Digges Choice, one of three proprietary regions involving our forebears, was apportioned by Maryland in a region also claimed by Pennsylvania. As a result, it was simultaneously settled by both Catholic Marylanders and Protestant Pennsylvanians, and the warrants issued by the authorities of both colonies claiming the area brought the settlers into conflict. The area involved extended roughly from the region of now Littlestown, Adams County, Penna and its environs to the region of now Hanover, York County Penna and lands surronding [See Link for today's townships in both counties once pretaining to Digges Choice] . Its role in the conflict between the Penn and Calvert proprietors and the persons settling within it is what makes its history unique. Like the Penn family manors involving our direct ancestors, (westerly Maske and northerly Springettsbury) , violence and its threat involved its time of settlement.
[Hanover , York County, and
Littlestown , York, later Adams, County, ] and
Links to those persons:
In 1696 William Penn purchased
the land that would later become York County from the
Iroquois but lands west of the Susquehanna were not obtained until
1737 . The charter for Maryland was officially granted 1632, a proprietary
of Catholic George Calvert and, like Penn, subsequently his sons
[Lords Baltimore] . The fourth Lord Baltimore claimed a large strip of
what is now southwestern York and southeastern Adams Counties
Pennsylvania and, in 1727, gave a grant of 10,000 acres
to Roman Catholic Marylander John Digges. The physical location of the
warrant was not specified; Digges was empowered to settle "on whatever
unimproved lands he pleased within the jurisdiction of his lordship"
and so the tract came to be known as "Digges' Choice in the Backwoods"
or "Digges' Choice".
"On this disputed tract, settlers purchased lands from both John Digges [of Maryland] and the Penn proprietors [of Pennsylvania]. Digges began selling land in "Digges Choice" territory as early as 1731 before the first official survey was completed in 1734. Fighting began when some of the pioneers refused to pay taxes to Maryland, claiming that the territory belonged to the Province of Pennsylvania." 14 Scotch Irish , also settling the general region competed with Catholic Maryland settlers setting the stage for "Cressap's War" involving nearby Springettsbury Manor [this "War" being part of the larger Border War resultant of the disputed colonies' border involving all the settlers of the general region]. As a result of Cressap's War, the King forced a temporary survey in 1737; This surveying of the Temporary Line between Maryland and Pennsylvania located the Digge's tract four miles north of the Maryland-Pennsylvania border 2 but did not end boundary disputes between Pennsylvania and Maryland or property line problems between individual settlers.6
of "Digges Choice, whose homes were for years made miserable
by the turmoils arising out of disputes between Digges and other settlers..were
aggravated by the conflicting claims of Penn and Baltimore to the proprietorship.
For many years the region was known as the `disputed land,' and there was
naturally much lawlessness. "3 A resurvey was
done August 1745 and 3, 679 acres were added9
tract was 4 miles north of the temporary line between Maryland and Penna.9
aaaa"During [James Logan'sgubenatorial] administration [1736-38] , the ever-present boundary dispute with Maryland reached a critical point. Much blood was shed in border skirmishes when the settlers in the York County area who took title to their lands from Maryland to avoid taxes then tried to come under the protecting wing of Pennsylvania."13 Under the gubenatorial administration of George Thomas "1738-1746 a compromise was reached when he suggested that the governors of Pennsylvania and Maryland should take jurisdiction over their own subjects, no matter where they settled, until the dispute could finally be settled sometime in the future."13 It is reported that although land disputes were common, Digges Choice experienced relative religious harmony, despite the dischord evident between scotch irish and germans in nearby areas of settlement with catholics added to the mix. " 'Catholics, Reformed, Mennonites and Lutherans dwelt side by side in this area -- one of the first times in Christendom when religious freedom gave rise to religious pluralism,' one historian said. 'Moreover, there is no evidence of friction'."7
disputes over ownership were paramount to the settlers involved, but
one source reports that " the authorities in Pennsylvania and Maryland
were unwilling to enter into what they considered a relatively unimportant
land dispute" 2 despite the frequent
petition for intervention recieved by letters to authorities in both colonies.
