George Boggs: Memories of Elizabethtown from 1858

This article was written in 1933 for the Elizabethtown Chronicle. It details the town via the memories of one of its then oldest citizens, George Boggs. This memory, despite the title, now takes us back 159 years. We have left the article unedited, but have added numbers to it that correspond to locations mentioned on the map, to help the reader accommodate for changes since 1933. The map is from the 1864 Lancaster County Atlas, the closest map we have to George’s discussion of 1858 Elizabethtown.


By George D. Boggs – – November 17, 1933

George D. Boggs, one of Elizabethtown’s oldest citizens, writes the following for the Chronicle:

“Seventy-five years ago Elizabethtown was a borough of about 700 population. Looking back, I see many changes, some of which I will comment upon. On the west of South Market Street, below the residence of A.G. Heisey (1), there were but two houses, now occupied by Hershey’s grocery store (2) and the residence of David Martin (3). East of South Market, below the residence of Mr. Leicht (4), there was one house. On Bainbridge Street, one house and railroad station (5) and Mother Ross’ orchard and an immense hickory tree.

North Market Street, west side: The Old Bear Tavern (6), then used as a farm house, now owned and occupied by Dr. Vere Treichler, and the M.B. Keller residence (7). No other houses. East High Street; north side, above the Lutheran Church (Still there), four houses and the little United Brethren Church (8). On the east side, the Naille home, opposite the Lutheran Church, two houses, West High Street, no houses beyond Dr. Fearn’s (9). South side, no buildings beyond Stone Bridge (10). South Poplar Street was opened for two blocks, but no buildings. North Poplar, Park, Washington and other streets that are now opened and built up, was all farm land. Among the old residents, I find Peter Force, a shoemaker. I knew him well. He was a veteran of the War of 1812, and was powder-boy on Commander Perry’s ship on the battle of Lake Erie. He is buried in our own cemetery and his grave is decorated by the G.A.R. Col. A Greenawalt, a prominent landlord and land-owner, and an excellent entertainer. Travelers would come for miles to stop at the “Greenawalt House” to hear a good story of the old colonel’s. He would tell of George Washington, that a bullet was not made to kill him; at the battle of Brandywine a cannonball struck him on the breast, glanced off and caved in the gable-end of a Quaker meeting-house; George W. Boyer, jolly landlord of the Black Horse Hotel, whose laugh could be heard far and near. The Old Black Horse Hotel, an old log house with little crooked windows, stood where the garage and residence now is, South Market Street, next to the present Black Horse Hotel (11). Amos Harmony, the good friend of all children. All the boys and girls would go to Uncle Amos and his good wife for sweet apples, and to the Wealand farm (12) (now owned by Benjamin Lehn) for cherries. They had a long row of ox-heart, early red and black cherry trees along the lane. Joseph Clinton, a peculiar man, who had an acid tongue and knew how to use it. Dan May Shoemaker to whom the children would be sent for strap oil and would get it.

Joseph Strauss, a Jew, who was a good Christian when in his cups and a Jew when sober. There were many more old citizens who had their peculiarities, but all have passed to the great beyond.

The old Stone Arch bridge on West High Street, crossing the Conoy Creek was built in 1800. This I have from Esq. Byrod, long dead, aged 90. On the corner of the Square where the Horst building stands, was an old one-story shed-roof building which was occupied by a negro barber named George Harris, the only negro who resided here, and a German Shoemaker (13). He trusted everybod, never kept accounts, saying “they knew they owed him, why should he be worried with keeping books?”

There were public pumps, the old wooden kind, made of logs. On the sidewalks, viz., at the front of Black Horse Hotel (1), Engine House, Mrs. John C. Redsicker’s, Fletcher’s Corner Greenawalt Hotel (14), Horst’s corner, Fisher’s corner.

“Cows and pigs roamed the streets and alleys those days; immense flocks of wild pigeons flew over the town in autumn.

“Peter Shaeffer, a Revolutionary soldier, is buried in the Lutheran church-yard. The Redsecker family was one of the oldest residents of the town and were prominent in history. Mother Ross, a very aged lady, who was a Redsecker, told me I could look to the east and to the west of town as far as I could see and her father owned the land.

“The Fire company has an old hand fire engine. It was old when I came to town and must be much over one hundred years old now. The boys formed a fire company, we called it the “Hope Fire Company” and claimed the old engine was ours. I was Treasurer of the company and have still fifteen cents in the treasury.

“Note No. 1 – Speaking of wild pigeons, reminds me of old George Hein, who lived close to town. I knew him. On a Sunday, Hein went to shoot wild pigeons. He was a member of the Reformed church. The minister heard of his recollection and considered his duty to call Hein to account. He said to him, “I heard you were shooting pigeons on Sunday. Do you not know your duty was to be at Church?” Hein replied, Parson, when the pigeons are here you must shoot them or else they fly away; now the church is there and stays there and I can go at any time. How the matter ended I cannot say.”




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