No history of Frederick County would be complete without the very early times and people.
There was much activity with the formation of land and seas 4-5 million years ago in the Precambrian Age. The mineral rhyolite, among others, was formed and it was an age of volcanoes. Mountains we know today formed — Sugarloaf, Parrs Ridge, the Catoctin Range. Rocks were formed and shells appeared from sea animals. By the Mesozoic Age all of the local mountains and valleys had been formed. Two hundred million years ago, dinosaurs roamed the land. Tracks have been found in the area of Emmitsburg and Thurmont. The Monocacy River formed and vegetation began to grow.
The first Asians came to America via the Bering Strait about 14,000 B.C. They slowly migrated to south and central United States by 11,000 B.C. They were known as “Clovis” Indians.
The next three ages of change and development are called Paleo Indian, (11,000-8000 B.C.), the Archaic (8000-1000 B.C.) and Woodland (1000 B.C.-1600 A.D.). Many changes in the lives of the Native Americans took place during these eras. Changes were gradual in the climate and the resources available. Mastodons and mammoths were prevalent in the early period, the lands were covered with grass, and Native Americans were nomads following the animals, hunting for their food.
During the Archaic period, trees began to grow and large animals disappeared. The Chesapeake Bay formed. There were more people in the area, who lived in rock shelters and used soapstone bowls for cooking. There were more small animals, and the people were hunters and gatherers. Because of smaller animals, they made smaller tools.
The Woodland period was more like today. Native Americans lived in villages, learned to grow vegetables in gardens and lived near streams and rivers. They began using bows and arrows about 700-800 A.D. and they used local rhyolite for points. A favorite spot for acquiring rhyolite was at Crow Rock, near Myersville. Sites where Native Americans lived are found all over Frederick County.
The first European temporary settlers in North America were the Vikings who came from Norway and Sweden around 1000. They had a small settlement in Iceland and Greenland founded by Leif Erikson and traveled south as far as Massachusetts.
It was not until the early 1600s that the first settlement in the future United States was made in Jamestown, Virginia. In 1607, Captain John Smith from the Virginia colony sailed up the Chesapeake Bay and was the first visitor to today’s Maryland.
Maryland was founded March 25, 1634, when the Ark and the Dove ships landed at St. Clement’s Island, and founded St. Mary’s City on the mainland.
For almost 100 years the population grew on the Eastern Shore and near the Chesapeake Bay on the west. Travel by water was the main way of getting around, although there were many Native American trails, some of which formed the basis for our roads today.
During the 1600s, modern-day Frederick County was full of animals. Tribes of Native Americans from nearby areas were in the area for hunting. These tribes often fought each other. Some lived in the area and their settlements have been located. Archeology digs have been done which supply artifacts that tell us how these people lived. Several of the larger digs are near Biggs Ford Road (1300 B.C. to 1400 A.D.),The Rosenstock farm east of Frederick city and near the airport (1300 B.C. to 1450 A.D.) and Devilbiss Bridge Road.
Archeologists as well as local amateurs, including the late Spencer Geasey, his wife Nancy, John Snyder, Nicholas Yinger and Ralston Goldsboro, have found many artifacts in Frederick County.
In 1699 the Piscataway Indians moved to Heater’s Island in the Potomac River near Point of Rocks. In 1704 smallpox broke out, and the Native Americans left by 1810. They built a fort and homes while there. They left because of illness and a promise of better living conditions in Pennsylvania.
In 1614, King George II purchased land from the Indians in today’s Frederick County. Lord Baltimore was made proprietor of the land, and wanted to earn money for himself. However, renting the land was not successful.
Meanwhile traders and explorers appeared. An early trader was Martin Chartier, a Frenchman who lived where the Potomac River and Monocacy meet. He traded tools and other goods for furs. Two explorers who were in the area were Franz Louis Michel in 1702 and Christoph Von Graffenried in 1712. Graffenried was looking for land. He left an old map which shows not only the Potomac River, but also the Monocacy River and the western mountains.
The 1700s were a time of great change and development. In Europe there was war and the Protestants breaking away from the Roman church and the pope. It was a good time to sell real estate and start a new life in a new country.
Lord Baltimore advertised land he was selling in Maryland. English settlers in Virginia took advantage of his offer as did Germans from the Pennsylvania colony. The first land surveys were made in 1721. Many settlers, arriving from Europe, landed in Philadelphia, traveled to Lancaster and then to northern Frederick County, as well as Virginia.
An early survey was made in 1724 by Charles Carroll. He bought 10,000 acres in southern Frederick County. He was the grandfather of Charles Carroll of Carrollton who purchased more land in Southern Frederick County and was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
The Native Americans were friendly to the new settlers, thinking they were another tribe. The settlers, however, were not good to the locals. There were incidents of Native Americans capturing settlers and keeping them for as long as 10 years, and fights ensued between settlers and the locals.
Two early surveys are of special interest to Frederick residents — those of Benjamin Tasker and Daniel Dulany, both in 1745. These properties are where the city of Frederick is today.
William Penn traveled to Europe and especially Germany to recruit settlers for the new America. This is probably how John Thomas Schley heard of a new opportunity. He was schoolmaster in Appenhofen, Germany, his wife’s hometown. They arrived in Maryland in 1745 with their children and 100 settlers where today’s Frederick is located. He built the first house in Frederick on East Patrick Street at Middle Alley. He was a friend of the Native Americans, and received help from them.
The local tribes moved frequently. The Tuscarora tribe was in North Carolina. In 1711 there was a war with the white settlers. The tribe decided to move north and settled near the Potomac and Monocacy rivers in 1713. They slowly moved north by 1722 to New York state and joined other tribes. They left behind their name for two streams in Frederick County, a high school, an elementary school and a post office in southern Frederick County.
The French and Indian War lasted from 1754-1756. The Native Americans taught the French to fight hiding in ambush. The French in Canada wanted to colonize the area south including today’s Pittsburgh where they had built Fort Duquesne. English settlers were moving west toward today’s Ohio. Troops were sent from Annapolis to capture the fort, with General Edward Braddock in charge. Braddock was hoping to recruit troops and receive supplies in 1755 and stopped in Frederick, finding little help there. He continued west over today’s Braddock Mountain where the troops were refreshed at a spring. Unfortunately Braddock was killed before reaching the fort. Several years later the English did capture the fort.
By 1750 most Native Americans had left the Frederick area. There was a war between settlers in Pennsylvania and Maryland. Both claimed to own land where the two states met. In 1763-1768 a line was surveyed from the Ohio border to Delaware — today’s Mason-Dixon Line, the states’ border. Neither state was happy.
Frederick County had been a part of Prince George’s County. It was separated and formed a separate county in 1748. Much has happened since then to become our homes and life of today.