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Notes and queries: Chiefly relating to Interior Pennsylvania, Volume 2 online

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advent of canals and railroads, the enter*
prising merchants of Baltimore compre-
hended the importance to their material
business interests of facilitating the mode
ot transportation of the lumber, grain,
iron and whisky trade of the Susquehanna
Valley, then an important factor in the
home traffic of that city, lying so conve-
niently at the lower extremity of Penn-
sylvania's rich agricultural and mineral
center. Large sums ot money had been
expended in removing obstruction in the
rocky channel of our noble, (but rapid
and impracticable for navigation) river
below Columbia, so as to admit the pass*
age of arks and rafts down stream on
their way to tide. A canal had been con ■
structed from Port Deposit, northward, in
order that thtse up-river craft might avoid
the shoals and dangerous reefs ot the first
ten miles above tide water, after the spring
freshets had subsided, but as yet there
was no satisfactory way of returning to
the producers of incoming commerce such



articles of merchandise as they would
naturally require in return for their new
products of forest, field and mine.

It was decided to make the attempt to
establish steamboat navigation on the
river in order to overcome this serious
obstacle in the way of exchange com-
merce. The first attempt at steamboat
navigation above tide water was made in
1825. A small steamboat nam^d the
Susquehanna, bad been built in Balti-
more and towed up to Port Deposit in
the spring of the year. The first men*
tion we have in the newspapers of the
day is found In the Harris burg Chronicle,
which says:

"The Susquehanna was expected at
Columbia on Sunday night. Tuesday's
reports were, that she had not got to Co-
lumbia. Eye-witnesses to her progress
put the matter to rest on Wednesday;
they had seen her a short distance above
the head of the Maryland Canal with a
posse of men tugging at the ropes, and
when they had tugged nine miles gave
up the job. So ended all the romauce
about the Su&quehanna. She drew too
much water (22 inches) for the purpose
and started at the wrong point. Water-
men say that the crookedness of the
channel, with the rapidity of the current,
makes it utterly impossible for a steam-
boat to ascend the falls between the head
of the canal and Columbia."

If any of our readers, in their boyhood
days, ever engaged in the arduous,
though exciting, labor of "running to
tide" on lumber rafts, and then tramping
back over Lancaster hills for a fresh start
next morning, they will appreciate the
force of the above editorial remark. For
further particulars apply to W. N. J*n-
nings, whilom river pilot through Turkey
Hill, Barger's reef. Eshelman's sluice,
etc.

The Chronicle article says further: "We
heve a report that Mr. Winchester, of
Baltimore, has contracted for the build-
ing of a steamboat at York Haven. We
also learn that the York Co. are making
great progress with the sheet-iron steam-
boat, and that she will be launched about
the 4th or July.

This sheet-iron boat was called the Co
doru$, aLd early in April of the next year
ascended the river as far as Bioghamp-



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106



ton, after which she retained to York
Haven, her captain, a Mr. Elger, report-
ing that navigation of the Susquehanna
bj steam was impracticable.

8ome ot oar older citizens [of Wlikes*
Berre] doubtless remember to have seen
her lying moored to the shore about abreast
of the present Market street sewer, and
how the men, women and children of the
old borough gathered on the common to
admire so great a triumph in the art of
marine architecture, and enjoy a ride to
Forty Fort and return on the wonderful
craft.

As regards the boat said to have been
•contracted for by Mr. Winchester, there
•seems to be some mystery. We find other
newspaper mention ot her saying that she
was almost completed and would soon be
rtady to take to the water, and yet there
is no certainty of her ever having been
used in any way on the river. And again,
we are not informed that the Susquehanna
•ever succeeded in passing the rapids below
Oolumbia,and it is difficult to see how she
could, and yet Mr Pearce in his "Annals
of Luzerne" says the Susquehanna was
the identical boat that exploded her boiler
at Berwick the next spring, while the
Maryland commissioners in their official
report give the name as the Susquehanna
■and Baltimore. It is j ust possible that the
fatal explosion may have occurred on
board Mr. Winchester's boat of that
name, and that the original Susquehanna
never succeeded in getting through the
lower rapids.

