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James A. Helman's ~ 1906

History of Emmitsburg, Md.

Pages 81 - 90

Livery Stables

George Sheets Prior to 1840 was the pioneer liveryman; he had stables in the rear of Bennet Tyson's house, living in the house. Later, Jacob Moritz, Madison Fisher, Agnew & Jarboe, Uli Smith, Guthrie & Beam; it was their stables in which the fire started that caused the great conflagration of 1863; it stood where the Elder's stable stands. Jacob Smith, John Long, G. P. Beam, and Howard Row are the liverymen now.

Stone Cutters

Joseph Kelly lived south of the College, he did all the marble work until Frederick Meals came here from Gettysburg near 1860; later U. A. Lough, who owned the M. F. Shuff property, W. H. Hoke, Charles Hoke and A. Annan, now Hoke & Rider. We can understand why so many graves are unmarked; the stone cutters were few in the early days and no opportunity to get them; as to price, the cost must have been great, as men of means have very small tombstones.

Item: At one time a large post stood at the curb on the pavement of Lewis Motter, a beam poised in a slot on either side had a square platform to which was attached chains from the four corners, then centering at the end of beam. It was a balance scale; 56 pound weights and smaller stood by for use in weighing iron and heavy articles; this was the scale before platform scales came into use.

Item: Miss Mary Knox lived where Albert Patterson lives; she was an expert on raising flowers; the lot of F. A. Maxell's house was her flower garden; the older citizens can remember this genial old lady, as she freely gave to the young flowers from her great abundance, many of them rare.

Item: During the fifties a lottery office was conducted in the Barry room by Smallwood, agent; his sale of tickets was marvelous; like all these schemers blanks are the winners; the sellers get the prizes; the poor maintained this office for quite awhile. When 'hoping against a hopeless game it died for want of patronage.


In 1790 society and the appearance of the town were much alike; everybody was fighting the wolf from the door; no time for style; yet every age has had its pastimes; one of these was the men rolling long bullets on the streets, pitching qnoits and horse shoes was another amusement; the ladies amused themselves at the spinning wheel or the loom, or knitting stockings; later horse racing and card playing, twin brothers, became fashionable. The east end of Lowherds tavern, where the store-house now stands, erected by Joseph Danner in 1838, was the place reserved as a ball alley; here seventy-five years ago the young men enjoyed a game; amongst them Frederick Black stood first. On this spot the noted fight between Daniel Wetzel and Shocky took place; it was a naked hand fist prize fight; a large man and a small man, the large man a bully; Wetzel the lighter had the endurance and won; a short time after Shocky died from the effects of the fight.


Fifty years ago and earlier it was customary for the young men to invite the ladies to picnics, the men providing a large wagon, the ladies the provisions; they would go to Split Rock usually and spend the day in conversation and dancing. It was a union regardless of creed or party. Where is the social relations of today compared with that of the by-gone.

Lutheran Steeple

The rod on the Lutheran steeple was blown down near 1850; a sailor came along and replaced it; after finishing the work he straddled the ball and sung a sailor's song; a great crowd of citizens watched him from beginning to finish. This steeple had a fish about four feet put on when built in 1814, at the remodeling of the church and painting of the steeple. The committee decided to remove the fish; the town has been deprived of the only true weather vane they had; a fine relic of the past. Oh, that it were there again.

View of church and Concrete Walk

The former study of the Lutheran parsonage was removed and an avenue opened direct to the Church, and a concrete pavement made from the street to the church door. No improvement ever made in the town has met with such universal favor; the dark alley through which the congregation’s, now dead, traversed when living, and were carried when dead, has resumed its former position, a road away only. The fine scenic effect produced by this improvement shows the aesthetic taste of the pastor and council connected with him; give them the praise due. The church presents an imposing effect from the street; the steeple so unique, symmetrical and substantial, has stood the storms of over one hundred years, attesting the capability of men who did honest work.

The old board fence was removed from the cemetery front and a substantial wire fence has been placed in its stead. The class of monuments recently erected in the cemetery far surpass those of any other age.

This sturdy building was the provost marshal's office, Captain Schofield, when the Federal army passed through on the way to Gettysburg, also on its return; General Howard has his headquarters in the priest house, while General Steiner occupied the house now J. Stewart Annan's; whilst this army was passing the soldiers purchased all the tobacco in the town and all the whisky they could get. One dealer sold hundreds of canteens at one dollar each, until the provost stopped it and put a guard there. Sunday morning after the fight at Gettysburg Jenkins' Confederate Cavalry entered the town by daybreak on their retreat; when asked how the battle terminated they claimed the victory; soon they were off toward Mechanicstown, crossing the mountain through that gap to Hagerstown. About ten o'clock Kilpatrick's cavalry came dashing into town full charge, expecting to find the ‘Johnnies’ here, they had fled, they reported the full retreat of Lee's army. Kilpatrick was in pursuit of the 'Rebs' that passed through here. Oh, the commotion of that day; the church bells rang, but who heeded them, it was war times. Soon the army was on the move) the roads were full, the fields full (the roads were knee deep in mud). The hungry and dry soldiers ate all the bread and other eatables offered them; the people stood on the sidewalks with buckets of water to slake their thirst; many that passed through six days before did not return, they were either in the hospitals or their graves at Gettysburg. Capt. Wilcoxen shed tears when he told me of his great loss.

