Rev. Robert W. Todd

Rev. Todd served as a minister to Whatcoat U.M.C. in 1857-58.

On Boston University's website his middle name is noted as being "Washington".

In 1838 he wrote of his days in an old time Maryland school as follows:
"The school was but a quarter of a mile distant from home; but to our childish fancies it was so far that mother gratified us by putting our dinners in a little basket. Only big Sister Retta could be entrusted with that precious basket, and Emma and I cast many interested glances towards it as, hand in hand, and bearing the books, slates, and inkstand, with goose quills to make pens, we proudly marched along the winding highway, under the leafless branches of the great white oaks which bordered the farther side.

At last with a gathering group of expectant children, and youth of from five to twenty-one years of age, we stood before the open door of the new school house. Not that the word new describes the house; very far from it; but the school was new. The school-master was a new arrival in the neighborhood, and the house was newly and for the first time used for so noble a purpose. Will the reader believe it? The house was really a deserted negro cabin, that stood by the highway side, near Townsend's Cross Roads, three miles from Denton, the county town. For an area of twenty-five square miles between that town and the Delaware line, this was the only school, and this was started by a private subscription managed by my father. The Maryland law, at that time, liberally provided that if the people of a neighborhood would subscribe for the tuition of twelve scholars at five dollars each, then the State would furnish a like amount for the education of the same number of "charity scholars." There was no public provisions for school houses, and whether there was house or school, depended altogether upon the character of the population that, amid rural mutations, might happen to gather in any given neighborhood.

This new school and every school in that region for several years, was in a rented house. This particular house was built of logs, the interstices being filled with clay to keep out wind and rain. It was eighteen or twenty feet square, and abut eight feet to the eaves; with a door front and back, each opening outwards. Midway between the doors and the north end where stood the chimney, at a convenient height, part of the log was sawed out, the aperture being filled with a three-light hanging window, which, as occasion required, could be propped up for ventilation.

Where the chimney stood was an aperture six feet wide and four feet high, into which the stone and mud walls of the fireplace were built to a height above where the blaze of the great log fire would usually reach; and above that pint the flue was made of logs and sticks, liberally daubed within of clay. At the south end of the house, in order to adapt it to its use as a literary institution, almost an entire log had been removed. This aperture was covered by a wide board, fastened by hinges to the log above, and secured to that below by staple and hook. Like the sash before mentioned, this board was propped up to admit needed light and fresh air. Just below this aperture was the writing desk, extending across the room against the wall. Here, alternately, the girls and boys made pot hooks and hangers with their goose quill pens, after the pattern set by the teacher; and finally graduated to the distinguished accomplishment of being able to draw a note of hand or receipt for ten dollars, good and lawful money of the United States of America, and to affix thereto their own seal, written signatures.

The teacher "set the copies" during the noon hour; but made and mended pens at all hours, when they happened to be presented for that purpose. Hence the name still so commonly applied to the pocketknife. It was not unusual to see the teacher dividing his time and attention between a page of Comly's spelling book, where some sweating pupil was painfully struggling with the problems of orthography, and the quill he was slitting and whittling, meanwhile stealing an occasional moment for a furtive glance about the schoolroom, to see that there was no pinching, or pin-sticking, or snickering behind books or slates going on among the unruly urchins.

In addition to the so-called writing desk, the furniture of this schoolroom consisted of a desk and chair for the teacher, and three or four slab benches across the end of the room, next to the writing desk. In cold weather a bench was set near the great fire-place, and was occupied by alternate platoons of the shivering scholars to thaw themselves out. Three formidable hickory rods, of varying size and length, adapted to the sex and size of the culprits; and a pretty, little, red maple switch, suited to the esthetic tastes and tender sensibilities of the smaller urchins, completed the outfit. The entire curriculum of our school was covered by the three cabalistic letters, R., R., R., understood to represent the three great sciences, Readin', Ritin' and 'Rithmetic. The three G's, Grammer, Geography and Geometry, had then scarcely been dreamed of as ever possible to be taught in a country school. It was not until several years after--not indeed until the renowned Chinquapin schoolhouse had been built, over a mile away, on the road to Punch Hall, that we ever heard of such a study as English Grammar or Geography. The primer, or rather a primer-for it mattered not what it was, so long as there were A, B, C's in it-was the textbook most in demand at Mr. Marshall's log cabin school."
History of Caroline County Maryland From Its Beginning; Material Largely Contributed by the Teachers and Children of the County Revised and Supplemented by Laura C. Cochrane, Lavinia R. Crouse, Mrs. Wilsie S. Gibson, A. May Thompson & Edward M. Noble Of the Caroline County Schools; Originally Published Denton, c. 1920

