While some cities in the area are proud to celebrate their bicentennials and other historically interesting milestones, the city of Rockville Maryland has a long history which can be dated back as early as 8000 BC.

This city, located in Montgomery County’s central region is the county seat and a major city in the county. Over the years the population has increased significantly, and continues to grow daily, but to better understand Rockville today, you need to know about its history.

The early history

Around 8000 BC, it is believed that the Rockville area would have been a refuge for nomadic Native Americans. By the 1st millennium BC, there were a few of these groups who had decided to settle permanently in the area. This would have been possible due to the natural plants in the area such as marsh elder and sunflowers which allowed for year-round agriculture.

By 1200 AD, these settled groups were drawn into conflict with the Susquehannock’s and Seneca’s who had traveled south from modern New York and Pennsylvania. The indigenous population of the area was under pressure from European settlers by the 1700’s and was mostly driven away.

18th century

The 18th century is when the European settlers started to take over the area from the indigenous population. Arthur Nelson obtained the first land patents in the area between 1717 and 1735. Within 30 years from these dates, the first permanent buildings would be created in the center of Rockville. These buildings included a small inn on the road to Rockville known as Owen’s Ordinary.

Early Rockville was known by many different names because it was an extremely small and unincorporated town with very few residents. Some of the names included Hungerford’s Tavern, Owen’s Ordinary and Daley’s Tavern. The first mention of the settlement being known as Rockville is in the 1755 Braddock Expedition.

In September 1776, Montgomery County was formed and the most prosperous urban center at the time was George Town. However, the location of George Town made it worthless as the seat of the local government.

Rockville was chosen instead because it was centrally placed and well-traveled. At the time, Rockville did not have an official name and would become known as the Montgomery Court House. Although fairly obvious, it is not the same court house that is located in the center of the city today.

The 19th century

During the 19th century, people were considering officially naming the town. It was on July 16, 1803, that the town was officially named Rockville which came from the Rock Creek. The town was incorporated in 1860 after a petition by the citizens.
It was in 1873 that the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad finally reached Rockville. This made it easier to access the city from Washington and the first trolley service connecting it to George Town was inaugurated in 1891.

20th century

The trolley service on the newly opened railroad continued to service Rockville for 40 years. At this time, the popularity of the railroad was overtaken by automobiles. A bus service was provided for the city in 1924 to 1955 by the Blue Ridge Transportation Company. However, after 1955 there would be no further effort to develop the public transport of the city.

The mid-20th century saw large growth in Rockville as hundreds of new homes and additional schools were added to the city. A shopping center was opened in the city in 1958 and more new areas provided housing to young families looking to start their lives after World War II.  Below you will see directions from The Mansion at Strathmore, one of the older buildings still standing in the in the city of Rockville.

Additional activities