The Susquehanna and Baltimore, say
the Maryland Commissioners, was built
•in the spring of 1825, (the Susquehanna
was on the river in early spring) at the
•expense ot a number of citizens of Balti-
more, for the express purpose of making
an experiment to navigate the waters of
the Susquehanna above the Conewago
Falls, and was placed under the care of
Oapt. Corn well, (Pearce says Collins), an
-experienced river pilot; she was accom-
panied on her trial trip on this portion of
the river by a board of Commissioners ot
the State of Maryland, Messrs. Patterson,
Elllcott and Morris, three distinguished
citizens of Baltimore. Capt. Corn well
had already in March made* several suc-
cessful trips as far up as Northumberland
and Danville on the North Branch and



to Milton on the West Branch and re*
turned to York Haven without accident.
At noon on the 27th of April, 1826, the
boat started for York Haven, having in
tow a large keel boat capable of carry-
ing a thousand bushels of wheat, and
proceeded on her fatal trip, ar-
riving at the Nescopsck Falls at 4
o'clock of May 8. At these falls there
was an outer and an artificial inner chan-
nel of shallow water for the accommoda-
tion of rafts and arks. It was decided
by Captain Corn well after consulting
with other river men on board to try first
the main, or deep water channel, as they
feared the water might be too shallow in
the artificial channel to allow the boat to
pass. The current is very strong in the
main channel, and the captain argued
that if the boat would not stem it, that
he could then drop back and try the
other one. The boat made a halt in a
small eddy below the falls on the east
side of the river and some of the passen-
gers went ashore; this was the case with
the Maryland Commissioners.

The boat was directed into the main
channel, and had proceeded perhaps two-
thirds of the distance through the falls,
when she ceased to make further progress,
the engine was stopped and she was per-
mitted to drift back to the foot of the
rapids, where she struck upon a wall di-
viding the artificial from the main chan-
nel, and at that instant one of her boilers
exploded at both sides. The scene was
as awful as the imagination can picture.
Two of the passengers on board, named
John Turk and Seber Whitmarsh, jaft»
men from Chenango, N. Y., were thrown
into the river, where they met with an
instant death, if not by the explosion cer-
tainly by drowning in the swift current of
the river; William Camp, a merchant from
Owego, was fatally scalded by escaping
steam. David Rose, of Chenango, N.Y.,
was also fatally injured. Quincy May-
nard, the enginerr, as stated in the ac-
count published in the Danville Wacth*
man one week alter the occurrence, was
not expected to recover. Christian Brobst,
of Cstawissa, father of our late towns-
man 8. D. Brobst, and Jeremiah Miller,
of Juniata, were seriously injured.
Messrs. Woodside, Colt and Under-
wood, of Danville, were more or



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less injured, as were Messrs. Barton
Hurler, Foster and Col. Paxton, of Cat*
awissa, and Benjamin Bd wards, of Brain-*
trim, Lozerne county. It was said by
somebody on board that at the time of the
explosion a passenger was holding down
the lever of the safety valve, bat why
this should be done after the boat had
ceased her efforts to pull through is diffi-
cult to conjecture, Thus ended this sec:
ond attempt to navigate the Susquehanna
by steam poiier. w. j.

HOTK8 AA1> QUJBBIM.
Historical, Blograpbleal and Gancalogiaai*

CLXX.

Hall, of Londonderry.— Sarah Hall,
of Londonderry township, Lancaster
eounty, died in 1777. Her estate she de-
vised to the following:

Grand-daughter, Sarah Hall.

Grand-daughter, Sarah Candour, daugh-
ter of Joseph Candour.

8on~in~law, Jacob Cook, who married
Rose Hall.

Son, Samuel Hall.

Son, William Hall.

Grand-daughter, Sarah Cook, daughter
of Rose and Jacob Cook.

James Huey, Jane Hamilton and Jo-
seph Candour were witnesses to the will;
William Hall and Jacob Cook, executors.

Chatnb.— HughChayne,otBastPenns-
boro\ Cumberland county, married a sis-
ter of Joseph McClure, of the same town-
ship. The latter died in October, 1784,
leaving bequests to his brother-in-law,
Hugh Chayne,and neDhew, John Chay ne.
It has been noted (N. db Q czlvi ) that
the latter married October 24, 1709, Sid
ney Moffatt By further reference we
find that John Chayne was accidentally
killed October 13, 1800, "leaving a Jis-
consolate widow and distressed mother."



A BIOS FBOM SHANK'S HILL TO
HA&B18BURG.

8ome weeks since a very interesting
article appeared in the MiddUtawn Pre$$,
entitled "What Jacob Saw on His
Travels." The writer represented Jacob
as a young man making his first journey
from Hummelstown to Harrfeburg, de-



scribing the farms be passed and what
be could learn of the various owners
thereof!

