Harford County Chronology of Events

Rock Survey Marker, Main Street and Baltimore Pike, Bel Air

Photographed April 2002

228 mya   At least 12 species of dinosaurs roamed Harford County from 228 million years ago (mya) until 70 mya. Their fossils have been found along the fall line through the southern parts of the County.
B.C.   Some archeologists think that Native American hunters reached the Middle Atlantic Region about 13,000 years ago.
1000 A.D. Native Americans of the region started to use ceramics and domesticated strains of maize, legumes, and squash.
1509  Henry VIII was named King of England. He broke with the Roman Catholic Church and formed the Anglican Catholic Church, also called the Episcopal Church. (The Random House Encyclopedia, Random House, NY, 1983)
1603  James I was named King of England. He had difficulty obtaining support of either the Catholics or Puritans. (The Random House Encyclopedia, Random House, NY, 1983)
1608  Captain John Smith, (1580-1631) of Willoughby in Lincolnshire, England, explored the Chesapeake Bay. He represented the Virginia Company. He described the Susquehannocks and mapped the Harford County area.
1627  An English trading post was established on Palmer's Island. Now, it is called Garrett's Island. It is near Havre de Grace in the Susquehanna River. (History Notes, St. Mary Anne's Church, North East, MD )
1632  Maryland Charter granted to George Calvert and it quickly passed to Cecilius Calvert, the second Lord Baltimore. The first three Lord Baltimores, the proprietors of Maryland, tried to create a society where Catholics and Protestants shared power and lived in peace. (Ross, S.B., Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Cobblestone, Peru, Illinois, p 6, 2002.)
1634  First Maryland settlement at St. Mary’s City, Southern Maryland, came with the landing of the Ark and the Dove.
1639  The fierce Susquehannocks harassed the peaceable Patuxents and Piscataways.
The Susquehannocks were at war with the Algonquin tribes on the Delaware River. (6)
1642  The English Civil War began in 1642 and ended in 1648.
1653  Cromwell was made Lord Protector of England.
1658  *Havre de Grace was settled. It is first known as Susquehanna Lower Ferry and was a stop on the Old Post Road.
*Nathaniel Utie obtained a license to trade with the Native Americans and a patent for Spesutie Island. (6)
1661  The town of Old Baltimore on the east bank of the Bush River was established.
1668  Settlers became established along the shores of the Gunpowder and Bush Rivers. (6)
1674  Old Baltimore was authorized as the first Baltimore County Seat. (6)
Cecil County was founded.
1675  The Susquehannocks were overthrown and/or dispersed by their many Native American enemies. (6)
1689  After King William III and Queen Mary were placed on the throne in England, the Maryland Assembly adopted the Church of England as the State religion. Many Protestants and Catholics lost some of their rights. (The Random House Encyclopedia, Random House, NY, 1983) (Ross, S.B., Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Cobblestone, Peru, Illinois, p 6, 2002.)
1691  The County Seat was relocated to the Fork of the Gunpowder.
1692  Parliament, at the direction of William and Mary, established Copley Parish, Gunpowder Hundred.
1709  Joppatowne (called Joppa at the time) became the site of the County Seat. With a population as large as 300, it became the site of court hearings, hangings, elections, cock fights, and horse races.
1715  After the 3rd Lord Baltimore's death in 1715, all the proprietors of Maryland were protestant. They continued to govern until the American Revolution. (Ross, S.B., Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Cobblestone, Peru, Illinois, p 6, 2002.)
1732  George Washington was born.
1734  The world famous Peach Bottom slate was discovered in Pennsylvania, but it was not quarried commercially in and near Cardiff, MD until 1785.
1740  Quiet Lodge was built about 1740. It is located in the Edgewood Area of Aberdeen Proving Ground near the Gunpowder River.
1769  King George III ratified the Mason Dixon Line settling a long-standing dispute between Maryland and Pennsylvania. This set the northern boundary of Harford County.
1771Henry Harford, son of Fredrick Calvert the Sixth Lord of Baltimore, inherited the Province of Maryland. Henry Harford was the last proprietary of Maryland.
1773*Harford County was separated from Baltimore County and was named after Henry Harford.
*The County was governed thereafter by a county commissioner until 1972.
*The County Seat was moved to Bush.
*The Presbury family designated the Gunpowder Meeting House (ca. 1830) location as a meetinghouse site.
1775The Bush Declaration was signed.
1776The population of Harford County was 12,765. (6)
1777Havre de Grace, a village with a few houses, was burned by the British. (2)
1780The Town of Bel Air was first laid out by Aquilla Scott on a portion of his inheritance called Scott’s Improvement Enlarged, also known as Scott’s Old Fields.
