The Scot-Irish settled Greencastle-Antrim, as well  as the rest of the Cumberland Valley. Who were the Scot-Irish?  They  were protestant Presbyterian, Lowland Scots.  The Scot-Irish were not  Irish and were not Catholics.  The term Scot-Irish is strictly an  American nomenclature.  In England and Ireland the same people are  called Ulster Scots, which is much less confusing.  Refer to Gordon Crooks research.

In the early seventeenth century when James I  ascended to the English throne in 1603, one of his main objectives was  to civilize the uncontrollable, autonomous Irish - the majority of whom  were Catholic.

James I’s chosen action plan to accomplish this  objective was to begin an extensive colonization plan which emigrated  English protestants, Presbyterian Scots, and even French and German  protestants from their homelands into Ireland during the early 1600's.  He especially concentrated on the Ulster region which, at that time,  included the nine present-day counties of Donegal, Fermanagh, Cavan,  Monaghan, Armagh, Down, Tyrone, Coleraine (later Londonderry), and  Antrim. The Ulster region is located in the northeastern part of the  island of Ireland and lies closest, geographically, to England and  Scotland compared to the rest of Ireland.  Archie Reid, president of the  Ballyclare Historical Society in County Antrim, Northern Ireland wrote  the following about County Donegal.  "When partition was set up, Donegal  was not included in the new Northern Ireland. We still feel an affinity  and my Historical Society has close links with the Donegal one and we  exchange visits."

The lands that were confiscated had belonged to  Irish Earls who had left Ireland seeking help from Spain and Rome to  fight the English crown. The Irish Earls never again returned to their  homeland.  The land was first given to the new immigrants and then to  servitors of the King. The native Irish were the last to receive any  leftover land. In the process of settling the Ulster Plantation, the  English displaced masses of Irish peasants, often refusing them the  right to settle on certain lands.

During this time of colonization, the Scot-Irish  built towns and villages, commerce and industry increased, and new  farming methods were introduced.  More importantly, the Presbyterian  Church was established in a country very strongly rooted in the Catholic  faith which caused great religious turmoil and conflict.  This conflict  was exacerbated when, through the years, the English monarchs wavered  back and forth on their religious policies.

The Presbyterian Scots lived in Northern Ireland  for a little over a century before immigrating to the American colonies.  The English landlords found the Scot settlers too similar to the Irish  natives and resented them. The immigration was precipitated by the  English Monarchy who tried to exert its own political and religious  authority over the citizens of Ireland, including the Presbyterian  Scots, causing constant struggles for religious tolerance, civil  liberties, and political rights such as holding office or having  representation in government.  Economic factors also affected their  decisions to immigrate to the colonies.  Anglican ministers made the  majority of their income by imposing tithes on the Irish - Catholic and  Presbyterian alike.  The Irish tenants were charged high rents for their  land adding additional economic burdens on their families.  Consecutive  potato crop failures in 1724 1725, and 1726 compounded all the  preceding problems and forced many Ulster Scots to seek a new life in  America.

The mass immigration of the Scot-Irish took place  over a 58-year span between 1717 and 1775.  This time period is known as  the "Great Migration" and occurred in five "waves".  The immigrants  from the first three waves established the major settlements of the  Scot-Irish in the colonies.

The immigrants from the first and second waves  landed in Philadelphia and the Delaware River in Pennsylvania.  The  third wave of immigrants moved beyond Pennsylvania into Virginia and  beyond.

From Historical Sketch of Franklin County, "They  brought with them a hatred of oppression, and love of freedom in its  fullest measure… The Scotch-Irish, in the struggle for national  independence, were ever to be found on the side of the colonies."

