Where does it all begin? We know that the Indians lived in this country for several thousand years prior to the coming of European settlers. For over 100 years the settlers rived in relative peace with their Indian neighbors. Both William Penn and Lord Baltimore tried to deal fairly with the Indians by making treaties with them and by purchasing from the Indians the rand that Penn
and Lord Baltimore had received in royal grants from their English sovereigns.
In early years, most of the present Adams County, Pennsylvania, was claimed by Maryland - that is, the land lying south of the 40th parallel. This parallel is an east-west line, which passes through middle of Philadelphia and about a mile north of Bendersville in Adams County. Thus, the original grants for rand tracts in this area came from Lord Baltimore through his agent, John
Carroll, and his heirs.
Fairfield lies in the southern part of the tract called "Carroll's Delight," which is a 5,000-acre plot of land also known as the Upper Tract, and includes the valley north of Orrtanna. Lying southeast of this tract, and about two miles southeast of Fairfield, was the Lower Tract, or Carrollsburg, which started just east of McKee's Hill and extended south into Maryland.
In 1692 William Penn formed three counties: Bucks, Philadelphia and Chester. As the population" grew in the western areas, new counties were formed in 1729 Lancaster county was formed from Chester County; in 1749 York County was formed from Lancaster County; and finally, in 1800, Adams County was formed from York County.
The "Manor of Maske" one of the larger parcels of land for Penn's own use, was surveyed in 1766. This rectangular estate measured six miles by twelve miles. Its southwestern corner was the 84th milestone, just north of Emmitsburg on the Mason-Dixon Line. It extended twelve miles north, close to McKnightstown, with Mummasburg on the northern boundary and Shriver's Corners at the
northeast corner, and encompassed what is now Gettysburg. The Manor was a short distance east of Carroll's Delight and Carrolsburg.
The principal area covered in this pamphlet encompasses the present Adams County townships of Hamiltonban and Liberty, the boroughs of Fairfield (1801) and Carroll Valley (1974), and the towns of Orrtanna, Virginia Mills, Zora, Mount Hope, Fountaindale, and Iron Springs' In early years, Liberty, Freedom and Highland townships were a part of Hamiltonban. The Reading Howell map,
published in 1792, shows both the towns of Fairfieid and McKessensburg.
Two major overlapping claims existed for this Adams County land. Penn's claim to the lower portion of Pennsylvania was based on a royal grant from King Charles II of England. Lord Baltimore's claim was based on a royal grant from Charles I. The boundary line was finally established by two English surveyors, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, who surveyed the line during the period
from 1764 to 1767.
Boundary points were marked every mile with milestones set with a "P" on the Pennsylvania side and an "M" on the Maryland side. Every fifth stone was called an brownstone with Penn's British crown on the Pennsylvania side and Lord Baltimore's coat of arms on the Maryland side. Although the line was accepted by both sides. disagreements continued for many years.
While searching through burned rubbish from the capital building in Harrisburg. Daniel Jacobs, of Arendtsville and some associates found a map that changed the recorded history of Adams County. According to this map, John Hans Steelman was the first settler in Adams County west of the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvanian about 1718, the year that William Penn died. However, this
fact was not known for almost 200 years. The reason for this error seems to be a bureaucratic mix-up.
It seems that Samuel Blunston, a justice of the peace in Wrightsville, issued the licenses for the Penns for tracts in Pennsylvania west of the Susquehanna River. He recorded the settlers' grants before they were surveyed. When the survey was made, the settlers' lands were marked off on the map in Blunston's office. The map showing Steelman's claim was sent to Harrisburg and then
Other Blunston records show the first license for land use in Adams County was granted to Phillom McLaughlin for 200 acres on April 8, 1735. James Wilson received the second license.
Histories of this area written during the 19th century describe the first settler in Adams County as being Andrew Shriver who arrived in the spring of 1734. He located three miles east of the present site of Littlestown near Christ Reformed Church. With his brother, he came by wagon from Maryland carrying the basics to establish a new home in a land sparsely populated with only a
At the age of 63, John Hans Steelman established himself in Adams County at a location about a mile east of Zora. Steelman was born of Swedish parents in Philadelphia in 1655 and died in 1749 at the age of 94. Two sons are mentioned in the disposition of his estate, namely Peter Hance and John Hance Steelman, Jr.
Captain Hans or Hance, as he was called, came to Adams County from the Maryland Province where he had lived an adventurous life as an Indian trader and interpreter. In 1699 and 1700, he assisted William Penn in making treaties and dealing with the Indians. Later, in L740, in Chancery Court, he and Colonel Hance Hamilton corroborated testimony given by the Indians supporting Penn's
claim that the northern boundary of Maryland was near its present location instead of at the 40th parallel as claimed by Lord Baltimore. Steelman man located the ruins of an old Indian fort called Susquehanna and produced enough evidence to convince the Court that this was part of the landmark identified by Penn and the Indians in one of their treaties.
Steelman's establishment was a trading post where the Indians brought their furs until about 1739 when the Shawnees moved westward into the Ohio and Allegheny River Valleys. The Indian trail or path from "Paxtang to Captain Hance's" is mentioned in various land licenses recorded by Samuel Bulston for tracts west of the Susquehanna River. Such paths started at the Susquehanna River
opposite Paxtant (Harrisburg) and ran through the Dillsburg Gap, southwardly across Dogwood Run and lands of James Wilson and Phillon McLaughlin. It passed west of Gettysburg and crossed Marsh Creek near the present site of Lower Marsh Creek Presbyterian Church.
Landholder later surrounding the Steelman tract were: Henry Precher, and Joseph McKee on the north, William Porter on the west, James Agnew II on the south, and William "Coughran" and Henry and Henry Welty on the east.
Fairfield and the Surrounding Area
The beautiful apple and peach blossoms in the spring on the hillsides and the fields being plowed and planted, makes one pause and take in all the color and freshness, for this is Fairfield and its surrounding area.
Moving back to the middle 1700's the picture differs with scattered log cabins and settlers in the fields scratching out a living from the newly made fields and meadows.
John Miller of Castle County on the Delaware acquired land in Carroll's Delight, Maryland, as shown by an indenture dated December 19, 1755 from Charles Carroll of Annapolis in the province of Maryland. In 1786, John Miller sold three lots in the town. Later, in 1787, two lots were sold, and in 1793 three lots, and again, two lots in 1796.
William, his son, became the new proprietor of the plantation after the death of John Miller in 1794. Behind the beautiful stone manor house, the barn stilt stands with the date marker of 1791. The Miller plantation house became a tavern and inn. Although it has changed ownership many times, it is still being operated today as a tavern and inn.
Tavern keepers in 1753 displayed a sign stating that during the period of their licenses they may not "suffer any drunkenness, unlawful gaming, or sell any liquor to the Indians to debauch or hurt them, but in all things shall well and truly observe and practice all laws and orders of province to the business of tavern keeping belonging."
In 1801, Squire Miller had the land surveyed and plotted for a town. It was named Millerstown, but the post Office rejected the name since a town of Millerstown already existed on the Juniata River. However, Fairfield for many years was also referred to as Millerstown.
The hills and mountains could tell many secrets of past history as they overlooked the Indians hunting and tilling the soil, of the wars which were fought, of the settlers taking up residence, of villages being planned, the rise of saw, grit and grist mills along the creeks, the coming of roads, taverns, day stops and drovers inns along the way. These mountains viewed the
struggles and hardships of the pioneers along with the happiness in this new country.
Two miles south of Fairfield another community flourished and faded in the early years of this area. McKessensburg as shown on the 1792 map of York County, lay along the road and Tom's Creek at the foot of Jack's Mountain. A number of Mckessens lived in this area, operated a sawmill on Tom's Creek and collected quitrents from those who bought their lots and lent their name to the
community. For almost fifty years this village existed as shown by tax receipts and a later 1821 map which called it "McKissen."
Further south over Jack's Mountain road at the intersection of the Emmitsburg and Waynesboro road was Fountaindale. From 1842 to 1854 a Lutheran Church and cemetery were located at this site. The church was dismantled and the stones used to build a house close by. The cemetery has persisted to the present time although a portion was recently covered by the Sunshine Trail road
construction. Over the years the community of Fountaindale has moved westward several miles.
Moving eastward towards Emmitsburg is the intersection for Track Road, which passed through Carrollsburg and into Carroll's Delight. Going north along Track Road is the old Carrollsburg Cemetery in Liberty Township. In the 1830's this land belonged to the Zimmerman family (Carpenter). Both names are used in identifying this community cemetery. Besides the family names, others such
as Eiker, Topper, McDevit, Krise, Overholtzer, and Loman are buried there. The earlier settlers of this land were the Cochrans and the Porters.
