Browse Encyclopedia

The Cumberland County Historical Encyclopedia is an expanding publication on the history of the Cumberland County. Covering a wide range of topics and the entire Cumberland County geographic region, the Encyclopedia seeks to be an initial entry point to those interested in the County's history. Entries seek to provide a list of resources available as well as showcasing some of the Cumberland County Historical Society's own collections.

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West Pennsboro Township

Conodoguinet Creek, Heishman's Mill, near West Hill.

The recorded history of West Pennsboro Township began in 1735 when it was part of Pennsborough, one of two original townships in the North Valley. This preceded the formation of the county by fifteen years. By 1745, Pennsborough had divided into East and West Pennsboro. In the following years, the township boundaries changed as the population increased and the townships subdivided even more. 

Whiskey Rebellion

During the presidency of George Washington one of the early major issues confronting him was raising taxes to pay the debt of the states incurred during the Revolutionary War. Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton in 1790 recommended an excise tax on domestically produced distilled spirits (the Whiskey Act of 1791).1

John “Black Jack” Wilkins: Cook, Caterer and Hotel Keeper

Scan of John ‘Black Jack’ Wilkins’ 1844 petition to keep a tavern in Hogestown with the signatures of local men who attested to his ability to do so. Clerk of Courts, Tavern License Petition 1844.060.1-2. Cumberland County Archives.

"'Black Jack’ was a famous cook,” wrote Jeremiah Zeamer, editor of the American Volunteer  newspaper. “He had a great reputation as a cook and caterer. Whenever in that part of the county there was a wedding, a dance, or a party of any kind for which a feast was to be prepared, ‘Black Jack’ was sent for to superintend the cooking and set the table, and so well did he do this that he was always in high favor with people who had appetites.”

Willow Mill

A February 1999 photo of  Houston's/Willow/Fisher's Mill

Willow Mill, the only mill building still standing in Silver Spring Township, was a substantial industrial complex in its prime. Built in approximately 1794, the mill was still grinding grain through the end of the 1800s. The site then transitioned into an outdoor retreat and amusement park.

James Wilson

James Wilson, signer of the Declaration of Independence

The provincial town of Carlisle was fortunate to have among its mist for a short period a political theorist and talented lawyer, James Wilson. Born in 1742 at Carskerdo near St. Andrews, Scotland, Wilson studied at St. Andrews, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Emigrating to America in1765, he first took a tutoring job at the College of Philadelphia. Next Wilson studied law under John Dickinson...

Dr. Charles M. Worthington (1835-1878)

Scan of Charles M. Worthington's obituary in the American Volunteer on October 17, 1878

A survivor of the infamous Libby Prison, Charles McClure Worthington was a man of many occupations; a telegraph operator on the Cumberland Valley Rail Road, a Civil War surgeon, a druggist, and finally, a Carlisle school teacher. Charles M. Worthington was born in Carlisle on September 22, 1835, the eldest son of Ann and Jefferson Worthington, a painter and County Commissioner. Worthington was educated in the Carlisle schools and read medicine with Dr. Baughman.

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