Adams County Bicentennial Tidbits February, 2000

 

2-1-00 -          "SOME VILLAIN FIRED THE BUILDING"

          Two incidents in December 1889 caution us not to romanticize the past too quickly. In Baker’s Hall at East Berlin while a group of young people were enjoying a dance, "some villain fired the building." Pieces of cloth saturated in coal-oil had been placed under the weatherboarding and set on fire. Little damage occurred. At the Belmont school house in Cumberland Township a "literary" was in progress. A group of "town boys" armed with revolvers arrived and "discharge their weapons, acted in a most disorderly way…" Though no one was hurt bedlam resulted. Of the Belmont event the New Oxford Item lamented, "Such proceedings are a disgrace, and the guilty parties deserve punishment."

 

2-2-00-          IN KNOTS OVER HITCHING POSTS

          In August 1912 the Gettysburg Council ordered the removal of all hitching post from the town square. Loud complaints arose from the merchants. Accusing the Borough of discrimination against them, the businessmen through advertisement in the Gettysburg Times "vigorously" protested the ordinance "to take away the hitching posts from our county customers…" Noting the large number of farming towns and counties which did "provide railing in their Centre (sic) Square for the convenience of their County trade," the merchants requested the Council to reconsider this "outrage," against them. Faced with the merchants’ "outrage," the Council voted in September to replace a portion of the hitching posts.

 

2-3-00-          "THE FARMER OF TOMORROW"

          "The Farmer of Tomorrow," a movie produced for the Future Farmers of America in the summer of 1952, had as its location the Adams County farm of Glenn Sterner. The film tells the story of an FFA student who urges his father not to abandon the family farm while he is studying agriculture at school. "Through the youngster’s willingness to work and the training he receives at school, the farm becomes prosperous and the family continues in agriculture." The cast included local residents, including Mike Wertz, a 17-year-old farmer in the Biglerville area, in the lead role. The premier of the movie was in Kansas City at the National Convention of the FFA in October 1952.

 

2-4-00-          RUMBLING PONIES

          Horse racing had been an early favorite entertainment and sport for Adams countians. At first citizens raced their steeds against each other simply for the honor of winning. As early as 1867 the annual "Agricultural Fair" featured a half-mile oval track located on present Rec-Park in Gettysburg. As late as 1918 a six-block stretch of York and Chambersburg streets could suddenly turned into a race track – to the fear and consternation of the citizenry. Hunterstown had its race track. Griest Park near York Springs with its third of a mile track was a favorite. Seven thousand people attended the 1922 Labor Day racing events at Griest Park. The last horse race there was July 4, 1936.

 

2-5-00-          "BEST WATERED SPOT ON THE GLOBE"

          In the Victorian language of the late 19th century one sang the praises of Adams County. "…it is not hazarding much in saying, that for domestic purposes, Adams County is the best watered spot on the globe. Certainly there can be none superior to it. Springs bubble up their sparkling waters everywhere; the silvery, cool, sweet mountain streams ripple; the clear valley brooks winding their way in the deep shade and the bright sunshine are upon every side, all of clear, pure granite water, and by drilling through the upper granite, great and inexhaustible lakes of the same pure, cold, sweet water are at hand. Hence, everywhere in the county is inexhaustible water…" That song we cannot sing today.

 

2-6-00-          Carriage industry once prosperous in Adams

          Necessary and profitable industries "come and go." The manufacturing of wagons and carriages was an active and gainful industry throughout Adams County during the 19th century.

          At the county’s formation, no less than 17 wagon-makers were at work, producing vehicles primarily for farm use and commerce hauling. Four of them resided in Menallen Township. On the farm the wagon took trees to the sawmills, grains to the grist mill and worshippers to church. Wagons were the major means of "long-distance" commerce, conveying produce and goods to markets and bringing goods in return.

