, at Melvill's Warehouse. In 1777, court was moved to Bridgetown (now Greensboro), but in the interest of convenience, court was moved back to Melvill's.
Disagreements arose concerning the permanent location of the county seat. The General Assembly reached a compromise in 1785 and ordered that of land at Melvill's Landing should be purchased for a courthouse and jail. In 1790, the county court and its belongings moved to Pig Point. The Caroline County Courthouse was completed in 1797.
The county has a number of properties on the National Register of Historic Places. The National Park Service is developing a site in the southern half of Caroline County dedicated to interpreting the Underground Railroad as part of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument.
Caroline County was granted home rule in 1984 under state code in an initiative led by County Commissioner Charles T. Dean, Sr.
Growth is a major issue faced by Caroline County and several other Mid-Shore counties. Retirees and workers willing to commute across the Chesapeake Bay to the western shore are increasingly attracted by the rural environment and low cost of living.
From 1994 to 2014 Caroline was the only county in the state not represented by a resident legislator in the Maryland General Assembly. Redistricting and a sparse population were the chief causes.
At a Presidential level, Caroline is the “reddest” county on the mostly Republican Eastern Shore, and rivals Carroll County as the most Republican county in the state outside of Appalachian Western Maryland. No Democratic presidential candidate has carried Caroline County since Lyndon Johnson’s landslide in 1964, and before then it had last gone Democratic in 1940 with Franklin D. Roosevelt. Indeed, the last Democrat to reach forty percent of the county’s vote was Jimmy Carter in 1980. In earlier times Caroline was a swing county, less secessionist than Wicomico, Worcester, Queen Anne’s or Cecil.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of , of which is land and (2.0%) is water. It is the second-smallest county by total area in Maryland. Notable waterways include the Choptank River and Tuckahoe Creek, as well as the man-made Williston Lake.
Caroline County currently ranks seventh nationally in terms of land protected under the Ag Preservation Program.
Its eastern border is the Mason–Dixon line.
Caroline is the only Eastern Shore county not to touch either the Chesapeake Bay or Atlantic Ocean. Additionally, it is the only county on the Eastern Shore without an Interstate or United States Highway within its borders.
Tuckahoe State Park, Holiday Park Campgrounds and Martinak State Park are located in Caroline County.
The American Discovery Trail runs through the county.
Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 33,066 people, 12,158 households, and 8,702 families living in the county. The population density was . There were 13,482 housing units at an average density of . The racial makeup of the county was 79.8% white, 13.9% black or African American, 0.6% Asian, 0.4% American Indian, 0.2% Pacific islander, 3.1% from other races, and 2.1% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 5.5% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 21.7% were German, 15.6% were Irish, 12.3% were English, and 6.9% were American.
Of the 12,158 households, 36.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.1% were married couples living together, 13.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 28.4% were non-families, and 22.7% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.68 and the average family size was 3.12. The median age was 38.7 years.
The median income for a household in the county was $58,799 and the median income for a family was $65,801. Males had a median income of $45,944 versus $33,927 for females. The per capita income for the county was $24,294. About 8.0% of families and 11.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.5% of those under age 18 and 11.1% of those age 65 or over.
As of the census of 2000, there were 29,772 people, 11,097 households, and 8,156 families living in the county. The population density was 93 people per square mile (36/km2). There were 12,028 housing units at an average density of 38 per square mile (15/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 81.69% White, 14.77% Black or African American, 0.37% Native American, 0.55% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.26% from other races, and 1.34% from two or more races. 2.65% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 17.4% were of American, 14.8% English, 14.4% German and 9.9% Irish ancestry.
There were 11,097 households, out of which 34.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.30% were married couples living together, 13.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.50% were non-families. 21.50% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.64 and the average family size was 3.03.
In the county, the population was spread out, with 26.80% under the age of 18, 7.70% from 18 to 24, 28.90% from 25 to 44, 23.10% from 45 to 64, and 13.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 95.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.70 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $38,832, and the median income for a family was $44,825. Males had a median income of $31,119 versus $21,915 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,275. About 9.00% of families and 11.70% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.50% of those under age 18 and 12.30% of those age 65 or over. It is regularly ranked among the poorest of all 23 Maryland counties.
As of Census 2010 the racial makeup of Caroline County was 78.19% Non-Hispanic white, 13.87% black, 0.37% Native American, 0.57% Asian, 0.16% Pacific Islander, 0.10% Non-Hispanics of some other race, 1.68% Non-Hispanics of two or more races and 5.49% Hispanic or Latino.
Caroline County Public Schools provides public education in Caroline County.
The Caroline Review circulates monthly and is free of charge; a digital daily, Caroline Past and Present, was established in 2018.
Caroline County is one of three Maryland counties that does not have an Interstate or U.S. Highway running through it. Caroline's "major artery" is Maryland Route 404, four lanes in some parts but two lanes in others. It is chiefly used in the summertime by non-local beachgoers heading to Ocean City, Maryland, or Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
The United States Census Bureau recognizes three Census-designated places in Caroline County:
Notable people and animals
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