AN INITIAL HISTORY OF
THE MAYTOWN MUSEUM HOUSE
4 WEST HIGH STREET
by The Rev. Robert M. Lescallette
On May 1, 1760, Jacob and Elizabeth Downer, German Mennonite land speculators who had earlier been active in the real estate market on the eastern side of Lancaster County, laid out the town of Maytown, in Donegal Township, on acreage that they had just purchased from Scots Irish landholder, Lazarus Lowery.
Their dream was to create a community on the frontier, near the Susquehanna River, in the environs of Great Peter’s Road, where German, English, and Scots Irish immigrants could find a home and serve as a supply center for the legions of pilgrims who would follow after them ever westward. Of course, the Downers also hoped to become rich, themselves, through the sale of town lots and through the collection of annual rental fees on each deeded property.
So it was, that they devised a town plan, which would feature a central “diamond” square and a grid pattern of surrounding streets with “High” Street serving as the main thoroughfare bisecting the square on the East West axis, and bring pioneers from civilized Lancaster to wild York County, via the Vinegar Ferry crossing of the river. A North South artery bore no name, originally, but it too bisected the square and eventually became known as River Street.
Alleys or “Back” Streets were created parallel and perpendicular to the main axes, and so it was that the town site consisted of 16 blocks, measuring 250′ x 250′, arranged in 4 tiers. Each block was then subdivided into four lots, creating space for a moderately sized dwelling, a small barn or stable, and a goodly sized garden although many townspeople felt compelled to own acreage outside of town to raise crops for cash, or feeding livestock, or gaining additional foodstuffs for themselves.
All original town lots, with the exception of 4 lots with frontage on the town square, therefore measured 62 x 250′. They were numbered, in sequence, beginning with lot #1, which was located on the Southwest corner of the square (where the former Washington House restaurant now stands) and proceeding to lot #8 on the south side of West High Street, at King Street (home today, to the Diems). Numbers then went up the entire North side of High Street from King to Queen Street, and from lot #9 until lot #24. Lot #25 was opposite #24, and the sequence continued back to the square along the South side of East High Street, arriving finally at lot #32. Numeration next turned on South River Street to Elizabeth but then the plan gets murky and awaits further discoveries.
Anyway….we know that on November 10, 1770, James Webb, the sheriff of Lancaster County, sold all of the town site with its “quit rent” deed rights, to Alexander Lowery, the son of former owner, Lazarus, because the Downers had gone bankrupt. We also know that Alexander Lowery, on November 4, 1771, sold lot #2 to one ENOCH HASTINGS for 2 pounds and 10 shillings, with the understanding that Hastings would have to pay Lowery and his heirs 1 shilling of rent, every May 1st, forever. (Deed Book W, Vol. 5, p. 16.)
Why is that important to us, for the purpose of this history? For several reasons:
1) The small price suggests that lot #2, on the corner of the town square, where the former Shenk’s store now stands, was probably “unimproved” with no previous building on it or no previous tenant.
2) And most importantly, it mentions that the man who bought lot #2, ENOCH HASTINGS, also owned lot # 3 at the time, and lot #3 is where the Maytown Museum site is now located! So who was this Enoch Hastings who may have built our house? Enoch was born in 1727, in Salisbury Township, Lancaster County, near Gap, the second son of Thomas and Mary Hastings and the grandson of John. Enoch married Sarah Richards at St. James Episcopal Church in Lancaster on November 27, 1766, and the marriage produced three sons: Howell, William, and John in that order with John, the youngest, being born in 1773. Enoch Hastings, apparently not long after his marriage, moved west to Donegal, for his name first appears in the local tax rolls as early as 1768, and he is credited with owning one cow. In 1779, the tax rolls first make specific mention of Enoch’s owning a house and two town lots here plus 3 acres of country land and two cows and practicing the trade of carpentry. Clearly, the two lots are #2 and #3, and just as likely, the house mentioned is the house that now is our museum site! (Is it not likely that a carpenter would have built it?)
In 1781 and 1782, Enoch Hastings was the captain of a company of colonial militiamen that had been raised in his native Salisbury Township. (Pa. Archives, Vol. 7, Series 5, pp. 42, 56, 78.) After the war, Captain Hastings returned to life as a carpenter and shingle maker in Maytown although his material circumstances improved. 1785’s tax rolls show his property valued at $60, and they show him in possession of 2 horses and 3 servants in addition to the cow, 2 lots, and 1 house!
