Abolitionist John Brown Boards in Chambersburg
John Brown came to Chambersburg in summer of 1859 wearing a beard as a disguise and using the alias of Isaac Smith. He took up residence at Mary Ritter's boarding house on East King Street, professing to be a developer of iron mines in Maryland and Virginia. Mining implements consigned to Smith and Sons soon began to arrive at warehouses in the town. They were actually firearms, ammunition, and pikes with which Brown wished to arm the many Blacks who he thought would flock to his cause. Brown would secretly meet with Frederick Douglass, a formerly enslaved abolitionist, in a quarry west of town. Leading up to and after the "Raid," members of Brown's "army" passed through Greencastle, Mont Alto, and Mercersburg. Seven of Brown's men eluded capture after the raid and fled through Franklin County. One of them, Albert Hazlett, managed to hitch a buggy ride with a farmer named Hiram Wertz, who lived at Quincy. Leaving Wertz before he reached Chambersburg, Hazlett was later captured at Carlisle. Wertz forever regretted that his hitchhiker never revealed his true mission, for he had long been a conductor on the Underground Railroad station operated on his farm at Quincy.