Worcester County was fairly isolated in the years immediately after the Civil War. There was no permanent settlement on the barrier island where Ocean City exists today – just marsh, mosquitos and sand. One would have to get there by boat because there were no bridges either.
In 1868, a wealthy New York businessman named Stephen Taber, pictured, and his partner, DC hotel owner Hepburn Benson, purchased a tract of land on the barrier island that stretched from the Atlantic Ocean to the Sinepuxent Bay for about a mile north and south of today’s North Division Street and included some islands on the bayside. This parcel of land became known as “The Lady’s Resort to the Ocean”.
Following Benson’s death, Taber would acquire sole ownership of what would within a few years become the Town of Ocean City. It is said that the purchase price was about 50 cents an acre – one of the greatest bargains in Worcester County’s history.
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Photo courtesy Gordon Katz