Adams County Bicentennial Tidbits December, 1999

 

12-1-99-          LTC HAMILTON

          Hans Hamilton lived on the western edge of the future Adams County. As Indian raids increased, he organized a company of men 1753 to defend the settlers in the area. After the defeat and death of General Edward Barrack in 1755, Hamilton continued to train his company for military service. In 1756 he marched with his men to Fort Littleton and took charge of the fort. In the same year, his troops aided in the defeat of the French and Indians at Fort Kiting. Promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel of the First Battalion of the Pennsylvania foot soldiers, Hamilton participated in General John Forces’ expedition against Fort Duquesne in November 1758.

 

12-2-99-         MYERS A MILESTONE

          On October 16, 1953, Adam J. Myers began his duties as a substitute city mail carrier in Gettysburg. He was the first Black carrier to be hired at the local post office. Myers was top man on the civil service certified register eligible for the position, according to Postmaster Lawrence E. Oyler. Myers was a veteran of four years service in the army during World War II and had been employed for four years previously at the Mechanicsburg Naval Depot. On August 8, 1962, he became the carrier for the newly formed rural Route #6 out of the Gettysburg Post Office.

 

12-2-99-         WASTE OF TIME AND EXPENSE

          Following the American Civil War, citizens of South Central Pennsylvania sought compensation for the damages to their properties caused during the war. In Adams County the greater amount of claims resulted from the Gettysburg Campaign where damages were recorded at $500,000. The claims were collected and adjusted by the State of Pennsylvania and were eventually forwarded to the federal government. The process dragged on for decades and in the end only a small portion of the claims were ever paid. For the majority of Adams countians the procedure was a waste of time and expense. Today the Border Claims Files contain a wealth of information for historians studying the Civil War.

 

12-4-99-         PUBLIC LIBRARY

          Gettysburg’s Elsie Singmaster Lewars authored nearly 40 books and 250 short stories during her writing career (1905-1945). Reflecting her lifelong love of reading, she once provided her young school-aged neighbors with oil lamps by which to read at night. She invited children to hear stories in her home and offered books as gifts to friends. In November 1946, she gave a gift of books to the entire Adams County community when she placed a proposal before the county commissioners to establish a public library. In 1949, when the county library purchased the $9,000 former jail for its new location. Lewars, then president of the library board of directors, helped negotiate the deal.

 

12-5-99-         Group has preserved county’s culture since 1934

          The Adams County Historical Society (ACHS) was established "to foster interest in the history of Adams County and vicinity, conduct research, preserve record and objects, mark sites and pursue such activities as may be related to the history of the community."

          The first incarnation of an Adams County historical society was organized on March 24, 1888, in the Arbitration Room of the Adams County court house by 18 citizens including Edward McPherson, David McConaughy, David Willis and H.J. Stahle. Named the Historical Society of Adams County Pennsylvania, its constitution was adopted on May 7 of that year. The "object" of the society was "to discover, procure, and preserve whatever may relate to the Natural, Ecclesiastical, Civil, Military, Literary and Biographical history of Adams County and the counties adjacent."

          Forty-five years later Dr. S.W. Frost of Arendtsville and Dr. Robert L. Jones, historical technician at the Gettysburg National Military Park, called for meeting that was held Oct. 30, 1934, at the Hotel Gettysburg. Others present at that first meeting included Charles E. Stahle (son of H.J. Stahle), Dr. Wilbur E. Tilberg and Franklin R. Bigham. Formally organized on Nov. 12, the constitution of the present ACHS was adopted on the 26th. With the untimely death of President C.E. Stahle in 1936, ACHS meeting ceased and were not held again until July 6, 1939, when the ACHS was revived by the election of new officers, including Robert "Prof" Fidler as president.

          But where was the society going to call home? Most of the monthly meetings were held in various rooms of the courthouse. But with the acquisition of records an artifacts, the need for a permanent residence and storage facility become apparent. Initial discussions concerning the purchase of the Dobbin House did not bear fruit. However, by September 1943, the county commissioners permitted the ACHS to occupy two rooms in the court house basement.

