History of Western Maryland, Vol. 3: Frederick County (Contd.), D.C., Montgomery County – J. Thomas Scharf
The preparation of “History of Western Maryland”, one of the most voluminous works on the history of that part of the United States, imposed a vast responsibility and an immense amount of labor. In the compilation of this history no authority of importance has been overlooked. The author has carefully examined every source of information open to him, and has availed himself of every fact that could throw new light upon, or impart additional interest to, the subject under consideration. Besides consulting the most reliable records and authorities, over fifteen thousand communications were addressed to persons supposed to be in possession of facts or information calculated to add value to the work. Recourse has not only been had to the valuable libraries of Baltimore, Annapolis, Frederick, and Hagerstown, but the author and his agents have visited personally the entire territory embraced in the six counties of Western Maryland, spending much time in each district, examining ancient newspapers, musty manuscripts, family, church, and society records, conversing with the aged inhabitants, and collecting from them orally many interesting facts never before published, and which otherwise, in all probability, would soon have been lost altogether. In addition to the material partly used in the preparation of his ” Chronicles” and ” History of Baltimore City and County” and ” History of Maryland,” the author has consulted an immense number of pamphlets, consisting of county and town documents, reports of societies, associations, corporations, and historical discourses, and, in short, everything of a fugitive character that might in any way illustrate the history of Western Maryland. Sketches of the rise, progress, and present condition of the various religious denominations, professions, political parties, and charitable and benevolent institutions, societies, and orders form a conspicuous feature of the work. Manufacturing, commercial, and agricultural interests have also a prominent place. An account of the county school system is also given, and a history of the various institutions of learning of which Western Maryland has every reason to be proud. Many of the facts recorded, both statistical and historical, may seem trivial or tediously minute to the general reader, and yet such facts have a local interest and sometimes a real importance. Considerable space has also been given to biographies of leading and representative men, living and dead, who have borne an active part in the various enterprises of life, and who have become closely identified with the history of Frederick, Washington, Montgomery, Allegany, Carroll, and Garrett Counties. The achievements of the living must not be forgotten, nor must the memories of those who have passed away be allowed to perish. It is the imperative duty of the historian to chronicle their public and private efforts to advance the great interests of society. Their deeds are to be recorded for the benefit of those who follow them; they, in fact, form part of the history of their communities, and their successful lives add to the glory of the Commonwealth. A distinguishing feature of the work is its statistics of the various districts into which the six counties of Western Maryland are divided. In them the reader is brought into close relation with every part of Western Maryland. This is volume three out of six, covering Frederick County (contd.), D.C., and Montgomery County.
History of Western Maryland, Vol. 3: Frederick County (Contd.), D.C., Montgomery County.
Excerpt from the text:
The territory now embraced by Montgomery County was originally a portion of Prince George’s, but was segregated in 1748, when it became a portion of the new county of Frederick, created in that year, and comprising all the land lying west of a line drawn from the mouth of Rock Creek, through a portion of the District of Columbia, to the Patuxent River, an immense but comparatively unknown section of the State, which was destined eventually to be divided into six counties, and to comprise much of the most valuable territory in Maryland, and to contain a population which, for industry, enterprise, and all the elements which constitute the worth and importance of a community, is unsurpassed in America. That portion which now forms the county of Montgomery was partially settled very early in the history of the province of Maryland. The pioneers who came over in the ” Ark” and the ” Dove” and their immediate successors were an active, pushing race of people, who fully appreciated the gravity of the situation in which they had placed themselves. They knew their lives were to be toilsome and beset with many dangers and adversities, but the love of adventure which had brought them to the New World doubtless sustained their spirits under innumerable trials, and goaded their restless nature to fresh explorations. Many of them soon tired of the monotony of the peninsula, and in canoes and by bridle-paths over land worked their way to the interior of the country. The broad waters of the Potomac and Patuxent were invitingly open to them, and the sound as well as just and upright policy pursued towards the Indians by the early colonists reduced to a minimum the dangers from this source.