          Improved roads could handle large and heavy wagons, offering larger opportunities for commerce. In 1830 blacksmith John Studebaker, with a crew of skilled workmen, began building conestoga-type wagons in his shop between Hunterstown and Heidlersburg. These wagons, made for long distance hauling, could transport more than three tons of materials. L.M. Gardner remembered "the long line of canvas covered wagons, painted blue, drawn generally by four and sometimes six horses, often with bells on the hames, moving slowly through the town (York Springs)." On the Carlisle to Baltimore turnpike (toll road) wagons traveled back and forth to the large markets of Maryland’s port city.

          L.M. Gardner’s grandfather was a wagon-maker, located in Petersburg (York Springs). His father, an associate of John Studebaker, opened his own wagon shop in the town, also producing carriages and buggies, as did an uncle.

          Some time after 1836, John Studebaker moved to Indiana. Along with his sons, he designed and produced the prairie schooner which transported thousands of pioneers across the American continent.

          Gettysburg became the county’s major center for the construction of carriages of all kinds. By 1830 there were no less than ten carriage shops, employing 130 workmen and having sales of $40,000. The industry provided work for blacksmiths, cabinet makers, canvas makers, lace weavers, painters, wheelwrights and day laborers.

          The carriages of Gettysburg became known for their quality and workmanship throughout the United States. Agents for the carriage makers traveled predominately in the southern states, marketing and taking orders for the vehicles. "Long trains of new and glossy carriages closely hitched together were to be seen winding out of Gettysburg each spring and autumn. The majority of the trains were bound for the fertile Shenandoah."

          The 1860 census indicated 33 coach makers, 11 coach trimmers, 13 coach lace weavers, and 30 blacksmiths in Gettysburg. Coach Painters, coach smiths, wheelwrights and coach drivers were engaged in the industry. At that time "sixty-six people, including one nineteen-year-old women, (were) employed in one of the town carriage factories." The industry was very profitable.

          The records of 1863 tell a different story. Six carriage makers and four coach trimmers remained. No lace weavers were noted. The Civil War had cut off the primary market. In 1880 there were still six carriage makers in Gettysburg. In the county, several carriage makers, including Lewis Kobler of Abbottstown, continued. The industry was in decline and finally succumbed to the automobile.

          As the railroads made their entry into the county, the large and heavy wagons lost dominance in long distance commerce. Yet, after the Civil War there remained a need for farm wagons. The industry remained strong until its decline began to "settle in" with the arrival of the motor truck.

 

2-7-00-          CHICKEN ATTACK

          Accidents, illnesses, death, marriages and odd happenings were frequently the source of front page news in the local papers. In 1912 the headline yelled, "Attacked by Angry Chicken." Seventeen-month-old May Bell Myers, South Washington Street in Gettysburg, was in her yard playing alone when suddenly "she was viciously attacked by a game rooster which flew over the fence from the neighbor’s yard." The cries of May Belle as "her head bore the brunt of the angry chicken pecks" brought the mother to the rescue. The final sentence in the story noted that the child "is getting along well and suffering very little from her wounds."

 

2-8-00-          THE GREAT STORM OF 1889

          The great storm of May 1889 brought widespread destruction to the county. Along the Little Conewago from its source to its mouth, nearly all the fences, bridges and some buildings were either swept away or badly damaged. Crops in the lowlands were completely destroyed. One farmer’s barn along with his pig pen and chicken house was washed down stream. All of his chickens were drowned. In the Bendersville area one county bridge and eight township bridges were pushed down river. In Buchanan Valley most of the small bridges moved down river in pieces; dams broke; race banks tore open. Corn and oat fields bore the marks of deep gullies.

 

2-9-00-          OVERALL CLUBS

          Adams countians were not immune to the fads that crossed the national scene. "Overall Clubs" were active throughout the country in 1920. While wearing denim might cut the cost of clothing the clubs were making a "fashion statement." College students, some college faculty, business men at social functions, residents on both north and south side of town and the Gettysburg rural postal carriers "appeared in neat looking" pairs of overalls. In 1932 the hobby of "tropical fish culture" spreading in the nation was increasing in Adams County. Of the 600 known varieties of tropical fish the most popular of those favored are included in a group of less than 20 species, not the fighters but the "gentle" and capable of living in one aquarium.

