Andrew Carothers (1778-1836)

Andrew Carothers was born in 1778 to John and Mary Carothers of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. He attended the McHose schoolhouse until he was about 14 years old. As a younger son, Andrew would not inherit the family’s large farm; to provide for his future, the family apprenticed him to a cabinet maker.

But these plans changed dramatically in January 1798, when the entire family became terribly ill. A servant named Sarah Clark later confessed to putting arsenic in the family’s bread and butter. She claimed to be a rival of a Carothers’ daughter for the love of local man. Finding no way of poisoning only the girl, Clark resorted to poisoning the entire family. Sarah Clark was hung for her crimes, but not before both of Carothers’ parents died of arsenic poisoning. Andrew Carothers survived, but suffered from a form of nerve paralysis that left his limbs and hands crippled.

No longer able to pursue cabinet making as a livelihood, Carothers attended Dickinson College as a member of the Class of 1800. From 1802 to 1805, Carothers studied law under David Watts in Carlisle. In December 1805, Carothers was admitted to the Bar of Cumberland County and established a law firm in Carlisle. He also served on the board of the Carlisle Bank, and was eventually elected to the Town Council. Carothers married Catherine Louden in 1812. After her death in 1820, he married Isabella Creigh Alexander.

In 1808, Carothers was elected to the Board of Trustees of Dickinson College. He served as secretary of the Board, then as president from 1829 until 1833. In that year, the Presbyterian Church handed control of the college to the Methodist Church. All trustees from the old leadership, as well as faculty and other staff members, were forced to resign their positions. Andrew Carothers died on July 26, 1836 in Carlisle.

Author of Post: 
Dickinson College Archives
Date of Post: 
2005
College Relationship: 
Alumnus/Alumna Class Year: 
Trustee - Years of Service: 
1814-1833