Adams County Bicentennial Tidbits

November, 1999


11-1-99-          BUSHMAN

          In the shadow of Little Round Top, John Bushman was born in 1849. Growing to manhood, John married and for a short time resided with his family in the first block of Breckenridge Street in Gettysburg. After the family moved to Baltimore, his wife gave birth to a son, who eventually made his way to California and began acting in films in 1911. In 1925, a son with Adams County roots, Francis X. Bushman, "an actor of range and depth," starred in the movie, "Ben Hur," "the biggest of silent spectacular." Earlier, he had acted in "A Good Catch" (1912) and "Romeo and Juliet" (1916).


11-2-99-          NEWVILLE ROAD

          One of the controversial highways in Adams County was the "Newville Road." Originally, several residents of Menallen, Cumberland and what would become Butler townships objected to its course. Some complained that it cut through marshy land or took a hilly path. By 1830, the road was completed. Extending north out of Gettysburg’s square, this thoroughfare tracked a more northerly direction than the Old Carlisle (laid out in 1799), passed through Bendersville and crossed the South Mountain. During the 20th Century, the Newville Road south of Bendersville was linked with the Old Carlisle Road just south of Idaville – today designated as State Route 34.


11-3-99-          1828 SPRING

          John Reily, a resident of McSherrystown and author of an 1880 history of Adams County, recorded that his grandmother discovered sometime during the year 1828 a spring below the second hill in Mt. Rock (Centennial). The spring was on property later owned by Henry Breighner. The discovery proved to be of great importance; for in that year, no rain fell from February 21 to September. Crops failed; wells were dry; farmers traveled 20 miles to mill their grain as local streams were dry. The Big Conewago Creek was almost completely dry. The spring was cleaned out. A tub was sunk which filled with water constantly, thus supplying water for people from miles around.


11-4-99-          FIRST BANK

          Adams County had its first bank on April 19, 1814, after the State Legislature authorized the establishment of 41 state banks. With Alexander Cobean as president and John B. McPherson as cashier, it opened for business on May 31. All transactions took place in the cashier’s home. This bank was the forerunner of the Gettysburg National Bank. In 1857, George Throne began offering credit services in Gettysburg and received permission for the Farmers and Mechanics Saving Institution in 1858. In 1864 it became the first national bank in the county. Today, it is the Adams County National Bank. The third bank in the county until 1900 was the Littlestown Savings Bank, formed in 1867.


11-5-99-          ‘ARTIFICIAL ROADS’

          Privately financed, constructed, maintained and operated, turnpikes (toll roads) or "artificial roads" were vital parts of Adams County’s transportation system. The state government, in April 1807, authorized the county’s first turnpike extending from the courthouse square in Gettysburg through Petersburg (Littlestown) to the Maryland line. Other state authorizations followed: from Gettysburg west to the mountains (1811); from Gettysburg to the western edge of Miller’s Town (Fairfield). By 1815, at least 10 private companies operated turnpikes in the county. Until 1913 on the Gettysburg-Chambersburg pike, tolls were collected at Willoughby Run, McKnightstown, Cashtown, Mt. Newsman and Caledonia. The end of toll roads in the county did not come until 1920.


11-6-99-         STAGE COACH LINE

          James Scott and Thomas Hectic, on April 6, 1806, began operation of a stage coach line from Chambersburg to Baltimore. Leaving each Monday morning at 4 a.m. from Heitch’s inn at Chambersburg, the stage traveled to Gettysburg, making a stop at Scott’s tavern on the square. It continued to Petersburg (Littlestown) for an over night stop at Jacob Winrott’s inn. At 4 a.m. on Tuesday, the journey continued, arriving in Baltimore late in the day at The Sheaf of Wheat. The one-way fare was $5.50. Each passenger was allowed 12 pounds of baggage. One hundred and fifty pounds of baggage required the payment of one passenger fare. And, all baggage was at the risk of the owner.


11-7-99-         Farmers, travelers, freight wagons used early roads

          From Indian paths to a four-lane divided highway, road construction in Adams County is a continuing story over more than 200 years. As settlers moved into the territory of future Adams County, the old Indian paths quickly became inadequate for necessary travel. Commerce and social intercourse required roads offering easier passage.