The Scot-Irish did not, unfortunately, avoid  political strife in Pennsylvania with the Quakers and the German  settlers in the early part of the 18th century.  The Quakers did not  appreciate their interference in politics and were especially unhappy  with them when the Scot-Irish gained control of the Pennsylvania  Assembly in 1756.  It is to the credit of the many Scot-Irish who  settled within its borders early on that Pennsylvania is what it is  today.  The Scot-Irish were military leaders and prominent lawmakers  from the beginning of the colony's history through all dangers  (including Indians) and especially during our fight for freedom and  human rights.  They helped write the constitutions and frame our  fundamental laws.  Fourteen United States presidents were descendents  from the small northern corner of the island of Ireland.  More than  seven Pennsylvania governors were descendents of the Scot-Irish as well  as many U.S. senators, congressmen, judges, and other prominent people  from all walks of life.  Davy Crocket, Mark Twain, Andy Jackson, and Sam  Houston were all of Scot-Irish descent.  Some familiar local Scot-Irish  surnames are Allison, Irwin, Craig, McLaughlin, McLanahan, McDonald,  McDowell, McCrae, Alexander, Chambers, and Davison.

The Germans considered themselves to be orderly,  industrious, and frugal and thought the Scot-Irish were impetuous,  reckless, and quick-tempered. Because of this, the Germans and the  Scot-Irish often maintained settlements away from each other and avoided  social contact in much the same manner as the Scots did with the Irish  people while living in Northern Ireland.

The Scot-Irish who settled in America were  descendants of the Lowland Scots who were robust, adventurous, and  rebellious.  There is no architectural style or type of furniture  attributed to them so, in turn, there are no known artifacts surviving  that are specific to the Scot-Irish.  But the legacy they did leave  behind for future generations is their religion. In each settlement they  built a church in which to practice their Presbyterian faith.  In the  early 1700's, the Greencastle settlement was known as the East  Conococheague Settlement.  The first church, known as the Red Church,  was built at Moss Spring.

The Scot-Irish were nomadic. Those who settled  Greencastle had made their way westward from Philadelphia and then south  into Antrim Township and then again continued west and over the  Tuscarora Mountains. Along their route they left settlements about eight  to ten miles apart.  These settlements were quite often near springs or  waterways.

They adopted the Scandinavian housing of log  cabins. They didn't have many culinary skills and ate mostly mutton,  lamb, and oats.  Their music, unlike the Highlanders with their  bagpipes, was played on fiddles and dulcimers.

Originally in 1682, there were only three counties  - Chester, Philadelphia, and Bucks – that were established by William  Penn. Chester included all of the land southwest of the Skuykill River  to the extreme western and northern limits of the state.

On May 10, 1729, Lancaster County was established from Chester County land.

 At the May 1741 quarter sessions court of  Lancaster County, Antrim Township was established.  At that time Antrim  Township included all of present day Franklin County except Warren,  Fannett and Metal Townships.

Lurgan Township was established from the northern part of Antrim Township in 1743.

On August 9, 1749, York County was established west of Lancaster from Lancaster County land.

On January 27, 1750, Cumberland County was established from Lancaster County land.

Greencastle was founded in 1782 by John Allison and was situated in the southern portion of Cumberland County.

On September 9, 1784, Franklin County was  established from the southwest part of Cumberland County. Any local  research for tax records, deeds, or genealogy dating before September 9,  1784 must be done in Carlisle, the County seat of Cumberland County.   All surviving records after that date can be researched in the Franklin  County administrative offices in Chambersburg, Pa.

The first white man to settle in what we know  today as Franklin County was Benjamin Chambers, a Scot-Irishman.  He was  from County Antrim in Northern Ireland and along with his brothers  James, Robert, and Joseph immigrated to the Province of Pennsylvania  some time between 1726 and 1730.  With permission from the Indians,  Chambers was allowed to settle on the land of his choice.  This was  about 1730.  On March 30, 1734, the agent for the proprietors gave him a  license "to take and settle and improve four hundred acres of land at  the Falling Spring's mouth, and on both sides of the Conococheague  Creek, for the convenience of a grist mill and plantation."  This place  became Chambersburg.

Antrim Township, established in 1741, is named  after County Antrim in the very northeast corner of Northern Ireland  from where many of this area's first settlers came.  There is also a  town by the name of Antrim located in County Antrim.

