Littlestown History

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Excerpted from the 1965 Littlestown Bicentennial Book and Adams County Independent of 1914.

The Conewago Settlement was a colony, made up principally of Germans, situated in the southeastern part of what is now Adams County, Pennsylvania. The long and somewhat tragic border disputes between the Penn’s and the Calvert’s were the cause of the first settlers coming into this section.

On this disputed tract, settlers purchased lands from both John Digges and the Penn’s. Digges began selling land in “Digges Choice” territory as early as 1731 before the first official survey was completed in 1734. Fighting began when some of the pioneers refused to pay taxes to Maryland, claiming that the territory belonged to the Province of Pennsylvania. Among the casualties was Dudley Digges, John Digges’ son. Andrew Schreiber (Shriver), historically-speaking, is regarded as the first settler “At Conewago”. The Schreibers moved to Pennsylvania in 1721 and settled locally in 1734 on a farm (later owned by Elias Basehoar) about three miles east of town, near Christ Church, along the former trolley line to Hanover. The Schreibers purchased 100 acres from John Digges and paid for it with 100 pairs of negro shoes. In 1752, according to the records, there were forty persons living on tracts sold under the Maryland rights. The long years of trouble came to an end with the establishment of the Mason Dixon Line.

Littlestown, or Petersburg, located in the extreme southwestern portion of Digges’ tract, was part of the Conewago Settlement. It is probably the oldest town in what is now Adams County, having been laid out in 1765 by Peter Klein (or Little), 15 years before James Gettys laid out Gettysburg and one year after Richard McAllister founded Hanover. Adams County was formed from part of York County thirty-five years later. For at least 50 years, the village was known as “Kleina Stedtle” (in English “Little’s Town”). Later it became Petersburg, but since the present York Springs was also known by the same name, a great deal of confusion resulted. Both communities changed their became York Springs, the other Littlestown after a post office was established in 1795. Peter Klein died eight years after laying out the town and is buried in the graveyard of Christ Church off Route 194, a church which had been founded in 1747 by the Rev. Michael Schlatter.
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