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Native tribes were 1st settlers

September 22, 2005|by HEATHER C. SMATHERS

Long before white settlers arrived in Washington County, native tribes established their homes in the area of present-day Keedysville.

American Indians were attracted to the area because of the waterways that converge there, a Keedysville Historical Society official said.

In Antietam Creek, American Indians built a fish trap out of rocks.

In 1731, Charles Calvert, Lord Baltimore, advertised lands available for settlement "between the rivers Potomack and Susquehanna," according to Margaret Butner Moats' book, "A History of Keedysville."

According to Moats' book, early German settlers came by way of the Monocacy Trail from Frederick, Md., to Middletown, Md.

In 1734, Lord Baltimore granted 115 acres known as Felfoot to Thomas Van Swearingen, but by 1750, Tobias Stansbury is on record as the owner of that property, Moats' book says.

Stansbury amassed 2,100 acres by 1750, the book says. The next recorded owner is German immigrant Conrad Schnebley in 1763.

In her book, Moats says that in 1740, Moses Chapline, whose brother Joseph founded Sharpsburg, built a "stronghouse" - a defense against Indians - near the Felfoot property. The stronghouse was used during the French and Indian War to shelter settlers, the book says.

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One early settler was Jacob Hess. On Oct. 26, 1767, Hess purchased 99 acres on four parcels for 100 pounds. Hess sold his original 99 acres for 120 pounds, according to Moats' book. In 1770, Hess purchased 150 acres for 750 pounds from Alexander McCullom, the book says.

In 1768, Hess built a gristmill on Antietam Creek, which was known informally as Hesses Mill. Hess' house, which dates to 1768, still stands.

In the 1820s, a turnpike was built between Boonsboro and Sharpsburg and the location of Hesses Mill and surrounding property became known as Centreville, since it was centrally located between Boonsboro and Sharpsburg, according to historical documents in the Western Maryland Room of the Washington County Free Library.

The post office was established in 1848. The name of the area was changed to Keedysville in honor of shopkeeper Samuel Keedy, a descendant of one of the earliest settler families in the area.

Keedy also lobbied for the post office. The name also was changed because there already was a Centreville in Maryland.

During the Civil War, the town's buildings were used as hospitals for soldiers wounded in the battles of South Mountain and Antietam.

Keedysville was incorporated as a town in 1872.

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