Cecil County is in the northeast corner of Maryland, bounded on the north and east by the Mason-Dixon Line with Pennsylvania and Delaware. The western border is defined by the lower reaches of the Susquehanna River and the northernmost coves, flats and tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay. On the south, the county is bounded by the Sassafras River and Kent County, Maryland. The county is part of the Delmarva Peninsula as well as Maryland’s “Eastern Shore.”
It was created in 1674 by proclamation of the Governor. It was created from portions of Baltimore and Kent Counties. One of the earliest developers of the county was George Talbot appointed Surveyor-General of Maryland in 1683, who came from Ballyconnell, County Cavan, Ireland.
Cecil County has a number of properties on the National Register of Historic Places.
Our American County Histories collection includes History of Cecil County, Maryland, and the Early Settlements Around the Head of Chesapeake Bay and on the Delaware River, With Sketches of Some of the Old Families of Cecil County by George Johnston, published in 1881. This book can be found in the Delaware and Maryland County Histories section of the Mid-Atlantic States section.
The author has no apology to offer for writing this book, except this: that though certainly the second, and probably the first settlement made in the State of Maryland, more than two hundred and fifty years ago was within the limits of Cecil County, no other person has seen fit to write its history. For many years, indeed from the time the author was a school-boy, he has wished for information concerning the early history of this county; and being unable to find it elsewhere, sought for it among the early colonial records of Pennsylvania and New York which have been published, and among the dusty and dilapidated colonial records at Annapolis. After a careful examination of these, and the early land records of Cecil and Baltimore counties, and the records of the Orphans’ and Commissioners’ court of the former, he was fully convinced that sufficient material could be obtained from which to compile a history of the county. With this object in view the work was commenced. Subsequent investigation showed that the early history of the settlements along the west bank of the Delaware River was so closely blended with that of those around the head of Chesapeake Bay that it was impossible to separate them without destroying much of the interest of the narrative.
The author believing that others might wish to profit by his efforts to inform himself, and acting upon the suggestions of a few gentlemen whose judgment the public, did it but know their names, would value as highly as the author does their disinterested friendship, concluded after much hesitation to embody the result of his labor in the work which is now offered to the public.
Of the manner in which the work has been done, the reader must judge for himself. The author is painfully conscious that it is far from being perfect. The loss of many of the early colonial and county records and the miserably dilapidated condition of many of those extant, have added greatly to the difficulty, and labor of the work, and made it in some cases impossible to refer the reader to the sources from which important information has been obtained. Notwithstanding which, the author has quoted largely from the archives of the State and county as well as from the writings and correspondence of many persons mentioned in the work, believing it better to do this than to obtrude his own language and opinions upon his readers when it could be avoided. He has aimed to be impartial and truthful, and hopes if the following pages do not add much to the general stock of information they may be the means of preserving some portions of the history of the county, much of which has been irretrievably lost.
The author takes this opportunity to thank the members of the Elkton bar and officers of the courts of Cecil and New Castle counties, and the officers of the Historical Societies of Pennsylvania and Maryland, for the courtesy and kindness shown him while engaged in his arduous and protracted labor. He also desires to acknowledge his indebtedness to the authors of the Historical Sketches of the Drawyers, White Clay Creek, Pencader, Head of Christiana, Rock, West Nottingham and Elkton Presbyterian churches, for valuable information derived from them; and the Right Reverend Bishop Lay of the Diocese of Easton, for time use of Rev. Ethan Allen’s Manuscript History of the parishes in this county; and to Rev. E.K. Miller, rector of North. Elk Parish, and Rev. Charles P. Mallery, the author of an interesting and valuable series of papers on Bohemia Manor, recently published in the Cecil Democrat; to whose efforts he is indebted for much useful information.
Table of Contents
- CHAPTER I: Captain John Smith, of Virginia, explores the navigable waters of Cecil County — Smith’s account of the Susquehannock Indians — Other Indian tribes in the upper part of the Peninsula — Their weapons and culinary utensils.
- CHAPTER II: First English settlement on Watson’s Island — Edward Palmer — Wm. Clayborne establishes a trading post on Matson’s Island.
