Dates of Special Interest
at Elk Landing
1776, 1777, 1781,
1783, 1800, 1812,
1600 Prior to the
arrival of European settlers, the land now known as Elk Landing, was occupied
by Native Americans who hunted, foraged and fished this pristine area.
These artifacts were taken from the soil during a series of archeological
digs on the Foundation property in the early 2000s. All our archeological
studies are located in our on-line Research
1608 Captain John Smith
explores the Elk River which is so named because several herd of American
Elk are spotted along the shoreline. Following his voyage and his return
to England, Smith publishes maps of his journeys in the Chesapeake region
first in 1612. This
map incorporates the northeast area of what is now Cecil County, Maryland,
including Elk Landing
1632 On June 20 Cecilius Calvert, second
Lord of Baltimore, receives from King Charles I of England the province
of Maryland which is carved from Virginia.
1634 Two small ships Ark and Dove are sent
to Maryland by Cecilius Calvert under the leadership of his younger brother
Leonard. They arrive on March 27 and a settlement is begun on St. Mary's
River in what is now St. Mary's County.
1635 Maryland's first General Assembly meets
and passes laws which guide Calvert's rule.
1638 The Swedes have formed a colony on the
west bank of the Delaware River where Wilmington now stands.
1655 Jon Hanson Steelman, later to settle
at Elk Landing, is born at the Aronameck Plantation on the west bank of
the Schuykill River.
1655 Minquas (Susquehanna) Native Americans
presents Governor John Claudius Rising of New Sweden with land called
Chakakitque at the fork of the Elk River and other lands in exchange for
the promise the Swedes would establish a trading post at what is today
1666 Alsop's map of Maryland is published
showing north to the right, more or less. Of all the animals shown on
the map there does not appear to be an elk.
1674 Maryland's tenth county, Cecil, is established
and named in honor of Cecilius Calvert.
1678 In this year (or the year following)
a patent was issued to John Browning and Richard Nash for a 500 acre tract
of land called "Successor" lying in a fork of the Elk River
in Cecil County. This included the present site of Elk Landing. The English
now claim the land from the Swedes.
1682 Valentine Hollingsworth, progenitor
of the American Hollingsworth family arrives December 10 with his wife
and family (including a son Henry) on the Delaware River. They settle
on 986 acres granted by William Penn in Pennsylvania which he names Newworke.
1690 About this time Jon
Hanson Steelman, a Swede, builds a wooden structure at Elk Landing and
established a trading post with the Native Americans. The
building was razed about 1917. A partial archeological dig was done
where the log structure stood. The
results of that study were inconclusive as no artifacts dating to
the 17th century or even early 18th century were found. More investigation
1696 Zebulon Hollingsworth, later to acquire
Elk Landing, is born in Chester County to Henry Hollingsworth, son of
Valentine, and his wife the former Lydia Atkinson.
1699 The capitol of Maryland is moved from
St. Mary's to Annapolis.
1730 Baltimore Town is founded on 60 acres
bought by Charles and Daniel Carroll. Growth was initially very slow as
there is little inward expansion for the Chesapeake Bay afforded a great
highway for travel. Nearly every plantation lays along the water and is
accessible by a wharf or landing, and the principal crop is tobacco. It
is packed in large barrels called hogsheads, rolled to the wharf and shipped
1735 Zebulon Hollingsworth acquires the land
once owned by Jon Hanson Steelman and others which he names Elk Landing
Farm. A 19th century, hand
drawn map of the area indicates the various land purchases and land
owners starting in the early 18th century.
1737 Henry Hollingsworth is born in Cecil
County on September 17 to Zebulon Hollingsworth and his wife the former
Mary Jacobs. He is to later serve in the Continental Army.
1740 Captain Zebulon Hollingsworth, along
with several other officers, command a group of foot militia in Cecil
1741 On April 15th,
1741, Planter, Simon Johnson Jr. of Cecil County, purchased
100 acres of land along the Little Elk "River" from planter
Paul Poulson also of Cecil County. The land is described in sections bounded
by poplar trees, the river, "bounded reeds," a black oak, and
"His Lordship's Manor." No price is noted. This purchase is
not shown on our 19th century map.
