is an ancient settlement that was once on the frontier edge of Maryland.
Early maps done by Winslow and Mayo show European settlers here
by the 1730's. One of the most noted of these was Charles Polke,
"Indian Trader of the Potomac." Polke's great-grand-nephew
James Knox Polk would later become the eleventh President of the
United States. Charles Polke's trading post was located in an
area that is now a part of the Chesapeake and Ohio National Historic
Park, just south of West Main Street in Hancock. It is currently
a park area and boat ramp maintained by the U.S. Park Service called
"Little Tonoloway." The site of Polke's post is believed
to have been in an area just to the west of this park.
Like any colonial village worth-its-salt, we also had our visits
from George Washington. In his journal written at age fifteen, while
he was learning the trade of surveying, we find these entries recorded
during March of 1747:
Sunday 20th, finding y. River not much abated we in y. Evening
Swam our horses over and carried then to Charles Polks in Maryland
for pasturage till y. next morning.
Monday 21st, We went over in a canoe and travell'd up Maryland
side all y. South Branch about 40 Miles from Polks I believe y.
Worst Road that was ever trod by Man or Beast. 
Washington, whose family owned property in nearby Bath, VA (now
Berkeley Springs, WV) was a visitor again according to his journal
entry of August 30, 1769: Old Mr. Flint dined with us, and
again on September 4th: Rid to Potomac where my horses were from
thense to Mr. Flint's and the Pennsylvania line, and returned to
dinner. Joseph Flint was also an Indian trader. The original
log structure known as "Flint's Chance," that was visited
by George Washington, has been embellished by additions through
the years and now stands as a stately manor house owned by the Cohill
family. Twentieth century President Franklin D. Roosevelt is
reputed to have also been a guest of the Cohill family hospitality.
As an outpost on the frontier, the area known as "Tonoloway
Settlement" was subject to the ravages of Indian raids. At
the height of these raids, Maryland Provincial Governor Horatio
Sharpe ordered a series of forts to be built along the Potomac.
In 1755, Lt. Thomas Stoddert, with a crew of 15-20, was sent out
to build a stockade fort in the "Tonoloways" (now Hancock).
It was completed by July of 1755. In 1756, the stone fortress "Fort
Frederick" was completed twelve miles to the east, and Fort
Stoddard was abandoned. Letters preserved from the era depict a
gruesome picture of the massacres that occurred in the areas surrounding
these forts. 
the time of the Revolutionary War, the settlement boasted some twenty
odd houses. Many names have been associated with the general area
- Tonoloway Settlement, Northbend, and William's Town among them.
It is generally held that the name Hancock derived from Edward Joseph
Hancock Jr., who operated the ferry here prior to his enlistment
in the 8th Pennsylvania regiment. After the war, Hancock migrated
to Wayne County, Indiana.
As the National Pike was extended westward (circa 1818) the town
boomed as stagecoach inns, liveries, and blacksmith shops dotted
the Main Street. One inn, The Barton House, was host to such notables
as Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay and Davy Crockett, according to a
Harpers Weekly article.
next growth spurt came with the construction of the Chesapeake and
Ohio Canal, which ran from Georgetown in Washington D.C. to Cumberland,
MD, a total of 184.5 miles. It reached Hancock by 1839. Hancock
boasted two business districts, one on Main Street (or Baltimore
Street) and the other on Water Street. Wharves extended from the
various warehouses to take trade directly to or from the canal boats.
P. T. Little's warehouse was one of the largest of these. While
digging the C&O Canal, argillaceous magnesium limestone was
discovered about three miles west of Hancock. A mill was constructed
on the site (circa 1838-39). It operated as Shafer's Cement Mill,
and later as Round Top Cement. By the Civil War it was Hancock's
largest employer. There were eight kilns built into the side of
the mountain that were used to burn the limestone to powder. The
kilns and the foundations of the mill are still visible from the
C&O Canal towpath and the new Western Maryland Rail Trail. 
2 OF THE HANCOCK HISTORY