We have seen in the introductory to the history of Frederick County how Henry Fleet in 1625, nine years prior to the settlement of St. Mary’s, ascended the Potomac to the head of navigation and was made captive by the Indians. In his journal he gives a very graphic description of the country, and those familiar with it will recognize in Tohoga the site of Georgetown, and in the place ” where the river is not above twelve fathoms broad” the narrows immediately below the Little Falls and in the neighborhood of the bridge.
At the time of the first settlement of the province the Indians who inhabited the territory along the line of the Potomac, in the neighborhood of Rockville and the District of Columbia, belonged to the Piscataway confederacy, whose emperor was chief of all the tribes on the Potomac. Piscataway was originally the seat of this great chief and his tribe, and was situated on a creek of that name, about sixteen miles below Washington City. The Piscataway confederacy numbered at least six tribes, among which were the Pamunkies, Piscataways, and Anacostans. Deeds can be found recorded among the land records of Prince George’s County, at Upper Marlboro’, made by the emperor of the Piscataways to the purchasers of his land. The power of this great chief is shown in the fact that upon his arrival with his colonists in the Potomac in 1634, Governor Leonard Calvert found it necessary to leave his companions and go in person from St. Clement’s Island to Piscataway to meet the emperor and treat with him about settling in his dominions. This Calvert did, previously to his landing at St. Mary’s, and received from the great chief the celebrated answer, ” I will neither bid you go nor stay.” As we have shown in the history of Frederick County, the Jesuit priests of St. Mary’s in 1643 sent Father White, one of their number, as a missionary to this tribe, and such was his success that among others he baptized the emperor and his family. He did not, however, remain long, as he, together with all the other priests, were driven out of the province during the ascendency and misrule of Ingle in 1645, under color of authority from the English Parliament.
But as early as when Father White was among the Piscataway tribes land had been taken up by some of the colonists on the creek below, where the town of Piscataway now stands. The first evidence we have of any great body of settlers in this neighborhood is to be found in the old vestry-book of Piscataway Parish, under date of Jan. 30, 1694, which is as follows: ” By a sufficient and lawful authority the inhabitants of Piscataway parish, having met at the house of John Addison, Esq., in said parish, elected the said John Addison foreman, William Hatton, John Smith, William Hutchinson, William Tannehill, and John Swallwell to be vestrymen in said parish; and they ordered that the forty pounds per poll be paid to John Addison, Esq., and William Hutchinson, and that they do employ carpenters for building a church.” The parish was created under the act of 1692, being one of the original thirty parishes into which the province of Maryland was then divided.
The church was built at the head of Back Creek, which makes out from the Potomac River at what is now Port Washington. The first rector was the Rev. George Tubman, and upon the creation of Prince George’s County, in 1695, Piscataway Parish became its western half In 1701, Mr. Tubman was succeeded by Rev. Robert Owen, and in 1710 he was followed by Rev. John Frazier, who married in the county, and afterwards purchased and settled on an estate called ” Blue Plains,” on the Maryland side of the Potomac, opposite Alexandria, Va.
The settlements in this neighborhood increased rapidly, and, as will be seen in the sketch of the Episcopal Church in this county, soon grew strong enough to erect a church building about where the town of Rockville now stands. At a very early period, perhaps about 1695, this immediate vicinity received a large accession to its population from the Scotch refugees, who, despairing of the fortunes of the House of Stuart, took refuge in large numbers in the province. From this colony, and those who followed them in 1715-17 and 1745, sprang many of the leading families of Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, their names attesting their strength. Such was their number and influence that about 1695 one of the county districts, or hundreds, as they were then called, was named “New Scotland.”
