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 A Brief History of Fountaindale
 & It's Post Office

Paul E. Seabrook

(Submitted by Howard and Jane Cline of Fountaindale)

Many interesting things come to light when we inquire into how and why some of our Post Offices were named. Following is a brief story of how Fountaindale was so named.

In order to make clear the circumstances that led to this name being chosen for the Post Office in this locality it will be necessary to give some of the early history of the hamlet which is located about midway of the valley of Miney Branch Creek in the extreme south western part of Adams County, Pennsylvania.

This stream flows between Jacks Mountain on the north and Raven Rock mountain on the south and has its source in Charmain Springs just across the Franklin County line, near Monterey, and empties into Toms Creek at Zora.

Among the early settlers, in alphabetical order, were the names of Gordon, Gourley, Buhrman, Flohr, Beard, Harbaugh, McIntyre, Sprenkle and many others.

About 1785, Daniel Sprenkle, who came form Manchester Township, York County, (Adams County was then still part of York County), obtained a grant of 444 acres of land from the Honorable Penn Grantors, in Hamilton Bann Township. This tract extended from the "Great Road" as its southern border, to high on the southern slope of Jacks Mountain. When the first census was taken, after Adams County became separated from York County in 1800, the census shows that Daniel Sprinkle (Sprenkle) owned land valued for taxation at $1284.00 and on which there was saw mill, valued at $300.00.

When Daniel died in 1822, being weak and sick of body, but strong of mind, he directed in his will that his "Plantation" be divided along the west side of his orchard, beginning at the old "Great Road" and the eastern portion be sold. At the time of his death his new stone farm house was not completed.

His two eldest sons, Daniel and William, acting as his executers in compliance with his will, sold the eastern portion to Joseph Baugher, who established a tannery in a small meadow along the creek, built an elaborate home with a fountain in the front yard. The water for the fountain being piped from the mill race which was some 300 feet to the rear of the house and some 10 feet above the level of the front yard. This was the saw mill that Daniel had built. Why he wished this part of his land to be sold has remained a mystery to this day.

On a small tract of this land, at the intersection of the ""Great Road"" with the road that came up through the valley, was established the first Lutheran Church in this part of the county, it being part of the Emmitsburg, Maryland charge. The ""Great Road"" came over the edge of Jacks mountain form Gettysburg, this part is now known as the Jacks Mountain Road.

Here also was the Gordon's Tavern, later knows as Walkers, and other saw mills down stream. This settlement was sometimes known as "Baugher's Dale".

Stage Coach Stop and Boarding House. 17 Bedrooms and Civil War Soldiers stopped here during the retreat from Gettysburg. Photo about 1900 Frederick and Lydia McIntire.


the Fountain in front of the Fountaindale Springs House

When the Post Office was established in 1837, Mr. Joseph Baugher was chosen as the post mater and "Fountaindale" was selected as the name because of the fountain in his front yard.

Mr. Baugher served as post master until 1845, when Reuben Steen (Stem) was appointed to the post.

History does not show why the change was made, but if we examine the record of politics at Washington, we see that this was a time of turmoil, William H. Harrison, a Whig, had died after only one month in office and the Vice President, John Tyler, a Democrat, had altogether opposite views, also the Nation was undergoing a financial panic, all of which may have had some influence in the remote parts of the country. Mr. Stem served until 1849, when the office was closed for some reason.

Available records do not show at what time it was reopened, but Mr. Stem was again appointed. Later Mr. Daniel Martin was appointed postmaster and he continued to serve until it was closed in 1902. At that time the Rural Free Delivery began to serve the community from the Post Office at Fairfield.

It might be well to note here that some time later Mr. Frederick McIntire set up a fountain in his front yard about a half mile farther down stream and named it "Fountaindale Spring".

This name appears on old maps of the County and causes some confusion as to the actual location of the first fountain.

When the Mercersburg, Greencastle and Waynesboro Turnpike was built through this valley a great deal of the old ""Great Road"" was abandoned, only small portions of it now serve as farm lanes or access roads to outlying fields.

