Adams County Bicentennial Tidbits

April, 2000


4-1-00-          HOSPITAL FOOD DRIVE

          The 1935 county wide annual food drive for the Annie M. Warner Hospital, Gettysburg, was declared "most successful." The tally of food donated included: 527 cans of vegetables; 215 cans of fruit; 750 jars of fruit; and 395 jars of vegetables. The 1,887 quarts of food "was the largest amount ever received in a food drive for the local institution." The drive was a major source of "income" for the hospital. As the food was served to patients, cost of a hospital stay was reduced somewhat. In addition to foods, other gifts including financial donations were gathered. One gift received during the food drive was a sack of cement.


4-2-00-          Adams first settlers established churches

          Although there was more religious freedom in colonial Pennsylvania than almost anywhere else in the world, and although this meant that every immigrant was now free to advocate and support no religion at all, the evidence indicates strongly that the large majority of those who came into the present Adams County before 1800 wanted some organized religious activity in their midst.

          The Lutheran patriarch, Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, did encounter a man in eastern Pennsylvania who pointed to his dung-yard and proudly exclaimed that this was his god, a deity more reliable and worthwhile than any other, but almost all Adams County families wanted to have their children baptized, their young married and their dead buried under religious auspices. They also wanted to hear the Gospel preached and receive communion.

          If we can believe the testimony of many ministers of the time, it did not take the newcomers to Pennsylvania long at all to realize that the churches being established there lacked any effective temporal authority other than that of the members themselves. This was at once a burden and an opportunity. The provincial government would not purchase land for buildings (nor would it give a discount from the established price), it would not be a party to training and ordaining ministers, it would not discipline ministers unless they violated provincial law, and it would not pay salaries for ministers or schoolmasters. Since trained ministers were in very short supply, the burden of establishing religious institutions fell heavily upon laymen, few of whom had any previous experience in such activity.

          In 1761, a German Reformed pastor, in a report to those who had sent him to America, expressed what was happening in Pennsylvania as concisely as anyone could. "It is almost impossible to convey any idea with how much difficulty all these congregations are maintained. Everything, so to speak, has been started anew." He might have added that the Reformed church in America was not going to be a carbon copy of the one in Germany, Switzerland or Holland.

          Given the scope of the task which confronted the newcomers, who had to start homesteads and schools anew as well as churches, it is a measure of the power of their religious yearnings that we can trace the beginnings of organized religious life in Adams County to the 1740s, a decade or less since the first settlers arrived.

          The Adams County pioneers had come from different ethnic backgrounds and from European churches which ran the gamut from Roman Catholic through Presbyterian to Brethren. As the following examples demonstrate, somewhat revised versions of these churches soon began to take shape in the county.

The First churches

          Among the very first settlers in the present county, who entered in the early and middle 1730s, were Germans who established their homes in the very southeastern part, in what was called the Conewago settlement. As early as May 1735, a Lutheran pastor, John Casper Stoever, who lived near New Holland, in Lancaster County, began visiting them about twice a year. During the next seven years, he baptized about 60 children in this settlement. A German Reformed pastor may have made similar visits. The Lutheran congregation in the Conewago settlement (now St. Matthew's in Hanover) was organized in 1743 and built its first church in that year. The Reformed followed suit a few years later. When the Rev. Michael Schlatter visited them in 1747, he found a Reformed congregation already organized; it is now Christ United Church of Christ, east of Littlestown.

          The persons responsible for establishing and managing Digges Choice, a large Maryland grant in the Conewago settlement, were Roman Catholics. Although very few in number at the time, in the early 1740s they took steps to establish a congregation. In the absence of parish records, the earliest convincing evidence of its existence is the first claim for church land in the form of a warrant issued by Pennsylvania authorities in 1743. The first small log church for the Conewago Chapel congregation may have been standing at that time.

          In June 1740, soon after perhaps as many as 150 Scotch-Irish families had settled in central Adams County, in what was called the Marsh Creek settlement, they asked their existing church judicatory, the Presbytery of Donegal, to provide them with someone to preach and administer the sacraments. Two years later they asked the presbytery for help in deciding where to locate a meeting house in the settlement. What followed was a recommendation that they establish two congregations. The result was the Upper Marsh Creek church (now the Gettysburg Presbyterian church) and the Great Conewago church (now the congregation in Hunterstown). Later in the 1740s, when a split occurred in the main branch of Presbyterians in the colonies, a third congregation in the county resulted. It is now the Lower Marsh Creek church.

