Questions answered on the Road to Monocacy posts
A reader raised a question about the spelling of Monocacy after reading several of my posts over the past weeks. She noted the spelling in the original Lancaster County document uses the spelling Monocasy and questioned, “Why do I use the Monocacy spelling when the original document uses Monocasy?”
Grace Tracey & John Dern note multiple spellings for Monocacy in their book “Pioneers of Old Monocacy.” A sampling of spellings on early land records, wills, maps, etc. include: Monocacy, Monocasy, Monoquesey, Monachasie, Manaquicy, Monocksey, and Manakisy. All these spellings refer to the same area, road or river in Frederick County, Maryland and over time they became standardized as Monocacy. Monocacy is the spelling one finds on current maps and documents.
The pictured section of the 1770 Pennsylvania Map by William Scull showing the western end of the Monocasy Road from Hanover, Pennsylvania to the Manakisy River in Maryland. Did anyone spot the error on this map? The Manakisy (Monocacy) River label should be on the next north-south river to the east. The mislabeled waterway in the lower left is Toms Creek the whole way as it continues south, and then bears east, eventually joining the Monocacy River.
Looking on current maps, Rock Creek flows south from fields east of Gettysburg and Marsh Creek flows south from fields west of Gettysburg. Rock Creek and Marsh Creek join just inside Maryland to form the Monocacy River, which flows south into the Potomac River.
Related posts include:
- Original Route of the Monocacy Road in Eastern York County?
- What Happens When One Projects an 1821 Map onto a 1953 Map?
- Monocacy Path used by Native Americans began at Conejohela
- Platting the Monocacy Road from Original 1739/40 Survey; Part 1: Eastern York County
- Leap Day a Century ago in York
Your geography and spelling history lessons for today are finished. Continue reading as I explain the “1739/40” notation that another reader questioned. As a preface, I’ll first examine steps taken to survey the first road West of the Susquehanna River; i.e. the road through what would extend through York County to the Monocacy in Maryland.
Technically we’re looking at the first road in Hellam Township, Lancaster County, since York County was not established until 1749. In 1739, a majority of the Lancaster County land west of the Susquehanna River was known as Hellam Township.
The Court of General Quarter Sessions, meeting in Lancaster County, PA on August 7th, 1739, acted upon a petition by inhabitants of Hellam Township for a road from John Wright’s ferry towards the Potomac River. The actions of this court to the petition are recorded on page 263 of the Lancaster County Road Docket No. 1, as follows:
Upon the Petition of Several of the Inhabitants of the township of Hallem, on the West side of Susquehanah, setting forth the necessity of a road from John Wright’s fferry, towards Potomac river, and praying that persons may be appointed to lay out the Same: Ordered by ye Court, that Joshua Minshall, Henry Hendricks, ffrancis Worley Jun, Christian Crowl, Michael Tanner & Woolrick Whistler view and, if they or any four of them se cause that they lay the same by course and distance, ffrom the said fferry to the line dividing the Provinces, and report ye same to ye next Court.
The six men appointed to this task of laying out the road did not finish by the next Court of General Quarter Sessions in November 1739. Their task was continued until the February 1739/40 Court.
During the Court of General Quarter Sessions, meeting in Lancaster County, PA on February 5th and 6th, 1739/40, the following return of the six men was handed to the Court and recorded on page 279 of the Lancaster County Road Docket No. 1, as follows:
The Persons appointed at the August Court last & continued to November Court following do report that, pursuant to order, they have viewed and laid out a road from Susquehanah river South Westerly, towards the Province line, according to the courses & distances following, viz.: Beginning at the said river, in the line between the lands of John Wright Jun. And Samuel Taylor; thence . . .
Hence follows the courses & distances, i.e. the metes & bounds, that I’m platting (in three parts) on the earliest available historical topographic maps:
Another reader asked the question: “The title implies you are not sure of original record year. 1739 or 1740? How can this be? Isn’t the court record dated?” The 1739/40 notation references January 1st to March 24th of the beginning months following December 31st, 1739. Per the current Gregorian calendar the year 1740 would have begun January 1st, 1740; however the English and her colonies did not switch from the Julian calendar to the current Gregorian calendar until 1752. Therefore in these very early colonial times the next chronological date after December 31st, 1739 is January 1st, 1739 and so on until March 24th, 1739; after which the new-year date March 25th, 1740 follows. Confused? Just think what it would be like to live in those times when countries adopted the Gregorian calendar at different times. Thus 1739/40 means “1739” in the Julian calendar that existed in the colonies at that time and “/40” the chronological next year 1740 to which we are accustomed.
For reference the Eastern York County section of 1770 Pennsylvania Map by William Scull follows. William Scull tended to use long straight-line segments to indicate roads; his maps show approximate locations and are definitely not to scale.