Founded in 1745, Fredericktown, as it was known, was originally a distant, isolated outpost for hardy pioneers heading west to the frontier. Frederick was home to Francis Scott Key, author of the "Star Spangled Banner;" Maryland’s first governor, Thomas Johnson; Civil War Heroine, Barbara Fritchie; as well as, controversial Supreme Court Justice, Roger Brooke Taney. Frederick also played host to such notable figures as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin and Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
During the 1700’s, the city would witness bold, significant changes, both physically, as well as, politically. Many citizens would embrace the political fervor of independence and began to question the relevance of King George III, a half-world away. Patriotic fever would sweep the colonies and Fredericktown contributed to its groundswell and growth.Frederick’s first execution occurred on December 13, 1749. Defendant John Murphy was found guilty of “felony and burglary,” and was tried, convicted and hung all in the same day.In 1755, English General Edward Braddock described Frederick as a “dreary and desolate place.” For some, Frederick would be hell on earth. Tempestuous ideals, short-fused individualists, and the burning passion of revolution, sparked countless ill-advised decisions, bad tempered arguments, and at times, severe punishments for the condemned.
A cholera epidemic raged through the city in the fall of 1832, over 100 people, many of whom were young children, succumbed to the deadly pestilence. So many people died, undertakers could barely keep up with the demand for coffins.
During the Civil War Frederick County bore witness to three Confederate invasions, thirty-eight skirmishes and two major battles – Monocacy and South Mountain. The Battle of Gettysburg, the deadliest battle of the war, resulting in over 51,000 casualties, was fought only a dozen miles from Frederick’s northern border. Antietam, 19 miles to the west, resulted in over 23,000 casualties. In total, over 80,000 casualties would occur less than 35 miles from Frederick.
The city was transformed into one huge hospital during the Civil War. After the battle of Antietam, the single bloodiest day of the war, between six and eight thousand sick and wounded men were brought to Frederick for medical treatment. For many of these men, it took many months of pain and suffering to succumb to their wounds. In the years that followed, the city grew and flourished, bringing with it, an emerging population filled with innovative ideas, staunch independence, and an ever increasing spirit of individualism.
Today, the past is very much alive in historic Frederick in more ways than one. Rich is history, fact, and folklore, Frederick continues to tantalize and intrigue its visitors. Seemingly holding time at ransom, Frederick continues to be a postmortem of something that once was. A city that is indeed a respiratory of the dead, of a past that refuses to relinquish all her secrets, for they endure for the fascination of all who dare to investigate those who refuse to believe in their own demise. War, murder, suicide and pestilence, all have contributed to Frederick's seemingly endless supply of residue energy.
The city’s scars are indelible - establishing Frederick as "One of the most haunted cities in the United States -
and 'THE MOST HAUNTED CITY' in the state of Maryland."