Local historians record the past in Welsh Run

June 18, 1997


Staff Writer, Waynesboro

WELSH RUN, Pa. - Many Americans believe the western frontier began in mid-nineteenth century St. Louis and moved west with the wagon trains.

John Stauffer thinks it began around 1730, much farther east, in places like Welsh Run, Pa.

Stauffer, 70, is a retired physician who splits his time between Greencastle, Pa., and Ventura, Calif.

Luring him back more and more is the Conococheague Institute, a local historical society dedicated to the study and preservation of the cultural and natural history of the West Conococheague and Welsh Run areas. Stauffer founded the institute in 1994.

Welsh Run is about three miles south of Pa. 16 west of Upton, Pa. It was settled by Welsh families, including some of Stauffer's ancestors. They came in clans to build farms along the small stream that flows through the area. The Welsh also settled Clay Lick, a small village five miles to the west, Stauffer said.


Today about a dozen homes and a vacant general store stand near the crossroads of routes 995 and 416 at the center of Welsh Run.

The first farm, known today as Rock Hill, lies about a mile south of the village of Welsh Run. It was built by Robert Davis, the village's first settler. He was born in 1685, Stauffer said.

Stauffer owns the Davis Farm. He has restored the Davis-Chambers House, the main building on the farm, and is in the process of restoring an old three-room log cabin on the property that was built by Eliab Negley around 1810.

An article on the restoration of the cabin's exterior is featured in this month's edition of Old House Journal.

Stauffer plans to donate the farm and its buildings to the institute once it's ready to assume ownership.

The first church in Welsh Run was built in 1741. It was burned by Indians 14 years later. A new church was built about a mile away in 1775 and served the community until 1871, when the church now called the Robert Kennedy Memorial Presbyterian Church was built on the same site. That church stands today in mostly original, unrestored condition.

Although unused for services since 1979, the Carlisle Presbytery still owns the building and pays for its maintenance, said Gay Buchanan, vice president of the institute and a descendant of early Welsh Run families.

Buchanan great-great-grandparents are buried in the Kennedy church cemetery. Stauffer said five generations of ancestors, including his mother, are buried in the cemetery. Several Revolutionary War and Civil War veterans are buried there too.

Buchanan said the institute has permission to use the church building for special events, including an annual candlelight service at Christmas and a songfest every June that celebrates Welsh History and culture.

The institute has begun a membership drive. Anyone interested in joining should call 717-328-3467.

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