1781Revolutionary War troops camped in Havre de Grace in September in route to Yorktowne and once again after Cornwallis’ surrender. As Washington’s troops came through Maryland, they were fully re-supplied.
1782*Plans for the Bel Air Courthouse were laid out by Daniel Scott. Called Scott’s Improvement Enlarged, Bel Air became the County Seat.
* William Paca, who was born in the Abingdon area of Harford County, became governor of Maryland.
1784*The Act of 1784 changed the name of Scott’s Improvement Enlarged to “Belle Aire.”
*The Anglican Church of England was disestablished as a result of the American Revolution. (History Notes, St. Mary Anne's Church, North East, MD )
1785Havre de Grace was incorporated.
1788The Hays House was built. The Hays House was named after Thomas Archer Hays, Sr. who owned the house between 1813 and 1861. Although he was not the original owner, he owned the property for the longest time, and it was later named after him.
1788Maryland’s Convention ratified (by a vote of 63 to 11) the proposed new Constitution for the United States. Samuel Chase, William Paca (born in the Abingdon Area), and Luther Martin argued that it must be amended.
1790Baltimore was a boomtown, ranking in population only behind Philadelphia, New York, and Boston among American cities (It had 13,500 inhabitants in the census of 1790).
1798*The current spelling of Bel Air was in use.
*Federal tax assessors found 657 taxable house in Harford County.(12)
1799*There was a bid to bring the capital of the nation, under the new Constitution, to Havre de Grace. Supporters of the plan commissioned H. P. Hardecoeur to do a detailed survey and mapping of the area.
*George Washington died.
1801Voter qualification laws, which prohibited one in three adult white males from voting, were abolished.
1802The right of suffrage for free Blacks was ended by the Maryland General Assembly.
1807Napoleon declared that all British vessels should be regarded as lawful prizes of war.
1808The importation of slaves was outlawed.
1813On May 3, the British, led by Admiral George Cockburn, burned and plundered the town of Havre de Grace during the War of 1812.
1814*On August 24-25, the British burned the Government Buildings in Washington, D.C., the Nation's Capitol.
*The British landed at North Point and a bloody battle was fought in nearby Baltimore County helping reverse the British march to Baltimore. Meanwhile, Fort McHenry was under bombardment, and the Star-Spangled Banner was written.
1815*Admiral George Cockburn escorted Emperor Napoleon to St. Helena, ending the Napoleonic Wars.
*Treaty of Ghent was signed, ending the War of 1812.
1819Yellow fever epidemic struck Baltimore. The wealthier residents fled to their country estates.
1822Harford County became the home to the family of the great Shakespearian actor, Junius Brutus Booth.
1824*The Harford Mutual Insurance Company was established as the Mutual Fire Insurance Company in Harford County.
*Dr. George Washington Archer, M.D. (1824-1907) was born. Dr. Archer assembled much of the basic collection of the Society Archives.
1825Pooles Island Lighthouse was constructed.
1827The Concord Point Lighthouse in Havre de Grace was built. Its keepers were the descendants of its first keeper and defender of Havre de Grace during the War of 1812, John O’Neil.
1836The Baltimore and Port Deposit Rail Road was completed as far as Havre de Grace. This became the Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore Railroad, and it is now AMTRAK.
1840The Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal opened. (Lock House News, Susquehanna Museum of Havre de Grace, page 11, Winter 2005. )
1845*Welsh quarrymen (from Gwynedd, north Wales) began arriving in the County, and slate became a big business, creating a strong economy for the region.
*The Great Potato Famine (1845-48) in Ireland caused many Irish to immigrate to Maryland.
1846The Mexican War started. It ended in 1847.
1848The Seneca Falls (NY) Convention, the first convention aimed at obtaining equal rights for women, was held.
1852The Susquehanna River froze so hard that railroad tracks were run across the ice at Havre de Grace.
1858There were 18 slate quarries west of the Susquehanna River; almost half were in Harford County.
1859The County Courthouse was destroyed by fire, and the present Courthouse was constructed.
1860*Abraham Lincoln was elected President.
*South Carolina left the Union.
