Welcome to Pennsylvania Genealogy Trails!
1843 History of  Franklin County, Pennsylvania

Contributed by Nancy Piper

[Source: Historical Collections of the State of Pennsylvania, by Sherman Day, Philadelphia, 1843, Page 347-358]


Franklin County

Franklin County was established on the 9th Sept. 1784, having previously been the southwestern part of Cumberland co., known as the Conococheague* settlement. Length 30 m., breadth 25; area 734 sq. m. Population in 1790, 15,655; in 1800, 19,638; in 1810, 23,173; in 1820, 31,892 ; in 1830, 35,037; in 1840, 37,793.

The county consists of a broad valley, generally composed of undulating slate and limestone lands, and bounded on the east by the South Mountain, which rises to an elevation of from 600 to 900 feet above the middle of the valley. On the northwest rises the more rugged and elevated ridge of the Kittatinny, or North Mountain, and behind it the still higher ridge of the Tuscarora, which is about 1,700 feet above the middle of the valley. The Kittatinny mountain, hitherto remarkably continuous and regular in its form, seems to terminate near the Chambersburg and Bedford turnpike, or to turn backward; while the Cove mountain, a spur of the Tuscarora, diverging immediately west of the termination of the Kittatinny, seems to supply the deficiency, and continues the chain into Virginia. Between these mountains and spurs are several very narrow and fertile valleys, called coves. Path valley and Amberson's valley are of this character. The principal waters have their sources in the mountains on both sides of the county, and nearly all unite in forming the Conococheague cr., which empties into the Potomac. The Antictam cr., also flows into Maryland, and the sources of the Conodoguinet into Cumberland co. These streams supply an immense amount of water-power, of which it has been estimated that not more than half has yet been usefully applied. The limestone lands east of the Conococheague are well watered, fertile, and in a high state of cultivation, estimated at 180,000 acres. West of the Conococheague the slate lands prevail, estimated at 160,000 acres; not quite so fertile as the limestone, but more easily cultivated, and abounding in pure streams and luxuriant meadows. There is a strip from one to two miles wide, east of the limestone, at the base of the South mountain, known as " pine-land," which is said to be equal for fertility and certainty of product to any in the county-estimated at 20,000 acres. It is composed of sand, mixed with clay and water-worn pebbles. The mountainous districts, on the eastern and western boundaries, contain about 110,000 acres. The staple agricultural products are wheat, rye, corn, and oats. Some attention has been paid to the cultivation of the mulberry.

* The old settlers pronounce this word Conny-co-jig.

Iron ore is found in a line along the base of the South Mountain, near where the limestone joins the other strata. It is of the pipe and honeycomb kind, and is said, in appearance and in the quality of its iron, to resemble that from which the celebrated Juniata iron is made. There is also a stratum producing iron along the Path valley, perhaps in the same relative geological position as near the South Mountain. On both these mountains are extensive forests, to supply fuel for the manufacture of iron. There is a tradition that the Indians used to get lead in the South Mountain, but the whites have not found it.

White marble is found in various parts of the county. The manufactures of the county are generally those adapted to agricultural districts, flouring, fulling, and sawing; with several furnaces, forges, paper-mills, an axe factory, and one or two cotton and several woollen factories. Much has been done to facilitate the intercourse of the citizens with each other, and with those of other sections of the country. Besides the ordinary public roads, there are 63 miles of stone turnpike, and 23 large stone bridges; and 26 miles of railroad. A stone turnpike runs from Chambersburg to Pittsburg, another to Carlisle, another to Gettysburg; and one runs from Waynesburg to McConnellstown, through Mercersburg. The Cumberland Valley railroad, from Harrisburg, terminates at Chambersburg, whence the Franklin railroad continues the communication through Greencastle to Hagerstown, in Maryland. There are some 40 or 50 churches, in which religious instruction is regularly dispensed; and at Mercersburg, a college and theological seminary. A great proportion of the dwellings of the inhabitants are of stone or brick; and in the limestone districts nearly all the stables and barns are built of the same material.

The original population of the county was of the Scotch-Irish race, and many of their descendants still remain; but the German population, which has more recently come in, is fast gaining in numbers over the descendants of the original pioneers.

"It is a tradition well supported, that a great part of the best lands in the Conococheague valley were, at the first settlement of the country, what is now called in the western states prairie. The land was without timber, covered with a rich, luxuriant grass, with some scattered trees, hazel-bushes, wild plums, and crab-apples. It was then called generally ' the barrens." The timber was to be found on or near the water-courses, and on the slate soil. This accounts for the preference given by the early Scotch-Irish settlers to the slate lands, before the limestone lands were surveyed or located. The slate had the attractions of wood, watercourses, and water-meadows, and was free from rock at the surface. Before the introduction of clover, artificial grasses, and the improved system of agriculture, the hilly limestone land had its soil washed off, was disfigured with great gullies, and was sold as unprofitable, for a trifle, by the proprietors, who sought other lands in Western Pennsylvania. It is now, under German cultivation, the most beautiful and fertile section of the county."

