Smith, who had been a stone mason, was believed to be in his early 60s when he bought Shadrach’s Lot from Samuel B. McClanahan of Chester County, Pa., in 1813, according to Smithsburg Historical Society President John Jacques and published reports.
A framed 1936 tracing of an 1814 plat, which hangs in the historical society’s museum, shows the early configuration of the town with 96 lots, although Jacques said there were originally 91 lots.
Smith, who had grown up in the area, started selling the lots, Jacques said.
The plat shows the lots laid out along the crossroads of Green Castle and Cave streets, which are now Main and Water streets.
Seven years after Smith founded Smithsburg, the town had a population of 133 whites and three slaves, according to published reports that cited the 1820 Census.
The latest decennial Census, in 2010, lists Smithsburg’s population at 2,975 people.
The town limits have expanded greatly beyond those initial lots, with more than 300 acres annexed from 1986 to 2004, according to Herald-Mail archives.
The town was officially incorporated in 1846.
The dawn of Smithsburg
Before Smithsburg was plotted, Cavetown was the commerce center in the northeast section of Washington County, county historian John Frye said.
Cavetown had two major roads heading east from Hagerstown, according to Frye.
Baltimore Pike headed through Cavetown across the mountain and, today, the road includes Md. 77, Frye said.
The Georgetown Pike took a right turn and headed south across the mountain to Georgetown, Frye said. Today, a portion of the old Georgetown Pike is called Wolfsville Road, he said.
The election district for that part of the county also was called the Cavetown election district because it was established before the town of Smithsburg, Frye said.
An Oct. 12, 1824, legal notice in The Torch Light and Public Advertiser of Hagers-Town refers to a mortgage executed by Smith to McClanahan, also referred to as McClenahan, for the “hearing date the 28th May, 1813.”
The legal notice states Smith started “a town called Smithsburg” with the land purchase, but the deal left him in debt as McClanahan, who hadn’t been fully paid for the mortgage, filed suit against Smith and some of the people to whom Smith had sold lots.
The amount owed was described in the legal notice as “four bonds, amounting together to about twelve hundred pounds.”
After Smith bought the lots, he built a distillery in town, but the investment was unsuccessful, Jacques said.