Authored by Tiffany Sheppard
Artist Peggy Wroten, born in the year 1944, spent a majority of her life in the Neck District of Cambridge, Maryland. (Wroten 2022). Peggy enjoyed drawing for fun in primary school, and knew she had something special when children in school would ask her to draw pictures for them (Wroten 2022). Wroten credits God for her artistic abilities, stating that her “talent is a God given gift” (Wroten 2022). Peggy Wroten would go on to create many works of art including award winning duck carvings, and paintings of waterfowl and other historical landmarks such as Old Trinity Church and Blackwater Refuge, both located near Church Creek, Maryland. Mrs. Wroten also illustrated two children’s books titled The Parable of the Birds, written by Peggy Mayers Litschert and published in 2004, and We’re All Special, written by Joyce Taylor Dennis and published in 2009.
Peggy Wroten decided to capture the George L. Windmill on paper in the summer of 1974. Wroten packed up all of her art materials, and with her small child in tow, sat at the George L. Windmill property on Gary’s Creek in Cambridge, Maryland to sketch the drawing (Wroten 2022). Peggy was a good friend of Senator George L. Radcliffe, the man behind having the windmill reconstructed. This would be one of her motivations for sketching the windmill. Peggy Wroten states that she “just knew it would eventually become a historical landmark” (Wroten 2022). She could not have been more correct.
After a devastating blizzard in March of 1888, “George L. Radcliffe and his father surveyed the aftermath of the storm and found considerable damage including the pile of rubble which had been his father’s windmill” (Radcliffe Jr. 2021, 281). The original mill, built in 1852 by John Anthony LeCompte Radcliffe “had allowed their family and others in the community to turn grain into the meal needed for cooking for close to four decades” (Radcliffe Jr. 2021, 281). The mill was an English post mill, “with the entire housing resting on one post, allowing the entire building to be turned into the wind” (The Spocott Windmill Foundation 2022). John AL Radcliffe’s son, George L. Radcliffe, “saved the millstones and steps from the original mill, and it was his dream to reconstruct the mill in its original location” (The Spocott Windmill Foundation 2022).
The reconstructed windmill “was built by master boatbuilder James B. Richardson” (Gilberto-Brady 2019). Also known as Captain Jim, Richardson “was the owner of Richardson Boat Yard and his family had built ships since the seventeenth century” (Radcliffe Jr. 2021, 282). “After considerable planning, the mill was re-built about 100 feet from the original mill and dedicated on Sen. George L. Radcliffe’s 95th birthday, Aug. 22, 1972” (The Spocott Windmill Foundation 2022). “All of the timber for the mill came from the nearby woodland, exactly where George’s father would have gotten the timber for the original mill and the original 700-pound stones were used” (Radcliffe Jr. 2021, 284) for the rebuilding. Peggy Wroten was involved in the celebration of the re-erected windmill and even served lemonade to visitors (Wroten 2022).
The historical landmark, the George L. Windmill “operates twice a year” (Gilberto-Brady 2019). The Spocott Windmill Foundation is “committed to continuing its research and restoration efforts, as well as maintaining and sharing this Heritage Area site and its history with the public at no charge” (Gilberto-Brady 2019). George M. Radcliffe, Senator George L. Radcliffe’s grandson, who now maintains the property, states that the semi-annual tour has the purpose of simply “sharing the history of the windmill” (Radcliffe Jr. 2022).
While Peggy Wroten was “a small-town girl who had no interest in a big city artist lifestyle” (Wroten 2022), she taught art lessons to her friends while working at an accounting office and later, as the financial director of the Robbins Family YMCA in Cambridge, Maryland. Peggy later went on to paint a picture of the windmill, and has made many prints of the piece to share with others. The art Mrs. Wroten creates is her gift to others, her selfless service to the history of her community, a core value of Vincentian life. Her fascinating life and experiences, and the rich history of the George L. Windmill will always live on through her art.
Gilberto-Brady, Julie. 2019. “Partner Spotlight: Spocott Windmill.” Visit Dorchester (blog). October 30, 2019. https://visitdorchester.org/partner-spotlight-spocott-windmill/.
Peggy Wroten. 1974. The George L. Pencil drawing on paper. 40 x 30 cm. Dorchester County Public Library Maryland Room Collection. Cambridge.
Radcliffe Jr., George M. 2021. Call Me Cousin George. Berlin: Salt Water Media.
Radcliffe Jr., George M. 2022. “The George L. Windmill.” Interview by Tiffany Sheppard. October 5, 2022.
The Spocott Windmill Foundation. 2022. “About the Spocott Windmill.” Spocott Windmill and Village (blog). https://spocottwindmill.org/history/.
Wroten, Peggy. 2022. “The George L. Windmill Sketch.” Interview by Tiffany Sheppard. October 9, 2022.