Cumberland Township Turns 270 (4/19)

BY DOUG COOKE AND ELSIE MOREY /  CTHS BOARD MEMBERS

A beautiful home arose on a tract of land called the Frenchman’s Purchase that was originally part of an area called Transylvania. In 1743, the settler John McKinley built a single-story house of field stone with a thatched roof along beautiful Marsh Creek. Mason and Dixon surveyed this land on Aug. 24, 1765. They determined that half the property was in Maryland and the other half was in Pennsylvania. Thus the house is split in half by the Mason-Dixon Line. It was sold to William Stewart in 1783 and he added a second story made of brick. It is speculated that he used bricks that had been used as ballast in ships that traded in the Baltimore Harbor. Stewart replaced the leaking roof with cypress shingles and dated the peak, which reads W.J.S. 1793, confirming the completion date of the second story. With Stewart’s death the property sold over time to others; Watterson, Walker, Witherow and then to his many children.

Paul and David Waybright purchased this property in 1979, which had a ramshackle house on it. They wished to tear it down giving them more acreage for farming. However, Paul’s wife Mary wished the house saved. Mary began extensive research on the house and property. Restoration of the house began in 1979 and was completed in 1991 when Paul and Mary could finally move in. During the restoration process, when hand digging the basement, removing an interior wall made of brick, and after removing plaster from a wall, the Waybright’s discovered a fifth fireplace in the Pennsylvania side kitchen. In an upstairs fireplace they found the date of 1761 carved into a brick. Mary and Paul enjoyed many years there. With Mary’s passing the family knew she wished the history and beauty of the house to be continuously shared. In memory of Mary Waybright, Bea and David Waybright opened the Mary-Penn Bed & Breakfast in 2008.

This wonderful Cumberland Township historical site will be the location of the 270th anniversary celebration of our township on June 1, 2019. Festivities will feature reenactors portraying Mason and Dixon and historian John Rudy unveiling a plaque commemorating the Mary-Penn Mason Dixon Line mile marker stones. These stones were placed on the property in 1765 by Mason and Dixon. Also featured will be “French and Delaware Indian” reenactments and Native Narrations. There will be hayrides to take visitors out to view the mile marker stones, colonial children’s’ games, craftsmen demonstrations, and food vendors.

The Cumberland Township Historical Society, Adams County Historical Society and the Waybrights are partnering to host this event. The celebration is free with $5 parking to help defray the cost. Donations are also welcome. We hope all of you can join us on June 1, 2019, for this celebration of the 270th anniversary of Cumberland Township. The event location will be the Mary-Penn Bed & Breakfast, 716 Mason Dixon Road, Gettysburg.

Doug Cooke and Elsie Morey are board members of the Cumberland Township Historical Society.