By Greg Ellison
(Sept. 9, 2021) A pair of Historical Area street signs on Flower Street in Berlin were dedicated Friday in an effort to preserve the legacy of Briddletown.
That was the goal of Sharon Briddell-Fowlis, who helped organize the affair at a residence on Flower Street and Seahawk Lane where family reunions have been held for generations.
“It’s only fitting for us to be here celebrating our 40-plus years of family reunions,” she said.
Briddell-Fowlis credited Sarah Briddell Smack for having overseen the annual gathering of relatives.
“Cousin Sarah worked so hard on their family reunion,” she said. “She loved this family reunion.”
Worcester County has worked with Briddell descendants to commemorate the area, which dates to the 1860s, with an interactive sign installed in 2018 and last week a pair of “Briddletown Road Historical Area” street signs near the intersections of Flower Street by Seahawk Road and Honeysuckle Lane.
Gregory Purnell, representing Lincoln Lodge 53 in Berlin, presented a resolution to provide historical context during the dedication ceremony.
“Today we’re commemorating what has always been,” he said. “This road has always been Briddletown Road.”
Purnell said the road designation was embedded during his youth.
“I got it from my elders,” he said.
Purnell also invited other Lincoln Lodge members to join him at the podium.
“Half of these, more than half, are Briddletown boys,” he said. “That’s what makes this resolution so special.”
Purnell said Briddletown was established in 1866 after the Civil War by 13 African-American property owners along the boundaries of Kitts Branch, a tributary of Trappe Creek.
“George and Martha Briddell were first landowners of the area,” he said.
Purnell said the Briddletown founders were instrumental in establishing the St. Paul United Methodist Church for the community.
“Their direct descendants and immediate families have sought to preserve the Briddletown community as an African-American Historical District,” he said.
Purnell said Briddletown continues to be a contributor and pillar in the African-American community.
“We encourage the family to continue with these celebrations and even smaller ones to keep Briddletown in focus,” he said. “It has always been a part of us and it shall always now be part of us because we’ve got the road and the area.”