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Below are some of the places in America named after a LeCompte. When your surname is boldfaced on a map, your curiosity naturally compels you to find your connection to that place. You secretly take great pride in knowing that historical events have preserved your family name. Plus there's the fun of pointing out the place on a map to your friends. It doesn't really matter that you may be 10 generations removed from the events leading to the naming of such a place. It only matters that you have found a way home.


Castle Haven Pinpointed
Castle Haven on the Choptank River Zoom OutZoom In

Castle Haven, Dorchester County, Maryland
Find any good map of the Chesapeake Bay, and you should quite clearly see a chunk of land jutting into the Choptank River, just west of Cambridge, marked Castle Haven. The name dates back to 1659 and is often used to refer to the neck of land between LeCompte Creek and the Choptank along what is now known as LeCompte Bay. The name has also been pinned to the mansion located at the western tip of this bay at the end of Castle Haven Road.

In 1659, Anthony LeCompte patented 800 acres of what would later be known as Castle Haven Neck. He titled his site "Antonine" or "Land of St. Anthony." The bay and the creek fronting his property would carry his name posthumously. An earlier landing by Anthony on the Western Shore of the Chesapeake, had been named "Compton". Both tracts had been granted by Lord Baltimore. The 800 acre estate remained largely intact for over 200 years.

The 100 acres at the western tip of LeCompte Bay, was also patented in 1659, about two weeks prior to Anthony's patent, by Dennie Choren who referred to his land as "Castle Haven." Whether Castle Haven was ever owned by a member of the LeCompte family is currently uncertain and doubtful. Although most descendants identify the point and it's mansion as the ancestral LeCompte home, records indicate that LeCompte Creek really deserves that honor, as well as the house that burned down there in the late 1800s. The land where Anthony's first home was located, was sold out of the family in 1924 for the first time. Nevertheless, in the 21st century, there are still LeCompte descendants who own property on LeCompte bay.

News Clipping Announcing Sale of Castle Haven
(Read Full Article)

January 4, 1925 newspaper clipping
about sale of Castle Haven.

Castle Haven on the Choptank River should not be confused with 200 acres of property along the Wicomico River bearing the same name. This southern Castle Haven sits in Somerset County and was patented in 1673 by Henry Hayman and is later associated with families of Cornelius Anderson, Jonas Passwater, Alexander Fullerton, John Reddish and Dominick Jackson.

Although there is some question as to where the first few children of Anthony and Hester were born, they certainly raised all their children along the Choptank at Antonine, which became part of Dorchester County in 1669. Moses LeCompte, son of Anthony, helped establish a Ferry service as early as 1690, to link Castle Haven with Chlora Point on the other side of the Choptank River in Talbot County. No doubt the ferry service helped introduce many a potential spouse to the young ladies and gentleman residing at Castle Haven Neck. Perhaps that was worth the four thousand pounds of tobacco that was paid to the ferryman each year.

Rendering of the Choptank River Lighthouse
The former Choptank River Lighthouse situated between Benoni Point and Castle Haven. Learn more of its history.
Artwork by Richard C. Moore

A visit confirms the wisdom of Anthony, as the location offers the most expansive, unobstructed view of the Choptank River, and even the Chesapeake Bay, of any place along the shore. Of course, the site made an inviting target for the British who had brought a considerable fleet up the Chesapeake Bay during the War of 1812. It couldn't have been too large a surprise to the Reverend James Kemp (1764-1827), bishop of Maryland, who resided at Castle Haven, when his tenant farmers reported the loss of poultry and cattle after a raid on October 19, 1814.

In addition to Dr. Kemp, we know that Maryland Governor Thomas King Carroll (1793-1873) and his family, including Anna Ella Carroll (1815-1893), used the mansion at Castle Haven point as a summer house. At the end of the nineteenth century, the mansion was the home of Col. Wilbur Fiske Jackson and his wife Alice P. Smith. Today, Castle Haven mansion is a privately owned residence, a portion of which reveals the foundation of a 1700s home.

Editor's Note: I would love to hear from anyone who knows all or just a portion of the ownership history of Castle Haven - especially the old home on the point. Also curious to learn why the names Compton and Castle Haven were chosen. Perhaps the names reflect places and events back in England.

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Skipjack, Nathan of Dorchester
EnlargeThe Skipjack, "Nathan of Dorchester," sails along the waterways of Dorchester County, MD. Visit Nathan online.

LeCompte Bay, Maryland
LeCompte Bay on the Choptank River bears the name of the family who first built a home on its northwest extension, Anthony & Hester LeCompte. A small creek feeding the bay also bears the name. The embayment occupies a southern edge of the Choptank River in Dorchester County, Maryland between Horn Point on the Eastern end, and Castle Haven on the Western end.