Southwest of Fairfield, between Jack's Mountain and Culp Ridge, flows Tom's Creek with hemlocks drooping gracefully over the edge of the water. Here one effort was made to exploit some of the local natural resources. A group of men, Thaddeus Stevens, Colonel James D. Paxton, John B. McPherson and General Thomas Craig Miller, organized a company to mine the iron ore, smelt the iron
and produce some manufactured outputs. It was called Maria Furnace after Colonel Paxton's wife. The furnace was not too successful because the stove plates which were produced were too brittle and the iron was of a low-grade. In two years, McPherson and Miller sold out their holdings. The furnace was abandoned in 1836.
During this period, Thaddeus Stevens introduced legislation in the state to build a railroad southwest from Gettysburg. Stevens' political opponents named it the 'Tapeworm Railroad' for its meandering nature. The roadbed wandered around the mountains touching many of Stevens' properties and greatly extending the length of the road. Finally, after upwards of a million dollars had
been spent, the funds were shut off and no track was ever laid on the bed.
Further out, at the beginnings of Tom's Creek near Kepner's Knob, lies Snyder's Cemetery. Quite lacking in care, many of the stones are without names, just plain stone. One of the stone markers has Elizabeth Snyder, born 1700, and another, Nancy Mackley.
Northeasterly, towards Gettysburg, are a few of the cemeteries used by the first settlers in the latter part of the l8th century. Lower Marsh Creek or "Sanders" burying ground is near the junction of Big and Little Marsh Creek in High land Township. Burials date back to 1749. Some of the family names here are, McCullough, Stewart, Morrow, Hart, Wilson, Agnew, Withrow, Slemons,
Porter, Cunningham, Alexander, Reed, and McKesson.
Old Marsh Creek Cemetery, also called "McClellans" lies on the bank of the creek along Black Horse Tavern Road. A short way from the bridge on the Fairfield Road'. The McCleltan family who were originally buried there have since been removed with their headstones to Evergreen cemetery in Gettysburg. Other family names Wele, Kincaid, McDonough, Crawford, Cross and Dunwoodie, along
with many others.
A very dominant feature of the Fairfield Area is Jacks’ Mountain. Only a few miles southwest of Fairfield rises one of the larger mountains in the lower Adams County area called Jack's Mountain, a part of the South Mountain range. Much local history occurred on the slopes of, at the foot of, and in the valley adjoining Jack's Mountain. Its name apparently came from a local settler
by the name of Jack.
One of the earliest land grants containing the name Jack's Mountain was issued in 1792 to Dr. James Crawford. This grant was for two land sections on top of Jack's Mountain totaling 41 1/2 acres and joined together by a narrow land corridor. A probable explanation for this grant was the establishment of a base for the extraction of ores or minerals.
Atop the southwest portion of Jack's Mountain a Mr. Thompson mined low-grade copper ore, which was not commercially profitable. This was the plight of a number of other copper mines in this vicinity. However, just east of Iron Springs, iron was successfully mined and smelted, and manufactured items, such as stoves, were produced at Maria Furnace from 1826 to 1838.
As with all mountains, this one got in the way of the people trying to get around. However, travel and transportation networks did develop to bring them together.
Travel And Transportation
The smaller creeks and rivers in southwestern Adams County were not noted as waterways of communication and travel, but instead supported the mills which ground the grain and sawed the logs into lumber. Most travel was afoot or by horseback. By the 1750's some roads began to appear allowing wagons to haul grain to the mills and markets and also providing better means of
transportation for the settlers. The roads were often the expansion of the dirt paths and trails established by the Indians and early traders and settlers. One road or path from Gettysburg headed southwest to Fairfield and then south and west to Wayrnesboro, and finally south to the Cumberland Gap. The newly developed roads aided not only travelers but also the settlers. Crops could
be moved to market and mill with greater ease and the settlers could attend church.
Perhaps the best way to portray the development of a road network would to here quote some of the early roads of Hamiltonban Township - York county records to describe the petitions of the settlers for improvements in their roads.
- April 30, 1751 - Inhabitants of Hamilton, Bane and Cumberland twp. ask for a Road from "Willouby's Gap" to the head branches of Rock creek and then to intersection with the road from John Musshet's (?) to Yorktown.
- April 28, 1752 - Petition from Hamilton's Bann, Cumberland, Manallen and Straban etc., asks for a road from John steel's "the nearest and best way the ground will admit of to Yorktown."
- Oct. 30, 1753 - Inhabitants of Hamilton's Bann and Cumberland twp. and adjacent parts say the great road lately laid out by Lancaster court from Willouby's Gap in south Mountain to John Hamilton's is so "miry"' it is impractical to bridge and keep it in repair. Ask it to be altered.
- Oct. 1760 - Petition from Hamilton's Bann two', need road from McGaughy's Mill thru the townships toward Maryland, to intersect the temporary line near the present dwelling plantation of John Everitt.
- Oct. 1768 - Inhabitants of the "Lower March Creek", need a road from Robert Bighams Mill to the provincial line. About 2 miles to intersect with the road from McGaughy's Mill to Baltimore.
- July 1770 - Petition from Hamiltons Bann cited the need for an established road "by which to carry their flour and other produce to market." A road from Ramseys and Gettys Merchant MiIl on Middle creek the best and shortest way to intersect the road already laid out and cleared from McGaugheys Mill to the temporary line at the northeast corner of James Thompson's old field.
- April 177I - Petition from Cumberland and the upper parts of Hamiltons Bann states that they had asked "from motives arising from William Mcleans' sawmill to the merchant mill of James McGaughy and thence intersecting into the road from Willougghby's Gap and then hence to William McClellans house at or near the mill of Alexander Poe and "to fall into the new road lately granted
and opened leading from the house of Sarah Black to Adam Booces at or near the place that the road crosseth Rock Creek. Not considered at last court for some reason. Reference in petition to the "fording of Marsh Creek at the house of William McClellan."
- April 1771 - Petition of inhabitants of the middle part of Carioll's Delight and adjacent parts of the South Mountain in Hamiltons Bann states "at the first settlement of that part of the county about thirty years ago, a Private path or cart way was marked out from then occupied path or, cartway leading from Yorktown thru Willoughby's Gap and where the present occupied public
road leading as aforesaid now is and branching from the said road in the plantation of John Steel and thense extending from the said road through land of Robert Brown deceased, now of Mary his wife and children to the house now of William Witherow and thence into the South Mountain. He said that path or/cartway hath been of Great Emolument to them being the only way by which many
of them can go to their place of worship or onto the public road afore said in order to go to market," How Mary Brown has fenced off this road and they must use a very steep and craggy mountain "which is hard of a single horse. They asked for a road beginning at Witherow house to Willoughby's Gap, Yorktown Road.
- July 1771 - Petition from persons in Cumberland County and the upper parts of York County states that they suffer for want of a public road "through a small part of the upper end of York County towards the Baltimore Market." They ask for road from "the highway crossing the South Mountain Nicholas's Gap at or near Josiah Emmits' house and down Miney Branch to Mr. David Kennedy's
Merchant Mill now erecting then to intersect the province line near James Young plantation.
- Oct. l77l - Petition from Hamiltons Bann states that petitioners need a road to carry produce to market. Road should go from James Marshall's Mill between William Waugh and John Ralson through David Hails to intersect with the road from James McGaughy's Mill to Tawney Town in the plantation of Hugh Wilson.
- Oct 1771 - Nicholas Wierman of Huntington twp. still labors under an inconvenience, asks for a road from his hill to Deardorf MilI to the Baltimore road. The road from the mill goes over the hills and is almost impassable. There is no direct way to get flour to market. He asks for a road from his mill to intersect the Marsh Creek to Baltimore road near Frederick Kuhns.
- April 1774 - Petition from Hamitons Bann twp. A road is needed from the great road from York to Nichols's Gap in the South Mountain to begin at Amos McGinley's or James McCason's land on said road down Toms Creek to intersect with road from Nichols's Gap to the Maryland line at David Kennedy's Mill. About three miles needed for mill, market and meeting. It begins at James
McKissons for 2 miles.
- April 1778 - Petition from Cumberland and Hamilton Bann road saying there was a road occupied about thirty years ago from Doctor Campbell's in Blacks Gap on the South Mounlain to James McGaughy's Miil Road lately obstructed. Some petitioners have inconvenient passage to worship, mills. etc.
- April 1179 - Alexander M'Carter of Mt. Pleasant twp say's a road was laid out from the Baltimore Road to intersection the road leading from this town to Marsh Creek Settlement was confirmed and opened. Asks for damages on his improved land.
