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Saint Mary's County (often abbreviated as St. Mary's County) is a county located in the U.S. state of Marylandmarker.

As of 2000, the population was 86,211, and more recent population estimates are closer to 100,000. Its county seat is Leonardtownmarker. 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 Englandmarker at St. Clement's Islandmarker in the Potomac River in what is now southwestern St. Mary's County on March 25, 1634 (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 Wightmarker on November 22, 1633. 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 Citymarker.

In 1649, Lord Baltimore, with the Maryland General Assembly, passed the Maryland Toleration Act, which provided religious freedom for any (Christian) sect, and which was the first law of its kind in the New World. There is a statue in St. Mary's City commemorating this event.

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 Minnesotamarker. The largest employer is Patuxent River Naval Air Stationmarker 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. The Maryland International Raceway (Budd's Creek) attracts many auto racing enthusiasts.

The county has a number of properties on the National Register of Historic Places.

Notable residents

Law and government

St. Mary's County Courthouse, July 2009
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

County executive

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

Law enforcement

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 sheriff.


The county has a total area of 764.5 square miles (1,980 km²), 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.

Adjacent counties


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, 30,642 households, and 5,443 families residing in the county. The population density was 238 people per square mile (92/km²). There were 34,081 housing units at an average density of 36 persons/km² (94 persons/sq mi). The racial makeup of the county was 81.57% White, 13.92% African American, 0.34% Native American, 1.80% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 0.61% from other races, and 1.68% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.00% of the population. 14.8% were of Americanmarker, 13.9% German, 13.3% English and 12.1% Irish ancestry according to Census 2000.

There were 30,642 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 2.72 and the average family size was 3.14.

In the county the population was spread out with 27.90% under the age of 18, 15.70% from 18 to 24, 29.50% from 25 to 44, 22.20% from 45 to 64, and 9.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 101.80 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 119.10 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $54,706, and the median income for a family was $61,397. Males had a median income of $27,496 versus $23,035 for females. The per capita income for the county was $22,662. 7.20% of the population and 5.20% 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: Leonardtownmarker, 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:

  1. Californiamarker
  2. Charlotte Hallmarker
  3. Golden Beachmarker
  4. Lexington Parkmarker

Other unincorporated areas include:

  1. Abellmarker
  2. Avenuemarker
  3. Beachville-St. Inigoesmarker
  4. Bushwoodmarker
  5. Callawaymarker
  6. Chaptico-Maddox
  7. Clementsmarker
  8. Coltons Pointmarker
  9. Comptonmarker
  10. Dameronmarker
  11. Draydenmarker
  12. Great Millsmarker
  13. Helenmarker
  14. Hollywoodmarker
  15. Lovevillemarker
  16. Mechanicsvillemarker
  17. Morganzamarker
  18. Park Hall
  19. Piney Pointmarker
  20. Ridgemarker
  21. St. Inigoes
  22. St. Mary's Citymarker
  23. Scotlandmarker
  24. Tall Timbers
  25. Valley Leemarker

Colleges and universities

Military bases

The county houses the Naval Air Station Patuxent Rivermarker, 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.


St. Mary's County is served by Captain Walter Duke Regional Airportmarker.

Limited buses are provided through St. Mary's Transit [10994]

Notable sites

See also


External links

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