          On March 19, 1745, Rev. Jacob Lischy, a German Reformed pastor recently come into York County, accepted an invitation to visit a number of German Lutherans and Reformed already settled in what came to be called the Bermudian settlement. He preached, baptized several children, and may have administered communion. He may also have formally organized a congregation. In any event, the people met in homes and barns until Lutherans and Reformed joined to build a union church, for both congregations, which was dedicated in April 1754.

          Late in the summer of 1746, Rev. Richard Locke, as Anglican minister then living in Lancaster, accepted an invitation similar to the one extended to Jacob Lishy. He visited the Anglicans in the Bermudian settlement, preached to them, and organized a congregation. They responded by building a log church, 30 by 20 feet in size, that was completed by 1748. He told his superiors in Europe that "10 years ago there was not a white man" in all these parts.

More groups

          The members of the churches already mentioned who established and supported congregations in Adams County in the 1740s were not alone in what they were doing. There were other recent arrivals who belonged to religious groups which rejected much more long established Roman Catholic belief and practice than did Lutherans, Reformed, Presbyterians and Anglicans.

          Morgan Edwards, who published a history of the Baptists in the colonies in 1770, wrote that the German Baptist Brethren (some called simply the Brethren) living along the Conewago Creek in both York and Adams counties had organized a congregation in 1741, even naming its members, but he gave no credible source for this date. For more than a century they worshiped in houses and barns. Their first meeting house (not to be called a church) in Adams County dates from about 1850.

          From the late 1730s, there were members of the Society of Friends, or Quakers, living in northern York and Adams counties, from Newberry township in the east to Menallen in the west. By the middle 1740s the Menallen and Huntington meetings for worship had come into existence. By the end of the decade both may have erected their first simple log meeting houses (not to be called churches).

          There were also a few Mennonites in the Conewago settlement, in southeastern Adams and southwestern York counties. Those living in Adams may have had no organization of their own until much later.

          When the government of Adams County began functioning in January 1800, there were already 30 congregations in existence. Today there are four times that many.
Next week: A brief overview of religious developments in the past two centuries.


4-3-00-          FOUND THEIR MARBLES

          Marble competition for boys ranging from six to 14 years and sponsored by the College YMCA was front page news for The Gettysburg Times during the late 1920s. In April 1927 more than 90 boys entered the contests. "From hard-fought games... Crawford Trostle emerged senior champ and Harold Sharp junior victor." The reporter got into the excitements of the games. "Their aim, coolness under the press of their adversaries" shooting and pluckiness stood the new champs in good stead when the 'snipping' was thickest." The marble competition was but one of several events sponsored each year by the YMCA's boys committee for the community during Boys' Week.


4-4-00-          COVERED BRIDGES

          Replacing a 213 feet long bridge that was destroyed by an ice-flow in 1825, the first covered bridge in Adams County was built the following year across the Greater Conewago Creek at Geiselmen's Mill near East Berlin. The number of covered bridges grew. By 1832 there were "5 notable bridges in the county, ... " By 1860, there were 19 covered bridges serving traffic of the day. In 1952 there were 24 covered bridges in use for traffic throughout the county. Fifteen covered bridges were still in use in 1959. The number decreased. The bridge on Jacks Mountain Road, east of Fairfield, continues to serve automobile traffic.


4-5-00-          SEWING

          With two electric and three treadle sewing machines, 20 new chairs, a supply of coal and the "former colored school building at the corner of Franklin and West High Streets" (Gettysburg) for its location, a WPA (Works Progress Administration) sewing project began in March 1936. The Pa's projects were responses to the nation's continuing depression. Fourteen women of the Borough, both black and white, began "duty as seamstresses." The aim of the WPA project was "to train women in the art of sewing" while providing gainful employment. The women were to work seven hours a day, five days a week for one year.


4-6-00-          NO GUSHERS

          There was neither a "gusher" nor a "fevered-rush" from the search for underground natural resources in the county. In December, 1920 Gillian Vance, a former member of the Royal Engineers of England and overseer of oil prospecting in York County, was seeking to purchase land in Franklin Township for oil exploration. The report was that Vance had "found indications decidedly good... " No gushers were reported. In 1885, Paris Err near Hunterstown discovered some yellow rock which was refined as "copper gold." Err abandoned the mine. From 1903 to 1916 the Reliance Mining and Milling Company of Arizona worked the mine. A gold rush was not in the making.


