Pennsylvania Genealogy Trails & History

Abbottstown, Pennsylvania

History and Directory of the Boroughs of Gettysburg, Oxford, Littlestown,
York Springs, Berwick, and East Berlin
Adams County, PA.;
With Historical Collections

Published by John T. Reily

J. E. Wible Printer, Cor. of Washington and North Streets
Abbottstown, situated in the township of Berwick, in the county of Adams, where the Hanover and Berlin turnpike crosses the York and Gettysburg turnpike, is the oldest town in the county. It was laid out in 1753, by John Abbott. The first lot was purchased by Jacob Pattison on the eigth of October, 1763. Quite a number of the deeds of John Abbott, and Alice his wife, of Berwick township, county of York, and Province of Pennsylvania, are still in the hands of persons owning property which he sold. These deeds were printed at Ephratae, Lancaster county, in 1763. From one of these indentures it is seen that a lot of ground was sold to George Miller for "Three Pounds," on the first of October, 1781, and Tobias Kepner and W. Momeger were witnesses to the transaction. In 1786 George Miller, potter, sold this property to John Ditty, blacksmith, for one hundred pounds.

John Abbott had two sons, Thomas and Edward. He gave to his son Thomas all of his land along the north side of the York and Gettysburg turnpike ; and that which lies on the south side he gave to his son Edward. It is said that they did not prosper—one ultimately dying a pauper—and the land of their father passed into the hands of strangers. Thomas had a daughter, who is the mother of Dr. Abbott Carnes and of Mr. Calvin Carnes, at this time worthy citizens of the town laid out by their great-grandfather. Dr. Abbott Carnes relates a story which he often heard his mother tell. When the last company of wild Indians roamed through the town, they called at her house for something to eat. She gave them a ham, which they ate in Baugher's meadow, now owned by Mr. Daniel Baehr, and then departed, never to return.

The first house has been torn away. It stood where Mrs. Agnes Wolff now resides. Some of the logs and other material were used in building the house now owned by Mrs. Grove. A large stone house in the east end of the town, belonging to the estate of William Gitt, bears this inscription: "Built by G. H. A. D. 1781."

The location of the town is elevated. From the square, at which point the turnpikes cross, the ground descends in all directions; and hence is always free from mud. The land around is of excellent quality. Splendid crops repay the toil of the husbandman. The large barns and good farm houses attest the fertility of the soil and the industry of the tiller. In the south and southeast loom up the Pigeon Hills, large enough to form a respectable mountain. These hills certainly add greatly to the beauty of the scenery, and their wild picturesqueness beget emotions of grandeur in the mind of every beholder. They abound in timber of first-class quality, and for years, if not for all time, will be the chief depository on which the neighboring farmers must depend for fencing material. It also is supposed that immense deposits of rich minerals lie hidden in those hills. Traces of coal and of copper have sometimes been found. A good quality of stone coal was discovered in quarrying stone for the Reformed church, in June, 1843, a short distance below the town. Also a small vein was found in digging the foundation of the Paradise Catholic church, near Abbottstown. Several years ago a company was formed for mining purposes, and after working for several weeks on the farm of Mr. Henry Miller, one mile south of town, in tracing what was supposed to be a vein of coal, it was found tp be lignite, and was abandoned.

Years ago there was a vast amount of travel through Abbottstown, it being on the turnpike road leading from Philadelphia through Columbia, York, Gettysburg and Chambersburg to Pittsburg. On the stage lines of this thoroughfare thousands of passengers traveled annually, while merchandise, in immense quantities, was carried on wagons. The farmers of the lower end of the Cumberland Valley, in hauling their grain to Baltimore, entered the turnpike at Berlin and then passed through Abbotts- town to Hanover, where they joined the Carlisle and Baltimore turnpike and had a good road to the city. Old citizens tell of the time when the town square and streets were crowded with wagons and horses, and when the teamsters and travelers filled up the hotels.

The turnpike from York to Gettysburg was built in 1818-19, at a cost of $4,000 per mile. And the turnpike from Berlin to Hanover was made in 1816-17.

It was natural that a place so felicitously located, should, with the progress of the country, desire the advantages of more rapid transit, by which to hold the travel and trade, which was being diverted to other channels. Hence we find that as early as 1835 the question of a railroad through Abbottstown was agitated by its citizens. In 1836 surveys were made by Dr. Pfeiffer for the extension of the Wrightsville and York railroad through Abbottstown and Oxford to Gettysburg, to connect there with the so-called tapeworm. The road was located, over eight hundred thousand dollars were expended and the project was abandoned in 1838-39. Had not political animosity frustrated this plan, this no doubt today would be on the main line between Philadelphia and Pittsburg.

