Work is underway to rebuild a living history site and honor local black history in Wicomico County. The location of what was once the homestead of Buffalo Soldier, Thomas E. Polk and his wife Hattie Polk, located in Allen, is being brought back to life by Deborah Scott, granddaughter of Thomas Polk.
Buffalo Soldier was a nickname given to members of African American cavalry regiments of the U.S. Army who served in the western United States from 1867 to 1896, mainly fighting Indians on the frontier. The nickname was given by the Indians, but its significance is uncertain. According to folklore, the name was given to them by Native Americans, and the term means 'man with hair like buffalo’. In conjunction with the restoration of the site will be the construction of ‘Hattie’s Trail’. Henriette den Ouden will oversee the planting of native species — including elderberries, spice bushes and butterfly weed — along the trail beginning in the fall. Ouden is a University of Maryland Eastern Shore Extension specialty herbs consultant.
Ouden is also interested in building a garden to showcase traditional foods and medicines used in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Certain medicinal plants she hopes to include are willow trees, meadowsweet and plantains.
Henry Wayman, a member of the Eastern Shore 9th and 10th Buffalo Soldier Motorcycle Chapter, will serve as technical adviser on the project.
It’s hoped that the site will become a place where history is shared for generations and where anyone can learn about a piece of history often forgotten.
Following the site’s launch, guests will be met with signage detailing the history of the buffalo soldiers on the trail. The site will also feature soldier reenactments and video presentations.
The trail is being established in part by funding from a program under the Chesapeake Bay Trust. The Preservation Trust of Wicomico is serving as the sponsor of the project’s grant. Those looking to participate in the project can reach out to McCoy Curtis at UMES firstname.lastname@example.org