Ponder Cove offers salt water swimming, boating, water skiing, an excellent boat harbor, crabbing and fishing. The community is located about three miles from the Chesapeake Bay, nestled in White Marsh Creek. The Community Beach Club, with its elected volunteer members, has been deeded to the community. Each lot owner is invited to become a member to enjoy our pier, sandy beach, reserved parking area, picnic grounds, and other privileges associated with membership.
The country is old and rich in history and legend. The swift-footed Indians once roamed the land, Englishmen made fortunes in tobacco, and a renowned and colorful pirate came to live and pursue a respectable life after many a daring exploit at sea. And who knows in what cove he may have hidden his treature and other spoils from those never-to-be-forgotten buccaneering days!
The first white man to explore and navigate the Chesapeake Bay, and perhaps walk on the beach at Ponder Cove, was Captain John Smith, the fabulous character of Jamestown, Virginia. On June 2, 1608, he left Jamestown in an open boat of “three tonnes burthen” and a crew of 14, and sailed up the eastern side of the Chesapeake Bay, inspecting many of its inlets and coves. After a stormy time, for which the Chesapeake Bay is noted, he crossed over to the western shore undoubtedly sailing up the Rhode River to this land named Ponder Cove.
The recorded history of Ponder Cove actually begain on July 26, 1658, when Cecilius, Lord Baltimore, granted a plantation of 490 acres of land bordering the Rhode River to Captain Edward Selby, Gent., which he named “Selby’s Marsh.” In 1665 and 1688 he added contiguous tracts to his estate which were given the names of “Poplar Hill” and “Selby’s Stopp.” The addition of this land bringing his dwelling plantation up to about 1400 acres. Part of this plantation now embraces Ponder Cove.
With his wealth from tobacco and his prominence in public affairs, Captain Selby became one of the most successful successful and important gentlemen of the Rhode River area. He died in 1688 and will the plantation to his only son and heir, Edward Selby Jr. Young Selby sustained financial trouble and sole the property to William Cotter in 1693.
The newly arrived William Cotter was legend to be dashing and debonair, and made quite an impression among the gentry of the Rhode River. Within two years of his arrival, he won the heart and hand of one of the local aristocracy, Jane Gassaway. She was one of the daughters of Colonel Nicholas Gassaway.
In 1696, a vessel arrived unexpectedly from England and anchored at the Port of Annapolis. Secret conferences were held with certain provincial officials and word soon leaked out that one-time pirates were reported to be living around what is now Ponder Cove.
The pirates turned out to be none other than William Cotter and his compatriot John Blackmore. They were immediately placed under bond and warned “to be of good behavior as to Acts of Pyracy.” They were released: “To stand and be indebted unto our Sovereign Lord William III, King England, Scotland, France, and Ireland in the sum of five hundred pounds sterling each. That they, the said John Blackmore and William Cotter, shall personally appear and be forthcoming whenever His Majesty’s pleasure is known concerning them, in the meantime to be of good behaviour as to any acts of Pyracy.”
William Cotter died in 1702 and left the estate to his sons who both died without heirs. The younger son, William, left the estate to his nephews — William, Henry and Thomas, and their three sons of his sister Sarah who had married her cousin, Captain John Gassaway, another grandson of Old Rough and Ready Nicholas Gassaway.
In 1750 Captain John Gassaway ordered a resurvey or consolidation of his land holdings of “Selby’s Marsh,” “Poplar Hill,” and “Selby’s Stopp” which he named “Cotter’s Desire.”