Life for the Scottish Carothers clan in East Pennsborough, now Silver Spring Township, was neither calm nor peaceful in that tiny fragment of time between 1798 and 1801. Four murders occured within two of the families, the John Carothers and the Andrew Carothers.
Frederick Watts, a well-known lawyer, judge of the Cumberland County Courts, and Unites States Commissioner of Agriculture, had this to say about his mentor and friend Andrew Carothers:
Although Mr. Carothers mind was not cultivated by any high degree of learning it was of that character which enabled him to appreciate what he had studied and profit by what he read. He became an excellent practical and learned lawyer, and very soon took a high place at the Bar of Cumberland County, which at that time ranked amongst its members some of the best lawyers of the state. Watts, Duncan, Metzger, Alexander, Mahon were at different periods his competitors, and amongst these he acquired a large and lucrative practice, which continued through his whole life. Mr. Carothers was remarkable for his amiability of temper, his purity of character, his unlimited disposition of charity and his love of justice.1
I first heard about Andrew Carothers when I learned that he once owned a property that my husband I own today located at 172 East High Street, Carlisle. Since that time I seemed to encounter him whenever I read any history of our town. I thought it would be interesting to write about him since recent writers seem to have focused on the tragedies of the Carothers families rather than their contributions.
Andrew Carothers' family was one of the earliest settlers of the Cumberland Valley. His grandfather and great-grandfather came to Pennsylvania in 17 15 and serried in what is now East Pennsborough Township. The Carothers lineage is most confusing. Lenore Flower, genealogist, remarked the following when researching this family: "But oh the study it has taken going back again and again to a given fact to see if I can come to the same conclusion and each time I have done so, to get the father ... (You do not know it but there is a huge family with the very same names and period of rime eve n another Captain John Carothers of West Pennsborough , and also Carothers early in at least three other counties all of the same general names. It is a huge task but I believe I know 'my stuff.' Even so it needs much study to digest."2 Thanks to Mrs. Flower's extensive work, I believe that I understand the lineage and have sorted through the Johns and Jameses and Andrews Carothers, who were many in number and lived in the same area at the same time.
Andrew, born in 1778, was one of five children born to Mary and John Carothers of East Pennsborough Township. His siblings were brothers John and Thomas and sisters Mary and Ann. The Carothers' farm belonging to John Carothers was just north of Hogestown, on the road leading to Sterrett's Gap near the Trimble farm and joining the Douglas farm.3 As wealth was measured in land during this period, the family was considered quite comfortable. Managing 236 acres that included timber, stone and mineral deposits, in addition to farm land and animals, the family had several servants to assist with the work needed to run the property. During the Revolutionary War and before Andrew's birth, his father, John Carothers served as Lieutenant of Cumberland County, a considerable task because the county at that time included all land west of the Susquehanna to the limits of Bedford County and as far south as the Maryland line. He was also Captain of several troops.4
There is strong evidence to suggest that Andrew attended the McHose schoolhouse for his early education. The McHose school was the only school in existence in Silver Spring Township during this time. Although the structure does not exist, oral histories in the late 1800's of citizens recalling the school indicate that it may have been similar to the Burtner schoolhouse that took the place of the McHose School in 1825. This structure was a simple log building with one window, a fireplace, and a dirt floor. 5