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Newspaper Articles relating to Blain

The borough of Blain is nestled in the famous Sherman's Valley, near the western end of the county, the center of a veritable garden spot.  It is a neat, well-kept town and the smallest borough in Pennsylvania to own its own water plant and electric street lighting system. Jacob Wentz was largely instrumental in the construction of the first water plant, which was built about 1869 or 1870, and was incorporated in 1877, when the borough water bonds were issued.  

By an order of the Perry County court dated November 3, 1877, Blain Borough, the last of the townships and boroughs in the county to be organized, was incorporated.  The order of the court gave the boundaries thus:  

"Beginning at a post on the lands of James Woods, Esq.; thence by lands of D. Gutshall, James F. McNeal and Samuel Woods, north 27 degrees west, 224 perches to a post; thence by lands of William Hall and others, south 51-1/2 degrees west, 166 perches to a post; thence by lands of W.W. Woods and Isaac Buttorf, south 26-1/2 degrees east, 180 perches to a post; thence by lands of Isaac Buttorf and Isaac Stokes and James Woods, Esq., north 67 degrees east, 164 perches to a post and place of beginning.  The annual borough election shall be held at the public schoolhouse in said borough on the third Tuesday in February, in accordance with and subject to all the provisions of the laws regulating municipal election, and said borough shall be a separate election and school district; the court further decree and fix the first election for said borough for the election of the officers provided for by law, to be held at the public schoolhouse in said borough on the third Tuesday in February, A.D. 1878, between the hours of 7 o'clock a.m. and 7 p.m. of said day; and designate George H. Martin, Esq., to give notice of said election and the manner thereof; and the court further decree that Wilson Messimer be the judge and Samuel Woods and James B. Moreland be the inspectors of said elections."

Blain had its beginning in the early settlement which grew up about the mill erected by James Blaine in 1778, after whom the town took its name.  The final "e" has been dropped, but from what date or why it is impossible to state.  County newspaper files use the "e" in the town name in 1856 and during the intervening period from then to 1868.  Early in the last century this mill came into the possession of William Douglas, although David Moreland is assessed with it in 1814.  Douglas succeeded in getting a post office located there named Douglas' Mills.  This is the mill known as the Stokes' mill to the present generation. Anthony Black, named as an early schoolmaster, purchased the "McNeal" farm and the Stokes mill from David Moreland, successor to Douglas, and had the name of the post office changed from Douglas' Mill to *Multicaulisville, in honor of the moros multicaulis, or Italian mulberry tree in which he was financially interested.  According to Hazard's U. S. Register, 1839, there was a widespread speculation in these trees, the prices varying from ten cents to a dollar each.  The number of trees changing hands in Pennsylvania alone amounted to over 300,000.  The business seems to have been conducted somewhat upon the principle of many of the stock-selling schemes of the present day.  Extensive preparations were made for the enterprise and many trees were planted, but in 1841 Mr. Black died.  By 1842 most of the trees were dug up.  As early as 1839, three years before his death, Hazard's Register exposed the whole business.  he had been a merchant and was well-to-do.  He called his store, "Multicaulisville Emporium," the sign being distinctly remembered by Wilson Morrison.  The location was the Solomon Gutshall place.  

*A. B. Grosh, born in 1846, who died during the past year, remembered seeing this name on a sign there in 1852.

Dr. William Hays purchased three acres from Francis W. Woods in 1846 and divided it into twelve lots, this being a part of the land warranted by James Blaine in 1765.  Solomon Bower I, built a house and blacksmith shop early in the last century, and John Seager and William Sheibley built houses in 1846.  When the lots were laid out in 1846, James and Francis Wayne Woods got the name of the post office changed to Blain.  The present school building was erected as an Odd Fellow's hall in the early seventies, and was purchased a few years later and remodeled for a schoolhouse.  Among the early merchants were Anthony Black, John Stockton, David Wentzell and A. B. Grosh.  Mr. Grosh, in 1919, told of remembering when it had but three houses, upon his first visit in 1846, as a boy of six.  The Blain hotel was a licensed house until 1884, and at various times after that before the county "went dry" it was licensed.  Among the proprietors were John Sheibley, who later became Sheriff, and D. M. Rhinesmith, who had previously been sheriff.

In 1852, Arnold Faughs built a tannery which he operated by steam.  He sold to James F. McNeal in 1860.  It gave employment to many men until September, 1878, when it was destroyed by fire.  It was never rebuilt, Harry Hall now owns the farm on which it was located.  

The first schoolhouse was on church hill, where the Presbyterian Church is located.  Just when it was erected there is no way of knowing, but it was still standing in 1815.  William Smiley was one of the early teachers, as was also Miss Gainor Harris, whom he married.  As far as can be ascertained she was probably the first female teacher in the county.  This building was replaced by a stone schoolhouse, which the older people can yet recall.  There was another building near the "German meetinghouse" (the Lutheran and Reformed church) at which Mrs. Gainor Harris Smiley taught while her husband taught on church hill.  S. G. Smith, yet living (1920) and now over eighty years of age, attended the stone building and recollects when the enrollment was as high as 116 pupils.  The first building was a log one with but three windows, each having three window lights 8x10 inches in size.  An act of the Pennsylvania Legislature, dated February 19, 1845, made the church hill schoolhouse the voting place for Jackson Township.  See School chapter for facts about the Vocational School's beginning.  

