VOICES OF KENT
Mabel Lee Elbourn Oral History

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Record 4/16
Copyright HSKC and Tyler Campbell
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Collection ORAL HISTORY
Date 1982
Abstract Mabel Elbourn (born 1903)

Born in Millington and raised on a farm, Mabel Elbourn was the youngest of 11 children. When she was 7, her father went into the lumber business and moved the family to Tolchester, where she attended Oak Grove School. She also had a child's eye view of commerce along the Bay as she walked the mile and a half to school. "The Tolchester boat in the winter time came in about three days a week and the farmers sent their chickens, ducks and even the cows over to market on that boat…it was bad to meet the cows they were driving, sometimes I'd be afraid of them but we did have fences on one side so we could get over the fence 'cause they had them all along the road and it was scary."

In that part of Kent County transportation by water proved more efficient than by truck to get both people and products to market in Baltimore. "It was a passenger boat too and that was the only way you had to get to Baltimore unless you went to Chestertown and went by train I don't know whether they carried them on those cars or not but I imagine they did because we didn't have trucks at that time. Of course we didn't have very good roads. It must have been about l912 when my father had a car, I think, the old Ford."

Even as the youngest child, Elbourn had responsibilities. "And my father used to go to the boat [in Tolchester], he would have to go over to Baltimore to get machinery and I would take him down in the car. He taught me to drive it when I was twelve…your father was supposed to be along side of you but he would let me come home alone in it." Her older brothers worked at the saw mill, so it became her job at 11 years old to take the few local children to school in a horse-drawn wagon. "It was from September until December but some cold weather then and it would be pretty late when we got home. And by the time I went to the houses and picked the children up… then I'd have to leave very early in the morning and it would be nearly dark at night when we got home."

When she completed 7th grade at Fancy School, Mabel Elbourn had the most formal schooling of any of her siblings. At 17, she took a secretarial course at Chester Commercial College but only worked as a secretary for 5 months before she moved back to Rock Hall and married.

1 original cassette tape. Not digitized.
Interview date 06/30/1982
Media Cassette Tape
Narrator Mabel Lee Elbourn
Object ID 4322
Object Name Tape
Title Mabel Lee Elbourn Oral History
COPYRIGHT INFORMATION ~ Oral histories copyright Historical Society of Kent County. Images copyright Tyler Campbell. Duplication or publication only with permission.

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Last modified on: September 07, 2012