Eldon G. Marksman, M.D.
Eldon Galway Marksman practiced medicine from his rural offices on the outskirts of Princess Anne for more than four decades during which time he also served as Maryland State College's campus physician.
A native of Grenada, Marksman was born Oct. 20, 1892 to John and Roselia Clarke Marksman. He was strongly influenced to seek higher education by a mentor, Dr. C. Noel, a dental surgeon. With greater aspirations in sight, Marksman left the British West Indies to pursue his goals “by dint of hard work, sacrifice and pertinacity,” his family wrote in a tribute after his death.
Marksman made his way to Washington, D.C., where he enrolled in Howard University intending to follow in Noel’s footsteps. Marksman shifted his focus to medicine, and graduated June 11, 1926 from Howard’s College of Medicine.
Meanwhile, Callie Elizabeth Henderson, a young North Carolinian, caught Marksman’s attention, and the two were married in Philadelphia in 1928. That same year, the couple relocated to Princess Anne to build their life and his practice.
Setting up shop as a physician of color could not have been easy in the early 20th century, even under the best of circumstances. Within a year of settling in Princess Anne, the country plummeted into the Great Depression, and race relations on the Eastern Shore were tenuous at best. Medical treatment of persons of color remained as segregated as other parts of society. Nonetheless, the couple forged their way and made Princess Anne their life-long home.
Marksman, who became a naturalized U.S. citizen Sept. 11, 1933, was active in the community and its college. He was the first physician for the college, a role he held for many years. He was also a member of Pi Alpha Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., along with other men from the campus community.
The Marksman residence, known as Eldon Hall Farm, was an expansive tract of land off Backbone Road, which connects Princess Anne with Eden Station. Adjacent to the campus, Eldon Hall Farm also was a short distance from Metropolitan United Methodist Church, where the couple were “faithful and enthusiastic” members.
Though Marksman returned briefly to Grenada to practice medicine in 1946 and 1947, he spent much of his career ministering to “the people of the [Somerset County] community regardless of race, creed or color.”
At a 1968 banquet in his honor, the local Chamber of Commerce presented Marksman with a plaque and Certificate of Merit “in recognition of his 40 years of dedicated and loyal service to the citizens of Somerset County and vicinity.” That same year also marked the couple’s 40th anniversary. "Cal" Marksman, as she was affectionately known, died at Eldon Hall Farm in February 1968.
Alone, with no children as heirs, Marksman began to sell significant parcels of his property to colleagues at Maryland State. Between 1969 and 1971, Marksman deeded land to Richard “Fess” Thomas, head of the college's Industrial and Mechanical Arts department; Claude Marion, a professor of agricultural education and teacher training, and Mary Fair Burks, an English professor.
A road named in Marksman’s honor is on the east side of campus marking his homestead.
Marksman died April 24, 1972 at his beloved Eldon Hall Farm. His final words were a tribute to a life well-lived: “Oh Lord! Oh Lord! Heaven for me. It is well with my soul.”
In death, Marksman’s legacy as a physician in the local community and as a “friend to his fellowman” would reach beyond the many lives he touched.
In accordance with his wishes, the remaining acreage of Eldon Hall Farm, as well as contents of his home and office, was auctioned. Lloyd “Hotdog” Simpkins, a colorful Somerset County Circuit Court judge, and his brother, Tom, purchased the farm, a two-story dwelling, a two-story office and a tenant building in 1975 for $135,000.
In April 1977, the state legislature “approved a $265,000 appropriation for the University of Maryland Eastern Shore to purchase . . . [the] 245-acre [Eldon Hall Farm] for expansion of the Princess Anne campus.”
The Eldon Hall Farm property remains a vital part of the campus’ 745-acre footprint as the university continues to advance its land-grant mission. The Marksman dwelling most recently has served as housing for graduate students.
-- KIMBERLY CONWAY DUMPSON