The Tuscarora Indians were the earliest known inhabitants of the Taneytown area. By the time settlers came, the Indians had moved across the mountains to the Cumberland Valley. Taneytown was founded in 1754 when Edward Diggs and Raphael Taney were granted a patent designated as Resurvey of Brothers Agreement. It encompassed 7900 acres. Taney laid out lots and the first deeds were sold in 1762. Taney was a land speculator and probably never lived here. But he did give the town his name.
The first settlers were German and Scotch-Irish. Though the first merchants were likely peddlers, Taneytown was home to quite a few early industries. Mr. Stroyer manufactured guns, Tobias Rudisill had a tannery, Samuel Crouse supplied pottery, John Slagenhaupt chairs, Conrad Bonner was a tailor, and Eli Bentley made clocks. There were also brick makers, harness shops, blacksmiths and carriage shops.
There were several inns or taverns in Taneytown. The Monocacy Road, leading north/south, through town, was well-travelled during colonial days–so much so that it was used by George Washington in going from Mt. Vernon to Philadelphia. It is a well-documented, by mention in his diary, that he spent the night in Taneytown on June 30, 1791. The inns were also the site of local government, postal services and elections.
The oldest building still standing in Taneytown is known today as the old Stone Tavern. It was built in 1760 and is located on Frederick Street. During the Civil War General Daniel Sickles reviewed his troops from this porch as they passed through Taneytown on their way to Gettysburg.
In 1762 the first church was built, others followed, and some offered schooling. The public school system began in 1865. There was rapid development in the Taneytown area after the railroad came through in 1872.