History

A Unique Story

Ellicott City, Maryland has a rich and unique 250+ year history that began when the three Ellicott Brothers first bought the land in 1772. Over the years the town has played a pivotal role in our Nation’s story. From the National Road that runs along its Main Street, to an African American scientist who charted the heavens and the streets of the nation’s capital, to the country’s first railroad terminus, to the renown educational institute for woman that sits atop one of its seven hills, Ellicott City stands as a witness to America’s story.

Today, the town’s one of a kind shops, unique blend of restaurants, cafes and bars, and resilient community spirit are a living testament to both the Ellicotts’ and the American dream. During this special anniversary year, we hope you will join the celebration to discover and honor this unique village that was built “in the Hollow” on the shore of Maryland’s Patapsco River.

*Our timeline is a continuing work in progress as we search for stories relevant to both the founding of Ellicott City and its rich history.

Timeline

1731

1731

1731

Benjamin Banneker, one of the first African American intellectuals, is born on the Banneky farm situated on a hillside of the Patapsco River near what is now Oella. A mathematician, astronomer, compiler of almanacs, inventor, writer, and freeman he would later become friends with George Ellicott.

1772

1772

1772

The Ellicott Brothers – Joseph, Andrew and John arrive from Bucks County, Pennsylvania to establish Mills along the Patapsco River. At first called “The Hollow” then the town of Ellicott Mills is founded.

1776

1776

1776

Charles Carroll of Carrollton, signer of the Declaration of Independence for Maryland resides at Doughoregan Manor. He works with the Ellicott Brothers to convert the main crop of Howard County from tobacco to wheat.

1791

1791

1791

Benjamin Banneker accompanies Major Andrew Ellicott to the banks of the Potomac River to assist in the survey of the new federal city that would become the nation’s capital. In his free time Banneker begins to write the Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia Almanac and Ephemeris. The almanac included information on medicines and medical treatment, and listed tides, astronomical information, and eclipses calculated by Banneker himself. He published the journal annually from 1791 to 1802.

1806

1806

1806

The Ellicott Brothers and Charles Carroll formed the Baltimore and Frederick Turnpike Company to build a toll road from Doughoregan Manor to Ellicott Mills to expedite the processing of wheat products. The idea for a National Road took shape while Thomas Jefferson was President (1801-1809).

1807

1807

1807

Little Turtle, a chief of the Miami nation and one of the most famous Native American military leaders, spends time in Ellicott City as the guest of George Ellicott during Christmas Week. George’s daughter, Martha Ellicott Tyson recalls meeting Little Turtle when she was 12 in a book she later wrote.

1830

1830

1830

The first railroad terminus built in America is located in Ellicott Mills.

1831

1831

1831

Peter Cooper’s “Tom Thumb” initiates the use of steam power at the B&O Station in Ellicott Mills and America’s Railroad Age begins.

1837

1837

1837

On January 1, 1837, the Patapsco Female Institute opens its doors for female students. This school is not just a “finishing school” but a full college including courses on chemistry, biology, languages and sociology.

1843

1843

1843

The Court House on Court Avenue is built. Capitoline Hill is nicknamed Mount Misery due to hauling the granite stones up the hill.

1851

1851

1851

On July 4, 1851, the Howard District of Anne Arundel County becomes “Howard County” with Ellicott Mills designated as the County Seat because of the grand Courthouse. It is named for Revolutionary War hero John Eager Howard and Maryland’s fifth Governor.

1861

1861

1861

Patapsco Guards created in town at the start of the Civil War

1862

1862

1862

Ellicott City is the scene of a Civil War episode in which the Wynan’s Steam Gun is captured in Ellicott Mills by General Benjamin Butler and Federal Troops.

1864

1864

1864

General Lew Wallace and defeated Federal troops retreat through Ellicott Mills from the Battle of Monocacy. After retirement, Lew Wallace wrote “Ben Hur.”

1867

1867

1867

Ellicott Mills is granted a city charter and the name changed to Ellicott City. George Ellicott, Jr., grandson of founder Andrew Ellicott was selected as the first Mayor.

1868

1868

1868

The worst flood in the history of Howard County happened in October 1868 when 21.5 feet of water flooded Main Street and washed away the original buildings on the east side of the Patapsco River.

1880

1880

1880

The Ellicott City Colored School opens to fulfill an1879 Maryland State law requiring counties to provide educational facilities for African American children. The one-room primitive structure operated until 1953 without running water, electricity, or central heating. Howard County Government purchased the building in 1995 and restored it to serveas a genealogical resource center and a museum to highlight the county’s African American history.

1889

1889

1889

The Patapsco Female Institute is closed. The building is purchased by Mrs. A. Marshall Elliott (Lily Tyson) for $8500, remodeled and changed to the Bern Alnwick Hotel.  

1899

1899

1899

With the completion of the trolley bridge over the Patapsco River, the trolley system ran to Ellicott City. The Ellicott City Trolley Line ran from the terminus at Fels Lane to Catonsville Junction.

1935

1935

1935

Ellicott City was unincorporated, joining other county towns that chose county government rule.