Our history begins on the Youghiogheny, page 13
called "Bad Is the Best of It." This was in 1771. Soon thereafter he settled there and built a grist mill, the first in the county.
But the first person to actually settle within the bounds of old Selbysport was David Robertson who was on the site as early as 1787. His neighbors were Jeremiah and Jonathan Frazee of Buffalo Run. Thurmond Frazee of Frazee's Ridge, Jacob Frohman of Mill Run, John Rutan of Blooming Rose, William, Benjamin, and Samuel Coddington—and possibly John, Jonathan and Joseph Frantz.
But Robertson, like Shelby, found a buyer. This time it was Peter Devecmon who is a much-written-about pioneer appearing first in Lowdermilk's "History of Cumberland."
Capt. Hoye claims that prior to 1798 Peter Devecmon had laid out a hundred building lots on each side of the Morgantown Road, west side of the river at "The Crossing," and also had laid streets. He was the Founder of the town. And what a coincidence when we learn that William Armstrong, who married Peter Devecmon's widow, was the first settler in Oakland, coming there from Clarksburg, Va., in 1806. In 1798 John and Thomas Pritchard, William Post and Daniel Arnett were assessed with lots in Selbysport. A book entitled "The State of Maryland" (1807) says: "Shelby's Port, a small town thirty-five miles west of Cumberland is situated on the waters of 'Big Crossing Creek'," (Youghiogheny River). In 1798 Peter Devecmon obtained a buyer in the person of Aza Beall of Cumberland. Aza paid Peter three hundred pounds and settled there with his negro slaves raising tobacco on his river bottom lands and conducting a store in the town. By 1817 Aza entered politics, becoming Clerk of Allegany County. He thus moved to Cumberland. Daniel Smouse later purchased the Beall farm, having it resurveyed in 1834. Four years later Daniel Smouse sold "Joseph in Egypt," the title of the resurvey patent, to George Matthews. A. T. Matthews, Oakland attorney, is a descendant.
David Hoffman and son came to the town in 1803. In 1805 they built a grist mill on the south side of the Morgantown Road utilizing water power supplied by a dam across the river. This must have been a considerable engineering feat. The old mill race is still to be seen when the present river dam is low. Later they added a saw mill. During the War of 1812 Selbysport was headquarters for a company of the State Militia. It was commanded by Capt. Aza Beall. Meschach Browning and Robinson Savage were sergeants. It was at Hoffman's Mill that Meschach had his famous fight with Shannon in 1814 when the company mutinied under Browning's command. Hoffman's Mill became a popular meeting place for folks not only from the county but from the nearby settlers in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Welfley's Scrap Book contains an interesting story about this Mill and Hoffman's genial
Felix G. Robinson
Ruth Enlow Library, Oakland
22 x 15 cms
Western Maryland, 1750-1963