The land that Greencastle now sits upon was first  deeded to Samuel Smith by a land warrant in 1750.  It was then  transferred to John Smith, then John Davison, and finally to William  Allison, Sr. in 1763.  In 1769, William, Sr. transferred a portion of  the land - 300 acres - to his son, John. If Greencastle was named for a  place in the north of Ireland, there is no doubt the gently rolling  landscape of this area reminded them of their homes in Ireland.

John Allison was a colonel in the Revolutionary  War and served three terms in the Pennsylvania Assembly. In 1787 he was a  delegate from Franklin County to the Pennsylvania Convention called to  ratify the new Federal Constitution.

Allison founded Greencastle in 1782. Allison,  along with the help of James Crawford, laid out the town in 246 numbered  lots of equal size (30' x 250') and sold them through a lottery at $8  each.  Allison owned and ran a tavern in town. In 1785 he contracted  with William Rankin who owned Moss Spring to provide a fresh supply of  water via a wooden trunk line into town for daily uses and fire  protection.

Allison-Antrim Museum is continuing its research  into how Greencastle got its name.  There are conflicting references in  William P. Conrad's books and news articles and other history book  references.  Some indicate that the immigrants left from the Greencastle  on the border of County Antrim and the city of Belfast.  Other  references are made to the Greencastle in County Donegal.  A third twist  is the fact that there were two large houses in Elizabethan times in  County Antrim - one was called The White House and the other  'Greencastle'.  Although the house Greencastle was not actually a castle  it was quite large in comparison to the cottages dotted about it, and  according to Archie Reid, to the people who lived in its proximity it  probably seemed like a castle. Or, could our town have been named after  General Green of the Revolutionary War? The museum will continue  investigating the Allison family's heritage through connections in  Northern Ireland and will keep this information updated as facts are  received.

Compiled by Bonnie A. Shockey

Bibliography Sources:

    History of Franklin County 1887, Warner, Beers, & Co, 1887

    Historical Sketch of Franklin County, Pennsylvania, I. H. McCauley, Publisher - John M. Pomeroy, 1878

    Conococheague - A History of the Greencastle-Antrim Community 1736-1971, William P. Conrad, 1971

    Shelter for His Excellency, Le Roy Greene, Stackpole Books, Harrisburg, 1951

    A History of Pennsylvania, Klein and Hoogenboom, Penn State University, 1980

    Archie Reid, President of Ballyclare Historical Society, County Antrim, Northern Ireland,

    Various newspaper articles



Antrim Township

Antrim Township.

The earliest settlers of the valley were mainly  Scotch-Irish. These people came from Northern Ireland and they were  descendants of the Scotch Presbyterians that had migrated from Scotland  to Northern Ireland during the reign of King James I of England. This  ruler, a Protestant, had encouraged people from Scotland to cross over  into Ireland, a distance of eleven miles, by water, and take up land  that had been seized by the English crown. The Irish, who were  dispossessed, were Catholic and had revolted against the crown because  of restrictive religious laws that had been imposed on them.

Thousands of Scotch families went to Northern  Ireland and settled in the counties of Antrim, Armagh, Caven, Donegal,  Fernmanagh, Londonderry, Monaghan, and Tyrone. This is the part of  Ireland where religious conflict between Presbyterians and Catholics  continues to this day.

After James I the English government did not  always protect and encourage these Scotch-Irish in their new homes and  because of difficulties with Roman Catholics and later English rulers,  many of them began to come to America. When William Penn founded  Pennsylvania as a colony for free lands, free religion and self  government, thousands came. In September of 1736, for instance , one  thousand immigrated to the colony.

The Scotch-Irish began to fill the Valley,  clearing the forest and carving out their farms. Between 1771 and 1773  over twenty-five thousand came. These people were the true pioneers of  the Cumberland Valley.

Among the earlier Scotch-Irish were Benjamin  Chambers and his brothers, James, Robert, and Joseph. Benjamin and  Joseph acquired lands at the confluence of the Conococheague Creek and  the Falling Spring. This was the beginning of Chambersburg. James made a  settlement at Green Spring, near Newville, and Robert settled at Middle  Spring, where Shippensburg now stands.

