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James A. Helman's ~ 1906

History of Emmitsburg, Md.

We were more then happy to scan in and provide our users Helman's History of Emmitsburg.  However, we must warn you, the book is full of errors.  Helman's History of Emmitsburg is not so much a history book, as it is a simple collection of unsubstantiated bits and pieces of information Mr. Helman pieced together without any apparent attempt to validate its contents. So while it is enjoyable reading, under no circumstances should a diligent researcher use it as a bases for real historical research.


To write the history of the world, we commence at Adam. To write the history of the United States, We begin at its discovery by Columbus and the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth. But to write a history of a state, county, or community, we are perplexed with various traditions that confront us, therefore we ask, who were the early settlers, and where did they come from, what induced them to settle where they did and the results? Who were the people? the pioneers that settled in Frederick County, Maryland. They were Germans, the all important factor in the development of this county. They brought industry, art, intelligence, perseverance. They brought school masters,, who instilled into the children the principles of Christianity: they turned the wilderness of Frederick County from 1735 to a productive land; that it still holds the honor of being the most productive wheat growing county, not only in the State, but in the United States. This honor was awarded Frederick County in 1790. It still holds it.

The first German settlers in Maryland were amongst the Dutch and French Labodists, on Bohemia Manor, Cecil, then Baltimore County, in 1661. This settlement was prior to the coming of William Penn's German Quakers, 1720. They scattered and mixed amongst the other settlements in Maryland and Delaware. Daniel Partorious in 1684 founded Germantown. For many years Germantown was the rendezvous of German refugees fleeing from persecution, which devastated portions of Germany. From Germantown, this center of emigration, they spread over Southern Pennsylvania to Lancaster, York and Adams County. Many of these finding their way into Maryland and Virginia. In 1714 twelve German families of fifty persons settled on the Rappahannock river, Va., near Fredericksburg. Others followed in 1730- Some had crossed the mountains into Shenandoah and Rockingham counties. These in turn were reinforced by Germans from the Pennsylvania settlements. BY 1743 there were a number of flourishing German settlements in the Valley of Virginia. In 1748, when George Washington surveyed the lands of Virginia, he met men, women and children who followed him through the woods, who spoke German only.

These Virginia settlements were in regular communication with the settlements in Pennsylvania. We now have grounds to base the people and their nationality upon.

The reports of good land naturally enthused the new emigrants, and they were induced to follow on the trail the early pioneers had taken. The route of travel from Germantown to Lancaster on to the Virginia settlements was over an old Indian trail, for pack horse travel and missionaries, extending, through York and Adams county, Pa., into Maryland, stopping at a point on the Monocacy river, where in 1734 they erected the first church in the county. From here they pushed on to the Potomac, crossing the Blue South Mountains through Crampton's Gap. On this route in 1729 the first German families drifted into Maryland. One report says as early as 1710 Or 1712.

They settled Hear Monocacy, and between 1732 and 1734 built the first German church in Maryland. It was situated on west side of the river, ten miles above where Frederick town was laid out. Within fifty years, the recollections by a few, of the spot, could still be pointed out and indications of the burying place of these pioneers. Sad to relate, all evidence has been destroyed by the hungry and heartless seeker after gold, and that which would be as Plymouth Rock to the Germans has passed into tradition more than history. In 1739, by order of the Lancaster County Court, a road was built from Wright's Ferry (Wrightsville) to the Maryland line, a distance of thirty-five miles, and thence by an act of the Maryland Assembly, it was continued to the Potomac river.

This road followed substantially the old Indian trail. and for many years was known as Monocacy road. It was on this great highway from east to south and southwest, over which in 1755, 150 wagons and 200 pack horses, secured in Pennsylvania by Benjamin Franklin, the first Postmaster General, transported their goods to Camp Frederick, where a part of the army was collected preparatory to the campaign of Braddock. It is said at this camp Washington and Franklin met for the first time. This was the route the British prisoners, captured during the Revolutionary war, were taken to the barracks at Fredericktown and Winchester, Va.; also the route used by General Wayne with his good patriots on the way to Yorktown.

In 1732 Lord Fairfax made an effort to direct German emigration to Virginia. The Governor ceded a tract of 25,000 acres to John Hite, a German, and Jacob Van Meeterf a Dutchman, on condition they would settle 2oo German families on these lands. Hite and Van Meeter traveled through Pennsylvania and New Jersey in search of Ger- mans, and directed them by the Monocacy road to Virginia. Lord Baltimore, not to be outdone by the Governor of Virginia, in 1732 offered 200 acres of land in fee, subject to a rent of four shillings sterling per year, payable at the end of three years, for every 100 acres, to any person having a family, who would within three years actually settle on the lands between the river Monocacy and the Susq4ehanna, and to each single person between the ages of fifteen and thirty years, one hundred acres. On same terms, with assurance, these shall be as well secured in their liberty and property in Maryland as in any part of the British plantations in America, without exception.

Late Information of Monocacy Settlement

It was a short distance southeast of Creagerstown. The river crossing was at Poe's fording, which has not been used for over a century. There are other and earlier references to this place. As early as 1729 Charles Carroll, the elder, located a tract of 10,000 acres of land on Pipe creek, Conawago and Cadorus creeks, lying in York and Adams County, Pa., all claimed by the Maryland authorities to be in this, province. In 1732 Mr. Carroll in company with Mr. Ross visited these lands to inform themselves how to finish a survey. He refers. in his complaint to a certain John Tradane, a Marylander, and a resident of Monochasie.