This road served as the boundary line between Hamilton Bann and Liberty townships from its junction with the road from Emmitsburg to its junction with the Harbaugh Valley Road, at this point the line jogs northward to the creek and continues westward to the Franklin County line.

The last location of the Fountaindale Post Office was in Mr. Daniel Martin's store, at the junction of the turnpike and the Harbaugh Valley Road.

The Lutheran Church merged with a new church that was established in Fairfield in 1855. This new church was also served from the Emmitsburg, Maryland charge. Mr. Aaron Musselman, a trustee of the new church was delegated to dispose of the log building.

What was done with it is not recorded, but the stones of the foundation went into the foundation walls of a new home that was built for Mrs. Emma Walker, widow of Horace Walker, in 1908. (Diary of Edgar A. Sprenkle, who was the contractor, 1908).

This house is only a short distance form the old church yard. Only a few fallen stones remain today of the pioneers who were buried here, most of them being destroyed by vandals. One small lot which has a dry stone wall around was undisturbed, showing that the vandals favored it for family reasons.

The land and other property of Joseph Baugher passed into the ownership of Sanford Schroder, who continued to operate the tannery and saw mill.

Mr. Schroder was taken prisoner by General Stuart when he made a raid through this section during the Civil War. Mr. Schroder and a small son were riding in a cart when they were overtaken by the rebels; They put a worn out horse in the shafts of the cart and allowed the boy to go home, but took the father along and the good horse. John Martin was also taken prisoner at this time. The story says that he was working in a field near the road when the rebels came along. He defied them and said uncomplimentary words to them and got taken along for his patriotism.

As he was being taken away he called back to his relatives to tell his mother that her warning that the devil would get him if he did not mend his ways had come true; "Now the devil has me," why he was not shot at once remains a mystery.

All the finished leather was taken from the Schroder tannery at this time as this was of great importance to the rebels.

When General Lee camped in this valley on the first night of his retreat from the battle of Gettysburg, a badly wounded rebel soldier died and was buried in the old Lutheran cemetery.

This writer often looked at the small marble marker which lay by itself at some distance from any other markers, but did not make a record of the inscription. The name is lost to memory; it read in part, Died, July 4, 1863. Aged 20 Years.

Mr. Schroder was released from prison near the end of the war, along with his friends and neighbors, all were in bad condition from starvation and sickness and some had to be carried by their stronger companions. He was never ale to recover fully from this ordeal but tried to carry on for some years afterward and to rebuild the tanning business. The saw mill fell into disrepair and to add to his troubles the home built by Joseph Baugher burned and the Schroders had to move into a small log house at the edge of the tannery.

In the late 1880's he sold the land to William J. Sprenkle, a grandson of the original owner and a son of William Sprenkle , one of the executers of Daniel's estate. The old saw mill was in bad condition and after it had been sold to Mr. Sprenkle. The Schroder boys took the cast iron gearing out of the mill and hauled it to Waynesboro, 10 miles away, where it was sold to the Geiser Co. as junk. When this was discovered by the new owner, he began a search for the missing machinery and found it at the Geiser plant, but decided to take no action, due to the decayed condition of the whole structure, which he demolished and replaced with a complete saw mill and building bought from A. Flemington White, along Middle Creek. A small grist mill, with stone burrs was added to the saw mill and the wooden over shot water wheel was replaced by turbine wheels. This saw mill was of the type known as the "sash". In this type the saw blade was held in a large frame that was wide enough for the carriage that carried the log, to pass through. The saw being held under tension in the center of the "sash" somewhat like the hand operated jig saw used by wagon makers to saw the curved parts of the wagon.

When William J. died in 1892, a son Edgar A. Sprenkle came into possession of the land which at that time consisted of 162 acres and 80 perches. In 1894 he built a new home near the site of the one that had burned. A new barn that burned before it was completed and replaced it with a smaller one. The fountain was removed and all traces of it are gone. Since his death in 1915 the land has been sold and divided into many smaller portions. The old mill is gone and not much remains but the huge stone dam that stands as a memorial to the engineering ability of the pioneer forefathers. This dam replaced the original earth and log dam built by Daniel Sprenkle and which had washed out after it was sold to Joseph Baugher. The new dam was built farther up stream.