Chambersburg, the seat of justice of Franklin county, is one of the most flourishing inland towns in the state. It is pleasantly situated at the confluence of the Falling Spring and Conococheague creeks, 143 miles west of Philadelphia, 48 southwest of Harrisburg, and 77 northwest of Baltimore. The town was laid out in 1764, but remained a small village until after the peace of 1783, and the establishment of the county in 1784, since which it has enjoyed a progressive improvement. It contains at present about 600 houses, substantially, and many of them tastefully built; generally of brick or stone. The population within the borough limits in 1830, was 2,794, and in 1840, 3,239. Its public buildings are, a splendid new courthouse of brick, (erected in 1842,) with an Ionic colonnade in front, and surmounted by a beautiful cupola, a jail, eight churches, a spacious academy, a banking-house of a superior style of architecture, and a Masonic hall of elegant structure. There are also several well-built and well-kept hotels; and three weekly newspapers, two in English and one in German.

The water-power of the creeks which pass through the town drives two flour-mills, two fulling-mills, an immense straw-paper mill, a cotton and woollen manufactory, oil-mill, carding machines, and the machinery of Dunlap and Madeira's celebrated edge-tool factory. The water-power in, and within five miles of, Chambersburg is equal to the propelling 100 pair of stones, furnishing facilities for manufacturing purposes not surpassed by any in the state-except those at Beaver. The town is surrounded by a healthy country, of great fertility, and in a high state of cultivation and improvement. The Harrisburg and Pittsburg turnpike passes through the town, and is joined here by the turnpike from Gettysburg and York, and one from Baltimore. The Cumberland Valley railroad from Harrisburg terminates here ; and the Franklin railroad, connecting with it, runs on through Greencastle to Hagerstown. The constant arrival of passengers by the railroad going west to Pittsburg by stage, or passing down by the same route, imparts animation to the place.

The annexed view shows the entrance to the diamond or Public Square, on approaching it from the north. The drug-store on the right is the first stone house erected in the place; beyond it are seen the stage-office, at Culbertson's hotel; and beyond that the bank, with a pleasant yard before it. On the left is another hotel. The tall steeple in the distance is that of the German Reformed church. The new courthouse is not seen, being to the left of the public square. The citizens of the town are noted for their intelligence and steady, industrious, moral, and religious habits, and are not deficient in enterprise.

"During the French war of 1755, the war of the revolution, and the intermediate Indian wars, Chambersburg was a small frontier village, almost the outpost of civilization. A considerable trade was carried on with the more remote settlements on the Pittsburg road, by means of pack-horses. In time of peace some traffic was carried on with the Indians. The vicinity of an Indian frontier is not the purest school of morals- The restraints of law and religion become relaxed. The laws of the provincial legislature were ill suited to the sudden and anomalous emergencies of frontier life, and the people were very apt to make a law unto themselves, and institute a code of morals that would not be tolerated in better organized communities. The rigid discipline of the Scotch Presbyterians was introduced at a very early period into the Conococheague settlements, but it surpassed its powers to curb the wild and lawless spirit of the Indian traders and frontier-men. As a consequence of this state of things, the Conococheague towns were infested during the revolution with a band of desperate marauders and counterfeiters, who bid defiance to all laws. They had an organized line from Bucks county through Chester and the Cumberland valley, into Virginia. The Doanes of Bucks county, Fritz of Chester county, and the men of Conococheague, (whose names might be mentioned if it were thought necessary,) together with other confederates in Virginia and Carolina, drove a brisk trade during the revolution by stealing horses and cattle, and disposing of them to the British. When the British retired, they carried on an extensive trade among themselves, by stealing horses at the south ; passing them along the line to the north where they could not be recognised, and exchanging them for others stolen at the north ; thus at that early day anticipating the golden dreams of our modern financiers, by ' equalizing the exchanges.' The long narrow valleys and secluded coves behind the Blue Mountain afforded a convenient route, and secure hiding-places. These were no shabby villains: they wore the finest dresses, sported the best horses, and could display more guineas and jewelry than any others in the settlement; and though the source of their sudden wealth was suspected, no one dared to prove it against them. When not engaged in the more important department of the trade, they resorted to counterfeiting continental money, and sauntering around the towns, where they would amuse themselves by putting tricks upon travellers. Wo betide the unlucky Doctor Syntax who in those days hitched his horse in the diamond after night. If fortunate enough to find him at all, he would have great difficulty in recognising him, with his mane, tail, and ears cropped, and possibly a little paint added by way of ornament. And equally unfortunate was any man who resisted or threatened to bring them to justice. His barn or his crops would be destroyed by fire. They thus for a long time defied public sentiment by threats, or eluded justice by concealment. At last two of them near Chambersburg, meeting a man on the highway with a bottle which they presumed to be whiskey, demanded it of him; he gave it up without remark, and on tasting they found it to be yeast! They broke it over his head in a rage, and otherwise abused him. This led to their arrest, and the detection of other crimes; and they were hung at Carlisle. On being called out to execution, they refused to come; but a smoke of brimstone made in the cell brought them to speedy submission."

