Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Tavern House at Cold Spring over 200 Years Ago?

At the time Jim C. and Jim M. Logan wrote their book Cold Spring Hotel Site: Uncovering its Layers of History in 2005, the earliest known public establishment at Cold Spring was Jacob Wingert’s tavern, which they noted was described in the following 1822 newspaper article:  
“THE MINERAL COLD SPRING.  The undersigned continues to keep the tavern at Cold Spring, 18 miles from Jonestown in Lebanon County, which is now one of the best and improved stands.  The house is 50 feet in width, contains 12 rooms and 1 kitchen, 2 bathhouses, one springhouse and stables.  It has the best food, drink and beds, besides provisions of hay and oats.  Those who wish to spend the summer here are informed that they will be accommodated at the cheapest rate.  The region is healthful, and the water excels any in the State for many complaints, and has been proved beneficial by many people.  The diversity of games, dancing and fishing will give sufficient pleasure in this fresh valley and hills.  Men and women who like to seek this sort of refreshment can be confident of receiving complete satisfaction from this servant of the Public.  Jacob Wingert” -- Der Lebononer Morgenstern and Der Ware Democrat, August 3, 1822, translated from German by Christine Weaver
According to various newspaper articles and other sources, people had been going to Cold Spring to benefit from its waters since before the American Revolution, but little is known about if and what accommodations existed for visitors in those early years.  Fortunately, we recently came across a newspaper advertisement showing the existence of a public establishment that pre-dates Jacob Wingert’s tavern at Cold Spring by nearly twenty years:

The Oracle of Dauphin & Harrisburgh Advertiser – March 28, 1803

Which reads:


The public are respectfully informed, that owing to the misfortune of losing all my buildings by fire, on the night of the 27th February last, no accommodations can be had for those who may be disposed to visit the Cold Springs, in West Hanover township, Dauphin county, the ensuing summer, unless the charitably disposed should enable him to reinstate himself, so to serve a generous public.

 Philip Culp.      
March 18th, 1803.

Note that in 1803, Cold Spring was located in Dauphin County, the county of Lebanon not being formed until 1813 (from parts of Dauphin and Lancaster Counties).  Lebanon County reached only as far north as the Blue Mountain until 1821 [see map], when the boundary was extended to the top of Fourth or Stony Mountain.  Cold Spring was then located in East Hanover Township, Lebanon County.  In 1842, when a portion of East Hanover Township was taken to form Union Township, the boundary line between the two townships lay just six feet from the then existing tavern at Cold Spring, meaning part of what we now call the Cold Spring site was in East Hanover Township and part in the newly erected Union Township.  The 80-acre Cold Spring site remained divided between these two townships until 1853, when Cold Spring Township was formed from parts of East Hanover and Union Townships.  A detailed description of these changing county and township boundaries can be found in Egle's 1883 History of Dauphin & Lebanon Counties.

Philip Culp’s newspaper notice doesn’t identify the number or type of structures at Cold Spring before the fire, although it clearly indicates Culp had a public establishment at Cold Spring.  The destruction of “all [his] buildings” compelled him to notify his former patrons that he would not be able to accommodate anyone wishing to visit the springs that summer.  A tavern house would seem likely in order to provide meals and drinks and overnight accommodations, a means by which to profit from visitors to the well-known Cold Spring.  Perhaps, like Jacob Wingert, a bathhouse, a springhouse and/or stables stood on the property. Having no railroad and a poor wagon road at best, most visitors would have gone over the mountain on horseback to visit the spring, certainly necessitating provisions and lodging for horses.    

In the advertisement, Culp also subtly asks for assistance in rebuilding his establishment: “…unless the charitably disposed should enable him to reinstate himself, so to serve a generous public.”  It is not known what form of assistance – financial, material or labor – he sought, whether or not he received help, or if he ever rebuilt his establishment.