          By the late 1950s with the accumulation of artifacts, the ACHS desperately needed a new, more spacious home. Concurrently, the county commissioners needed more space to house the thousands of records generated by daily business. By 1958, the administration of the Lutheran Theological Seminary contemplated the removal of Old Dorm, the institution’s 126-year-old original dormitory had been condemned by state authorities in 1952.

          To prevent the destruction of the Old Dorm, which had served as a temporary field hospital during the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, the membership of the ACHS decided to make the Old Dorm the society’s new home. The ACHS came up with the needed funds to stabilized and renovate the structure, and signed a 39 year lease with the seminary. On April 25, 1961, the ACHS moved into its new home where it has resided for the past 38 years.

          As the new millennium approaches, only one of the original incorporators of the ACHS survives, the inimitable Colonel Jacob M. "Met" of Gettysburg.

 

12-6-99-         CARNEGIE’S ORGANS

          After amassing a large fortune in the steel industry, Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) sold out in 1901 and began putting into effect the principles of his famous essay, "The Gospel of Wealth (1900)." Arguing that he was the only trustee of his wealth and that he was the one best able to distribute it for social benefit, he instituted a number of programs, some of which are still in effect. The Star and Sentinel for August 2, 1905 stated that Carnegie had offered to pay one-half of the cost of an organ for the Gettysburg Presbyterian Church, if the congregation would raise the other half, which it did. We wish to know just how many of the hundreds of organs to which Carnegie contributed were placed in Adams County churches.

 

12-7-99-         HORSELESS CARRIAGE

          Sunday, September 2, 1900 probably started like any other Sabbath in Gettysburg. The morning quiet may have had a hint of fall in the air as citizens shuffled on their way to and from the eight churches that dotted the community. Suddenly the stillness was marred by an unfamiliar sight and sound; a strange, one-cylinder "horseless carriage" entered town and stopped in front of the Hotel Gettysburg. The first automobile in Gettysburg attracted a huge crowd, curious to catch their first glimpse of what John D. Lippy described as that "queer contrivance."

 

12-8-99-         MOUNT JOY METEORITE

          "The Mount Joy Meteorite," said to be the largest meteorite found east of the Mississippi River and one of the largest ever found in the United States, was discovered, in 1877 by Jacob Snyder on his farm near Two Taverns, Mount Joy Township. Snyder extracted the "stone" which weighed more than 800 pounds. After it was determined that the "stone" was a meteorite, Snyder sold it to a private collector for $700. Parts of the meteorite are today deposited in several museums. The largest part of this meteorite is located in the museum of Natural History, Vienna, Austria.

          For a photo of the Mt. Joy Meteorite, get a copy of the new Adams County Bicentennial Pictorial.

 

12-9-99-         BATTLE OF FAIRFIELD

          The town of Fairfield was probably the most contested of Adams County towns during the American Civil War. In October of 1862, General "Jeb" Stuart, during his raid through southern Pennsylvania, visited the town while gathering horse and supplies for the Southern Army. During the Gettysburg Campaign in 1863, there were no less than four separate engagements in the fields surrounding the town. While the actions of June 30, July 5 and July 6 can only be considered minor skirmishes, the cavalry fighting along Tract Road on July 3, 1863 is referred to as the Battle of Fairfield and resulted in 300 casualties.

 

12-10-99- GEORGE F. KENNAN

           George F. Kennan was a member of the United States Foreign Service from 1927 until 1953, during much of which time he served in Germany and Eastern Europe. After World War II, he was one of the chief formulators of policy to deal with the Soviet Union. From 1953 until 1974 he was an active member of he Institute for Advance Study, Princeton. He was the author of many prize-winning works of history foreign policy. In 1942 Kennan and his wife purchased a farm of some 225 acres in Reading Township, west of East Berlin. Although they sold the farm to their daughter in 1975, they returned occasionally to Adams County. In recognition of his keen interest in and contributions to the area, the Liberty Fire Company named one of its engines the Ambassador Kennan.