1758 On October
23rd, 1758, a document is filed in the Cecil County Court that fixes the
"first boundary of a tract of land called Prices
Venture." That first boundary being "on a point of Sand
between the great Marsh and a (unreadable)." The rest of the document
is either unreadable or undecipherable.
1763 Zebulon Hollingsworth
Sr. dies on August 8th. His
last will and testament is filed in the Cecil County Courthouse.
1770 - Begin Primary Interpretive
1771 On April 13th,
1771 Robert Evans agrees
to rent 30 acres of land to one George Rock for 5 pounds, 10 shillings
in "Pennsylvania currency." The land "lying in the fork
of the Elk River," is part of a larger, 500 acre plot which lies
to the east of a still larger tract known as Price's Adventure. According
to a 19th Century map which appears under the "1735" notation
above, the Evans land lies just to the north of the present day Elk Landing
The Declaration of Independence is signed in Philadelphia. First Maryland
troops pass through Head of Elk en route to action in New York.
1777 On August 24 at 4:00
AM Colonel Henry Hollingsworth, Deputy Quartermaster General, writes an
urgent letter to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia warning them
of the arrival of the British Naval forces at Turkey Point on the Elk
River. He believes their landing is imminent.
1777 On August 25 British invaders under
General Howe begin disembarking from about 250 vessels which have sailed
up the Chesapeake Bay. About 15,000 to 18,000 British troops pass through
en route to capture the capitol in Philadelphia. Henry Hollingsworth scurries
to remove stores, meat, grain and flour, from their path. Captain John
Andre of the British forces, draws
a map of the invasion routes which include maneuvers across and around
1777 October 6, General George Washington
writes Colonel Henry Hollingsworth ordering the corn and grain belonging
to the public be removed to a safe place.
1778 February 16, General George Washington
at Valley Forge writes Colonel Henry Hollingsworth, "I am under the
painful necessity of informing you, that the situation of the Army is
most critical and alarming for want of Provision, especially of the Meat
kind. The Troops have not had supplies of the latter for four days and
many of them have been much longer without. I have sent Captn, Lee to
forward from the Head of Elk and Dover, all of the provision, that may
be at either of those places . . ."
1778 On February 21, General Washington writes
Colonel Henry Hollingsworth, "Your Letter of the 18th gives me much
pleasure that you have employed two active persons for the purpose of
collecting Cattle and other Articles of provision for use by the Army
. . ."
1781 April 6 orders from
General Washington command General Lafayette and a force at Elk Landing
to march south to join with General Nathanael Greene for action against
Benedict Arnold in Virginia.
1781 September 6th, General Washington arrives
at Head of Elk on his way with the continental army to Yorktown. Stays
for three days and writes
several letters from his military headquarters. French
General Count Rochambeau arrives at Head of Elk as well and is transported
to Williamsburg via Elk Landing. However, there are not enough ships for
all of the troops to board, so the remainder of the troops continue their
march to Baltimore and Annapolis where additional vessels are found. Traveling
with the French army is a soldier who paints maps (view
Map 1) (view
Map 2) of each encampment going to and returning from Yorktown. He
paints two of Head of Elk showing town buildings, wharfs along the Little
Elk Creek, and the locations of the French and American military encampments.
1781 A Private in Washington's army, Joseph
Plumb Martin, is leaving Newport, Delaware on continuing a southward march
that began on August 19 and writes, " We then crossed over land to
the head of the Elk, or the head, or rather bottom, of Chesapeake Bay.
Here we found a large fleet of small vessels waiting to covey us and other
troops, stores, etc. down the bay. We soon embarked . . . [and] passed
down the bay, making a grand appearance with our mosquito fleet . . ."