After several years of agitation on the part of the citizens, in which Sebastian Haeffer, Sr., Col. Geo. Ickes, Michael Hoffman, Frederick Dellone and Wm. Bittinger took an especial interest in raising a subscription, a survey was made in 1856 by Joseph S. Gitt, C. E. The effort however was not successful. The matter then rested till 1865 when a survey was made from Oxford through Abbottstown to York and the Susquehanna river. It was expected that this road would be built but also failed.

In 1872, Mr. Maltby, who had purchased the Hanover and Gettysburg railroad, ordered another survey. He did not receive as hearty a response from the citizens of York as he thought the interests of the case demanded, and soon after he sold his road to the H. J. & H. R. R. Company. On the completion of the Short Line, the project of a road from Abbottstown to York was abandoned, perhaps forever.

The citizens now felt that they must look in another direction, and strive to get on a line from Harrisburg to Baltimore. In accordance with this plan surveys were made by Jos. S. Gitt, in 1875-6, and a road was located from Red Hill, on the H. & G. R. R., five miles west of Hanover, through Abbottstown to East Berlin. This road is now completed, built of the best material and in the most substantial manner, and is doing a large and remunerative business. The people of Abbottstown and vicinity acted nobly in the work of constructing this road. But to no one is greater praise due than to Mr. Wm. Bittinger, both for personal influence and pecuniary aid in making this project a success. A few short links yet, to be made, and it will form a new line from Harrisburg to Baltimore as direct as the Northern Central, with much easier curves and far lighter grades, passing through a country more thickly settled and more fertile in soil.


Saint John's Lutheran congregation was established during the last century. The first building was of logs and weatherboarded. It was destroyed by fire in 1829. Dr. F. E. Vandersloot, of Philadelphia, was then a young man and was spending the evening at the house of Jacob Fahnestock, Sr., afterwards his father-in-law. Dr. Vandersloot and Mr. G. Ickes were the first persons at the fire. When they arrived, there was no fire in the lower part of the church but the gallery was in a blaze. Mr. J. Fahnestock and his son Jacob went into the church when the steeple was in flames, and the sparks were falling down into the church, took the cloth from the altar, secured the cup and pitcher of the communion service, took the pipe from the stove and conveyed all out safely, though with great danger to themselves. In this fire were destroyed the old papers and the books of the church which now renders it impossible to give the desired accuracy as to the early dates of its organization. It is thought that some runaway negroes were the incendiaries, since a few days before several had been detained in the lock-up, and on regaining their freedom declared that they would remember the town and repay in a manner not desirable.

The present edifice is built of brick, and has recently been remodeled and repainted. The corner-stone was laid, with appropriate ceremonies, on the nth of June, 1830. The record shows that the following ministers were present: Rev. Jonathan Ruthrauff, pastor, Rev. Geo. Schmucker, D. D., of York, J. Oswald, D. D., York, A. H. Lochman, of Harrisburg, Charles Schaeffer of Philadelphia, S. Gutelius, of Hanover, and Ferdinand Edward Vandersloot. Nicholas Henry, George Baugher, John Wolf and' Joseph Carl composed the building committee. Tobias Kepner and Nicholas Henry were the elders. Joseph Carl, Jonas Henry and Joseph Berlin were the deacons ; Joseph R. King, the treasurer. This congregation was served by the ministers as they appear in this order: Geo. Eager, 1768-76; Schroeder, 1780-87; Grob, 1788-99; Rabenack, 1804-5; RaY- man, 1807-19; Meltzheimer, 1820-24; Jonathan Ruthrauff, 1829-36, during whose pastorate the new church was built, and who was called to the congregation in Lebanon ; Leonard Gerhart, 1837-38, called to Elizabethtown ; Peter Scheurer, 1839-42, called to churches near Hanover; Wm. Heilig, 1842-45, called to Mt. Joy ; Charles Witmer, 1846-50, called to church in Cumberland county ; Leonard Gerhart, 1850-61; Daniel J. Hauer, D. D., 1862-72, Michael Snyder, 1873-77. The congregation was afterwards served by Rev. M. Alleman, the present pastor being Rev. S. P. Orwig. A Sabbath School is connected with this church.

Emmanuel's Reformed congregation was also organized during the last century. For a number of years both congregations worshiped together, but in 1782 (Mr. Frederick Wolf, an old citizen of Abbottstown, remembers seeing the figures "1777," above the pulpit of this church) the members of the Reformed church, (Rev. Rahauser, pastor), put up a house for their own use. The present stone building was erected in 1847. The corner-stone was laid on the I5th day of August, of that year. It was dedicated to the service of the Triune God on the 12th of June, 1848. Prof. Philip Schaff, D. D., then of Mercers- burg, and now known both in Europe and in America as a champion of the truth as it is in Christ, was present and participated in the exercises.