- CHAPTER III: George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore — He is a member of the Virginia Company — Plants a colony in Newfoundland — Obtains a charter for a colony in Maryland — Is succeeded by his son Cecil, who obtains another charter — Extracts from the charter — The first colony under Leonard Calvert settles at St. Manes — War with the Susquehannocks — Treaty with them.
- CHAPTER IV: Early settlements on the Delaware — Henry Hudson — Captain Mey and others — Names of the Delaware — Fort Nassan — Swanendale — Peter Minuit plants a Swedish colony at Wilmington — Fort Cassimir — Peter Stuyvesant conquers tile Swedes.
- CHAPTER V: First permanent settlement in the county — Other settlements — Spesutia Island — Trouble between the Dutch and English — Nathaniel Utie — He is sent to New Amnstel — Augustine Hermen and Resolved Waldron visit Maryland — Their meeting with the Governor and Council — Account of the early life of Augustine Hermen — His Map of Maryland — Extracts from his will — He obtains a grant of Bohemia Manor and Middle Neck — Makes a treaty with the Indians at Spesutia Island — First reference to Cecil County — Thompsontown — Indian forts.
- CHAPTER VI:
Council of Maryland meet at Spesutia Island — Examination of persons who had suffered from the depredations of Indians along the Delaware River — Interesting correspondence between the Governor of Maryland and Alexander D’Hinoyossa, Governor of New Amstel — The Council declare war against the Susquehannocks — Instructions to Captain Odber — Letter from D’Hinoyossa — Augustine Hermen tries to make peace between the Dutch and English — Council meets at Susquehanna Point and are shown the commission of Captain Neals recently arrived front England — Many of the Swedes from Delaware settle in Sassafras Neck.
- CHAPTER VII: Treaty with the Passagonke Indians at Appoquinimink — Copy of the treaty — Scarcity of corn — Captain Odber gets into trouble — A cowardly soldier — Trouble with the Senecas — Treaty with the Delaware Bay Indians — Capture of a Seneca Indian — Letter from the justices of Baltimore County respecting the captive — Francis Wright and Jacob Clawson — Torture of an Indian prisoner — War with the Senecas — Another treaty with the Susquehannocks — The Senecas attack the Susquehannock’s fort at Turkey lull, Lancaster County, and are repulsed — End of the Susquehannocks.
- CHAPTER VIII: Augustine Hermen and others naturalized — The Hacks — Hermen has a dispute with Simon Oversee — He tries to establish a village — Trouble among the Dutch — Sir Robert Carr conquers them — The name of New Amstel changed to New Castle — Account of D’Hinoyossa — Efforts of the Marylanders to extend their jurisdiction to the Delaware River — Durham County — Road from Bohemia Manor to New Castle — Grant of St. Augustine Manor — Ephraim George, and Casparus Hermen — Original limits of Baltimore County — Erection of Cecil County — The first court-house at Jamestown — Augustine Hermen and Jacob Young appointed commissioners to treat with the Delaware Indians — Account of Jacob Young.
- CHAPTER IX: The Labadists — Sluyter and Danckers — Their journal — They meet with Ephraim George Hermen and wife — Visit New Castle and Bohemia Manor — They go on down the Peninsula — Return and purchase the Labadie tract on Bohemia Manor, and establish a community there — Description of the Labadie tract and how they get it — Peter Bayard and others — Description of the community on Bohemia Manor — Augustine Hermen’s quarrel with George Holland — Letter from Hermen — Hermen’s patents of confirmation — He obtains a patent for Misfortune, or the three Bohemia Sisters — Extent of his possessions — He invests his son Ephraim George with the right and title to Bohemia Manor — A curious deed — Augustine Hermen’s last will — His death and monumental stone — His place of burial — Codicil to his last will — His daughters.