Jacks Mountain Station House was built in the 1880's by William (Bennie) Heyser on 253 acre orchard & farm.

close up of the house in the  late 1880's.

When the Rail Road was built from Gettysburg to meet the existing Rail Road at Highfield, (now the Western Maryland), the section which is on Jacks Mountain was built in 1889, the mails were carried by train and the post between York and Hagerstown was discontinued.

The mail for the Fountaindale Post Office was dropped off at a point along the track just above the store, which was reached by a foot path, and mail was picked up by suspending the bag by top and bottom from two arms fastened to a pole along side the track, a hook was extended from the mail car, which caught the mail sack and pulled it into the car, trains did not stop at this point. It was the duty of one person to carry the sack up and place it on the pole and bring down the sack with the incoming mail. There were four trains each week day which made it necessary to make four trips each day by the foot path. This was not the duty of the Postmaster, but was done by some one who was not very much occupied otherwise.

Many new post offices were established after the Rail Road was built. Some of the nearby were Virginia Mills, Iron Springs, Jacks Mountain, Gladhill, (now Greenstone) Charmain; All of these served the small community near by and most have now been discontinued.

The tavern at the original location of the Fountaindale Post Office, was built and operated by the Gordons. It was built of logs and the bed rooms were very small. Dr. Sidneyham C. Walker, who came from Dakota Territory, married one of the Gordon daughters and later became owner and operator of the tavern.

Dr. Walker served with the Union Army during the Civil War and was away from home at the time Lee camped in this valley on his retreat from the battle of Gettysburg.  Dr. Walker had a son Horace, who married Emma Martin.  They had two children.

When Dr. Walker died in 1902, he willed his property to his two grandchildren, the granddaughter getting the portion on which the buildings stood and the grandson the land on the opposite side of the Turnpike, on this land had been a saw mill, which had burned and was never rebuilt.  Here also had been a log school house, known as "Walker's".  This school was in Liberty Township.  About 1883 a new brick school known as Miney Branch was built farther down stream and the old log building was sold to George Sprenkle and was moved about 1/2 mile away at the foot of Jacks Mountain and set up as a home, at the time of this writing it is still there and in good condition.  Mr. Charles G. Flohr told this writer that his father Mr. John Flohr had let him have a team of four horses and wagon to haul the old school to its new location.

There were many other saw mills along this stream in the early days, on the Flohr land, and farther up stream the pioneer Harbaugh family had built a large brick flour and feed mill and a saw mill.  Later this was bought by the Martins and operated by them for many years.  This mill stood at the junction of the old "Great Road" and the Harbaugh Valley Road.  In 1923 it was sold to the new First National Bank & Trust Co. of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania.  The building was demolished with dynamite and the bricks used in the rear walls of the new bank building on the northwest corner of the Waynesboro square, where they can be seen today.  All of the gearing, pulleys and shafting in this mill were made of wood and the grain was ground by stone burrs.

When the Mercersburg, Greencastle and Waynesboro Turnpike was built through this valley, it cut through the churchyard of the Lutheran Church and the eastern portion came into possession the Schroders and later the Sprenkles.  After some time Mr. Edgar Sprenkle built a small home for his aged mother on this land using what was useful of the old house at the edge of the tan-yard where the Schroders had last lived.

Some years ago this writer went to the old churchyard to try to locate the grave marker of the Confederate soldier and record the inscription, but it was no longer there.  Also gone were the stones that marked the graves of Daniel Sprenkle and his wife, but the markers of their daughter and her husband, Jacob Stover were there as well as the walled lot of the Hardman family. All of the other markers had disappeared, perhaps carried off by some of the workers when the new "Sunshine Trail" was built. 

