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The Forgotten Patriots of the
Tom's Creek Hundred

John Miller

Toms' Creek Hundred was located in Northern Frederick County, and was made up of little settlements of farms and mills.  (click here for a map of the Toms Creek Hundred geographical area) Because it was completely isolated from Frederick Town, it was hard to get news about Maryland.  The only way the citizens could communicate with each other was to hold various public meetings.  These meetings were held at taverns, churches and mills.  The Maryland General Assembly sponsored the creation of several taverns along main roads for use by the public.  These taverns were used by communities by means of getting information from travelers or public postings of new laws that the General Assembly of Maryland had passed for the Royal Crown.

The coming of a war for Independence in Frederick County started in April of 1765 with Parliament's Stamp Act. Frederick County reacted with violence. The settlements of Tom's Creek Hundred became involved with the revolt. October of 1769 wagons that would come from Pennsylvania were being seized and stored at the owner's expense, because they did not have the proper certificates. Because of the Stamp Act many wagons were being impounded, and this outraged the local citizens.

On August 28, 1770, a meeting was held in a local schoolhouse near Toms Creek. These meetings were generally held in several Maryland counties to protest these import duties. John Troxell who owned and operated a mill near Tom's Creek was present at the meeting along with other Toms Creek hundred residents. James Smith from Elizabethtown (Hagerstown area) concluded the meeting, as he said, "Declaring their loyalty to the King and their country." Another man by the name of John Parks who was present at this meeting stated, "That the item would be boycotted." Ironically John Parks became a Tea Merchant. 

In 1775, as the Revolutionary War progressed, several regiments were raised in Frederick County Maryland. A Militia Regiment was established and consisted of two companies ready for military use that was formed in Toms Creek Hundred. First, was the Game Cock Company under the command of Captain William Blair.  They were called the Game Cock Company because of the plum feathers that they had when they wore their hats.  The Game Cock Company proved their bravery at White Plains New York during Washington’s retreat. The second company was under the command of Captain William Shields, who also participated in the battle of White Plains. These companies together produced more than a hundred soldiers that were ready for military use. 

There were two other companies raised in Frederick County outside of Toms' Creek Hundred, Captain Jacob Ambrose’s company of militia and also Captain Benjamin Ogle’s company of militia.  These two companies also raised more than a hundred soldiers for military duty.  These two companies also saw military service at White Plains, New York.  This was a disastrous defeat for the Continental Army; however, General Washington managed to save his army from defeat with a rear guard battle that consisted of the Maryland Troops.

As General George Washington rode into the area, members of the Maryland Militia flocked to join the Continental Army as they marched for New York. At the Battle of White Plains the Maryland 400 was given credit for turning the tide of the War. General Washington even complimented these troops from Tom's Creek Hundred who were from Frederick County at Tera Ruba, saying that they hold a part of his heart. General Washington made this statement at the home of a wealthy family known as the Keys.

John Ross Key was born on September 19th, 1754 at Redland, Frederick County, Maryland. Upon entering into the service of the Continental Army, he was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant of Captain Thomas Price's Maryland Rifle Company. They were mustered into service at Frederick, Maryland on June 21st, 1775.  Captain Price’s Company was one of the first Military forces that came to aid General Washington’s overwhelmed army in Boston, July-August, 1775.  By 1781, Captain John Ross Key commanded a Frederick County Company of Cavalry during the Yorktown Campaign.

Little is known about General Key after the Revolutionary War.  John Key was a judge in the state of Maryland where he resided the last days of his life in a plantation located in what is now Carroll County just outside of Tom’s Creek. He named his plantation Terra Ruba after the Latin word meaning "red earth” because their plantation soil was reddish in color. 

In the recollections of private Jacob Zoll, who served under Captain Key and lived outside of Taneytown, Maryland in Frederick County, he explains some of the mysteries that surround the second company that was formed near the Tom's Creek Hundred under Captain William Shields and how it connected to Captain John Ross Key and Henry Williams. (These excerpts are from the Indiana Historical Society.)     

When Jacob entered into service of the Maryland militia his Battalion commander was Colonel Norman Bruce and second in command was Major James Shields.  His company commander was Captain John Ross Key, which he enlisted in the Militia Service of the State of Maryland in the County of Frederick on or about the first day of January 1776.