The following interesting details relating to the early history of Chambersburg, and the other Conococheague settlements, the compiler was kindly permitted to copy from a manuscript sketch, written in 1832, by the Hon. George Chambers.

James, Robert, Joseph, and Benjamin Chambers, four brothers, emigrated from the county of Antrim, in Ireland, to the province of Pennsylvania, between the years 1726 and 1730. They fettled and built a mill shortly after, at the mouth of Fishing cr., now in Dauphin co., on the Susquehanna, and appropriated a tract of very fine land at that place, which was lately owned and occupied by Archibald McAlister; though the land-office of Pa. was not open for the sale of lands welt of the Susquehanna, as they were not purchased of the Indians till Oct. 1736, yet the proprietary offices and agents were disposed to encourage settlements west of that river with the consent of the Indians, who were conciliated by the settlers. These settlements were incited and recognised, though without official grants, in order to resist the encroachments of the Marylanders, on what was considered part of the province of Pa. This policy, and the fine country forming that part of the Kittatinny valley extending from the Susquehanna, at the mouth of Conodoguinet, along the waters of the beautiful Conococheague to the Potomac, induced men of enterprise to seek and locate desirable situations for water-works and farms in the valleys of those two streams and of Yellow Breeches creek. These adventurous brothers were among the first to explore and settle in this valley. James made a settlement at the head of Green Spring, near Newville, Cumberland; Robert at the head of Middle Spring, near Shippensburg; and Joseph and Benjamin at the confluence of Falling Spring and Conococheague creeks, where Chambersburg is situated. These settlements and locations were made about or before 1730. By an arrangement among-the brothers, Joseph returned to their property at the mouth of Fishing cr., and Benjamin, the younger brother, improved his settlement at the Falling Spring. He built a hewed log-house, which he covered with lapped shingles, fastened by nails, a style of building out of the common mode of round logs and clapboard roofs secured by beams. Sometime after, Benjamin being induced to visit the east side of the Susquehanna, left his house unoccupied for a abort time, and on his return, he found it burned to ashes. This was afterwards ascertained to be the work of an unprincipled hunter, who was induced to do it for the sake of the nails, which at that day, in this wild region, were esteemed no ordinary prize.

Benjamin prosecuted anew his improvements, building houses, clearing lands, and soon after the commission from the proprietary government to Samuel Blunston, allowing licenses for the settlement of lands west of the Susquehanna, on 30th March, 1734, Benjamin obtained from Blunston a license authorizing and securing his settlement by a grant of four hundred acres of land at the Falling Spring's mouth on both sides of the Conococheague, for the conveniency of a grist-mill and plantation, then Lancaster county. Having acquired the art and business of a millwright, he built himself, immediately, a saw-mill at the mouth of Falling Spring. This was an important improvement to himself and others disposed to settle in the surrounding wilderness. In a few years after he erected a flouring-mill; an accommodation which contributed much to the comfort of the early settlers, and had considerable influence in inducing settlements in the vicinity.

Benjamin Chambers was about twenty-one years of age when he made his settlement on the Falling Spring. He had, when living east of the Susquehanna, been attracted to the spot by a description he received from a hunter, who had observed the fine waterfall in one of his excursions through the valley. He was the first white settler in what is now Franklin County. From his acquaintance with the art and business of a millwright, and the use and value of water-power, his attention was directed to advantageous situations for water-works. He married shortly after his settlement a Miss Patterson, residing near Lancaster, who was the mother of his eldest son James.

He maintained a friendly intercourse with the Indians in his vicinity, who were attached to him; with them he traded, and had so much of their confidence and respect that they did not injure him or offer to molest him. On one occasion, being engaged in haymaking in his meadow below Chambersburg, where the foundry and brick-yards now are, he observed some Indians secretly stalking in the thickets around the meadow. Suspecting some mischievous design, he gave them a severe chase, in the night, with some dogs, across the creek and through the woods, to the great alarm of the Indians, who afterwards acknowledged they had gone to the meadow for the purpose of taking from Benjamin his watch, and carrying off a negro woman whom he owned; and who, they thought, would be useful to raise corn for them: but they declared that they would not have hurt the colonel.