- July 1779 - Petition from Hamiltonban twp. states that residents have for some years occupied a road to Reynolds Ramsay's Mill. Some used it to go to mill, some to worship. The road has now been put out of proper course upon bad ground, and is even more threatened. Request is for a private road from James Cochran's by James Cummings, to Ramsel's MiIl and to David Agnew's.
- April 1781 - Petition from Cumberland twp. states that the residents need a road "to the place frequent for divine worship from William McClean's Saw Mill in Hamilton Bann to Rev. John Black's meeting house in Cumberland two.
- April 1785 - Petition from Hamiltonban states "there is a necessity for a public road to be laid out from Fairfield a town on William Miller's land by the house of Robert MGimsey to David Waugh's miII, and from thence into the public road leading to Baltimore to intersect said road to the south east of the house of John McElnory also from said Waugh's MilI into the road leading
from James Marshall's MiIl to Renold Ramseys to intersect said road near north corner of Robert MGimsel's' land.
- April 1786 - "The petition of a number of the inhabitants of the town of Fairfield and places adjacent thereto was read to the court setting forth… They need a road from said town to William Miller's saw mill. Road now used only by those whose land goes through it. It is now altogether inaccessible. This is the only saw mill in these parts "at which they can be so readily
supplied, with timber's boards and scantling which is in great demand in that place at present for the purpose of building and in which business a number of petitioners either are or expected to so be engaged."
- Jan. 1789 - Petition of William Miller again read --- he petitioned last April. A public road has been confirmed throughout his land. Since he must support tow fences, this has been of great expense to him" The part in question is 80 perches long across a creek and the winter usually washes some part away. Also, he must support a road a few perches away for the conveniences of
a town road in question vacated.
- Oct. 1790 - Petition from Hamiltonban twp. calls for a road from Green Ridge in the mountains to McClean Saw Mill and Marshall's Mill.
- Oct. 1790 -Petition from Hamiltonban and Cumberland twps. calls for a road from Marsh Creek fording at William McClellan's to the Rock Creek fording at John McKellup's on the great road to Baltimore.
- Dec. 1793 - Viewers: Moses McClean, Ebenezer Finley and Royds Ramsey, George Kerr and Henry Hoke to lay out a road from Millerstown along presently occupied Road to McGeshens town (McKessontown) then on new ground into the old road along same to branch of Tom's Creek to the forks.
- March 1797 - Walter Smith, James Scott, Alexander Cobean, George Kerr, David Wilson and James Rowan named reviewers last September to lay out a road from Millerstown (Fairfield) to the great road near Ramsey's Mill. Beginning at intersection of York and Nicholson Gap Road and Fairfield town between William Miller and James Brice, John McGinley through and James Brice and to the
road from James Marshall's to the White Mill. But in Sept. 1797, damage of eight pounds to James Brice for damage caused by the road from Millertown to the great road near Rarnsey, now White's Mill. James Brice may not use swinging gates on the road. It is not clear where these gates are.
- Sept. 1799 - Thomas Ewing, William Smith, William Hamilton, Richard Brown, Charles Wilson, Adam Livingston named in Dec. 1798 to lay out a road from Fairfield (alias Millers Town) to the Franklin County line. Beginning at point in the principal street of the town in the lane. Beginning at a point in the principal street of the town to the line. Five miles and 93 perches. Not to
be opened until Franklin County has a public road to continue to intersect Nicholson Gap Road. Set-aside until 1800.
It was along these roads that the new Postal Service of the United States began. This seems an appropriate time to discuss that service in our community.
The Fairfield Post Office
The Fairfield Post Office eminently qualifies for Bicentennial interest having been established under the administration of President George Washington in 17g6.
The Postmaster General at that time was Joseph Habersham who deemed it proper "to establish a post Office at Millerstown, which is a place of some business, for the accommodation of the inhabitants of that place and neighborhood to send to Gettysburg, the nearest Post Office for their letters." He appointed William Taylor the first postmaster.
The Post Office name was changed in 1798 when the village of Millerstown became known as Fairfield. It was a very small post office until 1822 when Maria Furnace started operations, industries expanded, churches were built and an influx of new residents gave impetus to the town.
Most of the early postmasters had other occupations - being a postmaster was just a sideline and not a full time job as it is today. The first postmaster was the tavern keeper; postmasters Mussleman and Neely were partners in a store business" with the post office located in their store. This building still stands on Main Street today.
There have been times in Fairfield when postmasters' lives have been placed in jeopardy. John B. Paxton, for instance, was serving his second term as a Lincoln appointee when the Civil War broke out. During the conflict in the Gettysburg area he and two other Fairfield men were taken as prisoners. It was reported that in 1862, J.E.B. Stuart with l20O confederate horsemen passed
through Fairfield and took the three men prisoners, who were then incarcerated in the dread Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia for six months.
The early postmasters received very little financial compensation. It is recorded that Ezra Blythe who served from 1811 to 1827 was paid a total of 918.16 per year. In the ensuing years wages have been raised so that they are commensurate with government salaries.
The following is a list of Fairfield postmasters and the dates of appointment:
- William Taylor - April 1796
- James Brice – October 1800
- John McGinley – July 1801
- Ezra Blythe – April 1811
- William Johnston – November 1827
- Michael Lawver – June 1838
- John McCleary – April 1841
- Jacob Brinkerhoff – November 1845/June 1853
- Hugh D. Heagy – March 1849
- John B. Paxton – May 1850/March 1861
- Charles M. Robinson – May 1859
- John W. Sullivan – March 1867
- John M. Musselman – March 1870/February 1889
- J. Upton Neely – August 1885/October 1893
- John C. Shertzer – May 1889
- James M. Moore – November 1897
- Horace S. Neely – July 1914
- Russell C. McCleaf – December 1916
- Howard L. Harbaugh – September 1921
- George M. Neely – March 1935
- J. Walter Kugler – May 1947
- John W. Beach – June 1954
- Paul C. McGlaughlin – November 1959
- C. Thomas Steinberger – September 1961
Over the years there have been several post office buildings, the present brick structure being erected in 1967.
The first rural route in Fairfield was established in 1900, the second in 1915. From time to time there have been additions and deletions from the routes as communities grew or declined. In August 1975 the greater portion of the new Borough of Carroll Valley was added, bringing the number served by the Fairfield Post Office to 4,000. Now the rural carriers traverse over 100 miles
As Fairfield grows and develops, so will the local post office grow to serve its needs. It is one of the most popular places in the town where everybody meets everybody with a friendly "good morning."
The Way It Was
With little to support him in creature comfort, the early settler to the Pennsylvania-Maryland border area pushed forward from the sea into the forests, on foot o" with the help of his horse, cow or ox. Sometimes by his side worked his wife, intrepid and hearty, and sometimes he traveled in a group. He carried all his worldly goods with him, bringing also the salt and iron cooking
pots which were elementary and essential. His only tools were his ax, his wedge and his maul.
Always wary of the Indians, with rifle at hand, his immediate necessity was shelter. This he might accomplish by gathering long grasses which he supported across y-shaped poles, and in their drying gave temporary shelter. When at last he was "under roof" he had no smoothed floors, for no planes were available, and his bed was a platform built upon upright poles attached by a board
to the cabin wall.
His clothes hung from wooden pegs, his windows were oiled hide or a board which let down against the weather. The slight illumination which pierced the darkness came from fat lamps or dry rushes stuck into the chinks. He used his hunting knife at the table as silverware as well as for gutting. Gourds, flat wooden chargers, spoons made of horn or wood – these were his table
Perhaps he may have come from Europe as an indentured servant. Perhaps he indentured himself, and even his family, to work off his passage. He might have been sentenced to prison in Europe for a crime such as arson of fields or dwellings, and to facilitate his release he had to pay for the damage he had done. For this he would often advertise to sell himself, escaping the tyranny
in Europe, receiving a trip to the colonies where he would then work off his passage, a system known as "paying an indenture." This system, while often allowing cruel and barbarous treatment aboard ship, still worked, and thus most of the indentured farm labor of colonial times was a voluntary one. These hardy souls who made it through their early sufferings gave Pennsylvania a
strain of some of its most successful farmers' An Act of Assembly in 1705 provided that at the request of their creditors, the county court was empowered to sell debtors who were not married and under 53 years of age for a term not to exceed seven years. Married debtors over the age of 46 could not be sold for five years. This was repealed in 1729, but revived in part in 1730, but
again repealed in 1800. The harsh debt laws were abated a bit after the Revolution, but both imprisonment and servitude for debt was not deleted until July 12, 1842, when an Act of Assembly halted this practice. An instance of the rigid indenture law is that of an Irishman who served valiantly in the Revolution, but still had to return to his master to fulfill his term of indenture.