In after-years the Six Nations, by the accession of the Tuscaroras, who inhabited the head-waters of the Potomac about Harper’s Ferry, claimed title to a portion of the county, and no doubt gave names to the Seneca, Monocacy, and the Tuscarora streams, but had no permanent residence within the county borders. Besides deer, buffaloes, bears, and turkeys, this country also abounded in wolves, for as late as 1797 an act of Assembly was passed (for Montgomery County) offering a reward of thirty dollars for the head of every wolf over six months old, and four dollars for every one under that age. The first settlers speedily made clearings in the forest and reduced the land to cultivation, the remunerative prices obtained for tobacco (which could be nowhere else so successfully grown as in these lands) stimulating their enterprise. In fact, the growth of tobacco was pursued in Montgomery, as in other sections of the State, to such an extent that the lands were finally impoverished, and it was only by a radical change in the system of farming and in the character of the crops that Montgomery County has been raised to the standard of productiveness which it now maintains as one of the leading counties of Maryland. Many of the old houses, built of brick and stone, attest the possession of considerable wealth and great social refinement among the planters. The brick used in the construction of houses, churches, and public buildings generally were often brought from England as ballast by vessels returning after having taken out cargoes of tobacco from the ” plantations.” The farm-house of that day was generally a square substantial building with large halls and roomy, high-veiled apartments, in which the planter dispensed a generous and often courtly hospitality. The table always contained an abundance of food, and the style of living was liberal, not to say prodigal. Farther up the county, in the section bordering on Frederick, many German immigrants from Pennsylvania settled, and these, together with the English and other colonists, were forced by their remoteness from navigable water to restrict themselves to timber for building purposes. In most cases these wooden buildings Were large log cabins, chinked with clay or mortar, and having a chimney built on the outside, generally of stones or pieces of timber plastered with clay. These structures, though not inviting, were warm and dry in winter and cool in summer. All the barns and tobacco-houses were constructed on a similar plan. The log houses were seldom more than one story high, but they generally had large garret-rooms and a deep cellar.
In the unsettled districts the log cabin became what was known as a ” half-faced camp,” generally used by a hunter. This was a log cabin enclosed on three sides, the front being protected by a sort of veranda. The great advantage of these houses was their cheapness and the fact that they could be erected without the aid of a carpenter. As soon as the logs were collected and dressed the neighbors assembled, and the house was ” raised” by their joint efforts. A jollification always ensued, much after the style of the apple-butter and quilting parties of New England, or the husking matches at the South. The furniture in these dwellings was, of course, of the simplest description, but in the houses of the planters farther south and east it was more costly, much of it being mahogany. Throughout Western Maryland the bedroom furniture consisted generally of painted bedsteads, with straw beds and feather beds for covering, and a chair or two. The housekeeping was always clean and neat, and the German housewife especially was noted for her skill in preparing butter and cheese, and for her industry and deftness in weaving and knitting. Apple and cherry orchards were to be found on nearly every farm, and the cellar was generally well stocked with excellent home-brewed beer and cider. Slave-labor was largely employed in Montgomery County, and colored labor continues to be generally used, although the farmers themselves and their families are almost invariably hard-working, thrifty, and energetic. In the old times the servants’ ” quarter” was not infrequently the largest building on the estate. Occasionally, however, it was a succession of cabins, each of which contained several families, though sometimes, as a special favor, one family was permitted to occupy a building alone. Vast tracts of land were tilled by single proprietors, but there was also a thrifty middle class, which had practically no existence as a farming community in the more southern counties, and to this class Montgomery owes in a great measure her present prosperity, although it is only
I just to add that many of her most industrious and successful farmers and business men are descendants of large planters of the last century. Montgomery, in fact, was particularly fortunate in the composition of her early population, which was a harmonious blending of the English colonists of wealth and influence and of those energetic German and Scotch-Irish settlers from the North who carved their fortunes with their hands. They multiplied and prospered, and nothing occurred to mar the harmony of their lives or disturb the even tenor of their way until the breaking out of the French war and the defeat of Braddock in 1755.
