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Allegany County
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King Opessa's Town

King Opessa's Town, Oldtown Click on the MEDIA ITEMS below for more information


The Shawnee Indians once lived in the hills surrounding Oldtown, Maryland, located in the southeastern portion of present-day Allegany County. This was near the junction of the North and South Branches of the Potomac River.

It is said that from about 1711 to 1727, the Shawnees living here at what was known as King Opessa's Town and neighboring sites would offer refuge to runaway slaves who had fled from their Virginia and Maryland masters. The Governors of both Virginia and Maryland attempted to negotiate with the Shawnee for the return of the runaways. Virginia even offered bounties of guns and blankets, and King Opessa's refusal to return runaway slaves to their owners was an irritant to the Maryland General Assembly for years.

King Opessa was the great-grandfather of Tecumseh, and at the time he settled here in 1711 the site was known as Shawnee-Oldtown. The village site is today a forested area located within the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, near Oldtown, Maryland.

(In about 1741 Thomas Cresap constructed a home and stockade fort in what is now Oldtown, thereby making this the oldest town in what is now Allegany County which was officially established in 1789).


From a brochure entitled, "The Underground Railroad, Maryland's Network to Freedom", published by the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program and the Maryland Office of Tourism Development, National Park Service C and O Canal and the 2007 Oldtown Summer Fest Booklet published by the Oldtown Summer Fest Steering Committee.

Collection Location:
Allegany County, Maryland

African Americans, History; Allegany County (Md.), History.

Allegany County (Md.), 1890-2008

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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