When Captain John Smith first sailed up the Chesapeake Bay in 1605, he discovered lush terrain, with bountiful resources that could support human habitation. In 1696, that territory, which he described as a "delightsome land," was named Prince George's County, after Prince George of Denmark.
Alan Virta, a lifelong resident of the county and a member of the local historical society, has traced county history in a new book, "Prince George's County: A Pictorial History." The limited edition of 1,500 copies has 350 photographs and illustrations. The history shown ranges from the landing of the Hawk and the Dove on Maryland's shores in 1608 to the opening of the Capital Beltway in 1964.
"I spent about two years digging through archives, museums and the historical society, and talked to countless county residents," Virta said.
The pictorial history, which costs $24.95, has been published by the Donning Company of Norfolk. It can be purchased at branches of John Hanson Savings Association, which helped fund the book, and at the Prince George's Chamber of Commerce in Upper Marlboro.
Virta said the Donning Co. will publish additional copies of the book when the limited edition sells out. CAPTION: Pictures 1 through 4, Images of Prince George's County's past: Prince George of Denmark (1653-1708), for whom Prince George's County was named. George, husband of England's Queen Anne, was the second son of Denmark's King Frederick III, and he never visited America. After explorer John Smith made his maiden voyage up the Chesapeake Bay, Smith reported that he had discovered "mountaines, hils, plaines, valleyes, rivers, and brookes, all running more pleasantly into a faire bay, compased but for the mouth, with frutiful and delightsome land," which would later become Prince George's County. (Courtesy of Prince George's County Historical Society.)
Working tobacco in the county in 1921, in one of a series of photos documenting cultivation of the leaf that were taken by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (Courtesy of National Archives.) Downtown Hyattsville about 1905, when the town's population was nearly 2,000. This street is now the 5100 block of Baltimore Avenue. The streetcar tracks in the foreground served commuters to Washington. (Courtesy of Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.) Boy Scouts study a map, about 1935. Their leader was Robert E. Ennis of Capitol Heights. (Courtesy of Blanche L. Ennis.)