History of Western Maryland, Vol. 5: Washington County (Contd.) & Hagerstown – 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 five out of six, covering Washington County (contd.) and Hagerstown.
History of Western Maryland, Vol. 5: Washington County (Contd.) & Hagerstown.
Excerpt from the text:
Hagerstown, the county-seat of Washington County, is beautifully situated near Antietam Creek, eighty-seven miles from Baltimore, and lies five hundred and sixty-six feet above tide. It is located in the midst of the charming Hagerstown Valley, and is one of the most attractive and thrifty towns in the country. The streets are regular and in good condition, and the buildings substantial, and in many instances unusually handsome. Stores and shops of various kinds are numerous. The railway lines which center here are the Washington County Branch of the Baltimore and Ohio, the Western Maryland, the Cumberland Valley, and the Shenandoah Valley. These roads drain a magnificent section of country, decidedly the richest in Maryland, and embracing also some of the fairest portions of Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. From an elevated position in the town may be seen for miles the fertile fields of the Hagerstown Valley, while on the south lies the bleak battle-field of Antietam, and on the eastward that of South Mountain. From a point northwest of Hagerstown the line of intrenchments thrown up by Lee’s army in his last invasion of Maryland extended in a southerly direction to the Potomac. At some points the entrenchments were not more than three-quarters of a mile or a mile and a half from the town, which was completely covered by the Confederate guns. The Union fortifications were also very extensive. In fact, Hagerstown was the theatre of some of the most important events of the war, and the vestiges of the havoc wrought by both armies are by no means effaced even yet. In addition to its railroad facilities, the town enjoys the advantage of being the point of convergence for a number of admirable turnpike roads, which have largely contributed to building up its flourishing trade. It is abundantly supplied with water-power, which, with the richness and productiveness of the surrounding country, has contributed to give it not only the appearance but the reality of remarkable prosperity and enterprise.
Looking eastward, towards the South Mountain ridge, the scenery is of the most imposing character. Splendid firms, teeming with richness of soil and all under perfect cultivation, are within visual range in every direction, whilst blue mountains rise up in the distance, making altogether a panorama that has few equals anywhere. Beautiful springs gush forth from limestone rocks at frequent intervals, and sparkling streams are seen winding through the rich fields like threads of glittering silver. To all this rural beauty is added a pure, salubrious atmosphere. One of the most attractive features of the town itself is the number of beautiful gardens and green enclosures attached to private residences.
The town is divided into five wards. The principal streets are Washington and Potomac. Washington runs nearly east and west, and Potomac north and south. Each is divided by the other into two sections, thus making East and West Washington and North and South Potomac Streets. The streets running parallel with Washington Street, beginning on the north, are North, Bethel, Church, Franklin, Antietam, and Baltimore. Those running parallel with Potomac Street, beginning on the east, are Mulberry, Locust, Jonathan, Walnut, Prospect, and High. Green Lane is an extension of West Washington Street, and Pennsylvania Avenue is a continuation of Jonathan Street. The Washington Branch of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad enters the town from the south, passing between Potomac and Jonathan Streets. The depot is situated at the intersection of South Jonathan and West Antietam Streets, a short distance northwest of St. John’s Lutheran church, which fronts on Potomac Street near the intersection of Antietam Street. The Cumberland Valley Railroad passes through the western portion of the town, along Walnut Street. The depot is situated at the intersection of South Walnut and West Washington Streets. For some distance the course of the Western Maryland Railroad is parallel with and westward of that of the Cumberland Valley, which, however, curves suddenly to the northward and intersects the Western Maryland in the northwestern section of the town. The depot is situated on West Washington Street.
The principal buildings in Hagerstown are the court-house, on West Washington Street, at the corner of Jonathan, near which stands the banking-house of Hoffmann, Eavey & Co.; the Baldwin House, a handsome new hotel, located on Washington Street, diagonally opposite from the court-house, to the eastward; the market-house, on the east side of Potomac Street, at the corner of Franklin; county jail, on Jonathan Street, at the corner of West Church; Hagerstown Female Seminary, located in the extreme southeastern portion of the town, and the Hagerstown Academy, which is situated in the southwestern portion, near Walnut Street. The town hall is situated at the corner of Franklin and Potomac Streets, with market-house under it.