aaaaIn February of 1752, 20 years after the arrival of our first family [Troxell] to the region, and at least one year following the arrival of our second [Swope] " several settlers of Digges' Choice took the situation into their own hands. On the twenty-sixth of that month, two sons of John Digges, Henry and Dudley, and an officer from Maryland attempted to arrest Martin Kitzmiller, a settler of Digges' Choice, for trespassing. At the time of the attempted arrest, he was farming a section of land included in the disputed resurvey of Digges Choice, but which Kitzmiller had purchased under a Pennsylvania land warrant. Kitzmiller resisted, calling to his sons for help. In a struggle between Dudley Digges and Jacob Kitzmiller, one of Martin's sons, for a gun loaded with buckshot, Dudley was shot and killed. Martin and Jacob Kitzmiller immediately surrendered to the authorities in York. They were acquitted of any wrongdoing on 13 October 1752 "2 The acquittal took place in York County Court. The proceedings themselves rekindled animosity, for it also involved the question of whether Maryland or Pennsylvania's courts had jurisdiction in the case.6 However, "the death of Dudley Digges inadvertently solved many of the problems of the Digges' Choice settlement. Digges' resurvey was declared illegal, and many of the individual land disputes were solved." 2
aaaaA financially unsuccessful John Digges moved from the area after 1757 and died in poverty about 1760. 6 The dispute arising over whether the survey existed in Maryland or Penna was finally settled by the King of England and resulted in the Mason Dixon Survey yielding the Mason Dixon Line. 4The Mason Dixon Survey occured 1763-1767, and the Mason Dixon Line was established in 1768. The Mason Dixon Line gave permanent solution to the question as to whether the survey known as Digge's Choice existed in Maryland or Penna, finding of course, that it lay in what we know now as Pennsylvania. aaa
Hanover Laid out in Digges
Littlestown Laid out in are pertaining to Digges Choice:
This region first saw settlement in the 1730s, with Andrew Schreiber [related to our Forney and Swope cousins] considered the first settler of the Conewago in 1734 and living about 3 miles east of now Littlestown. For 100 pairs of negro shoes the Schreibers purchased 100 acres. In 1752, according to the records, there were forty persons living on tracts sold under the Maryland rights. 14.[included among whom was our Hoke ancestor who bought land in the region under Maryland rights in 1746. ] . Although the region around Littlestown and in other portions far flung from it in Adams County were settled long before the town was conceived, Littlestown can still claim it is the earliest town of Adams County being laid out by Peter Klein [Klein is Little in German] in 1765, during the Mason Dixon Survey and before the Mason Dixon Line was established, although New Oxford, settled in 1755, sometimes claims that status. First known as Kleina Stedtle, it was then called Petersburg, and finally Littlestown. Klein was granted a patent in 1760 for 311 acres which he systematically arranged into the original 48 lots of the town we now know. A similar concept was later followed by James Gettys in regards to Gettysburg. Littlestown's lots were all " 66-feet wide and 264 feet deep and sold for three pounds with the provision that the buyer pay an annual ground rent of seven shillings, six pence ($1.00)."14. Nine years after Littlestown's founding, and one year after the Mason Dixon Line was determined, a major road was undertaken passing through Littlestown itself, part of which was known as the Shippensburg-Baltimore Road. Starting at Sarah Black's tavern in now Mummasburg about 6 miles northwest now Gettysburg, it passed through Peter Lintelís town before crossing the province line. In 1809, the Gettysburg-Petersburg (Littlestown) pike of ca 1807 was proposed and granted [to] continue westward from the Gettysburg square,and connect that town with Cashtown and Chambersburg. The Littlestown (Petersburg)-Gettysburg Turnpike....made Littlestown an important stop for those who drove from Pittsburgh to Baltimore. It was the last stop before entering Maryland. Littlestown was thus a cross-roads town with the Baltimore-Pittsburgh route crossing the Monacacy Road from Frederick to Wrightsville and the Susquehanna River. "14
Footnotes and Sources:
Col. Edward McPherson in the Star and Sentinel, Gettysburg, 1876 wrote " It comprised the present limits of Conewago and Germany townships, Adams County, and Heidelberg township, York county, and includes the site of Littlestown -- ëPeter Little's Towní of the early days -- and of Hanover, which is on the southwestern extremity of the tract." 3
"Penn Township is a rural community that has evolved into both a residential community and the home of several major industries in southwestern York County. The Township has over the years enjoyed a steady increase in population. The current population of the Township is estimated to be 14,592 persons.
Penn Township covers 13.2 square miles in area and is located in southwestern York County. It surrounds the Borough of Hanover on the north, east and south and borders Adams County to the west. The Township is 18 miles southwest of York, Pennsylvania and 42 miles north of Baltimore, Maryland.
Much of the area of Penn Township was originally included in what was known as "Digges Choice". In 1727, approximately 7,000 acres of land was given in a grant to John Digges by Lord Baltimore. A dispute was raised on whether the land was in Maryland or Pennsylvania. This dispute was settled by the King of England and resulted in the formation of the Mason-Dixon Line in 1768.
Penn Township was originally part of Heidelberg and Manheim Townships. In 1880 Penn Township was designated as a separate municipality by action of the York County Court. " Penn Township History
Digges' Choice Edited by: Jan A. Bankert Foreword by: Frederick S.
Weiser. Binding: Hardcover, 140 pages. Publisher: Picton Press
Published Date: 11/01/1996. List: USD $19.50. ISBN: 0897252438
For This Page:
2. Digge's Choice from the Bankert/Banker/Bankard Family Webpages. Unsourced and detailed.
3. Col. Edward McPherson in the Star and Sentinel, Gettysburg, 1876 cited in The Green BookPart Second. Narrative and Records to the Present Time. 1888. Chapter 1: Early Settlement of the Shrivers at Goshenhoppen and Conewago.
5. Littlestown Pennsylvania Webpages
6. York Daily Record 1750-1775
7. The York Daily Record 1700-1749
8.the Manor of Maske: Its History and Individual Properties, a small part of the text available through the Adams County Historical Society
9. Digges Choice, a very brief and entirely unsourced webpage
10. History of Hanover page at Rootsweb-L, Pennsylvania History
11. YORK COUNTY HISTORY FROM THE PENNS TO THE PRESENT ppart of the York County, Pennsylvania webpages.
12. The George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799
Governors Historical Sketches from the webpages of the Allison-Antrim
Museum, Greencastle, Penna
14. Littlestown History Page from Littlestown.net
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