Rev. W. F. Colliflower was succeeded in 1880 by Rev. David U. Wolf as pastor of this church. A number of able and devoted ministers have served this congregation, among whom are Charles Helfenstein, Samuel Gutelius, Jacob Sechler, Immanuel Hoffheins, F. W. P. Davis and Aaron Spangler.

Rev. F. W. Vandersloot, Sr., preached in this church from the year 1827 to 1831. He was a highly educated man, having received a classical training in Europe. He was also an accomplished musician, and sang with great power and wonderful sweetness. He died during his ministry at Abbottstown in the year 1831. Two of his sons are in the ministry of the Reformed church ; the one is seventy-one years of age, the other seventy-four. Also a grandson is preaching in the same denomination. During Rev. Vandersloot's pastorate, Mr. Ernst, then living on the turn pike road leading to York, was the organist.

The Paradise Catholic is located one mile north of Abbottstown. A large tract of valuable land was donated to the church by Mr. John Brandt, on which a commodious stone building was erected in 1843, and since then has been a regular place of worship. Among the priests who have ministered there, are: Revs. Fathers Pester, DeBarth, Zachi Villiger, and F. X. Denecker.

There are two schools, in Abbottstown, one for the more advanced pupils and the other for the primary scholars. The school buildings are not what they should be, and poorly correspond with the ability of the people. Yet the schools are in good condition, and under efficient teachers the pupils are making rapid and solid advancement.

A German Newspaper, the Intelligencer was published in Abbottstown by F. W. Koehler, from 1833 till 1848, when the name was changed to the Wochenblatt and continued two years longer, till 1850, when it was discontinued. The Yellow Jacket, an English campaign paper, in the interests of the Whig party was published by F. W. Koehler and N. R. Buckley in 1840.

The population now numbers about four hundred and fifty, and are generally industrious and frugal. Since the construction of the railroad a new life has been infused. Two fine large warehouses have been built and already are doing an extensive business in grain, coal, groceries and all kinds of produce. The place has always been noted for its healthfulness. The pure air and the excellent water are conducive to long life. Quite a number of aged men and women in the town and immediate neighborhood, who have spent their lives here are the witnesses of this fact. Of this number was Mr. Joseph Berlin, lately deceased, in his ninetieth year, who possessed a vigorous mind and was able to recount with marked interest the changes wrought in this town, which was his residence during so long a life. Abbottstown is fourteen miles distant from Gettysburg, the same from York, and six miles from Hanover. Beaver Creek, a tributary of the Conowago, passes through the east end, and is the line between Adams and York Counties. Abbottstown was incorporated in 1835, and called "Berwick Borough." Col. George Ickes became postmaster in June, 1849. Mr. E. H. Stahl, the present postmaster, has served in that capacity for the past twenty years.


Borough Officers: — Chief Burgess, Daniel Felix; Sec'y, P. C. Mc- Cann ; Treas., Henry H. Gladfelter; Council, Cornelius Shue, Joseph Raber, George Livingston, Emanuel Trostle, Henry Motter.
Churches — Lutheran, Rev. S. P. Orwig, pastor; German Reformed, Rev. David U. Wolf, pastor.
Hotels — Altland House, Reuben Altland ; Union Hotel, Henry Cobler.
Abbottstown Band — M. F. Stahl, leader; Albert Kinneman, Pres.; Charles Felix, Vice Pres.; P. C. McCann, Sec'y ; Joseph Marshall, Ass't Sec'y ; John Fowler, Treas.
School Board — Dr. W. F. Hollinger, Henry K. Gladfelter, Joseph Raher, John Fowler, Henry Cobler.
Post Office — West King St., E. H. Stahl, Postmaster.


Samuel Steffan, Confectionery;
Charles Dosch, Dry Goods;
Millie Hoffheins, Millinery;
Jesse Asper, Blacksmith Shop;
Martin Thomas, Hardware;
Geo. Livingston, Blacksmith Shop;
Jacob Baum, Tinner;
K. Spangler, Marble Yard;
Wm. Hollinger, Dentist;
Lewis Jordy, Dry Goods;
Nicholas Berkheimer, Saloon;
J. B. Hafer, Cigar Manufacturer;
H. K. Gladfelter, Groceries;
E. H. Stahl, Shoe Store;
Daniel Miller, Cigar Manufactory;
Peter Harlacher, Saddler;
Kobler & Minter, Coach Shops;
John Lookinghill, Confectionery;
Joseph Wolf, Tannery;
John Trimmer, Watchmaber.