Locally, the Scotch-Irish founded the Moss Spring  Church in 1738 - a Presbyterian Church made of logs and located  northeast of where Greencastle now stands.

It was the Scotch Irish who fought off the Indians  along this frontier territory and as they came in greater numbers they  were the first to establish schools in the community. They were leaders  in the movement to gain freedom from England. They fought in the  Revolution and later served in the conventions that led to the making of  the nation's constitution.

In 1741 Antrim Township was formed. Originally it  included all land in what is now Franklin County, with the exception of  Fannett, Metal and Warren Townships. The name for this new township, of  course, came from northern Ireland where Antrim County was located.

German settlers followed the early Scotch-Irish.  These were a people who came from the many different German states.  Their basic reason for leaving their homelands was to find religious  freedom and as they moved into this frontier region along with and after  the Scotch-Irish, they, too, acquired lands and became the leading  farmers of the local area.

An early writer describes a visit to the home of  Jacob Snively in 1748. The Snively holdings lay to the northeast and  eastward from what is now Greencastle and the writer describes corn  growing to a height of ten feet and "remarkably fine grasses" for  pasture land. Jacob Snively was described as an "honest schweitzer" and a  member of the German Reformed Church.

These German pioneers fought in the French and  Indian Wars and provided money, leadership, and men for the War for  Independence from England, alongside the Scotch-Irish.




Borough of Greencastle

In 1738, the East Conococheague Congregation established the  Presbyterian’s red meeting house at Moss Spring; the site selected due  to this water source. By 1741 Antrim Township was established, including  all the land in the area.

The land at the center of the township, would become Greencastle  at the intersection of the much traveled trails, Baltimore and Carlisle  pikes. Here is where Allison’s Tavern hosted cattle and sheep herders  and businessmen who would make their way south from Harrisburg and  Carlisle to the Potomac to sell their wares or from Baltimore north to  Pittsburgh bringing goods and then purchasing other items wanted or  needed before the trip home.

William Allison, who operated the tavern, gave his son John 300  acres of land. With the help of school teacher James Crawford, the land  was surveyed and developed into 246 building lots. The area began to  grow once it was founded by John Allison in 1782. The name Greencastle  was a reminder of the town in northern Ireland from where many of the  new residents’ ancestors had emigrated.

The Scot-Irish Presbyterians were followed by the Germans,  Lutherans and Reformed. All the settlers and their families brought  their unique customs and names with them, adding to the culture and  eventually, the history of the region. By 1794 there were reportedly 60  houses in the village and George Washington passed through Greencastle  in October of that year, stopping at McCullough’s Tavern on the  southwest section of the Square.

The Borough of Greencastle, by an act of the Pennsylvania  Assembly, was incorporated March 25, 1805. Tickets had been sold years  earlier, at about $8 each for a lottery to be held; the winner would  receive one of the building lots. These lots were along main streets:  Baltimore and Carlisle, the chief roadways, or along North (now  Madison), West (Jefferson), South (Franklin) or East (Washington)  streets. Lot 1 of the new borough would include a hotel where Allison’s  Tavern had stood, in the southwest section of Center Square; Lot 2,  continuing south around the Square or “Diamond” as it was called, would  become the first commercial building; and so on until homes and  businesses stood surrounding the borough’s center and beyond.

Carl’s Drug Store began in Greencastle in 1825, opening a  storefront on South Carlisle Street. The business is the longest,  continuously operated drug store in the United States. The business  would later move to three more locations, however all its years of  service were within the borough’s limits.

The railroad brought a different means of transport and receipt  of goods for business and home. The Franklin Company placed a line to  connect Chambersburg and Hagerstown, Md. In 1840, the company laid the  tracks and ties in the center of Carlisle Street bringing both cargo and  passengers through the borough. In 1849 a printer with a Mormon group  who settled in the area because they thought they had found their “New  Jerusalem,” began distribution of a weekly newspaper. The Conococheague  Herald would later become the Echo Pilot Newspaper , still a part of the  local business scene today. The religious group, however, had moved  further west by the mid-1850s.