 

12-11-99- TWIKIGHT DESCENDED

          On Wednesday, August 31, 1932, business in Gettysburg came to a standstill for an hour while hundreds throughout the county covered their eyes with smoke-colored glasses or photographic films as they cranked their necks skyward to watch a partial eclipse of the sun. "When the moon began blotting out the sun’s scorching rays, a kind of twilight descended…, and a coolness was felt in the wake of one of the most torrid days here this summer…The last eclipse of the sun was in 1925 and the next time [was to be] in 1973."

 

12-12-99- Adams County canners take success worldwide

          Vegetable and fruit canning factories began to dot the Adams County landscape in the late 1800s. In its early years, the county’s industry processed primarily vegetables.

          In 1868, B.F. Shriver founded his canning factory in Littlestown. At one point in its long history, Shriver’s company farmed 5,000 acres, and produced in one year more than 500,000 can of peas, sweet corn, green beans, tomatoes and pickles at its plants in Littlestown, Westminster and New Windsor.

          An 1872 map of Menallen township marked the location of a "Fruit Canning Fact’y" near the Floradale post office. And, by 1886, H.C. Peters was operating the Sunnyside Canning Factory in York Springs. Sales from his canned vegetables, jellies and fruits totaled $8,000 a year.

          These canning factories and other were the beginning of the canning enterprise in the county. By 1920, vegetable and fruit canning "exhibited greater economic promise than did any other industrial activity in the county."

          A group of growers in the Biglerville area in 1905 organized a cooperative, the Biglerville Canning Company. It was to process the fruits and vegetables grown on the surrounding farms. Before the year’s end, it employed about 60 persons, had processed 5,100 bushel of apple and had produced about 250,000 cans of tomatoes, corn and apples.

          The company fell upon hard times. Its property was sold to sheriff’s sale in 1907. Four years later, C.H. Musselman and his wife Emma, became sole owners of the company which later became the C.H. Musselman Company Inc. After one year of successful operation, the company built an additional facility at Gardners with special equipment forth canning of apples. Musselman’s canned apples became a major source of the world’s canned fruits. The company became a leading producer of apple juice.

          Operations and facilities expanded. Land was purchased. In the 1950s, the Musselman Company owned and operated 9,000 acres of farm land and orchards. In 1961, it merged with Pet Milk Company.

          While Musselman’s was growing, others in the county participated in the industry. There were canning factories in Orrtanna, Littlestown, East Berlin, Kingdale, Union Township and the Biglerville area. The Duffy-Mott Company Inc. absorbed the Adams Apple Products at Aspers in 1950.

          In 1949, M.E. Knouse, who had earlier founded his Knouse Corporation for processing fruit, gave significant leadership to the development of Knouse Foods Cooperative with headquarters at Peach Glen. The first products were cherries, apple, tomatoes, apple sauce and apple juice. The first year of business brought in $5 million in sales. In 1992, sales topped $200 million.

          In 1984, the cooperative acquired the Musselman Company’s food processing plants and 6,000 acres of fruit farms, thus allowing it to use the Musselman name. It has seven processing plants in four states, and five distribution centers in five states. The cooperative produces more than 400 products, including apple sauce, apple slices, pie filling, fruit juices, apple butter, vinegar, Lucky Leaf Whole Baked Apples, Dutch Baked Apples and Sparkling cider.

          It can rightly claim to be "one of the largest apple processing companies in the world" and a major industry in Adams County.

 

12-13-99- CELEBRATING APPLES

          From Apple Blossom Sunday to Apple Blossom Weekend to Apple Blossom Festival it has remained "the celebration of the thousands of acres of apple blossoms that decorate our fruit farms." Begun more than 45 years ago, the one day celebration treated visitors to "free apples and apple cider…at grower fruit stands." The celebration grew. Selection of an Apple Blossom queen was initiated. By 1955, the activities moved from the Biglerville High School to the South Mountain Fairgrounds, featuring a barbecue chicken dinner. The celebration became a weekend event in 1981. Apple Blossom Festival, named 1987, includes bus tours of the orchards, craft dealers, food concession, queen activities – all which brings thousands of visitors to Adams County.

