History of Harford county, Maryland

A brief account of it's significance in the Revolutionary War

"The Ragged Old Flag" - by Johnny Cash

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Here are a couple of trivia questions for you (since that seems to be so popular recently..)

1) What is the name of the first Declaration of Independence ever adopted in America by an "organized body of men duly elected by the people"? FINAL ANSWER: The Bush Declaration, signed and proclaimed on March 22, 1775.

2) Where was this document drawn up and signed? FINAL ANSWER: Harford county, Maryland, which just happens to have been the county where our Coyan ancestors were residing in that timeframe. My, if only my 5th great-grandparents Edward and Sarah Coyan could speak to us today....

As any of us can imagine, life in Harford county in the latter 1770's and early 1780's must have been an incredible place to have been in witnessing first-hand the unfolding of events that helped shape this great nation. I get a certain "chill", knowing that my ancestors were there to witness it!

Harford county was formed out of Baltimore county in 1773. The county seat from 1774 until 1783 was known as "Harford town", also known as "Bush".  Below, I am quoting excerpts from the book "Our Harford Heritage", by C. Milton Wright.

"Located on the main highway... Harford town became a stopping place for stagecoach travelers and a meeting place for politicians and statesmen, not only of Harford county but of national fame, as they travelled between the cities of the East. Judge Preston says that such distinguished personalities as Washington and Jefferson, as well as other eminent men of the colonies used it as a stopping place...

The unrest during the years leading up to the struggle for independence made this center of government a place of active participation in the rebellion against the Mother Country. The fires of discontent that were beginning to kindle throughout the colonies were uppermost in the thoughts and actions of Harford's citizens....

When a convention was called at Annapolis on June 22, 1774, Harford was represented by Richard Dallam, John Love, Thomas Bond, Benedict Hall and Jacob Bond. At this convention it was declared that the Acts of Parliament were cruel and oppressive invasions of people's rights, and that the Stamp Act and other offensive laws should be repealed.

Our leaders had already anticipated the actions of the Annapolis convention, and as early as June 11, 1774, a large meeting of citizens, presided over by Aquila Hall, was held at Bush and resolutions to be sent to Annapolis were passed.

During the next few months, the citizens of the colonies continued their opposition to Great Britain and in public meetings denounced the oppressive acts. On March25, 1775, Patrick Henry made his famous speech in Virginia, and the Continental Congress again met in Philadelphia in May, 1775, and agreed to stop trade with Great Britain until the objectionable acts were repealed.

Again, Bush came into prominence by having as it's guests men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Patrick Henry, as they journeyed through Harford to Philadelphia. In the Continental Congress our distinguished citizen, William Paca, who was born in Abingdon, together with Matthew Tilghman, Thomas Johnson Jr., Robert Goldsborough, and Samuel Chase, represented Maryland.

By the early part of 1775 almost all our entire citizenry had become so stirred by the national controversy that a most important event took place at Bush. Just three days before Patrick Henry made his well known speech, a committee of thirty-four Harford citizens met at the Bush tavern and, after deliberation, signed the famous Bush Declaration".

Note that William Paca, of Abingdon in Harford county, was one of four men from Maryland who were signers of the Declaration of Independence. I can't help but wonder if Edward Coyan ever had any contact with him or perhaps was in attendance at a "gathering" in which William Paca made a speech or appearance?