Allison-Antrim Museum

James Shirey


On August 21, 1850, the family of David Shirey was living in the household of 63-year old Elizabeth Ferin, his mother-in-law. Angeline Ferin (28), David’s sister-in-law, also lived in the household. The real estate value of Elizabeth’s property was $300. David (30) was a cabinet maker. He and his wife Johanna (also 30) had three children: Mary (9), James (8 – born October 14, 1841), and Rebecca (5). Ferin’s house was four dwellings away from James Harris, Frances “Dolly” Harris’ father, whose property, in Greencastle, was on North Carlisle Street, two properties north of the alley.


Some census takers were better at enumerating than others. The 1860 census taker for Greencastle was not, what we would define today as, a “detail” person. First names were either recorded with just the first letter of the name or abbreviated. Mary was My, Nancy was Ncy, and Johanna was Jona. During the 1860 census, the Shirey family appears to have been living in a boarding house, because the census taker only assigned one dwelling number and one family number for four families. On the other hand, he recognized each family with a black dot next to the head of household and also placed a black dot in the dwelling number column. Furthermore, three of the four heads-of household, under dwelling number 1491, owned property. David Shirey’s real estate was valued at $1,400 and his personal estate was worth $250. His occupation in 1860 was “carpenter.” David and Johanna’s daughters Mary and Rebecca were not listed as members of the Shirey household. Mary would have been 19 and Rebecca 15. Johanna’s sister Angeline Ferin was still living with the Shirey family.


On August 7, 1862, James enlisted in Co. K, 126th PA Infantry. He was mustered out with his regiment on May 20, 1863, after serving for nine months and 18 days. James (21) was registered for the draft, by Provost Marshall George Eyster, in June 1863. Within two to three weeks of his discharge, the invasion of Pennsylvania began as part of the Gettysburg Campaign. On or about June 21, when the Confederate troops began their march through the town of Greencastle, toward Gettysburg, it was James Shirey who rode, by horse, to Chambersburg, and delivered the information to Gen. Couch, that Lee’s Army was on the move, north of the Mason-Dixon Line. In response to the message, Gen. Couch ordered Capt. William Boyd’s Co. C of the 1st NY Lincoln Cavalry to ride south to Greencastle. Boyd’s company stopped at the home and farm of Archibald Fleming Jr, on the northern outskirts of Greencastle. It was in Fleming’s wheat field that Co. C was ambushed by Confederate Gen. Albert Jenkins. On June 22, 1863, Corp. William H. Rihl, of Co C, 1st NY Lincoln Cavalry, became the first Union soldier to be killed on Northern soil.


In 1870, all of David Shirey’s neighbors were tradesmen. Emmanuel Lenher was a pump maker, Christian Hoover a brick maker, Adam Jacobs a saddler, Samuel Kazho a shoemaker, and Henry Readle a blacksmith. David (51) was a cabinetmaker and he did not own real estate. The family’s personal estate was valued at $2,000. Again, James (27) was the only child of David and Johanna who was living with them. His personal estate was valued at $300, and Angeline’s (55) was worth $500.


In 1879, according to the History of Franklin County Pennsylvania 1887, James Shirey and Hilkiah R. Gaff purchased the property, at 11 North Carlisle Street for $18,000. Today, this is the site on which the “Franklin House” sits. At the time of their purchase, the building was constructed of wood. Shirey and Gaff razed the old structure and built the current three-story, brick building on North Carlisle. They named the hotel the Crowell House, in honor of Greencastle industrialist Jacob B. Crowell. In 1884, Shirey sold his interest in the Crowell House. The next year, on March 16, 1885, Shirey began managing the National Hotel, which stands on the southwest corner of the square at West Baltimore Street. During the Civil War, the hotel was known as the Union Hotel. In 1886, James, again switched jobs, and went back to managing the Crowell House.


On June 1, 1880, during the enumeration, the Shirey family was family #8 and lived in dwelling #8, the Crowell House, a hotel. I believe John Ruthrauff, the census taker, began on the east side of North Carlisle Street at East Madison Street. Some of the family surnames and property owners on that side of the street remained the same as those who appeared on the 1868 Greencastle map – John Rowe, the Davisons, Dr. Adam Carl, and Dr. Franklin Bushey.


Between the 1870 and 1880 censuses, James married Clara E. Donaldson, daughter of Abraham Donaldson, of Washington County, MD. They had two children – Emma, born in August 1873, was six and David, born May 8, 1874, was five years old. Besides the boarders in the hotel, James Eachus, the hotel clerk, Catherine Hade, a servant, and Hannah Davis, the cook, also lived in the hotel.


Clara E. Donaldson Shirey was born on August 23, 1849 and she died February 10, 1887, after a short illness. She was buried in Section K, Lot 8, in the Cedar Hill Cemetery, just west of Greencastle.


James was an active member of the Corp. Rihl GAR Post #438, and was on the committee which helped raise money to erect and dedicate the granite monument which now marks the site of Corp. Rihl’s last resting place. An additional $500 appropriation from the state legislature helped accomplish the goal of dedicating the monument on June 22, 1887.


James was enumerated on the 1890 Special Schedule for Surviving Soldiers. There were no special remarks noted. He applied for his pension on July 2, 1890.


The 1900 U.S. Census was conducted during April in Greencastle. James was 56 and was still the proprietor of the Crowell House. His son David (26) worked as the hotel clerk, and he and his wife Mary (23) born on March 5, 1877, had been married for six years. They had two children – James J. (4) born on August 14, 1895, and Charles D. (five months) born on December 31, 1899. James’ daughter Emma (26) lived with him and the extended family in the hotel. She had little schooling as she could neither read nor write.


On June 27, 1913, James began a six-month long illness of chronic inflammation of the kidneys, which ended in renal failure. James Shirey, Civil War veteran, inn keeper and proprietor, died January 1, 1914, at the age of 72 years, two months, and 18 days, in his home, in the hotel at 11 North Carlisle Street. His son David signed the death certificate. James was buried on January 4, 1914, alongside his wife Clara, in Section K, Lot 8, Cedar Hill Cemetery, Antrim Township, Franklin County, PA.



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