Franklin County

The Cumberland Valley, of which Franklin County is a part, was first settled by Scots-Irish immigrants who arrived in the area about 1730. Four brothers, James, Robert, Joseph and Benjamin Chambers, from County Antrim, Ireland, were among the first settlers and Benjamin, the youngest, is credited with the founding of Chambersburg in 1764.  Franklin County, named after Benjamin Franklin, was established in 1784 and Chamberburg was chosen as the county seat.  During the Civil War, the Confederate Army twice captured Chambersburg, and the second time, in July 1864, the town was set afire.  The county ranks fourth in receipts from livestock and tenth in crops in the state, and farmland comprises almost 52 percent of the land in the county.  Dairy farming is especially successful there.

The story of the Zentmeyers in Franklin County is the story of Christopher Zentmeyer and his offspring, who are 'writ large' in these parts; if one types 'Zentmyer' into Google or Bing Maps, it returns a DPO (Discontinued Post Office) called Zentmyer, Pennsylvania  which was operated by postmaster David Andrew Zentmyer from 1898 until 1901.  Christopher and his family moved to Washington Twp. Franklin Co. soon after his unfortunate result in York Co. in 1789, and many of his descendants live in and around Waynesboro and Chambersburg to this day.

Christopher's son George was purportedly born there early in 1790, and daughter (Maria) Barbara's birth was recorded in the Leitersburg Lutheran Church records in 1791, just over the Maryland border.  Christopher did not stray too far off the Great Wagon Road,  which headed southeast from York before ascending South Mountain over the Blue Ridge Summit and dropping down into Washington Township.  His farm was located in present-day Rouzerville and was a scant 1/8 mile off those venerable ruts.  This proximity may have been one of the reasons he operated an unlicensed watering hole called a Tippling House.

The deed by which Christopher conveyed his farm to his son Daniel was also his will.  It is an interesting document for several reasons. First, John Wesley Zentmyer was a special grandson to Christopher and Barbara Zentmeyer. When the will was written in 1824, there was a special provision for John to receive two hundred dollars from the estate at Christopher's death, almost $5,000 in today's dollars. By 1824 Christopher had as many as eighteen additional grandchildren, none of whom were similarly provided for. The will also indicates that one John Zentmyer was living nearby at that time, and since Christopher's son John was living in Brownsville, Virginia by then, one must conclude the John residing near Christopher's farm was John Wesley Zentmyer. The will also provided for a shed to be built and finished adjoining John Zentmyer's house for Christopher to enjoy during the remainder of his natural life. So it appears John Wesley Zentmyer and his wife Eleanor cared for grandparents Christopher and Barbara into their old age, and were therefore rewarded in the will.  Second, the will illuminates for us the diversity of economic activity on the farm.  There are references to crops of wheat, rye, corn, hay, and apples; a stable with cows, horses, cattle, and hogs; a weaver shop, and wool production, so presumably sheep; and firewood production indicating logging.  Third, the will settled a knotty legal question, namely do certain economic provisions in a grant deed survive a foreclosure.  The deed stated that "Daniel Zentmeyer engages to give to his father Christopher Zentmeyer yearly and every year during his natural life and the life of his wife Barbara twenty bushels of wheat, twenty bushels of rye, and twenty bushels of corn, also two good loads of hay, and one third of the rows of apple trees divided the short way and pasture two cows and one horse with his own cattle also to let them keep four hogs which are to run with his hogs."  Neighbor George Harbaugh took title to the farm in 1828 after a foreclosure sale, and ceased complying with the provisions Christopher had required in the deed.  The Zentmeyers sued Harbaugh.  The court held: "I look upon it as a covenant to pay rent in kind; and if it be, it is a covenant running with the land, and the defendant is clearly liable; for, upon such covenants, which concern real property, or the estate therein, the assignee of the lessee is liable for an action for a breach of covenant after the assignment of the estate to him."  So Harbaugh was required to continue to supply Christopher the goods and services specified in the deed.