 

12-14-99- ELSIE SINGMASTER LEWARS

          Prominent Adams County author and community leader, Elsie Singmaster Lewars, herself a 1907 graduate of Radcliffe College, strongly advocated education for women in America. The heroines of her novels battled for and overcame familial and social odds to secure educational opportunities. Evidencing her strong beliefs locally, she publicly opposed a 1926 decision of the Board of Directors of Gettysburg College to discontinue that institution’s 41-year history of co-education in the spring of 1930. Leading a campaign in civic and church organizations and institutions, she raised consciousness as well as $8,500, a contribution intended for a new women’s dormitory should the college directors rescind their decision.

 

12-15-99- CONFEDERATE REQUISITION

          The Confederate forces occupied portions of Pennsylvania for more than a week prior to the Battle of Gettysburg. On June 26, 1863, 5,000 men under the Command of General Jubal Early entered Adams County from the west on their march to the Susquehanna River. They routed a regiment of Pennsylvania emergency militia at Marsh Creek and during that night occupied Mummasburg and Gettysburg. They requisitioned supplies, destroyed railroad cars and bridges on the Gettysburg and Hanover Railroad and the next day marched through New Oxford toward York. Although damage to private property was limited, the invaders did burn the warehouses at Gulden’s Station on the morning of June 27.

 

12-16-99- BALL OF FIRE

          On Saturday evening September 6, 1930, David Murtorff was sitting on the front porch of his son’s home located along the Peach Glen-Idaville road in Huntington Township. That evening neighbor Russell Snyder’s barn and several other farm buildings caught fire. Daniel reported seeing "a ball of fire with a flaming tail fall from the sky just before the barn burst into flames." Snyder and others started digging into the barn ruins attempting to find a meteor. Snyder claimed that they found a hole which might have been caused by the celestial body. None was found.

 

12-17-99- PLAYHOUSE CONTROVERSY

          On December 3, 1930, Howard S. Phillips, manager of the Majestic Theater, started a mild controversy in Gettysburg by announcing that he was going to begin showing movies on Sundays. The Rev. Edward H. Jones, pastor of the Gettysburg Presbyterian Church and president of the local ministerial association, filed a protest. Harry J. Troxell, manager of the Strand Theater, announced at the time that "under no condition will his playhouse be open on Sunday." Opposition erupted despite the fact that Phillips stated that part of his proceeds on Sundays would go to Gettysburg Fire Company’s poor relief committee.

 

12-18-99- GREAT INVENTOR VISITS

          After being responsible in whole or in part for a number of famous inventions, including the phonograph, incandescent lamp and kinescope, and while he was still working on an efficient alkaline battery, a well-known inventor came to town. The Star and Sentinel for August 2, 1905 reported that "among the distinguished battlefield visitors yesterday was Thomas A. Edison, the great inventor." He "accompanied a New York automobile party to this place," the editor noted, adding that "they took in the field an left in the evening." Since this was 1905, we wonder how many flat tires they may have had on their way home.

 

12-19-99- Christmas in Adams County in the 1800s

          The fast arrival of another Christmas, especially the one occurring during the year of Adams County’s bicentennial, prompts one to look into the way this Christian festival was celebrated within the new county during the early years of its existence.

          Since there are virtually no early nineteenth century diaries and letter in the collections of the Adams County Historical Society, we must rely primarily, in fact almost entirely, upon the evidence provided by the four-page weekly newspapers published in Gettysburg before 1850. The oldest of these was the "Sentinel" (sometimes spelled "Centinel"), which began publishing in November 1800.

          One of the first things to strike reader of this early paper was the almost complete lack of local news. One should probably conclude that editor and readers alike believed that local news was scarcely news at all. Of course, there was a good and practical reason to publish property sales and brief announcements of new businesses. From time to time, the editor would offer what he called high prices for the rags then used to make paper, and appealed to persons to bringing the wood they had promised in payment of their subscriptions. But, as the holiday season approached, the editor thought he should give high priority to state and federal news. Both the state and federal legislatures began their annual sessions in early December. Was it not more important to inform the Adams County reader of who was elected chaplain of the United States Senate or speaker of the House of Representatives than of preparation for and observance of Christmas? Beyond that, one must ask the question of how much preparation for and observance of the day there really was to report?

