Old pump and slate water box recall the Battle of Gettysburg
This old iron pump and slate water box are in the collection of the Old Line Museum in Delta, Pennsylvania, a small community in southern York County not far from the Maryland state line (“old line”). The museum was started 31 years ago from collections of many local amateur historians. It is supported by the local borough and by donations from the citizens of the Delta region. It serves as an information center for the community and its history.
Among the highlights of the museum are photos and memorabilia from the early slate quarry industry and the Welsh immigrants that worked the quarries, railroad photo collections, information on the early businesses, and genealogy. It is open on Sundays (other times by special appointment) May-Sept. from 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm.
So, what do this rather obscure pump and hand-made slate box (quaintly nicknamed “Rebecca” and “Jasper” respectively) in a small museum in York County have to do with the Battle of Gettysburg?
The battle was fought on July 1-3, 1863 (well, some fighting and dying also occurred at Gettysburg on July 4 but most history books discount that and state that the battle ended on July 3).
Delta is more than 35 miles east of Gettysburg. Residents of the farming village reported distinctly hearing the sound of artillery duels which echoed through the hills. They did not realize at first that the unusual noise was coming from a ferocious battle well to the west.
According to museum president Ruth Ann Robinson, “Alma Macomber Orr said that some of her family was at this pump box and could hear rumblings and the ground was shaking. Later it was discovered that this was during the battle of Gettysburg.
Also Rehoboth Welsh Church minutes listed that the trustees were leaving a meeting in Bangor, just above Delta and could also feel vibrations in the earth.”
To visit or contact the Old Line Museum:
602 Main St.
Delta, PA 17314
P.O. Box 35
Delta, PA 17314
Photos by Ruth Anne Robinson. Thanks to Eric Lowe of York PA for calling this story, the pump, and the museum to my attention. His great-grandfather served in the Civil War.
Adapted from Civil War Voices from York County, Pa.: Remembering the Rebellion and the Gettysburg Campaign by Scott L. Mingus, Sr. and James McClure (Colecraft Industries, 2011).