Cecil County, Maryland

By | Aug 27, 2009

Cecil County was first explored by John Smith when in 1608 his expedition of the Chesapeake Bay sailed to the head of the Bay. The expedition explored areas of the Elk, Sassafras and Susquehanna Rivers. Cecil County sits at the head of the Chesapeake Bay and is the only county that has a western as well as an eastern border on the bay.

The county is named after Cæcilius Calvert, the 2nd Lord Baltimore when the Maryland Governor proclaimed it a county in 1674. Calvert, although he never lived in Maryland, or anywhere else in the New World was the proprietor of the Maryland colony from 1632 until his death in 1675.

Along with Calvert, the other name that will be linked with Cecil County is Augustine Herman. Herman was a mapmaker in the mid 1600’s. He was offered a large tract of land along the Bohemia River to create a map of Maryland.

Elkton was named the county seat of Cecil County in 1787 and was once famous as a location for quick marriages. At one time there wasn’t a waiting period necessary to obtain a marriage license. Many love struck couples flocked to the town to “tie the knot.” Included in these were baseball stars Babe Ruth and Willie Mays, actors Burt Lahr and Joan Fontaine, basketball star Charles Barkley. Even former US Attorney General John Mitchell married his wife Martha in Elkton.

Cecil County features roads that were once traveled by the nation’s founding fathers. There are markers notating places where revolutionary heroes such as George Washington and Lafayette once stayed. At the Head of the Elk River (near Elkton) the largest British landing of the Revolutionary War took place. On August 27, 1777 under the leadership of British General William Howe, commander-in-chief of the British Army in America, three hundred ships with over 15,000 soldiers landed on the shores of the Elk River in his attempt to take Philadelphia.

Cecil County was also involved in the War of 1812 when the British sailed the Elk and Sassafras Rivers. Some of the towns of Cecil County were plundered by the British and a cannon plant was destroyed by its residents to keep it out of British hands. The County Seat in Elkton was never reached.

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