He used his influence with his acquaintances to settle in his neighborhood, directing their attention to desirable and advantageous situations for farms. His first wife lived but a few years Sometime afterwards he married a Miss Williams, the daughter of a Welsh clergyman, residing in Virginia. She was born in Wales, and brought over to this country when very young. By her he had seven children, viz.: Ruhannah, married to Dr. Colhoun-William, Benjamin-Jane, married to Adam Ross-Joseph, George-and Hetty, married to Win. M. Brown, Esq. Col. Benjamin Chambers was commissioned a justice of the peace, and also a colonel of the militia under the royal government at an early period. As an arbitrator he settled many controversies between his neighbors, and from his reputation for judgment and integrity, he was appealed to for direction and advice by the early settlers. He gratuitously prescribed and administered medicine to many, and as there was no regular physician in the neighborhood, it is said he was called upon to bleed and extract teeth for the relief of his acquaintances.

During the controversy between Lord Baltimore and the Penns, relating to the boundary between the provinces, Benjamin Chambers, who will hereafter be designated as Col. Chambers, was prevailed on to visit England to ansist by his knowledge and testimony in terminating this controversy, which was embarrassing and protracting the settlement of these provinces.

From England he visited Ireland, his native soil, and prevailed on a number of acquaintances to accompany him, with their families, and settle in his neighborhood, having afforded them assistance. As the western Indians, after Braddock's defeat, in 1755, became troublesome, and made incursions east of the mountains, killing and making prisoners of many of the white inhabitants, Col. Chambers, for the security of his family and his neighbors, erected, where the borough of Chambersburg now is, a large stone dwelling-house, surrounded by the water from Falling Spring, and situated where the large straw-paper mill now is. The dwelling-house, for greater security against the attempts of the Indians to fire it, was roofed with lead. The dwellings and the mills were surrounded by a stockade fort. This fort, with the aid of firearms, a blunderbuss, and swivel, was so formidable to the Indian parties who passed the country, that it was but seldom assailed, and no one sheltered by it was killed or wounded; although in the country around, at different times, those who ventured out on their farms, were surprised and either slaughtered or carried off prisoners, with all the horrors and aggravations of savage warfare.

A man by the name of McKinney, who had sought shelter with this family in the fort about 1756, ventured out in company with his son to visit his dwelling and plantation, where the Hollowell paper-mill is, on the creek, below Chambersburg. They were discovered, however, by the Indians, and both killed and scalped, and their dead bodies brought to the fort and buried. Col. Chambers was active in organizing the militia, and was of much assistance to Gen. Forbes in 1758, in giving him information and aiding him in the opening of a road, as well as affording him supplies in his march through the valley, and across the mountains, in his campaign. His saw and flour mills were of such accommodation and notoriety in the Conococheague settlement, that they were long known and spoken of for a great distance around as "the milk." The first flour, mill, built in part with logs, was burned, and a stone mill was afterwards erected by the colonel, part of the walls of which are incorporated in those of the fulling-mill and cotton factory of Thomas Chambers.

In 1764, Col. Chambers laid out the town of Chambersburg adjoining his mills. The intercourse with the western country being at that time very limited, and most of the trade and travel along the valley to the south, he was induced to lay his lots in that direction, and the town did not extend beyond the creek to the west. Some of the old trees of his orchard are still standing, (in 1832,) on the west of the creek, on the grounds of Joseph Chambers and Mr. King's heirs. The increasing trade with the western country, after the revolution, produced an extension of the town on the west side of the creek, which was located by Capt Benjamin Chambers, son of the colonel, about 1791. The first stone house erected in the town is still standing at the northwest corner of the diamond, built by J. Jack, about 1770, and now owned by L. Denig, Esq. The first courts holden in the county were in this house, up stairs; and, on one occasion, the crowd was so great as to strain the beams, and fracture the walls, causing great confusion and alarm to the court and bar.

Chambersburg remained but a small village until after the erection of Franklin into a separate county in 1784, since which period it has progressively improved.

Col. Chambers had appropriated to the use of the public for a burial-ground a romantic cedar grove on the banks of the creek. This spot still retains some of the beauties of nature and rural scenery. This, with some additional grounds, he conveyed by deed of gift to P. Varen and others, as trustees, on the 1st January, 1768, "in trust for the Presbyterian congregation of the Falling Spring, now professing and adhering to, and that shall hereafter adhere to and profess, the Westminster profession of faith, and the mode of church government therein contained, and to and for the use of a meeting-house or Presbyterian church, session house, school-house, burying-place, grave-yard, and such religious purposes." Of this congregation he was on efficient, active, and attentive member. He also continued a member of the board of trustees until 1787, when, on account of his advanced age and infirmities, he asked leave to resign.

The first settlers who were possessed of farms, were mostly emigrants from the north of Ireland, and members of the Presbyterian church. It would seem that the Falling Spring congregation was more numerous in 1786 than in 1832, though at the latter period the population of Chambersburg was tenfold that of 1786. After the revolutionary war and peace, a German population supplanted the first settlers, and possessed themselves of most of their choice plantations by purchase, and the families and descendants of these settlers moved west of the mountains.

