|LeComptes of Castle Haven||
© 2004-9 Kirkwood A. LeCompte
"LeComptes of Castle Haven."
|Famous Places Named for a LeCompte|
Castle Haven, MD |
LeCompte Bay, MD | LeCompte WMA, MD |
Lecompton, KS | LeCompte, LA | LeCompte's Bottom, KY | LeCompte Run, KY
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.
Dorchester County, Maryland
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
LeCompte Widlife Mgmt
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.