Jacob Zoll volunteered for service in a Maryland Militia near Taneytown, Maryland.  Jacob stated: “I volunteered for three months in a company with the majority of my neighbors who were able to bear arms in Company of the Maryland Militia commanded by John Ross Key at Taneytown in Frederick County, Maryland on the first day of January in the year Ad 1776” Unfortunately, he received a written discharge in April of 1776 by Captain John Ross Key personally and it was signed by Colonel Norman Bruce who authorized his discharge and was also signed by Captain John Ross Key."

During his application for pension he talked about the officers that were in charge of his company who belonged to the 4th Maryland Regiment.  Jacob Zoll stated: “From the great length of time I can only recollect the name of General Putnam of the Continental establishment and the regiment in which I served I think to the best of my recollection was called the 4th Regiment of Maryland Militia and commanded by Colonel Norman Bruce and Major James Shields and was acquainted with General Smallwood commander of the Maryland line of Regular Troops”. 

Among the names he mentioned that he served with Major James Shields who enlisted as a private in 1775, Captain William Shields who was promoted to First Major in 1776, Lieutenants Hockensmith, and Thomas and Joseph Wilson.  Captain John Ross Key who was Jacob Zoll’s commander at the time of his enlistment. (Captain Price’s Company re-organized at Frederick, Maryland and Thomas Price was promoted to Colonel of the Second Maryland Regiment and Lieutenant Key was promoted to Captain in 1776.    

The names he mentioned are associated with one of the two companies that were raised near the present day Toms Creek area which he served with: Captain William Shields; 1st Lieutenant, John Faire; 2nd Lieutenant, Michael Hockensmith; Ensign, John Shields; Sergeants, Charles Robinson, James Shields (who was promoted to Major 1776), Patrick Haney, Robert Brown; Corporals, Moses Kennedy, John Hank, John Long, Thomas Baird; 52 privates.

All companies from Frederick County, Maryland were mustered into service with Colonel William Smallwood.  By February of 1777, the Maryland Line was reorganized with five new regiments that were raised in Maryland. Colonel William Smallwood of the Maryland 400 was promoted to General and given command of a brigade, and French General Debarre was given command of the other brigade. William Blair was then promoted to Lieutenant Colonel of the Third Battalion, and William Shields was given the rank of First Major of the same command.

The German regiment was formed by act of the Continental Congress,  June 27, 1776. Pennsylvania had raised four companies and later a fifth company was added, while Maryland raised four companies’ completing the organization of the German Regiment. The companies of the German Regiment were to serve three years, unless sooner discharged. The German Battalion unofficially referred to as the 8th Maryland Regiment under the command of Haussegger and DeArendt. Nicholas Haussegger, major of the Fourth Battalion (Wayne’s), was commissioned Colonel of the German Regiment. Pennsylvania furnished by far the largest number of both of its officers and recruits.  The men from the Tom's Creek Hundred who served in the German Regiment were Private John Patterson and Private Michael Smith. Here they saw action at the Battle of White Plains, New York.

The regiment took part in the battles of Trenton, Princeton, Newtown, Brandywine and Germantown. They encamped at Valley Forage and witnessed the harsh winter. During May of 1777, the German Regiment was transferred to the Deborre's brigade of Sullivan's division. Colonel Haussegger left the army after the Battle of Monmouth, and returned to his farm near Lebanon, PA.  Lt Colonel Weltner succeeded to the command. The German regiment took part in Sullivan's campaign against the Indians, and in the spring of 1780 it was stationed on the frontier of Northumberland County. By resolution of Congress, in October the German Regiment was reduced and ended its organization January 1, 1781. Many of the soldiers were transferred into the Maryland Continental Troops, part of the 3rd Maryland Regiment, where they marched back to Frederick and then to Baltimore where they were re-equipped to go south to Yorktown. 

