- "James McTeer came from County Down Ireland with a wife and a number of
children, the voyage was made in the old sailing vessel, requiring a great
length of time. An epidemic broke out on board the ship. He saw one child,
then another, and at last his wife's body lowered into the watery grave. His
grief was such that the convulsions caused such upheavals of the breast, that
the buttons were torn from his silk satin vest."
Sometime about 1730 James McTeer left Northern Ireland with a wife and family.
On shipboard his children fell ill and died one by one, then his wife succumbed
also; so the grief-stricken young man arrived alone in Pennsylvania. This same
traditional has been handed down from generation to generation in both
Tennessee and Ohio. Though the story is essentially the same in both branches,
the number, sex, and names of the children vary, and no one has presumed to
suggest a name or identity for this first wife.
On 16 Jan. 1746/1747 James McTeer took out a tract of land in East Pennsboro
Twp., Lancaster Co., 304 acres 120 perches on Warrant #117; on 8 Nov. 1760 he
took out two additional adjoining tracts containing 72.5 and 37.5 acres, which
additions were described in the survey as "but thin and ordinary land." At the
time of the first survey on 10 Nov 1760, the land was in East Pennsboro Twp.,
Cumberland Co. and the abutting property owners were Anthony McCue, James
McMeen, Peter Leester and Rowlan Chambers. On 13 May 1767 James took out still
another 70 acres southeast of the preceding tract and abutting on Yellow
Breaches Creek; this land was not surveyed until much later, but is mentioned
in James' will as "warrant land."
This homestead was successively in East Pennsboro Twp., Lancaster Co., until
the formation of Cumberland County in 1750; then in East Pennsboro Twp.,
Cumberland Co., until 1766, when Allen Township was formed. When Allen
Township was divided in 1850 the McTeer land fell in Lower Allen, "on the road
from Lisburn to Silver Spring Meeting House."
In relatively modern terms the location is between St. Johns Road on the east,
Slate Hill on the south, the Upper-Lower Allen Township line on the west, and
another range of hills on the north. Identification of exact landmarks within
the area has been singularly complicated because the property is now traversed
by the Lisburn Road, the Reading Railroad, The Pennsylvania Turnpike, as well
as by other local roads coming from New Cumberland on the east and proceeding
southward to Fairview Twp., York Co. across Yellow Breaches Creek.
Soon after completing his title to the property with a patent dated 11 Nov.
1760, James McTeer built a store house near a large flowing spring, probably at
about the point where Lisburn Road crosses Cedar Run. A Cumberland Co. map of
the 1860s shows at that time seven houses on what had been the original McTeer
grant; owners along the southern border were C. Musselman and John Strong, who
had two Dwellings, one at the junction where Lisburn Road came in from the
south; then on Lisburn Road going north again after the jog, James Dunlap had
two houses; David Hurst was still further north but somewhat west of the
roadway; at last an unidentified building was located east against the hill.
Records of the Pennsylvania Direct Tax of 1798 for Allen Twp., Cumberland Co.,
list James McTeer's original house then owned and occupied by his son
Samuel McTeer, as a stone dwelling, 16 by 22 feet, one story with four windows
containing 48 lights (panes of glass); the accompanying kitchen was shown as
an outbuilding 16 by 12 feet with two windows containing 12 lights; and the
whole property including two acres of land was valued at $600.
When Major Will A. McTeer of Maryville, Tenn., visited the locality a century
later this house was still standing and still owned by a McTeer descendant,
Mrs. Ellen Saxton. The Major wrote his impressions in a letter from
Mechanicsburg, dated 30 July 1898; "We got here last night. A beautiful town of
five thousand inhabitants, nestled down in the richest and loveliest little
valley I have ever seen. I am just now back from a visit to the old homestead
of my great, great grandfather, four miles out. The main part of the old stone
house is still standing but very old and dilapidated. The old farm is of the
very best. A barn as big as Texas ... filled ... with oats by the six horse
load. I drank from the old spring that slaked the thirst of my ancestors."
But only a few weeks after this encounter the old place was torn down; so a
neighboring farmer could use the stones for the foundation of a milk station.
In Mrs. Saxton's words, "It was hard for me to make up my mind to it but
thought it best to lay sentiment aside as it was getting unsightly and useless
and possibly dangerous."
During the French and Indian War James McTeer was a captain in the local
militia. He and his lieutenant John Anderson, both of East Pennsboro Twp. were
commissioned in 1747-1748 in the Associated Regiment of Lancaster Co. Over the
River Susquehanna. By the time of the American Revolution he was well past 70
years and so was not included in any of the militia lists of that time; nor is
there any evidence of his providing other specific assistance to the cause of
Independance. Yet, since his five sons and three sons-in-law all served with
the Pennsylvania troops at various times during the war there can be no doubt
where his sympathies were in that conflict.
Out of his 400 acres James McTeer provided a farm for each of his four sons who
remained in Allen Township. On 8 Dec 1770 "for love and affection" he deeded
100 acres to his son John; on 21 Dec. 1770 he made a similar conveyance to his
son William; and by his will he also gave land to sons James and Samuel. Son
Robert moved to Fermanaugh Twp., Cumberland Co., soon after his marriage and
had already gone on to Tennessee before his father's death. Since he received
in the will only a token legacy, it is clear that Robert had in some way
received his share at an earlier date, but the nature of that inheritance is
now past recovery.
The will of James McTeer Sr. of Allen Twp., Cumberland Co., written 2 Aug.
1764, probated 16 March 1785, bequeathed to son James. "the land he now liveth
on as it is divided by John Creigh", one half "the warranted land adjoining to
be divided according to quantity and quality", also "the meadow that is fenced
off for his use"; to daughter Elizabeth Boyd, five shillings; to son Robert
McTeer, five shillings; to daughter Alce Caruthers, five shillings; to sons
William and John, five shillings each; to daughter Sarah Pauly, five shillings;
to granddaughter Elizabeth, daughter of son James, "my chest of drawers"; to
son James, "my table". Any remainder after payment of the legacies and
expenses from the sale of personal property to be divided between sons James
and Samuel McTeer. They to be Executors. Witnesses: Hugh Laird, John Worden.
An untotalled inventory of the "Goods and Cattels of James McTeer Sen
deceased", made on 26 Feb. 1785 by Hugh Laird and William McMEan, includes only
personal property; one horse at 17 pounds; a red cow with a white face at 4
pounds; seven pewter plates at 14 shillings; a case of drawers willed to
granddaughter Elizabeth 3 pounds 15 shillings; a table willed to son James, 15
shillings; other furniture, table, chair, dough chest, walnut chest
and bedstead totaling 1 pound 2 shillings 6 pennies; two featherbeds, pillows,
coverlets and blankets, 15 pounds 5 shillings and 2 pennies total; wearing
apparel, 2 pounds 10 shillings; old books, 1 pound 1 shilling 6 pennies; a few
tools, flax hackle, pruning chisel and draw knife, 7 shillings 6 pennies; pot
rack, tongs, fire shovel, two basins, spice box and frying pan, 16 shillings; a
buckskin, 10 shillings; "a pair of specks and tobacco box", 2 shillings 6
McTeer - Mateer Families of Cumberland County Pennsylvania, Frances Davis
McTeer, 1975, p 7, 23-26.