Even third-grade students in the Tuscarora School District can say and spell the Native American word Conococheague, but it’s a mystery to most of the rest of the world.
Rhyming with the words “Monica” and “Jig” (like the Irish dance), it means “long indeed, very long indeed” and is the name of a winding creek located in South Central Pennsylvania and Washington County, Md. The creek burbles through truly bucolic landscapes including those of a nearly pristine 18th and 19th century historic farmstead called the Conococheague Settlement, where original log buildings, historic gardens and an 8,000-volume library tell the stories of the people who settled the western frontier in the early 18th century.
This unspoiled farmstead is called “One of Franklin County’s finest gems and a best kept secret,” by Janet Pollard, who heads the Franklin County Visitors Bureau. Here, visitors can hear the stories of life on the frontier where settlers were routinely attacked by local Indian tribes, egged on by French traders and troops hoping to grab up the English colonies. This is the backdrop where what may be considered the first shots of the American Revolution were fired on English troops in 1765.
There is something about the Conococheague Settlement that enchants people; many who visit feel pulled to return again and again. Perhaps it’s because each season holds special surprises such as the springtime bloom of hundreds of bushes of Old World heirloom roses or the bounty from old apple trees with period species. Maybe an encounter with the surprisingly friendly white turkey becomes a defining moment; she has been known to sit in people’s laps.
Native American powwow
A number of events are held on the grounds each year. On Sept. 9-10 the Conococheague Settlement will play host to a Native American powwow, “Drums on the Conococheague: Then and Now.” Professional Native drummers, singers and dancers will tell the stories of ancient and modern celebrations with the public invited to join in. Visitors will also see Native craft and lifeways demonstrations and reenactments of 18th century events.
Vast collections tracing local genealogy draw researchers from across the country looking at names such as Studebaker (yes, that one!); McCormick, as in McCormick spices; Mercer, friend of George Washington; and the McCulloughs, McCuloghs, Macullohs and McCullohs. The families at Rock Hill Farm, site of the Conococheague Settlement ran a thriving linen mill, whose goods shipped internationally.
Although the name talks about “long ways,” this step back in history is located only 90 miles from Washington, DC and is in close proximity to several major Civil War battlefields, outlet shopping, and cultural attractions. The grounds are open Monday-Friday with tours available Tuesday-Thursday, and by special appointment, making the Conococheague Settlement a terrific stop for a weekend mini-vacation.
Several special events are held annually on the grounds: Swine, Wine and Roses – a beer and wine festival is held the third Saturday in May, a Rural Heritage event the second weekend in September, and a Christmas Open House the second Saturday in December.
Need to know
DRUMS ON THE CONOCOCHEAGUE: Then and Now
Sat., Sept. 9, 9:00am-8:00pm
Sun., Sept. 10, 11:00am-4:00pm
$5/person over age 16; bring your chairs and blankets
Food and drink on premises; no alcohol allowed
Lear more: www.cimlg.org 717-328-3467