          The first reference to the holidays in the "Sentinel" appeared in the issue for Dec. 25 1805, published, please note, on Christmas day. "We present the compliments of the season to our patrons," wrote the editor, "by wishing them a merry Christmas and a happy New Year." Of a practical turn of mind, he then added that "along with our compliments we have much important news to present them with this week, which will be found under the proper head." This greeting shows that in 1805 the terms "compliments of the season" and "a merry Christmas and a happy New Year" were well enough known and understood that the editor would use them in the way he did.

          In the years after 1805, the editor would more often than not again extended the compliments of the season to his readers, but one would read the "Sentinel" in vain before 1850 in the hope of finding reference to Christmas services in churches, to greeting cards, and to Christmas trees. In December 1818, Thomas McKelip did announce that he would have auction of dry goods and hardware at his Hunterstown tavern on the upcoming Christmas and New Years days, and the two days following, but that appears to have been because he was going out of business and not because he was having a holiday sale.

          A correspondent who signed himself "O" told the "Sentinel" editor from Washington in December 1844 that "Christmas in the city, and Christmas in the country, are two very different things." In both places one might find those given to "the same noisy and drunken revelry," but "farther than that there is nothing in common in the matter in which Christmas is spent here and in Gettysburg." Washington, he wrote, lacks the good humor, the schoolboys’ glee, and the cake-eating of Adams County.

          Since Gettysburg then had no Episcopal church, he wrote, Adams Countians could not enjoy the season’s delights experienced by visitors to St. John’s church in Washington. Each Christmas it was "decorated, according to the ancient custom, as magnificently as the taste of the ladies could do it. The galleries were festooned with cedar and pine; here and there hung round, were beautiful wreaths of the same." There were three pine and cedar crosses in the sanctuary. "The whole was truly grand, and the effort, though it may seem strange to some, was that of inspiring reverence and awe."

          Meanwhile, back in Gettysburg, the "Sentinel" Continued to be restrained. In December 1845 the editor did no more than extend season’s compliments and wish everyone a merry Christmas and happy New Year. A year later, he responded to a request that he announced that store in Gettysburg and York Springs would be closed on Christmas day.

          In the "Sentinel" for Dec. 11, 1848, Gettysburg merchant George Arnold announced that he had just returned from Philadelphia "with a large stock of fresh goods," including many kinds of cloth (plaid, striped, and plain) carpeting, stoves, and groceries. Did he offer these as choice Christmas gifts? Not at all. He claimed that all of them "will be sold as cheap as they can be obtained" anywhere else, and then promised that "we do not throw out few leading articles at cost, as bait, calculating to make up on something else." If you do not believe me, he proclaimed, "please call, examine, and judge for yourselves." Is it possible to conclude that in 1848 George Arnold exhibited the Christmas spirit, in the absence of trees, cards, and special holiday sales?

          In a later article in this series, we propose to follow the observance of Christmas in Adams County beyond 1850.

 

12-20-99- CENTENNIAL

          Residents of the county celebrated the centennial of its creation without resort to committee to incorporated commission and without resort to a year-long celebration with many different kind of activities. In the issue for January 16, 1900, The Star and Sentinel noted that the county was a century old. In that issue and the one a week later, the editor told the story of the creation of the county, drawing upon existing information rather than upon anything new. On January 23, 1900 The Compiler brought out a special edition of the paper to commemorate the anniversary. It was four pages long and had about 25 items. The editor made it very clear that it was not his purpose "to present a connected history, for that is the work of the historian."

