Research Guides

Our best primers and guides for beginning or expanding your Thurmont area research.

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Mary E. Walsh Dunn (~1814 – ?)

Mary “Mollie” C. Howard Welsh (1850 – 1940)

Michael Welsh (1846 – 1922)

Margaret Ann Hunter Caton (1831 – 1911)

George Walter Caton (~1826 – 1898)

Charles William Flanagan (1877 – 1939)

Walter Jerome Flanagan (1880 – 1954)

James Alvey Flanagan (1883 – 1971)

John Griggs Flanagan (1886 – 1958)


  • Indians Galore!


    Swiss immigrant Louis Michel traveled along the west bank of the Potomac River searching for land for a Swiss colony. He reported that Indians covered the area.

  • Potomoke Church


    Near present day Shepherdstown, Presbyterians founded "West" Virginia's very first church at the site of Potomoke, Virginia. However, it should be noted that the Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church refutes this claim, and there is no indisputable evidence either way that I have been able to uncover to date. A small discussion on the Potomoke Church as viewed by Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church (and the history of their own church) can be read here.

  • Spottsylvania County


    Jefferson County, as it sits today, is considered part of Spottsylvania County in Virginia.

  • Indians Surrender!


    The Iriquios Nation surrenders all of their claims to land in the Eastern Panhandle, including present day Jefferson County, by signing the Treaty of Albany with Virginia. This treaty allowed whites to settle both to the south of the Potomac River and between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains. The Iriquios tribes used the area often as a prime hunting ground. Tuscarora Indians were also present in the area and were admitted to the Iriquios Nation, creating the sixth nation.

  • New Mecklenburg Settled


    The site of present day Shepherdstown, coined New Mecklenburg, is settled and founded by Germans from Pennsylvania. It was probably named after Mecklenburg, a region in northern Germany.

  • The Valley of Western Virginia is Settled


    Beginning around 1730, the Virginia government began to encourage people to settle in the valleys of "Western" Virgina. By 1832, the valley is settled mostly by German, Scotch-Irish, and Welsh pioneers.

  • Peters Hole


    Peter Stephens, a trader from Germany, settles on the “point” of present day Harpers Ferry, gaining “squatters rights” to the property. The property is nicknamed “the hole” and “Peter’s hole” due to the low elevation of the area, which is only 247 feet above sea level. Stephens builds a log cabin home. Other pioneers begin to arrive and settle in the surrounding areas as well.

  • Orange County, Virginia


    Jefferson County, as it is today, is very briefly considered part of Orange County, Virginia. Previously, the lands were considered a part of Spottsylvania County.

  • Thomas Shepherd’s Land Grant

    October 3, 1734

    Thomas Shepherd receives a land grant of 222 acres. He selected 50 acres of his original 222 and laid out a town, naming it Mecklenburg, and petitioned the Virginia General Assembly for charter. You can view the original land grant online here.

  • Frederick County


    Jefferson County, as we know it today, is considered part of Frederick County, Virginia.

  • Vestal’s Bloomery

    May 10, 1742

    Thomas Mayburry constructs the first Iron Furnace west of the Blue Ridge Mountains on William Vestal's plantation. The furnace is referred to as Vestal's Bloomery. An interesting discussion on ironworks in Jefferson County, including Vestal's Bloomery, can be read online here. The original contract between Mayburry and Vestal has been transcribed here.

  • Lord Fairfax Surveys


    Sixteen year old George Washington surveys land in Western Virginia (now the Eastern Panhandle) for Lord Fairfax. Thomas Fairfax, the 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, had arrived in North America around 1736 to protect the claims to land that he had inherited from his mother's family and administered the Northern Neck Proprietary. Read more about Lord Fairfax here.

  • George Washington Land Purchase


    George Washington, unable to forget about the beauty of the area, purchases his first of many tracts of land in present day Jefferson County, Bullskin Plantation, located near Summit Point -- part of the lands he had just surveyed two years earlier for Lord Fairfax.

  • Harper Secures Land

    April 25, 1751

    Harper, a Quaker colonist who was both a builder and a millwright, secures a patent for 125 acres in "The Hole" at the mouth of the Shenandoah River (present day Harpers Ferry), purchasing Peter Stephen's squatters rights.

    Harper was on his way to construct a meeting house for fellow Quakers near present day Winchester when he first traveled through "The Hole", and was attracted to the area because of its ample water supply and strategic location. You can view the original land grant online here.

  • Peter Burr

    June 27, 1751

    Peter Burr receives a land grant for 480 acres adjoining Captain Thomas Rutherford's property, which includes the area of present day Bardane. You can view the original land grant online here.

    The home Peter Burr built on his land is now the oldest standing wood frame home in West Virginia, having been built in 1751, and has been structurally unchanged for over 200 years. For more information, visit the Peter Burr Soceity.