- CHAPTER X: Delaware granted to William Penn — Death of Cecilius Calvert, who is succeeded by his son Charles — George Talbot — Obtains a patent for Susquehanna Manor — Its metes and bounds — Courts Baron and Courts Leet — The name of Susquehanna Manor changed to New Connaught — Extent of Connaught Manor — Talbot obtains a patent for Belleconnell — Belle Hill — Talbot lays out New Munster — Makes a demand on William Penn for all the land west of the Schuylkill and south of the fortieth degree of north latitude — Runs a line from the mouth of the Octoraro to the mouth of Naaman’s Creek — Lord Baltimore visits England — Talbot presides over the council during his absence — Presides over the court of Cecil County — Account of the court — Talbot makes a raid on the settlers east of Iron Hill — Builds and garrisons a fort near Christiana bridge — Account of the fort — Talbot’s Rangers — Beacon Hill — Trouble about the collection of the king’s revenue — Talbot murders Rousby — Is carried prisoner to Virginia — Makes his escape — Returns to Cecil County — Takes refuge in a cave near Mount Ararat — Surrenders to the authorities of Maryland — Is taken to Virginia by command of the King — Is tried and convicted of murder, but pardoned by the King — Returns to Cecil County and executes a deed for Clayfall — Returns to Ireland — Enters the Irish brigade, and is killed in the service of the King of France.
- CHAPTER XI: New Munster — Its metes and bounds — The Alexanders — Society — Cecil Manor — Charles Carroll — Fair Hill — The Scotch-Irish — Christiana Presbyterian Church — Rock Church — The English Revolution — Its effect on the Colony of Maryland — Nottingham — The Nottingham Lots — Original grantees — Reasons why the grant was made — The first Friends’ meetinghouse — The Little Brick or Nottingham Friends’ meeting-house — Poppemetto — West Nottingham Presbyterian Church — Treaty with the Conestoga Indians — Thomas Chalkley visits them — Account of some of the first settlers of Nottingham — The Welsh tract — Its boundaries — The Baptist church on Iron Hill — The Pencader Presbyterian Church — Rev. David Evans — Rev. Samuel Davies — Iron Hill.
- CHAPTER XII: Characteristics of the early settlers — Augustine Hermen succeeded by his son Casparus — Account of Casparus Hermen — Farms on Bohemia Manor — Death of Casparus Hermen — Succeeded by his son Ephraim Augustine — Sketch of Ephraim Augustine Hermen — His wives and children — John Lawson marries Mary Hermen — Peter Bouchell marries Catharine Hermen — Peter Lawson — Catharine (Herman) Bouchell — Her death — Joseph Ensor — Quarrel about the possession of Bohemia Manor — Joseph Ensor,. Jr. — Division of Bohemia Manor — Death of Peter Lawson.
- CHAPTER XIII: The Van Bibbers — They settle on Bohemia Manor — Their mill — John Jawert marries Casparus Hermen’s widow — Keeps Elk Ferry — Wild stock — Rangers — Collection of the King’s revenue — Wild animals — Trade with England — Bill of lading — Slave trade — The Jesuit mission at Bohemia — The Cross Paths — James Heath, the founder of Warwick — Bohemia a port of entry — Ancient cross — Father Mansell — Peter Atwood and other Jesuits — The Jesuit school — Efforts to suppress the Jesuit mission — Labors of the Jesuit Fathers.
- CHAPTER XIV: First Friends’ meeting-house — First Episcopal minister — North and South Sassafras parishes — First vestrymen — Population — Curious lot of church property — First Episcopal Church — Chapel of Ease in Elk Neck — Shrewsbury parish — Rev. Hugh Jones — Chapel on Bohemia Manor — Sketch of Rev. Hugh Jones — North Elk parish — First vestrymen — Richard Dobson — John Hamm — Rev. Walter Ross — Chapel near Battle Swamp — Rev. William Wye — St. Mary Ann’s Church, North East — Taring the Church — Death of Rev. Mr. Wye — Rev. John Bradford — Rev. John Hamilton — Clayfall.