Death was an ever-present fact of life. Often graves were marked by nothing more than a flat fieldstone. Ann Wheeler Elder, whose husband later sold land to William Cochran of Carroll's Tract, died of consumption in her 34th year. Leaving behind her five children, this early pioneer mother was buried below Emmitsburg in 1739. The vehicle of her interment was a hallowed-out
chestnut tree, for there were no planes to smooth the boards for her coffin. However, her tree was sufficiently protective, for about 100 years later, the tree, with Ann tucked inside, was reburied near the now destroyed Clairvoux property.
An early Pennsylvanian left behind this account.
"The few seeds that I was able to plant the first year yielded us little produce. We however raised some half-grown potatoes, some turnips, and soft corn, with we made out to live, without suffering, until theft next spring at planting time when I planted all the seeds that I had elf; and when I finished planting, we had nothing to eat but leeks, cow cabbage and milk. We lived on
leeks and cow cabbage as long as they kept green - about six weeks… during the three winter months it snowed 70 days. I sold one yoke of my oxen in the fall, and the other yoke I wintered on browse; but in the spring one ox died and the other I sold to procure food for my family, and was not destitute of a team, and had nothing other than my own hands to depend upon to clear my lands
and raise provisions. We wore out all our shoes the first year. We had no way to get more - no money, nothing to sell, and but little to eat - and were in dreadful distress for the want of the necessaries of life. I was obliged to work and travel in the woods barefooted. After a while our clothes were worn out. Our family increased, and the children were nearly naked. I had a broken
slate brought from Jersey shore. I sold that…and bought two fawn skins, of which my wife made a petticoat for Mary; and Mary wore the petticoat until she outgrew it; then Rhoda took it till she outgrew it; then Susan had it till she outgrew it; then it feel to Abigail, and she wore it out. "
Thus the hungry hen who swallowed one of the precious vegetable seeds could provoke disaster… for then the craw must be opened, the seed removed, and while a hearty "meal" of chicken could be enjoyed, the thought of the loss of the needed eggs may have dulled the appetite.
Families settled on or near the creeks and springs for the vital water needed for household chores, and later for the mills. An Indian attack which forced the family to withdraw could shut off the supply unless it was close to the house.
A marryin' or a burin' was, for all its other implications, still a social event. The settlers had their stills; they were not the ever-pious souls we so often think about. Most of their children married young. The wedding was a great and deliciously anticipated occasion. From miles around, the people traveled on the horse paths to the bride's house. A neglected invitation could
incur wrath. The uninvited might fell a tree across the path or tie wild grape vines into maze.
The wedding, which usually took place before dinner, was heralded by gunfire. The dinner was the best the pioneers could supply. Pork, fowl, beef, bear and venison might be served. Vegetables were potatoes, cabbage and other root crops or squash. Meager rations might be the result for days after, but was the tribute, this was the blessing.
They square danced and jigged, so violently that when one couple tired another came on the floor to take their place. This was known as "jigging it off". The ladies must have looked like forest birds- in their homespun and hand dyed dresses of brown and subtle shades' Never did calico or gingham grace the ladies' These materials' while popular in today's interpretations of
frontier fashions' were actually unknown to the Pioneers.
When all the feasting and dancing wore itself out, the bride was put to bed and forced to eat and drink even more. Then her bridesmaids would stand at the foot of the bed and pitch stockings at her head. Perhaps the one whose stocking landed closest to the forehead would be the next bride.
The "race for Black Betty" then occurred' The bride's father would obtain the finest bottle of whiskey within his means, and for this prize a race would be held, the one who took it first from the hand of the bride's father was the winner of the bottle. "Black Betty"' as the bottle was called, was then sped to the bride who got the first drink, and then it was passed down the
line. This merriment might continue for three days, an event which the couple would recall through all their married life.
Frontier entertainment, and you must remember this was the frontier, was far different than what we sometimes see in movies. It is true that at 13 or 14 a lad would be given his first rifle and a shot pouch, and this qualified him for a slot at the fort or the blockhouse or as a foot Soldier. All the glorified mark shooting we see pictured was done only when ammunition was
available. Ammunition was hard to get, the lead difficult to come by, and few rifles carried more than 45 bullets to the pound. Mark, when it was shot, was done from a position at rest, at as great a distance as the length and weight of the barrel would throw a ball on a horizontal level.
Boys borrowed the art of throwing the tomahawk from the Indians, and bets were made as to how many turns it would take, and whether it might hit its mark edge up or down.
Boys ran, jumped and wrestled. Young ladies sang and told stories, often continued ones, each adding something. They also sewed together and did many chores of each season, each family helping the other. Jack and the Beanstalk was said to be a continued story, as popular perhaps as the tales of captured virgins being returned, their virtue in tact, to their true love.
When times moved forward and slave owning became somewhat customary with the landed gentry, the slave owner might play various games with his people. One favorite game was "Old Hundred," done by drawing 100 squares on a board and pitching corn kernels for the highest score. Dice and card games were not played, but horse races, cock fighting and knife throwing were popular. Large
farms in our area were known in early deeds as "plantations," a term often associated with the South. One early history lists the advertisement of an Emmitsburg dancing master (perhaps bent on raising the level of entertainment).
The arrival of stage and mail coaches was often heralded by the men at the bar of a local inn rushing into the street and waving at two different vehicles, making bets as to which one would first make it to the inn. The roads, with their wagons, coaches and assortment of drovers, groups of sheep, turkeys, etc., clogged with dust and boggy at times from rain, give us a picture of
what across-country trip might have been like "way back when." Many journals tell of weary travelers stranded for days in some God-forsaken mire.
Christmas was always an advent of deep religious significance. In earlier times when much of our population consisted of scotch-Irish, the German families lent color to the season by "bellsnickling," or the practice of mummers, by dressing in weird costumes and silently approaching the doors, filling the children with terror and pleasure, for although the bellsnicklers looked
frightening, when they were given handouts of apples or nuts, they rewarded their benefactors with carols.
Apple peeling, corn husking, the catching and cooking of a great turtle - all these were simple happy occasions. Sometimes a little diversion was created by sending the youths off to the woods or orchard to hunt twitches or snipes, which were to arrive red-eyed at midnight, but which never came at all.
With gossip and goodness, quilts were finished for a bride's dower or hope chest, berries picked, corn ground. Ice on the pond brought out the peculiar old skates we sometimes find today, and of course, there was sledding. Thus, the years and seasons came and went.
Sternly independent, but possessed of a togetherness in strength, these ancestors gave us our today. Their leaving is recorded on stone slabs in badly kept and errant graveyards.
Indians of Pennsylvania
The Delaware Indians who lived near the Delaware River, called themselves Leni-Lenape, or "real" men. These Indians spent their lives hunting, making pottery and trading with other tribes. They used the bow and chipped flint for hunting. Their crops consisted mostly of tobacco and maize until the influence of the white man expanded their farming operations. The most serious
handicap of the Delawares was their lack of a written language. They used pictographs to record events to the satisfaction of their own tribes and terms of treaties were recalled only by memory. However, these methods were not capable of preserving any information for posterity. History shows that William Penn was impressed by the Delawares, probably because they had been in touch
with the white man for at least 100 years prior to Penn.
The Susquehannocks lived along the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania and Maryland. This warlike tribe fell victim to new diseases imported by the white man, and attacks by Marylanders and Iroquois destroyed the Susquehannocks as a nation by 1765.
The Shawnees settled on the Lower Susquehanna River. They were allies of the French in the French and Indian War and were allies of the British in the Revolutionary War. This tribe was constantly in conflict with early settlers.
A map of Indian paths would probably prove to be as intricate as one of today's roadmaps. Most Indian paths were only about 18 inches wide, barely sufficient to allow persons to move in single file. The Indians never traveled in haste, as they made their home wherever they happened to be.
Originally, the Indians were not a warlike people except in avenging the death of a kinsman. The tactics used by the Indians in making raids were surprise, destruction, seizure of captives, and retreat. During the French and Indian War, the main objective of most Indian raids was the capture of prisoners.
Although white men were horrified to learn how the Indians tortured their prisoners, the Indians were likewise horrified to learn that Indian women and children captured by the white man were sold into slavery. This action appalled the Indians who adopted most white women and children into their tribes.
One of the best known Indian stories in Pennsylvania is that of dreams exchanged by Shickellamy, an Iroquois representative, and Conrad Weiser, a Pennsylvania interpreter, at the forks of the Susquehanna River. The two were traveling together on a Susquehanna Indian path opposite the Isle of Que, near Selingsgrove, when Shickellamy said, "I have had a dream. I dreamed that you
gave me a new rifle."
