Churchtown Perspectives, 1875

When John Bratton, editor of the American Volunteer newspaper, paid a visit to the village of Churchtown in April 1875, and then wrote about it in his newspaper, little did he know he would rile up the editor of a competing newspaper and send him off on his own trip to Churchtown.

Why was Oliver Haddock, the editor of the Carlisle Herald, so annoyed by several remarks in the American Volunteer article? Newspapers have always had a political affiliation. The Carlisle Herald was decidedly Republican while the American Volunteer was Democratic. The editor of the Herald claimed that the Volunteer's story was "grossly exaggerated" in two instances, but it was the conversation that the editor of the Volunteer had with Mr. Devinney, the post master of Churchtown, that angered the editor of the Herald the most. Mr. Devinney, the article in the Volunteer claimed, said that "the Volunteer had more subscribers at the Allen post office [Churchtown] than any other paper in the county. Mr. D., the article said, "is a Republican in politics, but thinks it would not be doing the "square thing" to give Ulysess a third term."

So, during the first week of May, the editor of the Herald left Carlisle in the company of his friend William Bretz, the livery proprietor, to make his own visit to Church town and talk to Mr. Devinney the post master. The account of his visit appeared in the May 6 edition of his newspaper.

Taken together, these accounts of the places and people of Church town in 1875 provide today's readers with a vivid picture of village life in a bygone era.

American Volunteer April 15, 1875

"A Visit to Churchtown and Boiling Springs"

Taking advantage of the delightful spring weather on Saturday afternoon, we procured one of Sterner's fine teams and determined on a trip to the "South Side." Accompanied by a friend, we starred for that quiet little village in Monroe Township, Churchtown...

We arrived in Church town in due time and pulled up at the "Monroe House," kept by that clever fellow and staunch Democrat, Mr. A. L. Hursh. After we had unclosed our "bandanna trunk," we set out for a stroll "around town," having previously arranged our toilet simultaneously with our friend. As we were about moving down the principal thoroughfare or avenue, we noticed our genial friend, Dr. Hartzel, on t'other side of the street. The Doctor has been eminently successful as an M.D., and we are pleased to learn that he is highly esteemed by the citizens of Monroe Township. We next met our good old friend, Mr. James Burtnett, one of the oldest citizens of the village, and for twelve years the efficient and accommodating mail carrier from Carlisle to Churchtown. Mr. B., we regret to say, has been physically indisposed for some time past.

The exterior of the "Monroe House" is undergoing some desirable improvements at the present time, which when completed will greatly enhance its former appearance. An additional half story is being put to the building.

We made a flying visit to the post office while in town, and found the village postmaster, Mr. David Devinney-not in. After thumping until our fingers began to break into chinks, the proprietor of the establishment-grocery store and post office combined-appeared and waited upon us in his usual urbane manner. Mr. D. informed us that the Volunteer had more subscribers at the Allen [Churchtown] post office than any other paper in the county. Mr. D. is a Republican in politics, but thinks it would not be doing the "square thing" to give Ulysess a third term.

That celebrated agricultural implement, Plank's plow, is manufactured at Churchtown, and one of the employees of the establishment tells us that the sale of this plow has greatly increased lately, and that the establishment is running its full complement of hands to supply the demand. The Harrisburg and Potomac railroad is a mile distant from the village.

Churchtown also has a well-organized band of music under the leadership of Prof Marrett. The boys expect to attend the Band Convention in Carlisle on the 20th of next month.

We were also introduced to one of Churchtown's noted characters, who, on account of his towering form and coarse features, most indelibly impresses upon the mind of a stranger the features of the late President Lincoln; and, in consideration of this fact, he is known by the title of ''Abe Lincoln." ''Abe" is an industrious laborer, and served with distinction in the Pennsylvania Reserves during the war. He is always full of merriment and sport, and his lineament always attracts the attention of strangers.

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