Hancock’s Home Prior to Enlistment
Joseph Hancock, Jr. was born on July 21, 1758 to <Edward J. (Joseph)> and Mary (Bush) Hancock in Bedford County Pennsylvania. The events of Joseph’s first seven years of life are unknown. The story begins with the history of the town of Hancock Maryland where Edward Hancock purchased property from William McClary sometime after 1765. (Hancock, Web) History indicates Joseph Hancock, Jr. operated a ferry for which a petition was requested in 1774 until enlisting in the Pennsylvania 8th Regiment of the Continental Line August 20, 1776. The ferry was known as Hancock’s Ferry. The Hancock property was sold in 1782 and became part of what was later known as Rowland’s Addition. The Hancock home was located east of the ferry, and the ferry west of a tract of land later known as William’s Town.
The historical perspective provided on the Hancock Maryland web site indicated that William Russell laid out the town along the main road from Fort Frederick to Fort Cumberland a short time before 1789. He called it William’s Town, for which no reason was given. Confusion existed for a number of years as the area was known as both William’s Town and Hancock’s Town. This confusion may have been due to two areas of development that were proximate but adjacent to each other until, for unknown reasons, William’s Town was dropped from any deeds written after 1810. Interestingly, a map Of North America published in 1771 for Carrington Bowles in London, shows a site on the “Powtomac” [sic] in the general area as “WilliamssFer” [sic]. Likewise, two other map sources, published before 1772, mark Williams Ferry, however, there were also several other ferries nearby, one of which was west but close to Williams Ferry. A map published in 1795 refers to the area as “Hancocks T.” the T. standing for “town”. The mixed naming of the town may be due to the two ferry names under Williams and Hancock. Whether Hancock bought out Williams or there were actually two ferries has yet to be determined. The Hancock web site further indicated the town was incorporated 1853, by an act of the Legislature, and that no other name was considered but Hancock. “Town” was dropped from the name.
It is known, through Joseph Hancock’s daughter Cynthia Reeder, that the Indians killed Joseph’s father Edward J. or Joseph Hancock, Sr. The year this happened and at what age has not been determined. The age of Joseph, Jr., when his father was killed, is also not known. Edward made the land purchase in 1765, at which time Joseph Jr. would have been approximately seven. It is therefore safe to assume that he was very aware of the circumstances surrounding his father’s untimely death. After his fathers death Joseph’s mother married Lewis Castleman. There were no children. According to family record, she lived to 106. The sale of the property owned by Edward J. Hancock in Hancock’s Town may have been associated with her remarriage and relocation to Pennsylvania. After the war Joseph Hancock Jr., the only child of Edward Joseph and Mary Hancock returned to the area and married Catherine Baltimore. Ten years after leaving the military he moved to Kentucky, the first of three locations in the west, and raised his family. He left no descendants in Hancock, Maryland or Pennsylvania.