4-7-00-          TELEPHONE SERVICE

          Providing a means for rapid communication, telephone service came to the county in the last years of the 19th century. In August 1895 telephone wires were stretched between McSherrystown and Hanover, offering the first service. The Adams County Telephone Company organized in 1896 gave Gettysburg commercial service in the fall of that year, beginning with but seven customers. "The telephone instruments and switchboard were crude affairs in 1896. Much trouble was experienced by early users due to the uncertainty of the service and the many mechanical defects …" Wider use of the services came several years later. Lulu Wills and Leah Snitzer were the first telephone operators in Gettysburg.


4-8-00-          RESERVOIR

          As towns grew so did the need for safe water. The Gettysburg Water Company, having built a reservoir on the Baltimore road hill in 1832, piped water to the town's hydrants. In 1847 a second company began service with 26 customers, including taverns, individuals, a hat maker and the town's hydrants. Many changes were yet to come elsewhere in the county. As early as 1879 Littlestown provided public water using artesian wells. In 1893 water pipes were installed along McSherrystown's main street. "Pure mountain water" was piped into Arendtsville in 1910. By 1920 residents of Abbottstown were no longer totally reliant on wells and cisterns.


4-9-00-          Lutheran, Reformed churches dominated in 1800

          When the government of the new Adams County began functioning in January 1800, there were already 30 congregations in existence. Some had been functioning for between 50 and 60 years. Four buildings which were standing in 1800 are still standing today: Conewago Chapel, Great Conewago Presbyterian at Hunterstown, Lower Marsh Creek Presbyterian, and Huntington Friends meeting.

          In 1776 the Presbyterian might have been the largest church in what is now Adams County. Its members had contributed more than most others to the political life of York County. Two of the first three commissioners of the new county in 1800 were Presbyterians. Five of the six congregations of 1800 were located in the Marsh Creek settlement. The first church to be built in Gettysburg was Presbyterian.

          After 1800 the church was weakened by migration of many of its members out of the county. During the century two of its congregations dissolved. Efforts to establish congregations in such place as York Springs and Fairfield were not permanently successful. Four Presbyterian congregations remain.

          Already by 1800 Lutheran and Reformed congregations exceeded Presbyterian in number. These two German churches, each with eight congregations, were so closely related in many ways they should be considered together. Twelve of the congregations worshipped in union churches. They were built and maintained by Lutherans and Reformed, who then shared use of them on alternative Sundays.

          An 1832 gazetteer called Adams County prevailingly Lutheran. He should have written prevailingly Lutheran and Reformed. Their growth from small beginnings before the revolution resulted in large part from sizable migrations into the county by Germans, most of them from the present Lehigh County. Between 1776 and 1800 they formed 10 new congregations, and five new union churches.

          The growth of these churches continued in the 19th century. Gradually, as membership increased, the union churches were dissolved and each congregation went its own way. The last union church in Adams County disappeared in 1963.

          In 1957 the Reformed church became part of the National United Church of Christ. Twenty- six Lutheran and 15 United Church of Christ congregations remain.

          There was another Reformed church in Adams County in 1800. It was Dutch rather than German, and was peopled by what remained of the large colony of Holland or Low Dutch residents who migrated into central Adams County in the 1760s. After the revolution, many of these persons left the area and their church was dissolved.

          By 1800 the Roman Catholic church had already begun to grow from its very small beginnings among early Marylanders in the Conewago settlement, as migrants from Catholic communities in eastern Pennsylvania arrived and became members. By 1800 there was already a second congregation in the county, at Littlestown. During the 19th century six more congregations came into existence, all but one in the southern part of the county. Immigrants who settled in the county in that century contributed to the growth. Eight Roman Catholic congregations remain.

          Although the Methodist church in the United States did not assume separate existence until 1784, there were preachers of that persuasion in the colonies before the revolution. The first Methodist congregation in Adams County, at Rock Chapel, took shape in the 1780s. During the 19th century some 15 Methodist congregations were organized in all parts of the county, several by black residents. Not all of these congregations survived.

          The same religious desires which resulted in the Methodist church also yielded two similar new churches at about the same time. Most of their members were German in origin. One of these, the United Brethern, had 19 congregations in all parts of the county by 1900. The second, the Evangelical, eventually formed seven congregations. Many of these remained small and some did not last very long.

          No one familiar with the similarities in doctrine and practice among the Methodists, United Brethren and Evangelicals was surprised when in 1968 most of their remaining congregations joined to form the United Methodists church. Nineteen United Methodist and three United Brethren congregations (which did not join the union) remain.