Then, in 1786, his “boat” really came in, as his grandfather, John, died, and he sold the 360 acres of Salisbury Township farmland to Joseph Haar and Christian Hummel for 2,603 pounds. (The land had been acquired on August 2, 1766 by the patriarch, who had intended to leave it to his son, Thomas, but, because Thomas, Enoch’s father, died before him, on June 3, 1783, and Enoch’s older brother, John, pre deceased him, Enoch was made the executor of the estate, and he benefitted as the heir (after money had been set aside on interest, for his mother, Mary, for an annual income for the rest of her life.) (Deed Book EE, p. 508ff.)
As a moneyed man with a good trade, 3 sons, and the status of a Revolutionary War officer, Enoch must have cut quite a fine figure in Maytown’s streets and that stood him in good stead when his first wife Sarah died and Sarah #2 took her place. But happiness was not to long bless the conjugal pair, as differences in age and expectation took their toll. Sarah #2, you see, was the once famous “Sally” Hastings, born on March 25, 1773 the same year as Enoch’s youngest son, John -and therefore almost half a century younger than her mate.
Born near Intercourse, Pa., the daughter of Robert (parson or blacksmith?) and Margaret Anderson, Scots Irish Presbyterians (who nevertheless had been married at St. James Episcopal Church in Lancaster on June 2, 1767), Sally moved to Donegal in 1783 with her widowed mother and five siblings, and they became part of farmer Brice Clark’s family. Brice was a pillar of Donegal Presbyterian Church and his large farm is located along what today is Colebrook Road, just to the East of Maytown, and north of Rock Point Road.
Not one to “hide her lamp under a bushel basket” or be told by someone else how to live her life, the impetuous 15 year old girl defied the wishes of her parents and the conventions of society by marrying the then 61 year old. Enoch (who was older than her step father) in 1788 and moved into Enoch’s house. (An article which appeared in the 1906 edition of the Lancaster County Historical Society Journal (Vol. X, p. 373 states that the couple “dwelt for a time in the brick house in the square at Maytown, where later Amos Slaymaker and more recently John C. Sweiler kept a store, but I believe that to be incorrect for reasons that will follow in the text. I think that she moved into Enoch’s log house on lot #3, our museum’s building, and that the brick house referred to, on lot #2, was not yet dreamed of.)
Three children appear to have been born to the couple: Margaret, who died in infancy, Enoch, born in 1793, and Sarah, in 1795 however, what became of the boy and girl is not yet known by me. What is certain is that Sally wasn’t cut out for the hard and tedious, intellectually numbing life of a frontier wife and mother, and so she became a “grass widow,” who separated herself from her husband at some point, but was unable to seek a divorce, due to the religious scruples of her church and her stern and influential step father.
In one of the poems which she wrote and which served as the basis for her nineteenth century celebrity, “Maytown’s Grass Widow” wrote of herself and her motives for leaving Enoch:
Your hearts, with wisdom fraught,
No genius owns, no science boasts,
But what affliction taught.
Just in the op’ning bud of youth,
The iron hand of fate,
Did crush her intellectual growth,
With more than ten fold weight.
Secluded in an infant land,
Immers’d in household care,
Her tender wisp could not expand
Nor mental organs clear.”
That being the case, in 1800, she left Maytown behind and accompanied her sister, Rebekah, Rebekah’s husband, Joseph Barton, 2 servants, and 5 children, on a two horse wagon trip west, across the Allegheny Mountains to Cross Creek, Washington County, Pennsylvania. The account of this journey, together with 60 original poems, were later published, in 1808, at the prompting of William Dickson, the editor of the Lancaster “Intellegencer and Weekly Advertizer”. The 6″ x 4″ leather bound tome contained 220 pages, and it sold for 87 a copy, with 854 copies purchased by primarily Presbyterians in Pennsylvania and neighboring states. The cumbersome title of the work read: “Poems, on Different Subjects. To Which is added a Descriptive Account of a Family Tour of the West, in the year 1800. In a letter to a Lady, by Sallie Hastings.”
I find the diary portions of the text to be quite interesting and evocative of a time when the “west” wasn’t so far away as we who grew up in the 1950’s thought of it peopled with cowboys and Indians on the Great Plains or rocky desert buttes. Sally tells us what it was like to cross through forests and over low Eastern mountains on a pathway that many generations later would be rendered easy by the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Sally’s poetry is rather formal and stilted with a lot of obscure references to classical literature and non specific and impersonal musings on nature. She is perfectly orthodox in her Christianity and unabashedly patriotic. Her heroes are Presbyterian ministers and Thomas Jefferson. Not long after arriving in Cross Creek, the poetess’s sister died, leaving her to tend the children until, in February of 1805, she was replaced with a step mother, and she could return to Donegal for an extended visit which may have lasted for three years.