This quiet, shallow bay, occasionally the overnight anchorage of a cruising sailboat, mostly serves the area wildlife and the residents of its shores. But as early as 1690, at the Castle Haven end of the Bay, a ferry service ran across the river to Chlora Point in Talbot County. An active wharf remained at Castle Haven into the early 1900s.

The Dove (replica)
The Maryland Dove, built on the shores of LeCompte Bay, commemorates the original Dove of 1634, part of Lord Baltimore's expedition to Maryland.
 
 

For many years, LeCompte Bay and Creek were known for the boatyard of James B. Richardson (1906-1991), a master boat builder descended from Anthony LeCompte on his mother's side and a long line of shipwrights on his father's side.

Mr. Jim Richardson
Jim Richardson

In 1977, Jim and his team worked for fifteen months on the shore of LeCompte Creek to craft a full-scale, functional reproduction of the Maryland Dove, the ship that brought the Calverts and others to the New World in 1634 for the founding of Maryland. The replica frequently sails the Chesapeake and is currently harbored in St. Mary's City. (See more facts about the Dove).

Footnote: James Byron Richardson
Ancestry: (James Byron8 > Lena W. LeCompte7 > Philip Isaiah6 > Samuel5 > Isaiah4 > William3 > Moses2 > Anthony1)
According to the Richardson Maritime Museum in Cambridge, Jim Richardson stood out from other late 20th century boat builders for his view to the past, which sought to rediscover, preserve, and pass on methods used by craftsmen of previous generations. The museum named in Jim's honor is a waterman's museum dedicated to the craftsmen and culture of traditional Eastern Shore boat building.

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LeCompte Widlife Mgmt Area, Maryland
The LeCompte Wildlife Management Area (WMA) was named in honor of Edwin Lee LeCompte (1874-1947), Game Warden for the State of Maryland (1916-1945), son of Francis Asbury & Eveleene Foxwell LeCompte, and descendant of Anthony LeCompte.

LeCompte WMA
WMA Photograph by Chuck Prahl
Learn more about LeCompte WMA online.

The 500 acre WMA provides a refuge for many native flora and fauna, but was created with a mandate to preserve the Delmarva fox squirrel, which was listed as an endangered species in 1967. Wildife biologists have introduced numerous conservation programs at LeCompte WMA such as model agricultural fields, the reintroduction of the wild turkey (after a 200 year absence on the Eastern Shore), habitat management practices, and the Wetland Restoration Project for migratory birds. The site even provides unique opportunities for hunters with disabilities to hunt waterfowl on public land.

Visitors are treated with a pleasant, well-documented nature hike through LeCompte WMA. To learn more visit LeCompte WMA online.

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Promotional Sign for LeCompton
For a few short years, Lecompton, named for a Castle Haven descendant, was the territorial capital of Kansas.

Lecompton, Kansas
The small, quiet town of Lecompton belies its roots as the once future capital of Kansas and birthplace of the Lecompton Constitution, a document that stymied the U.S. Congress, split the Democratic Party, elevated Abraham Lincoln's political career, and precipitated the War Between the States.

In 2000, Lecompton was home to a population of about 600. Stark contrast to it's populous neighbors Lawrence (80,000) and Topeka (120,000). At the height of its prosperity, in 1857-58, Lecompton was the quickly expanding capital of the new Territory, with a number of large hotels, at least four church organizations, the United States Court, the land office, and a reputation as the "Wall Street of the West." The stage lines to Kansas City, Leavenworth, and St. Joseph, MO were all headquartered in Lecompton, a measure of its central importance to settlers, politicians, and land speculators.

This one square mile bluff overlooking the Kansas River, was founded with the name "Bald Eagle" in 1854 on a 640-acre Wyandotte Indian land claim. The town was renamed the same year to honor Judge Samuel Dexter LeCompte, chief justice of the Kansas territorial supreme court and president of the Lecompton Town Company. As an appointee of U.S. President Franklin Pierce, Judge LeCompte, at age 40, had recently come to Kansas from Maryland to help prepare the Territory for statehood.

 
In the fall of 1857, the Lecompton Constitutional Convention met and drafted a pro-slavery constitution in the upper story of Constitution Hall.

After the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, Lecompton quickly became a political hot spot for territorial, national and even international politics, as a decision had to be made by the settlers of the Territory whether Kansas would be a free state or a slave state. Abolitionists flocked to the nearby town of Lawrence, pro-slavery advocates to Lecompton. Charles Robinson, a leader of the free-staters, who would later become the first governor of Kansas, was imprisoned in Lecompton and actually tried for treason by the pro-slavery judiciary. As voters, who immigrated daily, prepared to decide the fate of the State, partisan politics, fraught with fraud, intimidation, violence and even murder, earned the region the title "Bleeding Kansas."

