Washington County, Maryland...the first county named after a Revolutionary War General
Washington County, Maryland
...the first county named after a Revolutionary War General
As of 2010, the population for Washington County, Maryland is 147,430. This county was the first county in the United States to be named for the Revolutionary War general (and later President of the United States) George Washington. Hagerstown is the county seat.
The western part of Maryland (including the present Washington County) was incorporated into Prince George's County in 1696. This county included six current counties, and by repeated splitting, new ones were generated. The first was Frederick from Prince George's in 1748.
Washington County was formed in 1776 by the splitting of Frederick County. At the same time, another county, Montgomery County, was also split off from Frederick County and named for another general, Richard Montgomery. Washington County was later split into Allegany County (split off in 1789) and Garrett County, which was split from Allegany County in 1789. These three counties make up the entire westernmost part of the state of Maryland.
How it Came to Be
In March of 1732 the proprietor of the Province 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.
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.
Daniel Dulaney took a patent for "Monocacy Manor" a tract of 8983 acres.
Charles Carroll took "Carroll's Manor" in what is now Buckeystown district.
Patrick Dulaney took a tract upon a portion of which Frederick City was built.
James Carroll took a large tract in Linganore district.
Leonard Calvert and Thomas Johnson patented the Catoctin Furnace property.
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.
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 packhorse 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 locals and the history books called this group the Irish. 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.
After the French and Indian 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 people 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.
With help from the book "History of Frederick County, Maryland" by Thomas J. C. Williams