“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Littlestown in Adams County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)


Developing Years

— 19th Century —

Littlestown Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Swain, June 28, 2008
1. Littlestown Marker
Inscription.  The coming of the Littlestown Railroad in 1858 brought growth and a new life to Littlestown. The railroad ran E-W along Cemetery Street and was extended west to Frederick, MD, in 1872. It was not uncommon for Littlestown citizens to leave Littelstown for Philadelphia early in the morning and return the same day. The Pennsylvania RR took over the line in 1874. (The last train service departed Littlestown in 1948.) Between 1850 and 1860 the population had nearly doubled and Littlestown was incorporated as a Borough of Adams County in 1864. Additional lots were laid out along North and South Queen Street to accommodate the need for expansion.

By 1870 the population had grown to 847, with trades including coach makers, ore and foundry workers, druggists, farmers, tavern keepers, shoemakers, physicians, and others typical of 19th Century towns on major transportation routes. During this period more churches and businesses were established, some of which remain today; St. John's Lutheran Church, 1763; Methodist Church, 1828; Redeemer's Church, 1860; St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 1863. There was even the Ockers Race Track just a few blocks from
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the square!

Warehouses and shops were erected to meet the growing needs of this crossroads town. Among these were the Basehoar and Mehring Hardware Store (Basehoar being a descendant of early settlers whose local homestead is just outside the borough). The Protection Mutual Insurance Co., founded in 1851, retains an office at 101 S. Queen St. The Meyers Dry Goods store and building (later "Trimmer's" and the "Littlestown 5 & 10") was constructed on the SW corner of the intersection of Baltimore and Frederick Streets, now Queen and King Streets. An early 1800's building on the NE corner of the square later became the Littlestown Post Office, and remains today as a commercial establishment.

The Alpha Fire No. 1 Engine House was built on East Hanover Street (now King Street) and was an example of an elaborately detailed Victorian structure. The all-volunteer Alpha Fire Company still serves Littlestown.

At least four hotels existed at this time, among them the National Hotel, which was built adjacent to the railroad line, circa 1862. The PRR railroad station was just behind the hotel, to the east. The Barker Hotel (known as the "Central Hotel" and later, the "Ocker House") was built in 1848, on the NW corner of the square.

The map is from an Adams County Atlas and depicts the development of Littlestown as of 1888. The 1888 illustration by T.M. Fowler depicts
Littlestown History Markers image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Swain
2. Littlestown History Markers
From left to right - Civil War, 19th Century, and 20th Century.
some of the prominent businesses and residences of the time.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceRailroads & Streetcars. A significant historical year for this entry is 1858.
Location. 39° 44.681′ N, 77° 5.28′ W. Marker is in Littlestown, Pennsylvania, in Adams County. Marker is at the intersection of Queen Street (State Highway 97) and King Street (State Highway 194), on the right when traveling north on Queen Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Littlestown PA 17340, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named Littlestown (here, next to this marker); Littlestown 250 Years (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named Littlestown (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named Littlestown (here, next to this marker); Peter (Klein) Little (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named Littlestown (a few steps from this marker); Littlestown War Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); Army of the Potomac (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Littlestown.
More about this marker. The marker has several photos to back up the text. In the upper left corner is a ...birds-eye-view created by T.M. Fowler of Morrisville, PA, shows the development of Littlestown Borough as of 1888. Note the race track just off S. Queen St.

In the lower left, This is an early photo of the Basehoar and Mehring hardware store located on S. Queen St. (then Baltimore St.). L.T. Mehring is noted to have a hardware store in this location in 1888. S.D. Mehring owned a carriage factory along the south side of the PRR tracks on the west side of Queen St. The Basehoar family later started the Ford Garage and auto and tractor dealership on E. King St.

On the right are five photos of buildings mentioned in the text:
This 3-story building has been in continuous use since its construction in the early 1800's. E. Meyers Dry Goods is listed as the business in 1888, later it became Trimmer's and then the Littlestown 5 & 10. The first floor has provided commercial and retail services for the community. Changes were made to provide larger storefront windows on S. Queen St. in the early 20th Century. The large bracketed cornice is typical of the era and similar treatment could be seen on other buildings such as the National Hotel, and the Barker (also known later as the Ocker and Central) Hotel.

This photo depicts the building on the NE corner of the square when it was used as the Post Office. The structure dates to the early 1800's, as evidenced by the low 3rd floor windows and the eave on the gable end. After the Post Office (1902-1925) vacated the building, the first floor has been a grocery story and newsstand, with apartments on the upper floors.

The National Hotel, in 1888 by C.A. Wiest, was one of four in Littlestown. Its proximity to the railroad depot and freight yard made it a convenient stopover. Constructed in the mid-1800's, the first brick building originally had a balcony wrapping around the west and south faces at the 2nd and 3rd floors, with decorative iron railings reminiscent of New Orleans and the South. An advertisement in the Weekly Ledger newspaper in April of 1862 offered, "Table will be supplied with the delicacies of the season and his (M.H. Course, owner) bar will be furnished with the choicest of liquors. The stabling is extensive and of the best character."

This photo depicts the Alpha Fire Company building at 40 East King St. The volunteer fire company has been in existence in Littlestown since August 1885. Early horse-drawn equipment was replaced in 1913, when the Alpha Co. acquired the first motorized fire apparatus in Adams County. The elaborate Italianate Victorian style of the fire house indicates the pride and prominence of the Alpha Fire Co.

Though not the first known school in Littlestown (there were log school houses noted to be earlier), the Littlestown Public School is shown on maps from mid-1800's. The original building was replaced in 1901 with a larger 3-story structure, which today serves as the Borough Hall and Public Library. Early maps also indicate a grange hall located on the site.
Also see . . .
1. A History of Littlestown. Article from the Littlestown Area Historical Society. (Submitted on August 30, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 

2. Buildings of Interest in Littlestown.
Littlestown History Plaza sign image. Click for full size.
Photographed By David Lassman, January 11, 2019
3. Littlestown History Plaza sign
(Submitted on August 30, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
Meyers Dry Goods Building image. Click for full size.
Photographed By William Fischer, Jr., May 22, 2010
4. Meyers Dry Goods Building
The National Hotel today image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Larry Gertner, April 6, 2018
5. The National Hotel today
Compare to illustration in top-right corner. The railroad tracks ran alongside on the right.
Old Post Office Building image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Larry Gertner, April 6, 2018
6. Old Post Office Building
At the northeast corner; see the bottom photo to the left of the text.
Credits. This page was last revised on January 31, 2019. It was originally submitted on August 30, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,475 times since then and 40 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on August 30, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   2. submitted on August 29, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   3. submitted on January 13, 2019, by David Lassman of Waldorf, Maryland.   4. submitted on September 4, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.   5, 6. submitted on November 24, 2018, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York.

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Jun. 5, 2023