"'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.”
Fifty years after J. P. Lyne went out of business, an elderly man reminiscing about the Carlisle of his youth still remembered that “a mammoth wood and gilded sign of a padlock stood in front of J. P. Lyne’s hardware store.”1
Lyne worked as a coppersmith in Carlisle in the 1820s and 1830s, but by 1838 he had become a hardware merchant. The 1838 Triennial tax assessment listed “J. P. Lyne & Co., merchants.” A partnership with George W. Sheaffer was dissolved in 1845.2
Newspaper advertisements list the large variety of goods that Lyne sold. As well as a full line of hardware, he sold paints and wallpaper, cabinetmaker’s tools and materials such as veneers, mahogany, and glass knobs. He sold hammered and rolled iron and steel, shoemaker tools, and household articles from cutlery to tubs and buckets.3
Lyne’s business ledger, dated from November 8, 1849 through October 27, 1853, is housed at the Cumberland County Historical Society.4 Its 368 pages contain several thousand entries with the names of Lyne’s customers and their purchases. Lyne’s son, Lewis F. Lyne, joined his father in the business, and his 73-page ledger, covering 1863-1865, is also in the society’s collection.5
Many carpenters and contractors ordered hardware and paints from Lyne to use in the houses and buildings they were constructing. When Lyne was not paid for those items, he placed a lien on both the contractors and the property owners to settle their account with him. In 1838, he placed a lien against contractor Henry Myers and Dickinson College in the amount of $17.40 for bar iron and sash cord for the “Grammar School House at the west end of the Borough of Carlisle, and on the south side of the Turnpike Road; the materials having been furnished for that building.”6 Lyne instigated several more liens in the 1840s.7 In 1855, he put a lien on contractors Natcher and Black and the Big Spring Literary School House in Newville for $336.12 1/2.8 He placed two more liens in 1857 for houses that were being constructed.9
Lyne had married Susan Wittich in Carlisle on September 21, 1824. She was born in Germany and was likely the daughter of Carlisle confectioner Ernst Wittich. Lyne and his wife had ten children, many of whom were baptized in the First Lutheran Church in Carlisle. Susan died on December 21, 1854 after a long and painful illness.10 On September 2, 1855, Lyne married Miss Mary A. Brickman of Philadelphia.11
Lyne made his will a year before his death. He wrote: “having spent as much money on all my children as I think they would be entitled to from my property, I give and bequeath to my beloved wife Mary Ann Lyne, all my property and book accounts, notes, merchandise and furniture. As I took my son Lewis F. Lyne into partnership with me, he has one half of the stock…”12 Lyne died in Carlisle on August 6, 1862 in his 61st year.13 He and his first wife Susan are buried in Carlisle’s Old Graveyard. Lyne’s second wife, Mary Ann, returned to Philadelphia.