Allison-Antrim Museum

The Original Settlers in Franklin County, Pennsylvania

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It is not known who was the first settler in Franklin County; however it is known that eight Blunston licenses were issued in 1733. Among the receivers of these licenses were Benjamin Chambers, Joseph  Crunkleton, Jacob Snively, James Johnston, and James Rhody. These licenses were issued after the fact in some cases at least 3 years had passed. When Lord William Penn died his three sons living in Philadelphia were unsure of their legal status to sell land and issue deeds. John Blunston who was a Quaker and personal friend of Lord Penn stepped into to help, he was the Sheriff and thus had legal standing and along with his son Samuel Blunston who was also sheriff for Cumberland County issued these licenses to those people living on the land. These licenses were in effect promissory documents acknowledging that the said person or persons were living on the specific piece of land and had first rights to buy it. These licenses are in the archives at Harrisburg.


It is known that Joseph Crunkleton arrived in Philadelphia in 1729 and most probably was in Franklin Co. in 1730 along with his sons. Benjamin Chambers is said to have been in the Chambersburg area in 1730, Johnston,. Snively and Rhodey were all in the Shady Grove general area about the same time. With the exception of Jacob Snively all of these people were Ulsterscots and most likely all came from various Ulster counties. It is the writer’s belief that there was substantial settlement by about 1735-36. My reasoning is that survival in what was then the wilderness required that first a rough dwelling be erected and in most cases this was a simple log house. It is interesting to note that this type of dwelling was not known in any part of the United Kingdom. Log huts or houses are a Norse invention. Secondly clearance of land for crops in order to feed the family was next in importance. It is estimated that the average settler and his family could clear 2 acres per year if of wooded nature; meadow of course could be cultivated much quicker. For some arcane reason the Ulsterscotss  preferred wooded and hilly land, but well watered. The next thing to come about was the establishment of their churches which was extremely important to them because they were the Scottish Dissenting Presbyterian Covenanters. Their church was of great importance and guided their lives. So it is known that in 1738 they established the Old Red Church in Greencastle along with their cemetery called Moss Spring...


In the 1500’s the Scots held a convention in which they signed and affirmed as the Covenant. The Scottish kings and also the English kings were Catholic and they ruled the people thru their parishes and their bishops all whom were appointed by the Crown. This was against the wishes of the Scots who were Presbyterians and who abided by the rules set down by their church and thru their individual parishes and the bible. The religious issue led to wars and almost all of the Pastors were deposed by the King who had up till then paid their salaries and provided housing etc. Once deposed they were forbidden to preach, but at great risk they did


The earliest migrations were in the reign of Queen Anne who granted both free passage and land grants to people to settle in her colonies Citizens of the United Kingdom were of course among the first, but Europe with it’s many wars was also a fertile ground for recruitment, and thus became the flow of the Rhineland Germans (Palanates) and the Huguenots from France. Most of these immigrants were either paid passengers or entered into indentured contracts with the shipping companies and Rotterdam was the main port of embarkation. The Germans were mostly farmers and very industrious and in time replaced many of the Ulsterscots on the land. For reasons which I have never discovered, the Scots remained foot loose and adventurous and frequently up-routed their families and moved South or West while the Germans took their place. The Germans were mostly Protestant and of Lutheran or Brethren faiths.


Starting about 1600 the migration began in earnest to the nine counties of Ulster and parts of the surrounding counties of Ireland. This came about because the Irish chieftain O’Neil lost a battle with the King of England and his lands were confiscated and he was imprisoned in a castle in Ireland. Sir Hugh Montgomery approached the king with a proposal to take over and populated some of the lands; before this could happen Sir James Hamilton found out about it and was included in the agreement. O’Neil agreed and surrendered title to most of his lands and was granted freedom .Land clearances in Scotland and the chance of a better life lead to a vast migration from Scotland, especially the lowlands to Ireland which was a short boat ride away. There were ruthless land clearances in Ireland by the London Companies and Montgomery & Hamilton of the Irish natives. By 1700 there were several hundred thousand Scots in Northern Ireland, but they too had enough of the endless battles, land clearances, and large increases in their rental amounts. The entire feudal  system was under attack, example: Both Ireland and Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom were under the control of Barony’s and their masters, some of which were knights and other high ranking persons or simply gentlemen of rank. These persons required that all the serfs on their lands be required to serve their master under arms or at any other time. This lead to constant battles and deaths and the families being left destitute while the men were off fighting. This system did not sit well with the  Ulsterscots who were not members of a clan such as were the highlanders. As said before their life centered around their church and parish and as dissenters against all forms of government, courts, they were ready to move on to America and other colonies of the Crown. And thus began the flood to America.


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