World War II to the New Millenium
Introduction: By the end of the 1920s, Kent Countians already had begun to feel the effects of the Great Depression. Although cash poor, most rural people made do during tough times through barter, growing their own food and doing without. Some farmers went bankrupt and were forced to find other employment. Wealthy individuals from outside the area bought up farms, and some began to restore old homes. During World War II, Kent’s young men were called to serve, and a munitions plant was built in Chestertown late in the war. In 1954 a tragic explosion took the lives of nine women and one man working at that plant, but by that time the county had a small hospital where the injured were treated. Agriculture transitioned as local canneries closed, and by the 1970s many farmers turned from truck crops to corn, soybeans and other grains milled into broiler feed. Although harvesting seafood from local waters continued to be a significant industry as well as recreational activity, over-harvesting began to threaten watermen’s livelihood up and down the bay. In 1967, Kent County’s schools were fully integrated, bringing about the consolidation of many smaller schools within the county. At the end of the 20th century, the population and the economy of the Eastern Shore had been forever transformed.