CHARLES COUNTY, MARYLAND

HISTORICAL CHRONOLOGY


1608, June. Capt. John Smith explored Potomac River, stopped at Port Tobacco.

1658. Charles County created by order in council.

1662. St. Ignatius Catholic Church near Port Tobacco, oldest continuously active parish in nation.

1674-77 Courthouse built at "Moore's Lodge" near La Plata.

1680. Zekiah Fort established east of present-day Waldorf near Piney Branch by Gov. Charles Calvert for protection of Piscataway from Susquehannock and Seneca.

1695. Prince George's County erected from Charles and Calvert counties (Chapter 13, Acts of 1695, May session)

1715, April 3. John Hanson (1715-1783), first President of United States in Congress Assembled (1781-1782), born near Port Tobacco.

1723. Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer (1723-1790), signer of U.S. Constitution, born near Port Tobacco.

1729, Aug. 8. Assembly authorized new town, Charles Town, to be laid out next to new Courthouse, eventually replacing Chandler Town.

1730, Aug. 12. New Courthouse at Charles Town (formerly Chandler Town) opened.

1732. William Smallwood (1732-1792), Governor of Maryland, born at “Smallwood’s Retreat” near Marbury.

1743. Thomas Stone (1743-1787), signer of Declaration of Independence, born at "Poynton Manor."

1750. John Hoskins Stone (1750-1804), Governor of Maryland, born in Charles County.

1751. Benjamin Stoddert (1751-1813), U.S. Secretary of the Navy, born in Charles County.

1781, Nov. 5 - 1782, Nov. 3. John Hanson (1715-1783) served as first President of the United States in Congress Assembled elected following ratification of Articles of Confederation.

1789, June 15. Josiah Henson, author, abolitionist, and minister, born in Charles County.

1809, Sept. 27. Raphael Semmes (1809-1877), U.S. Naval officer and later Confederate Naval officer, born in Charles County.

1814, Aug. 19. British troops, under Gen. Robert Ross, disembarked at Benedict for attack on Washington, DC.

1814, Aug. 27. British troops re-embarked on British warships at Benedict.


[photo, Restored Charles County Courthouse, Port Tobacco, Maryland] 1821, Feb. 13. Charles Town renamed Port Tobacco.

1819-21. New Courthouse at Port Tobacco constructed.

1849. Josiah Henson (1789-1883), former Charles County slave, published his Life.

1861, Oct.-1862, March. Gen. Joseph Hooker's 12,000 Union troops encamped at Indian Head.

Restored Charles County Courthouse, Port Tobacco, Maryland, April 2001. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.


1861, Oct.-1862, March. Gen. Daniel E. Sickles' Union Excelsior Brigade headquartered at Nanjemoy.

1863, Aug. Camp Stanton established at Benedict to recruit and train African Americans for Union Army.

1865, April 14. John Wilkes Booth (1838-1865) assassinated President Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC, escaped with accomplice David E. Herold (1842-1865), through Prince George's and Charles counties en route to Virginia.

1865, April 21. John Wilkes Booth and David E. Herold rowed from near Newburg across Potomac River to Virginia. Following a 12-day manhunt, Booth was shot and killed on April 26, 1865 near Port Royal, Virginia. Later, Herold was hanged on July 7, 1865 in Washington, DC.

1888. La Plata incorporated.

1888. Port Tobacco incorporated.

1892, Aug. 3. Courthouse at Port Tobacco destroyed by fire.

1895, June 4. Charles County seat moved from Port Tobacco to La Plata.

1896. Courthouse completed at La Plata.

1896, June 28. Joseph Cocking lynched in Port Tobacco.

1903, Sept. McDonough Institute (1903-1927) opened, first school in County to offer high school education.

1909, April 6. Matthew Henson (1866-1955), of Charles County, reached North Pole* with Commander Robert E. Peary.
*(recent investigations indicate Peary's team may not have reached actual North Pole)

1920. Indian Head incorporated.

1924. First Charles County Fair held at Chapel Point.

1926, Nov. 9. Tornado destroyed La Plata Elementary School, killing 13 children. Four others in town were killed and nearly forty injured.

1940, Dec. U.S. Route 301, a shorter north - south road through Maryland and Virginia was completed.


[photo, Governor Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge over Potomac River, view from Virginia] 1940, Dec. Potomac River Toll Bridge opened, linking County to Virginia.

1949. Slot machines allowed by law in Charles County (Chapter 678, Acts of 1949).

1952. Benedict Bridge opened across Patuxent River, connecting Charles and Calvert counties.

1958, Sept. Charles County Junior College opened with evening classes at La Plata High School.

Governor Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge (formerly Potomac River Toll Bridge) over Potomac River, view from Virginia, October 2010. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.


1963. Legislation passed to outlaw slot-machine gambling.

1963, Feb. 8. William Devereux Zantzinger of Charles County fatally caned Hattie Carroll at a charity ball in the Emerson Hotel, Baltimore. Her death later was memorialized by Bob Dylan in "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll."

1964, Dec. 6. Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland created.

1967. Potomac River Bridge renamed Governor Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge.

2000, July 1. College of Southern Maryland established at La Plata.

2002, April 28. Tornado ripped through La Plata, killing two people and injuring dozens of others.

2004, March 2. Electronic voting system used during primary elections at polling places and for absentee ballots in all counties and Baltimore City.

2008, May 2. Southern Maryland Blue Crabs began playing minor league baseball at Waldorf.

2017 Regional Hughesville Campus, part of College of Southern Maryland, opened.

2019, July 8. Mallows Bay historic ship graveyard designated Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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