Postmasters at Blain have included William Douglas, Anthony Black, Capt. David Moreland, Thomas Seager, J.C. Rickard, Wilson Messimer, A.D. Garber and D.P. Stokes.

The oldest lodge there is Blain Lodge, No. 706, I. O. of O. F., chartered April 25, 1870, with John M. Evril, noble grand, and W. D. Messimer, secretary.  

The Blain business men, according to the report of the mercantile appraiser, are as follows, the date being the year of beginning the business:  Per the report of the mercantile appraiser, Blain business' were:

General stores, J. C. Rickard, Smith & Stine, S. M. Woods, the latter being the former Garber stand--an old one.
D. W. Sheaffer (1898), groceries; S. L. Rickard (1873-saddlery); W. H. Book, flour and feed; Israel Lupfer, coal and feed; M. L. Wentzell, Wentzell & Stambaugh, lumber; W. H. Sheaffer, machinery; Paul Shreffler, meat market; S. L. Bistline, confectionery; Henry & Smith, hardware; H. B. Kell, jewelry; J. A. Snyder, confectionery; S. L. Bistline, cigars; C. R. Hench & Bro., George Stokes, oils; M. L. Smith, millinery; G. D. Flickinger, stoves.

Dr. G. Milton Bradfield located at Blain in 1865, remaining a decade, and being succeeded by Dr. F. A. Gutshall, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, 1866, who had been located previously at New Germantown.  Others to locate there were Dr. Chas. E. Gregg, a graduate of the MedicoChi., '93, and Dr. H. W. Woods, a graduate of the Baltimore University School of Medicine, '98, and of Maryland Medical College, '99.  Dr. E. C. Kistler has long been located there.  

Zion Lutheran Church (aka- Blain Union Church).  The Zion Lutheran Church, located in Blain, was erected jointly by the Lutheran and Reformed congregations.  It was located on the original Abraham Mitchell tract, which James Adams owned in 1800.  January 10, 1801, he deeded two acres for church and burial purposes to Henry Zimmerman, Adam Hubler, Christopher Bower, and Peter Brown, trustees, "for building a German meetinghouse".  The price was twenty-five pounds Pennsylvania currency.  In the possession of Clark Bower, member of Assembly from Perry County, and himself a member of the Blain Lutheran Church, is the old agreement for the purchase of the cemetery plot.  It follows:

Articles of an agreement made and concluded this 13th day of December 1800, by and between James Adams, Junior, of Toboyne Township, Cumberland County, and Henry Simmerman, Adam Hoobler, Christopher Bower and Peter Brown, "trustees for a certain piece of land undermentioned to build a meetinghouse on."
For two acres of land off the northeast corner of his land, adjoining James Morrison's land; "and said trustees do obligate ourselves to pay twenty-five pound specie upon the first day of January next."  Adams "is to give privilege of a road from the Great Road to said land."
One of the witnesses is James Blaine.

Prior to this time Rev. John Herbst had been holding services at the homes of members.  In the meantime Reverends Sanno and Osterloh preached here, there being no regular organization.  In 1815 came Rev. John William Heim, who organized the Lutheran congregation and remained its pastor until 1849.  The first officers were:  John Seager, Henry Zimmerman, elders; Abraham Bower, Solomon Bower, John Stambaugh, deacons.  

Not until 1816 was an effort made to erect the church.  It was dedicated July, 1817, and named Zion Church.  The building was of stone, with a high gallery at three sides, its dimensions being 40x50.  It seated over six hundred.  it had a cupola and bell, and an altar balustrade.  The pulpit was a high one reached by a flight of steps, and had a sounding board suspended above.  The building cost about five thousand dollars, which in that day was much money to be expended on a rural church, and was considered strictly modern.  From the advent of Rev. Heim until its division from the Loysville charge in October, 1858, its pastors were the same as those of Lebanon Church at Loysville:  Rev. Frederick Ruthrauff, 1850-52; Rev. Reuben Weiser, 1853-55; Rev. Philip Willard, 1856-58.  

In 1860 a parsonage was erected.  In 1859 Rev. John T. Williams became pastor of the Blain charge, which included St. Paul's and the church at Buffalo Mills.  He remained until 1865.

During the pastorate of Rev. W. D. Rodrick, of the Reformed Church, and of Rev. W. I. Cutter, of the Lutheran Church, in 1866, a large brick church was erected to take the place of the old one, being again built as a joint building for both congregations. 