In 1808, she went west again this time to serve as nanny and housekeeper to her widowed brother, Robert Anderson, and his children, and there, in Washington County’s seat, “little Washington”, she was in her glory. Robert, you see, was not only a jeweler and a maker of tall case clocks, but also a rising politician, who served as sheriff, town councillor, and a state legislator, and theirs was a household that was always humming with interesting visitors and, in Sally’s surprising admission “a train of beaux.”
A more worldly 37-year-old Sallie even became engaged in a prolonged and heated newspaper debate with the puritanical Alexander Campbell, who objected to the “unseemly” conduct of some students at Washington College’s annual commencement exercises, and thereby incurred the wrath of the more tolerant and liberal Sally. (Campbell, by the way; later founded the Disciples of Christ denomination.)
Two years later, as American naval forces were engaging the Barbary pirates on the “shores of Tripoli”, Sallie died, in 1812, and she was buried in an unmarked grave eventually forgotten by all, save a tiny cluster of literary and historical researchers.
One of them, Hon. W.U. Hensel, wrote of her in 1906, in the exceedingly flowery language of the day, “(she was) a minor minstrel, rural and local, slightly remembered, if not altogether forgotten, a star that flickered feebly in the constellation of local poesy and then was lost to literary view a flower that blushed not altogether unseen, but whose fragrance soon was wasted on an unsympathetic, desert air.” (LCHS Vol. 10, No. 10 pp. 370 1.)
But now we enter truly murky waters and a mystery which this historian has not yet been able to solve. As Sallie was out cavorting in the West, things did not stand still in Maytown, bucolic though we may have been!
Enoch’s youngest son, John, for example, first shows up on the tax rolls, as the owner of a separate house and lot, in 1802, and on October 17, 1805, John married Agnes McCurdy, who had been born on August 16, 1781, in County Donegal, Ireland. The couple produced possibly Enoch’s first grandson on May 26, 1807, when John Richards Hasting was born, and it is interesting to note that in that same year’s tax rolls, Enoch is no longer listed as owning one house and two lots, but only one house and one lot, while his son now owns one house and 3 lots.
This suggests to me that the proud and aging grandfather gave lot #2 to John so that he could raise his growing family in a new, larger house, on the town square, and have a more visible venue for nursing his profession as a saddler. 1808’s tax rolls show that Enoch owned one house and one lot, valued at $75, while John owned one house on only one lot (plus 24 lands patent) , valued at $309, which means the younger man got rid of two lots and perhaps exchanged houses, so that now he lived next to his Dad, in a better place.
On January 15, 1809, Adeline Simpson Hastings was born to John and Agnes, and January 11, 1811 saw the birth of Edmund McCurdy Hastings. Agnes, it should be noted, is credited with having started the first Sunday School in Maytown, in 1828, The 1904 Lutheran Church history, written by Pastor Goll, on page 132, says she taught in a log school house where later the double brick school was built, and which today are dwellings probably at the corner of South King and West Elizabeth Streets in Maytown.
But here’s what I mean about a mystery: The 1810 federal census shows that Enoch Hastings was living with one 26 45 year old free white male (probably his unmarried. son, William or Howell) and a woman 45 years of age or older! (Who was this woman? Sallie Hastings would have only been 37, and she was living in Washington County!
Sallie made a big issue out of her frustration in not being able to get divorced from Enoch, and there is no indication that she ever re married. Did HE? Was the woman on the tax rolls a housekeeper, a mistress, or a third wife?)
And if that weren’t confusing enough, consider this: Enoch died at the age of 84, on January 26, 1812 the same year that Sallie died and he was buried by himself in the St. John’s Lutheran Church graveyard, where his stone still stands today, in row 12—yet from 1813 through 1823, the tax rolls show “widow Hastings” owning Enoch Hasting’s house and lot, and in 1824, “Widow Hasting’s Estate” is said to be the owner as if she only died that year!