          Two early churches in Adams County, both of which were British in origin and located in northern townships, were the Society of Friends, or Quakers, and the Anglican. Along with the Presbyterians, both contributed to the political leadership of colonial York County. The American Revolution severely tested the members of both of these churches. The Quakers were convinced pacifists. The head of the Anglican church was the King of England. Both groups survived the difficult times. The Anglicans emerged as the Protestant Episcopal church.

          The two Quaker organizations of 1800 survive. After a long hiatus, meetings at Huntington are announced in the newspaper for once a month. There are now three Quaker meetings. The one Episcopal church of 1800 no longer exists; its place has been taken by one in Gettysburg.

          Another of the earliest religious groups in the county was called the German Baptist Brethren or simply Brethren. They belonged to one congregation whose members lived in both York and Adams counties, and who met in private homes until about 1850. After they formed two congregations, those in Adams (the Upper Conewago congregation) eventually owned six meeting houses, only one of which remains. A second congregation, known as Marsh Creek, was organized after 1800. Four Brethren congregations remain.

          The Mennonites in the county had no known organization there until about 1824. There are now three congregations, in different parts of the county.

          Although it has long been the largest Protestant church in the country, the Baptist is a relative newcomer to Adams County. There are now 14 congregations to be found in all parts of the county; all but one of which date from after 1950.

          Additional religious organizations began appearing in Adams County about 1900. Some (such as the Disciple of Christ or the Church of God) were members of national churches. Others at least began as independent congregations. Especially since about 1950 this phenomenon has intensified, not only in the county, but also in other parts of the country, as many have decided that the long established churches did not meet their religious needs. There are now about 30 congregations in Adams County which fall into the "other" category.

          The first United States census in which questions were asked about religious organizations was taken in 1850, but not until 1906 did the Bureau of the Census, under a law passed in 1902, undertake the first comprehensive report on religious bodies. Among the questions asked of denominational officials, not of individuals, was the number of members in each church in each county. There was so much difficulty in getting the complete and accurate information which the law called for that the results were not published until 1910.

          The Adams County churches in 1906 with more than one hundred reported members were Lutheran (6, 289), Roman Catholic (4, 138), Reformed (3, 647), Methodist (919), United Brethren (617), Presbyterian (478), Brethren (471), and Friends (143).

          A more recent report covering the same subject lists the Adams County churches in 1990, in terms of membership, as follows: Roman Catholic (1), Lutheran (2), United Church of Christ (3), Methodist (4), Baptist (5), Assembly of God (6), Presbyterian (7), and Church of the Brethren (8). The Roman Catholic Church has occupied the first position since the 1960s.


4-10-00-         KONCLAVE

          Three thousand members of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of Pennsylvania pitched their tents on May 29, 1928 in Gettysburg "where the shrouded knights are holding forth" in their annual Konclave. They were welcomed by The Exalted Cyclops of the Gettysburg Klan. On the next day they were joined by several more Klansmen and Klanswomen. The Klan paraded through the Borough to the national cemetery and there held a brief ceremony. And what was the location of the Klan field? It had entrances on Breckenridge, High and Franklin streets. It was adjacent to the area where the majority of the town's Black population lived.


4-11-00-         JEREMIAH MORROW

          If told that Jeremiah Morrow (1771-1852) was an early governor of Ohio, we might reply: Why tell me? If told that he was born in the southwestern corner of the Manor of Maske, of sturdy Presbyterian parents, and that he spent his first 23 years in Adams County, we should be more interested. After working as a surveyor, teacher and farmer, Morrow entered upon a political career which lasted more than 40 years and included membership in the first Ohio state constitutional convention, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. He served as governor of Ohio for two terms (1822-1826). More than a decade later he returned to the U.S. House of Representatives. A biographer described him a "most unassuming" person who lived in "republican simplicity."


 4-12-00-         'PROFITS OF FRUIT'

          To discuss "Whether the raising of fruit is profitable in this County?" was a major agenda item for the Menallen Agricultural Society's meeting in March 1861. Some members asserted, "(We are) just beginning to open our eyes in regard to the cultivation and profits of fruit." Apples could be profitable if cultivated as they should be. Not all agreed. " I think every farmer should have an orchard, and raise sufficient for his own use, but believe that the raising of grain on the same amount of land would pay better than to devote too much towards fruit as a business." The answer to the question is well known.