1861*On April 13, Fort Sumter, South Carolina, surrendered after a 34 hour bombardment. Two days later, President Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to serve 3 months. (Toomey, D.C., The Civil War in Maryland, Toomey Press, Baltimore, page 10, 1990)
*On April 19, Baltimore citizens burned the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad bridges across the Bush and Gunpowder Rivers in Harford County to avoid rioters attacking Union troops in Baltimore. (Smart, J.K., Suppressing Rebellion in Harford County in 1861, Part 1, Harford Historical Bulletin , The Historical Society of Harford County, Bel Air, No. 83, page 3, Winter 2000)
*In early May, the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad was peacefully secured in Harford County by 900 Union troops. This permitted the free flow of supplies and troops to Washington D.C. (Smart, J.K., Suppressing Rebellion in Harford County in 1861, Part 1, Harford Historical Bulletin , The Historical Society of Harford County, Bel Air, No. 83, page 4, Winter 2000)
*On July 13, 300 Union troops marched to Bel Air to arrest pacifists and Southern sympathizers and seize arms. One of their targets was Herman Stump, but he was warned by John Wilkes Booth. (Smart, J.K., Suppressing Rebellion in Harford County in 1861, Part 1, Harford Historical Bulletin , The Historical Society of Harford County, Bel Air, No. 83, pages 30-32, Winter 2000)
*On November 6, August W. Bradford, a Harford County native and strong Union supporter, was elected Governor of Maryland. (Toomey, D.C., The Civil War in Maryland, Toomey Press, Baltimore, page 33, 1990)
1863On July 11, Confederate Major Harry Gilmor led his Cavalry unit on a destructive raid through Harford County. (Toomey, D.C., The Civil War in Maryland, Toomey Press, Baltimore, page 127, 1990)
1865*Construction of the first railroad bridge across the Susquehanna River was completed.
*Robert E. Lee surrendered in Virginia.
*Steps to end slavery were initiated in the United States.
1878Some time around 1878 the Bel Air Racetrack opened (Harford Democrat, February 8, 1878, page 2). The last race at the Racetrack was run in 1966 (Record, November 11, 1989, page 10A). It was located where Harford Mall is today.
1885The Historical Society of Harford County, Inc. was organized. It was the first county historical society in the State of Maryland.
1889Stock was sold and construction began on the Deer Creek and Susquehanna Railroad. The Railroad was never completed.
1894The Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal was closed. (Lock House News, Susquehanna Museum of Havre de Grace, page 11, Winter 2005. )
1901The Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad (Ma & Pa) was organized. The railway ran from Baltimore, Maryland to Delta and then on to York, Pennsylvania with stations throughout Harford County.
1905The Malcom Mitchell House was constructed. It now serves as the Aberdeen Proving Ground Cultural and Natural Resource Visitor/Learning Center.
1909The Kenmore Inn was established by Colonel H.D. Hanway in the town of Bel Air.
1912The Havre de Grace Racetrack and the Harford Memorial Hospital opened.
1914*World War I began in Europe. It ended in 1918.
*Route #1 was paved.
1915The Lt. General A. Milton Reckord Armory in Bel Air was built. (6)
1917The sinking of the Lusitania prompted the United States to enter World War I.
1918The Aberdeen Proving Grounds and Edgewood Arsenal were established.
1920Women obtained the right to vote.
1922*Harford County was hit with a twenty two-inch snowstorm. (The Aegis, February 19, 2003, page A16)
*Fort Hoyle was created from a large section of Edgewood Arsenal. It was used by horse-mounted field artillery. (Smart, J.K., Fort Hoyle: A Short History of the Field Artillery's Post on Gunpowder Neck, APG, MD)
1924Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company was first incorporated.
1925Route 7 was paved.
1926Millard E. Tydings of Havre de Grace elected U.S. Senator. He served until 1951.
1927Conowingo Dam opened.
1929Harvey Smith Ladew purchased the Pleasant Valley House and began work on what would later be known as the Ladew Topiary Gardens.
1933Bata Shoe Co., Inc. purchased 2200 acres in Belcamp.(2)
1935*Harford County Welfare Board was established. (2)
*The land for the Post Office located at l43 North Main Street, Bel Air was sold by Philip H. Close to the United States Postal Service. (Liber 1675 Folio 0770, Harford County Real Estate Records)
1939*Route 40 was completed through Harford County.
*Bata Shoe started building a factory and a small town with a five story hotel along Route 40.(2)
* World War II began in Europe.
1940Fort Hoyle was disestablished, but several of the Fort Hoyle buildings remain. (Smart, J.K., Fort Hoyle: A Short History of the Field Artillery's Post on Gunpowder Neck, APG, MD)
1941The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor forcing the United States to enter World War II. The nation became near totally committed to the War effort. Most healthy young men were drafted, and many women helped by enlisting or taking what were traditionally "men's" jobs in factories. Nearly all factories were converted to defense production.
