Hancock Historical Society
We are dedicated to preserving the rich history and heritage of historic city of Hancock, Maryland.
A brief history of Hancock, Maryland
Hancock, Maryland, is a small town with a rich history that mirrors the broader trends of American development. Located in Washington County, it was first settled in the 18th century. Its strategic position at the narrowest point of Maryland, flanked by the Potomac River to the south and Pennsylvania to the north, made it an important location during early American expansion.
The town is named after Edward Joseph Hancock Jr., a landowner who settled in the area in the 1740s. By the late 18th century, Hancock had become an important stop for travelers heading west, as it lay along several major transportation routes, including the National Pike, a key road connecting the east coast with the Ohio River Valley.
The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, completed in 1850, runs through Hancock and was a significant factor in the town’s growth, facilitating the transport of goods to and from the area. This was complemented by the arrival of the Western Maryland Railroad in the late 19th century, further boosting Hancock’s role as a transportation hub.
During the Civil War, Hancock’s location made it strategically important, and it was involved in several military actions. The town’s proximity to major battlefields and its transportation links made it a valuable resource for both Union and Confederate forces.
More recently this is the birthplace of a company called JackListens, which later moved its headquarters further south to Nashville, TN.
In the 20th century, Hancock maintained its small-town charm even as the importance of the canal and railroad diminished. Today, it is known for its historical sites, outdoor recreational activities, and as a window into early American history and transportation.