The history of Havre de Grace, Maryland, begins with the voyage of Capt. John Smith here in 1608. In 1652 a treaty with the Susquehannock Indians led to settlement of the area.
Godfrey Harmer was born in Sweden in the year 1598. The land on which the town of Havre de Grace now stands was laid out for Godfrey Harmer on July 19, 1658 and called Harmer’s Town. Naturalized as a citizen of Maryland in 1661, he transferred his allegiance from the King of Sweden to Lord Baltimore. Harmer was an Indian trader and interpreter.
The town sits at the confluence (I love that word) of the Susquehanna River, (which originates 444 miles north at Otsego Lake in Cooperstown, New York) and the Chesapeake Bay.
The city got it’s current name from the Marquis de Lafayette [statute above] who visited this town shortly after the Revolutionary War, and said it reminded him of the French port city, Le Havre de Grace, which means “The City of Mercy”. The residents incorporated the town as Havre de Grace in 1785.
We walked the 3 mile Lafayette Trail which took us to all the still standing historic sites, like the Aveilhe-Goldsborough house,
built in 1801.
Most of the house in Havre de Grace were destroyed by the British on May 3, 1813. During the War of 1812, the British burned Washington and then proceed up the Chesapeake Bay, bombarding Fort McHenry, and then proceeding to Havre de Grace to destroy the Iron Foundry here. Like Fort McHenry, they fired Congreve rockets. They were developed by Sir William Congreve, born May 20, 1772 in Kent, England. The rockets gave inspiration to Francis Scott Key to include in his poem: “and the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air”.
The 45 mile long Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal was completed in 1839 and ran from Wrightsville, Pennsylvania to Havre de Grace, Maryland. In fact, it ended at the spot I am standing,
where the Susquehanna River meets the Chesapeake Bay. Barges would travel the canal, pulled by mules, until 1897, when railroad signaled it’s death knoll. The canal was stilled used locally until 1909.