 

2-10-00-         "A FITTING STRUCTURE"

          On Monday, September 2, 1912, a ground breaking ceremony took place on "East Cemetery Hill." It was another step in a large effort to erect a building, a cyclorama, to house the Paul D. Phillipoteaux painting of Pickett's Charge, first shown in Boston in 1884. The building on the Baltimore Street site was to be of steel and tile and cost about $10,000. The master of ceremonies expressed the hope that the building would not be the permanent home of the painting and that a "magnificent" building would be erected in the future by the national government, thus providing "a fitting structure for all times." Not until the early 1960s was the painting removed to a new, home - but for "all times?"

 

2-11-00-        SHOOTING MATCHES

          "Sportsmen Attention Big Shooting Match, 500 Live Birds, Clay Birds and Still Target Pigs, Turkeys, Geese, Ducks and Chickens," the Hunterstown Gun Club advertised its shooting match for January 1, 1939. For more than four decades of the 1900s shooting matches were activities for the sportsmen and entertainment for many. Held throughout the year, they were a "staple" for New Year's celebrations. Fire companies used the shooting matches as fundraisers. The Aspers Fire Company's announcement of its match for early 1937 noted, "12 Gauge Guns. Ammunition Supplied. Prizes: Turkeys and Geese." One individual sponsoring a match in 1917 advertised, "Shooting Match of Turkeys, Geese, Guineas and Chickens."

 

2-12-00-         "MORE RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCE OF THE SABBATH"

          "To bring about 'a more religious observance of the Sabbath'" was the agenda of representatives from five Gettysburg churches in April 1920. Dissatisfied with the Borough's failure to enforce Sabbath Laws and not certain of the extent to which it could "push" officials to enforce them, the committee sent its concern and possible solutions to the pastors and church councils. Would the committee "have the moral and religious supports of all church members?" Drug stores opened for certain hours on Sunday but could sell only drugs. Restaurants could be open, but "the law prevented them from selling cigars or side lines on Sunday." The committee stated its desire - to close those stores for which there is no necessity for being open.

 

2-13-00-         Lives of Lincoln, Darwin celebrated on same day

          At a time when Feb. 12 was still widely observed in the United States as Abraham Lincoln's birthday, when Feb. 22 was still known and cherished as George Washington's birthday, and long before anyone even thought of "improving" the holiday calendar by coming up with something called presidents' day, Feb. 12, 1909, took on special national significance. Exactly 100 years before that date, Abraham Lincoln was born in what might best be described as a crude log cabin in central Kentucky.

          Elaborate plans were made nationwide to celebrate the centennial in grand style. President Theodore Roosevelt, about to leave office in three short weeks, journeyed to Kentucky to deliver one of his major presidential addresses. He called Lincoln one of the two greatest Americans, one of the two or three greatest men of the 19th century, and one of the greatest men in world history. The vice president spoke in New York. The British and French ambassadors went to Springfield, Ill., for their participation in the occasion.

          In Adams County, while all or almost all of the elementary and secondary schools planned special exercises, most of the attention was focused on what went on in the county seat. Gettysburg newspapers listed in detail the items - recitations, songs and readings - which were to be included in the various programs.

          The major event of the day occurred in the early afternoon of Feb. 12. It was a community affair, planned by a town meeting several months before and held in Brua chapel on the Gettysburg College campus. Joined by the Sons of Veterans, members of the Grand Army of the Republic marched from their hall on East Middle Street to the square (not until 1950 called Lincoln Square), from which point the Citizens' Band led the procession to the chapel, which was filled to capacity. Some 75 veterans who were present were given places of honor on the stage. The main speaker was James T. McCleary, a former member of Congress and chairman of the Lincoln Memorial Committee, one of whose proposals was a highway to be built from the White House to Gettysburg. What finally emerged from the planning was the Lincoln highway project.

          The one daily and two weekly newspapers in Gettysburg gave extensive coverage to the Lincoln birthday celebration, which the "Compiler" called "one of the great occasions of this town." These newspapers took little notice of a program which occurred on the college Campus on the morning of Feb. 12, 1909, which honored a naturalist, not as statesman.

