City of Hagerstown has a rich history

September 24, 2006

What is now known as the City of Hagerstown was founded in 1762. Founder Jonathan Hager, a German immigrant, named it Elizabeth-Town, for his wife.

Hager is said to have laid out about 520 lots, each nearly a half-acre. His 200-acre homestead is now City Park.

Hager died on November 6, 1775, during an accident while helping to construct Zion Reformed Church on land he had donated.

In 1776, the area became the county seat of Washington County.

The name changed to Hager's-Town after it was incorporated on Jan. 26, 1814, according to the Maryland General Assembly's library.

The city's unofficial symbol is Little Heiskell, a tin soldier on a weather vane Hager commissioned for the first city hall. It was named for the tinsmith who crafted it in 1796.


For its ties to the railroads, Hagerstown picked up the nickname "Hub City." Its economy relied heavily for years on manufacturing.

On Wednesday, July 6, 1864, a Confederate cavalry unit commanded by Brigadier-General John McCausland, rode into Hagerstown and threatened to burn the town unless Hagerstown provided $20,000 in cash and 1,500 outfits of clothing.

The town was saved when three local banks, in cooperation with the Hagerstown City Council, came up with the money to save the town from the torch. Local businesses and residents turned over items of clothing, according to some accounts.

Even before the Civil War, the railroad was gaining importance as a means of transportation. The Franklin Railroad began operations in Hagerstown on Feb. 3, 1841, giving Hagerstown a north-south railroad for freight and passenger service.

Eventually, Hagerstown became the center of the Western Maryland Railway and an important city on the Reading, Norfolk and Western and Baltimore and Ohio railroad lines.

That made Hagerstown a transportation hub, giving it the nickname The Hub City.

The city's most noteworthy products throughout history include the Dagmar and Crawford cars, made by a company owned by Mathias Peter Mller, who was better known for his pipe-organ business.

Another of The Hub City's claims to fame was its annual agricultural exposition known as The Great Hagerstown Fair.

By the late 1890's the fair was by some accounts the most famous and important fall show in the country. The poultry exhibition at the Hagerstown Fair became the largest in the United States, with more than 5,000 birds on display.

The fair, eventually to be called the Washington County Fair, was held on a site at North Mulberry and Cannon Ave., from 1880 until the late 1960s. That site is now Fairgrounds Park.

About Hagerstown

Mayor: Robert E. Bruchey II, 301-739-8577, ext. 110 (City Hall), 301-733-7454 (home)

City council:

Kristin B. Aleshire, 301-739-8577, ext. 118 (City Hall)

Kelly S. Cromer, 301-797-1377 (work)

Lewis C. Metzner, 301-739-7400 (work)

Penny M. Nigh, 301-790-3839 (home)

Alesia D. Parson-McBean, 301-739-8577, ext. 118 (City Hall)

The city council holds work sessions the first three Tuesdays of the month at 4 p.m. A regular session is held on the fourth Tuesday at 7 p.m.

City Hall: 301-739-8577 (automated system)

Population: 38,326 (2005 estimate)

Electricity: Hagerstown Light Department, 301-790-2600

Natural gas: Columbia Gas of Maryland, 888-460-4332

Cable: Antietam Cable, 301-797-5000

Trash collection and recycling: Varies. Call 301-739-8577, ext. 106

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