Weiser gave him the rifle, but added, "I, too, have had a dream, I dreamed that you gave me that island in the river."
Shickellamy, the perfect diplomat, fulfilled Weiser's dream, but added, "I will never dream with you again."
In looking back over the conflicts between the Indians and the whites, it is impossible to say that one side was wholly right or wrong. The Indians were fighting to preserve the land they felt was rightfully theirs; the settlers, on the other hand were caught up in one of the great mass movements of mankind. Who is to say which side was right and which side was wrong? Even history
cannot furnish the answer.
Indians were a constant presence in the area around Fairfield. Settlers encountered them throughout the area. During the French and Indian War, some of those encounters were not friendly.
Indians Raids Of The French And Indian War
In 1758, a band of Indians and Frenchmen attacked the home of Thomas Jemison near Sharp's Run and Conewago Creek in Adams County. On the day of the attack, Mary Jemison, then 15, loaned her horse to Robert Buck so that he might go to his home for a bag of grain.
Hearing gunfire, the Jemison’s opened their door and found Mr. Buck and the horse, both shot and killed. Six Indians then attacked the Jemison house and captured Mr. and Mrs. Jemison and four of their children, namely, Robert, Matthew, Betsy and Mary. Two other Jemison sons were in the barn and thus evaded capture. Captured along with the Jemisons were a neighbor woman and her
On the second day after the attack, the Indians killed all of the captives except Mary Jemison and one of the neighbor boys. The neighbor boy was presented to the Frenchmen and Mary was adopted by the Shawnees to replace an Indian killed in the French and Indian War.
Mary Jemison married an Indian chief and bore him two children. She lost one son shortly after birth, and lost her husband as they were emigrating to a new home in the Genesee Valley. Several years rater, she married a Seneca chief and had four daughters and two sons. However, the tragedy surrounding Mary Jemison continued. Her son, John, killed his stepbrother and later killed
his own brother. John, himself, was subsequently murdered in a quarrel with two Indians.
Mary Jemison became known as the White Squaw of the Genesee. She acquired substantial land holdings, was naturalizes and received title to the land.
She returned to her child hood home and lived to be 97 years of age. She was buried at Seneca Mission cemetery but her remains were later moved to the Indian Council Grounds at Letchworth Park. A statue erected to the memory of Mary Jemison stands near the Jesuit Mission (St. Ignatius Loyola Church) in nearby Buchanan Valley.
Another Indian raid occurred in 1758 near Marshall's Mill close to what is now Virginia Mills. Archibald Bard, his wife and infant son were abducted along with a number of other persons. All the captives were put to death except Mr. and Mrs. Bard. Mr. Bard managed to escape from his captors, and his wife was adopted by two Indian warriors to take the place of their deceased
sister. Mr. Bard, determined to find his wife, finally gained her release from the Indians. The Indian "brothers" had treated Mrs. Bard kindly and in gratitude, the Bards invited the Indian "brothers" to visit with them at the Bard home. One of the "brothers" started out to visit the Bards, but became involved in a quarrel in Chambersburg and had his throat slit. After being stitched
up, he continued to the Bard home and was nursed
back to health by the Bard family. When he returned to his tribe, he was put to death because of his rapport with the white man.
Pennsylvanians were urged by many to declare war against the Delawares and Shawnees. One leader in this cause was James Hamilton who became known as the "Hair Buyer'" Mr. Hamilton offered to pay bounties for Indian scalps.
He offered $150 for a male Indian about 12 years of age; $i30 for a female of the same age; $130 for males over 12 years; and $50 for females over 12. Needless to say, this did nothing to improve relationships between the Indians and the settlers.
Many Indian raids are recorded as taking place in the Fairfield area. Among them are:
- A Mr. McKesson wounded and his son taken prisoner from South Mountain (1757).
- William Waugh's barn burnt in the "tract" in what was then York County (1757).
- One man killed and nine taken prisoner at Archibard Bard's home in South Mountain (1758).
- One person taken prisoner from South Mountain(1761).
- A Mr. Crawford and Mr. Dunwiddie were shot by two Indians in Carroll's Tract (1791).
A letter from Mr. Thomas Barton's dated November 2nd, 1755 to the Governor expresses the fear that the Indian situation created:
I am just come from Carlisle. You may have seen by the enclosed in what a situation I left it. The Great cove is entirely reduced to ashes. Andrew Montour charged Mr. Buchanon last night at John Harris' to hasten home and remove his wife and children. I suppose by tomorrow there will not be one Woman or Child in the town.
Mr. Hans Hamilton marches this morning with a party of sixty men from Carlisle to Shippen's Town. Mr. Pope and Mr. Mcconaughy came over with me to raise Reinforcements in order to join Mr. Hamilton immediately.
I intend this morning to return to Carlisle with a party of men to guard that Town; the Gentlemen there desire me to request your assistance without delay.
I am, Gentlemen, Your's &
The Fight For Freedom
More than a year prior to the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia on July 4, 17Z6,the mustering of troops had commenced. On June 24, 1775, Captain Michael Dondel's Company was enlisted at the tavern of Samuel Gettys located at the crossroads of the Pittsburgh-Philadelphia Road and Shippensburg-Baltimore Road. On July 1, 1775, Captain Dondel's company left
York for Boston to assist their fellow rebels. On July 25,they arrived at Cambridge, Massachusetts, and were soon engaged in the fighting.
A company at that time had one captain, three lieutenants, four sergeants, four corporals, a drummer or trumpeter, and 64 privates, for a total complement of 76 men. The monthly pay was $20 for a captain, $13 1/3 for lieutenants, $8 for sergeants, $7 1/3 for corporals, trumpeters and drummers' and $6 2/3 for privates. All were required to furnish their own arms and clothes. The
enlistment period was one year. The total monthly payroll for a fully-manned company was $555 1/3.
Faith! That one word typifies the Spiritual characteristics of those early settlers of our community.
Leaving home, friends, and church life in their native lands of Europe was no easy task, regardless of the overriding reasons of economics and politics. Bringing with them a determination to surmount all problems in the search for a new life in a new land, their one basic common denominator was a faith that would carry them through all situations. Not just a faith in themselves,
but a faith in their Creator. Hardships would seem never ending. Self-doubt was an ever-present companion. Disease, bad weather, strange peoples, a short life span - - all were members of those bands of early settlers who moved into what we now call the Fairfield Area.
From the days when John Hanson Steelman established his trading business to the present day, the Faith of our people has been manifested in the spiritual life and development of the community.
Determining fact from fiction about how many churches there were, where they were located, how and when they were established, and many other aspects of spiritual life is very hard to do today.
However, bits and pieces are available for us to use as a glimpse through the door of the past.
We do have a direct link to that past in the still active Lower Marsh Creek Presbyterian Church located on the Fairfield-Gettysburg Road in Highland Township.
Since that frontier church was part and parcel of every important step in the advancement of this portion of Adams County, we take a few words to here discuss its development and importance.
It was about 1728-1736 that a band of emigrants from Scotland and the North of Ireland settled on the "red-lands" on the southeastern part of York (now Adams) County. These early settlers were commonly referred to as the Scotch-Irish. In short time these hardy frontiers people made the first settlement among the hills near the sources of Marsh Creek. They brought with them the
characteristics of their native lands. They were moral, industrious, intelligent, and, for the most part, rigid Presbyterians. They were frugal, plain in their mode of living, but people of undaunted courage and high Patriotic feeling.
In the summer of 1740 Donegal Presbytery began to provide preaching for Presbyterians who had settled along Marsh Creek. From l741 to 1758 the Presbyterian Church in the colonies was divided into Old Side and New Side'. The persons who sympathized with Whitfield, the Tennents, and Blairs, were organized with Lower Marsh Creek in 1748 by the Rev. Andrew Bay of the Presbytery of New
Castle. Their first house of worship was a log church at the graveyard on the west bank of Marsh Creek. In it the Presbytery of Carlisle was organized October 17, 1786. In 1790 a new site was chosen and the present stone building was erected' Families brought stones to church services from the different farms for use in constructing the church. During the Battle of Gettysburg it was
used as a field hospital.
Another church associated with the spiritual life of the community was known as the Hill Church located in Freedom Township- In 1785 the Hill Church united with the Rock Creek Church, another of the Presbyterian Churches in the area.
The predominance of Presbyterian churches in the area came as a result of the scotch-Irish background of the settlers as well as the division of the church itself in the colonies, as previously mentioned.
There was a Mt. Horeb Lutheran Congregation established in 1845 located in Hamiltonban Township.