At the commencement of the revolutionary war, in 1775, Col. Chambers was so infirm and advanced in years, bring then about 70 years of age, as to be incapable of the fatigues and exposure of a campaign so distant as the heights of Boston. The patriotic spirit shone forth in his family. His eldest son James raised a company of infantry from the neighborhood, which he commanded as captain, and in 1775 marched, accompanied by his younger brothers William and Benjamin as cadets, to join the American army, then encamped on the high ground of Boston, where the royal army was besieged: (William was about 22 years old and Benjamin 20.) His three sons remained in the army during that campaign; James having been advanced to the rank of colonel, and William and Benjamin to that of captain. They were also with the army during the arduous and trying campaigns of "76-'77 in the Jerseys, as well as at the battles of Brandywine and Germantown, in 1778. On account of the infirmity of their father, and the embarrassed situation of his property and pecuniary affairs, which had been deprived of the necessary attentions of the young men, the younger brothers, William and Benjamin, returned home, and attended to the farm and mills. They occasionally, however, assisted in the pursuit of Indians who had dared at times to make incursions upon the settlements about Bedford and Huntingdon.

James remained in the army until the close of the revolutionary war, and afterwards was appointed a general of the militia, a brigade of whom, including a number of volunteers, he commanded in the army to suppress the Western or Whiskey insurrection in Pennsylvania in 1794.

Shortly after the peace of 1783, William, Benjamin, and George, erected a furnace in the Path valley, called Mt. Pleasant, the oldest furnace in the county. None of them had any experience in the business, but by industry, perseverance, and judgment, they were successful, and established in the woods an extensive manufactory of iron, which was not only profitable to themselves, but highly advantageous to a considerable extent of country.

Col. Benjamin Chambers, the father of the settlement, died 17th Feb., 1788, aged 80 years and upwards-Jane, his wife, died 13th Jan., 1795, aged 70-Capt. Benjamin Chambers died in Dec. 1813.

Col. James Chambers erected a forge where Loudon now is, shortly after the revolution, and with his son Benjamin and son-in-law A. Dunlap, Esq., erected a furnace about a mile from Loudon.

In 1760 Col. Benjamin Chambers lived in a small log-house near the mill-race, at the west end of the garden of George Chambers, near the alley and race.

From old Henry Snider, aged 75, in July, 1834, Mr. Chambers learned that his father, Peter Snider, came to the county before 1760-That he was born where he now lives in 1759.

A man by the name of Somerfield kept the first store on the northwest corner of Front and Queen streets. Patrick Campbell bought him out, and succeeded him in the store where the brick house of G. Grenawalt is now used for a corner store.

The first tavern was kept by Robert Jack, in the little log-house which stood where the Chambersburg bank now is.

On the northern border of the town, in a spacious and verdant yard, shaded by the tall trees of the ancient forest, stands the Presbyterian Church alluded to by Mr. Chambers. Adjoining the church-yard, in the rear, is the wild and picturesque spot where repose the ashes of the early pioneers. With a taste as rare as it is laudable, the trustees of the church have never permitted the original cedars and other ancient forest trees to be cut down, and the whole cemetery is shaded and overgrown with shrubbery in all the luxuriance and wildness of primitive nature. The annexed view shows the small enclosure containing the monuments

of the Chambers family: several other monuments are seen around it; and the rear of the church in the background.

The first Presbyterian church in 1767 was built of logs,-previous to that, it is said, the congregation worshipped in Col. Chambers' saw-mill, which was open at the sides, and permitted the preacher thus to address those without as well as within.

In 1803, the old log-church gave place to the present structure of stone. Rev. James Lang was the first pastor. He continued until 1792, when the Rev. Mr. Spear succeeded him, bat remained only a few years. The Rev. David Denny took the charge in 1800 or 1801, and held it until 1840, when, on account of age and infirmities, he was permitted to retire. He is still living in 1842. In 1842, Rev. Mr. M'Kinley was installed as pastor. The church was incorporated in 1785.

The first corporators named in the act of incorporation of the congregation of Falling Spring Presbyterian church, were Patrick Vance, Esq., Benjamin Chambers, sen., Matthew Wilson, Esq., Josiah Crawford, John Boggs, Esq., Edward Crawford, jun., Rev. James Lang, James Moore, and their successors.

There is a very ancient church, the first in the county, at Rocky Spring, 4 miles north of Chambersburg. The Rev. Mr. Craighead was the first pastor.

Patriotism was a predominant trait among the early Presbyterians of Conococheague, as well as of the whole Kittatinny valley. They were conspicuous among the provincial troops in the old French war; and throughout all the Indian wars they sustained nearly the whole burden of defending the frontier. When a new purchase was made, (sometimes before,) they were the first to make an opening in the wilderness beyond the mountains; and when the alarm of the American revolution echoed along the rocky walls of the Blue mountain, it awakened a congenial thrill in the blood of that race which years before, in Ireland and Scotland, had resisted the arbitrary power of England. There is, in the records of the old Presbyterian church at this place, a notice of a series of charges presented to the session against a certain member of the church as the grounds of an exercise of discipline; and one of the specifications is, that "he is strongly suspected of not being sincere in his professions of attachment to the cause of the revolution."

