Saint Mary's County (often abbreviated as St. Mary's County) is a county located in the U.S. state of Maryland.
As of 2000, the population was 86,211, and more recent population estimates are closer to 100,000. Its county seat is Leonardtown. The name is in honor of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
The county is part of the Southern Maryland region.
The settlement of Lord Baltimore
's Maryland began with the arrival of passengers from England
at St. Clement's Island
in the Potomac River
in what is now southwestern St. Mary's County on March 25
(the anniversary of this landing being annually celebrated as Maryland Day
). The passengers arrived in two vessels, the Ark
and the Dove,
which had set sail from the Isle of Wight
on November 22
. The county is also home to the first Catholic Mass celebrated in the original thirteen colonies.
St. Mary's County was the first county established in Maryland, in 1637, probably by an order of the Governor.
The county seat and state capital was St. Mary's City.
St. Mary's County is where Francis Scott Key, the author of a poem which became The Star Spangled Banner, and professional wrestler Scott Hall grew up.
St. Mary's County was the birthplace of Dashiell Hammett, and Orlando "Tubby" Smith, head basketball coach at the University of Minnesota. The largest employer is Patuxent River Naval Air Station and its related aerospace contract firms. There are both Amish and Mennonite communities who follow traditional ways. Tobacco, once dominant crop, has declined in recent years. Maryland International Raceway (Budd's Creek) attracts many auto racing enthusiasts.
Law and government
St. Mary's County is governed by county commissioners, the traditional form of county government in Maryland.
Board of Commissioners
- Francis Jack Russell, President
- Kenneth R. Dement, District 1
- Thomas A. Mattingly, Sr., District 2
- Lawrence D. Jarboe, District 3
- Daniel H. Raley, District 4
The county commissioners exercise such executive powers as exist in the government of the county.
Circuit Court judges
- Hon. C. Clarke Raley, senior judge
- Hon. Karen H. Abrams, Administrative judge
- Hon. Michael J. Stamm
St. Mary's County has the oldest documented sheriff's office
in Maryland and one of the oldest in the United States. In 1637 James Baldridge was appointed sheriff. Since 1776, sheriffs in St. Mary's County have been determined by election. Tim Cameron is the current
The county has a total area of 764.5 square miles
), of which, 361 square miles (935 km²) of it is land and 403 square miles (1,045 km²) of it (52.78%) is water.
The county is largely bordered by water: the Patuxent River, the Chesapeake Bay, the Potomac River, and the Wicomico River.
St. Mary's county lies within the Humid subtropical climate
zone, surrounded on three sides by bodies of water, including the Potomac river
and Chesapeake Bay
. Summers are hot and humid, with frequent afternoon thunderstorms
. Winters are mild to cool, with ample rainfall as well.
As of 2000, there were 86,211 people, 8,361 households, and 5,443 families residing in the county. The population density
was 76 people per square mile (29/km²). There were 10,092 housing units at an average density of 12 persons/km² (31 persons/sq mi). The racial makeup of the county was 81.6% White
, 13.9% African American
, 0.37% Native American
, 1.8% Asian
, 0.02% Pacific Islander
, 0.48% from other races, and 1.20% from two or more races. Hispanic
of any race were 1.35% of the population. 14.8% were of American
, 13.9% German
, 13.3% English
and 12.1% Irish
ancestry according to Census 2000
There were 8,361 households out of which 25.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.10% were married couples living together, 15.10% have a woman whose husband does not live with her, and 34.90% were non-families. 29.40% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.92.
In the county the population was spread out with 18.50% under the age of 18, 15.70% from 18 to 24, 29.50% from 25 to 44, 22.20% from 45 to 64, and 14.20% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 114.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 119.10 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $29,903, and the median income for a family was $37,643. Males had a median income of $27,496 versus $23,035 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,965. 20.10% of the population and 15.00% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 28.40% are under the age of 18 and 19.10% are 65 or older.
Cities and towns
Saint Mary's County includes one municipality, classified as a town
under Maryland law: Leonardtown
, the county seat (incorporated 1858
Unincorporated areas are also considered as towns by many people and listed in many collections of towns, but they lack local government. Various organizations, such as the United States Census Bureau, the United States Postal Service, and local chambers of commerce, define the communities they wish to recognize differently, and since they are not incorporated, their boundaries have no official status outside the organizations in question. The Census Bureau recognizes the following census-designated places in the county:
- Charlotte Hall
- Golden Beach
- Lexington Park
Other unincorporated areas include:
- Beachville-St. Inigoes
- Coltons Point
- Great Mills
- Park Hall
- Piney Point
- St. Inigoes
- St. Mary's City
- Tall Timbers
- Valley Lee
Colleges and universities
The county houses the Naval Air Station Patuxent River
, which includes Naval Air Systems Command
, which plays a significant role in the local economy. The Naval Air Station also has an annex at Webster Field in Saint Inigoes, MD.