From Florida to Pennsylvania: The Place the Flowers Called Home

About a month ago, I received the following e-mail from one of my professors,

I was doing some research in the Cumberland County Historical Society yesterday and, as promised at your senior honors project presentation, I looked up the property records for the Flowers home, which has been described as being in Boiling Springs.  Here is what I found:

1. The property was a farm, but not actually located in Boiling Springs. Rather, in the 1920 Federal Census Harry Flowers is listed as the owner with a mortgage on a farm in Churchtown Village, Monroe Township (just outside of Boiling Springs, on the north side of the Yellow Breeches Creek). Isaac Heisey’s farm was three farms away, and there is a Heisey Road still today in the midst of the unincorporated area known as Churchtown Village (i.e. more than the small town on today’s map known as Churchtown), which stretched eastward from Churchtown proper to Williams Grove Road, and was framed by the creek to the south, Boilings Springs Road to the west, and somewhere around Lisburn Road to the north. 

2. This location was proven also by the deed records.  In the Cumberland County Index to Deeds (Grantee Book EF 1750-1950, pages 267 and 283) the following information appears:

Harry F. Flowers purchased the farm in 1919 (20 May 1919 is the “date of instrument” — the day the deed was drafted — and 4 October 1919 was the “date of record” — the day the sale was finally recorded in the county courthouse records of deeds) from John E. Dare.  In 1928 Harry gave the farm to his children (Rachel, Hilda C. “et al.”), 7 June 1928 being the “date of instrument” and 8 June 1928 the “date of record.”).  Since Harry died in that year, he clearly made this property transfer in his final days, before dying on 7 July 1928 in Harrisburg. 

3. I think I know how this purchase was affected, and it suggests that Harry had in fact migrated in 1913 to Harrisburg, not Boiling Springs.  Harry’s occupation on the 1920 Federal Census is listed as an interior house carpenter, while John E. Dare appears in the 1910 Federal Census as living at 1530 Regina Street in Harrisburg (with wife Ettie — this address is off North 16th Street near Reservoir Park) and his occupation was building contractor. I strongly suspect then, that Harry went to work for Mr. Dare’s building firm as a carpenter from 1913-1919, and by 1919 had saved enough for a mortgage enabling the purchase of the Churchtown Village farm property in 1919 from Mr. Dare.  This would suggest an urban orientation for the Flowers family well before Philadelphia, and makes more sense of the Great Migration patterns to see the family originally in Harrisburg than in rural Churchtown Village when they started in Pennsylvania.  More should be discovered about John E. Dare.

So, the Flowers may have never lived in Boiling Springs. As I said before, this is what research is about, finding and correcting information. Now, where did Boiling Springs come from? Many documents list Rachel’s residence as Boiling Springs including her transcript, alumni yearbooks, and the marquee created in her honor in 2010.


Where did the Flowers actually live? The Flowers actually resided in Churchtown Village within the Monroe Township. This was a few miles away from both the college and Boiling Springs. At the end of the day, no one was too far off (always look on the bright side eh). Now this is not the first time Churchtown has been associated with the Flowers. In the 1920 Federal Census, they were living in this area; however, the enumerator crossed out this location. Honestly, I did not know what to make of it and simply considered the information to be invalid.


But, I must also note it does say Monroe Township. I fail as a researcher. According to the Cumberland County Index to Deeds, Harry purchased the farm in 1919 from John E. Dare, the same individual who would purchase the farm from Rachel in 1948. The Flowers children were given the farm in 1928 due to Harry’s failing health.

I am currently in the process of purchasing the house deed, yet I am running into trouble locating the deed. The database holds a vast collection of deeds, mortgages, and other essential documents dating back to 1750, but I am unable to find any under the name of John Dare, Harry Flowers, Rachel Flowers, or even Vincent Flowers. Just my luck.

It is exciting to return to this family’s history. I love what I do.

Questions to answer:

  1. Where did the Flowers live prior to purchasing the home from John Dare in 1919? Boiling Springs?
  2. Who is John Dare? Why would he buy his home back after nearly 30 years?
  3. What is the history of Southern black migrants in Chuchtown Village?
  4. Why am I unable to locate the actual deed?
  5. Why did the Flowers migrate to this region as oppose to Harrisburg or Philadelphia?
  6. What was Rachel’s experience at Boiling Springs High School?

Many questions remain unanswered and much research awaits to be finished.

Until the next post,


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