One of the prime misconceptions of Adams County concerns the naming of Arendtsville. The Arendt family was not
the first to settle at the present site, nor did they plan the town. The story is an interesting one.
In 1736, the Penns puchased the area extending from Lancaster to South Mountain from the Indians, just three years
later on January 9, 1739, Nicholas Curle obtained about 300 acres along the Conewago Creek in the foothills
of the mountains from the Penn brothers.
Little is known of the years between 1736 and 1760, but there is a very old tradition that there was a blockhouse
erected for the protection of the first settlers of the Conewago Valley against the incursions of the Indians.
This blockhouse, it is said stood near or at the site of the farmhouse now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Rice
and family, one mile north of Arendtsville, in Menallen Township.
On the land west of the Curle tract, a pioneer named William Goudy moved in as a squatter about 1760. He
died in 1769 without purchasing his claim, and the land fell to his children, William, John and Ann.
Years later, in 1775, Nicholas Curle's land was surveyed and there were 340 acres east of the creek in what
is now Menallen Township and 72 acres 118 perches in Franklin Township, just east of the present Arendtville square.
The survey was not officially recorded and there is no evidence that Curle was ever on the land himself.
Early in the Revolutionary War period, seven German families, from Northhampton County, Pa. immigrated to this
area, attracted by the beauty of the territory and the rich soil. In 1780, Jacob Arendt bought 180 acres
from John Goudy (son of William Goudy) for 7000 pounds. Other farmers took land bordering Arendts'. Philip
Jacob Bear bought land to the north, Philip Hartzel to the west, Jacob Gilbert south and Frederick
Steniour the southeast. Stophel St. Mire (later referred to as Christopher Sentmyer) and Francis
Knauss bought the property to the east, once covered by the Curle claim.
These devout Christian families were scarcely settled in the area beefore they established religious and educational
institutions. Quoting directly from a deed dated 1781:
“Know all men by these present that Stophel St. Mire and Jacob Arendt of Cumberland Twonship,
County of York and State of Pennsylvania set over and confirmed unto Frederick Steinoir and Philip Hartzel,
Trustees for the United Congregations of Lutherans and Presbyterians (Reformed) the above described piece of land
situated in the township afore said, on the waters of the Great Canawago containing two acres and seventy eight
perches to them and their successors to be kept for the use of the congregations aforesaid for a Church an dBurying
Ground an dSchool hou. . . .”
Along with this deed Jacob Arendt granted “the free use of his spring at all times unto
the Conregations and School.”
This lot (the present site of the Arendtsville Bank), adjoined what later became known as “John's Pursuit.”
A two-story, log and watherboard house of worship was erected on this site in 1787. The first to be baptized from
this congregation were John, Jacob and Anna Catherine Schneider on March 26, 1786. For many years this church was
referred to as “Arendt's Church.” The school house and sexton house formed one building, also
made of logs and weatherboard. It stood where the Zion United Church of Christ now stand and was a story and a
Some of the earliest names recorded in the records of the united congregations were: Arendt, Carbaugh, Baehr,
Bartels, Beisecker, Durn, Flohr, Funt, Glas, Gross, Hartman, Knouse, Kraft, Kummel, Pfeiffer, Rau, Roth, Rheinhart,
Schneider, Schaeffer, Speece, Steinour, Walter, Wilheim and Young.
Jacob Arendt (1730-1802), one of the founders of both the church and school, and his wife, Catherina (1729-1813)
had seven children - two boys and five girls. The girls married farmers from the nearby areas. Catherine married
Christian Stout; Molly married Valentine Oyler; Barbara, Jacob Oyler; Julianna, John Bumbaugh,
and Susanna, John Rummell. Peter, the older son (1756-1836), was a farmer and John (1769-1826) a blacksmith.
About 1790, Jacob retired from farming and built a log house next to the log schoool along the Shippensburg Road
and went into the tavern business. The tavern, built on a steep hil, had a walk-in basement constructed over a
spring. The house, now owned by Miss Gretna Black, is encased in brick and the spring is capped. Peter took
over 140 acres of his father's land, and John took 40 acres bordering the Curle land. From 1790 to 1796, Jacob
Arendt was licensed to operate a tavern.
In 1802, Jacob died at the age of 72. In his will he made provision that his wife should:
“have the priviledge of living in the Spring House, where we now dwell, on the land hereinafter
devised to my son Peter, also two cows, two sheep, two beds and bedding, one stove, one chest, and asuch of the
kitchen and cupboard furniture as she may think necessary for herself, also my large Bible and payer book and one
other large book. . .”
The will also stipulated that
“my two sons Peter and John shall open and keep a lane of 8 feet wide between the stakes along
th eline between them at their mutual expence, and between their houses to the big field on John's part of the
land next to Martin Minters. . . .”