It was a day long to be remembered; when the Confederates entered the town they captured some prisoners which they carried with them. When the Union forces came they captured some rebs which they retained; the occasion will not be forgotten. Two men on Sunday morning went on the Lutheran steeple to see what was to be seen whilst the reb cavalry were in the town. When the cavalry stationed at the street pump saw them they raised their guns to shoot; the citizens assured them these men were citizens of the town and not signal corps men, and their lives were saved. Many inconveniences connected with the passage of the army could be mentioned. It is enough to repeat the words of General Sherman: "War is hell!"


The streets of our town are in fine condition; do you think they were always thus? ah, no! It is within the memory of some when the streets were mud holes, only good when the weather was dry; but oh! the mud in the springtime, almost impassable; the streets were hollow in the center, the rains washing them deeper after each rain. That is it continued until 1853, when the plank road was made from Westminster to the State line north; how blessed were we then, how smooth the road, how loud the noise of a horse and wagon; in a few years it had worn out, and the State lost sixty-five thousand dollars by an experiment, and we had a ruined street deeper in the middle than before. For eighteen years the street continued in this condition, until 1873, when a board of commissioners was elected, who did more real good for the town than any be- fore; they spent the money filling up the center with large rocks, and finished with small stones and gravel; that is the secret of 'Our good streets; all praise to that board. If future commissioners will add broken lime stone then they will be complete.

Cholera 1853

The town was visited by cholera in this year; the first case was that of a black man, Isaac Norris; he was taken early in the night in a stable and died there; black men attended him, not knowing the disease; whether the doctor did or not, I am not prepared to say. Suffice it to say, he died during the night and was buried in Dr. Patterson's field. Shortly after another case occurred and the man died. Then it was noised about that cholera was in town and the scare commenced. Soon another and still another case, until the death list was twenty-three. It continued dry the entire summer and very hot until the middle of September, when a very severe thunder storm passed this way, drenching the earth and washing the surface as it had not been for many months. After this rain no new cases occurred; a few of the more prominent I mentioned dying: Dr. A. Taney and wife, Joseph Moritz, Mrs. Agnew, Eagle hotel; Rev. Thomas McCaffery, George Mentzer, Samuel Morrison; a great many recovered; some light attacks, purchased through J. W. Baugher in Baltimore, which answered very well; the trouble was to supply it with water. With the introduction of the mountain water all the former difficulties, were overcome; sufficient force is obtained to throw water over the highest building.


In connection with the engines and introduction of water will note a few of the most destructive fires: The Otter Hotel burned in 1845; it was the oldest house! standing on the Square; it stood where E. E. Zimmerman's house stands. The Elder & Taney barn, stood in the Lutheran hitching ground, it burned in 1848; the cornice of the steeple caught fire from it; the chances of the church burning were great, as there was not sufficient force to throw the water up so high from the engine, men were at the bell; water was passed through the steeple to them, they flooded the roof, throwing the empty buckets to the ground, but all to no purpose; when all hope was gone James Gallagher volunteered to cut the cornice away; they place a rope around his body to support him, he stepped on the roof and ,cut the cornice, it fell, thus the steeple was save.

The great fire occurred June 15th, 1863; it originated in the livery stable of Guthrie & Beam, consuming over fifty buildings in all; the fire commenced at eleven o'clock in the night, did not get it under control until seven in the morning; the hotel was the last to burn. Saving the house of Decklemyer saved the upper portion of the town. People in the country heard the church bells ring; some came within a mile of town, looking at the blazing houses, but feared to come in, as they thought the rebel army had fired it, as they bad done Chambersburg. Word was sent to the College after midnight, when Rev. John McClosky called all the larger boys and hands together, bringing them in to assist; they came in time, as the citizens were fagged and tired; they worked manfully at the engine and in supplying water. Oh, the desolation a fire makes; most of the people lost their all, and never recovered. Money was sent from the cities to aid the poor. Think of it, forty-three years since that fire. The Presbyterian Church was burned August 28th, 1902.

Hill North of Town

The oldest residents can remember when it was called Robinson's Hill; who was Robinson? Philip Nunemaker had the honor of having it called after him next; he had lived in town as early as 1808; no doubt he purchased the property from Robinson. Nunemaker died 1849; his widow remained on this property a few years, when Henry Faller bought it. Since which time it has been known as Faller's Hill. Now that John Sebold owns the property, justly following the precedents of the past, it is Sebold's Hill.