The only apparent solution to this discrepancy is:
a) that Sallie Hastings did not, in fact, die in 1812… nor was she buried out west, as the legend says….but rather, that she returned to Maytown after Enoch’s death (if not before!!!) and lived here until her own death in 1823 or 1824.
b) that Enoch took a third wife who survived him (and whose name may have been “Sarah” like wives #1 and #2 adding to the confusion!)
c) that Sallie’s family kept waging a legal battle, asserting her claim to Enoch’s property long after her death. (Although that doesn’t explain why ownership should suddenly change to “the estate of.”)
Clearly, option “a” and “b” are the most likely explanations and I suppose that “b” best suits the facts, but I have yet to discover a marriage record for a third Mrs. Hastings, nor can I learn of her funeral or grave site.
We shall therefore have to leave this as an “open question.” One thing is certain. The 1815 Direct Tax, which is a godsend for historians because of its more detailed description of town properties, shows that in the year that the War of 1812 came to a close, Enoch Hasting’s Estate owned 1 log house, situate on High Street, of one story, 40′ in length by 20′ in depth, set on a lot measuring 62′ x 250′, and valued on April 1, 1815 at $800 obviously the museum building at 4 West High Street.
The tax roll also reports that John Hastings owned 1 dwelling house of brick, situate on High Street, of two stories, 28′ in length by 32′ in depth with a back building, on a lot measuring 62’x 250′ just as clearly the predecessor of the former Shenk’s store. John also owned 1 small frame house on a back street in Maytown, measuring 20′ x 26′ plus an unimproved lot on Walnut Street in Bainbridge, and 42 acres of farmland outside of Maytown with a total estate value of $2,840.
Epoch Hastings died without a will, which meant that his surviving children (and spouse, if there was one) would share equally in the estate. If one heir wanted to acquire the vacated house totally for themselves, they would have to “buy out” the other heirs and that is what John the entrepreneur of the family -did.
On January 27, 1817, John bought his brother, Howell’s share for $180. (Deed Book 24, Vol 4, p. 441) and in 1824, brother William’s share was acquired for $126 with the deed executed on September 28 and the fact recorded 8 years later on May 1, 1832 (Deed Book W, Vol. 5, pp. 19 20). I can find no record of the purchase of a remaining share owned by a surviving Sallie or her estate or by her children, Enoch and Sarah.
By 1824, the house on lot #3, our museum site, was now fully the property of John Hastings which causes me to wonder again was the “widow Hastings” referred to in the tax rolls, from Enoch’s death year to 1823, his mistress rather than his wife who had no legal standing or rights of inheritance, but who was allowed to reside in the house until her death, and whom local folks assumed or pretended was Epoch’s wife when she wasn’t?
THAT WOULD EXPLAIN A GREAT DEAL!
It is probably significant that John Hastings took the trouble to record his deed with William in 1832 after so long a delay because that year saw the marriage of his eldest son, John R. Hastings, to Eliza D. Gibbs, on August 17, 1832 and John Senior may have had plans to provide the couple with a first house.
A formal transfer of property never occurred, however, because the younger John died on March 13, 1835 pre deceasing his Dad by half a year and the couple’s son, Henry Rogers Hastings, grew up in Philadelphia, with his mother’s kin.
Daughter Adeline may also have had her eyes on the house, because she married John H. Myers on June 12, 1834 but she too died shortly thereafter, even before her brother, John, on January 25, 1835.
And imagine, then, the mixture of sadness and joy that must have attended brother Edmund’s wedding to Ann Hall Douglass, on January 27, 1835…. a mere 2 days after Adeline’s death! Such were the far too common tragedies of life in the pre modern age. Ann Douglass, by the way, was born in Middlebury, Vermont (a delightful New England town!!!) on May 20, 1804, and she died on April 8, 1844 leaving a grieving husband and a young daughter, Kate.
Edmund Hastings found it impossible to raise a young child in his circumstances, so Kate was raised by her uncle, the Rev. Orson Douglass, until his death in 1851. Pastor Douglass had been pastor of Donegal Presbyterian Church prior to his service at a Philadelphia church, and he was a first cousin to “The Little Giant”, Sen. Stephen A. Douglass, the senator from Illinois whose debate with Abraham Lincoln brought the future president of the United States into the national limelight.
The Senator was a frequent house guest at the manse in Philadelphia. Edmund McCurdy Hastings meanwhile spent his life in the deep South and died in Montgomery, Alabama on May 21, 1870. (A descendant of his, Crawford T. Ruff , who once resided at 646 S. Lawrence Street in Montgomery, informed the Lancaster County Historical Society via a letter many years ago, that he had, in his possession, a “Welsh family Bible that had been owned by Sallie Hastings and William Hastings” something that the MHS should try to track down for its archives!) (See “Hastings” family file at the LCHS.)
