18th century deeds get new home

September 05, 2000

18th century deeds get new home

By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer

18th century deedsGREENCASTLE, Pa. - Two deeds so old that they were hand-written on sheepskin are now ensconced in a strong, specially designed wooden case in the Antrim-Allison Museum where they are to remain permanently.


The deeds conveyed land in what is now the Greencastle area from two sons of Pennsylvania founder William Penn to Joseph Crunkleton and his family in 1741 and 1766. Other deeds recorded transactions between the Penns and Crunkleton but only these survived the centuries.

John Hykes bought the Crunkleton farm around 1900, according to Tim Hykes, John's great-great-grandson. The Hykes family kept the deeds in a file cabinet throughout the 20th century.


Joseph Crunkleton, the family patriarch, came to America in the late 1720s and settled in the area along with many others of Scotch-Irish descent.

Robert Crunkleton, 78, of Greencastle, said his father, A.G. Crunkleton, tried for years in friendly negotiations with the Hykes to get the deeds back into Crunkleton hands.

After A.G. Crunkleton died in 1974, his son took over the quest.

The Crunkletons have been having family reunions on even-numbered years since the early 1920s and the deeds were always talked about at the gatherings, he said.

A committee of Crunkletons met with members of the Hykes family in 1998 to ask if the deeds could be donated to the new Allison-Antrim museum at 365 S. Ridge St. in Greencastle.

The Hykes agreed.

The deeds needed restoration work and the Crunkletons turned to Jeff Bliemester, curator for the Renfrew Museum and park in Waynesboro, Pa., for help.

Bliemester learned that the Conservation Center for Arts and Historical Artifacts in Philadelphia could do the work. He took the deeds to the center and took them home fully restored five months later.

"They had to add moisture to them to flatten them out," Bliemester said. "They added filler to the back of the deeds and filled in ink loss on the front," he said.

Bliemester told the Crunkletons that an environmentally safe display case would be needed to hold the deeds.

The Crunkletons hired Dennis Timmons, a local craftsman, to build an inlaid walnut and holly display case. Timmons modeled it after a case in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., complete with special glass to protect the deeds from ultraviolet light.

"Once in a while I get a chance to make something different. It's the first museum-quality case I've made," Timmons said. "It took more than a year to design and build."

The Crunkleton descendants spent $2,300 to have the deeds restored and $3,500 for the case.

On Aug. 6 the Crunkletons gathered for another reunion, this time at a Hagerstown hotel, where they held an official unveiling of the deeds, complete with the playing of bagpipes, Robert Crunkleton said.

Tim Hykes, who had been represented his family in negotiations with the Crunkletons, was invited to represent his family.

The agreement specifies that the deeds are on "permanent loan" to the museum. A special plaque on the display case honors the Hykes' generosity.

"We appreciate the contributions the Crunkleton family made for the restoration of the deeds and for the display case to keep them in a proper setting," Tim Hykes said.

The deeds were permanently installed in the case at the museum last week under the watchful eye of Bonnie Shockey, president of the Allison-Antrim Museum.

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