Jacob traveled westward over the
turnpike road until be reached the top of
Shank's hill, where he veered slightly to
the left, following the Chambers' Ferry
road to Harrisburg. We propose to part
company with him at this point and con-
tinue on the turnpike road. Before pro-
ceeding, however, let us stop a moment
or so and look about us, for no finer pros-
pect presents itself to the eye in Central'
Pennsylvania; and in order that we may
make the most of it, let us tie our horses
to these posts in front of Mr. Allwine's-
house and walk a few hundred yards
into the field north of the road.

To the eastward, almost beneath our
feet, flows the winding Swatara, while
beyond stretches to the very horizon, the
beautiful and fertile Lebanon Valley,
flanked in the distance by the Cornwall
bills twenty miles away. To the right,
the course of the Swatara, as it sweeps
along in graceful curves, is visible almost
to its confluence with the Susquehanna,
and high above its wooded banks,
rises the bald crest of Round
Top, ten miles distant. Here to the left,
m that farm house just below us, where
Beaver creek emerges from the hills,
dwelt in times past Samuel Qzell, a man
of many gilts. His opportunities for an
education, la the ordinary acceptation of
that term, were so limited that it is doubt-
ful whether he ever acquired a knowledge
of the alphabet, but as a farmer and
shrewd man of business he was far above
the average. He was, moreover, deeply
learned in that mystic lore which has
come down the ages by word of mouth in
a zig-zag course from male to female and
from female to male, by which be was
able to do many things, that to the un-
initiated looked like miracles. Turning
our eyes westward, a portion of Paxtang
Valley lies befores us, with Beaver creek
and the hills of Hanover to the right and
the long line of the Blue Mountains from
Dauphin to Indiantown Gap in the dis-
tance.

This barren hill upon which we stand
was in times long past selected by John
Shank and Polly, his wife, as a good
place to pitch their tent Fortunately



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im



lor them, they weie not dependent solely
opon the product of the soil. Their
noose— the very one before which oar
hones now stand— was a somewhat pub-
lic place; John was a weaver and Polly
acted as collector of tolls for the turnpike
•company, and sold cakes and beer
to travelers. She was a fear-
less, aggressive and eloquent woman,
and in these respects overshadowed her
husband, who was a modest, retiring and
•quiet man. The place was therefore
known to the public as "Polly Shank's."
This worthy couple ended their days here
and were succeeded by their son Chris-
topher, who used to attend market every
Saturday at Harrisburg, driving a large
•bald faced sorrel horse to a Dearborn
wagon. Every man who, as a school
boy thirty-five years ago, trudged back
and forth on the turnpike road, holds
Christopher Shank in kindly remem-
brance. He was generous with his apples
and always had room for another boy in
his wagon. About 1856 Christopher took
the Western fever and sold out to Peter
Heffiefinger, who in turn sold to Jonas
Allwine, in whose family the property
still remains— Mr. Allwine himself hav-
ing lately passed away.

Mount, and let us push forward. To
the right, as we descend the hill, lies the
ancient home of the Heffieflngers on the
'banks of Beaver creek, now the property
of A. Rutherford. That house a little
farther west, a half mile distant was the
home of the Zeiders, and only lately sold
by their descendants to the present owner
Samuel Mahan. This snug and well ap-
pointed house on our left, which stands
so close to the ioad, was once the "Black
Swan" Hotel, built and opened early
in the present century by Frederick
Bicker— now used as a farm house
by Simon Webner. Its surroundings
have totally changed within the last
thirty years — the extensive sheds and
stables and all the paraphernalia of the
old-fashioned country tavern have dis-
appeared. The house, which is now
white, was originally painted red with a
bine porch, as was also the next house a
short distance further west, where dwelt,
years ago, Widow Stahl. This property,
upon her death was held a long time for
eeie, for the bouse was "haunted," and



buyers were slow to bid; finally John
Smith purchased it; he died about twenty
years ago, and Philip Dimler is the
present owner. Carpenters and plasterers
are at work renovating the old place.

Here, on the north side of the road,
where these ghostly apple trees are grow-
ing, once stood the "Dry Tavern," a
hoetelrie built of logs, for the accammo*
dation of travellers of the olden time.
Not a vestige of it now remains, its
lands and appurtenances having long since
been incorporated in the farm of John
Z eider who lives yonder on the crest of
the ridge to the left. This dwelling on
the right, now owned by a German
whose name I cannot recall, was years
ago occupied by Geistwhite, the
tailor, who, before the days of sewing
machines and ready-made clothiog, did
the tailoring for the neighborhood.