Altland Reuben, hotel keeper, Diamond. Hafer Wm, W King st.
Asper Jesse, Blacksmith, Water st. Hafer Jos, tobacconist, W King st.
Baker Andrew, laborer, W King st. Hafer Chas, cigarmaker, W King st.
Baum J B, tinner, E King st. Hafer W A, merchant, Water st.
Berkheimer S, Saloon keeper, W King st. Harlacher Peter, saddler, W King st.
Berkheimer J, blacksmith, W King st. Harman Jacob, laborer, N Queen st.
Bittinger VVm, W King st. Hildebrand M F, painter, E King st.
Brough Stephen, laborer, E King st. Hoffman John, clerk, E King st.
Bucher J, farmer, W King st. Hollinger David, farmer, E King st.
Carns C, huckster, Fleet st. Hollinger W F, physician, W King st.
Carns N, plasterer, W King st. Hollinger D C, dentist, E King st.
Carns Z B, tobacconist, W King st. Johnson Dr C W, E King st.
Carns John, tanner, Queen st. Jordy Lewis, merchant, E King st.
Copman John, blacksmith, Fleet st. Kinneman Albert, cigarmaker, S Queen.
Dellone Gregory, merchant, W King st. Kinneman Henry, cigarmaker, s Queen.
Dick Wesley, laborer, Queen st. Kinneman Sam'l, teacher, W King st.
Doll John, carpenter, Fleet st. Kinneman Jacob, laborer, S Queen st.
Dosh Chas, merchant, E King st. Kobler Henry, hotel keeper, Diamond.
Eigelkey F S, tailor, N Queen st. Kobler Lewis, coachmaker, E King st.
Eisenhart Frank, painter, W King st. Koehler J F, auctioneer, Water st.
Felix Sam'l, mason, E King St. Lantz J S, coachtrimmer, Water st.
Felix Dan'l, mason, Water st. Leppo David, laborer, W King st.
Felix Francis, laborer, W King st. Lillich Abraham, W King st.
Felix John, laborer, Water st. Livingston G M, blacksmith, E King st
Felix Henry, laborer, E King st. Lochman Peter, laborer, N Queen st.
Felix Chas, coachsmith, E King st. Lookingbill J, shoemaker, S Queen st.
Flickinger J H, cigarmaker, Water st. Markle Sam'l, carpenter, Fleet st.
Fowler John, plasterer, W King st. Maul Solomon, merchant, W King st.
Getz Peter, laborer, E King st. Mayers G C, teacher, E King st.
Gladfelter W H, merchant, W King st. Mayers Henry, farmer, E King st.
Grim John, laborer, back of Fleet st. McCann P C, teacher, E King st.
McClain Jacob, blacksmith, E King st. Pierson A C, painter, Water st.
Metzger Washington, farmer, E King St. Raber Jos, farmer, back of Water st.
Miller Henry, W King st. Reever John, painter, E King st.
Miller Daniel, tobacconist, W King st. Shue Cornelius, farmer, W King st.
Miller A G, farmer, W King st. Spangler E D, stone-cutter, E King st.
Miller Wm, carpenter, W King st. Spangler Chas, stone-cutter, E. King st.
Minter Chas, blacksmith, E King st. Spangler Wm, stone-cutter, E. King st.
Mollison Henry, farmer, Water st. Stahl E H, shoemaker, W King st.
Mollison John, Water st. Stahl M F, shoemaker, W King st.
Morrison J B, farmer back of Fleet st. Steffman Samuel, laborer, E King st.
Motter Henry, laborer, W King st. Strubinger P H, teacher, W King st.
Mummert Richard, saddler, Water st. Thomas M H, merchant, E King st.
Mummert Dan'l, laborer, Water st. Toot Wm, laborer, E King st.
Myers G C, merchant, E King st. Trimmer John, laborer, Water st.
Myers Henry, laborer, back of Water st. Trostle Emanuel E King st.
Nagle Geo, tobacconist, W King st. Tschop Danl, wheelwright, E King st.
Nagle Israel, teacher, W King st. Wichter N, basket maker, Water st.
Nagle Daniel, carpenter, S Queen st. Wilson Frank, laborer, W King st.
Nagle Moses, cabinetmaker, E King st. Wolf Jos, tanner, S Queen st.
Nagle Peter, W King st. Wolf Fred, tanner, E King st.
Noel Jerome, carpenter, W King st. Wolf G W, tanner, S Queen st.
Noel John, blacksmith, E King st. Yeager J M, laborer, Fleet st.
Orwig Rev S P, Water st. Yohe Henry, shoemaker, W King st.

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