A Brief History of Accokeek

The area around Accokeek had been occupied since around 2000 BC; however, the first permanent village was established in ~1200 AD by the Piscataway tribe. Captain John Smith was the first European to see the Accokeek area. In 1608, he sailed the Potomac River and found the Moyaone village where the Piscataway native people were living.

In mid-17th century, settlers were purchasing large plots of land for farming. The Native Americans were upset that the settlers were destroying the land by chopping down trees and allowing silt to fill in the waterways. Many battles resulted. Between 1675 and 1682, the Native Americans left the area.

In the mid-19th Century, Accokeek was still rural, and agriculture was the main industry with tobacco as the most profitable crop due to slave labor. During the Civil War, most of the white families in Accokeek were Confederate sympathizers. The Accokeek area, known as the Piscataway District, had a slave population of 1,600 out of a total population of 3,060 including 175 free blacks and 142 slaveholders. On the 1861 Martenet’s map, the features included 2 blacksmith shops, 2 Episcopal churches, 2 fisheries, a boat landing, 2 Methodist churches, 2 mills, a Parsonage, 4 school houses, a steamboat, a steam saw, and 3 post offices, including the Accokeek post office.

Henry and Alice Ferguson settled in Accokeek when they purchased Hard Bargain Farm overlooking the Potomac River in 1922 as a vacation retreat. Between 1935–39 Alice Ferguson initiated archaeological excavations. A fort from the Susquehannock people, which was demolished in 1675, was found. In 1957, US Senator Frances P. Bolton founded the Accokeek Foundation. The Foundation was used to purchase 200 acres of land in Piscataway Park to help preserve the area.

In 1960, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) wanted to build a water treatment plant in Mockley Point, which was on the Accokeek shoreline. Since it would disrupt the view of Mount Vernon and Fort Washington Park, various people and organizations protested against it. In 1961, a law was signed by President John F. Kennedy in order to designate 133 acres around Mockley Point as a national landmark. Both the Accokeek Foundation and the Alice Ferguson Foundation donated another 505 acres to the landmark. As a result, WSSC was not allowed to build the plant there; however, a plant was built in the 1960s in the surrounding area.

In 1990, Accokeek officially became a CDP (Census Designated Place) when the US Census Bureau defined the place’s boundaries. In 2008, eight people were killed in an illegal street race.

Resources: Wikipedia Accokeek history; Images of America: Accokeek by Kenneth Bryson (from Google Books); “The Generall Historie…” by John Smith written in 1624 ; Martenet’s Map of Prince George’s County Maryland by Simon J. Martenet C.E. (1861)