Returning to our chronicle’s main stream …. John Hastings, the elder, son of Enoch, died without a will on September 3, 1835. He left a widow, Agnes, an elder surviving son, afore mentioned Edmund, a younger son, Eli (who was a minor), and two young grandsons, Henry and John, who were the orphans of John senior’s eldest, deceased son, John R. The Miscellaneous Orphan Court records of Lancaster County for December 1835, p. 474, show that Edmund was appointed executor of the assets, and that they consisted of the following (which I group here under my own numeration for convenience sake. The document assigns them different numbers.)
1) Lot #2 in Maytown, with its 2 story brick home, barn, and other buildings.
2) Lot #3 in town, “with a one story house thereon erected” our museum site.
3) Lots # 45, 46, 47, and 48 in town, with a small building erected on one of them.
4) $228.95 in cash.
Additional properties owned by John’s Estate were ordered to be sold at John Bowman’s house in Maytown on January 8, 1836, in order to satisfy debts of $2,198.25. Those properties were:
1) Lot #6 and half of Lot #7, with a one story dwelling and stable situated thereon.
2) Lot # 44 “adjoining the property of John Wagner on which is erected a one story school house.”
3) A five-acre tract of farmland adjacent to Maytown, next to the Beshler and Peck properties.
4) A lot in the village of Hempfield
5) A lot in Manchester, York County.
6) An unimproved lot in Bainbridge.
Because additional debts surfaced and Edmund Hastings had left the state, Thomas Johnstin of Maytown was named by the court as administrator of the estate and instructed to sell the remaining properties on December 27, 1836. Lot #2 was, accordingly, sold to “merchant” William S. Campbell of Maytown, on April 1, 1837, for $l,140.00 (Deed Book I, Vol. 6, pp. 250 1) beginning the corner’s long history as a store site in the village. (The two story brick store which John Hastings had built was probably razed to make room for the late Victorian 3 story store that stand on the site today.)
The deed mentions that Col. Thomas Houston of Maytown, who lived on lot #4 (today’s Lutheran parsonage) had already purchased lot #3 no doubt on the same day, April l, 1837. Houston would use the property as a source of rental income from many tenants …and a buffer against the commercial character of the store.
So who was this “COL.” HOUSTON? I know a fair amount about him, because I have met with him many times across the years, in trying to research the history of my own residence, the Lutheran parsonage. THOMAS HOUSTON was a member of a large clan of Scots Irishmen who were descended from a baronial family of Scotland, the most famous of whom was surely Sam Houston of Texas fame.
Their name in Anglo Saxon, means “house” or “garden”. Born on March 17, 1788, he had at least one brother, Dr. Samuel Houston, who died in the 1860’s and who is buried next to him in the Marietta Cemetery. Dr. John Houston, possibly a nephew, born in 1815, is buried nearby; he was the attending physician at Thomas’ death.
Like Enoch Hastings, Thomas Houston served as a captain of Pennsylvania militiamen but Houston saw service at York from 1814 until 1815 and when he returned to civilian life and economic prosperity, he took the honorific title “Colonel” as was common for many of the nineteenth century gentry like “Col.” Drake of Titusville and oil well fame!
Probably the most economically advantageous thing that the then 28 year-old war veteran did was to marry a well to do widow, Mrs. Catherine Brenneman, in York, on June 13, 1816. Catherine and her first husband, Jacob, had erected the stone mill that still stands on the Nissley Vineyards property and raised a family there. A date stone displays her name.
When she became a widow, she moved into Maytown and either purchased a house elsewhere in town or moved into what would one day become the Lutheran parsonage. In researching the house, many years ago, I continually ran into road blocks linking Thomas Houston to the property until I discovered that he did not actually own the house in which he lived his rich wife and her estate did!
Houston was considerably younger than his wife and they had no children together. He pursued several vocations, being listed at various times as a farmer or miller, but from the 1830’s onward he tends to be called “private” which means that he was a member of the leisure class. As such, he accumulated money through bank account interest and the real estate market.
He was also active in local civic affairs, championing the cause of a second Columbia Wrightsville bridge in 1834, and politics, where he supported Democrat James Buchannan. Like most of his ethnic background and social standing at the time, he was a member of the Presbyterian communion and served as a “settler” on the session of Donegal Church, throughout the 1850’s and 60’s.