The people farmed the land, there were cabinetmakers,  blacksmiths, printers, coopers, milliners, grocers and more as the area  grew and prospered. Manufacture came to the community, first employing  men in a new work as farm implements were built and sold.

The area was touched by Civil War as Southern troops made their  way along Carlisle Street headed for Gettysburg. Capt. Ulrich Dahlgren  and his small group of men captured for the Union messages meant for  Gen. Robert E. Lee, making a difference in the outcome of the famous  battle. Union troops camped in the area and skirmishes were a part of  the people’s lives. Corporal William H. Rihl of the First New York  Lincoln Cavalry, was the first Union soldier killed on Union soil June  22, 1863, on farm land just northwest of the borough’s limits.

By 1869, the First National Bank of Greencastle (established in  1864) constructed their building on Center Square. The clock above the  building, owned by the borough, was added in 1872, purchased through  donations of the citizens. It would become a symbol of Greencastle. By  1901, the borough would boast a second bank as Citizens National (now  Susquehanna) opened its doors to business.

Fire protection was formalized in the borough in 1896 when the  Rescue Hose Company organized. Meeting in Council Hall (constructed in  1888), the company purchased and retains a 1741 hand pumper- brought out  on special occasions for demonstrations. 1896 was special for other  reasons: the first telephone was installed in Carl’s Drug Store and the  Carl residence, and electric lights were made available to homeowners  and businesses.

In 1902 many of Greencastle’s former residents would plan and  gather for an Old Boys’ Reunion. It proved to be so successful that it  was planned again in three years time and would include the women - the  event has been held every three years since. The August celebration  means cleaning and painting, keeping the borough a beautiful small town  at its best, as visitors and former residents, are welcomed “home.” The  entire program, from parade to fireworks to pageant, is offered  commercial free - financed only through the sale of badges and  donations.

In 1923 one of the “old boys” donated five acres of land to the  people of the community in memory of his late brother Jerome. The David  D. King donation became the Jerome R. King Playground, dedicated during  Old Home Week of that year. Including a veteran’s memorial band shell,  pavilions, tennis courts, baseball field, swings and slides, the park  now covers 15 acres within the borough’s limits.

War would again touch the lives of the people as many of  Greencastle’s young men and women would answer the call to serve. Frank  L. Carbaugh, killed during World War I, would have his name live on as  American Legion Post 373; Harry D. Zeigler would be honored through the  name of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6319 following World War II.  They would leave their homes during the Korean War and the young men and  women would travel to a place called Viet Nam and other unfamiliar  places.

In 1955 the by-pass would become part of the landscape as Route  11 was moved from the main streets to a site further west and named  Antrim Way. Along this road too, as well as the “downtown” area,  business and jobs would be offered. In the 1960s, Interstate 81 would be  completed and bring additional growth to the area as businesses and  residences were added. Ease in travel to cities - 84 miles to  Washington, 70 miles to Baltimore, D.C., 63 miles to Harrisburg, 158  miles to Pittsburgh and 152 miles to Philadelphia - would bring new  travelers.

Greencastle is also home to the Lilian S. Besore Memorial  Library, open to the public; a school system that includes  Tayamentasachta Environmental Center; the John L. Grove Medical Center;  and much more. In 1994 Allison-Antrim Museum was formed for the  preservation of local items of interest and for the promotion of the  area’s history. The Rescue Hose Company building includes the HOCO  Museum in its fire hall on South Washington Street. Both of these  facilities are open to the public on various occasions - for additional  and more in-depth study of the local area.

Above information from:



Pawlings Tavern

Pawling's Tavern

by William P. Conrad

Henry Pawling came into the Cumberland Valley in  the 1740s when he purchased lands in southern Antrim Township. His  holdings lay in the path of what was to become the King's Highway, a  primitive route designed by colonial authorities to connect the  Susquehanna and Potomac: rivers. He had come from the rural area near  Philadelphia in what is now Montgomery County. After erecting his log  home he married Mary Hicks, daughter of a neighbor, Nicholas Hicks.  Their first child, a son, was named for the father and their only other  child, a daughter, was given the name, Eleanor.

