The Northern York County Historical and Preservation Society (NYCHAPS) strives to inspire by connecting the lessons of the past to the challenges of today. Through hands-on experience, the past culture of the area is brought to life in a deeper and richer educational experience. Through preservation, research, and our collections, NYCHAPS seeks to inspire a different way of learning history.
The Dills Tavern, this beautiful sandstone building in the vernacular Federal style was constructed in 1792 on the main road connecting Carlisle, Harrisburg, York, and Baltimore. The 2 1\2 story building was an improvement over the rustic tavern that was first operated on the property around 1758. The Dill family, Scots-Irish immigrants, operated the tavern for travelers stopping for lodging and food. Improved in 1800 by the Eichelberger family, it served as a tavern until about 1835. It has been painstakingly restored, with additional buildings constructed on the plantation property over the last 15 years, including a rare 1794 Grundscheier barn, a period Wheelwright shop, distillery, bake oven, smokehouse, and modern kitchen. Purchased by the Northern York County Historical And Preservation Society (NYCHAPS) in 2001, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.
NYCHAPS would like to celebrate with the story of the invisible Irish, the Scots-Irish. These are Scots who moved to Ireland in the 1600s, their descendants later immigrating to this country during the colonial period, including Monaghan Settlement's (Dillsburg) Matthew Dill.
Once on these shores, the Scots-Irish all but disappeared as a distinct group, dispersing with other immigrant groups as they pushed westward to the frontier. Conversely, the Irish Catholic immigration was later, larger and more focused in urban areas, allowing them to retain a more distinct identity as Irish-Americans.
The Scots-Irish were stubbornly independent — exactly the raw material George Washington wanted for his army of independence. A Hessian officer even described the American Revolution as “nothing more or less than a Scots-Irish Presbyterian rebellion,” while Washington himself said, “If defeated everywhere else, I will make my last stand for liberty among the Scots-Irish of my native Virginia.”
The Scots-Irish of North Carolina passed “Resolutions of Independence” in 1775, a full year before the Declaration of Independence. And even our national declaration of July 4, 1776, was handwritten by Charles Thompson, printed by John Dunlap and given its first public reading by John Nixon, all three being Scots-Irish.
It was said that coming to America meant “a greater chance to exercise ambition” for the Scots-Irish, many of whom were joining friends and family, as rural “townlands” of northern Ireland were virtually transplanted to the American frontier. The Dills family was part of such a migration stream, from the County Donegal and County Monaghan areas of Ireland, to the western extremes of Lancaster county, Pennsylvania in 1742. The Monaghan settlement eventually became part of the "new" York County of Pennsylvania in 1749.
While the Scots-Irish Dills may have celebrated their first St. Patrick's day at the Monaghan Settlement in March 1742, Boston has long staked claim to the first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the American colonies. On March 17, 1737, more than two dozen Presbyterians who emigrated from the north of Ireland gathered to honor St. Patrick and form the Charitable Irish Society to assist distressed Irishmen in the city.
On this day help NYCHAPS celebrate the Scots-Irish heritage of Dillsburg and the noble ideals of the American Dream that brought the Dills to this area.
With thanks to James F. Burns.