          The Anti-Masonic Star a weekly newspaper with a narrow and intense commitment began publication in April 1830 at Gettysburg. Sharing the anti-masonic mood in the country and especially in Pennsylvania, the paper "will be opposed to Secret Societies. It will disclose the baneful secrets of Free Masonry; its oaths and obligations, and their pernicious effects upon society. It will use all honorable means to exterminate that dark institution -- believing its tendency to be irreligious, immoral and of an unfair and dangerous political character." Attack it did. The local Masons' Lodge in Gettysburg surrendered its charter in January 1832.


4-14-00-         POLITICAL NAME- CALLING IN 1830

          "Name- calling" is a favorite activity in political campaigns. William S. Cobean, a candidate for Adams County sheriff in 1830, felt the necessity to set the record clear. His advertisement in the local papers read in part: A report is in circulation that I am a Free- mason, calculated to injure my election… I am not, never have been nor do I believe ever shall be a Free- mason. Bernhart Gilbert, also a candidate for sheriff, responded. Denying any part in the "circulation" he added, "I have said he was, and still believe him to be the candidate of the Masonic Party." Cobean won the election.



          Enforcing prohibition could be dangerous. In December 1924 state troops in the county seized a large amount of contraband liquor, including brand names of White Horse, Old Smuggler and Black Rod. It was placed in the county jail for safe keeping. In April, the county judge ordered the sheriff to dispose of the liquor with 25 cases going to the Annie M. Warner Hospital for medical purposes and the remainder taken to a "some secluded waste ground and destroyed." The sheriff and two deputies would be the "pouring party." The time and place was not disclosed as the county official preferred "to be unmolested when he executes the court order."


4-16-00-         Slavery in ‘upper end’ dying out by 1800

          When the first United States census was taken in 1790, there were 3,737 slaves listed for Pennsylvania. With 499, or more than one-eighth of the state total, York had more slaves than any other county. Most of these lived in the townships which became Adams County 10 years later.

          While the majority of slave owners living in the "upper end" told the census taker that they owned only one person, 22 stated that they had four or more slaves. Patrick McSherry in Germany Township owned five; Alexander Brown in Tyrone, six; Andrew Shriver in Littlestown, seven; Joshua Russell in Franklin, eight; and George Brinkerhoff in Straban, nine. The record was held by the Cochran family of Hamilton Township. William owned 11 and James owned six slaves.
Every York County slave owner in 1790 knew that in Pennsylvania slavery was a slowly dying institution. As part of their ambitious program for change, the radicals who then controlled the revolutionary government passed what they called "an act for the gradual abolition of slavery." In the preamble to the measure, they declared that it was not for them "to enquire why, in the creation of mankind, the inhabitants of the several parts of the earth were distinguished by a difference in feature or complexion." All anyone needs to know is that all humans "are the work of an Almighty Hand," and that "He, who placed them in their various situations, hath extended equally His care and protection to all." That being the case, "it becometh not us to counteract His mercies."

          Moving beyond the preamble, the legislators declared that all persons, including "negroes and mulattoes," born in Pennsylvania on and after March 1, 1780, "shall not be deemed and considered as servants for life or slaves." Consequently, life servitude or slavery of children born to slave mothers was "utterly taken away, extinguished and forever abolished." Children included in this act would become free, not immediately, but only upon reaching the age of 28 years. The provisions of this measure did not change the status of persons in Pennsylvania who were slaves when the act was passed.

          When the government of Adams County went into operation in 1800, the clerk of courts complied with a provision of the act of 1780 by beginning a register in which to enter such information as the names and dates of birth of all children born to slave mothers, the names of the mothers, and the names and occupations of the slaveowners. The purpose of this document - there was to be one in every county - was to create a public record of when the children of slave mothers would reach their full freedom. This old register, with entries made from 1800 to 1820, still exists. From it, we can determine that most of the slaveowners during these years were farmers. A few were millers. One, Alexander Dobbin, was a minister.

          When the census of 1800 was taken, there were still 114 slaves in Adams County. Ten years later, the number had dropped to 91. In 1820 there were 23. Then, for some reason yet to be determined, by 1830 the number had increased to 45. The decade which followed saw the visual disappearance of slavery in the count. By 1840, according to the census, but two remained, one in Huntington and one in Reading Township.