Our current research has yielded very little about Philip Culp.  A “Phillip Culp” appears in the 1810 census living in East Hanover, Dauphin County.  Unfortunately, the early censuses contained only minimal information on the people and households recorded.   All the 1810 census reveals is that Phillip Culp was head of a household which consisted of:  one male, 45 years or older; one male, 16-25; one female, 16-25; and one female, 10-15.  A “Philap Coulp” is listed on the Return of Taxables for the East End of Hanover for 1751.  And a “Philip Colp” is listed on the East End of Hanover Assessment for 1756, on which it is noted that he, among many others, had “fled” from the Indian attacks, his home abandoned at the time the assessment was made.  We cannot be sure if any of these are the individual who had the believed tavern house at Cold Spring.  If it was either person listed on the records from the 1750’s, he would have been around 70 years old (at least) in 1803 when the fire destroyed the buildings at Cold Spring.  Not impossible, but a more likely explanation may be that a son or grandson, also named Philip, entertained the public at Cold Spring in 1803.

Since Cold Spring was situated in Lancaster County prior to the county of Dauphin being formed in 1785, more research needs done in the early records and history of Lancaster County in the hope of finding more about Cold Spring in the mid-to-late 1700’s.  More research needs done on Philip Culp, too.

Feel free to leave comments, ask questions, share information and photos on the subject of Cold Spring.  Contact us at email.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Black History Month: The Philomathean Quartette at Cold Spring

Music played a part in creating the ambiance of a pleasure resort at Cold Spring.  Local bands often accompanied excursion parties, entertaining them on the train ride and furnishing music for dancing and enjoyment while at Cold Spring.  Bands and orchestras were hired for special events, such as informal hops and elegant dances, holidays and celebrations, and visits by dignitaries.  Sometimes talented guests would provide evening musical entertainment, both instrumental and vocal, in the hotel parlor.  At times the Cold Spring Resort even had its own in-house entertainment.

During the summer of 1884, visitors to Cold Spring were pleasurably entertained by the musical renditions of the Philomathean Quartette, whose members resided at the resort throughout the warm summer months.  A newspaper article at the end of the summer reported:  “The Philomathean Quartette…made a great hit at Cold Springs by rendering some of their choice selections” (The State Journal, August 30, 1884).  The Philomathean Quartette consisted of Daniel Bratton, Edward Cunningham, John H. Murray, and Augustus “Stoney” Stewart, all members of the African-American Philomathean Club of Harrisburg.
The Philomathean Club of Harrisburg:  A “Local Item” in the December 15, 1883 issue of The State Journal, an African-American newspaper published in Harrisburg, notes:  “The Philomatheans are becoming quite popular.”  Yet little information could be found on this club.  It was probably like other Philomathean organizations of the time.  Philomathean means “lover of learning,” and Philomathean clubs or societies were usually organized to promote mutual improvement through the study of literature, music and the arts.  In the 1880’s through the 1920’s, it seems the aim of these organizations was to keep abreast with current topics, especially the problems of the day, as well as to enjoy the social aspects of club life.  They offered a varied program of literary readings, musical programs, presentations of civic importance, travelogues, and outings to theater presentations and concerts.  (Most of the modern Philomathean groups seem to be literary and debate societies associated with colleges and schools.)  Two other members of the Harrisburg club were mentioned in The State Journal, Doc Abel and Taylor Howard.  It is unknown whether both men and women belonged to this organization.
While at Cold Spring that summer, the four musicians of the Philomathean Quartette were probably employed in other positions as well.  A Harrisburg Telegraph article (July 31, 1888) relates how the guests at Cold Spring were entertained “by enjoyable music by the little orchestra of waiters, interspersed with amusing plantation songs and dances.”  Several articles from the 1880’s show having a house band made up of talented members of the kitchen staff was not uncommon in the better hotels, including the Lochiel Hotel and the United States Hotel in Harrisburg.  It may be the reason the Philomathean Quartette came to Cold Spring.  John Murray was head waiter at the Lochiel Hotel, which was owned by George W. Hunter, who also was one of the co-owners of the Cold Spring Hotel during the 1880’s.  Some of Murray’s relatives, as well as Augustus Stewart’s, also were employed at the Lochiel Hotel.  So perhaps all four men were employed as waiters while at Cold Spring, or worked in some of the other positions necessary for running a popular summer resort.