Mercersburg is situated in the S. W. part of the county, on a branch of W. Conococheague cr., 15 miles from Chambersburg. The town is placed on elevated ground, in the midst of a fertile and picturesque country. The Waynesburg and McConnellsburg turnpike passes through the town. The place contains Presbyterian, Lutheran and German Reformed, Seceders, and Methodist churches, and a college and theological seminary. It was incorporated as a borough in February, 1831. Population in 1840, 1,143.

James Black first built a mill at Mercersburg about the year 1729 or '30. Wm. Smith bought him out, and Wm. Smith's son laid out the town, about the year 1786. Col. James Smith, long a captive among the Indians, was of that family, and an uncle to Hon. Judge Robert Smith, now living. (See Bedford co.) The place was named in honor of Gen. Mercer, of the revolutionary army, who had shown great kindness to the proprietor or to his father, while the army was encamped near New Brunswick, in New Jersey. Gov. William Finley*, who filled the executive chair of Pennsylvania in 1817, was born at Mercersburg, near the west end of the town, about the year 1770. He is still living in Philadelphia.

Mercersburg, in early days, was an important point for trade with Indiana and settlers on the western frontier. It was no uncommon event to see there 50 or 100 pack-horses in a row, taking on their loads of salt, iron, and other commodities for the Monongahela country. About three miles northwest of Mercersburg there is a wild gorge in the Cove mountain, and within the gorge an ancient road leads up through a narrow, secluded cove or glen, encircled on every side by high and rugged mountains. Here, at the foot of a toilsome ascent in the road, which the old trader* designated as "the stony batter," are now a decayed orchard and the ruins of two log-cabins. Some fifty years since, a Scotch trader dwelt in one of these cabins, and had a store in tin- other, where he drove a small but profitable traffic with the Indians and frontier-men who came down the mountain-pass, exchanging with them powder, firearms, salt, sugar, iron, blankets, and cloths, for their " old Monongahela," and the furs and skins of the trappers and Indians. The Scotchman had a son born here, and Jamie was cradled amid these wild scenes of nature and the rude din of frontier life. The father, thriving in trade, moved into Mercersburg after a few years, assumed a higher rank in business, and was able to send his son James to Dickinson College, where he graduated in 1809. Passing over the intermediate scenes of his life, we find him in 1843 one of the most accomplished, eloquent, and distinguished members in the Senate of the United States, and not without some pretensions to a seat in the presidential chair.

The Presbyterian church at this place is one of the most ancient plants in the vineyard. Rev. Dr. King, who was a pastor of the church, has left among the archives a little book containing the names of all the heads of families, with their children, residing within the bounds of his congregation. This list is headed in the quaint Latin of the clergy of that day: Catalogus Familiarum, Nominum que Personarum cuiq: Families pertinentium, in qua que Congregationis Divisione. The names are almost universally Scotch-Campbells, Wilsons, McLellands, McDowells, Barr, Findlay, Welsh, Smith, &c. The following historical sketch of the early history of the church is from a manuscript drawn up by the present pastor, and is inserted in the church records.

This part of the country began to be settled about the year 1736. The land being taken from the proprietaries by those only who designed to settle on it, the settlement soon became numerous. About the year 1738 they formed themselves into a congregation, and enjoyed supplies of preaching from that time. About the year 1740 the congregation divided. The occasion of this at first was a difference of opinion about what was called a revival of religion at that time; however, it was what their situation required, the congregation being before the division much too extensive to allow frequent meetings at one place. Having divided, they accommodated themselves with different churches; yet often considered themselves so united as that one commissioner frequently represented both congregations in presbytery. The * upper congregation" called the Rev. John Steel, previously of West Nottingham congregation. He was installed in 1754, holding also the charge of "East Conococheague."

In the next year the settlement was greatly disturbed by the irruption of Indians, in consequence of Braddock's defeat. This continued for two years, until the settlement was for a time entirely broken up, and Mr. Steel accepted an invitation to the church at Carlisle. After the people returned to their desolated habitations, they adopted their old form of a congregation, and engaged supplies from the presbytery of Donegal for several years, being in the years 1762 and 1763 again disturbed and greatly harassed by the Indian war. They after this made some attempts to obtain a settled ministry, but were unsuccessful till the year 1768, when they called Mr. John King, then a candidate under the care of the presbytery of Philadelphia. Mr. King was installed August 30,1769, and continued to discharge the pastoral duties for more than forty years. He died in 1813, about two years after retiring from his ministry, having been so afflicted with rheumatism that, while he continued his ministrations, for several years he was obliged to sit in the pulpit during service.

