Searching for the McClintock Residence

There are plenty of substantive questions out there about John McClintock, his role in the slave riot that took place in downtown Carlisle in 1847, and his travails as a Methodist minister in Europe during the Civil War. I had a rudimentary inquiry: where did he live on campus?

The manuscript of Martha Slotten’s article I found in Dickinson’s archives.

Martha Slotten Mr. and Mrs. McClintock as simply living “on West Louther street within a block of the college.” Does the house still stand today? In beginning my search, I realized that what is so simple today – finding someone’s address – is pretty hard with one and half centuries separating you from your subject. I was finding bits and pieces, though; in a excerpt I found in the Archives of a journal entry dated December 5th, McClintock writes of “beautifying so far as my little means would allow, my dwelling in Lowther St. bought of Lamberton for $2132.”

McClintock speaks of his “little means,” but his estate was worth over $1 million at the time of his death, adjusted for inflation.

Beyond that, neither McClintock nor his numerous contemporaries seem to mention his place of residence. Letters addressed to him and stored in the Archives offer no address beyond “Carlisle.”

I then attempted to attack the question from another direction: that of Charles Sellers and Barbara Sellers. Slotten asserted in an unpublished draft of an essay on the McClintock Slave Riot that the McClintocks lived near the Sellers on W. Louther Street. Charles Sellers had been the “Curator of Dickinsoniana” at Dickinson before becoming the college’s head librarian. His was one of the most significant stewardships of Dickinson’s library since its founding. I was able to find a letter to Sellers at his home from the curator of the Philadelphia Museum of Art about a painting of John McClintock. The address was 161 West Louther Street, and it being such a nice day, I decided to check things out for myself.

161 is one of the most beautiful houses on West Louther street. Its distinguished in its upkeep as well as in its architectural style, which appears to be Federal. I took some pictures, peered around the sides and into the front windows, and returned to the archives to collect more information. Specifically, I wanted to know whether the house had been built around the time period when McClintock first moved to Dickinson. I was sad to hit a dead end. According to the Cumberland County Tax Assessor’s database, the house at 161 West Louther had been built in 1890. After this I seemed to strike out repeatedly, unable to find anything further online or in print about the house or the properties surrounding it.

The house at 161 West Louther Street.

After another hour or so of searching across databases and historical records, I was resigned to the fact that I might never be able to verify or find John McClintock’s true Carlisle address. It seems almost inarguable at this point that the property was torn down, but whether it stood on the plot the Sellers later occupied, on some tract of land nearby, or somewhere else on West Louther street altogether remains a mystery.



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