John Nelson Wanamaker, father of entrepreneur John Wanamaker of Philadelphia store fame, actually lived in Chambersburg around 1860 and during the Civil War. Nelson and son William were masons who had a brickyard on Lincoln Way East (then known as Market St) and they built Wanamaker Row. Those townhouses still stand today in the third block of Lincoln Way before the railroad highline. Nelson died in 1862 and was buried here, but his remains were later moved to Philadelphia. The only remnants of the family existence in Chambersburg are these townhouses.
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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.