The churches are located as follows: Catholic, Washington and Walnut Streets; St. John’s Episcopal, Antietam and Prospect Streets; St. John’s Lutheran, Potomac Street near Antietam; Presbyterian, corner of Washington and Prospect Streets, and another on South Potomac near Baltimore Street; Methodist, Jonathan Street near Franklin; Trinity Lutheran and the Reformed churches, on Franklin Street between Jonathan and Potomac; Bethel Methodist Episcopal church, on Bethel Street near Potomac; Colored Methodist church, on Jonathan near Church; United Brethren, at the corner of Locust and Franklin Streets; and St. Matthew’s German Lutheran church, on the corner of Antietam and Locust Streets. Besides these there is another Reformed church on Potomac Street near Church. The handsomest and most conspicuous church in Hagerstown is St John’s Protestant Episcopal, a beautiful structure of graystone, with an imposing tower. The court-house is a spacious building of brick, with tower, and is one of the finest structures of the kind in the State. The Baldwin House is the principal hotel, and is a new, roomy, and well-appointed structure. The other hotels are the Franklin House, on Potomac Street; Antietam House, on West Washington Street; Hoover House, corner Franklin and Potomac Streets; and the Mansion House, near the depot of the Cumberland Valley Railroad. The Hagerstown Bank, one of the oldest institutions of the kind in Western Maryland, is situated on Washington Street, opposite the Baldwin House, and the First National Bank is now erecting a new building on Washington Street, opposite the court-house.
The sidewalks are paved with brick, and the streets are substantial turnpike-roads. The site of the old court-house, which stood at the intersection of Potomac and Washington Streets, is now need as a public square. It is a great rendezvous for market people. The finest private residences are situated on Prospect, and at the head of West Washington and North Potomac Streets, but there are also a number of others scattered about in different localities. The houses are mostly of brick, but some graystone is also used with handsome effect.
Hagerstown was laid out as a town in 1762 by Capt. Jonathan Hager, and its site is said to have been in the main a dreary, uneven swamp. Capt. Hager came from Germany about 1730 and settled in what is now Washington County, about two miles west of the present site of Hagerstown, on a tract of land which was known as ” Hager’s Delight,” and which was owned recently by the late Samuel Zeller. The earliest information of Jonathan Hager, Sr., is found in the statement that he received a patent of certain land on which a portion of the city of Philadelphia now stands. He was a man of much independence and force of character, and pushed on to Maryland. Having obtained patents for extensive tracts of land in Washington County, he settled, as stated above, in the vicinity of Antietam Creek. On this farm was built the first two-story log house, with an arched stone cellar so constructed that if the family were attacked by the Indians they could take refuge there. Capt. Hager was frequently assailed by the savages, and his family found the cellar a most useful asylum. It was often necessary to protect the dairy-maids with armed men while engaged in milking the cows. As a rule, however, Capt. Hager generally managed to keep on pretty friendly terms with the Indians of the vicinity.
Jonathan Hager was not, however, the first settler in the neighborhood of Hagerstown. He was no doubt preceded several years by Capt. Thomas Cresap, the famous Indian-fighter, and other fearless settlers. Capt. Cresap at a very early period built an Indian fort of stone and logs over a spring at ” Long Meadows,” on the farm now owned by George W. Harris, about three miles from Hagerstown, which was known for many years as ” Old Castle Cresap.” During the Indian wars Cresap’s fort was an important point, as it afforded protection to those who fled to it for safety. It was also a general rendezvous for the rangers established in the county for the protection of the back settlements. When the inhabitants increased and the Indians were driven farther into the interior, Cresap abandoned his castle near Hagerstown and erected a more formidable one at his new home at Skipton, or Old Town, in Allegany County. Some of the ruins of his old fort are yet visible; indeed, the old stone barn, on the farm of Mr. Harris which was purchased by him in 1868 from the executors of the late Richard Ragan, was built out of the stone of Castle Cresap, which stood on that farm. ” Long Meadows” was the favorite abode of the early settlers of Washington County, and within the memory of many living the farms in that locality were owned by the Harts, Spriggs, Thomas B. Hall, and other names once familiar, but now extinct.
Jonathan Hager was attracted to Washington County by the fertility of its soil and the great abundance of pure and wholesome water, and was not disappointed in the hope of speedily accumulating a comfortable maintenance.