Societal pillar though he surely was, he was no stranger to some un conventional behavior when, having been a widower for several years, he had an affair with a plain woman in town named Maria Long (1819 1911) and, on February 24, 1858, a daughter was born to the illicit union of the 70-year-old man and 39 year old woman, named Marion. Marion would grow up to inherit the bulk of her father’s considerable estate and marry Squire Johnstin a gentleman farmer who would serve the Lutheran Church as its Sunday School superintendent for half a century.
But getting back to the main focus of this history, the records of the Orphans Court show that in March of 1836, Col. Thomas Houston was appointed the guardian of the late John Hastings youngest son, Eli, who was a minor, and Col. Timothy Rogers was named guardian of John’s orphaned grandsons, Henry and John.
By December of that same year, 1836, Eli was reported to have died without a will and with no heirs, and the court decreed that lot #3, together with the remaining unsold properties of the Hastings Estate be sold at auction on Saturday, January 28, 1837, at 2:00 P.M., and the highest bidders were to make their payments and acquire the land by April 1st.
I have already noted that William Campbell bought lot #2, but Thomas Houston bought lot #3, the future museum site, for $186. Houston owned the property for the rest of his life, and rented it out to people like Henry Klugh (in 1847 and 1852), Mr. Kline (in 1853), Rev. Crist of the Lutheran Church, in 1854) William Daily (in 1866), and lastly, Michael Keller.
The Lancaster Examiner and Herald reported in its October 25, 1871, Vol. XLV, No. 50 edition that Thomas Houston had died at his Maytown home, 8 West High Street, at the age of 84, on Wednesday, October 18, 1871, and that he was buried at Marietta Cemetery. The “colonel’s” will, which was probated on October 30, 1871 (Vol. 2, Book A, pp. 330 l), decreed, among other things, that executors Christian Engle and Henry Houseal sell the bulk of the Houston real estate; and an audit conducted on April 23, 1873 revealed that the sale had resulted in a sum of $12,000, which would be held in trust for Marion until she reached her majority (Record Book 28, p. 319).
Part of Marion’s legacy came from the sale of the former Hastings’ house to tenant Michael Keller, who bought the property on April l, 1872, for $495. (Accounts and Records Book No. 28, p. 60) It is not yet clear to me if Michael Keller continued to reside in the small house, after he bought it, for the tax rolls show Horace Klugh living there in 1873 but I don’t know where else Keller would have lived.
In fact, I know nothing else about Michael Keller only that he owned the house until 1897. (A conversation with Beryl Keller, who once lived in Maytown, yielded no information about him; indeed, she never heard of him and claimed that he was probably no relative of hers. Her branch of Kellers came from Adams County.)
The “probated” but apparently un recorded will of Michael Keller gave a l/3 share of the house to Mary Owen, who had formerly been known as Mattie Sload but who she was, I haven’t the foggiest! (Sload was a big Maytown name at one time’, however.) The remaining 2/3 was bequeathed to W.U.Hensel and B.F.Montgomery of Lancaster. (Was that the same W.U. Hensel who wrote the LCHS account of Sallie Hastings in 1906, already quoted in this history?)
The heirs quickly sold their legacy to Mrs. Mary Flick of Maytown on April 1 and 3 of 1897, with Mrs. Owen of Wilkes Barre (and her husband, John) receiving $183.33 l/3 and the Hensel/ Montgomery pair realizing $376.66 2/3 (Vol. 15, Book M, p. 99) Mary Flick (1865 1942) was married, but her husband, Henry (1855 1934) appears to have been somewhat shiftless, and he may have had some issues with alcohol.
Perhaps that is why the property was held by her rather than him in a normally patriarchal society. Local people called Mary “Mollie” , and they remember her as an extremely fat and rather listless lady who sat on the front porch a great deal in warm weather and stared out a window in cold.
The marriage produced two children, Rebecca, who married a Mr. Saylor and lived from 1891 until 1984 being buried next to her parents in Maytown Union Cemetery, and Harry H. (1884 1953), better know in local folklore as “Hen” Flick. Hen was a mason of some skill one of whose works was the bird bath that currently tilts in the Frank’s backyard; and he, himself, tilted quite a bit becoming famous as the town drunk.
Many were the nights that he could be heard, declaiming from the town square, about the virtues of the old past, or some lady, or FDR, or the old church with the cracked bell on top of the hill (St. John’s, where his family were members.) Many more sober town folk were extremely intimidated and afraid of the fellow (people like Mary Clepper Loucks, for example, who lived next door in the Parsonage for a short time between pastors), but he seemed harmless enough to everyone except himself, of course.