Presently, spiritual life in the community is represented by the following churches: St. John's Lutheran, Fairfield Mennonite, St. Mary's Catholic, Orrtanna Methodist, Wesley Chapel, Iron Springs Brethren in Christ, Baptist, Lower Marsh Creek Presbyterian, Jacobs Church, Greenstone Apostolic and Mt. Hope Methodist.
A strong Faith has carried our community through 200 years of life. It will continue to do so for the years ahead as long as our church communities continue to be strong.
CloseIy allied with the religious life of the community was the medical profession. Little is known about the many doctors that served the community over the years, but a few glimpses have come down to us.
The Medical Profession
All we can do is list a few of the items concerning early doctors.
- Samuel Agnew, M.D. - Born at Millerstown, August 10, 1777. Graduated from Dickinson CoIIege in 1798, University of Pennsylvania M.D. Degree in 1800.
- A.P. Beaver, M.D. - Graduated from Jefferson Medical College in 1876. Located in Fairfield in the same year.
- Dr. WiIIiam P. Crawford - Marsh Creek Settlement, 1795-1825. He was born in Paisley, Scotland in 1759 or 1760. He received his M.D. from Edinburgh in 1781. He settled in Adams County about 1786, on the east bank of the Marsh Creek.
- Dr. John Paxton - Reared in Millerstown where his family lived. 1822- 1841.
It might be of current interest to note a table of costs for various medical services, which was probably the first concerted action by the Profession, which announced a fee bill in March 1864 of area Physicians:
- County visits, first mile $1.25, Each additional mile .25
- Town visits .50, Medicines, unless simple, extra charge, Night visits, one half additional
- Ordinary cases of midwifery - - - 5.00, If in the country, ride extra
- Instrumental cases of Midwifery------- 10.00
- Other professional charges to be increased accordingly.
Commerce And Industry
Some years before the Mason-Dixon Line was established between Pennsylvania and Maryland and about the time Charles Carroll received his grant from Lord Baltimore, a small business was being carried on in the lush valley with its tall timbers and fresh brooks. John Hanson Steelman, a trader and Indian interpreter, lived on the old Paxton Indian Trail on the hill just south of Zora,
traveling among the Indians of South Central Pennsylvania and Northern Maryland trading small items of housewares for fine animal pelts from the Indians.
Much has been lost of history concerning trade and commerce in subsequent years, and there is no way possible to substantiate many of the stories contained herein since they have been told and retold from generation to generation. One thing is apparent - - the westward movement continued, the land was cleared and fine farms were developed all through the "Valley of Carroll's
Delight." Soon other hearty migrant families found opportunities in the valley and established small businesses and services for the people of the valley.
The sound of falling trees, splitting rails and the builder's hammer and saw were soon joined by other sounds; the blacksmith's sound of steel against steel, the sound of water splashing over the water wheels to drive the mills and sawmills for the people of the valley.
Around these places of business were formed small villages on important roads and crossroads. Thus was formed the villages of Fountaindale, Zora, Fairfield, Virginia Mills, and Orrtanna, all-important to the farmers and tradesmen of their area.
Let us start our trip in Fountaindale. Harbaugh's Mill and Store probably was established in the late 1700's or early 1800's for in 1840 the store was taken over by Samuel Martin of Lancaster who conducted business in that building until about 1908. Meanwhile in 1893 John and Samuel Barton opened a store next to where the Methodist Church now stands and ran it in conjunction with
the blacksmith shop just across the road. Several others leased the store until finally Mr. Roy Frey bought the store in 1916. Mr. Frey sold his business some years ago to Ernie Wolf who continues today in a new more modern building along the Sunshine Trail.
As we ascend the steep hill we come to Greenstone which boasts two fine industries which have been established in the century and employ many area people. The "Grit Mill," established in 1914 and now owned by G.A.F., produces some of the finest stone granules in the world. Their pro ducts can be found on many asbestos shingle roofs and tennis courts all over America. Nearby is the
Blue Ridge Pipe and Nipple Company founded by Mr. C. A. Wills and his brother Donald in 1928 for the making of pipe nipples of all sizes and materials. This business remains in the Wills family to this day.
As we decent the hiII on Route 16 to the place where Route 116 intercepts, we come to the unimposing little village of Zora where only six or eight well-kept homes mark what was once a busy intersection. Still remaining is the building, which housed a restaurant which thrived in the middle of this century. However nothing remains of one of the largest saw milling ventures in the
valley. This was located along Tom's Creek just southeast of the intersection. Zora, at one time or other, had a blacksmith shop, a post office, the woodworking and wagon shop of Wagaman & Davis, a truck terminal, as well as numerous stores in the area. In the 1920's Herbert Gingell opened a large stone quarry and crusher along Tom's Creek at the southwestern edge of Zora. The
office, which is now a home, is all that remains of the water powered crusher. Stones from Gingell's Quarry took many people out of the mud as the roads were tarred and chipped until the middle of the century when this business was discontinued.
As we pass over Tom's Creek Bridge we sight one of the oldest milts in the country. The present mill was built in l8l5 and came into the possession of the Shank family in 1923. Water driven for years, the wooden water wheel rotted out in 1895 and was replaced with a metal wheel. Although Mr. shank has discontinued making his popular corn meal and 'Ladies choice' Flour, he still
grinds feed with tractor power. In 1885 the mill was operated by a Mr. McDevitt, and I understand McDevitt's Mill was a popular loafing place since he also operated a distillery next to the mill and each evening the men sampled the day's make.
As we leave Route 16 and head toward Fairfield we pass through the newest and largest borough in Adams County. Carroll Valley was incorporated in 1974 after being part of the Charnita Development. Also part of development is Kings Valley Golf Golf course and Club, and Ski Liberty, the only ski slope in the area. Both the business enterprises, as well as the fine people of Carroll
Valley, have added much to the economy -and beautification of the valley.
Let us pass through Fairfield to go directly to Orrtanna. Orrtanna, according to legend, was named for Mr. Isaiah Orr who owned a large tract of land and the Orr does honor to his name while the "tanna" is an extension of the word "tan" after a large tannery located there. About the time the railroad was completed through Orrtanna in 1882 Mr. G. W. Wortz opened a store and
warehouse in Orrtanna. Mr Wortz sold his business and moved to Fairfield to form a partnership with Mr. john Musselman. Some years later a partnership of Mr. Peter Kready and a Mr. King was formed. They conducted a store and warehouse along the railroad as well as a mill until Mr. King moved to Virginia Mills. The business continued until 1920 as Kready & sons when Mr. George Weller
bought it. The western Maryland Railroad used the building for a station and agents office until the building was torn down several years ago. Two other stores in Orrtanna were the Stonesifer Store, founded in 1914 and closed in the 1950's, and Floyd King,s Store, a more modern self-service market which has since closed. one of the features of King's Store was King's Rolling Market
which traveled the countryside selling from the compactly built store on wheels.
The only remaining store in Orrtanna is a small store in the building which once housed the Jim Riggeal factory where a number of apple products such as cider and apple butter were processed during the middle of the century. This building was later used as a tomato cannery by Mr. Glenn Musselman, as well as a warehouse for Spence's soft drink business.
Orrtanna was also the home of one of the numerous mils in the valley. The mill at the northern end of Orrtanna which still stands was built by Mr. Kready and sold to Mr. John "Doc" Linn and Roland Biggs who continued the partnership until Mr. Linn's death in 19l3. Mr. Biggs conducted the business until his death in 1938. Many other businesses have thrived in the Orrtanna area such
as a creamery, barrel factory, blacksmith shops, a shirt factory, apple crate factory, a fruit packing shed, as well as one of the largest fruit processing plants in our area.
In 1913 Mr. John Musselman, the father of C. H. Musselman who founded the Biglerville Fruit Processing Company (The C. H. Musselman Company-now Pet, Inc.) along with his nephew, I. Z. Musselman, founded the Orrtanna Canning Company for processing the fruit being grown in this area. The original factory burned in 1942 and was replaced by a new more modern facility. This plant is
now owned by the Knouse Food cooperative, who can Lucky Leaf products, famous all over America.
As we leave Orrtanna we pass the entrance to Hickory Bridge Farm Restaurant, a fairly new enterprise in a quaint farm setting serving Pennsylvania Dutch food.
As mentioned earlier, Mr. King who dissolved partnership with Mr. Kready in Orrtanna moved to Virginia Mills and set up quite an extensive saw milling business. Along with this he conducted a store in his home located to the left beyond the railroad tracks. The fate of King's sawmill is not known although several saw milling woodcutting enterprises exist in the community. Mr. King
continued in the mercantile business until about 1917 when ownership was transferred to Mr. Roy stoops. In 1920 Mr. stoops went back the farm full time when he sold the business to Mr. David Metz. For the Next fifteen years Mr. Metz operated the store until the Virginia Mills Post office, which was housed within the store, closed in 1935. During this time I can, as I'm sure many of
you can, recall the annual picnic held by the Mt. Hope Church in front of Metz's Store next to the Western Maryland Railroad track. The picnic was brought down to the people rather than have the people drive the dirt road to the church. The last several years the picnic was herd. The newly formed Fairfield School Band was the main entertainment."