Pawling farmed his grant and eventually used his  dwelling as a tavern to accommodate the traders with their pack trains  engaged in the profitable Indian trade with the tribes of western  Pennsylvania. A mill was also built along the stream which ran through  the property, but the tavern was the principal business.

The pack trains coming down the Valley from posts  along the Susquehanna River and Carlisle or those returning from western  Pennsylvania would stop at Pawlings. Here they could rest their animals  before resuming their 'journey. As many as several hundred horses could  be seen at a time as they pastured in the grass and wooded lands  adjacent to the tavern, located south of present day Greencastle.

After a rest of from three to seven days the  trains were reloaded to continue westward or to their eastern places of  business. Those who were bound for the west would follow the stream at  the tavern to the creek. From there they would use a path along the bank  of the West Conococheague which led to Black's Trading Post in what is  now the Mercersburg area. From here they would continue into the  mountain country to the west. This route, like others, connected the  interior settlements of Pennsylvania, northern Virginia, and western  Maryland, by way of the Potomac River, to the port of Alexandria,  Virginia.

Records of Cumberland Valley's early years tell of  the retreating army of Col. Thomas Dunbar resting at Pawling's  following the defeat of Braddock's forces in July of 1755. During the  wars with the French and Indians it was called the "limit of safety on  the western frontier."

After the death of his father in 1761, Henry  Pawling Jr. continued to operate the business. The earlier log building  was replaced by one constructed of rough cast stone. By this time a  wagon road extended from Carlisle to the Potomac River, but cargoes  destined for the western trade were transferred to pack trains carrying  merchandise to Fort Pitt and posts along the way. The James Smith affair  of 1765 started at Pawlings when protests were made to the  representatives of the Boyton, Wharton, and Morgan firm about the cargo  being sent for trade with the western tribes. Smith represented the  feelings of the frontier people as they protested against shipping such  goods as whiskey, hatchets, knives, firearms, and gun powder to trade  with the very tribes who had ravaged their homes for nearly a decade  before the defeat of Pontiac and his allies.

During the Revolution the tavern continued as a  stopping place for the pack , trains carrying military supplies to Fort  Pitt. One account tells of an artillery company, commanded by Captain  Isaac Craig, hauling gun carriages and horse shoes to the western fort  coming to Pawlings May 27, 1780. By June 29 the march was completed. The  elapse of one month, from the time Craig left the tavern. until he  reached his destination, indicates the speed with which these trains  traveled


Henry Pawling Jr. married a "lady from Virginia."  There were no children and the records indicate that he died in 1794.  Apparently the property reverted to ‑ his sister, Eleanor, the wife of  Dr. Robert Johnston. At her death, in 1818, a 200‑acre farm on which the  tavern stood was willed to her niece, Rebecca Prather, who had made her  home with Mrs. Johnston after her husband's death.

Rebecca  had married her cousin, John Morgan Pawling, in 1811, and they made  their home with Eleanor until she died. Rebecca's husband, a nephew of  the first Henry Pawling, had lived in Montgomery County. They and their  family moved back to eastern Pennsylvania, but returned in 1827 to  occupy the property inherited from Eleanor. From this time until his  death in 1838, John Morgan Pawling operated the hostelry and mill. He is  said to have been a hard drinking man of prodigious strength, being  able to lift a barrel of flour from the floor by his teeth.

Seven children were born to Rebecca and John ‑  four daughters and three sons. The youngest child, Thomas, born in 1824,  continued to live at the home place helping his mother conduct the  business and farm their land. He married Malinda Benedict of Quincy  Township and their family of eight children grew up here.

By then the family was supported mainly by farming  and the mill operation. The coming of turnpikes, canals, and railroads  connecting western Pennsylvania with the eastern markets left little  commercial trade for the ancient hostelry. Eventually, Thomas built a  new one in Greencastle which he called the Antrim House. However, the  home place continued as part of the Pawling holdings. A map of Antrim  Township shows it to be owned by the family as late as 1868.

