Our History

Declared Municipal Fish Wharf in 1913 set the scene for an amazing journey for a family of Evans’ from Smith Island, a tiny island situated 12 miles off the mainland in the Chesapeake Bay. In 1939 Evans brother Chelton purchased his first buy boat the Jessie Taylor, built by a man named Dike Taylor who named the Jessie Taylor after his son Jessie. Chelton invited his brother Fillmore to join him on a new venture and Filmore agreed. The two began sailing up the Chesapeake gathering as much seafood as their boat could hold until they came to rest at the Municipal Fish Wharf in Washington D.C. where at that time they would spend three days selling their goods to the people of the D.C. area. In 1956 Chelton Evans, one of the present day owners of Jessie Taylor Seafood, and son of Filmore Evans, recalls at age twelve beginning the journey with his father and three uncles one of which joined his brothers Chelton and Filmore after serving in the US Navy. The youngest brother Stanley served our country after graduating high school. After his service, Stanley was invited to join his older brothers in the business.

Young Chelton remembers at age twelve, leaving Smith Island at 4am on Wednesday to begin the voyage up the Chesapeake Bay. Once they reached the Potomac River they would buy crabs, fish and sometimes oysters from local watermen then continue their journey to the Municipal Fish Wharf. By the time they tied their lines at the wharf it was 2 am Thursday. The tired men would then make their beds in the bow for a much needed rest. Come daybreak the men would display their seafood an begin selling. They would continue selling their goods until they were completely sold out on Sunday.

Stanley Evans Jr., another present day owner of Jessie Taylor and son of Stanley Evans, recalls proudly working along side his father and uncle at the early age of twelve. Stanley Jr. says in 1963 the boat owners were given permissions to keep their boats at the Wharf enabling the owner to now receive their seafood by truck rather than take the journey up and down the Chesapeake Bay each week. The district had one stipulation, the boat owners were not allowed to receive the truckd in seafood at the Municipal Fish Wharf. The boats would have to sail to Fort Washington where they were also not allowed to tie their boats up to a dock. The trucks filled with seafood would have to placed on a barge and carried into the river to the awaiting Jessie Taylor, at which time the trucks would be unloaded onto the boats.

 

After years of traveling the bay the brothers knew it was time to retire the Jessie Taylor so in 1975 the Evans family introduced a wooden barge proudly named the Jessie Taylor to the Municipal Fish Wharf in Washington D.C.

The family business started growing when the district finally gave their approval for the boats to receive the trucked in seafood at the wharf. Lots of new employees came to work for the family. Clarence Goodman is one employee that stands out amongst the rest. Clarence, a native of Smith Island, came to work at Jessie Taylor on the 4th of July 1971. With his charismatic personality and ability to relate to everyone he meets he has become quite the celebrity at the wharf through the years. The family at Jessie Taylor Seafood is proud to call him one of their own.

 

In 1982 the family realized they needed a barge that would stand the test of time so they bought a new steel barge to replace the wooden barge.

 

Brothers Chelton, Filmore and Stanley set sail on a journey up the Chesapeake Bay, a journey that their sons Chelton, Filmore Jr., Stanley Jr, Clayton and grandsons Steve, Greg, Ryan, Jason & Stan work hard daily to maintain the respectful, strong family owned and operated business their fathers established for them many years ago.