Member Biography

Samuel Postlethwaite 

Sessions Office Position District Party
1794-1795       7 Federalist
1795-1796       7 Federalist
1796-1797       7 Federalist
1797-1798       7 Federalist
1798-1799       7 Federalist
1799-1800       7 Federalist
1800-1801       7 Federalist

COUNTIES: Cumberland  


01/17/1739 - 08/24/1810

Colonel Samuel Postlethwaite (Federalist7) Cumberland County 1794-1801

Early Life: 

Samuel Postlethwaite, born January 17, 1739, Conestoga, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania; son of John and Anne Metcalf Postlethwaite; married, Matilda Rose, 1761, daughter, Sarah, three sons, Joseph Rose, John (Jacky), and Samuel; lieutenant, French and Indian War, 1758; captain, Revolutionary War, 1776; quartermaster, 1778; appointed, Carlisle Burgess, 1782-1783; elected, Sheriff, Cumberland County, 1783-1786; elected, Lieutenant Colonel, Field Officer, First Battalion, Cumberland County militia, 1787; elected, Commissioner, Cumberland County, 1789-1794; appointed, Governor, ‘Clerk of the Court of Quarter Sessions of the Peace and General Jail Delivery’ 1790-1794; Colonel, Whiskey Rebellion, 1794; elected, Federalist, Pennsylvania State Senate, 1795-1801; Federal appointments, 1803-1806; died, August 24, 1810, walking, home garden, West High Street, Carlisle, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania; interment, gravesite has not been found. 

Early Career:

Commissioned, Lieutenant, Pennsylvania Regiment, French and Indian War, 1758.  

Response to General George Washington’s call for the defense of New Jersey, formed and armed his unit of 73 men as early as March 1776, deployed, Woodbridge, New Jersey, arrived August, stayed September; one-year appointment, by order of the Board of War, captain of one of two security companies established to guard a newly established military arsenal at Carlisle, 1777; Joined the Continental Army’s Quartermaster Department, 1778.

Appointed, Carlisle Burgess, 1782-1783.

Elected, Sheriff, Cumberland County, 1783-1786.

Elected, Lieutenant Colonel, Field Officer, First Battalion, Cumberland County militia, 1787.

Last documented ‘militia’ assignment, Whiskey Rebellion; an order of the United States Provision Department dated September 25, 1794, appointed Colonel, “Commissary of Issues to Militia” He was to be ready to move with the army, for a pay of $75 per month.

Professional titlesbusiness ownershipboard membershipslocal governmentclub memberships:

Trustee, treasurer, Dickinson College, 1790-1798; founding member, Union Fire Company, 1789; member, Saint John’s Episcopal Church, Carlisle.

Pennsylvania Politics:

Elected, Commissioner, Cumberland County, 1789-1794; appointed, Governor Thomas Mifflin ‘Clerk of the Court of Quarter Sessions of the Peace and General Jail Delivery’ 1790-1794.

Elected, Federalist, Pennsylvania Senate, Cumberland County, 1794-1801; member, Bankruptcy Committee, 1795; Sate Hospital Committee, 1795; Banking Committee, 1797; County Seats Committee, 1797; Real Estate, Inheritance Committees, 1797; elected, Speaker of the Senate Pro Tem, 36 days, spokesman for the Senate in the absence of the Speaker, gained $1 per day more in pay, 1800.  

Although active in supporting the infrastructure needs of central Pennsylvania, he broke with area senators on the issue of moving the state capital out of Philadelphia to Lancaster, apparently holding out for Pittsburgh to be nominated as a site, 1799. 

Continued Government Service/National Politics:

Federal appointments, Collector of the (overdue) United States Direct (‘glass’) Tax from property holders, 21st Collection District (Cumberland County) 1803-1804; appointment, Commissioner, “An Act to make Provisions for Persons that have been disabled by known Wounds received in the actual Service of the United States during the Revolutionary War.” Records of his activities, if any, relative to this appointment have not been found.  


Held the original warrant on a 400-acre tract that has now become the King’s Gap Environmental Education Center, Pennsylvania State Park, Cooke, Dickinson and Penn Townships, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.  


Cox, Harold. "Senate Members P"Wilkes University Election Statistics Project. Wilkes University.

Carla Christiansen, Cumberland History, 2014, Volume Thirty-one, The Cumberland County Historical Society, Carlisle, PA pages 5-51.   vol31n1.pdf (   

Pennsylvania, Assembly, Senate, Journal, For the Session which commenced at Lancaster on Tuesday the third day of December 1799. Accessed through Evans Early American Imprints, Series I: Evans, 1639-1800. 

Samuel Postlethwaite Appointment, January 27, 1806, Manuscript Box 32-1, CCHS. The act, which was passed by the U.S. Congress on 3 March 1803, specified that claimants must testify as to eligibility before a judge or someone so commissioned. 

Cumberland County Tax Rate Lists. The date of Postlethwaite’s arrival in Cumberland County is based on entries in his ledger. The Tax Rate lists, which are incomplete for this period, document his ownership of land in East Pennsboro Township from 1768 through 1773. No records have yet been found that document his ownership of a farm or indicate its location.

A New Nation Votes (