          The number of slaves diminished as some who were not included in the act of 1780 died, were sold by their owners or ran away. Others became free upon reaching the age of 28. There were still other ways to reduce the number. In 1817, from what he described as motives of humanity, James McSherry of Germany Township freed two of his slaves, one male and one female, both about 38 years old. In the will which she made in 1825, Barbara Wolford of Mount Pleasant Township promised freedom upon her death to her slave Plim. She ordered her son to use the sum of $100 for Plim's benefit "as he severally Stands in kneed thereof, to support him when he becomes old or affirm." She also left to him "his Bed and Beding." Unfortunately, years later, Plim, then living in Gettysburg and using the name Benjamin Craig, had to resort to legal assistance to claim what had clearly been promised to him.

          The Compiler for Dec. 27, 1858, reported the death on the previous Nov. 4 of Patience Hack, "but known more familiarly by the name of 'Old Tacy.’" The editor claimed that she was "perhaps the only slave then alive in Adams County, or perhaps in the State." Once belonging to a Hatten family in Huntington Township, she had outlived her husband and children. "She was very kindly taken care of and supported by Thomas Stephens, Esq., and lady," the editor stated, "up to the time of her death." According to the census of 1850, Patience Sibb (not Hack) aged 85, a slave, birthplace unknown, was then living in York Springs with Phoebe Pearson.

          As the number of slaves in Adams County declined and at length disappeared, the number of free blacks increased, more than tripling between 1800 and 1820. Between 1830 and 1860, the number averaged about 550. In some places, it declined precipitously. For example, in

          Hamiltonban and Liberty townships, the number of free blacks dropped from 150 to 33. In Straban it dropped from 66 to 6. By 1860 more than half of the county’s blacks were living in two areas: Gettysburg and Cumberland township (255) and Menallen and Butler townships (77), the latter being known as the Yellow Hill settlement.


4-17-00-         THE FIRST AUTO SHOW

          Runabouts, touring cars, sedans and roadsters, a total of 35 cars from cheap to high price representing more than a dozen makers, were on display at the first automobile show held at Eberhart’s garage on South Washington and Chambersburg streets was 15 cents. Harley- Davidson motorcycles were on exhibit also. Dealers from throughout the county – Gettysburg, Arendtsville, Biglerville, Littlestown, York Springs and New Oxford – were there to tell the merits of their cars and to make sales. A pleasant social event, the show was also profitable for the dealers.



          Peace, order and fairness were to be achieved at the Market House on Wednesdays and Saturdays by the Ordinance of March 1831 passed by the Gettysburg Council. No one in the Borough was permitted to buy provisions (except groceries, bread and grains) between sunset of the days before market and eight o’clock the next morning, except in the public market house. Licensed sellers were limited in what they could purchase: two dozen eggs; four pounds of butter, one peck of potatoes; and 20 pounds of smoked or dried meat. No person could purchase more than three fresh slaughtered hops. If butter was found not of full weight, it was confiscated by the Borough.


4-20-00-         SCOUTS ORGANIZE

          "A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverentÓ no matter what the individual’s ethnic background, but it did determine segregation. In its August 25, 1924 issue the Gettysburg Times announced the formation of "a troop of colored Boy Scouts in Gettysburg." Basil Biggs of York was selected as scoutmaster; George Cook, patrol leader; Richard Thomas, assistant patrol leader; and Edward Miller, scribe. Alan Brown was chosen a acting scoutmaster. Other troop members included: William Curry, Herbert Miller, Milton and William Penn, Albert Stanton, Dwight Thomas, and Norman and William Washington.


4-21-00-         LET THERE BE LIGHT

          With 15 kerosene lanterns fastened to six feet high poles Biglerville was lighting its streets in 1907. "All lamps are to burn from dusk to 9:30 p.m., except Saturday until 10 p.m. ... every night except cloudless moon lit nights." The lamplighter received a salary of $104.99 and was fined 10 cents for each lamp that was not lighted on each night. In 1921 the Orrtanna Electric Company already supplying electricity to Orrtanna and Cashtown offered to furnish it for Biglerville streets, homes and business places. It proposed to erect 11 miles of electric light poles (42 poles per mile) from Orrtanna through Castown, McKnightstown, Mummasburg and on to Biglerville.



          Anatomical experts in Paris, Berlin, Heidelberg, Vienna and physicians in the United States told him it was impossible. In 1888 Rufus B. Weaver, a Gettysburg native and 1862 graduate of Pennsylvania (Gettysburg) College, spent all of his spare time in the dissecting room of Hahnemann Hospital, Philadelphia. Carefully dissecting a human cadaver, he lifted out every tiny filament of the nervous system, coating each with a thin layer of white lead to stiffen and preserve. Preserving the filaments in relation to the spinal cord, Weaver was able to mount and display the entire Human Cerebo-Spinal Nervous System thus creating a significant teaching tool for medical students.


