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The Oxford Federal Custom House in Talbot County on the Eastern Shore of Maryland is a replica built as the town’s official Bicentennial project. It is a copy of the first Federal Custom House built by Jeremiah Banning. Banning (1733–1798) served as a colonel in the Talbot County militia during the Revolutionary War and as a justice for Talbot County from 1778 to 1789. He also represented Talbot County at Maryland’s convention to ratify the U.S. Constitution in 1788. Banning was the first U.S. Customs Officer for the Oxford District. He was appointed to the post by George Washington on March 21, 1791.
The original building was constructed in the 1790s. It was a small frame structure measuring only 14 feet 5 inches by 17 feet 3 inches. The interior is divided into two rooms. It was located on Banning’s property which was known as “The Isthmus” on Plain Dealing Creek. This site provided Banning with a clear view of the shipping activities on the Tred Avon River at the Port of Oxford. It is one of four Custom Houses remaining in the State of Maryland from the period before Customs was centralized in Baltimore in the 19th century.
There is also another story about the location. Banning built the Customs House on his own property rather than in the Town of Oxford apparently because he had difficulty traveling across the river due to gout.
On Jeremiah Banning’s death in 1798 one of his three heirs, Robert Banning, took over as Customs Officer. As a side note: in his will, Jeremiah referred to his three heirs as his adopted children, originally bearing the surname Gossage. Their mother was Mary Gossage. Robert Banning occupied the position of U.S. Customs Officer until he was replaced in 1804.