          Abraham Lincoln was not the only person born Feb. 12, 1809, who by a century later had gained worldwide fame. The other was Charles Darwin (1809-1882). Born in England in much easier circumstances than those of the Lincoln family, he grew to manhood at a time when, using recent evidence presented by geologists and others, many persons were questioning what was long-believed about the age of the earth and the place of humankind in the scheme of things.

          Service over a period of five years as a naturalist on a surveying expedition which took him around the world gave Darwin an excellent opportunity to observe for himself both plants and animals, as well as the changes which they must have undergone over a long period of time. Returning home in 1836, he continued to gather more data, tried to make sense of it, and shared his views with geologists and other scientists.

          In 1859, a year before Lincoln was elected to the American presidency, Darwin published "On the Origin of Species," followed 12 years later by the "Descent of Man." By arguing that there is a pattern of change in species and including man in that pattern, these works evoked a storm of controversy. For many they pitted science and religion against each other in a battle which has not yet entirely run its course.

          One might have expected the faculty and students of a small Lutheran-church-related college in the battle town of Gettysburg to have concentrated their entire attention Feb. 12, 1909, on praises for the 16th president of the United States. Instead, they invited a botany professor at the University of Pennsylvania to join them in remembering Charles Darwin for the importance of his life's work.

          In their account of the two events on the college campus on February 12, 1909, there is no indication that the editors of the "Gettysburgian" thought it amiss to celebrate two great men who happened to share the same birth date. While their lives took quite different paths, each was celebrated on this occasion for having worked to free humankind from bonds, which had long held it back.

 

2-14-00-         LITTLESTOWN HARDWARE AND FOUNDRY

          One of the oldest and continuing industries in Littlestown is the Littlestown Hardware and Foundry Company established in 1916. During World War II it supplied millions of items to U.S. armed forces. It produced fire doors for camp kitchens, aluminum castings for bread-baking units, frames for sirens on coastal patrol boats, almost 70,000 "practice tank land mines," and almost 3,000,000 rifle grenades for practice purposes. It began producing battle grenades on an assembly line, turning our nearly 6,000 a day. Thousands of grenades produced in Littlestown were used by U.S. forces in the Battle of the Bulge and in the invasion of Iwo Jima. About 95 percent of production were war materials.

 

2-15-00-          EMMERT SAW THE LIGHT

          After having had an accident caused by the blinding glare of approaching automobile head lights at night, George W. Emmert, Jr., a native of York Springs and resident of Pittsburgh, attacked the problem of light control for cars. His work began in 1915. By 1916 he had produced a lens which gave maximum light for driving but which reflected the light so that all glare was eliminated, thus "enabling approaching motorists to pass in comfort and security from collision." Named the "Clamert Lens," it was approved in all states having laws requiring "anti-glare" head lights. Emmert developed the Clamert Manufacturing Company, which produced automobile accessories.

 

2-16-00-         LINCOLN RETURNS

          Fifty thousand people gathered in Gettysburg on October 18, 1952 to witness "Mr. Lincoln Goes to Gettysburg," a re-enactment sponsored by the Western Maryland Railway Company. The "Thatcher Perkins," an 1863-built, 10-wheel locomotive brought Mr. Lincoln, portrayed by the actor Ray Middleton, to town. A throng of dignitaries and townspeople wearing 19th century finery and 200 soldiers in the blue uniforms of the Union Army greeted the President. Over amplifiers located throughout the Borough, Ben Grauer, announcer-commentator for the National Broadcasting Company, read the narration written by playwrite Marc Connolly. The event ended with ceremonies in the National Cemetery.

 

2-17-00-         "SERIOUS" BAND COMPETITION

          The many bands formed throughout the county, offering entertainment to residents and camaraderie for members, entered into "serious" competition with each other. A feature event of the l5th annual fair of the Adams Agricultural Society (October 1902) was the band competition between East Berlin, Littlestown, Cashtown, Bendersville, White Hall and Gettysburg. First prize was awarded to East Berlin; second, to Gettysburg; and honorable mention to Littlestown. The local paper noted "some dissatisfaction with the awards" and suggested that such would have been the case with any decision. The Littlestown Band, with its discontent, "adopted resolutions protesting the awards and challenging the bands of the county to a 'fair contest.'"