Today there remains little evidence of where the  hostelry or mill stood. Older residents tell of seeing its foundation  stones in the field where the Milnor Road meets the highway to  Williamsport, Md.

However, as if reminding us of the past, one can  still see horses in the field where their forebearers once grazed and  waited to carry their burdens to the next destination.



Dipping Box

Greencastle's Original Water Supply.

(Commonly called, "The Dipping Box".)

Far back in the early 1700's a small cluster of  houses, an inn, and a black-smith shop were already established at the  cross-roads where Greencastle now stands, but it was not until 1782 that  John Allison, who owned much of the ground in the vicinity, laid out a  town of right-angled streets and allies, offered lots for sale, and  christened his new town, "Greencastle".

Naturally, the new town's first need was a supply  of pure water for domestic purposes and for fire protection, and  accordingly on March 8, 1785 Mr. Allison, the Proprietor entered into a  perpetual agreement with a Mr. William Rankin, who owned a fine spring  known as Moss Spring just east of the borough, to divert water from this  spring by means of an artificial watercourse thru the town.

This watercourse was laid out in an irregular or  zig-zag course across the town so that it might reach as many of the  inhabitants as possible. Originally the water was conveyed in a heavy  wooden trough, or trunk, about 15 inches square, and for the most part  covered on top to keep out contamination. Where the course crossed  public streets or allies it was lead thru iron pipes or brick culverts.  At each street and alley, and on most of the private lots, a large  wooden box was sunk into the ground and kept filled with water from the  wooden trunking. This box was deep enough so that the citizens could dip  up water with a bucket and carry it to their homes. It was for this  reason that the whole system came to be called, "The Dipping Box".

Later, the more ambitious persons tapped the  wooden trunking with hollow logs and conveyed the water to other  premises not along the direct route of the watercourse; and it is said  that at one time about Civil War times this system was quite elaborately  developed with hollow wooden logs running here and there on trestles,  some as high as six feet. At a later date. a number of wells were dug to  supplement the water supply and to serve persons who lived at some  distance from the main route.

In the early days, when fire protection was  provided by "bucket brigades" or the old fashioned hand pump  fire-engines, water was carried from the dipping boxes and poured into  the fire engine, but later when the town acquired a steam fire-engine a  system of large brick fire cisterns were built along the water-course  and connected to it so that they were always kept filled. It was into  these cisterns that the old steam fire engine thrust it's suction hose  and no doubt prevented many a serious conflagration.

It was naturally important that such a  watercourse should be kept clean and free from leaks, and the early  borough policemen and constables had quite a job on their bands making  weekly inspections; and many were the citizens who were haled before the  magistrate for failure to keep their trunking clean or in good repair.

Such was Greencastle's main water supply until  about 1895 when the first gravity water system with a reservoir and  underground iron pipes were put into operation. From that date on, the  old water course rapidly deteriorated, the wooden trunking was allowed  to rot without replacement, and no longer was any great attempt made to  keep it clean. It is true that for some years afterwards many persons  used the water to irrigate their gardens, or for other purposes when  purity was not necessary, but by 1922 the whole system bad become so  neglected that it was finally abandoned by order of the Board of Health.

A few of the old fire cisterns still remain in  serviceable condition and here and there may be found rotted pieces of  the old wooden trunking, but in a few more years it is likely that all  trace of a water system that served the town for more than 110 years  will be completely obliterated.

And yet, John Allison's fore-sight in obtaining a  water-right so many years ago still serves the town in good stead, for  at the present day the water of Moss Spring is now being pumped into the  borough reservoir and is again being distributed to the people of  Greencastle thru the piping of a modern water system.


Gallery of History

A history of Greencastle-Antrim based on the Mark Noe paintings that hung in The First National Bank located on the square in Greencastle, PA.  The bank is now BB&T.   

Digitized from original VHS tape.

16 minutes