These directions help establish that John lived in the log house (now encased in siding) on Chambersburg Street
where Clair and Ruth Arendt Clapsaddle now live. Ruth is the last direct descendant of this family in Arendtsville
to have had the Arendt name. Peter Arendt's house could have been the log house (now encased in brick) where
Miss Mary Boyer, Mrs. Martha B. Lower and Donald Boyer now reside.
In 1789, Christopher Sentmyer's propert was sold at sheriff sale, and John Arendt bought the 40 acres for
the sum of 5 shillings lawful money of Pennsylvania. He called it “John's Pursuit” in
the patent deed, in obedience to the custom of naming estates in those days. This tract was situated in the area,
south from Main St. to Beecherstown Road and the east side of Gettysburg St. to the Conewago Creek. But it was
not patented until the 14th day of August, 1810.
In 1797, John took over his father's tavern. He entered politics in 1803 and was elected as the first Adams County
Coroner from 1803 to 1806, Adams County now being formed and separated in 1800 from York County. At age 35, in
1804, he married Barbara Knauss, daughter of Francis Knauss, who built the first grist-mill on the
site of the former Arendtsville Roller Mill. From 1807 to 1810, he was an Adams County Commissioner, and in 1808,
he was on a committee for the Federal Constitutional Republicans to nominate James Ross for Governor of Pennsylvania,
(hoever ross was defeated). Also in 1808, John Arendt built an imposing two-story brick house and taver,
or as he called it when applying for a tavern license “house of public entertainment,” directly
across the road from his father's home and tavern. The John Arendt home is still standing today and is owned
by Mr. and Mrs. Scott Wenk.
John Arendt continued to apply for a tavern license until 1817 but stopped at that time because he was elected
the 7th Adams County Sheriff and as sheriff, could not hold a tavern license. Peter Aughenbaugh operated
the tavern for John approximately eight years until 1825.
Two days after John Arendt was sworn in as sheriff, by Judge Hamilton (in 1818), it fell to sheriff
Arendt to carry out Adams County's first legal hanging. James Hunter, from Mount Pleasant, shot Henry
Heagy over a boundary dispute. “James Hunter was found guilty as charged and was hanged on
January 3, 1818, when John Arendt nodded his head to William Snyder, who pulled the bar which let
the trapdoor open and drop James Hunter into eternity.” For almost 20 years, John Arendt held important
John Arendt died in 1826 at the age of 57, leaving his real estate and other property to his wife, Barbara. They
had no children and so, according to John's will, when his widow died, Peter's children would inherit the estate.
Barbara Arendt remarried in 1827, to Jacob Keckler. They lived in the tavern house and on several occasions Jacob
Keckler sigend the application for a tavern license.
As more settlers moved into the area, industries developed near the settlement. There was a grist mill, a carding
and fulling mill and a tannery at &sdquo;Hamilton's Delight” (now Beecherstown) and Nicholas Bittinger
(son of Andrew Bittinger) established a grist mill in the “Narrows” in the late 1790's.
This tract was surveyed for his heirs in 1809. In 1797, a Mr. Ferguson, warrented land in the “Narrows”,
he sold it the same year to Adam Plumb. Scott and Smeltzer built the first saw mill there. In 1819 the Ferguson-Plumb
tract fell into the hands of the Bells and the Nicholas Bittinger grist mill was rebuilt for the heirs of
William Bell, Sr. The Scot and Smeltzer saw mill was rebuilt by William Bell, Jr. Later the Ferguson
tract and the Nicholas Bittinger grist mill was sold to Daniel ArendtKeller Arendt (son of Daniel
Arendt), at the turn of the century. The Plub tract was sold to Capt. Samuel Eicholtz, who operated the
saw mill. These mills are presently owned by Robert C. Eicholtz.
By 1820, several favorite meeting places had come into existance. These were the Bluebaugh, the John Bushey
and the Thomas Good taverns near the foot of the “Narrows”. No doubt the drinks served
in these places came from the distillery operated by Andrew Bittinger, whose property was located in this
Although by 1834 there was no planned town, this village was referred to in the 1830's newspaper, road maps, sale
notices, returns of death and burials, deeds and people in general as “Arendt's Town” or “Arendt's
Ville”. Jacob Keckler, a farmer who had married John Arendt's widow became the first postmaster,
on September 16, 1841, when the post office was estaablished in the village, but Mr. Keckler did not officially
become postmaster until 1849. In 1841 the post office was called Franklin Township (at Arendt's Tavern); in 1848
the name was changed to Arendtsville.
In 1851, W. D. Gobrecht rebuilt the Hance Morrison saw mill (believed to have been located on the
Brysonia Road), and added a lath and shingle mill. This mill was purchased in 1856 by the Cole brothers, and in
1863, Francis Cole became proprietor. Francis Cole had eight saw mills in operation at one time. A covered
bridge was erected over the Conewago in 1859 near the Gobrecht mill.