Dr. King was a man of good natural parts, which he lost no opportunity to cultivate. During the intervals of his pastoral avocations he continued to increase his stores both of theological and miscellaneous knowledge. He was proficient in the Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and French languages, and had attentively studied the several branches of natural science. In 1792 he was honored with the degree of D. D. from Dickinson College. As a pastor, he was sound in doctrine, kind, sociable, cheerful, and instructive, and steady in attention to his duties. "He left behind him a character without a blot." He was the author of a doctrinal catechism, especially calculated to fortify the young against the spirit of skepticism and infidelity which threatened at that time the morals of youth-of some pieces in the Assembly's Magazine, on the subject of a man's marrying his former wife's sister-and of a dissertation on ^he prophecies referring to the present times, &c. There were about 130 families in the settlement at the commencement of his ministry.

In 1812, Mr. David Elliott, (now D. D.,) of Perry County, Pa., was called to the charge of the congregation, in which he continued about seventeen years, when he removed to Washington, Pa., and subsequently became Professor of Theology in the Western Theological Seminary in Allegheny City. In 1831, Mr. Thomas Creigh, of Carlisle, was installed, and still (in 1843) continues in charge of the congregation. "In February, 1832, the church experienced a gracious visitation, commencing in great power during a protracted meeting, and about 110 were in that year added to the church."

The session was composed of the following members in 1767 :-Wm. Maxwell, Wm. Smith, John M'Dowell, Win. M'Dowell, John Welsh, Alexander White, John M'Lelland. Jonathan Smith, Wm. Campbell, Robert Fleming, Samuel Templeton-names, probably, of some of the more respectable and worthy families in the neighborhood in that day.

Marshall College, Mercersburg

Annexed is a view of Marshall College. The president's house is seen on the right, that of one of the professors on the left. The main building is properly intended for the use of the Theological Seminary, but is used in common with the collegiate department until the new college buildings are erected in another part of the town. Rev. John W. Nevin, D. D., is President, and Professor of Intellectual and Moral Philosophy.

This institution was founded, under a charter from the legislature of Pennsylvania, in the year 1835. It sprang originally out of the high-school attached to the Theological Seminary of the German Reformed Synod, which was removed the year before from the borough of York to the village of Mercersburg. It stands, of course, in intimate connection with this seminary still. The primary object of the two institutions may be regarded as one and the same. The church needs ministers and she is concerned to have them properly educated for their high and responsible work. It is her zeal for this interest which has given birth to Marshall College. Harvard University, Yale College, and Nassau Hall, owe their origin mainly to a similar zeal on the part of the religious denominations by which they were founded.

It is designed to promote the interest of education generally within the bounds of the German Church. At the same time its privileges are not restricted in any way to these limits. Though founded by the Reformed Church, and looking to it mainly of course for patronage and support, its constitution is altogether catholic and free. The church, as such, exercises no ecclesiastical supervision over it, more than the Presbyterian Church does over Nassau Hall. The college, under this view, is a general interest created by the liberal zeal of the German Reformed Church, for the advantage of the community at large, so far as a disposition may be felt to embrace its offered benefits.

It would be hard to find a location more favorable altogether to health. As it respects scenery, it may be described as more than beautiful; it is absolutely splendid. At the distance of from two to five miles, the mountains are thrown around it in a sort of hnlf-circle, gracefully irregular and imposingly picturesque, forming a vast amphitheatre, from whose towering side*, in every direction. Nature looks forth, through sunshine or storm, in her most magnificent apparel. Strangers of taste are generally much taken with the situation.

Marshall College embraces in its organization a Professor of Intellectual and Moral Philosophy and of the Evidences of Christianity; a Professor of Ancient Languages and Belles-Lettres; a Professor of the Natural Sciences; two assistant Tutors; and a Rector or Principal intrusted with the care of the preparatory department.

A particular interest is felt in the cultivation of the German language. Instruction is given in German regularly, to all who can be persuaded to make it an object of study. Mr. Bernstein (instructor at present in German and Hebrew) is a native of Germany. A society is established also among the students themselves, expressly for the cultivation of the German language.

There are two rival literary societies established among the students, bearing the names Gathean and Diagnothian, which by appropriate exercises endeavor to advance their own improvement. Each has established already a handsome library, which is increasing from year to year. These libraries contain altogether, at this time, about 2,800 volumes. In addition to the use of their own libraries, the students have access also to the library of the Theological Seminary, which comprises, in addition to many valuable works in theology, a large amount of miscellaneous literature. It contains about 6,000 volumes. A general library has begun to be formed also for the college itself. This is intended to be almost exclusively scientific.

