Craighead House is a unique late-Victorian home near Boiling Springs, PA where Frank Craighead, “Scholar of the Everglades,” was born and raised. His daughter, Jean Craighead George, began her writing career at Craighead House. Jean was a Newbery Award-winning author of children’s books about nature, and went on to write over 100 books for children and young adults including My Side of the Mountain, Julie of the Wolves, and The Summer of the Falcon. Jean’s twin brothers, John and Frank Jr., developed their interest in nature and pioneered falconry as a sport in the United States during their summers at the house.
Knowledge of, and respect for, nature in Ms. George’s writing were also central themes in the work of her brothers, who were significant contributors to National Geographic magazine and other publications. The twins are credited with saving the Grizzly bears in Yellowstone Park through their research studies, and are also the authors of the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (1968).
Rev. Thomas Craighead, a Scots-Irish Presbyterian minister from whom all but a few Craigheads in the U.S. are descended, settled in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania in the 1730s before it was a county of its own. His youngest son, John, purchased a large tract of land along the Yellow Breeches Creek in present-day South Middleton Township in the late 1730s. A descendant of his, John Weakly Craighead, sold a right of way through the original tract to the South Mountain Railroad in 1868. His son, Charles, built a Victorian home adjacent to the tracks and the Yellow Breeches Creek, operated several businesses and raised his five children. It was here that his children, and after his death, his grandchildren developed their love of plants and animals. Today, a virtual army of naturalists descended from him work in various fields related to the study of nature.
Craighead House is historic for its architecture but more so for what happened within its walls and on its grounds. A bit of that history can be found in The Summer of the Falcon, an autobiographical novel by Jean Craighead George that her heirs have allowed us to reprint with photos and a cross-reference of the book’s characters to actual people.
Craighead House Committee Corporation (CHCC) is a 501(c)(3) organization that was created in 2012 to preserve the deteriorating house and transform it into an educational center on nature, the environment, and local history. CHCC’s mission also includes preserving the unique, professional-quality artwork in the kitchen that was painted by several generations of family and friends.