1942Engineers at Aberdeen Proving Ground initiated work on the design of the worlds first all-electronic digital, practical computer, the ENIAC. At the time, it was the most complex electronic device ever built.
1945*World War II ended.
*New materials, created for the War, began to replace slate.
1950Korean War began. It ended in 1953.
1954*Vietnam War began. The United States was involved from 1961 to 1973. It ended in 1975.
*Hurricane Hazel
*The last Ma & Pa passenger train stopped in Bel Air on August 31, 1954 (Greta Hittle, The Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad Hist. Soc., August 10, 2004)
1957Harford Community College was founded.
1958The Ma & Pa Railroad discontinued the use of the original Maryland Division track.
1960Work began on moving the Hays House from its foundations on Main Street to its present location on Kenmore Avenue.
1961Panitz and Company began to redevelop Joppa Town and three acres were set aside at the old St. John's site for a church.
1963*Interstate 95 opened.
*President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
1964*Harford County Department of Parks and Recreation was formed, and Eden Mill was acquired.
* Joseph Tydings of Havre de Grace elected U.S. Senator. He served one term.
1964Full nonviolent desegregation of Harford County Public Schools was accomplished.
1967The Secretary of Defense ordered that sanctions be placed on all apartments that discriminated against Afro-Americans within 3.5 miles of four Army posts including Edgewood Arsenal and Aberdeen Proving Ground. These sanctions, which proved to be effective, required that no military personnel rent from discriminating landlords. This was the beginning of integrated private housing in the Nation. (MacGregor Jr., M.J., Integration of the Armed Forces, 1940-1965, United States Army, Washington, D.C., p 605, 1981.)
1968Martin Luther King was assassinated.
1970The County Courthouse was spared when a bomb believed to be intended for the Courthouse accidentally killed the bomb deliverers near the intersection of Tollgate Road and current Business Route 1. Rap Brown was to be tried in the Courthouse at that time.
1972*A major fire in the Town of Bel Air occurred on February 2. Six businesses were destroyed along with the apartment complex in the old Vaughn Hotel.
*Home rule began for Harford County when a charter was enacted.
*Harford Mall opened.
*Hurricane Agnes
*The first Harford Historical Bulletin was published by the Archives Committee of the Historical Society of Harford County, Inc. ( Harford Historical Bulletin, No 1, Fall 1972.)
1974*Fallston General Hospital opened.
*Charles B. Anderson, Jr. became the first Harford County Executive.
1975The Concord Point Light house was decommissioned by the Coast Guard.
1978 J. Thomas Barringer became the second Harford County Executive.
1980Upon the death of Fritz Kelly, owner of the Liriodendron, the property was turned over to Harford County Parks and Recreation. Dr. Howard Kelly, the first owner, was a pioneer in the medical applications of radium.
1982 Habern W. Freeman became the third Harford County Executive.
1990*Eileen M. Rehrmann became the fourth Harford County Executive.
*On November 2, the "Old Post Office," now the Historical Society of Harford County Headquarters, was purchased from the United States Postal Service by Harford County. This was largely due to the vision and efforts of Marlene Magness. (Liber 1675 Folio 0770, Harford County Real Estate Records)
*Harford County's population was 182,132 in 1990. (The Sun, Baltimore, October 27, 2002, page 5T)
1995Cal Ripken, Jr., a native of Harford County, broke Lou Gehrig's record of 2130 consecutive Major League baseball games played.
1996*Thirty-six inches of snow was deposited by a string of snow storms. (The Aegis, February 19, 2003, page A16)
*Ripken Museum opened.
*The Web Site of the Historical Society of Harford County, Inc. was begun.
1997The Anita C. Leight Estuary Center opened at the Otter Point Creek Component of the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.
1998*Harford County purchased Swan Harbor Farm.
*James M. Harkins became the first Republican and fifth Harford County Executive.
1999Mount Soma, possibly the oldest house in the County, was demolished.
2000*The Aberdeen “Arsenal” started playing professional baseball in Harford County at Harford Community College, but only lasted one season.
*The Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air opened. 
2002*Ripken Baseball brought the Aberdeen “IronBirds” baseball team, an Baltimore Oriole affiliate, to Harford County. The Ripken Stadium was opened for use.
*Many scenes for the movie "Tuck Everlasting" were shot in Harford County, specifically at the King and Queen Seat in Rocks State Park, Kilgore Falls, Bulle Rocke, Christ Church Rock Spring and other locations in Susquehanna State Park. The actors in the movie are Sissy Spacek, Ben Kingsley, William Hurt, Alexis Bledel, and Jonathan Jackson. Scenes from other movies such as "Red Dragon" were also made in Harford County.
