The celtic cross above Brigadier General William Thompson’s gave site in the Old Graveyard, Carlisle.
Object: Celtic cross
What it represents: Cumberland County settlement by Scots-Irish immigrants around 1730
CARLISLE — The Celtic cross — a cross over a circle — has deep roots in Ireland and is prominently displayed on Brigadier Gen. William Thompson’s grave at the Old Graveyard in Carlisle.
The cross, which is believed to have been created by St. Patrick, has been dated as far back as 5000 BC.
Thompson was born in Ireland in 1736 and emigrated to Pennsylvania. During the French and Indian War, he served as a captain of a troop of mounted militia. He was also named the first colonel of the “Army of the United Colonies” during the Revolutionary War.
The Scots-Irish immigrants are some of the original settlers of Cumberland County. One of those was William Irvine, who represented Cumberland County in the U.S. Congress and commanded the Pennsylvania troops George Washington ton had mustered in Carlisle for the suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion. Later, Irvine became one of nine charter trustees of a school in Carlisle that became Dickinson College.
The Ancient Order of Hibernians was formed in the 19th century at a time when there was widespread prejudice towards Irish Catholics. To this day, the organization advocates religious tolerance as its members work to preserve Irish heritage.
Closer to home, the Carlisle-based chapter of the Order split from a chapter based in New Cumberland in 1999 and quickly took Thompson’s name.
During the Revolutionary War, Thompson formed a unit of riflemen made up primarily of Irishmen from the Midstate, who became known as “The Irish Line,” and it is said that the shot that ended the war was fired by one of the Pennsylvania riflemen.
Every September, members of the local AOH chapter gather at his grave to pay homage to their namesake and his contributions to history.