Now we enter upon the old Stewart
property, which stretches westward
nearly a mile. Just here, on the eastern
edge of the domain, stood one of those
log school houses in which our ancestors,
before the days of free schools, were
taught to "read, write and cipher," as far
as "Double Position," by those famous
Scotch-Irish masters, who had more to do
with the moulding of the early history of
the country than they are usually credited
with. Yonder to the right, on the site
of what is now the elegant residence of
Mr. J. C. Behm, stood the domicile of
the Stewarts, famous in Revolutionary
times and long afterwards for its "run-
ning pump." About the beginning of
the present century John Ricker became
the owner of the property. The large
brick house which you see standing about
one hundred yards in front of Mr. Beam's
residence was erected in 1810 by Mr.
Ricker for the purpose of an inn and
used by him as snob, with the sign of
"The Two White Horses" until taverns
were no longer required in the valley.
His grandson now occupies it as a farm
bouse. The two houses juBt mentioned,
together with that one a little farther
west, half burled in apple trees, each rep-
resent different farms carved out of the
original tract and all owned by the de
scendants of Mr. Ricker. Let us ride in
to the famous old "pump" and
slake our thirst with water,



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which no bettor to to be found on the con-
tinent. The historic "pump" with its
wooden stock has disappeared, and its
waters now flow in a triple stream through
iron pipes for the supply of the different
forms; but at Mr. Behm's house we shall
find the old stream pouring from its iron
mouth in undiminished volume, notwith-
standing the drafts made upon it by the
other places.

We are now approaching what, in the
early times of the Scotch-Irish settlement,
was the estate of John Wilson, a tract of
probably six hundred acres stretching
across the valley from ridge to ridge.
Three good sized farms and portions of
three others now comprise the tract.
Upon the death of John Wilson, his
landed property descended to his two
sons John and William, whose respec-
tive homesteads you see yonder on the
hill to the right. The one, on the site of
which now stands the brick house and
white barn with red gables, fell to John,
who was a bachelor, and found house-
keeping without a wife so serious an un-
dertaking that he advised others against
it Since his day the property has had
various owner*, the Murray*, the Fur
reys, the Otts, the Shuns, the Pages, and
finally Col. Motter, of Harrisburg, who
now rejoices in its ownership. The pres-
ent buildings were all erected by Jacob
Snub about fifty ye « rs ago. The other-
where that white h use and barn now
stand — was the home of William
Wilson, who married a Rutherford,
and who, dying in 1759, left behind him
a widow and throe children, one of whom,
a son, John by name, inherited the farm.
He, in turn, went the way of all flesh,
leaving no children, and the property
passed by purchase to Jacob Walter. It
has since been owned by Eli Hoffman,
Solomon Landis, who built the present
house about 1840, and Abner Rutherford
who built the barn in 1863, whose son
now occupies the premises. This depres
sion in the road, on Col. Motter's farm,
through which we are now riding, is
"haunted" ground. Tears ago the whole
ridge on our left was cjvered with a
dense forest, which in this locality reached
to the road; and just here, by the side of
that giant oak, was an old lime kiln which
was the nightly resort of a club of dis-



embodied spirits who kept the country
side in fear. The limekiln has disap-
peared, but ghosts are still seen oc*
casionally dancing around the old tree.
The spot to even now a lonely place, and
the superstition connected with it waa
often utilised by foot-pads, who found
the already half terrified traveler an easy
prey. This property on our left to a farm
struck off from the Wilson tract and be*
longs to Abner Rutherford. That dingy
looking building on the road in front of
the house is a blacksmith shop, in which
that stalwart son of Vulcan, John Reed,
now swings the sledge—

"A. large and mighty man to he,
With strong and sinewy arms."

Of his predecessors we recall Joe Rob-
erta, Peter Carl, Mike Waltz, Mose Ly-
ter, Peter Bowman, John Books and-
John Trullinger— all sturdy workmen,
and two of them ministers of the Gospel.

In front of us, on the same side of the
road, are the farm buildings and residence
of Abner Rutherford, who began house*
keeping there in 1889, and who, with bis-
venerable neighbor and relative, J. B.
Rutherford, are the last, in this locality,
of a notable generation of men, who in
ante beUum days were long known a*
Abolitionteis.