When Barbara Arendt Keckler died in 1854 and John Arendt's estate was settled, Jacob F. Lower, from
Carlisle, bought much of the property. He divided it into lots, planned a town, and petitioned to Harrisburg to
call it “Lowersville”, but as late as 1875, deeds for the property Jacob Lower sold
gave the location of the town as ”Lowersville”.
An Adams County map of 1858 shows eight lots with brick houses. The names on the eight lots are as follows: Daniel
Minter, E. A. Kime, J. M. Bushey, George Lower, (all on Gettysburg St. named Old Town St. on an 1872 map);
George Thomas, carpenter, David Hartman, George Arendt, (on Main St. called Water St. on some deeds
at that time) and a Snyder house and Emanuel Umstadt tannery (Cashtown St. now the corner of S. High St.)
The Zion Lutheran and Reformed Church was built on the site of the first log school and a sexton's house was built
where Mr. and Mrs. Ray Flickinger now reside. Two taverns, the Bear Hotel (the residence of John M. Jacobs
family) and the I. Byers Hotel (the original John Arendt tavern, now owned by Scott Wenk) were shown on
the 1858 map. J. F. Lower store and residence (Kuykendall's Market), and the parsonage on N. High St. home
of Rev George Roth were also shown on the map of 1858.
In a 1937 Gettysburg Times report, Mr. Aaron Weidner gave an account of the community during the year 1865.
Mr. Weidner, a lad of 18, worked as an apprentice in Lewis Wolff's shoemaker shop, (now the Alice Dome property).
the conditions of the roads pervented him from going home each evening so he bargained with Mr. Wolff that in return
for his services he should receive room, board, shows, and $10 dollars a year pay. In addition he was given six
weeks off during the harvest season so that he might help at home. When Mr. Weidner desired to return to work,
from his home between Guernsey and the Carlisle road, after the harvest season, he would cut across the old road
that passed over Yellow Hill. Often the roads were so impassable that he was forced to walk the entire distance.
He well remembered the story of the shooting that occurred in 1865 in the home occupied by Hersh Lawver
in 1937 (now Sterling Sell). He failed to remember the name of the victim, but he said that a visitor from York
had committed the crime for money. According to Mr. Weidner many people think that the murder was committed in
a house several doors below the Lawver (Sell) house on Mummasburg St. (now Gettysburg St.).
Mr. Weidner, whom everyone called “Uncle Aaron”, was a beloved citizen of the community. He
lived on Main St. in the home now occupied by Mrs. Nellie Bushey. He was a horticulturist and the first
president of the school board for the independent school district. Mr. Weidner developed the first water system
in the town by furnishing a few homes, such as Dr. W. E. Wolff and W. W. Boyer on main St. with water. He
devised a system by installing small caliber pipe underground from a spring on Pearl St. to the alley behind Main
St. The system was operated by shiphoning the water through the pipes rather than gravity.
Mr. Weidner also installed his own feed mill in his barn on Main St. The grain was ground by means of a horse on
a tread mill. He had one of the first automobiles in the town and traveled extensively. He also drove to Florida
every year until he was past 90 years of age. When “Uncle Aaron” returned home from his travels,
friends and neighbors lined the streets and cheered. Aaron Weidner died in 1945 at the age of 97.
In 1865, Arendtsville had grown to include twenty-seven buildings. At that time Pearl St. was not in existence
nor was S. High St., the road went only as far as Sell's garage at which point it continued on to Cashtown St.
(now Chambersburg St.).
On Main St. (called Chambersburg St. as late as 1865) there were the shops of Lewis Wolff, shoemaker, George
Thomas, carpenter and Reeder's carriage shop and a blacksmith shop. Dr. Brenneman resided in the present
Dr. J. L. Boyer property and Plank and Spangler had a store at the site of Kuykendall's Market. The Bear
Hotel and the Malaum tavern (the original Jacob Arendt tavern) were still in existance at this time.
The community propsered in the period after the Civil War largely because of the charcoal and lumber industries.
At the time when ore was being mined at Pine Grove Furnace, thousands of trees were cut in the vicinity of Arendtsville
and made into charcoal which was hauled by wagon to Pine Grove. At times the hot logs would burst into flames enroute
and would have to be dumped from the wagons.
As Arendtsville was the only travelers stop from Hunterstown to Shippensburg and on to Chambersburg, more and more
homes and business places were built. By 1872, there were over 50 buildings in the village.
In 1885, a school district, independent of Franklin Township district, was formed and called the “Arnedtsville
School District”. In 1896, the town was incorporated into a Borough and was officially named “Arendtsville”.
Through this chain of events, Arendtsville has become a unique small town with a character of its own. Located
in a scenic area of Adams County, it is a fitting tribute to the public minded families who established it.