          A series of public roads, east-west and north-south, crossed the county in 1800. Lancaster and York counties had authorized the roads earlier, with townships carrying financial responsibility for construction and maintenance.

          These dirt roads, not much more than a wide clearing through the forest, were great improvements over to old paths. Travelers crossed streams by foot bridges or fords. The first public bridge in Adams County Territory, authorized by York County in 1767, crossed the Little Conewago Creek just west of the present New Oxford; the second, 30 years later, was a span across rock creek just east of Gettysburg.

          In the newly formed Adams County, townships were busy repairing and improving the roads and constructing new ones. In the first decade of the 1800s, the state legislature passed several laws which enabled the state roads in specific localities. The total financial responsibilities belonged to the counties.

          In March 1811, the state ordered a road from the Susquehanna River opposite Harrisburg to the Maryland line "in the direction of Washington." In 1829, it ordered a road from Gettysburg to the summit of Connocheague Hill in Perry County. Costs were levied on Perry, Cumberland and Adams counties.

          Privately constructed, maintained, operated and financed turnpikes (toll roads) or "artificial roads" were critical parts of the county’s transportation network. The state authorized turnpikes and the first in the county, completed in 1810, extended from the courthouse square in Gettysburg through Petersburg (Littlestown) to the Maryland line. Soon it stretched westward from Gettysburg "to the mountains" toward Chambersburg. Others followed. By 1815 at least 10 private turnpike companies operated in the county.

          Ultimately, four major turnpikes crossed the county: York-Gettysburg; Carlisle-Hanover; Petersburg-Gettysburg; and Chambersburg-Gettysburg. As late as 1913, travelers headed for Chambersburg paid tolls at Willoughby Run, McKnightstown, Cashtown, Mount Newman and Caledonia.

          By 1860, nine state roads and turnpikes fanned out from Gettysburg across the county. The 19th century roads provided passage for freight wagons, stage coached, farmers and travelers. Yet, by the 20th century, most roads were dirt.

          The state legislature in 1911 passed the Sproul Act, creating a state highway system with the state assuming responsibility for certain roads. In August, the highway commissioner informed the counties of Cumberland, York and Adam that the commonwealth had taken control of the Gettysburg-Harrisburg Road, the first road in the state’s proposed 8,000 miles system.

          The state commissioner was authorized to acquire the remaining toll roads in the state. By January 1920, all tolls in the county had been transferred to the state.

          In 1913, Congress approved the construction of the Lincoln Highway.

          Hard-surfaced roads increased. Old roads were rebuilt. Campaigning for governor in 1930, Gifford Pinchot promised roads "to get he farmers out of the mud." In 1923, the county had 175 miles of hard-surfaces roads; 1,244 miles in 1962. By 1990, the section of U.S. Route 15, crossing Adams County, was a four-lane divided highway.



          From the records of Reynolds Ramsey comes a glimpse of an undesirable behavior: "be it Remembered that on the second day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seven, Shem Greble (Graybill) of Adams County, farmer, is convicted before me, being the Burgess of the Borough of Gettysburg, of a breach of the Lords day by driving a wagon through the Borough of Gettysburg on the first day of February and year afsd. Being the Lord’s Day commonly called Sunday which conviction is made upon my ordinance and I do adjudge him to forfeit for the same the sum of four dollars." (Sic)


11-9-99-         HOW DRY THEY WERE

          "Dry New Year A Gloomy Event," announced the Gettysburg Times on January 1, 1920. Prohibition had arrived. In Gettysburg "…there was no wine to comfort the souls…of former imbibers." They sat in "deepest gloom" while enduring "the indescribable torture" of their first dry New Year. In the town, Chambersburg Street was deserted. Hotels, scenes of local revelry, were subdued. Oh yes, there were some gun shots, a few feeble shouts and the toot of a railroad engine to greet the New Year. But the ring of the college "echoed and echoed like a funeral toll in the ears of the thirsty ones." The year 1920 had made her formal entrance into Adams County.