These two congregations--the Lutherans and Reformed--continued to worship in the same building until March, 1898, when the Lutherans purchased the interest of the Reformed people in the building and plot and erected a new church at a cost of $10,000, which was dedicated in March, 1899.  A few years later a pipe organ was installed at a further cost of over $1,000.  

In 1919, the old stone parsonage, built in 1860, was renovated and partially rebuilt.  The firm old stone walls were left standing, only repointed.  The whole property was beautified and repaired at a cost of about $4,300.  The present pastor, who occupies it, is a great-grandson of the original organizer of the congregation, Rev. John William Heim, who came on horseback and preached while his horse was being fed so that he could leave at once for his next church, having a large charge.  The latter statement is made by Solomon Gutshall, born in 1839, who remembers the occurrence.  

The shingles for this first Lutheran church at Blain were brought from Horse Valley, over the Conococheague Mountain, near New Germantown, on horseback and on the backs of men, Rev. Heim himself joining in the work.  The singing and services were in German, and the collections were taken in a small receptacle attached to a long pole, the pews being deep.  

Both congregations continued to worship in the same building until March, 1898.  At this time the Lutheran congregation purchased the interest of the Reformed congregation in the building/plot and erected a new church, which was dedicated in March, 1899.

Blain M. E. Church.  About 1830, the Methodists at Blain were first organized, David Moreland and William Sheibley being principally interested.  The first services were held in homes and schoolhouses.  In 1855 a brick church was built on lands purchased of David M. Black, by the congregation.  This church belonged to the New Bloomfield Circuit (where the pastors' names will be found) until 1877, when Blain was made a separate charge.  The pastors of the Blain charge have been has follows:  

1877-79:  Rev. M. C. Piper
1880-81:  Rev. J. W. Ely
1882-83:  Rev. J. L. Leilich.
1884-85:  Rev. Jas. F. Pennington.
1886-87:  Rev. W. W. Picken.
1888:  Rev. J. Bruner Graham.
1889-90:  Rev. J. S. Souser.
1891-92:  Rev. J. R. Shipe.
1893-95:  Rev. J. S. Souser.
1896-98:  Rev. L. D. Ott
1899:  Rev. W. C. Charlton.
1900-03:  Rev. John T. Bell.
1904:  Rev. W. W. Sholl.
1905:  Rev. M. C. Flegal.
1906:  Rev. W. S. Rose.
1907:  Rev. W. H. Norcross.
1908-13:  Rev. G. P. Sarvis.
1914-16:  Rev. Thomas R. Gibson.
1916-17:  Rev. G. H. Knox.
1918-22:  Rev. L. D. Wible.

The new church was erected in 1898, and the old one sold to L. M. Wentzel, who used it as a planing mill until it burned.  The Blain Circuit also includes the churches at Fairview, New Germantown and Emory Chapel, in Madison Township.  

Zion Reformed Church.  The history of Zion Reformed Church, in so far as the original buildings are concerned, is identical with that of Zion Lutheran Church, immediately preceding.  During its early days it was known as "Toboyne" or "Toboine" Church.  The two congregations jointly built and worshiped in the same church from 1816 to 1898, almost a century.  In that year the Lutherans bought the interest of the Reformed congregation, which purchased a lot and erected a fine brick church at a cost of $10,000.  Just when the first meetings were held will probably never be known, but Rev. Groh's valuable historical sketch on "The Sherman's Valley Charge," places the date as 1790, and names Rev. Samuel Dubbendorff as the pastor from then to 1795.  Other works give the date as 1798 or 1799, and name a Rev. Koutz as pastor, under whom the congregation was organized.  Personally the writer believes the former to be authoritative, but, as the congregation was then unorganized, no records were kept.  Meetings were held in houses and barns.  It was a part of the Sherman's Valley charge until 1858, when, with Buffalo Church, in Saville Township, it became a separate charge.  The record of pastors was as follows:  

1790-95:  Rev. Samuel Dubbendorff.
1798-04:  Rev. Anthony Koutz.
1805-11:  Rev. Jonathan Helfenstein.
1811-19:  Rev. Albert Helfenstein.
1819-40:  Rev. Jacob Scholl.
1842-59:  Rev. C. H. Leinbach.
1859-61:  Rev. J. M. Mickley.
1862-65:  Rev. David E. Klopp.
1866-68:  Rev. W. D. C. Ridrick.
1868-72:  Rev. Samuel E. Herring.
1872-86:  Rev. F. S. Lindaman.
1887-92:  Rev. Silas L. Messinger.
1892-95:  Rev. S. P. Stauffer.
1896-02:  Rev. T. C. Strock.
1902-07:  Rev. Charles A. Waltman.
1907-14:  Rev. P. H. Hoover.
1914-17:  Rev. John W. Keener.
1917-:  Rev. Edw. V. Strasbaugh.

For many years this congregation was the largest numerically of the entire Carlisle Classis of the Reformed Church.

The above information was extracted from the book, History of Perry County Pennsylvania; H. H. Hain; Harrisburg; 1922.

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This page was last updated on:   03/14/2009

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