History at 1863

With the exception of the census update of 2010, this document is believed to be in it’s raw format as written in 1863, demonstrating the language used by the writer at that time.

The little town of Keedysville located eight miles south of Boonsboro, has a history of about 200 years.

Keedysville, a town of 1152 people by the US census, is located halfway between Boonsboro and Sharpsburg was originally called Centerville for that reason. The town can trace its history to its origin in 1768, a span of 200 plus years.

In the early days of our country, people settled along streams of water and highways.

The Hesses and the Rinehadts were the original owners of the land in this vicinity and lived on it for years.

In 1768, Jacob Hess built a grist mill on the bank of the Little Antietam creek and a house for himself near the stream. Other log houses for the workers to live in were built nearby. This became the origin of the town.

Among the early settlers were John J. Keedy and his brother, Samual, sons of Jocob H. Keedy who lived one mile east of the village. John J. Keedy purchased all the land owned by the Hess heirs including the mill property.

About 1755 a public highway extended about a mile east of the little Centerville nucleus, known as Mount Hebron Road, over which General Braddock is said to have passed in marching from South Mountain at Dahlgren’s to Fort Duquesne, PA.

In 1825 the Boonsboro-Sharpsburg road was built and attracted more settlers to the little grist mill colony.

In 1793 the first stone house was built in the village, 25 years after the grist mill and saw mill settlement and 32 years before the Boonsboro-Sharpsburg highway was built. It was build by John Weaver, a master mason who built several of the famous Antietam stone bridges – Burnside Bridge being one of them. This stone house (33 North Main) was used as a school building and a church by different denominations as time went on.

Another lovely old stone house – 200 years old, in the center of the town was owned by Charles Kefauver- is thought to have been built in 1801 by Christian Hess.

In 1861, just 140 years ago, John Weaver was employed by Phillip Pry to build a “stone hall”, as it was then called. The building was used as the town hall. Later, one half was used as a saddler’s shop and the other half as a dwelling unit.

The first brick house in the town was built about 1863 at the intersection of the Eakle’s Mill road by Sammual Keedy, who kept a store in it for thirty-four years.

In 1840, the town obtained a post office through the initiative if Sammual Keedy. The postal authorities changed the name from Centerville (there was a Centerville on the eastern shore) to Keedysville, for Sammual Keedy.

The old stone mill in the center of the town was built in 1841 by John J. Keedy and was in operation until 1954. The last owner was Russell Geeting who had the old landmark removed in 1960.

Perhaps nothing contributed to the progress of this town and community as the building of the Washington County branch of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in 1866-67. The local station was erected in 1868. Christian M. Keedy, son of John J. Keedy, build the first warehouse and was the first ticket agent. At that time, there were 7 passenger trains daily over the B & O Branch besides freight trains.

During the early days if the town most of the men found employment in industries located here, as a woolen mill, carriage shop, a grist mill, a saw mill, a creamery, a blacksmith shop, a shoe shop and a wagon making shop. This wagon making shop, owned by Miss Mary Grossnickel, whose father, Oscar was the last to own and operate the shop, was torn down the summer of 1961. This building was one of the last of the old landmarks and dates back to 1857, when John A. Grossnickel, Oscar’s father built it and operated it – a master mechanic and wheelright. He built his first wagon for John Ecker in 1856 in another shop.

When the town was incorporated in 1872, the citizens were asked to remove the picket fences in front of their houses and to lay pavements the entire width of their lots, and to pay taxes. The pavements were of large flat limestones from one end of the town to the other. A few of these flagstone pavements with their enormous flat stones still remain.

After the towen was incorporated, Christian M. Keedy was the first Burgess, and George W. Miller, assistant Burgess. The first Councilmen: Edward Lantz, Washington Kitzmiller and Lewis Sunman.

The Citizens’ Bank, organized January 1908, began business in the present building and has served well the needs of the community and surrounding area.

On July 25, 1922, Charles B Taylor and his wife, Etta Keedy Taylor, deeded 1.43 acres west of Keedysville by the B & O Railroad, to the Burgess and Councilmen of the town to be used for athletic purposes only. The purchase was made by contributions from the citizens of the town. The land was worked over by the WPA labor into a ball diamond. Later, bleachers were built. Keedysville had an active baseball team until 1948, but we have a Little League team.

It is interesting to note that Charles K. Taylor, deceased (1959), grandson of Christian M. Keedy, the first Mayor or Burgess, lived in the brick house built by his grandfather in 1874, and was Mayer of Keedysville for 24 years. It was largely through his persistent efforts that a public water system was installed the latter part of 1950. Mr. Taylor on June 19, 1940, deeded a five acre tract of land to the town to be used as a public park, in honor of his parents C.B. Taylor and Etta Keedy Taylor, the daughter of Christian M. Keedy- and to be known as Taylor Park.

Mr. Taylor was also president of the Keedysville Homecoming Association, organized in 1935, until his death. The Homecomings have been all held on this tract of land donated for a park free to the public- but donations for its upkeep are welcomed.