I was born December 18, 1896, in the Old Eby homestead,
by a grist mill on a branch of Alloways Creek three miles
northwest of town. Grist milling was tough in those days
and approaching extinction. My mother before marriage was
jennie V. Shorb. My first recollections of the town of my
birth come from summer vacations of 1906 through 1909. Grandma
Eby (Mary Greenholt Eby) 120 Lumber Street, was my hostess.
It was a modest little home. In front, by the curb, stood
a pole supporting an oil burning lantern and the nightly
visit of the lamp lighter was an intriguing ritual to watch.
He would place his ladder, climb, fill the oil container,
polish the globe, and light the wick. It was surprising how
the widely spaced lanterns separated the sidewalks from the
street in the dark of the night. On Saturday afternoons and
Sunday I would usually dress up and visit my bachelor uncle,
John Shorb, on West King Street, and he would take me for
a horse (Harry) and Buggy ride out to his farm several miles
northeast of of town, operated by "Louie" Weaver.
His first automobile was not acquired until about 1914; it
was an Allen Car. Another uncle Dr. Basil J. Shorb, died
in 1894 in a street car accident in Baltimore.
Left: Samuel and Francis
Eby in front of "Grandama's" former
home, taken by J. Brian Eby, August 1947
The silk mill, the first major industry to come to Littlestown,
was newly opened and its deep throated whistle would wake
me up early in the morning, and in the evening would signal
the arrival of supper time. One of my favorite pastimes
in those days was shooting flies off the horses being shod
in Bill Ebaugh's village blacksmith shop, under the watchful
eye of my special friend, Charlie Zeigler, the assistant
The first and last old fashion medicine show I ever saw
was on the square with the typical one horse wagon, the
official barker, the pretty girl and the comedian. The
sales pitch was spirited, and the bottles of "cure-all" sold
for just fifty cents. "Charlie" Zeigler and "Rip" Martin
threaten to run them out of town. I did not wait to see.
Next door to Grandma was "Had" Keller's abattoir,
and I would occasionally peep in when he was killing a
steer for his butcher shop. Old "Grandma" Kump
lived across the street and I visited her by the hour.
Her backyard abutted the PRR and I would enjoy watching
the morning and afternoon passenger trains pass by.
The biggest news to hit town was the proposal to build
a trolley line from Hanover. The bright lights of Hanover
over seven miles away seemed remote in the horse and buggy
days. I watched the track inch its way up the main street
to the square and rode one of the first trolleys to the
big city. Zercher's Barber Shop gave shaves for ten cents
and haircuts for fifteen cents. Below are the barbers,
Harry, Charles and John Zercher and the men on the first
two chairs Earl Long and Atville Hawk.
Memories of the Civil War were still remarkably fresh.
Dr. E. K. Foreman, a Union Army Surgeon; Agust (Gloomy
Gus) Harner and 'Billy' Hayden, an Irish fighter, are people
Fifty years later I revisited the town that I knew as
a boy. The paved streets, the the electric lights, the
automobiles, the new banks, hotel, progressive Rotary Club,
accentuated the modern age - the Space age - modern as
the Houston Domed Stadium.
So let us recall and honor the past, but I would say it's
more important to work for the present and future. The
Adams County Independent of Sept. 15, 1894, on its masthead
of page one, has a good motto "Subscribe and live
comfortable and happy." I am in favor of that.