Another site on the web cites some additional passages as follows:
"Mr. Marshall’s clean-shaven face -- for only rowdies wore beard in those good old times -- was furrowed over with many wrinkles of benevolence and care; and the friction of many anxious years had polished his bald head until it had become a favorite skating rink for the festive house-fly. One little patch of iron-gray hair remained in front, above his pug nose, which was combed tip and carefully trained into a sort of drake-tail ornament; and the little remaining on either side above his ears was twisted into little tufts ,sticking out at right angles. and giving him somewhat of the appearance of a nondescript animal of the baboon persuasion. with three horns. The grotesque was heightened by the presence of an immense pair of brass-bowed spectacles, which alternately bestrid his nose and adorned his bald and glistening pate, all fit index to the vast library of knowledge entombed within the venerable skull. ...

“The primer, or, rather, a primer, for it mattered not what it was, so there were A. B. C’s in it -- was the text-book most in demand in Mr. Marshall’s long-cabin school * * * * * * His method of teaching A, B. C’s was to point with a little stick he kept for the purpose, to each letter in regular order, call its name and require us to pronounce the name after him. As his time was divided between painting to the letter and watching Billy Wadman, Dick Sorden, Bill Daniel Roe, Sally Price, et ai., it not infrequently happened that the urchin reciting was looking anywhere else than at the alphabetical forms pointed out and called in turn by the mas- ter himself. It required most of the winter for many of us to learn to distinguish these different signs of sound.

“As a general rule, scholars were not permitted to attempt read- ing until they had mastered the spelling book, even to the long words like ‘concatenation,’ hieroglyhpically,' etc.; and our next teacher invented a test word it was necessary for the pupil to master before he could take up the initial reading-lessons, about the wren, robin red-breast, and the lion; this test word was honorifiticabilitticabilitudcanditatibusque! When the pupil could repeat and spell this huge medley of nonsense, going back at each syllable, and pronouncing up to and including the last syllable spelled, in regular order, without a hitch or blunder, until he reached the towering conclusion, he was graduated to reading.”

The writer found appended to the proof the following interesting verification by the proof-reader of this paragraph: “J. N. Hall, eighty-three years of age, one of the readers in the Government Printing Office, distinctly remembers spelling a test word similar to that above mentioned, by syllables: in his younger days, thus: ho-no-ri-fi-ca-bi-li-tu-ni-te-tat-and-a-bus-que,’ repeating the pronunciation of each syllable to the completion of the word, and can do it to-day as readily and rapidly as in his youth.”

My own recollection is very distinct that a Mr. Whittlesy, a Vermont man, introduced and taught such a word in the school at Leesburg, Kr., in 1841; it was “trans-mag-ni-fy-can-ban-dan-du-al-i-ty," and now, in my sixtieth year, I can rattle it off almost as glibly as then.

“After mastering the few reading-lessons in the speller, the next book in order was the introduction to the ‘English Reader,’ and after that the English Reader.’ provided the pulpils could conveniently secure them. * * * * * * * It was absolutely impossible for the teacher to arrange his pupils in classes, and consequently each one must needs b& heard separately. The time being. limited, and the books generally of a grade too difficult for beginners. to facilitate matters, Master Marshall usually read along ahead of the scholars, sentence by sentence, or a few words at a time, the pupil repeating after him in drawling style as correctly as a parrot. In like manner the beginner in arithmetic was plunged headlong into the profundities of Pike’s Arithmetic, two-thirds of whose exampies, involving money matters, were stated fn pounds, shillings and pence. Mr. Marshall could do all the sums in the arithmetic.’ He was reputed to be a veritable Pythagoras at ‘figgerin.’ He was. withal, very obliging to show his scholars bow by ‘doing the sum’; but he never explained it, It is doubtful, indeed, whether he could, having learned arithmetic as lie taught it, simply by note.

“While Master Marshall’s hickory rods were generally innocent ornaments, his successor. Mr. Wilson’s furniture in that interesting line was brought into constant requisition and needed to be almost daily replenished. Neither nationality, age, sex, nor ‘previous condition of servitude’ exempted any scholar who was thought to have forgotten or disobeyed some rule; but I really believe his liberal use of the rod was inspired by conscientious convictions of duty. * * * * * I do solemnly aver that for many of the floggings that I received from this devoted friend and teacher. averaging nearly one per diem for a year. I found it impossible to discover any cause, and he was too quiet and dignified to explain.”

My own experience in the years 1840-41-42, with teachers Flournoy, a Kentuckian, and Whittlesy, a Vermonter, and Scimser, a New Yorker, was similar to this writer’s although I was regarded as one of the best and rnost studious boys in school.

