The Crisfield Story Project is a family based initiative led by the mother and son team of Joe and Linda Paden. Both of them having always had a deep passion for history began working together in 2011. In 2014, Joe’s daughter asked him about the future of Crisfield, and if he thought the town would be around when she was an adult.
Joe, having witnessed the decline of the seafood industry and many locals leaving to obtain solid employment, began thinking of how to assist in the effort to revitalize his hometown.
Not long after this, Joe attended an educational field trip with his children to a premier historic destination and realized how Crisfield’s story was more than sufficient to make lower Somerset County, MD a historic destination as well. This is when Joe began working on a story. In 2016, Joe & Linda decided it was time to publicly launch their endeavor. They decided to produce and sell historic prints of Crisfield and lower Somerset County, offer historic and cultural tours along with other services to promote the story of Crisfield and Somerset County, MD. The CSP is a small, humble initiative, although Joe and Linda have, and continue to, obtain and align themselves with knowledgeable, friendly, outgoing locals to assist in this project. It’s likely you will have the chance to meet these locals on a tour.
Joe Paden – Co-Founder, Historian, Tour Guide, Sales:
Joe is a self-educated historian who’s acquired his knowledge from studying countless books, journals and any historical resource he can obtain. He has interviewed locals, some who are in their nineties for information on local history. Many experts credit Joe with being highly knowledgeable in many areas of history, and compliments him on his story telling abilities as well.
Joe attributes his three decades of experience in playing guitar and martial arts as the facilitators to enable him to do this project. Having written over 40 songs has given him extensive storytelling experience, since songs are basically stories put to music. He’s taught children martial arts for over two decades where he was required to convey historical information in a way it would relate to kids, most often he would use stories. Through both of these passions, Joe has developed organizational and promotion skills, and the acquired the discipline it takes to painstakingly research the thousands of pages of historic documents needed to tell the Crisfield story.
In 2001, Joe moved to California to become a student of one of the world’s foremost hand-to-hand and knife-fighting experts and founder of the US Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. Joe went to him to learn martial arts, which he did, though Joe acquired something much greater, the ability to retain knowledge. This led him to his first significant historical project, a book on Maryland’s role in the Confederacy during the Civil War. The book has received exceptional responses from highly respected journalists and historians alike. In 2015, Joe was published in Black Belt magazine, the world’s largest martial arts publication.
Joe is the Tour Director and also serves as the guide on as many of the tours as possible. He loves interacting, especially with children. His experience teaching kids martial arts has given him the ability to relate the story in a way that captivates his listeners by mixing the essential facts with anecdotes and humor.
Linda Paden – Co-founder, Genealogist, Historian, Merchandise Manager:
Linda, through her extensive and meticulous study of genealogy has traced her roots back to the original settler of Crisfield, Benjamin Somers and many other from this period. Through this research, she has gained knowledge of many of the families that were early settlers following the family tree to many who still call Crisfield and Somerset County home today.
Linda also digitally enhances and colorizes historic photos of Crisfield which are truly works of art. These can be found in the Historical Prints & Merchandise section.
Brent Conner – Historian, Advisor, Tour Guide: Brent is a renowned and highly respected local historian who’s research has been used for books and many other historical projects. Brent is also a Civil War reenactor and is highly respected in that field as well.
Mr. Conner is the craftsman who produces the matting for the historical prints that are sold by The Crisfield Story Project.
Les Pruitt – Tour Guide: Les is a Crisfield native with roots dating back over three centuries. He is also an experienced kayaker and plays roles of characters during The CSP tours. His outgoing, friendly demeanor makes him a favorite guide at The CSP.
Stanley Conner – Historian, Advisor: Mr. Stanley is a retired school teacher and is an expert in the areas of Marion and Somerset County as a whole.
Debbie Brice – Historian, Advisor: Debbie is a huge asset to The Crisfield Story Project providing many episodes of Crisfield’s past that serve to enhance the Crisfield experience.
James “Tighty” Mister – Historian, Advisor: Debbie’s father, Mr. Tighty is a living legend when it comes to local history, through his eight and a half decades living in Crisfield, he can take a photo or a name and tell a fascinating story upon it. Joe Paden interviews Debbie and Mr. Tighty weekly to expand his knowledge.
There are many more, too numerous to list, who have have helped and are a large part of the Crisfield Story Project.