Information gleaned from newspaper articles and other sources reveals the following about the four members of the Philomathean Quartette around the time of their employment at Cold Spring:

Augustus Stewart was 22 years old and married Mollie Robinson during the year following his summer at Cold Spring.  He was employed as a stable hand for several years (his father was a hostler and coachman, a position Augustus would eventually hold for nearly 20 years).  Little was found about Augustus around 1884; however, both he and his wife were active in many African-American civic, fraternal and social organizations in the early 1900’s.  They were included among the more prominent men and women of Harrisburg.

John H. Murray was 29 years old, married (to Sarah Matilda Thompson in 1881), and may have had a child.  He was head waiter at the Lochiel Hotel, a member of  the African-American Young Republicans Club (its first president when organized in 1878), an officer of the Brotherly Love Lodge, No. 896, Grand United Order of Odd Fellows, and a member of the Excelsior Cornet Band.

Records suggest Edward Cunningham was about 28 years old and married.  He was “a teacher of stringed instruments” and, as a member of the Hod Carriers’Association, was most likely employed as a hod carrier.  A hod carrier is “a laborer employed in carrying supplies to bricklayers, stonemasons, cement finishers, or plasterers on the job” (  He is simply listed as a laborer in the Harrisburg city directories from 1884 to 1897.  Edward was a member of the Olympic (Baseball) Club of Harrisburg and a member of the Brotherly Love Lodge, No. 896, Grand United Order of Odd Fellows.

Daniel Bratton (or Brotton; it’s spelled both ways in the newspapers) remains a mystery.  Nothing could be found on him other than he was referred to as “Prof. Bratton,” and he was the leader of the Philomathean Glee Club when it was first organized by the Philomathean Club in early 1884.  He could not be located in the 1880 census or any available city directory.

It is hoped new sources will be found that will shed more light on the Philomathean Club of Harrisburg and the Philomathean Quartette.

Ad showing a local orchestra to accompany an excursion
 to Cold Spring sponsored by a local band
Lebanon Daily News (Lebanon, PA) - September 15, 1883

Feel free to leave comments, ask questions, share information and photos on the subject of Cold Spring.  Contact us at email.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Visitors to Cold Spring Index

During the nearly fifty year period that a large hotel stood on the site (1850-1900), thousands of people visited Cold Spring as guests at the hotel, for short and extended stays, as day-trippers, there for pleasure and business, and as passersby, like hunters stopping for a cold drink of spring water or a quick meal.  Cold Spring reportedly attracted visitors from nearby towns and cities like Harrisburg, Lebanon, Pottsville and Reading, and more distant places like Philadelphia, Baltimore and New York City, and even farther away.  These visitors were composed of: wealthy and socially prominent people, as well as those of less substantial means; the young and the old; individuals, couples, families and groups.  They arrived by train, carriage, wagon, horse, foot, and bicycle.  They came to Cold Spring for many reasons, for rest and relaxation, for business meetings and social events, to benefit from the spring waters, and to enjoy the many pleasurable activities and amusements available to visitors.

We always thought how wonderful, how interesting and informative it would be, if a Cold Spring hotel register would be found.  Unfortunately, no known registers exist, the latest possibly burned in the September 1900 fire that destroyed the hotel buildings.  It is possible – and we hope so – that a hotel register one day may be discovered hidden away in a dusty attic of a family member of one of the hotel proprietors.

Since the likelihood of such a discovery is slight, we decided to peruse the numerous Cold Spring-related newspaper articles and other research we’ve accumulated over the past twenty years or so, in order to compile a list of a good many of the people who visited the Cold Spring Hotel and Summer Resort site from 1850 through the end of the year 1900.  We decided to tackle this project to learn more about the people who visited Cold Spring, and for the fun of enabling others to find out if any of their relatives might have visited Cold Spring.

Check out the Visitors to Cold Spring Index  and let us know if you’re related to anyone listed!

Update notices for the index will be posted on Twitter, Facebook and this blog.

Feel free to leave comments, ask questions, share information and photos on the subject of Cold Spring.  Contact us at email.