Tom Niven and Bonnie Etchberger
The early pioneers who came to this valley before 1735 were issued special licenses for land because the Proprietors (the Penn’s) wanted to encourage settlement but had no agreement with the Indians west of the Susquehanna. At least 100 immigrant Scotch-Irish Presbyterians were looking for free land, free worship, and free government: the Snively’s, Crunkelton’s, Gordon’s, Roddy’s, Brown’s, Kennedy’s, Chambers’s, McDowell’s, and others. They settled the areas in what is known as Antrim Township, Shady Grove, Peters Township, Falling Spring, and Path Valley. These settlements were known as the Conococheague Settlement.
In 1733, Thomas Penn gave a license to John Harris to open a ferry across the Susquehanna River at Harrisburg, Thomas Penn also granted a commission to Samuel Blunston to issue provisional licenses for tracts of land close to the Cumberland Valley, and he issued 284 between 1734 and 1736.
These licenses were not legal deeds. It meant that a person could cross “Over the River” and settle on his tract. The land had to be surveyed then then later, he could go to Lancaster or Philadelphia with a surveyor’s draft and pay for a patent or deed. Price of the land was five pounds per one hundred acres.
After the Purchase of 1736 with the Indians, lands under the Blunston Licenses of 1733/34 were patented to those who made application and had the lands surveyed.
Docents to guide visitors through the Old Jail and especially the John Brown House are needed! If you have some spare time, please sign up. Due to an increasing number of visitors we really need the help. If you talk to our current docents they will tell you they enjoy the experience! Training is provided.