Ellsworth was incorporated in 1800 but was first settled by the British in 1763. Situated on the Union River, the thriving industries were boat building and lumbering. Several lumber mills and a few grist mills sprang up and Ellsworth became a center of commerce. Ellsworth became Hancock County's county seat in 1837 and remains so today.
In 1933 Ellsworth suffered a major catastrophe when much of the downtown was destroyed by fire. With over 130 buildings destroyed including City Hall, the city was devastated but rapidly rebuilt and has survived to become the area's commercial and service center.
The beautiful Congregational Church was built in 1818 by Captain Meletiah Jordan who also built the present City Library which was a home for his son.
Colonel John Black gave the city another one of its historical buildings when he built his home, Woodlawn, in the 1820's, now a beautifully restored museum.