1781 Troops under the command of French Count
Rochambeau join Washington at the Elk Landing, however, there are not
enough ships to board, so they continue their march to Baltimore and Annapolis
where additional vessels are to be found.
1781 On this movement of the troops southward,
William Clajon writes, "General Washington and the army are gone
to take Lord Cornwallis in his mouse-trap."
1781 October 19, General Washington, aided
by the French Navy and land forces under Count Rochambeau, defeat Lord
Cornwallis at Yorktown effectively ending the Revolutionary War.
1783 September 3, the
peace treaty for the Revolutionary War is signed in Paris by Great Britain
and on behalf of the United States, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay and John
1783 December 23, Commander-in-Chief George
Washington resigns his commission at the state house in Annapolis.
1783 About this time Zebulon Hollingsworth
constructs a two story stone structure
along the Little Elk Creek which functions as a dwelling, a warehouse,
and possibly a tavern. This date for construction of the Stone House is
determined from a dendrochronology
study done in the early 21st century.
1787 The Head of Elk is incorporated and
the town now called Elkton.
1788 Henry Hollingsworth along with Joseph
Gilpen, Samuel Evans and James Gordon Hern represent Cecil County to ratify
the Constitution during the Maryland Convention in Annapolis of April
12 to 29.
ad appears in Pennsylvania Mercury and Universal Advertiser for Levi
Hollingsworth's Philadelphia business.
1790 June 6, Colonel Henry Hollingsworth
writes President George Washington requesting his support for an appointment
to the Office of Commissioner for the state of Maryland.
1798 April 4, George
Washington writing from Mount Vernon thanks Henry Hollingsworth for
some American made cloth he had sent the President.
1800 Around this time
granite filled barges sink in Big Elk Creek causing sand bars to form
severely limiting the water draught. No longer can ship drawing 8 to 9
feet of water move up to the creek to the Town of Elkton.
1800 About this time Zebulon Hollingsworth
constructs a two story brick Federal-style
house approximately 30-feet square at Elk Landing. This becomes today's
Hollingsworth House which was severely damaged by fire but rebuilt in
1800 November 4th,
Thomas Jefferson Sample is born in Cecil County, Maryland. He would move
from Elkton in 1819 to Indiana where he would complete his education and
be appointed a judge. In old age, Judge Samples would write at least 13
"Reminiscences of Elkton" letters to the editor of the Cecil
Whig describing the War of 1812 "battle" at Elk Landing in April
1801 March, The Delaware Baptist Association
writes a letter of congratulations to President elect-Thomas Jefferson.
answers the letter with one of his own written from the White House
in July of 1801. The letter was found residing in the third floor of the
Hollingsworth House and sold at auction for $200,000 in the early 21st
1803 Colonel Henry Hollingsworth dies March
1806 Zebulon Hollingsworth
Jr on February 8th manumits his 13 year old
slave Jane, "or Jenny," and indentures her to an apprenticeship
until she is 28 years old. He then signs the indenture over to his daughter,
Margaret,who is the wife of William Cooch, living near Newark in New Castle
1810 About this time Elk Landing becomes
the principal port to move, "flour, whiskey, lumber, grain, and goods
of all descriptions." Several ships ledgers are stored in the Hollingsworth
House including one from the
Schooner Nancy which lists a multitude of goods going and coming through
the Elk Landing port. A new road to the port at Christiana, Delaware facilitates
transportation by wagon and stage.
1812 War is declared with
1812 Zebulon Hollingsworth
Jr dies. His
Distribution of the Estate papers are filed in the Cecil County Courthouse.
1813 On April 29 a group of British Marines
attack and burn Frenchtown. An attempt is made on Elkton, but defenses
at Fort Hollingsworth located at Elk Landing and nearby Fort Defiance
hold. The British move their forces down the Bay, and in early May burn
Havre de Grace followed by destructions at Fredericktown and Georgetown.
