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Abstract

In the year 1755, two events occurred which left their impress upon the history of what was to become Adams county. One was momentous, and its consequences, like concentric ripples produced by a stone hurled into a large body of water, continued to move and shape the history of Pennsylvania's frontier long afterwards. By comparison, the other was insignificant, the mere, almost undetectable slipping of a pebble into the rushing torrent of Time. Yet this second happening eventuated in ways that profoundly contributed to our understanding of Adams county's, and Pennsylvania's, history during the years 1755-59.

The lesser of these occurrences had its genesis in the religious needs of a people often neglected in accounts of colonial Pennsylvania, the Anglicans (or members of the Church of England) who dwelt along the western frontier and who, as it fell out, were largely Anglo-Irish and Scots-Irish in origin. Numerically fewer than their Presbyterian neighbors clustered to the north in Cumberland county and to the south in the settlements of Marsh Creek, the people of the Church of England had informally staked out an area for themselves along the Conewago and the Bermudian Creeks in Huntington, Tyrone and Reading townships in what was then western York county. A shoal precariously situated in a sea of Presbyterians, Seceders, and Covenanters, and cut off from the nearest Anglican church, St. James's in Lancaster, by the triple geographic barriers of dense forest, broad river, and vast distance, they felt the survival of their religion an uncertain thing indeed. [excerpt]