Harford Magazine

5 places to celebrate Harford County’s 250th anniversary

Growing up in Harford County in the 1960s and ‘70s, Jackie Magness Seneschal recalls a “simple time” in a community that, back then, was mostly rural with rolling farmland and small towns.

“I come from a long line of dirt farmers,” said Seneschal, whose local ties can be traced to Moses Magness, an ancestor who she said was listed in the first U.S. census of 1790. “We’re one of the families who’ve been in Harford County for generations.”


Be they families with deep roots, newcomers, or visitors, all are welcome to join Harford County’s 250th anniversary celebration, dubbed “Harford 250.”

The yearlong observance, which starts in March and runs for 12 months, will spotlight the people, places and history of the county.


“The Historical Society of Harford County Inc. is the lead planner and promoter,” said Carol Deibel, who chairs the Harford 250 steering committee and sits on the historical society board. The sestercentennial is a “collaboration,” she said, involving a host of volunteers, donors, sponsors, nonprofits and officials.

“We’ve been working on this since 2020, before the pandemic,” adds Seneschal, who co-chairs Harford 250 and is a historical society board member. “There will be a whole slew of events.”

Jarrettsville resident Karen Schoelkopf's design, pictured above, has been named the winner of the Harford 250 Logo Contest ahead of the county's sestercentennial celebration in 2023.

Originally part of Baltimore County, Harford has an origin story that dates to the 18th century when locals petitioned the early Maryland Assembly in Annapolis to create a new county.

Legislation creating Harford County was adopted in 1773, according to the C. Milton Wright book “Our Harford Heritage,” and took effect in 1774.

Harford County was named after English nobleman Henry Harford, the eldest son of Frederick Calvert, the 6th Lord Baltimore. Harford served as the last proprietor of Maryland before the 13 original colonies rebelled against the British, leading to the American Revolution and a new nation.

Centuries later, Harford County has evolved and grown. The latest U.S. census data reveals a population of more than 262,000 residents.

There are three municipalities in Harford County: Havre de Grace, incorporated in 1785; Aberdeen (1892); and Bel Air (1872), which is the official county seat.

“It was a small commercial hub surrounded by green pastures and farms,” writes Deibel in her book “Bel Air Chronicles,” which was published in 2012 and delves into the county’s beginnings and evolution.


The book notes that with the growth of the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad (Ma & Pa) and nearby Aberdeen Proving Ground, “the quiet town was transformed into a bustling urban center.”

As Harford County marks this monumental anniversary, its story is a portrait of America: Indigenous tribes who predated the arrival of European settlers; agriculture and development; harbor towns where colonial history unfolded; stories of the Underground Railroad and civil rights that tell of its African American heritage; proud U.S. military service; and much more.

Read on for some of the people and places in Harford County that are part of its history and future.

The Historical Society of Harford County Inc.

143 N Main St., Bel Air

“This is the oldest county historical society in Maryland,” said Seneschal, dating its establishment at the county courthouse in 1885.


Harford County transferred the old Bel Air Post Office to the historical society in the 1990s. The historic building now houses a dizzying array of archives, artifacts, art, textiles, court records, genealogy, exhibits, a research library and more.

Items of interest include a cannon ball reportedly fired by British naval forces amid the raid on Havre de Grace in 1813, during the War of 1812.

An on-site museum is scheduled to open this year. Until then, the historical society is closed to visitors.

Liriodendron Mansion in Bel Air.


502 W. Gordon St., Bel Air

The Liriodendron mansion, built in 1898, offers a peek into the lifestyles of the wealthy denizens of that era. It was the summer retreat of Dr. Howard A. Kelly, one of the founding physicians of the Johns Hopkins Hospital.


Sold to Harford County in the 1970s, the house has stunning architecture, ornate interiors and exteriors, art and period furnishings, and beautiful grounds.

“The mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places,” said Brenna Kupferman, business development director of the Liriodendron Foundation Inc., a nonprofit that manages operations. “It’s beautiful and we welcome visitors.”

Sculptor Austen Brantley at the unveiling of the statue he created for Negro League baseball player and Havre de Grace native Ernest Burke in Tydings Park in Havre de Grace Saturday June 26, 2021.

