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History of Washington County Maryland

Adapted for this page from the book History of Frederick County, Maryland by Thomas J. C. Williams

A Proclamation...

In March of 1732 the proprietor of the Provence of Maryland desired to attract settlers to the Northern and the Western areas of his territory., so he made a proclamation declaring special land prices and taxes for settlers.

  1. 1st Any person having a family to come to the land within three years of the proclamation and actually settle on the land could have two hundred acres without payment for 3 years. After 3 years the settler had to pay to the proprietor four shillings sterling for every hundred acres.
  2. 2nd Any single person, male or female between the ages of 14 and 31 could have 100 acres under the same conditions.
  3. 3rd They were to be charged taxes and the security of their land would be insured as if they were British subjects, which was quite a boon.

The Big Land Grab...

Large tracts of land were speedily secured by a relatively few of the wealthier citizens of Maryland, including the finest parts of the valleys of the Monocacy and the Antietam in what is now Frederick and Washington counties.

  1. Daniel Dulaney took a patent for "Monocacy Manor" a tract of 8983 acres.
  2. Charles Carroll took "Carroll's Manor" in what is now Buckeystown district.
  3. Patrick Dulaney took a tract upon a portion of which Frederick City was built.
  4. James Carroll took a large tract in Linganore district.
  5. Leonard Calvert and Thomas Johnson patented the Catoctin Furnace property.

The Settlers...

While the early land grants were to English-speaking people from Maryland, and the earliest settlers came from nearby St. Mary's, Charles, and Prince George's Counties, a large part of the actual settlers of the land were Palatines from Germany. Most of the German speaking Immigrants were spreading south from Pennsylvania. Commerce between the German settlements in southern Pennsylvania and parts of Virginia was common, and the main road between these areas was through this part of Maryland.

The German Influx...

Long before there were any settlements in Washington County, parties of Germans passed through it from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, to seek homes in Virginia. The principal route was over a pack horse or Indian road that crossed the present Pennsylvania counties of York and Adams to the Monocacy where it passed into Maryland. Once in Maryland, the road passed through Crampton's Gap and crossed the Potomac at several fords. The first German settlement in the area near Washington County was as early as 1729 in the village of Monocacy in Frederick County, which was the first village beyond the lower part of Montgomery County in Western Maryland .

Monocacy was situated at or near the present village of Creagerstown. Here around 1732 the first German church, which was known as the Log Church, was built in Maryland. The Log Church later became the church of Creagerstown and then was replaced by a brick church a few rods north of the old site in 1834. There were several taverns there to accommodate travelers on the Monocacy Road, which was constructed by the governments of Pennsylvania and Maryland. Monocacy Road was an improvement upon the old Indian trail which was formerly used. The road went from Wright's Ferry in Pennsylvania to the Maryland line, then to the Potomac, and then on to the uplands of Virginia.

The "Irish"...

This group was called the Irish by the locals and the history books. However they were actually Scots/Irish who were also known as the Ulster Scots. The Scots/Irish tended to migrate towards the highlands of Frederick County and Washington County, Maryland.   In small groups, they also lived in the German communities of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia.

The French and Indian War...

The French and Indian War also known as the Seven Years War, began in 1755 with general disaster to the British cause and the American colonies. The plan was for France to take possession of the British area of North America and for her and her allies to divide the colonies up among them. In the early part of 1754 every Indian suddenly and mysteriously disappeared from Washington County. The emissaries of France had been among them and had enlisted their aid in their scheme to take possession of the full Mississippi Valley. England was laying claim to virtually all of North America. However, the French had a well established colony at New Orleans, and they were steadily extending their influence northward through the Mississippi Valley. When the English government made a grant of certain priveleges beyond the Allegheny Mountains to the Virginia Ohio Company, the French increased their efforts to establish a chain of forts from Canada to their Mississippi settlements. The object was to confine the English colonies to the Atlantic slope. The French had a long standing treaty with the Iriquois Indians, and the Iriquois were greatly feared by every other Indian tribe in the whole area, including Western Maryland. Thus the French and the Iriquois were able to intimidate the greater part of the Indian tribes of the area to make war upon the English colonies. All of the settlements of  Washington County eventually came under attack. Since the Scots/Irish were largely in the area between the Indians and the Germans, they were the first to feel the brunt of the attacks. Then the colonists, including the Germans were killed, tortured and burned out. Monocacy was burned until just the old log Church and a few nearby buildings were left standing. The depredations suffered by the colonists were legendary and T.J.C. Williams goes into great detail in his "History of Western Maryland", so I won't go into it here. The war was won through the efforts of the colonial army with little actual help from the British regulars.

After the war was over, Creagerstown was laid out by John Cramer between 1760 and 1770 about a mile from the original settlement of Monacacy and a short distance north of the old Log Church.

As the tide of German immigrants increased, a more direct route to Western Maryland was established. The immigrants landed at Annapolis and later some at Baltimore. From there they traveled over the bad roads of that time to their destinations in the valley of the Monocacy. The Maryland officials early appreciated the value of the German settlers to the province and did all they could to encourage the movement, as the Germans were looked upon as a thrifty, industrious and God-fearing poeple who were a benefit to the community. From 1752 to 1755, 1060 German immigrants arrived by this route besides those that came in through Philadelphia and used the Monocacy Road.

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