On the Mason Dixon Line, between Denton, MD and Seaford, DE, travelers pass through the tiny hamlet of Reliance. There’s not much to notice about the place except the bustling Reliance Market, which catches a motorist’s eye as people pull off for gas, lottery tickets or other purchases. Otherwise to the speeding traveler en-route to the beach, it’s just a small cluster of unremarkable houses where two roads meet on the state line.
But this subdued spot on a rural hignway has its share of historical markers. Formerly known as Johnson’s Cross Roads, it’s where the notorious outlaw gang headed by Patty Cannon maintained a headquarters. This bunch of infamous criminals specialized in kidnapping free African-American and arranging for the unfortunate captives to be transported to the deep-south to be sold in slave markets.
Bordering Caroline and Dorchester Counties in MD and Sussex in DE, the operation on the edge of three counties was advantageous for a bunch of villains avoiding the justice system in each place. Evemtually the sheriff and the constables caught up with Patty and some of the boys. Others made their escape by heading into the deep-south.
While awaiting trail for murder in the Sussex County Jail in Georgetown the infamous leader committed suicide in May 1829. There are historical markers outlining the history of this evil enterprise on the Maryland and Delaware sides of the line.