 

2-18-00-         LLOYD F.A. WATTS

          At the time of his death in 1918, Lloyd F. A. Watts was remembered as "one of the most respected colored citizens of Gettysburg." He came as a young boy with his parents from Maryland to Adams County. During the Civil war he was one of more than 50 Adams County Blacks to serve the Union cause. Of his responsibilities as a sergeant at Lookout Point, Md., in May 1865, he wrote, "... there is twenty five Thousands Rebel Prisoners here we have to guard it takes one Hundred for guard duty."(Sic) In 1867 he received an appointment to teach in the "colored school" in Gettysburg, a post he held 16 years. He was a devoted member of the A.M.E. Zion Church in Gettysburg and was appointed Deacon in 1878.

 

2-19-00-         WHISKEY FOR THEIR WORK

          Additions were being made to the Conewago Chapel in 1850. Masons working at the site slept in the old parish schoolhouse, which was later torn down. In its basement was kept the bier and a coffin. For a prank, one worker tied a clapper beneath the schoolhouse floor and about midnight would cause it to go "tap, tap, tap." The prank had an effect. One worker refused to sleep there and sought sleeping quarters elsewhere. As a portion of their pay the workmen received whiskey. Old Brother Gachen of the Chapel was the "jigger boss" who dispensed the whiskey which was produced at Jenkins' distillery.

 

2-20-00-         County tried temperance with little success

          The Temperance Cause, a major social reform movement of the first half of 19th century, made itself felt in Adams County.

          Drinking of ardent spirits all over the United States at the close of the 1700s was "barely less than universal." To distill and to drink whiskey were considered reputable. Not to offer this beverage on all social occasions was a breach of hospitality. "It was on the table at every meal, ...upon the side-boards in decanters at all hours. It was kept for use in every shop, in every store, in every harvestfield... Wakes and funerals were not held without its inspiring presence."

          In 1792 John Black, minister of the Upper Marsh Creek Presbyterian Church, proposed a temperance pledge to members: Not to make common use of liquors; to stay away from places where liquors were sold; to refuse to give liquors when they had auctions; and, to give them sparingly at harvesting, house raising…" The proposal, radical for its day, claimed but three flowers.

          In 1800 the County Court recommended the granting of 55 licenses to public houses. There were at least five distilleries in production, not including small, individual stills on farms. Beer and applejack were produced at home. The largest number of licenses granted in any one year was 92 for 1824. In 1843 there were 18 distilleries and two breweries in the county.

          Increasingly, many came to regard intoxication beverages as a medical danger and serious social evil, concluding that the use of strong drink required some controls. In January 1830 the first temperance gathering was held in the county, and the Temperance Society of Gettysburg was organized. Its members pledged "To abstain wholly from ardent Spirits except... for medical purposes; not to offer them as hospitality nor entertainment…; to discourage their use by persons in their employ; and not to engage in making, buying or selling them."

          The formation of other temperance societies in the county followed, all having similar pledges. The major effort was "to keep people from strong drink." Soon abstinence was equated with temperance. Over the next decades new directions were taken.

          In April 1833 the farmers of the county were asked "to refrain from use of ardent Spirits during the coming harvest." In September 1833 the Fairfield Society declared the duty of members "to withhold their support from such candidates... in the habit of drinking to excess themselves."

          County Temperance Conventions convened frequently, seeking permission for townships/districts to determine the number of licenses, urging the development of Temperance Houses, recruiting new members and urging members not to support the liquor traffic in any manner. One of the largest was the February 1842 County Convention at Hunterstown with 17 societies represented.

          About 500 persons at a mass meeting two years later heard that "All the miserable social customs attendant upon the popularness of strong drink are abandoned and almost forgotten. Spirits are no longer used in the family, the shop or harvest field, at wakes, at cornhuskings or at social parties." Even if the message was exaggerated, results had been achieved.