“Again and again, as I sat unconscious of any violation of Master Wilson’s rules, the hickory. pitched with the unerring aim of an aborigine, would roll from my person, rattling down upon the floor. The performance meant a notification that it was now my interesting duty to take that switch to the teacher’s desk and stand to receive the chastisement, supposed to be needed for my intellectual development. Sometimes my next neighbor on the slab, being involved in the misdemeanor, real or imaginary, we were both required for the service of returning the projectile to the battery, one at each end; but on arriving, the handle end was relinquished to Master Wilson, and we twain became active partners at the other end."
Excerpts from History of Caroline County Maryland From Its Beginning; Material Largely Contributed by the Teachers and Children of the County Revised and Supplemented by Laura C. Cochrane, Lavinia R. Crouse, Mrs. Wilsie S. Gibson, A. May Thompson & Edward M. Noble Of the Caroline County Schools; Originally Published Denton, c. 1920 as found on Brian Cragun's website located at http://www.cragun.com/brian/hearne/history/hh172m.html

In 1858, under the pastorate of Revs. Robert W. Todd, and J.E. Bryan, of Camden Circuit, Whatcoat UMC's second church was erected. The frame structure was 20 by 40 feet, and the building can still be seen a few buildings west of the intersection of Main St. and Route 10 (Camden-Wyoming Ave.) in 2007. The building committee was Thomas Pickering, Sr., Chas. Short and Jas. Green. It was dedicated July 18th, Revs. A.A. Rees, of Baltimore, Wm. C. Robinson, of Dover, and Jonathan S. Willis, of Milford, officiating. The trustees in 1886 were J.W. Clark, E.F. Wood, T.H. Hopkins, S.C. Wells, Geo. M. Scott, Wm. E. Maloney, H.C. Deputy, J.E. Durborrow, W. Saxton, W.J. Spencer, D. Townsend, Elisha Johnson and James Gordon.
Scharf, Thomas J., History of Delaware, 1609-1888, Volume Two, Chap. LXI; published in Philadelphia by the L.J. Richards & Co. in 1888

1864

In 1864 Rev. Todd served as a delegate from Caroline County in Maryland's 2nd Constitutional Convention. In the Proceedings and Debates of the 1864 Constitutional Convention it states, "and the Rev. Robert W. Todd, a delegate from Caroline county, was on the same day a Minister or Preacher of the Gospel". To read Rev. Todd's argument against slavery that he argued before the Convention, and the debate surrounding it, click HERE. [BJ Peters' Note: I take great pride in stating that my 2nd great grandfather, Baltis H. Kennard, served with Rev. Todd as a fellow delegate and Methodist. He was a delegate representing Baltimore City, Md.]
Source: Proceedings and Debates of the 1864 Constitutional Convention;Assembled at the City of Annapolis, Wednesday, April 27, 1864; Volume 102, Volume 1, pg.414.

Below are some of Rev. Todd's own words from the book he authored on Methodism on the Peninsula where he describes events following the emancipation of slaves in the state of Maryland.





On May 4th, 1864, Robert W. Todd was elected by the Board of the Maryland Hospital for the insane to the position of "Visitor". He resided in Denton, Caroline County, Md. at the time. It seems that a "Visitor" was part of a committee which over-saw the workings of the hospital. One of his duties as "Visitor" would have been to "invest the funds arising from donations and legacies, not necessary for the support of the institution in such securities, real or personal, as they may deem safe."
Source: Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, 1867; Volume 133, Page 3734

It states elsewhere in this volume that, "the institution, its management and finances shall be subject to inspection at least once a year by those Visitors to be elected by the Legislature.

1866

In a list called, "A List of Balances due by the Clerics of Courts and Registers of Wills, as of September 30th, 1866", the name Robert W. Todd appears as the Register of Wills for Caroline County, Md.
Source: Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, 1867; Volume 133, Page 1230

1867

1872

"The Rev. Robert W. Todd, of St. Paul's Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, visited Ocean Grove Camp Meeting on the New Jersey shore. He told of his experiences in a sermon, using as his text the words: "and the sea hath spoken." Todd was so inspired by his experience in New Jersey that he pursued establishing a Christian seaside resort for the Delmarva Peninsula. He had a vision of the appropriate site in a dream and ultimately purchased 414 acres for a Camp Meeting Ground." Rev. Todd was the founder of Rehoboth.
The News Journal's DelawareBeaches.com site; Rehoboth Timeline page.