 

12-21-99- STUART’S RAID

          One of the most daring raids of the American Civil War occurred on October 10 and 11, 1862 when 1800 confederate cavalrymen under the command of General James Ewell Brown (Jeb) Stuart galloped through the southern Pennsylvania countryside. The purpose of the raid was to damage the Union supply lines and gather much needed horses and provisions. Stuart’s men rode through Mercersburg and Chambersburg across the South Mountains through Cashtown to Fairfield and Emmitsburg, and finally to the Potomac River and Virginia. During the raid Stuart’s losses were minimal while he gathered hundreds of horses from area farmers and took a number of Adams Countians prisoner.

 

12-22-99- PEACE LIGHT DECICATION

          On July 3, 1938, 300,000 people gathered to hear and see President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicate the Eternal Peace Light on the Gettysburg battlefield. Prior to the ceremony, Cub Scouts from many packs in the county had helped raise the flag that veiled the monument before dedication. In 1988 as plans were made to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and the 50th anniversary of the Peace Light, the Gettysburg Peace Commission requested the assistance of the county’s Boy Scouts in preparing the site. Scouts camped on the Winebrenner farm, Friday, July 1, and the next morning they set up 4,000 chairs.

 

12-23-99- CANNERS

          Canning factories dotted Adams County in the late 1800s. In 1868, B.F. Shriver founded his factory in Littlestown, at one point producing a half million cans of peas, sweet corn, green beans, tomatoes and pickles. The 1872 Menallen Township map noted the presence of a factory. Harry C. Peters operated his Sunnyside Canning Co. at York Springs by 1886, canning fruits, vegetable and jellies. The Biglerville Canning Co., formed in 1905, forerunner of C.H. Musselman Co., produced over 200,000 cans of corn, tomatoes and apples. In 1913, I.Z. Musselman began operations in Orrtanna. By early 1920, the vegetable and fruit canning enterprise "exhibited greater economic promise than did any other industrial activity in the county."

 

12-24-99- ‘A SUITABLE FREE COLOURED MAN’

          In February 1835 the student Society in the Inquiry of Missions of the Theological Seminary voted to support " a suitable free coloured man" for four years study in the school. Daniel Alexander Payne, a free Black man from Charleston, S.C., was selected. While a student, Payne conducted a Sunday school for "coloured" children of the community in an old College building, led religious meetings and organized women for "mental and moral improvement." After two years, because of eye injuries, he left the Seminary. He wrote of those years "which prepared me for the enlarged usefulness of more than fifty-three years" including service as a Bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and founder of Wilberforce University in Ohio.

 

12-26-99- Adams residents brought in New Years with revelry

          For a majority of Adams Countians in the early 1800s, New Year’s Day was just another day with the same tasks and duties. There may have been a toast at home or in nearby tavern and a New Year visit to a friend.

          The "Centinel" (later the "Adams Sentinel") gave but scant attention in print to celebration of New Year’s Day. It published annually "A Counting House Almanack" which was a very simple calendar. Deaths of the past year were listed each January. Occasionally, it wished subscribers a Happy New Year. A poem, "To the Dying Year," was published in 1889.

         By the 20th century, planned events greeted the New Year. A grand celebration was held at New Oxford, January 1889. People came "to town from all directions." A parade with three bands passed through the town, ending at the Eagle Hotel where a turkey dinner was served to 200 people.

          Parades, serenades, shooting matches, private parties and dances became popular. The "fantastic" parades and the serenades of bands and choristers of Fairfield were reported. The revelers at Hammer’s Hall in Highland Township danced "until late in the night."

          Locomotive whistles, bells and revolvers discharging always announced "The Arrival." Walters Theater’s full house, enjoying the American Male and Female Minstrel, greeted 1911. The Wizard Theater offered "Rejuvenation of Aunt Mary" in 1912. The Biglerville Agricultural, Horticultural and Poultry Association held exhibitions on several New Year’s Days. Watch-night services increased.

          1918 celebrations were subdued. The nation was at war. In Gettysburg the annual masquerade ball in Glatfelter Hall at the College with racing one-steps, fox trots, the Paul Jones and the "old-fashion" was all a "frolic" for the Red Cross which received $100.