To the right lies one of the old Ruther-
ford homesteads. The buildings, there-
on the declivity of the hill, are very old,
the house having been erected by John
Rutherford about the year 1760. and the
barn by his son William in 1806. This
plantation in the time of John Ruther-
ford comprised about four hundred acres,
and like tne Wilson property, which it
joined on the west, stretched from ridge-
to ridge. Upon the death of John, In
1804 it was divided between his sons,
Samuel and William, the latter receiving;
the homestead, now owned by his grand-
son, W. F. Rutherford. The western
half fell to Samuel, who died in 1888k
since when it has been the property of
his son, John B., who, a few years since,
erected a second set of buildings, those
on our right, with the wind mill tower-
ing above them, wheie dwells one of his
sons.

Halt I there comes a locomotive, and
we cannot cross the railroad until it i



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This is Rutherford station, and that
miserable shed Just above the crossing is
the station house— a disgrace to the rail-
road company, to the neighborhood and
to the nineteenth century. Well do we
remember having heard, in our youthful
days, men ot intelligence express the
conviction that a railway could never be
built through Paxtang Valley on account
ot Allison's hill on the west and Shank's
hill on the east. To the engineer of to-day
such hills are as nothing, but forty years
ago they were formidable barriers.
That train which has just passed* is the
10 a. u passenger, forty minutes late,
which admonishes us to quicken our pace
if we expect to dine in Harrisburg at
twelve. This farm which we are ap»

S reaching has been the homestead ot the
frays since 1732. It was long since'
divided into four farms. The first brick
house on the ridge to the right, stands
upon the site of the original mansion, and
was lately built by the present owner, J.
N. Gray. The other was erected about
ten years ago by the late Samuel Gray on
the site ot the old log house, where
dwelt Robert Gray, who died in 1848, the
last oi the Revolutionary soldiers in the
Valley. It is now owned by Mrs. Big*
Ham, of Adams county, a granddaughter
of Robert Gray.

The brick house on the rising ground
to the left, atands near the center of an-
other of the Gray farms, but has been
owned for two generations by the Hock*
ers. This building, by the roadside,
stands on the premises referred to, and is
one of Swatara township's school houses.
That brick house and white barn on the
hill to the right, are the property of
Widow Metz. They are modern, and
have no history; but the white house and
barn, lust beyond, was the ancient dwel-
ling of the Pancakes, There lived, years
ago Peter Pancake, who achieved dis-
tinction by his agility and reckless driv-
ing. It is related of him that he could
Jump over a five barred gate with
ease, and stand upon his head
on the top of a fence post, get-
ting up and down without difficulty;
and that he sometimes drove two horses
to a wagon without either pole, shafts or
brake. Since Mr. Pancake's time the
property has passed through various



hands and is now owned by James Boyd,
of Harrisburg, who has his country resi*
dence on the next farm to the west.

This property to the left, the buildings
of which stand on the low ground, is an-
other of the Gray farms now owned by
Josiah Espy, of Harrisburg, whose
mother was a Gray.

Here, as we reach the top of the hill, a
beautiful scene breaks upon the view —
the ancient domain of the Dickeys —
which stretched from our horses feet to
Paxtang church, whose steep roof you
see rising among the trees on the hill
away to the northwest. That large
stone house which the present
owner, Mr. Boyd has greatly changed,
was the Mansion house of the Dickey's
and near by, on the site of that white
frame mill, stood tbeir old stone grist
mill, known by different names to every
succeeding generation— Dickey 's, Elder's,
Fogle's, Kingport's, Walker's and
Boyd's mill. These names are indica-
tive of the various owners. The Dickey's,
at an early day, sold out to Joshua Slder
of Harrisburg, who divided the land into
two tracts by a line running north from
the road we are now traveling, and
was succeeded as to the west*
em half by Robert Elder,
Philip Dougherty, James Dongh
erty and lastly by Artemus Wilhelm, who
died only a few weeks since, and who
has occupied it for several years past as a
country residence, greatly altering and
beautifying the place.

This farm on our left, whose buildings
stand near the road, is a portion of what
was known in revolutionary times as the
Maye's property, but owned and occu-
pied for two generations by the Shultzes
and afterward by Samuel S. Rutherford,
whose heire sold it to the present owner,
Mr. Boyd.

Here is the toll gate, which we would
pass in silence were it not that the spot
has been rendered classic by the long
residence of Conrad Peck, an eccentric
genius who for many years was consid-



Online LibraryFrance) Société asiatique (ParisNotes and queries: Chiefly relating to Interior Pennsylvania, Volume 2 → online text (page 18 of 81)