1873

The Rehoboth Beach Camp Meeting Association of the Methodist Episcopal Church was chartered and the first camp meeting began. Tent homes were built at what is now Grove Park. The boardwalk and a hotel were built and the post office opened. ... The Camp Meeting was discontinued in 1881.

1883

In a summary of events from the Wilmington M.E. Conference which was held in Cambridge, Md. on March 7, 1883, the news article in "The Journal" newspaper for Denton, Md., issue for 10 Mar 1883 mentions Rev. R. W. Todd" as being assigned to the "Centennial Committee". To view this article click HERE. The article had to be pieced together due to the size of the whole newspaper page.

1886

Mention of a book published in 1886 by Rev. Todd is on a web site which offers articles that originally appeared in "Collecting Delaware Books", a print newsletter discussing Delaware books and paper ephemera. The newsletter was published from 1992 to 1999 by John P. Reid of Bear, Delaware. It states, "Robert W. Todd's Methodism of the Peninsula, copyright 1886, is a similar book [BJ's note: comparison being made is to Thirteen Years Experience in the Itinerancy by the Reverend Andrew Manship, first published in 1855], though it deals more directly with people and congregations. There are many stories of "muscular Christianity" and of the hardships suffered by circuit riding preachers. Todd also had a sense of humor that Manship lacked.

One of the most striking features of Todd's book is descriptions of strife caused by the slavery issue before and during the Civil War. Wilmington and Philadelphia Methodists generally opposed slavery. However, churches were split apart by the issue in southern Delaware and Maryland. These schisms were sometimes bitter and even violent. An excerpt follows.

Under the heading "Humors of the Pulpit" it states, "The following anecdotes are from the Rev. R. W. Todd's recent work, "Methodism on the Peninsula""

The Rev. John Collins was an old time minister of a peppery temper, particularly distinguished for the severity of his rebukes to those guilty of any indecorum in church. On one occasion a man who had been drinking rather freely came in late and took his seat by a hot stove. The fire and whiskey together produced their natural effect and he soon became ill. "Take that drunken hog out of the church," shouted Mr. Collins. Turning upon the pracher a look of injured innocence, the sufferer replied: "I'm not - hic - not drunk - hic - at all. It's the - hic - the nasty preachin's made me sick!"

At a meeting on Annamessex circuit a notorious toper lay dozing on a bench which it became necessary to move in the courses of the services. In spite of efforts not to disturb the sleeper, he rolled off sprawling on the floor just as the preacher was crying to the unconverted: "Come just as you are! Fall down before the Lord and seek salvation!" An old sister, supposing that a stricken penitent had fallen at the altar, sang out, "Thank the Lord! There's one sinner on his back, anyhow!" Rising slowly and sullenly, and scowling with indignation, he scornfully replied - "I ain't no sinner on his back."

The Rev. William Barnes was an Irishman, noted equally for his power and his eccentricities. He wore a shirt collar of stupendous size and a curly sig. The latter article of decoration was the subject of some unfriendly criticism, and this coming to his ears he prefaced his Sunday sermon with the following remakrs: "Braithren, I understand there's some of ye that don't like it because I wear a wag. Now, I've made up my mind to wear it or not, jist as the congregation says. Here I am; look at me. This is Billy Barnes with the wag. And this" - at the same moment snatching the offending wig from the top of his bald pate - "This is Billy Barnes without the wag! Which way will ye have him?" In the roars of laughter and vociferous responses - "Brother Barnes with the wig!"- that ensued, the wig critics of old union were utterly discomfited. But he was once the chief actor in a stranger performance than this.

He had just begun his prayer when a wasp alighted between his huge collar and the back of his neck. The half-expressed petition ended suddenly in a grunt, and with a terrified but resolute face, he proceeded to take off his coate and vest, unreef his ample cravat and remove the expanse of collar. By this time, however, the wasp had gone lower, and Mr. Barnes accordingly took off his shirt. The insect having been captured and crushed, the preacher re-made his toilet with the utmost nonchalance, and resumed his broken prayer, to which he added thanks that he had been "delivered from that nasty wasp - the ammissary of the daivil." Source: "The Budget" newspaper of Milburn, N.J., Vol. I. No. 52, issue dated Wednesday, December 29, 1886, Page 3.

SOME MARRIAGES PERFORMED BY REV. TODD:

15 APR 1875, Talbot Co., MD William Rollins CHAPLAIN (Sr.) to Caroline F. "Carrie" ROLLE
Souce: The Blades, Chance and Marshall families of Maryland's Upper Eastern Shore are the focus of Chance & Blades, located in 2003 at http://www.chronography.com/blades/scrpat/d0000/g0000085.html

This biographical piece is a work in progress. As more information becomes available, it will be included on this page.
- B.J. Peters