Washington County can claim to be the first area of the new United
States to be named after the Commander-In-Chief of the Continental Army,
George Washington. The county was officially created in 1776 at Maryland's
first state convention.
Hager is known as "the father of Washington County" because he laid the groundwork for its succession from Frederick County in 1776. Historical records show that Hager purchased 200 acres of land and created what was then called "Hager's Fancy" in 1739. He was married in 1740 to Elizabeth Kershner, who gave her name to the first name of the town: Elizabeth's Town. The settlement was then renamed Hagerstown shortly thereafter. The city was officially founded in 1762. Hager sold the land in 1745, but the Washington County Historical Society repurchased the land in 1944 and sold it to the city in 1955. Hager went on to represent his town in Annapolis at the Maryland General Assembly, but he was killed while supervising the constriction of the Zion Reformed Church in Hagerstown where his grave, and that of his wife, now exists to this day.
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Washington County also symbolizes the nation's schizophrenia regarding slavery as the nation moved towards war in the first half of the nineteeth century. Radical abolitionist John Brown used the Kennedy Farm as a staging area for his 1859 attack on Harper's Ferry. The bloodiest day of fighting during the Civil war took place in Washington County at the Antietam Battlefield. For many, the battle would set the direction of the war in favor of the Union, and even Lincoln used the union advantage to announce his Emancipation Proclamation a few months later.
The Industrial Revolution brought railroads and automobile manufacturing to the county, leading many to dub the Hagerstown the Hub City. Fairchild Industries also gained momentum here as the airplane became a common mode of transportation.
Today, Hagerstown and Washington County continue to remake themselves as economic and demographic influences make their mark upon the city and surrounding area. Hagerstown claims a population of 37,000, numerous parks and historic places, and the county is rich with the natural resources of numerous regional and state parks. City Park's natural 10-acre lake makes it one of the most beautiful municipal parks in the region. The city retains its Class A minor league team, the Hagerstown Suns, and it sports a 9-hole municipal golf course, the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, the classic Maryland Theater, and numerous historical museums. For Washington County and Hagerstown, "the past is but prologue."
Hagerstown and Washington County Links:
The City of Hagerstown
Crossroads of the Civil War
The Herald Mail (Newspaper)
Welcome to Washington County (from the Herald Mail)
Hagerstown City Guide (from Western Maryland On-Line)
Washington County Free Library
Washington County Fire and Rescue Communications
Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce
Antietam Access: Washington County Information
Washington County Home Page
From Sailor: Maryland's Library Network
The Maryland Theater