Two large land holdings dominate the early history of the southern portion of the western shore of the Port Tobacco River. They are Goose Creek and the western lands of Saint Thomas Manor. In August of 1654, Jobe Chandler (1628-1659) acquired 1000 acres known as Goose Creek, around present day Brentland Road. When Chandler died, he willed 500 acres to son William (1649-1685) and 500 acres to son Richard (1650-1697). The land was surveyed in 1725 by Jobe’s grandson, William Chandler (1678-1730). Goose Creek was eventually patented in 1767 to Henry Brent (1739-1769) son of Mary Sewell, widow of William Chandler (1649-1685), and Sewell’s second husband, George Brent. By the time the patent was issued, Goose Creek consisted of 956 acres. Goose Creek remained in the Brent family through the 19th century. Bordering the Goose Creek plantation on the south was the 3500-acre western portion of Saint Thomas Manor held by the Corporation of Roman Catholic Clergymen. These lands were rented out to a number of small farmers (nineteen on the 1792 map I have) and ranged in size from 100-220 acres.
The focus of this painting is not these large land holdings, however, it’s the small sloop and its occupants sailing up the Port Tobacco River at dusk. A historic event is occurring at Brent’s Landing. On the evening of July 10, 1790, a sloop, captained by a Captain Gibson, out of Norfolk, Virginia arrived off shore. Too late to land, they hailed a nearby fisherman and asked him to carry messages Mr. Brent and Mr. Matthews announcing their arrival. Finally, a trip long years in planning and requiring three months at sea was complete.
In this painting, Mother Bernadina Matthews in the straw hat, together with Mother Clare Joseph Dickenson, Sister Mary Aloysia (Ann Teresa Matthews), Sister Mary Eleanora (Susanna Matthews) and Father Charles Neale are shown lining the portside of the vessel looking toward the shore. Brent’s Landing is still a speck against the distant trees. It would be October before these Carmelites had their first home in America, but they were on they on the soils of Port Tobacco where everyone except Mother Clare Joseph had been born.
After completing this painting, I learned that there is another version of where the original landing actually occurred within the materials documenting Carmelite community’s history. Was the landing at the site I have depicted here on the western shore where the more recent and prominent Brentland pier stood (my painting entitled Old Pier at Brentland) owned by William M. Brent? Or was it on the opposite side of the river at some yet unidentified landing site serving Brentfield owned by Robert Brent (1759-1811)? Oil on canvas 24x48 inches