4-23-00-         Resident boasted of Adams' water

          One Adams Countian made these extravagant claims in the late 19th century: " is not hazarding much in saying that, for domestic purposes, Adams County is the best watered spot on the globe. Certainly there can be none superior to it. Springs bubble up their sparkling waters everywhere; the silvery, cool, sweet mountain streams ripple; the clear valley brooks winding their way in the deep shade and bright sunshine are upon every side, all of clear, pure granite water...."

          To obtain water for domestic purposes, residents were dependent primarily upon wells and cisterns during the 19th century. As towns increased in population, the "clear, pure" water often became something less. Refuse water ran into the streets. So much so that "the stench, especially in warm weather, is not only disagreeable, but dangerous to public health." The outdoor privy and cesspools were utilized. Animals often roamed freely in the towns, leaving their waste behind. Pollution of domestic water sources resulted.

          Throughout the 19th century and into the 20th century, the county's newspaper reported frequently the "invasions" of typhoid fever, a disease frequently traced to impure water. The need to supply safe water for town citizens became increasingly apparent.

          In 1832, largely through the efforts of Thaddeus Stevens, a water company was incorporated in Gettysburg, bringing water from a spring on the south edge of the borough. Though some residents were supplied with water, providing more adequate fire protection was also desired. Three hydrants were erected in the borough "to be used solely for extinguishing fires."

          Improvements were made in the town's "waterworks," and a new company was formed. In 1847, the water company had 26 customers, including individuals, several taverns, a hat maker shop and the borough's hydrants.

          Near the end of the 1800s, other towns and boroughs began to develop waterworks. In 1893 the McSherrystown council granted a license to the McSherrystown Water Company to lay water mains and pipes along the town streets.

          The first water for domestic use to be piped into Abbottstown was in 1893. Over time improvements were made in the water system, and by 1920 residents were no longer dependent on wells and cisterns for water.

          Littlestown voters in November 1895 approved debt up to $15,000 for the building of a waterworks. "Soft water, fully adapted to household purposes" was piped in from artesian wells. Another $15,000 bond was approved in 1915. A property with several springs on it was bought, greatly increasing the borough's water supply.

          "To furnish water for the town for fire protection as well as for private use and consumption" was the plan of the water company formed in Arendtsville in January 1910. "It is planned to pipe pure mountain water from the property of George Albert about two miles from Arendtsville. It is also the plan to place the reservoir on the farm of Mrs. Raffensperger above Arendtsville. There will be ample fall to allow sufficient fire protection without the use of an engine."

          The towns and boroughs of the county have worked to provide citizens with safe water for domestic use. Whether or not there are "inexhaustible lakes of pure cold sweet water," municipalities will face the needs of an increasing population.



          Fearful of an outbreak of a typhoid fever epidemic in the summer of 1920, the county medical authorities prohibited persons from swimming in Marsh Creek above the Gettysburg Water Company pumping station as a preventive measure. Concern was heightened as a camp had been established along Marsh Creek by the construction company building the Lincoln Highway west of Gettysburg. "How would the people of the town like to drink water after several scores of men washed in it every night? ... We cannot afford to undergo the risk of a typhoid fever epidemic..." A watchman was stationed at the "Old Swimming Hole" to keep out the bathers, both the workers and the locals.



          Warfare on dogs was necessary. Within 10 nights during June 1924, 11 sheep were killed and eight wounded by roaming dogs on farms in Cumberland Township "where more registered sheep are bred than in any area of like size in the world." The attache of the state department of agriculture in charge of dog laws in the area vowed that every effort would be made to protect the interest of the sheep raisers. The "effort" was severe. The attache intended to kill all dogs, whether licensed or not, "which are not in the custody of their owners, either penned or tied, from sunset to sunrise" as the law required. Dogs roaming in the night around the sheep farms would be killed, regardless as to whom they belonged.



          Several recent biographies of Abraham Lincoln have emphasized how deeply he felt the loss of his mother in his 10th year. Interestingly enough, the loss did not prompt him ever to erect a monument of any kind over her grave. Learning the identity of the person who did place such a marker, Philip L. Houck (1835-1912) of Gettysburg wrote to Peter E. Studebaker (1836-1897) to learn more of the details. The answer came from his grandson, who said that his grandfather "was an intense admirer of Lincoln." The stone bore the statement, "Erected by a friend of her martyred son, 1879." Peter E. Studebaker was born in Ohio, about a year after his parents left their blacksmith and wagonmaking Adams county business.