11-10-99- A GOOD LOSS

          When can a football team lose a game and yet "win?" When Gettysburg College played Pennsylvania State College on October 4, 1919 at State College. On Monday following the game, the Gettysburg Times praised the local team. "Fighting with a stubbornness that threw consternation into the ranks of the great Penn State machine and displaying a defense that surprised even the most staunch supporters, the college held State scoreless the first half..." But more had to be said. Penn State scored 33 points in the second half after Coach Hugo Bezdek sent his stars, Williams and Way, to revive his team’s drooping attack. By holding its opponents to 33-0, the college had gotten off to "an exceptionally good start."



          The Adams County Fruit Growers Association reported that 825 train carloads of "luscious apples" had been shipped from the county in 1910. The Association estimated that a freight train more than six miles long would have been required to haul the apples had all of them been shipped at one time. At Biglerville alone, apples filled 144 cars. Large shipments were made at McKnightstown, Guernsey, Bendersville, Gardners, Goodyear and Orrtanna. Since 1903 apple output of the county increased, according to the Association, 356 percent. Other fruits were exported in 1910: 18 carloads of peaches; four carloads of pears and one carload of cherries.


11-12-99- RUNAWAY

          Advertisements in local newspaper tell much of life in a community. The following appeared in The Sentinel, May 1805. "Runaway from the subscriber…on the 29th of March last, a Negro servant…, JIM about 19 years…, five feet eight inches high, slim made, remarkably knock kneed, especially the right knee which stands very much in…, has a long wart or mole on one his ears, took with him only his common wearing apparel, consisting of a short coattee and overalls of home made cloth…, a half worn hat, gray yarn stockings and shoes…Whoever takes up said servant…so that his master may get him again shall receive the above reward ($20)…From William McPherson."


11-13-99- COMPANY A

          An infantry company of 60 Pennsylvania College students, several Seminary students and a few local citizens, on June 17, 1863, went to Harrisburg in response to the Governor’s call for volunteers. They became Company A, 26th Regiment, Pennsylvania. On June 24, the Regiment went to Gettysburg "for the purpose of helping to hold the enemy in check." The railroad cars in which they traveled jumped the tracks six miles from Gettysburg. There they remained until Friday, the 26th. Proceeding west of Gettysburg several miles, they were confronted by an advance force of Southern troops. Retreat was necessary. The Regiment returned to Harrisburg on the 28th. A monument to Company A stands at the intersection of Buford Avenue and Chambersburg Road, Gettysburg.


11-14-99- Adams County voters followed their own course

          One could imagine the new county created in the year 1800 might be named Jefferson. However, no one who was wide awake at the time could imagine that for very long. The people in the new county were Federalists, which became obvious as soon as separate elections returns for the mother county of York and the daughter county of Adams became available. York was Democratic (we could call it Jeffersonian, if we chose to), while Adams was Federalist.

          A noted in a previous article in this series, as long as the Federalist remained a viable political organization, Adams could be counted on as one of the five or so Pennsylvania counties to support its candidate for president of the United States. And, after the War of 1812, and after political parties were reformed, a majority of Adams County voters almost always registered their support for Whig candidates for presidents. The only time before the Civil War they departed from this practice was in 1856, when they voted for the Democrat who was a native of Pennsylvania, James Buchanan.

          When we look at races for governor of the Commonwealth, it is sometimes difficult to tell what Pennsylvania voters were doing. Before modern political lines formed in the 1830s, a candidate might be voted up strongly in one election and down in the next. By 1829, when a party soon to be known as Whig was about to emerge in succession to Federalist and in opposition to Andrew Jackson, it became clear that the voters of Adams were determined to support it. In all 10 elections between then and 1854, they did just that. Governors then served for three-year terms, not four.

          On the county level, preferences were the same. There were then, as there were before and as there are now, three commissioners, one and only one, elected every year to serve a three-year term. He first clearly identified Democrat to be elected commissioner was chosen in 1842. He defeated a Whig candidate, at least the returns so indicated, by nine votes. There was not another Democratic commissioner chosen until 1855.

          It is evident that something was happening in Adams County politics in the 1850s. As the national Whig party disintegrated, a new opposition party (the Republican) took its place, and as this new party was about to gain the presidency and hold it for all but 16 years between 1861 and 1933, the old reliable Federalist and then Whig county of Adams was about to embrace the Democrats. No one has yet offered a satisfactory explanation of why this was occurring.

