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Memories and Pleasant Associations
 of the Town Pump

(Originally published Friday May 29, 1908 in the Emmitsburg Chronicle)

Exact date of its establishment lost in the mist of antiquity. It was the background for  political speakers and local orators. Poem of a former Assistant Pastor of St. Joseph's Church concerning the Town Pump and those who drank of its water.

A correspondent from the West in a  recent communication to THE CHRONICLE, deplored the passing away of the town pump, but having served its day and generation it has gone and in its place we have the fountain a much more sightly and imposing structure. But a great many associations and memories cling to the old pump. Some one has said it was an old custom to dig a well in the square when a town was laid out.

Many families living near the square obtained their water from the town pump, as the water was more limited than now when we have our fine mountain water in our kitchens and yards. No one knows the exact date when the well was excavated; it has been suggested the well was first dug and the town built around it, but this cannot be, for the original settlers got water from a spring, long ago filled up, in the cellar of Mr. L. M. Motter's log house, on the street leading to the R. R. Station, this L. M. Motter being the father of the present Mr. L. M. Motter one of our oldest Citizens. The well was not a large one being only 25 feet deep and 4 feet in diameter, yet it was never known to go dry.

Before railroads traversed the country six horse teams carried the produce from Pittsburgh to Baltimore. On their return they brought merchandise to the merchants along their route. The town pump furnished water to all these teams. Man and beast alike found refreshment from the excellent water it brought to the surface. Our old teamsters had a song, one stanza of which ran as follows:

"We go to a merchant and ask him for a load, he would turn around and tell us, itís gone on the damn railroad." The old pump was the rallying ground for most of the scenes of youthful gatherings of political and other meetings, of town fires and jolifications and generally for the exercise of the fire company of the town.

The boys had an old mill gudgeon into which they drilled a hole, filling it with powder; this they ran into the pump where it exploded with a noise of cannon, splitting the pump and cracking the windows in the neighborhood. In the great fire in 1863 in our town, the town pump furnished the water supply with which they fought, unsuccessfully, the flames.  It has been said that any one who drank from the town pump would never lose his desire to return to his old home, and this accounts for the yearly pilgrim ages to dear old Emmitsburg of many of those who were born here or whoever lived in its vicinity.       

"The above cut, representing the central object of our town square, was executed by a friend who, sojourning for a few days, at the Western Maryland Hotel, a short time ago, made a drawing of the same, and after returning to his home prepared the cut for the Chronicle.   It speaks for itself, thought the talented artist suggests the idea the pump is saying to the lamp-post "Goodbye old  friend our race is nearly run, we must make room for the march of improvement." - Aug 16th, 1884 Edition of the Emmitsburg Chronicle

Romance and Legend

Once upon a time there was an old town, and in the centre square of the town stood a well with and old wooden pump. It was called by way of preeminence the Old Street Pump, because it appeared to be the property of the town in particular and everybody in general. It has long ago disappeared, but the town still remains, and, wonderful to relate, has taken in recent years a second growth which promises to far exceed all its previous advance and achievements, so that it will soon be justified in putting on metropolitan airs.

But where is the old street pump? Echo (which like a woman or an Irishman always has an answer ready) says, where? Why was not its old stock turned into souvenir walking-sticks and sold for $10 a piece for the benefit of the town? Why indeed?

There is a legend which says that every one who drank from the old street pump, although he might be far away, feels a strong desire to return to Emmitsburg.  Perhaps it may be some thing else that brings him back, but it is attributed to the ' 'Lure of the Pump."

The pump is gone, but the well remains, sealed and covered by the great fountain erected over it which sends its cooling spray high in the air. But the water that it sends forth is not the "real thing" to the boy or girl who once drank from the Old Street Pump. It may be said of all Emmitsburgians:

 "Where e'er they be,
Where e'er their footsteps roam,
The Pump is still a memory Of "Home, Sweet Home."

Have  old newspaper clipping dealing with Emmitsburg history?
If so, send them to us at history@emmitsburg.net