Novagenarian Beryl Keller, who lived on West High Street as a girl, early in the 20th century, remembers quite vividly a day when Hen picked up his sister’s baby girl, Mary, and ran out into the street carrying a shot gun which he threatened to use on the child terrifying the Kraut family who lived in the parsonage at the time. (The baby was not injured.)
Hen remained a bachelor and lived with his mother until she died on December 31, 1942. He then lived alone in the house for another decade, until he was found frozen to death at the kitchen table of 4 West High Street, by a concerned neighbor, Pastor Wilbur Moses Allison, who went looking for him after he had not been seen for some time. He died intestate and without issue or heir, on February 10, 1953 more or less.
Rebecca, by then a widow, sold the property to Elmer L. Gutshall on April 29, 1953, for $2,700 (Book Z, Vol. 42, p. 304). A legal nicety was resolved with a $1 deed “exchanged between” Elmer L. Gutshall and his wife Mary K. Gutshall, on February 18, 1965 (Record Book I, Vol. 54, p. 3261 although this non barrister fails to see the point of the legalese The Gutshall’s sold the property to Anabel Smith Hawthorne of Bainbridge and Conoy Township on December 8, 1967, for $8,500. (Deed Book K, Vol. 57, p. 865).
According to her will and other documents filed with the Lancaster County Courthouse, Anabel S. Hawthorne was born on August 15, 1904, in Perry County, Pennsylvania I know that her parents moved down to our area, like so many from that neck of the woods, in order to find better farmland, and that her father, Orie Smith, was a devout member of the Maytown Church of God.
Anabel’s siblings included one of my parishioners, the late Bill Smith, the late Hannah Engle, and the still living Mrs. Prescott. Anabel was a Public school teacher for a while, and she married Jay Albert (“Bustie”) Hawthorne and lived her married life in Bainbridge. The couple produced twin girls, both of whom I knew, Joyce and Johanne.
The reason that Anabel moved to High Street in Maytown was because her husband had just died on May 9, 1967, and she wanted to be near her roots and her family. She died at St. Joseph’s Hospital, in Lancaster, at 4:00 P.M., on February 19, 1976, due to heart failure. An inventory of her estate revealed that 4 West High Street, her residence, was valued at $11,800.
The Hawthorne will, which was Probated on March 26, 1976, called for an equal division of cash assets between the twin sisters and Joyce got the High Street house, while Johanne got a South River Street house that is still home to her son, Jesse Shank and his family.
The first tenant of Anabel’s old house was Dorcas Dunnick, a single woman who was a native of Southern York County and who worked as a security guard at Armstrong’s plant in Marietta. She lived in the place about two years, from 1976 until 1978, according to her sister, Phyllis Dunnick Hossler.
A formal $l style deed was executed on December 1978 and filed in January of 1979 (Book E, Volume 76, p. 219) making office the ownership of 4 West High Street in the hands of both Joyce Louise Hawthorne Embly and her husband, Jere. By then, I had moved into the Lutheran parsonage next door, and knew all the parties included in subsequent happenings.
Joyce, I should mention, who had a fondness for calling me “Bobby”, was a feisty lady with definite opinions and a good sense of humor, who was very friendly and out going and heavily involved in boy scouting, Republican politics, family affairs, and church. Although raised by a Church of God mother, she was fairly broad in her religious views and was a communicant of both the Roman Catholic and Lutheran Churches in her adult life.
Her first marriage to a Mr. Leninger, had taken her to the Chicago area, and yielded two children, Bill and Nancy Beth. Back in our area, she married Jere Embly and became the mother of Kristofer (“Kip”), Jere (“Thorny”), and Sue. The family lived in a brick house with a large pool area in the back, at East Jacob Street, in Maytown, when I knew them, but they had lived at several addresses before that. Jere, Joyce’s second husband, worked at his family’s foundry to the north of Maytown and at several bars. He was also famous for his many pool parties and pig roasts.
When I arrived in town, on July 1, 1978, my neighbor was Joyce’s daughter, Nancy, and her newborn daughter, Aarin. Nancy had just returned from service in the US Air Force in Okinawa, Japan, and she was doing a good job as a single mother with a beautiful, spunky child. Many were the meals that I shared with Nancy and Aarin, and we became fast friends at church as well. Nancy is one of the wittiest people I know.