The territorial legislature met in Constitution Hall in the Fall of 1857 and drafted the Lecompton Constitution with the intent of making Kansas a slave state. While Democratic President James Buchanan accepted the document, presidential contenders Lincoln and Douglas publicly debated the consequences, and the U.S. Senate postponed a decision. In 1859 the "Free Staters" gained a majority stake in the territorial legislature, repealed the pro-slavery, pro-plantation laws and adopted a free state constitution.

The events of Lecompton and the Kansas Territory furthered the distance in relations between the North and the South. After seven southern states seceded from the Union between December 20, 1860 and January 26, 1861, the logjam in Congress was cleared, and Kansas became a free state on January 29, 1861. The Kansas legislature chose Topeka as the capital, and Lecompton immediately ceased growing. Property values plummeted from highs of $1,000 to less than $25, and the population swiftly declined, never to exceed 1,000 again. Ten weeks later, the War Between the States began.

Constitution Hall still stands, and visitors can explore the Territorial Capitol/Lane Museum dedicated to Lecompton's early days on the political frontier.

2012 UPDATE: See New York Times Article on LeCompton, spurred by release of motion picture about Lincoln.

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Lecompte, Louisiana
Historians agree that the town of Lecompte was named after the world-class race horse, Lecomte, who was arguably the fastest colt in the world in 1854. Lecomte was given his name as a compliment by local breeder Jefferson Wells, who received the thoroughbred as a gift from his friend and planter, Ambrose Lecomte. We learn a little about Ambrose and Jefferson from the Ouachita Telegraph of 1883:

LeCompte, Rapides Parish, LA
Lecompte, LA, named after a race horse, is located in Rapides Parish in the heart of Louisiana

"Ambrose Lecompte, one of the oldest citizens of Natchitoches parish, died a few days ago. Commenting on his death, the Shreveport Times Says: Mr. Lecompte before the war had quite a penchant for fine horses, and more from taste than profit, bred and ran race horses. Like the late Col. Jeff Wells, he ran his horses for the purses, but seldom, if ever, bet on them. The colt Lecompte, owned by Wells, and who ran the famous race over the Metarie course against Lexington, was named in compliment to the gentleman turfman. Although Mr. Lecompte lost largely by the war, he was fortunately out of debt and retained a competency."

There is, however, some disagreement over the spelling of Lecomte. Although references like that above refer to Ambrose as a "Lecompte," the more colorful, and perhaps correct, story relates how the railroad company incorrectly inserted a "p" into a sign on the side of a train depot, and that the town was known as Lecompte ever after. Interestingly enough, one of the first American railroads ran from Alexandria, LA to Lecompte.

We do know that regardless of the spelling, Ambrose Lecomte was not a descendant of the Castle Haven LeComptes of Maryland. Ambrose Lecomte and his father, also named Ambrose, ran Magnolia Plantation, one of the largest cotton producers in Natchitoches Parish, LA from 1830 to early in the 20th century, producing well over 1,000 bales of cotton annually. Ambrose Sr., or perhaps his father, was a French immigrant, but any connection to Anthony LeCompte is presumed to be quite distant.

If you decide to visit LeCompte, LA, your tastebuds may be pleased to learn that LeCompte has been designated the Pie Capital of Louisiana. Be sure to check out the annual LeCompte Pie Festival, which takes place in October on the grounds of the old LeCompte High School.

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Map pinpointing LeCompte Bottom
LeCompte's Bottom, a bend on the Kentucky River, is the nexus between Henry, Franklin, and Owen counties.

LeCompte's Bottom, Kentucky
LeCompte Run, Kentucky

The adventures of Pioneer Charles LeCompte and Surveyor William McConnell, who left the Ohio River and traveled up the Kentucky River toward the Elkhorn region as early as 1775, are memorialized in the names of a few places along the way.

One such place is LeCompte's Bottom, a significant bend in the Kentucky River in Henry County, KY. Many of Charles's descendants, particularly those of his son Joseph, who became a Congressman in 1825, settled in the area. Of course, the area was considered Virginia until the State of Kentucky was formed in 1792.

LeCompte's Bottom has been the subject of debate coming into the 21st century as it geographically fits into Franklin County, but has historically always been attached to Henry County. The Courier-Journal of Louisville, KY reported:

"... it is a 'politically ill-assigned piece of geography,' as a former resident once described it. The Kentucky River, two creeks and some rough terrain hem it in. Getting anywhere else in Henry County requires crossing into Franklin County, then out again."

Further upstream from and south of LeCompte's Bottom, is North Elkhorn Creek, which in turn is fed by LeCompte Run and McConnell Run in Scott County, KY. These two streams, named for the early explorers, surround the area known as "Big Spring" and "Stamping Ground," named for the herds of Bison who were seen stamping down the undergrowth in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

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