Our roots. Our history.
Walking with a handkerchief.
It is said that when Alexander Hamilton arrived in Waynesboro, he came with nothing but a few belongings in a handkerchief and he walked here from Chester County where he had been a wagon-maker and blacksmith until his home burned in 1817.
One of the first things that young Hamilton did was to build a brick house and shop on Mechanic Street (now Church Street). His work went so well that Hamilton married his neighbor’s daughter, Jane Besore, and proceeded to invest in real estate.
Hamilton’s mother, Martha Wilson Hamilton, is credited with carrying mail in an egg basket for Washington’s Army at Valley Forge. On a visit to Waynesboro, Mrs. Hamilton died at the age of 93 and is buried on Burns Hill.
The Hamiltons bought this colonial home in 1841. The house was built by a Mr. Bittinger in 1814 and the interior woodwork was supposedly done by Eli Horner. The house, before it was remodeled for a library, had 16 rooms. The porch, which is of Greek revival design, was added after the Hamiltons bought the home.
The Hamiltons had a total of 12 children, of whom nine survived. Of interest is the fact that their son John who was a farmer also painted portraits. The ones he did of his parents still hang in the library. The Hamilton’s eighth child, Jemima married George Stover in 1857 and had three children; William, Jane and Mary. Jane married I.E. Yost and she is the person who willed the house to the town to be used as a library.
The Alexander Hamilton house.
The Alexander Hamilton House is a historic home located at 45 East Main Street in Waynesboro. It is now operated as the Alexander Hamilton Memorial Free Library. The house and library are named for Alexander Hamilton, a local Waynesboro land speculator and wagon maker who owned the house. It remained in his family for a century. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 27, 1980.
Built around 1816 by John Bittinger, the two-story, five-bay Georgian-style, 16-room brick house has dual fireplace chimneys. It was purchased by Waynesboro's Alexander Hamilton in 1842. The house remained in the family until the 1943 death of Hamilton's granddaughter, Jane Stover-Yost. She bequeathed the property to the Borough of Waynesboro for the town's first permanent public library.
The McCleary house, once located on the east side of the library, was demolished to make way for a library wing added in 1987. The back yard contains a summer kitchen from the Hamilton era. It also has some old gristmill grinding stones donated by Sammy Stoner. The brick courtyard and flower gardens are open to visitors.