The invasion of the western frontier of the province by the French and the Indians from Fort Du Quesne created great excitement and anxiety while it lasted, but a force from the lower district of Frederick County (now Montgomery) under Col. Ridgely and Capt. Alexander Beall marched to the rescue and allayed the fears of the settlers. The rapid settlement of Frederick County and its unwieldy proportions soon suggested the propriety of a division to accommodate the necessities of the citizens, and on the 31st of August, 1776, Dr. Thomas Sprigg Wootton, a member of the State Convention, introduced a bill for the division of Frederick County into three distinct municipalities. The bill was read and ordered to lie on the table. It was called up and passed by a small majority, Sept. 6, 1776, and thus two new counties, Washington and Montgomery, were created. The language of the act relating to the latter is as follows:
” Resolved, That after the first day of October next such part of the said county of Frederick as is contained within the bounds and limits following, to wit: beginning at the east side of the mouth of Rock Creek, on the Potomac River, and running thence with the said river to the mouth of Monocacy, then with a straight line to Parr’s Spring, from thence with the lines of the county to the beginning, shall be and is hereby erected into a new county called Montgomery County.”
The county was formed at the outset of that fierce struggle which resulted in the independence of the colonies and the formation of a free government, and it was especially appropriate that it should take the name of one of the noblest heroes and patriots who fell during the contest. Richard Montgomery, from whom it was named, was born near Raphoe, Ireland, Dec. 2, 1736. He was commissioned as an officer of the British army when but eighteen years of age. He was at the siege of Louisburg in 1758, and acquitted himself with distinction in the expeditions against Martinique and Havana. In 1759 he shared in the glorious victory of Gen. Wolfe at Quebec, in which that brave soldier lost his life, and fought over the very spot probably where he was destined to lose his life in defense of the liberties of his country. In 1763 he revisited Europe, and in 1772 he emigrated to New York, where he married a daughter of Judge Robert R. Livingston and settled in Rhinebeck. He represented Dutchess County in 1775 in the Provincial Congress, and in the same year was commissioned brigadier-general. He was assigned to the expedition sent to Canada in the summer of 1775, and by reason of the illness of Gen. Schuyler assumed command. He captured Chambly, St. John’s, and Montreal, and by the middle of November was in possession of the greater part of Canada. He formed a junction with Arnold’s troops, December 4th, and laid siege to Quebec. Becoming convinced that it was impossible to conduct the siege to a successful issue with the small number of men at his command, he concluded to attempt the capture of the city by a coup de main, and at two o’clock on the morning of December 31st, Montgomery headed the attack on the town. He reached the first barrier, which was quickly carried, and pressed on the second, where he and his two aides fell dead from the discharge of the only cannon fired from this battery. Had he lived his daring attack would probably have been successful, but his death was the signal for a panic among the raw and undisciplined troops. Because of the estimation in which he was held by the enemy, some courtesies were extended to his remains, but the other officers were huddled into shallow graves with no coffins, and their remains were reinterred with the opening of spring to obviate the unpleasant odor which arose from them.
Ramsey, in his “History of the American Revolution,” says, —
” Few men have ever fallen in battle so much regretted by both sides as Gen. Montgomery. His many amiable qualities had procured him an uncommon share of private affection, and his great abilities an equal proportion of public esteem. Being a sincere lover of liberty, he had engaged in the American cause from principle, and quitted the enjoyment of an easy fortune and the highest domestic felicity to take an active share in the fatigues and dangers of a war instituted for the defense of the community of which he was an adopted member. His well-known character was almost equally esteemed by the friends and foes of the side which he had espoused. In America ho was celebrated as a martyr to the liberties of mankind; in Great Britain, as a misguided, good man, sacrificing what ho supposed to be the rights of his country. His name was mentioned in Parliament with singular respect. Some of the most powerful speakers in that assembly displayed their eloquence in sounding his praise and lamenting his fate. Those in particular who had been his fellow-soldiers in the previous war expatiated on his many virtues. The minister himself acknowledged his worth, while he reprobated the cause for which he fell. Ho concluded an involuntary panegyric by saying, ‘Curses on his virtues, they have undone his country!’ “