- CHAPTER XV: William Dare — Bulls Mountain — “Friendship” — Old Simon — Transtown — Ye Swedestown — John Hans Stillman — Smith’s mill at Head of Elk — The Jacobs family — Henry Hollingsworth — Quarrel about New Munster road — Bridges over the head of Elk River — Road from head of Elk to New Castle — Sketch of Hollingsworth family — North East — First iron works — Roads leading to North East — Principio Iron Company — Samuel Gilpin settles at Gilpin’s Rocks — William Black’s account of North East — Immigration — Character of immigrants — Susquehanna ferry — Road from ferry to Philadelphia.
- CHAPTER XVI: Hundreds — Hotels — Charles Rumsey — Trials by jury — The Justices’ court — Rules of the court — Removal of county seat from Jamestown to Court-house Point — Court-house and jail — Town at Court-house Point — Elk ferry traditions — Quarrel among the justices of the court — The lawyers.
- CHAPTER XVII: Efforts to establish towns — Ceciltown, at mouth of Scotchman’s Creek — Fredericktown — Georgetown — The Acadians or French Neutrals — Account of them — They are sent to Louisiana and Canada — Reasons for building Charlestown — Its location — Public Wharf and warehouse — Its exports — Fairs — Introduction of tea and coffee — History of Charlestown — Population by census of 1880.
- CHAPTER XVIII: Presbyterian Church at Bethel — Visit of Rev. George Whitefield — Preaches at Elkton and on Bohemia Manor — Presbyterian Church at Elkton — Disruption of Nottingham Presbyterian Church — Rev. Samuel Finley — Nottingham Academy — The Free School on Bohemia River — Rev. John Beard — Time present church buildings — Name changed to Ephesus — Rev. James Magraw — Revival of Nottingham Academy — The Rock Presbyterian Church — Disruption — Rev. James Finley — Murder of Hugh Mahaffey — Rev. James Finley goes West — Present church buildings — Rev. John Burton — Rev. Francis Hindman — Lotteries for church purposes — Manners, customs and character of the early Presbyterians — The Alexanders, and other emigrants to South Carolina.
- CHAPTER XIX: Border war — Davy Evans dispossesses Adam Short — Petition of Samuel Brice — Arrest of Isaac Taylor and others — Agreement between the heirs of William Penn and Lord Baltimore respecting the settlement of the boundaries — Proceedings in chancery — Renewal of border war — Thomas Cresap — Order o the King in Council — The temporary boundary line — Decree of Chancellor Hardwick — Diary of John Watson — Cape Henlopen — The trans-peninsular line — Death of Charles Calvert — Another agreement — Location of due north line — Difficulty of the work — Mason and Dixon — They land in Philadelphia — Latitude of that city — Account of their labors for the next five years — Re-location of the northeast corner of Maryland.
- CHAPTER XX: The Revolutionary War — The Quakers — Convention of 1774 — Committee of Safety — Delegates to convention of 1775 — First military organization in the county — Henry Dobson — Military organizations in time county — Henry Hollingsworth makes musket barrels and bayonets for the army — Edward Parker makes linen and woolen goods for the use of the soldiers — Invasion of the county by the British — They land at Court-house Point-Sir William Howe’s proclamation — Part of British army march to Head of Elk — Another part overrun Bohemia Manor — Account of the invasion — Court-house not burned — Doings of the American army — Skirmishing on Iron Hill — Robert Alexander — Disloyalty of the citizens of Newark — Tories trade with the British — The Quakers refuse to perform military duty, and are court-martialed — Brick Meeting-house used for a hospital — Burglary at Head of Elk — Interesting correspondence — Lafayette’s expedition to Yorktown passes through Head of Elk — his route through Cecil County — Journal of Claude Blanchard — Forteen Stodder, the negro soldier — Confiscated property — The Elk Forge Company — John Roberts hanged for treason — The Principio Iron Company — Susquehanna Manor — Lots in Charlestown — Property of Rev. William Edmisson.