When the Lutherans began to die out, the Methodists became the stronger and the new Wesley Chapel became the center of activity in Fountaindale, with the store and post office nearby and later Mr. John Barton set up his blacksmith and wagon shop and store, just next door to the church. 

A short distance away, in Harbaugh's Valley were St. Jacobs Reformed Church, the Brethren (Dunker) Church and the "Valley" school.  This building now belongs to St. Jacobs Church.

The Brethren Church was sold, turned into a home and some years ago burned.  Once the members of this faith were very numerous in this section, but few if any are left.

The old Fountaindale school house was a stone building about midway between the first and last post offices.  A new frame building was built farther west and the old stone building was eventually torn down and the stones used in the foundation walls of a new home built by Mr. Clarence Sprenkle, a great-great grandson of the pioneer, Daniel.

At Fountaindale Spring, Mr. Fred McIntire built an addition to his home and established a small tavern, a spring on a hill to the rear supplied water to the fountain and to the house and here it can be safely said was the first bathroom in this community.  This fountain has long since disappeared, as well as the original one put in by Joseph Baugher.

When the railroad was built in 1889, the workmen had a building on the partly finished embankment of the old "Tape-worm Railroad" in which they ate and slept.  These workmen were known as "Hunkies" and could not speak much English.  These workmen would come down to the Sprenkle mill pond to fish and someone told them that if they would set off a charge of dynamite in the pond they would get plenty of fish.  This was attempted but the fuse was too long and the water carried the charge under the dam where the water flowed into the mill race.  Here it exploded and badly damaged that part of the dam.  When the owner discovered the damage, he began to look for the culprit, and finding who was responsible, let him off at the large sum of $5.00.  An old steam engine boiler was bought, the ends cut out and it was turned upside down in the breach and stones filled in around it.  Here it can be seen today if anyone will crawl into the opening where once the water flowed through. 

So many changes have taken place in this little valley that if any of the pioneers could return to walk through it, they would be amazed to see what has taken place.  Automobiles and heavy trucks zoom up and down the mountain where once horses labored hard to haul a small portion of the weight carried today.  And under Raven Rock Mountain, which was once known in part as the Beard lot, is the Underground pentagon, and farther up are the mills for manufacturing roofing granules, commonly known as "grit".  Much of this area is underlain with a very hard green copper bearing rock that is used for the "grit".

About the turn of the 20th century an attempt was made to develop the copper mining industry and a smelter was built and operated for a few years, but although copper was there, it was not of a profitable quantity and the effort was a failure.

Many people who put their money into this venture went bankrupt and some of the promoters thought it wise to depart for a more healthy climate.

When later it was discovered that this same green rock could be used for the roofing granules, two separate industries put up mills and were very successful but the waste dust and fine sand was dumped into the creek and flood waters carried to the old mill ponds completely filling them and in some places changed the course of the stream, causing it to flood meadows and making it entirely useless for fish and other wildlife.

The writer had a good deal of litigation with the management of these grit mills about the deposit and the damage done by the fine sands carried into the turbine wheels of the mill, this acted like a sand blast and cut the bearings and shafts, making expensive repairs a frequent necessity.

Little was accomplished as the mills had foreseen what would be the result and had strategically retained all the lawyers in the County.  Promises were made to stop the dumping, but never kept.  Those who did succeed in getting a damage suit before the court were promptly quashed with a nominal settlement.

When this story was begun it was intended to give only an outline of the origin of the Post Office, but many other items seemed to be part of the story and it kept enlarging.  It is not intended to give any one family the center of the stage or to put another into the background, but to use all who were a part of the early history. 

If anyone who reads these pages can add any authentic item, it will be most welcome, as no one person, even when they have an unusual collection of old documents, personal papers of former generations and access to early history, can put the complete 100 percent story together.

It appears that John Martin was appointed Postmaster after his return from prison for he resigned in 1866 and Samuel Martin was appointed in his place Fountaindale post office.  (March 1966 100 years ago item in Gettysburg Times).

Have your own memories of growing up in Fountaindale?  
If so, send them to us at Hisotry@emmitsburg.net

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