Living in Elkton at the time is young Thomas Jefferson Samples (letter
1, letter 2,
letter 3, letter
4, letter 5,
letter 6, letter
7, letter 8,
13) who, later in life in a series of editorials to the Cecil Whig
newspaper, describes his recollections of the battle. "Click
on this link for a complete review of The War of 1812 and How it Related
to Elk Landing."
1814 Mary Pickersville sews the stars on
the flag which will fly over Ft. McHenry and inspires Francis Scott Key
to write the words to the national anthem when the British fail to take
the fort and Baltimore, the war comes to an end.
Hollingsworth dies and her estate sells many of her belongings.
1815 Steamboat service begins at Elkton with
a shallow draught vessel specifically designed for inland creeks and waterways.
1818 The New Castle & Frenchtown Turnpike
opens. With this improved road the port of Frenchtown becomes a more significant
competitor to Elk Landing for moving good and people north and south.
1820 - End Primary Interpretive Period
1829 The Chesapeake
& Delaware Canal opens. This provides an all water route between the
cities of Baltimore and Philadelphia. By 1844 there is regular passenger
service. In the long term this route will siphon off passengers and freight
that was previously enjoyed by both Elk Landing and Frenchtown.
1831 The New Castle & Frenchtown Railroad
opens making the connection between the two ports faster and cheaper further
eroding the competitiveness of Elk Landing.
1837 The Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore
Railroad passes through Elkton putting additional economic pressure on
water routes such as Elk Landing.
1844 August, William Hollingsworth (son of
Zebulon Hollingsworth, jr.) dies. His last will and testament, dated August
28, 1844, manumits all of his slaves.
Subsequently, his wife, Mary E. Hollingsworth, inherited the remainder
of William's property.
1848 The original brick
two story house (Hollingsworth House) constructed by Zebulon Hollingsworth,
jr. is gutted by fire. Mary Hollingsworth's daughter, attending school
in Baltimore writes
a worried letter (a modern transcript taken from a Historical Society
of Cecil County publication by historian Mike Dixon) to her mother Mary
inquiring about her mother and the status of the house. Mary Hollingsworth
decides to stay at Elk Landing and rebuild the house. She
accepts a $3000 bid to reconstruct the house which is rebuilt as a
Greek Revival style three story
structure with a low pitched roof. Also a right side two story addition
is added and the entire structure is covered with stucco. This the essentially
the house you see today. A
paint study shows the wall colors of the 1850 reconstruction which
are recreated in 21st century first floor renovations.
1851 In the July 19 issue of the Cecil Whig,
"There are few prettier places than Elk Landing. To be sure there
is none of the grandeur about it produced by steep hillsides, or overhanging
rocks, or water falls; but then there is a quiet and placid beauty lying
all around, which is perhaps the pleasantest scenery to dwell upon, and
live in the midst of, after all."
1872 Citizens of Elkton petition the Federal
Government to improve the channel between Elkton and Frenchtown.
1881 October 22nd
edition of the Cecil Whig newspaper notes the Centennial of the concluding
battle of the Revolutionary War at Yorktown, Virginia in October of 1781.
at Head of Elk" quotes from the diary of General Washington's
secretary, Jonathan Trumbull.
1882 July 7th Judge
Thomas Jefferson Samples dies in New Albany, Indiana at the age of 81.
in the Cecil Whig newspaper appears on the same day (July 22, 1882)
and the same page as the notice of the death of Mary Todd Lincoln.
1887 Deibert opens a boat yard on Little
Elk Creek at Elk Landing constructing canal boats.
1910 About this time the silting in the Little
Elk Creek forces Deibert to move his boat building operation to Long Creek
in Chesapeake City.
1984 The stone structure known as the Jon
Hanson Steelman tavern is placed on The National Register of Historic
1999 On October 15 the Town of Elkton acquires
42 acres of Elk Landing from the descendants of the Hollingsworth family.
2000 On January
17, the Town of Elkton and The Historic Elk Landing Foundation, Inc. sign
a renewable 99 year lease for the restoration, management and operation
of the site as a living history museum.