As we ascend the mountain to Mt. Hope we pass the location of the stores conducted by Mr. James Currens from 1895 until 1903 and Mr. H. W. Lightner in later years, and pass through the tree farms of the P. H. Gladfelter Co. of Spring Grove.
Winding through the beautiful rush timber farms, most of the time following Tom's Creek, we pass over one of the beautiful stone viaducts built when the famous Thaddeus Stevens Tapeworm Railroad was being constructed. All that remains of the Thaddeus Stevens iron ore furnaces can be sighted to the west of the road near the Iron Springs Church. Directly across the road is the
Fairfield Lions Club’s property and the Fairfield Water Co. reservoir. Iron Springs since this time has been virtually a residential area. Over the years stores have been owned in this vicinity by Mr. & Mrs. "Kid" Reed, Mr. Charles Entenmann and Mr. Charles Heilman who also had the Iron Springs Post Office until shortly before its closing in the I960's.
Leaving Iron Springs and heading south on the road leading to the Jack's Mountain Road we pass the Gettysburg Game Park. This large fenced-in farm is the home for animals from all over the world. Continuing on to the Jack's Mountain Road we pass through one of remaining covered bridges in Adams County.
Having reached Fairfield we pause as our thoughts go back to the 1790's when Squire Miler built his home and barn, both of which still are in use and began planning his town of Millerstown - later to be renamed Fairfield. Many business and manufacturing establishments have been located in Fairfield.
As in other sections of the valley, blacksmith shops abounded in the Fairfield vicinity although no trace of the old shops still remains. One of the largest was owned by two German emigrants by the name of Rosche and Trenkel before the Civil War. Another was located along Spring Run on Main Street; one was located on Centennial Street, while still another was located where the
Fairfield Garage now stands. Less than two miles east of town still stands the two-story shop of Edward Heintzelman, built around the turn of the century. Here he conducted a combined blacksmith and wagon repair shop for about 50 years.
Like Orrtanna, Fairfield had two tanneries although not thought to be quite as large as those in neighboring Orrtanna. One was located on Main street along Spring Run, while the other was along the same stream on Spring Street.
A variety of woodworking shops were established in Fairfield - some very early, others during the Civil War, and others more recently. During the third quarter of the century a split hickory chair and rocker factory was located at 25 East Main Street. One of the boosters of Fairfield industry after the Civil War was Captain C. J. Sefton who established a woodworking shop at 124 to
l28 West Main Street. The home that is there was originally the shop. Here Captain Sefton manufactured wagons, farm implements, cabinets, coffins, as well as conducting an undertaking business.
The last business conducted at this location was a feed and farm implement business in the l930's. Two brothers, Warner and William McCreary, conducted the same type of woodworking and undertaking business the early part of the century near the First National Bank. It was at this time that Mr. S. ,L, Allison, the owner of a pair of fine black horses, entered the undertaking
business by driving the hearse for William McCreary, who continued the business after the withdrawal of his brother, Warner. In 1921 Mr. Allison became the undertaker for the community, and Mr. Clarence Wilson, his-son-in-law, succeeded him in the business. Mr. Atison's first funeral was at 26 East Main Street, which is now Kump's Real Estate office, until the new funeral home was
built at 27 East Main Street in 1940.
During the last quarter of the l9th century another woodworking industry called the Fairfield Furniture co. was located in a building which burned some years later at 138 West Main Street. After this operation closed a Mr. Ness became the next owner and engaged in the manufacture of wagon and buggy spokes. This business grew and finally moved to York, Pa. The last use of this
building was as a general repair garage in the front part, while a small room was used for the manufacture of Baker's vanilla by the late Rev. Ralph Baker and P. M. Rohrbaugh. This business thrived in the 1920's, was very small since it only employed several neighborhood ladies several days a year.
Another woodworking industry which thrived during the Civil War was a cooper shop (barrel making), just east of town. It was built and operated by Mr. Zacharias Myers, the grandfather of another well known business man in Fairfield, the late John Myers, who for many years was the town cobbler.
This cooper shop flourished before and during the Civil War and was completely ransacked by the Rebels as they passed through Fairfield.
One of the more recent and flourishing iron industries was the Emmert Hartzer Knife factory which was erected in 1891 where the Fairfield Garage-now stands. Mr. Hartzel became interested in making knives while serving his apprenticeship with the smithy in the center of town. Outgrowing this building, he built a new factory in Gettysburg 1901. Several years later the Hartzel
factory was bought by Mr. Roy Dougherty, a 1902 Gettysburg College graduate and employee of Mr. Hartzel. Seeking larger quarters, Mr. Roy Dougherty moved the cutlery enterprise to Reading and formed the Columbia Cutlery Co. It is believed the Dougherty family still conducts this business in Reading.
One of the longest existing industries which had its origin in the community at a very early date was a brick making plant. Every year until 1886 this plant was in operation during the summer season making bricks for the early homes of Fairfield and the valley. The clay pit still remains, partially filled with water, on the Landis farm northeast of the Station Road. When I was a
boy, we caught some of the finest cat fish ever caught from that pond.
The lime industry played an important part in the development of the farms in the valley. Limestone quarries and furnaces for the burning of limestone into air slack lime were located north of Fairfield Station and on Water Street extended. These industries over the years were owned by Mr. George McGlaughlin and his son George, Jr., "Bood," as well as Mr. J. B. Waddle.
The largest employer in the community in recent years has been the shoe manufacturing business. In the early 1940's Mr. L. E. Beaudin, using the old Methodist Church, built the first shoe factory on West Main Street. Mr. Beaudin sold the shoe factory in l948 and the Fairfield Shoe Co. was formed in enlarged quarters with Mr. Carl Filsinger serving as superintendent. In August of
19522 this factory burned to the ground leaving 300 to 400 people unemployed. The shoe company rebuilt, but this time at the western edge of Gettysburg. Mr. Filsinger, having a great admiration for Fairfield, built a new factory at the extreme end of Balder Street, which has been sold to Kinney shoe co. who manufacture and sell shoes all over America.
Along with the manufacturing plants that thrived in Fairfie1d, a most important part of the community has been the retail establishments - some short lived, others of long duration. No specific data can be found by which to establish the identity of stores in pre-Civil War days. It is believed the only building remaining is the one story structure at the corner of Main Street and
Miller Drive. This building is believed to date back to the very early 1800's' The first merchant in this building was Mr. G. W. Wortz. Then followed a partnership of Mr. Wortz and Mr. John Musselman who carried on business before the Civil War for some years. During the war, business was carried on under the name of Suilivan and Reinhart and was raided by the rebels as they passed
through town. This was followed by a partnership of Mr. John Musselrnan and Mr. J. U. Neely. At this time the post office was also housed in this building.
As the national leadership changed so would the postmaster - one being a Democrat, the other a Republican. After this partnership was dissolved in 1888, the store remained much the same in appearance with its shelves on both sides to the ceiling and a counter running the full length of the store on both sides. This business remained in the Neely family until its final closing. J.
U. Neely conducted the business until 1906. He was followed by his son, George M. Neely, who ran it for the next 40 years. When Mr. Neely was appointed postmaster in 1935, the business was carried on by his son, James (Doc) and daughter Sara. The entire stock was disposed of in 1947 and the ownership of the building was transferred to
Mr. & Mrs. Roger Myers who conducted a restaurant for some years. Since that time it has housed a 5 & 10 cents store, a shoe outlet, as well as several real estate offices.
When the partnership of John Musselman and J. U. Neely was dissolved, Mr. Musselman built a new store at 19 West Main Street. Nine years later, in 1897, he was joined in the business by his young son, William. After Mr. John Musselman's death in 1929, the business was continued by his son until his death in 1967. This store has since been remodeled for modern office space.