          In 1860, Abraham Lincoln carried Adams County by a reported six votes, but four years later his democratic opponent, George B. McClellan, carried it by more than 500 votes. With but three exceptions between 1868 and 1916 (Grant in 1872, McKinley in 1896 and Theodore Roosevelt in 1904), Adams County gave majorities to Democratic presidential candidates.

          On the state level, the story is very much the same. The switch here began as early as 1857. Between that year and 1918, Adams voted 16 times for Democratic candidates for governor and only twice for Republican. It twice passed over the popular governor Andrew G. Curtin. It passed over such well-known Civil War soldiers as John W. Geary, Henry M. Hoyt, John F. Hartranft and James A. Beaver. In 1894, it did give a majority to a popular republican, Daniel H. Hastings.

          The Pennsylvania constitution of 1873-74 changed the method of electing county commissioners. There were still three members elected for three-year terms, but instead of one member being elected each year, all three were chosen at each election. In an effort to insure minority representation at all times, voters were entitled to vote for only two candidates at each election. A constitutional amendment in 1909 increased the terms of these officers to four years.

          The trend toward electing Democratic commissioners which began in 1855 – slightly earlier than the trend in gubernatorial and presidential elections – continued thereafter. Between then and 1875, when for the first time all three commissioners were elected. Since 1875, the voters of Adams County have elected 35 boards of commissioner. Of these, 19 have Democratic-controlled and 16 have been Republican-controlled. Before 1930, it was rare for a commissioner to be elected for more than one term; since then it has been more common.

          Clearly, the Democratic party in Adams county has fared better since the Civil war, and especially since 1920, in choosing majority commissioners than at the national level. After voting for Woodrow Wilson in 1912 and again in 1916, they began choosing republican candidates for governor in 1918, they followed that practice in every election since, except in 1922, 1934 and 1954. The last time Adams cast a majority vote for a Democratic candidate for governor was in 1954, when York County native, George M. Leader, was on that ticket.

          As has been the case in many other places in this country, Adams County voters have chosen their own course to follow when gone to the polls.


11-15-99- COMPANY A

          An infantry company of 60 Pennsylvania College students, several Seminary students and a few local citizens, on June 17, 1863, went to Harrisburg in response to the Governor’s call for volunteers. They became Company A, 26th Regiment, Pennsylvania. On June 24, the Regiment went to Gettysburg "for the purpose of helping to hold the enemy in check." The railroad cars in which they traveled jumped the tracks six miles from Gettysburg. There they remained until Friday, the 26th. Proceeding west of Gettysburg several miles, they were confronted by an advance force of Southern troops. Retreat was necessary. The Regiment returned to Harrisburg on the 28th. A monument to Company A stands at the intersection of Buford Avenue and Chambersburg Road, Gettysburg.



          In Spring 1911, Gettysburg was disturbed by the increase of hoboes or tramps begging in the town. On one occasion, the police chief arrested "three more specimens" and put them to work cleaning up the "village bastille." One prisoner inquiring about the evening meal informed the chief, "When the time comes bring me some soup, and…I wouldn’t mind some saur kraut and mashed potatoes." Informed that the meal might be "a roll or two," the man became "much perturbed" and refused the food. And the good news for the town? "The news of the roll and water treatment spreading rapidly among the fraternity…the number coming through town has decreased remarkedly the past few days."



          Prior to March 1921, Adams Countians requiring hospital services had to travel outside the county. In March 1919 a group of citizens formed a board of directors for a hospital in the county. Over the next two years, it gathered necessary funds to construct a building and to ensure financial stability, received a parcel of land donated by John M. Warner, equipped the building and secured a staff. Finally, on March 15, 1921, the doors of the Annie M. Warner Hospital were opened to receive patients. One director noted that "extravagances" had been avoided "but money not spared to secure what is essential to a first class hospital." To equip the hospital, the cost was a little more than $30,000.