This occupation has not always been one alone, usually it was connected with some other calling; cabinet makers and chair makers followed painting also, until Manning came here before 1850 and painted St. Joseph's and Jacob S. Gelwicks, also made it a business. Whilst Samuel Wilhide, Blackford Campbell and Barnabas Riley were chair makers; later Geo. Gelwicks, John Adelsberger and James Gelwicks.

Grave Diggers

An old custom; the neighbors volunteered to dig the graves when interment were on the farms or in the country cemeteries. In town the early grave diggers were, John Logan,, 1811, Tonie Bones, Thomas Buttler, Sebastian Adelsberger, Jacob Duphorn, Jacob Favourite, Thos. Butler, John Welty, John Glass. Their work today requires them to dig the grave four and a half to five feet deep. Many graves were not dug over three feet; for sanitary purposes this was changed, and justly, as the gasses arising from decaying bodies have made close proximity to some graves unpleasant. In 1811 John Logan received $3 for digging graves.

Along in the eighteen hundred and thirties a man named Markey committed a crime for which he was sent to the penitentiary from up in Harbaughs Valley. Mr. Newey was his principal accuser; after serving his term he left Baltimore, coming through Emmitsburg in the evening; stopping at Black's tavern for a drink, he proceeded to the mountain to take revenge upon Newey. Newey had butchered that day; after night put the fire out and retired. Markey had lain in sight of the house watching; at midnight he broke the door open with an axe. Mr. Tressler, Mrs. Newey's father, slept down stairs; Markey killed him; Newey came down to meet the same fate; also Mrs. Newey and the children; he carried away with him a vest, watch and few articles. The news was printed in a Frederick paper; a few days later a policeman sat in the General Wayne in Baltimore reading the account; he heard steps of a man as he entered the barroom; he knew from the description this was the man; he arrested him; he had the watch on his person; he was tried and hung in Frederick.

Fulling Mill

The fulling mill on Middle creek was carried on by Nathaniel Grayson for years prior to 1840; in the fifties Joseph Culbertson manufactured cloth blankets and yarns till after the civil war- in 1871 John Peoples was conducting the mill; after him Charles Deeg. It was abandoned for lack of customers and torn down in the eighties.

Items of Interest

Copying from an old ledger dated 1811 to 1812 I find the following items of interest: A Negro, Pol, sold for $267.67 April 9th, 18i2, to Wm. Moreland. The following articles were sold at prices named: Lodging in hotel and gill of whisky, 12 cents; coffee, 25 cents; terpentine, 50 cents pint; one gill rum, 12.5 cents; flour, $7.50; gallon whisky, $1.12.5; bacon, 12.5 cents; brown sugar, 13 cents; loaf sugar, 25 cents; flaxseed oil, $I.12.5; brandy sling, 12.5 cents; salt, 12.5 cents quart; nails, 12.5 cents pound; butter, 14 cents; oats, 62.5 cents; 6 chickens for 53 cents, 1 gallon of ill whiskey, 6.5 cents; half lottery ticket on Susquehanna Valley, 68.25 cents.

Old Mrs. Moreland sold her home-made linen to Hughs' store for 40, 47 and 62 cents per yard; selling May, 1811, 483 yards at 62 cents, 90 days credit, interest after go days; calico sold for 45 cents yard, glass tumblers 25 cents. each, brandy and wine $2. So gallon, white lead 25 cents pound. The itinerant shoemaker charged 40 cents per pair for making shoes; by digging Mrs. Granger's grave, $3.00; women hired out at $3.00 per month; making a pair breeches, 83 cents; making coat, $1.00; making slips, 37.5 cents; jacket, 83 cents; whiting, 12.5 cents pound. Iron sold for 7 cents pound, making nails four dollars per thousand; all nails were made by hand in 1811. Vinegar, 50 cents gallon; salt, $1. 25 bushel; 8 by 10 glass panes, 11 cents a piece; fur hat, $3.00; tin-plate stoves, $18; sole leather, 40 cents pound; one gallon of ill whisky and dinner at Eagle Hotel, 31.25 cents. (The death of Catharine George entailed the following expense 1811: John Row, coffin, $8.00; digging grave, $3.00; 1 pair stockings, James Hughs, $1.00; Margaret Mintie, eight days attendance, $6.00; 4 pounds candles, $1.00). Dutch cheese, 9 cents; unbleached muslin, 45 cents yard; one pound brimstone, l2.5 cents; shoeing horse, 3I.25 cents shoe; flour of sulphur, 80 cents pound; postage, 40 cents per ounce. John Devoy, tailor, 1812, charged $3.33 to make a suit of clothes.

Pages 91 - 100

Helmans' History Of Emmitsburg

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