Then, in April of 1983, I was privileged to officiate at Nancy’s wedding to Rick Price of Bainbridge (she was 28 and he 27). They moved away from Maytown to the Landisville area, where they still live today (however, in a different house), though our paths sadly seldom cross. Nancy worked for AMP (now TYCO) for many years while Rick sells Toyotas. They are active in the Zion Lutheran Church in Landisville where Nancy sings in the choir. Son Adam is now in high school while Aarin, or “A” as I called her, is a nurse at Lancaster General Hospital and engaged to be married.
After Nancy vacated the house, Woody Myers moved in, and he remained my neighbor until only recently, when the sale of the property was necessitated by the owner’s death. Woody is a native of Manheim and a part of a large and well-known Lutheran family there. Born in the mid 1940’s, he remains a bachelor, like myself, and like me, also, he is famous for his eccentricities.
For example, he doesn’t own a phone and will not always answer a knock at the door if he is home. He once had a dog, whom he named “Dog”, and was the original “owner” of a stray cat which I inherited and who now lives with me under the name of “Mattie. A big softee inside, he doesn’t always show his feelings and deep emotions, but everyone knows that he has them and he is probably the most popular adult in town among kids all of whom know him.
His smiling face, chomping on an unlit cigar, and his roly poly physique are well known and missed monuments of the Maytown scene. Woody’s passions included Boy Scouting, managing the Donegal Braves sports teams, as a trainer, and helping with the fire company and ambulance corps. Originally the manager of Park City shopping mall, and a resident of Maytown’s Village Townhouse Apartments, for many years he has worked at the Elizabethtown Masonic Homes where he is a medical aide. (Joyce, his landlady, also worked there.)
While living at 4 West High Street, he was famous for his innovative decorations of the front porch, his whoopie pies at Halloween, his less than fastidious housekeeping, his gardening and yard work, his listening to opera and classical music outdoors on many a summer night, and his provision of weight lifting/body building equipment for the town’s youth, in his back building. He also was a member of the small civic society and tended the town square’s planters.
Joyce Embly died in August of 1989, after a long battle with liver cancer. She had, however, one of the most ideal deaths that I have ever witnessed. With her family gathered around her bed at St. Joseph’s Hospital, she asked me whether this was what dying was like. To which, I replied, “Now Joyce, you know I can’t answer that.” And with that, she simply closed her eyes and slipped from one world to the next.
With Joyce’s death, the property on West High Street became the sole possession of her surviving husband, Jere, who continued to rent the place to Woody Myers with no substantial changes. When Jere, himself, died a rather rapid death due to emphysema, leukemia, and fluid in the lungs, in August of 2001, it was not clear what would be Woody’s fate … or that of the house.
The estate would be divided among Joyce’s 5 children, but Jere’s friend would be allowed to live in the Jacob Street house for another decade, and it was not certain whether Woody could remain a tenant or if the High Street house would be sold. Bill had suffered a major stroke during the same period of his step father’s death, and he lacked insurance to cover the horrendous bills … so the brothers and sisters decided to sell as much of the estate as they could and if Woody couldn’t or wouldn’t buy it, himself, then he’d have no choice but to move.
Woody’s family in Manheim wanted him to live near them, so that they could look after their bachelor brother without having to rely upon Pastor Bob’s telephone and snooping abilities, and , at this stage in his life, Woody was unwilling to get a mortgage, so as 2001 drew to a close, Woody moved to an apartment in Manheim.
The property has been vacant ever since. Of course, we all know what has happened in these latter days and let me simply end by noting that the Maytown Historical Society with the help of a $15,000 grant from East Donegal Township, purchased the house as a museum site, for $70,000, with settlement occurring early in 2002.
It is a tremendous stretch for our small society, but after 17 years of existence, we felt it necessary to do something bold that would increase our visibility in the community, hopefully attract new members and supporters and workers, and provide a place to store and display our large collection of archives.
We see this as part and parcel of a renewal of the square area, where a private contractor has plans to save and make good use out of the long deteriorating former Washington House Restaurant and Shenk’s Store. Hopefully, this history of the future Maytown Museum house will contribute to our understanding of, appreciation for, and commitment to, the heritage that flavors and enables us all who call Maytown, Pennsylvania our home and heart
To be continued, and amplified, and amended, as future research allows and events unfold.
11:45 P.M. Tuesday; February 5, 2002 A.D.
Robert M. Lescallette