Ernest Burke statue

Millard Tydings Memorial Park, Havre de Grace,

In 2021, a statue of Ernest Burke, a Harford County native and American hero, was unveiled at Tydings Park.

Born in Havre de Grace in 1924 and orphaned at age 9, Burke went on to become one of the first Black men to serve in the Marine Corps during World War II.


He earned the Rifle Sharpshooter Ribbon Bar and the WWII Victory Medal. When Burke was honorably discharged as a corporal, his commander lauded his “excellent character.”

During his tour of duty in the Pacific, Burke began to show exceptional skills as a baseball player. Returning home, he joined the Baltimore Elite Giants, a professional baseball team in the Negro Leagues, playing third base and pitching. The multisport athlete also played semipro football and tennis.

Later in life, Burke competed in the Maryland Senior Olympics, and was a motivational speaker before his death in 2004 at age 79.

Camay Calloway Murphy, an arts advocate and daughter of the legendary entertainer Cab Calloway, led the eight-year effort to honor Burke. It was a “labor of love,” she told The Baltimore Sun in an interview in 2021.

Concord Point Lighthouse

Havre de Grace


The Concord Point Lighthouse is the second-oldest lighthouse in Maryland, and an iconic regional symbol. Situated at the point where the Susquehanna River meets the Chesapeake Bay, the lighthouse aided safe navigation of vessels for nearly 150 years.

“Built in 1827, the lighthouse served as a beacon for sailors in the Upper Chesapeake Bay until being decommissioned in 1975,” said Lauri Orzewicz, tourism coordinator for Havre de Grace.

Today, the fully restored lighthouse and keeper’s house are open for tours.

Nearby is the renowned Havre de Grace Decoy Museum, where duck decoys, folk art and fine art are displayed.

The barn quilt at Broom’s Bloom Dairy in Bel Air.

Broom’s Bloom Dairy

1700 S. Fountain Green Road, Bel Air


For centuries, farming has been woven into the fabric of Harford County. Today, Kate and David Dallam and their family are carrying on that legacy at Broom’s Bloom Dairy in Bel Air.

“The farm and house date back to the early 1700s,” said Kate Umbarger Dallam. “It’s the ninth generation in my husband’s family on this property. I grew up on another historic farm in nearby Churchill.”

The Dallam farm name originates from the colonial land grant for the area along with the land’s original owner, John Broom. The “Bloom” refers to flourishing crops.

The Dallam family has a herd of more than 50 Holstein and Guernsey cows, several pigs, as well as chickens and turkeys that are raised on a second farm. They also grow assorted crops such as soybeans and corn.

“My husband is up at 4:30 a.m. He milks the cows and calves. We process the milk, pasteurize it. We make fresh ice cream and cheeses, which we sell in our farm store and local grocery chains,” she said, among them, Shop Rite, owned by another long-standing county family, the Kleins. A small country cafe offers soups, sandwiches and other farm-fresh fare.

Dallam describes the farmers in Harford County as tight-knit.


“We are close. We sometimes share equipment and expenses. While a lot of farms have sold their land and development rights, agricultural preservation is important to our legacy. This is a great community. This is who we are.”

Anniversary events

March 31: Harford County’s 250th anniversary will encompass a series of countywide activities, anchored by three major events. The first is “Come See About Harford,” a showcase at the APG Federal Credit Union Arena at Harford Community College from March 31 to April 1. The program will feature guest speakers and entertainers, including jazz musician Kim Waters, who graduated from the county’s C. Milton Wright High School; its student jazz band will also perform. An art show will showcase renderings of the people, places, and events that make Harford unique; booths and displays will tout countywide attractions; and outdoor displays will include vintage fire and emergency vehicles.

Aug. 19: This summer, the celebration will move to Ripken Stadium with a Harford 250 Night at the Ballpark on Aug. 19. Billed as a history of sports, the festivities will include an IronBirds minor league baseball game, a parade of athletes, and concourse displays highlighting local sports history, from equestrians and hunting clubs to legendary teams and local champions.

March 23, 2024: The culminating event is “Celebrating Tomorrow: Make Harford History Now.” Expect speakers, musical performances, a time capsule, a public art unveiling, and the sounding of bells throughout the county. Individual neighborhoods will be encouraged to create their own celebrations focusing on youth and future leadership into the next 250 years.

For more information, go to and