Noted for the tall white spire of the Zion Lutheran Church, Middletown has been framed by its picturesque valley for over two centuries. German Protestants, fleeing persecution in Europe, founded the community before the American Revolution. Michael Jesserong, who laid out the town, named it Middletown as he sold four lots to Conrad Crone in 1768. No one is sure what the name means. Perhaps it refers to the community as the center of its own Middletown Valley, midway between South Mountain and Braddock Heights.
That valley, with its rich argriculture, gave the town a ready market from the start. When the National Road came through in the early 1800's, Middletown became a welcome respite between two steep mountain ridges. Harness, blacksmith and carriage shops joined the tavers and hotels that serviced the parade of travelers passing on Main Street. Locals began to refer to their street as "the main road from Baltimore to the western states." The "main road" also brought several Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War. Middletown was ransomed from Confederate General Jubal Early in 1864 for the grand sum of $1,500.