A 200-Year-Old African-American Community Struggles to Survive on Maryland's Eastern Shore

Newell Quinton making scrapple in San Domingo, MD, one of the longest-surviving African-American communities in the nation.

SAVORING SCRAPPLE, SAVING SAN DOMINGO 

by Tom Horton

“A good day to make scrapple,” proclaims Newell Quinton, improbably dapper in well-worn Carhartt coveralls and a brimmed hat. It’s two days ‘til Christmas. A hard frost glazed roofs as we turned the corner of San Domingo and Quinton roads, passed Quinton Hill Circle and bounced up the dirt lane to Newell’s little farm atop ‘Grandsarah’s Hill’, a sandy rise where his grandmother requested her future husband establish a homestead more than a century ago.

Newell, 76, and his cousin Keith Brown labor up from the basement with cast iron pots nearly big enough to bathe in, four in all. The pots predate both men, as does a hickory stirring paddle carved by his grandfather. San Domingo families always kept a hog, probably going back to the little African-American community’s founding two centuries ago (1820). In lean times it was something you could always sell, or eat, through the winter.

Late fall was hog butchering time as far back as Newell and Keith remember—families helping other families preparing a winter’s worth of food and lard. “It’s just a hobby now,” Newell says—but you learn it’s more than that, as the pungent odors and flavors of cooking pork swirl smokily through this short winter day. It’s part of what may be a last-ditch effort by the Quintons and other community elders to pass on the heritage of one of Maryland’s least known, unique cultures.

Read more: https://sandomingo.org/toms-blog/