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Adams County Pa. Related Historical Articles

Gettysburg’s "Oldest" Family

James H. Allison, M. D.

James Gettys had a mulatto slave girl known only as Sidney. According to the terms of his will, on his death, the slave girl was to become the property of his wife until her death at which time the slave was to be free. However, as both James Gettys and his wife died within four days of each other, and the Gettys family became extinct in this area with the one surviving son moving away, it is not known whether the slave became free on their deaths or not until slavery was abolished in Penna. in 1820.

Sidney married a black man by the name of O'Brien but the date of the marriage is not known. She had a daughter born December 12, 1821 who, according to the family Bible, was named Getty Ann Snaveley. It is not known whether the child was born before or after her marriage to O'Brien, or where the name Snaveley came from, but possibly this was the name of the child's father.

Getty Ann, at the age of seventeen, on May 21 ,1839, married a blackman by the name of Greenberry Stanton. They had three children: John William Stanton born in 1840; Samuel M. Stanton born in 1842; and Margaret Catherine Stanton who died in infancy on September 17, 1846.

Very little is known of John William Stanton, as he is said to have moved as a young man to Dickinson Township in Cumberland County. However, a family Bible inscribed and presented to him by his mother, Getty Ann, on April 12, 1846 at age six, is still in the family's possession. The remaining son, Samuel Matthew Stanton, was a life long resident of Gettysburg and a veteran of the Civil War.

The dates of death and burial places of Getty Ann and Greenberry Stanton are not known. Best information at the present seems to indicate that as there was no black cemetery yet established (Lincoln Cemetery). The dead were buried along what is now Breckenridge Street extended, often in unmarked graves.

Samuel Matthew Stanton married an ex-slave by the name of Harriet C. on October 3, 1873 at the age of 31. The family Bible states that they were married on South Washington St. by a United Bretheran Minister. As the family home was a log cabin which stood on the site of the present A.M.E. Zion parsonage, they possibly were married there. Samuel had previously served in the Army during the Civil War and, though the exact dates have not been ascertained, his grave marker states that he served with Co. C 3rd U. S. Col. Inf. and it is known that he received a veteran's pension later in life.

An interesting physical description of Samuel Stanton, given by his daughter, was that he didn't look like a black man. He was light and more bronze like an Indian. He had straight black hair and, supposedly because of his physical appearance, was nicknamed "Satin". He was a handyman and a gardener all his life. He worked for many years for an Attorney "Jake" Kitzmiller who lived on Baltimore Street at the former Weaver home below the Jennie Wade house. It was torn down for the construction of the present Holiday Inn.

Samuel and Harriet Stanton had eight children as follows:

Samuel N. Jr. - born April 2, 1872

Emma Amanda - born March 10, 1874

Greenberry - born October 19, 1880

Eliza Louise Catherine - born May 27, 183

Jacob - born June 15, 1887

David - born 1889

John William - born February 27, 1890; died March 5, 1890

Freeman Stanton - born March 30, 1897

The first daughter, Emma Amanda, left home very early in life to work as a domestic in the Harrisburg area and nothing further is known about her.

The second daughter, Eliza Louise Catherine Stanton, lived on Breckenridge Street in Gettysburg just a few feet from where the old family cabin stood at the present site of the A.M.E. Zion parsonage. She worked as a maid for the Ingersoll's in Philadelphia for many years. Mr. Ingersoll was an actor and Mrs. Ingersoll was the daughter of a Gettysburg physician, Dr. Tate. When the Ingersoll's retired, they moved back to Gettysburg and built "Player's Lodge'', where they resided on the Fairfield Road, now the present Longanecker home and still called, "Player's Lodge". Eliza Stanton Johnson was admitted to Green Acres in May 1965 where she died on March 27, 1971 at the age of 87. She is buried in Lincoln Cemetery. She had no children.

Greenberry Stanton, the second son, worked for some years at McAllister's Mill; then left these parts and eventual whereabouts unknown.

Jacob, the third son, lived all his life in Gettysburg and died here in the late 1940's. He worked in Harrisburg and commuted much of the time. He had two sons: Samuel, deceased in 1974 and Arthur who still lives on South Washington Street in Gettysburg.

David, the fourth son, worked for many years as a handyman and a porter at the old Globe Hotel and later at the Hotel Gettysburg. He also was a barber and did hair cutting in his home. David died in 1953 at the age of 62. He had four children as follows:

  • A son, Albert, who also worked as a porter at the hotel Gettysburg and was killed in World War II.
  • A son, David, Jr., who lives in Harrisburg and works in Philadelphia.
  • A daughter, Cora Stanton Clark, who died in the 1950's.
  • A daughter, Jean, who died in December 1985 in Philadelphia where she worked for many years as receptionist in a dentist's office as well as being part time secretary to Joe Frazier, the boxer. He nicknamed her "Pinky"' because of her very light skin.

Before we mention the history of the oldest and youngest sons, we should say that Samuel M. Stanton, Sr. died April 18, 1912 at the age of 70. His wife, Harriet, lived until August 17, 1934. Both are buried in Lincoln Cemetery, of which Samuel was one of the founders. The old original burial records of this cemetery as well as a chair said to have belonged to James Gettys have been passed down through the family and are still in the possession of members of the family.

Freeman Stanton, the youngest son of Samuel M. Stanton, lived in Gettysburg where he married Louise Palm in 1917. They had two daughters: Dorothy Harriet Stanton born May 28, 1918 and Catherine Louise Stanton born January 31, 1921. However, Freeman died in 1924 at the age of 27, supposedly from the effects of having been "gassed" in World War I. A year later, in 1925, Freeman's widow Louise married Freeman's oldest brother Samuel M. Stanton, Jr., and her two daughters' memories of a father are of Samuel, Jr. Samuel, Jr. and Louise had no children of their own.

Samuel M. Jr., the eldest son of Samuel and Harriet, worked for a time at McAllister's Mill, and then joined the Armed Forces. He is said to have served first a "hitch" in the Cavalry, and then to have joined the Navy, where he served thirty years. Upon his discharge, he returned to Gettysburg where he married his brother's widow. For a time he ran the "Savoy" taproom which was at the site of the old Dorsey Stanton Legion Post on West High Street. For several years he was also the organizer and marshal of an annual Black Memorial Day Parade. Programs and pictures of these are still in the family's possession. On May if, 1937 he became one of Gettysburg's "unsolved" murders when he was killed in a gambling game, supposedly by a white man, and which reportedly took place on West High Street. He is buried in the National Cemetery.

His widow, Louise, died June 7, 1985, at the age of 83. Her oldest daughter, Dorothy Harriet Stanton Carter, also died in 1985. Her youngest daughter, Catherine Louise Stanton Carter, still lives on South Washington Street in Gettysburg.

Dorothy had one daughter, Jayne, who lives in Maryland. Catherine has two sons: Jesse and Jerome. One lives in Virginia and one in Massachusetts.

Thus have we traced six generations of Gettysburg's "Oldest" family.

Do you know of an individual who helped shape the Adams County?
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