          But a change occurred. In (can’t find end of article)

 

2-21-00-         APPRENTICESHIPS

          The apprenticeship was the customary method for a young man to learn a trade in the 19th century. In a binding argument made in November 1838 the apprentice, for a three-year period, was to, "Serve faithfully; keep secrets; not waste goods; neither buy nor sell; not absent himself day or night from his master service without leave; not haunt alehouses, taverns and play houses." The master was "to teach the trade and mystery of blacksmith; give apprentice sufficient meat, apparel, washing, lodging for three years; one month schooling during the third year...; pay $30 in money when free." The signed agreement was marked, "Claims met Jan. 5, 1842."

 

2-22-00-         NEW YEAR'S 1889

          The New Oxford camp of the Patriotic Order Sons of America offered a grand event on New Year's Day 1889. Before noon people from far and near began to gather in New Oxford. The arrival of the noon train brought 65 members of the Hanover camp along With the Hanover Silver Cornet Band which entertained with "choice music." After the arrival of camp members from Abbottstown and East Berlin, the Abbottstown fife and drum Corps, and the Five Points band, all formed a parade which passed through the principle streets of the town, ending at the Eagle Hotel where "… a sumptuous turkey supper was served… (and) the appetite of about 200 guests were amply satisfied."

 

2-23-00-          HUSKING BEES

          Husking bees, a blending of work and pleasure, provided the opportunity for neighbors to assist each in corn husking and for conversation and eating together. Children enjoyed games. Yet, the task of corn husking could produce some "bragging," competition and challenges. Who was the champion cornhusker? The expert? In 1902one husker during 7 work days of 1O hours each husked 1,500 shocks of corn, averaging 90 ears to a bushel. In all, he husked 135,000 ears of corn. And so, "Elijah Barnhart, champion cornhusker of York, Adams and Cumberland Counties, is again out with challenges to all comers."

 

2-24-00-         "UNSURPASSF.D IN LOVELINESS"

          In a letter to The Star and Sentinel (1867) a frequent visitor to New Oxford, obviously captivated by the town, had a suggestion for the residents. For him, here were all the necessities for a popular resort- near the beautiful blue waters of the Conewago, scenery "unsurpassed in loveliness," excellent roads, railroad transportation to Baltimore, pleasant groves for "picnic" parties and springs of water for health. But less than half who wish to come to the town could find boarding accommodation. Nature had done her work. With "a little enterprise upon the part of its resident …, New Oxford … will be one of the principal resorts in the country."

 

2-25-00-         LAW AND ORDER SOCIETY

          The Gettysburg Law and Order Society formed in early 1910 was "to work through regularly constituted officers of the law." Of the 10,000 arrests made in Philadelphia over 22 years with information from "agents" of the Philadelphia society, 7,000 convictions resulted. The Gettysburg Society was publicly denounced by the priest at St. Francis Xavier Church. "We live with ample legal protection, ... and dealing with a good law, respecting a community… , chiefly indulging in the good quality of minding their own business ... We do not have any need of a self-constituted auxiliary force to force good behavior on (our people.)" The Society ceased operations after three years.

 

2-26-00-         LEAGUE OF WOMEN CITIZENS

          While expecting the ratification of the national women's suffrage amendment (19th) approved by Congress in 1919, a group of Adams County women prepared to take an active role in the nation's political life. With the assistance of the Pennsylvania League of Women Citizens, a local branch was organized on December 3, 1919. Among the officers and committee "chairmen(!)" were women from Bendersville, Gettysburg, York Springs, New Oxford and Littlestown. The politically non-partisan League, working for the advancement of the community, set forth a study program: Election Laws and Methods; Food Supply and Demand; Child Welfare; Women in Industry; Social Hygiene; and the Civil Status of Women.

 

2-27-00-         One-room schools dominated until 1920’s

          All may not have been "little red" schoolhouses, but prior to 1900 more than 150 one-room schoolhouses dotted Adams County. They were the primary locations for public elementary education for almost a century.

