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

Parson John Elder House

Parson John Elder House Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By William Pfingsten, March 30, 2008
1. Parson John Elder House Marker
Inscription.  Although the original Borough of Harrisburg and its oldest neighborhoods comprise the area now occupied by the Central Business District, the city's oldest structure is ironically located at its eastern end amidst 20th Century development. This location, however, is understood when realizing that the house, built in 1740, was the home of Parson John Elder, early Presbyterian minister of the nearby Paxton Presbyterian Church in Paxtang. Considered the oldest Presbyterian Church building in continuous use in Pennsylvania and the second oldest in the United States, the original stone structure was also erected in 1740. The Scotch-Irish settlers who inhabited the area before the Borough of Harrisburg was founded in 1791 organized the church in 1733. Both Elder's house and Paxton Church were built on ground sloping to the south toward Spring Creek to what at one time was known as the Paxtang Valley. It was up the Spring Creek lowlands that early pioneers ventured from Harris Ferry to found additional settlements. In 1738, John Elder became pastor and served in this position for fifty years until his death in 1792. Elder is remembered for his active
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stance in helping to defend the frontier surrounding present-day Harrisburg from Indian attacks provoked by the French who had settled farther to the west as part of the conflict of the French and Indian War. He also served as a Colonel in the American Revolution. Not only is John Elder buried in the Paxton Church graveyard, but also are John Harris, Jr., the founder of Harrisburg, and William Maclay, first U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania and surveyor who laid out the Borough of Harrisburg in 1785. Although altered over time, Elder family heirs have incredibly, owned the Elder House over the centuries to this day.
Top Photo
Circa 1900 view of original barn (demolished) and house at right when a farm looking northward.
Bottom Photo
1960 view of Elder House showing expanded front porch and third floor dormer addition.

Erected by The Harrisburg History Project Commissioned by Mayor Stephen R. Reed.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Cemeteries & Burial SitesChurches & ReligionColonial EraNative AmericansWar, US Revolutionary. In addition, it is included in the Pennsylvania, The Harrisburg History Project series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1740.
Location. 40° 15.639′ N, 76° 
John Elder House image. Click for full size.
Photographed By William Pfingsten, March 30, 2008
2. John Elder House
50.746′ W. Marker is in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in Dauphin County. Marker is at the intersection of Ellerslie Street and S. 24th Street, on the left when traveling east on Ellerslie Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Harrisburg PA 17104, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Harrisburg (approx. 0.6 miles away); Bellevue Park (approx. 0.7 miles away); Breeze Hill (approx. 0.7 miles away); Paxton Presbyterian Church (approx. 0.8 miles away); Harrisburg High School and Former John Harris High School (approx. 0.8 miles away); Paxton Church (approx. 0.8 miles away); Bishop McDevitt High School (approx. 0.8 miles away); Original Location of the Paxton Congregation (approx. 0.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Harrisburg.
Credits. This page was last revised on December 5, 2019. It was originally submitted on April 4, 2008, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 3,755 times since then and 150 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on April 4, 2008, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.

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May. 18, 2024