2003*The Webster-Fielder Tenant House on Calvary Road in Churchville was demolished. Some believed that it had been built in the 1600s. Thomas Lytfoot patented the 1000-acre tract, called "Best Endeavor" in 1686. (The Aegis, February 7, 2003, page A3 and Weeks, C., An Architectural History of Harford County, Maryland, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, page 298, 1996.)
*Mid February brought the great snows of 2003, totaling upward of 28 inches. The County was declared a disaster area. (The Aegis, February 19, 2003, page A16)
*On September 18, Hurricane Isabel visited the County. BG&E; had its biggest outage in history, mostly due to fallen trees. Fifty five percent of its 88,000 Harford County customers were without electricity. Some lost power for a week. (The Aegis, October 1, 2003, page A14)   Nearly all of Conectiv's 6000 Harford County customers were out.   Many stores, homes, and restaurants were forced to dispose of all of their perishable food. Flooding occurred along the County coast, and waves demolished most of the boardwalk facing open water in Havre de Grace. The State was declared a disaster area. (The [Baltimore] Sun, September 21, 2003, page 1A)
2004*After a January of bitter freezing, snowy and icy weather; ice and winds knocked out the power to 69,500 BG&E; customers for several to about 12 hours. (The Aegis, January 30, 2004, page A1)
*The Bata Shoe Factory, the last building of an industrial town, was demolished on October 27, 2004. This Belcamp building opened in 1939. At its peak, Bata employed more than 4000 people at the site. (The Aegis, October 27, 2004, page A1)
*The population of the County reached 232,175, nursery and equine (7300 horses) were the fastest growing agriculture sectors, 94,000 acres were devoted to agriculture, and the average house price was $197,660. (Supplement to the The Daily Record, Harford County, Maryland, June, 2004, page 4)
2004*The Ripken Museum in Aberdeen was temporarily closed for moving to Ripken Stadium. (The Aegis, Dec. 31, 2004, pages A6 - A9)
* Michael Phelps, a former County resident, won 6 gold and 2 bronze medals at the Athens Olympics. (The Aegis, Dec. 31, 2004, pages A6 - A9)
*The County budget reached half a billion dollars and the building boom got hotter. (The Aegis, Dec. 31, 2004, pages A6 - A9)
* The gasoline additive MTBE was found in County wells. (The Aegis, Dec. 31, 2004, pages A6 - A9)
*The new Abingdon Branch of the Public Library opened. (The Aegis, Dec. 31, 2004, pages A6 - A9)


  1. The Chemical Warfare Community, Edgewood Arsenal, Md., Vol. I, Number 5, 159 pages, March 1919.
  2. The Harford County Directory, State Directories Publishing Company, (432 pages with illustrations), 1953.
  3. Jay, P.A., Havre de Grace, an Informal History,  Susquehanna Publishing Company, (194 pages with illustrations), 1986.
  4. Jones, E.C., Sr., Recollections . . . , Fairmont, West Virginia, (161 pages with illustrations), 1936.
  5. Jones, F.C., The Village of Darlington in Harford County, Maryland, Darlington, MD, (42 pages with illustrations), 1947.
  6. Larew, M., Bel Air, The Town Through its Buildings, The Town of Bel Air and the Maryland Historical Trust, (151 pages and illustrations, maps, and plans), 1980.
  7. Leslie, W.B., Aberdeen Proving Ground, Harford County, Maryland, Colonial Days, 18 Pages, 1952.
  8. Mason, S., Historical Sketches of Harford County, Maryland, Second Edition, Little Pines Farm, (177 pages with illustrations), 1955.
  9. Mitchell, C.D., Historical and Industrial Edition, 1856-1920, The Aegis Magazine Edition, Bel Air, Maryland, 102 pages,  1920.
  10. Morgan, R. H., Jr., Harford County Wills, 1774-1800, Harford County, Maryland, Family Line Publications, Silver Spring, MD, 160 pages, 1990.
  11. Preston, W.W.,  Historical Sketches of Harford County, Maryland, from 1608 to 1812, Press of Sun Book Office, Baltimore, Maryland, (360 pages and photos), 1901.
  12. Weeks, C., An Architectural History of Harford County, Maryland, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, (385 pages with several hundred photographs) , 1996.
  13. Wright, C.M.,  Our Harford Heritage, a History of Harford County, Maryland, French-Bray Printing Company, Glen Burnie, Maryland, (462 pages with photographs and maps), 1980.
Most of these books are not in print, but they are available for examination but not borrowing at the Library of the Historical Society of Harford County, Inc.

(Email: harchis@msn.com)

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