The Trimper Family Adventure: Moving to Ocean City in the 1890s

If the Trimper family moved from Baltimore today, it wouldn’t be as big of an event. They’d pack up their multi-person car or van with all the kids. Maybe they would split the kids between two cars. Their belongings would go in a U-haul truck, or maybe they would hire a moving company. After getting on the road, going from Baltimore to Ocean City would probably take three hours nonstop.

That’s if they moved in the 21st century and not the late 19th century.

According to Daniel, Jr., in a July 5, 1953 article on Ocean City, his family moved in 1892. What would that have looked like?

First, they would have to pile into a horse-drawn carriage. If Daniel Jr. is remembering the year correctly, that would have been eight people moving. Two adults, Margaret and Daniel, and six children. Margaret aged 18; Caroline (Carrie) aged 16; Elizabeth Matilda (Tillie) aged 12; Katherine (Katie) aged 9; Daniel Jr, aged 6; and Elma aged 4. It’s possible that Margaret was pregnant with Granville, Sr. at the time as he was born in Ocean City.

Daniel and Margaret may have lost the third of the three children who died before adulthood before they made the move. Margaret may even have been pregnant with their 10th child, depending on when during the year they made the move.

That one carriage may not have been enough to hold everyone. Then, there were their belongings. After everyone was in the carriage or carriages, they would have been driven over to the ferry dock.

They boarded the steamer Cambridge there, according to the book City on the Sand by Mary Corddry. In the book, Daniel III recalled a family story that told that the steamer could not dock at Claiborne, MD because of how frozen the bay was. The family had to walk across the ice to shore with the crew testing the ice before them.

Let’s stop and put ourselves in Margaret’s shoes. She and her husband were traveling with six children and Margaret may have been pregnant. The family has traveled by carriage and steamer only to walk across the ice to get to shore at Claiborne and they still had hours before they arrived in Ocean City. Today, that trip would take around two hours by car.

After getting off the ice, they would have boarded a train to Ocean City. That’s if the train was there. They may have had to wait for it. The train would have had other stops along the way to Ocean City. Once they departed the train, they probably would have been soot-covered from the coal used to power the train.

Once they got to Ocean City were the children excited to be living at the beach? According to an article in the July 5th edition of the Baltimore Sun, the answer is no. Dan Jr. was interviewed in that edition as part of an article called The Sands of Time. In it he says,

None of us could see what Father saw in Ocean City at that time. There weren’t more than 40 permanent residents here, in contrast to the 1,400 we have now. We had none of this bright street lighting then – you had to carry a lantern to walk out at night, and in winter it was spooky when the wind howled around the few houses.

Imagine how scary this whole adventure must have been for the Trimper Family, especially for Margaret Trimper and the children. It’s scary today to pack up and move to a new town to start a new business, but in 1892, with the way they had to travel? I have a huge amount of respect for Margaret in particular.