          The Pennsylvania Public School Act of 1834 made possible common schools, thus providing elementary education supported by taxation and free to all children.

          In Adams County, "Considerable feeling was manifested in opposition to the common school law, ...Many were honestly of the opinion that by promoting general intelligence, it would encourage idleness and crime…." Some resented paying a school tax "to educate other peoples children."

          The State did not "mandate" adoption of the system. Each district had the option to implement or reject it. School districts in the county were the 16 townships and the Borough of Gettysburg. (By the 1940s there were 36 school districts in the county.) In November 1834, six townships and the borough adopted the system and recommended a school tax in each district." Not until 1844 did the last two townships, Latimore and Reading, adopt the system.

          Many small one-room buildings were erected throughout the county, dictated by the rural nature of the county. The one-room school "offered readier access to schooling for children of farm families." Still, it was not unusual for children to walk several miles to school. Facilities were limited. Equipment and text books were sparse. In the early period, many teachers, having no formal training, were ill-equipped for their work. Some had but a minimal ability to read, write and do arithmetic.

          Not until the creation of the Office of County Superintendent in 1854 did "intelligent supervision over the interest of common school education" come into play. And so came reports from the superintendents.

          The 1856 report charged that only 61 of 135 buildings in the county "are suited to their purposes" and that 39 buildings "had better be tom down and replaced." One building was described as "less attractive, less comfortable and less fit... than many modern out-houses for sheltering cattle." Some were without wells for water.

          The County Superintendent determined standards for teachers, supervised instruction and planned for teacher training. In 1858 the average school term was 4.39 months; in 1885, 5.46 months. In 1858, the average monthly salary - paid only during the school term - for the 126 male teachers was $23.78; for the 23 female teachers, $15.73. The superintendents had much work before them.

          In 1920, there were still 135 one-room schools in the county, offering instruction in the elementary grades with one teacher. It was not unusual for a teacher to have 30 or more students. All grades recited with all hearing each other's recitation. As younger students recited, older students heard again those instructions of earlier years, thus having a continuing review. And on occasion, education to "the tune of the hickory stick" was necessary.

          The school house often became a center for community life, the place for meeting and social events. One superintendent complained on the wear and tear on building of meetings "with no object but fun and frolie."

          After 1920, the one-room school houses began to give way to the "consolidated schools." As late as 1952, there were yet 18 one-room schools in the county. In June 1962, Adams County’s last one-room school, Valley School (formerly Strausbaugh’s School), located in western Franklin Township and in service since 1891, closed its doors, ending a chapter in the county’s commitment to public education.

          To visit a one-room school, take a ride on the York Springs- Idaville road to Miller’s school (built and named before the Civil War) which has been renovated and refurbished by Donald Miller.

 

2-28-00-         "BLUE SPRING CHAPEL"

          About 1840 a student at Dickinson College from Hanover wrote a romantic story, "The Recluse of the Conewago" in which the Conewago Chapel was referred to as the "Blue Spring Chapel." Below the Chapel is the Blue Spring which issues from the limestone rocks of the bottom land and flows into the Little Conewago. Hundreds of feet of rope have been lowered to determine depth but have not hit the bottom. It appears to be affected by actions of the tides and has never been known to go dry. Large fish have been seen in it. The spring remains today but is not easily accessible. The limestone areas in the vicinity of the spring are the scenes of many sink holes.

 

2-29-00-         "BLUE SPRING CHAPEL"

          About 1840 a student at Dickinson College from Hanover wrote a romantic story, "The Recluse of the Conewago" in which the Conewago Chapel was referred to as the "Blue Spring Chapel." Below the Chapel is the Blue Spring which issues from the limestone rocks of the bottom land and flows into the Little Conewago. Hundreds of feet of rope has been lowered to determine depth but have not hit the bottom. It appears to be affected by actions of the tides and have never been known to go dry. Large fish have been seen in it. The spring remains today but is not easily accessible. The 1imestone areas in the vicinity of the spring are the scenes of many sink holes.

 

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