The next general store in Fairfield had its beginning about ninety years ago when Mr. John McCleaf and Samuel Barton entered into a partnership at 112 West Main Street in the first floor of the old Odd Fellows Building (now the Village Apartments). Soon the partnership was dissolved and Mr. McCleaf built his own store at lO2 West Main Street and remained there until his death in
1940. For the next fourteen years the store was conducted by his son, Robert. This store too remained much as it was when it was built with its high shelves filled with cloth, boots and various articles of clothing on one side and groceries on the other. To the back of the store were the molasses barrel and the kerosene tank which were hand pumped into containers provided by the
A fourth grocery store, at 107 East Main Street has also been conducted since some time in the 90's. One of the early proprietors, and a very successful one, was G. W. Wortz. To him is credited the building of a number of homes, some on Main Street, others on Centennial Street, so named because the building of houses was carried on during the Centennial year, 1876. This place of
business was the center of an extensive "huckster" trade, which covered the surrounding countryside. One of the very active hucksters was J. Blaine Waddle, who later became the proprietor of this store.
During his time of occupancy the place of business was greatly enlarged. Mr. Waddle sold the store in the 1940's to John A. Shultz, who in 1963 sold it to Mr. Ed. Snyder, who conducted business there until 1968. Its present owner is Les Morton, who conducts a paint store and decorating business at the East Main Street address.
Newman's Super Thrift had its beginning in 1927 when E. H. Newman bought the butcher shop and slaughter house of the late Cleve Seiferd at 30 West Main Street, where the Village Wash House is now located. Mr. Newman had as his partner his wife, who ran the shop while her husband did the slaughtering and delivered meat in nearby communities. In 1941, after Mr. Newman became ill,
Bob joined his parents in the business. In 1945 an addition was built to the butcher shop, which housed Newman's Self Service Food Store when Tom, returning from the service, joined the partnership. The pre sent partnership of Tom, Bob and Bill Newman was culminated in 1949 when Bill bought out his father's interest.
Another of the older businesses in Fairfield, still growing and doing business at the same location, is the hardware business. In 1885 J. Jacob Reindollar came from Frizzleburg, Md. and established the town's first hardware store in the brick building located at 115-117 West Main Street, now Rombins' Nest Gift Shop. In 1900 he built the present store property at 105 west Main
Street. At his death in 1919 the business was continued under the partnership of Robert S. and Carroll B. Reindollar, to 1924. Thereafter the business was carried on by Robert S. Reindollar until his death in 1938. At this time his son, John J. Reindollar, enlarged and modernized the store to the point where it was one of the finest in the area. In 1968 Mr. Reindollar sold the
business to Paul Metz. Mr. Metz also has greatly enlarged and modernized it to more nearly meet the demands of the day.
Fairfield community has had two newspapers since 1900 - The Fairfield Herald, being published in the very early 1900's, and in the late 1960's The Adams County Illustrated Press of which Mr. Edward F. Grout was editor.
Other than these few years, local news was told and retold in the local business places. One of the best places for this was McGlaughlin's Barber Shop. Mr. Earl McGlaughlin took over the shop of Mr. Ira Stoops in 1916. After serving his apprenticeship under Mr. Ted Lowe, for over fifty years he cut the hair, shaved the faces, and provided a warm loafing place for several
generations of gossip.
Another fine place to loaf and catch up with the news was the cobbler shop next to 27 West Main Street. Opening around 1900 and continuing until about 1945, it had two owners in that period - Mr. Calvin Seiferd and Mr. John Myers. Both of the men could provide many interesting tales which entertained both young and old.
One of our most recently established, though mostly widely known businesses, is Rombins' Nest Gift Shop, located at 117 West Main Street. Along with the gift shop, Ruth and Bill operate a catalog mail order house, buying gifts from all over the world and selling to customers all over America.
Let us end our travels at the Fairfield Inn, part of which was the original home of the Squire Miller family and later enlarged by members of his family and others into a tavern and hostelry for weary travelers, as well as many famous early Americans. Over the years the inn was neglected and altered to suit the owner's purpose. In recent years however we are pleased that Dr. and
Mrs. Hammett have renovated and restored this once popular hostelry, as nearly as possible, to its original late 1700 appearance.
We could go on and on talking about the many other early businesses, but time and space are running out. Do you remember these - Brown's Dairy, Dan Rock's Tin Shop, Hattie McCreary's Millinery, Cal Baltzley's Feed Store, Moore's Drug Store, Hartzel's "Star" Car Agency, Dick Riley's wood business, Allison's ice business, Bream's Watch Repair and Print Shop and Eph. Swope's Shoe
Yes, Fairfield is America, from candle to kerosene to electricity, from wood to coal to gas and oil, from back packing trader to store to supermarket, from horse and buggy to automobiles and planes, Fairfield has been and will continue to be a part of America on the move, while still cherishing its historic past.
Reading And Writing
William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, received the charter from the King of England in March 1681 for the establishment of a colony. At the meeting of the second Assembly on April 2, 1683 of Penn's governing body, it specifically provided for the poor as well as the rich. Reading and writing were to be taught to the age of 12 and then they were to be taught some useful trade
or skill, "so that the poor may work to live and if the rich become poor, may not want."
The belief of the founder of the state for free public education for all boys and girls did not come true until the passage of the Free school Act of 1884, 150 years after the meeting of the Second Assembly of 1683. Education was promoted mostly through church schools prior to 1884. Great differences of opinion were prevalent between the population groups.
The Scotch-Irish favoring education and the Germans strongly opposing the establishment of schools. The physical wants of the early settlers claimed their first attention Food and shelter were of first priority. Educational development was slow for the cultivation of the soil and the harvesting of crops was a slow and tedious process, leaving little time for the luxury of
education. The sparsely settled communities made it almost impossible to organize a school.
The writer experienced difficulty in obtaining material prior to the passage of the Free school Act of 1834. After the passage of the act great opposition and a move for repeal took place in the legislature. Thaddeus Stevens, the representative from Adams County, has been credited with saving the law by his vigorous defense of the bill. In answer to the complaint of being taxed
for something that brought no direct benefit he said:
"Why do they not urge the sane objection against all other taxes? The industrious, thrifty, rich farmer pays a heavy county tax to support criminal courts, build jails, and pay sheriffs and yet probably he never has and never will have any direct personal use for either. He never gets the worth of his money by being tried for a crime before the court, allowed the privilege of the
jail on conviction or receiving an equivalent from the sheriff or his hangman officers."
Answering the complaint that the law was unpopular, he said:
"The barbarous and disgraceful cry, which we hear abroad in some parts of our land, 'that learning makes us worse--that education makes men rogues', should find no echo within these walls. Those who hold such doctrines anywhere would be the objects of bitter detestation if they were not rather the pitiable subjects of commiseration. For even voluntary fools require our compassion
as well as natural idiots."
In counties, conventions of the county commissioners and school delegates were held to vote for acceptance of the free school system. At the first convention in November 1834 and the second convention in May 1835, Hamiltonban Township voted yes and Liberty Township voted no. At the third convention in May 1886 all School districts voted to accept the law and accepted a two
(2)-mill tax to be levied in all districts.
Prior to the Free school Act of 1884, there were a number of church schools and academies in operation, mostly in the Gettysburg area. In the Fairfield area there was a school in the 1840's and 1850’s that was taught by a Scotch Irishman, John McConnell. This building still stands off Water Street and is of stone construction covered with plaster. Some of the older citizens have
reported that they knew people who attended this school.
The early schools of this period prior to 1850 were usually built of logs, were poorly lighted but plenty of fresh air filtered through the cracks and crannies. Articles of furniture were few and simple. The teachers were usually ignorant adventurers whose success lay in their ability to deceive the parents and flog the children. He was expected to be competent in teaching the
three R's and to administer justice with the hickory stick.
At the beginning of the Twentieth Century, Hamiltonban Township had thirteen (13) one room schools, Liberty had six (6) and Fairfield Borough had an elementary school of three rooms. In l908-09 a two-year high school was organized, graduating a crass of three in the spring of 1910. In 1916-17 it became a three-year high school, graduating a class of eight (8) in the spring of
1917. It continued as such until the fail of 1932 when it became a four-year school with a graduating class in the spring of 1933. Due to the lack of facilities and enrollment, the high school was closed in the spring of 1947. The pup's from the area attended either the Gettysburg or Washington Township High Schools from 1947-50. Transportation was furnished by the school boards.
May 1948, the school boards of Hamiltonban, Liberty and Fairfield met and organized the Fairfield Joint School System, which became operational July 1, 1948. The school boards acting as one unit were able too organize a graded elementary program. Mr. C. A. Wills was elected its first president and served in that capacity for twelve (12) years.
The high cost of tuition, transportation difficulties and increased enrollment prompted the school board to petition the county school board to change the school organization from grade 1-8 to 1-12. A building program was begun and Fairfield became a four-year high school in 1950-51, graduating its first class in 1954. In 1964 the Jointure became a merged school district. The
recent history of the Fairfield School is not included in this report but we are all aware of the success of the Fairfield Area school program and trust that we will continue to prove an educational program compatible to other school programs.