About 1740 he married Elizabeth Kershner, who lived in the same neighborhood. They had two children, Rosanna and Jonathan. Rosanna married Gen. Daniel Heister, and Jonathan married Mary Madeline, daughter of Maj. Christian Orndorff, who lived near Sharpsburg. Maj. Orndorff’s house was the headquarters of the Revolutionary officers who passed that way to or from the scene of military operations in the North or South. Mrs. Jonathan Hager, Jr. (Mary Orndorff), was a great belle and beauty in her day, one of her suitors being the famous Gen. Horatio Gates. She rejected him, however, and when fifteen years of age accepted Jonathan Hager, Jr., and was married to him. They had one daughter, Elizabeth, who married Upton Lawrence. Nine children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence, and their descendants are very numerous. Among them are the two Misses Lawrence, who reside in the Lawrence mansion, and who have many interesting relics of the Hagers in their possession. Among them is the original plat of the town, as shown in the cut. They also have Jonathan Hager, Sr.’s, old-fashioned silver watch of the ” turnip” pattern, the massively engraved silver shoe-buckles worn by Jonathan Hager, Jr., and the latter’s suspender-buckles of silver, with his initials engraved on them. Among the other articles in their collection is a handsome silver stock-buckle set with brilliants and attached to a stock of black lace and blue satin, a brooch of brilliants for the shirt, a gold ring set with a ruby and diamonds, and a full-dress suit with lace and ruffles. This costume consists of two vests, — one of them of white satin embroidered with spangles and colored silks, and the other of apple-green silk embroidered with spangles, gold thread, and colored silks. The spangles and embroidery are still as bright, probably, as when they were first put on. They also have Mr. Hager, Jr.’s, silver shoe-buckles, magnificently set with brilliants, and retain possession of all the old silver and plate.
The elder Jonathan Hager named the new village Elizabeth Town in honor of his wife, Elizabeth, but in after-years it came to be written Elizabeth (Hager’s) Town, and gradually the Elizabeth was discarded and it was denominated solely Hagerstown. Capt. Hager laid off the town in about 520 lots of 82 feet front and 240 feet deep, making half an acre each, which were leased for £5 consideration money, $1, or 7 shillings and 6 pence, per annum as a perpetual ground-rent. He reserved all the lots outside the town which were not numbered in the original, but these were afterwards sold by his heirs. There are still in the possession of his descendants about 300 ground-rents of the original town lots. A large square was laid out, and a market-house was erected in the center, at the intersection of what is now Washington and Potomac Streets. Afterwards a courthouse and market-house combined was built, the market-house being below and the court-house above. When Washington County was created out of Frederick in 1776, Mr. Hager, we are told, ” rode down to Annapolis and had his town made the county town.” This must have been Jonathan Hager, Jr., as the date of his father’s death is given as being 1775. In the previous year (1773) Jonathan Hager, Sr., had been returned as a delegate to the General Assembly of Maryland from Frederick County, but not being a native subject of the English crown nor descended from one, but naturalized in 1747, was declared ineligible by the House. The act created a considerable stir., and the Governor and Council declared it unprecedented. He was also a member of the House of Delegates in 1771. The course of the Assembly in 1773 was predicated on a petition from Samuel Beall setting forth that a number of voters in Frederick County had not produced certificates of their naturalization, and on account of their religious tenets had refused to take the oaths required by law. The old Hager residence, a massive stone building on the eastern side of the public square and fronting on Washington Street, was torn down a few years ago in order to make room for a store. In this ancient structure the Hagers resided for a number of years, and after them Col. Henry Lewis, who married Mrs. Mary Hager, widow of Col. Jonathan Hager, Jr. Mrs. Mary Hager was still a very beautiful woman, and still young when Col. Hager died. At one time Luther Martin, the great lawyer, was an ardent suitor for her hand, but she rejected him and married Col. Lewis. Both the Jonathan Hagers, father and son, were very popular with the citizens of Hagerstown, and enjoyed almost unbounded influence. The elder Hager was accidentally killed on Nov. 6, 1775, in his sixty-first year, at a saw-mill near the site of Hager’s mill, by a large piece of timber rolling upon and crushing him. The timber was being sawed for the German Reformed church, which Mr. Hager was very active in building. Jonathan Hager, Jr., entered the Revolutionary army, and served through the war. After his marriage he resided in Hagerstown, and died in December, 1798. In its issue of the 20th of that month the Hagerstown Herald paid him a warm tribute as a worthy citizen and an affectionate husband and father. His daughter, Elizabeth, married Upton Lawrence, a distinguished lawyer of Hagerstown.