Locals are familiar with Cresaptown, part of greater Cumberland, but how many know of “Cresap’s War”?
In the 1730s, there was violence between settlers claiming rival loyalties to Maryland and Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Assembly got wind that Maryland was planning to establish settlements in the disputed border area in the Conejohela Valley, near the Susquehanna River.
Colonel Thomas Cresap had been attacked by some Pennsylvanians, and he believed that Pennsylvanian authorities had not dealt properly with the attack. From then on, he refused all cooperation with Pennsylvanian authorities. Cresap declared that “he knew no reason he had to expect any justice there, since he was a liver in Maryland.”
Acting on behalf of Lord Baltimore, Cresap and his men forcefully evicted men who considered themselves legal under Pennsylvania’s Colonial Charter, but which Cresap and Lord Baltimore considered to be squatters interfering with Maryland’s charter. These actions came to be known as “Cresap’s War”, and made him a wanted criminal in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Sheriff Samuel Smith and 24 armed men finally captured him on 25 November 1736.
He came to be seen as a villain in in Pennsylvania, and a hero in Maryland.
Cresap founded what is now Oldtown, Maryland by building a trading post at the foot of the Amerindian trail over Wills Mountain. He ultimately settled in Cumberland.