          In February 1936, Harold G. Hoffman, Governor of New Jersey, granted a 30-day reprieve to Bruno Richard Hauptmann, the convicted and condemned kidnapper of Charles and Ann Lindberg's son. Having doubts concerning the fairness and adequacy, he ordered additional investigation. The two Lutheran ministers in Gettysburg, Dwight F. Putman of Christ Lutheran Church and Spencer W. Aungst of St. James, received a circular letter from John Mattiesen, spiritual adviser to Hauptmann urging them to write to the Governor commending him for his stand in the kidnap-murder. Putman "threw the letter in the waste basket." Angust decided to ignore the request.



          "Sunday Menu Breakfast -- bread, butter and coffee. Dinner -- bread, butter and coffee. Supper -- bread, butter, coffee and cake." The Gettysburg Times in December 1920 made public charges against the administration of the county's almshouse. There was the charge that "inmates have not had proper food for months." One inmate wrote, "... many days I had only enough to live and often in night I suffered and could not sleep from hunger." In a long response, the Directors of the Poor attempted to dismiss the charges. The newspaper persisted, adding fact after fact found in the reports of the recently resigned almshouse physician and warned the administration of "serious consequences" if changes did not occur.


4-30-00-          Village of Guernsey developed with railroad

          The village of Guernsey, situated about two miles northeast of Biglerville, was established between the fall of 1883 and the fall of 1888.

          The May 10, 1882, Star and Sentinel reported that an executive committee of 15 Adams Countians was formed until a new railroad company, the Gettysburg and Harrisburg, was officially organized on Oct. 6, 1882. One of committee's vice-presidents was Cyrus S. Griest, whose farm, located adjacent to the Sunny Side school, straddled a section of a county road that stretched from the Newville Road north of Middletown, now Biglerville (Route 34), to Center Mills. This 1855 east-west roadway today is West Guernsey and Guernsey roads.

          Progress on the GHRR was faithfully covered in the Gettysburg newspapers. By late fall of 1883, construction reached Griest's farm. A 20-foot-deep railroad cut was dug which severed the country road. The Dec. 19, 1883, Star and Sentinel reported that "...the trestle at Sunny Side is now being built...." This trestle was the initial version of the now controversial Guernsey or "Humpback" bridge. The Guernsey Bridge ensured that the public had unhindered and relatively safe travel over the railroad to the grist mill at Center Mills.

          The arrival of the railroad at Sunny Side spurred the construction of a train depot, a warehouse, a creamery, a post office, a store, and three residences:

  • Sunny Side Station and Pricket & Michener Warehouse: The Nov. 14, 1883, Star and Sentinel reported that Josia Pricket had purchased 2.5 acres and the railroad "switch" of Cyrus S. Griest, and was then building "quite a large warehouse." Originally located on land northeast of the bridge, these structures no longer stand.
  • John Heiges House: The Sept. 23, 1883, Star and Sentinel reported that a neighbor, John Heiges, was building a new house near Sunny Side. This dwelling stands on the north side of Guernsey Road about a quarter mile east of Guernsey Bridge.
  • Tyson Mansion: On March 13, 1884, Griest sold a two-acre tract next to the southwest corner of the bridge to his brother-in-law, Andrew J. Koser, on which he built his home a year later. This house was enlarged about 1902 by the Charles J. Tyson family.
  • Griest Creamery: The Nov. 18, 1884, Star and Sentinel noted that "C.S. Griest (was) rapidly pushing forward the new creamery building at Sunny Side. Charles Michener... is now in Lancaster County learning to operate the machinery, and will be ready to take charge of the business by January 1st..." During the 1920s, the building served as the Quaker Valley Country Club's club house. This structure is now a private residence standing a short distance north of the west end of Guernsey Bridge.
  • Charles Michener House: The partnership of Prickett and Michener dissolved during the summer of 1885. Three years later, the tract was trisected. Michener, a future Griest son-in-law, retained the center portion on which he built a "new house" that year, a two-story, brick dwelling that still stands at the northeast corner of the intersection of Quaker Run and Guernsey roads.
  • Griest Sisters Store: Griest sold a parcel to two of his children, Emilie Belle and Mary E. Griest, on which a store, a two and-a-half-story brick structure, was built during 1888. This structure still stands just northeast of the bridge.


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Copyright © 1999 Adams County Bicentennial Committee