There is a law department connected with the college, at the head of which is the Hon. Alexander Thompson, lately presiding judge of the district. In 1843, the number of resident graduates was 11; law students, 4 ; under-graduates, 74 ; preparatory department, 75 ; total, 165. In January, 1843, at a special meeting of the Synod of the General Reformed Church, called with particular reference to the vacancy in the German professorship of the Theological Seminary, created by the death" of the late Dr. Rauch, it was determined to invite, by a special mission, the Rev. P. W. Krummacher, D. D., of Elberfield, the distinguished author of Elijah the Tishbite, &c, to fill the place of Dr. Rauch, and at the same time have a connection with Marshall College. It was stated, in the course of the discussions, that informal encouragement had been given that this distinguished divine would accept such a call.

Greencastle is a flourishing borough, situated on the railroad to Hagerstown, 10 miles south of Chambersburg, in the midst of a fertile and highly cultivated country. It contains a Methodist, Lutheran, German Reformed, Presbyterian, and Moravian churches. Population in 1840, 931. The place has been improved by the railroad. The town was laid out in 1784, and first settled by the Irwins, McLanahans, Watrous, and others.

Waynesburg is a large borough 15 miles southwest of Chambersburg, in the midst of a rich limestone region. A turnpike runs from this place through Mercersburg to McConnellstown. Population in 1840, 799. Churches, Presbyterian, Lutheran, and German Reformed.

There are also the towns of Louden, Campbellstown, and St. Thomas, which have sprung up within a few years past on the western turnpike. Louden was formerly the site of one of the line of frontier forts during the old French war.

Fannetsburg is a small village in the secluded but fertile Path valley. Strasburg is at the foot of the Blue mountain, on the sources of the Conodoguinet; and Green Village is on the Chambersburg and Carlisle turnpike.

Snowhill, on Antietam cr., near the South Mountain, is now, since the decline of Ephrata, (in Lancaster co.,) the principal settlement of the Dunkers, or Seventh-day Baptists. They keep up the institution as originally established at Ephrata, and the settlement is said to be in a flourishing condition. Dr. Fahnestock, in his history of Ephrata, says-

They [the Dunkers] have nearly a thousand pieces of music-a piece being composed for every hymn. This music is lost entirely, now, at Ephrata; (not the music books, but the style of singing;) they never attempt it any more. It is, however, still preserved and finely executed, though in a faint degree, at Snowhill. Their singing-which is weak in comparison with the old Ephrata choir, and may be likened to the performance of an overture by a musical box with its execution by a full orchestra in the opera house-is so peculiar and affecting, that when once heard it can never lie forgotten. I heard it once at Ephrata, in my very young days, when several of the old choir were still living, and the Antietam choir had met with them. And some years since I sojourned in the neighborhood of Snow hill during the summer season, where I had a fine opportunity of hearing it frequently and judging of its excellence. On each returning Friday evening, the commencement of the Sabbath, I regularly mounted my horse and rode to that place-a distance of three miles-and lingered about the grove in front of the building during the evening exercises, charmed to enchantment. It was in my gay days, when the fashion and ambition of the world possessed my whole breast; but there was such a sublimity and devotion in their music, that I repaired with the greatest punctuality to this place, to drink in those mellifluous tones which transported my spirit, for the time, to regions of unalloyed bliss-tones which I never before nor since heard on earth, though I have frequented the English, the French, and the Italian opera : that is music for the ear ; the music of Beissel is music for the tout-music that affords more than natural gratification. It was always a delightful hour to me-enhanced by the situation of the cloister, which is in a lonely vale just beyond the South mountain. During the week I longed for the return of that evening, and on the succeeding morning was again irresistibly led to take the same ride, (if I did not let it be known in the evening that I was on the ground-for whenever it was discovered, I was invited and kept the night in the cloister,) to attend morning service-at which time I always entered the room, as there was then preaching. But as often as I entered, I became ashamed of myself; for scarcely had these strains of celestial melody touched my ear, than I was bathed in tears : unable to suppress them, they continued to cover my face during the service ; nor, in spite of my mortification, could I keep away. They were not tears of penitence, (for my heart was not subdued to the Lord,) but tears of ecstatic rapture, giving a foretaste of the joys of heaven.



* Gov. William Finley
The original test was incorrect. The name should be Gov. William Finlay.

From Elizabeth Findley Fabritius

I am quite interested in the history of Franklin County and even more so in the development of the history of the Cumberland Valley as a very early frontier. I presently live in Scotland, Franklin Co. and have traced several lines of my family heritage through this area beginning in the later 1700s.

It may seem a minimal concern but I am constantly bothered by the confusion of two historical men, both great party players in the areas history. Both seemingly had the same name, although the spelling of their Scot-Irish surnames could and should define them.

They are William Findley 1741 -1821
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Findley

and William Finlay of Mercersburg.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Findlay_(governor).

I did notice a misspelling of the Governor's name in the article submitted by you ( p17, 1843 History of Pennsylvania ) Hopefully you can correct or point out the need for correction in the article.

Historically they are both so important and I would like to define and unravel the confusion dictated by the misspelling of their surnames!

Back to Pennsylvania Trails History and Genealogy