- CHAPTER XXI: Removal of seat of justice to Charlestown — Reasons of the removal — Interesting correspondence — Charlestown Ferry — Condition of society — Stephen Porter kills Thomas Dunn — Escapes from jail, etc. — Is tried at Charlestown and convicted of manslaughter — Unsuccessful efforts to build up Charlestown — Removal of county seat to Head of Elk — Rev. Joseph Coudon’s address to citizens of Elk — Opposition of the citizens of Charlestown to the removal of time county seat — Act of Legislature authorizing the erection of public buildings at Elktown — Elkton incorporated — Court meets in Elkton — Members of time Elkton bar — Trouble about roads — The first almshouse — Sale of free school farm — Rumsey’s steamboat — The Susquehanna Canal — Rivalry between Havre de Grace and the town of Chesapeake — First arks on the Susquehanna River — Malignant fever in Elkton.
- CHAPTER XXII: Octoraro forge — Cecil Manufacturing Company — New Leeds — Chesapeake and Delaware Canal — Benjamin H. Latrobe — The canal feeder — Riot at Elkton — “Treeket the Loop” — Supplementary Act — Work resumed on the canal — John Handel — He sues the canal company — Completion and cost of the canal — Difficulty of construction — Port Deposit — Philip Thomas — Port Deposit Bridge Company — Bridge burned — Sale of Susquehanna canal — The log pond — Susquehanna and Tide Water canal.
- CHAPTER XXIII: County divided into election districts — County commissioners — Location of boundary line between Cecil and Harford — Number of mills in Cecil County — Elkton wheat market — Manufactories — Charlestown — Elkton bank — Line of packets between Baltimore and Philadelphia via Elkton — Frenchtown and New Castle Turnpike Company — Curious pro vision in the charter.
- CHAPTER XXIV: War of 1812 — British fleet in Chesapeake Bay — Camp of observation on Bulls mountain — General Thomas M. Foreman — Forts Hollingsworth and Defiance — Colonel William Garrett — Persons employed in building Fort Defiance — British land on Spesutia Island — Visit Turkey Point — Burn Frenchtown — Zeb. Furgusson — British fail to reach Elkton — Incidents and anecdotes — Burning of Havre de Grace — Poetical extract — Pillaging — British burn Principio Furnace — Destruction of Fredericktown and Georgetown — Brave defense of Colonel Veazey — List of militia under him — Treaty of Ghent — Rejoicing — Accident at Fort Hollingsworth.
- CHAPTER XXV: First steamboats on the Elk River — Lines of transportation — Frenchtown and New Castle Railroad Company — Construction of Frenchtown and New Castle Railroad — First locomotives and cars — Telegraphing — The Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad — Riot at Charlestown — Sale of Frenchtown and New Castle Railroad.
- CHAPTER XXVI: Clergy of the Established Church — Their powers and duties — They incur the displeasure of the common people — What Rev. William Duke says of them — Presbyterian clergymen — Spiritual condition of the people — Introduction of Methodism — First Methodist society — Character of the early Methodist preachers — Rev. Francis Asbury visits Bohemia Manor — He refuses to take the oath of allegiance — Methodists favor the royal cause — Retrospective glance at the history of the Episcopal Church — North Elk parish — Rev. John Thompson — Rev. Joseph Coudon — St. Augustine parish — Progress of Methodism — Cecil circuit — Hart’s meeting-house — First Methodist meeting-house at North East — First parsonage — Bethel meeting-house — Goshen — Revival at Bethel — North Sassafras and St. Augustine parishes — Richard Bassett joins time Methodists — Rev. Henry Lyon Davis — Death of Rev. Joseph Coudon — Rev. William Duke — His life and labors — Methodism supplants Episcopacy — First Methodist society at Elkton — Methodism and Presbyterianism at Charlestown — Hopewell and Asbury — Methodist Protestant churches.
- CHAPTER XXVII: Miscellaneous information — Newspapers — Fisheries — Chrome — Granite quarries — Iron — Iron Works — Paper mills — Free schools — Population.
- CHAPTER XXVIII: The Hall family — The Evans family — Dr. Amos A. Evans — The Mitchell family — Colonel George E. Mitchell — The Rumsey family — The Mauldin family — The Gilpin family — The Rudulph family — The Leslie family — The Hyland family — The Churchman family — The Defoe family — The Hartshorne family — Colonel Nathaniel Ramsay.