There were several Flying Camp Battalions that were formed during the Revolutionary War. In particular was a company of Flying Camp that was mustered into service called Maroney’s Company.  There were several men from the Toms Creek Hundred Settlement that served with Captain Philip Maroney’s Company.  Frederick Beard and Christian Smith were two of many citizens to live in the newly formed town of Emmitsburg in 1785 that fought with this company.  Many townsmen of present day Emmitsburg often misunderstand this company to be the famous Flying Camp Battalion that the Game Cock Company was part of.  The Game Company was formed a year earlier and had left to serving under Colonel Smallwood.  Listed below is a copy of the muster roll of Captain Maroney’s Company of Flying Camp:

“Roll of Captain Philip Maroney’s Company, Flying Camp, Maryland August 5, 1776 -List of the members of Captain Philip Maroney’s Company, in the Flying Camp, August 5, 1776, enlisted in the Middletown District and elsewhere, Frederick County, Maryland.

Philip Maroney, Captain, John Smith, Ensign — Enlisted men as follows:- Garab Harding, William Jacobs, John HcCrery, Daniel Shehan, John Churchwell, George Holliday, George Hill (bd in the Piney Creek Presbyterian churchyard), William Gilmour, Patrick Murphy, Francis Quinn, Samuel Wheeler, John Shank, James McKimsie, Thomas Gill, William Calvert, John McClary, William Skagga, John Marshall, Bennett Neall, John Test, Thomas Kirk, Jr., Minion Nichols, William Cash, Jas. Burton, Thomas Burton, Thomas Hilleary, James Beall, John Brease, Patrick Scott, William McKay, Zadock Griffith, Henry Meroney, Henry Clements, Thomas Fenly, James McCormack, Patrick Cannon, Charles Philpoy (Taylor), James Lowther, Henry Berkshire (Deserted), John Maynard, James Beckett, James Tannenhill, John Miller, James Bryant, Micheal Arran, James Barrock, Christian Smith (of the Smith family of the ‘Cattail Branch’, near Emmitsburg, MD.), James Donack, James Kelam, George McDonald, James Hatchcraft, Jacob Holtz, Henry Smith (of the Cattail Branch), Richard Wells, Elisha Rhodes, Paul Boyer, Samuel Busey, John Kenneday, William Chandler, William Burton, Warren Philpot, Christopher Wheelan, James Buller, John Jones, James Carty, John Hutchison, Like Barnett, Samuel Silver, Edward Sehom, Robert McDonald, James Mccoy, Richard Tounge, Herbert Shoemaker, John (?)yer, Richard Fletcher, Joseph McAllen, Thomas Harrison, John Alsop, Charles Dullis, Joshua Pearce (Pierce), Jacob Rhodes, George Kelly, William Louden, Frederick Beard (interred in Emmitsburg Elias Lutheran churchyard), Henry Fisher, James Hudson, Michael Hall, John Price (Deserted), William Byor, Francis Freeman, John Cash, William Hollings, Jacob Burton, and William Barnett. — Enlisted men, 95, Officers, 2; Total, 97.” 

Captain Philip Maroney kept a copy of his famous company roll of the Flying Camp of the American Revolution, and it stayed in his family. One of his descendants moved to Louisiana, and this record was carried out of Maryland.  In 1911 a descendant of Philip Maroney permitted a copy of the original roll to be made. This was attested to as authentic before a Notary Public and Judge John C. Motter. At that time a copy was also placed with the D.A.R.

There are no records of any habitants of Tom's Creek Hundred that served in the Loyalist 1st Maryland Battalion that fought for the crown.  There are no records of any homecoming of the soldiers of the Game Cock or Shield’s Companies that helped claim America’s Independence because there was no official town of Emmitsburg at the time of the Revolutionary War. 

Tom's Creek Hundreds Revolutionary War heritage is only a small footnote in history books.  Their deeds and contributions for independence are ones that surely must be remembered.  These are true American heroes and the only monuments to honor these American heroes are the gravestones that mark their grave.  These are some of the names of those who are buried in or near Tom's Creek:

  • Lieutenant Colonel William Blair
  • Captain Benjamin Ogle
  • Captain Henry Williams
  • 1st Lieutenant John Farris
  • 2nd Lieutenant Michael Hockensmith
  • 2nd Lieutenant George Hockensmith
  • Lieutenant Ensign Jacob Hockensmith
  • Sergeant John Smith
  • Corporal John Crabbs
  • Corporal Arthur Row
  • Corporal William Elder

Read other articles on the Revolutionary War

Read other articles by John Miller