In Kerchivol's history of the settlement in Virginia Valley, it is stated that among the early settlers there was Benjamin Allen, Riley Moore and William White, who had come from Monocacy, in Maryland, in 1734. These facts show that as early as 1732 and 1734 Monocacy was a place of some prominence. Although it never reached the dignity of a town, it would seem that as late as .1747 it Possessed better accommodations for strangers than did Fredericktown. On neither visits did Schlatter and Mublenburg to Frederick induce them to remain over night; they returned to Monocacy. It was such a village as one sees today in sparsely settled countries, containing perhaps a public house, a store, a few dwellings and church nearby, where the people for miles congregate.

The Conewaga settlement first mentioned was near Hanover. A Lutheran church was organized May, 1743, by Rev. David Chandler of York, who in the same year, 1743, organized the Lutheran church at Monocacy, and served till his death the following year, when Rev. Lars Nyburg became the pastor of both congregations. The site of the log meeting house at Conewago, where Mr. Schlatter preached in May, 1747, is now covered by Christ's German Reformed church, a short distance from Littlestown, at the time Mr. Schley (the ancestor of Commodore Winfield Scott Schley) was schoolmaster at Frederick and Monocacy to the Reforms. Mr. Otto Rudolph Crecelius was acting in same capacity for the Lutheran at the same places.

In 1781 an act of Congress directed that the British prisoners confined at the barracks in Frederick and Winchester should be removed to York, Pa., from fear of rescue by Cornwallis. Twenty acres of wood land was cleared and cultivated by the prisoners. Huts, mostly of stone, were erected and surmounted by a picket fence fifteen feet high. Whilst there a plague broke out amongst them and a thousand prisoners died.

The first settlement in York County was on Kratz creek where Hanover now stands; before that Lancaster County. In 1729 people resided on tract of land, on west side of Susquehanna, within the bounds of York County. These persons remained however but a short time on land, on which they had squatted. They were known as Maryland squatters, and were removed the latter part Of 1728 by order of Deputy Governor of Council, at the request of the Indians.

In 1722 warrants were issued for a survey of a manor to Lord Baltimore. John Diggs, a resident of Prince George County, Md., obtained a warrant for 10,000 acres, known as Diggs' Chance, in the neighborhood of the present Han- over. Maryland at this time claimed the land to the Susquehanna.

1727 and 1729 are the earliest dates Maryland patents are known. 1746 the earliest I can find for this immediate vicinity to George Smith, Cattail Branch, west. The earliest settlers under Maryland grants and leases, along the Susquehanna, were Irish and Scotch, but these were soon followed by large numbers of Germans who for the most part settled on Kratz creek. In 1729 the Pennsylvania authorities issued warrants for land on the west side of Susquehanna, and took measures to resist by force the attempt of Marylanders to survey and grant warrants for land in this section. This brought on a conflict. For years great disorder prevailed, resulting in bloodshed at times.

By an act Of 1748 creating Frederick County, the commissioners appointed were authorized to purchase three acres of land in or near Fredericktown whereon to erect a court house and prison, they purchased from Mr. Dulaney in Frederick six lots, numbered 73 to 78, 62 feet by 379 from Church street. to Second. Price paid eighteen pounds.

Work was commenced at once. It was nearly completed when the French and Indian way broke out, which caused the work to cease; it was not completed till 1756. It was one and a-half stories high-wood. It stood until 1785 when a new one was erected, after the court house in Dublin, Ireland. It stood until 1861 when it was destroyed by fire. The first jail, a rude structure stood near the residence of Mr. Ross, the whipping post on the southeast corner of lot opposite present Central National Bank. Before the first court house was erected court was held in the log church of the German Reformed congregation on Patrick street; they were also held for a nine at Mrs. Charlton's tavern southwest corner Market and Patrick streets.

A memorial of the case of the German emigrants settled in the British colonies of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, published in London, 1754.

"By the most authentic accounts, for many years last past very large numbers of Germans have transported themselves into these British provinces of North America, the greatest part of them from Switzerland and the Palatinate, many from Wurteinburg and other places along the Rhine. Some few lately from lower Saxony, above thirty thousand, within the last ten years, and in 1750 more than ten thousand.

"The cause of their removal from their native countries were various. Some of them fled from the severe persecution they were exposed to, at home, on account of their religion, others from the oppressions of civil tyranny, and attracted by the pleasing hopes of liberty under the milder influence of the British government, others were drawn by the solicitations of their countrymen, who bad settled there before them. But for the greatest part, by the prospects they had of retrieving themselves under their deep poverty, and providing better for themselves and their families in the provinces to which they respectively retired."

These men were mostly trained mechanics, masons, carpenters, vine dressers, hatters, bakers, shoemakers, tailors, butchers, blacksmiths, millers, tanners, weavers, Coopers, saddlers, potters, tinners, brick makers. With such a force newly installed in the colonies, nothing but progress was to be thought of; and adding the agricultural trend of these people, the timbers fell, and houses were erected, the land tilled, and plenty was the reward, with peace reigning in every locality.

Pages 11-20

Helmans' History Of Emmitsburg

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