          1920’s arrival was a "victory" for some, a disaster for others. Prohibition had entered. The bars of the county were no longer the scenes of local revelry. "Gloom, deepest gloom, rankled in breasts of those who yearned to celebrate but could not."

          The Biglerville Hose and Truck Company held a three day carnival in 1921, featuring a special chicken and waffle dinner. The Communities of Biglerville, Bendersville and Arendtsville joined forces in 1923 for a Mummers’ Parade with "fantastic costumes."

          During the 1930s, inns, hotels and night clubs advertised events to which the public was invited. The new Ramblers’ Club Casino, east of Gettysburg, offering the only all night dance within 50 miles, was ready for 1931. The Cross Keys Hotel was in business with two orchestras and floor shows. The Steep Steeple Inn, York Springs, featuring a masquerade and pig roast, and the Mon-Ton Night Club of Littlestown has grand openings in mid-1930.

          Prohibition had ended. The birth of 1935 was toasted "without prohibition’s inhibitions imposed in pervious years." A new style of New Year’s celebration was appearing.

          The Aspers Fire Company’s annual bazaar (1937) featured Gail Gephart and Her Rhythm Girls of Carlisle, along with horse racing and turtle racing. And for its 1938 shooting match, the Hunterstown Gun Club promised 500 live birds, along with clay birds and still targets. A turkey dinner at 75 cents was the special at restaurants on New Year’s Day.

          Succeeding decades have added their festivities to usher in and celebrate the New Year. To greet the year 2000, we may dance, enjoy parties at home, public places or private clubs, attend a watch-night service, watch the "ball drop," or simply sleep into the next year. But 2000 will greet us. And what surprises will Y2K bring?

 

12-27-99- FRANCIS SCOTT KEY

          Adams County has a particular association with Francis Scott Key, even though the composer of "The Star-Spangled Banner" seems to have made but two visits to the county. On August 25, 1802, Key was granted privilege to practice in the county courts. There is no evidence, however, that he used the privilege. Twenty-nine years later, or 17 years after the British attack on Baltimore and Fort McHenry, Key returned to the county seat. On October 3, 1831, appearing before the Justice of the Peace, he signed a document granting freedom to his slave, "a certain man of colour called Clem Johnson." The document is in the collections of the Adams County Historical Society.

 

12-29-99- FIREMEN SPREAD CHEER

          On Christmas Eve 1940, the Gettysburg firemen hosted more than 1,600 boys and girls at its annual "Kiddies Christmas Party" in the engine house. Each youngster received a gift box of candy and oranges. On Christmas Day members of the fire company, dressed as Santa Claus, distributed almost 1,000 box of candy and oranges throughout the county: Hoffman Home Orphanage, Adams County Jail, County Home, Warner Hospital, Paradise Protectory (in York County) and the Mount Alto Hospital. And throughout the county they went, giving to shut-ins the Christmas treats. This was the largest "celebration" the fireman had ever hosted.

 

12-30-99- MEMORIAL DAY ON THE AIR

          As Adams Countians prepared for the 1928 Memorial Day celebration at the National Cemetery in Gettysburg, workmen from the National Broadcasting Company were installing microphones and other equipment at the rostrum from which President Calvin Coollidge would speak. For "the first time in history," the Memorial Day activities were to be broadcast throughout the country. The exercises were to be telephoned "from the rostrum to New York over lines of the Bell Telephone Company from where they will be put on the air." A keen and hopeful citizen noted that with the broadcast, "Gettysburg is assured publicity of inestimable value."

 

12-31-99- STUDENTS SAVED

          Fire resulting from an overheated or malfunctioning stove was a constant possibility in the county’s one-room schools. In March 1930, Inez Bridges, teacher at the Sweet Home school in Mt. Peasant Township near Bonneauville, returning to the building with a bucket of coal for the school’s stove, recognized immediately that the wooden center support of the ceiling was afire and the ceiling was sagging dangerously. With quick action, she led her 39 students to safety just seconds before the ceiling collapsed. In March 1932, 27 students escaped the Plank School in Huntington Township which burned to the ground leaving only the brick chimney standing.

 

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