          In the early 1900s large excursions of Blacks often visited Gettysburg by train. On excursion prompted a communication signed by President Judge McPherson and Associate Judges Miller and Dicks and sent to licensed places in Gettysburg. "We are informed that on September 11, 1917, a large colored excursion will come from Baltimore to Gettysburg. In view of the disorder, breaches of the peace, and general conduct of the excursionists… on similar occasions in the past, we hereby request that during the hours of September 11, in which these excursionists are in Gettysburg that you keep your bar closed and dispense no liquors on your premises."


11-19-99- BOYS’ SCHOOL

          Conewago Chapel’s Father F.X. Deneckere conducted a boys’ school in the middle 1800s and often provided games for the students. At their August picnics, he offered a prize to the boy who could catch a pig with a greased tail. On horseback, boys would ride under a board trying to put a lance through a hole. If the board were hit, a bucket of water showered down. In the winter, the priest offered a prize to the sledfull of boys who could make it down the hill and around the curve near Devine’s barn. Nearly all boys would tumble off going at full speed. In all, father Deneckere joined in the fun and had many good laughs.



          Helen Dortsch Longstreet, widow of Confederate Gen. James Longstreet, was in Gettysburg in June 1941 putting final touched for a grand celebration to honor her husband. On July 2, more than 3,000 persons, including the personal representative of President Franklin Roosevelt, gathered on the Gettysburg battlefield near the present Alabama State monument. Mary Pickford, the popular movie actress, and Gen. Julius Howell, commander-in-chief United Confederate Veterans broke ground at the site dedicated for a Longstreet memorial. It was not until July 1998 that a Longstreet monument was dedicated at Gettysburg.


11-21-99- Buchanan was almost an Adams County native son

          Many places in this country have some association with an American president. These are of various kinds. Some presidents retained a close connection with areas from the time of their birth until the end of their lives. In the case of the Adamses, it was Massachusetts; of Jefferson and Madison, Va.; of Hayes and Garfield, Ohio; and of both Roosevelts, New York.

          Some presidents are remembered because of place through which they passed, even if only briefly. On at lest two occasions, George Washington traveled through Adams County. A 1938 biographer of Andrew Jackson stated that eight sites had been advanced as his birthplace. One of these he decided to "dismiss without discussion" was York County, Pennsylvania, although he did believe that Jackson’s parents had probably passed through the county (including the present Adams) on their way to the Carolinas. Several if the family names associated with the Jacksons in their home are also to be found in the Manor of Maske.

          Although Abraham Lincoln’s visit to Gettysburg in 1863 was brief, it was certainly memorable. Most presidents since than have either visited or planned to visit Gettysburg in commemoration of the events of July and November 1863. Finally, Dwight D. Eisenhower purchased a farm in Cumberland Township in 1951 and established his legal residence in Adams County, a few years later.

          In spite of its long claim to be the Keystone State, Pennsylvania has had only one native son to become president of the United States. To the south, Virginia can claim eight. To the west, Ohio can claim seven.

          Pennsylvania’s native son was James Buchanan (1791-1868). He was all but 66 years old when he took office in 1857 and 70 when he turned over the reins to Abraham Lincoln in 1861. Buchanan become president after a political career of more than 40 years. He had been a state legislator, member of both houses of Congress, minister to Russia and Great Britain, and secretary of state in the administration of James K. Polk. When he finally reached the White House, he was the second oldest man to first occupy it up to that time.

          James Buchanan may never have lived in Adams County. He may never have slept there. But the same cannot be said of his parents.

          James Buchanan (1762-1821), father of the president, was born in the county of Donegal in Ireland. Orphaned by the time he was 3 years old, he was cared for by an uncle, Samuel Russell. By the time he decided to go the America. An uncle who lived in Cumberland Township, then York County, promised that he would meet his nephew in Philadelphia and welcome him into his home. By the summer of 1783, young James had reached what is now Adams County and taken up residence there.

          The uncle was Joshua Russell, who within the pervious decade had purchased a 200-acre farm along Black’s Gap road and, beginning in 1781, was licensed to keep a tavern. It was his establishment which President George Washington is widely believed to have visited on his return from western Pennsylvania in 1794.

          About three or four miles west of the Russell place, James Speer lived in a 270-acre farm which he had purchased in 1770, when he moved from Lancaster County. The northwestern tip of this large tract included the present Cashtown. When James Speer died in 1784, he left a widow and five children, two of whom were underage. The only daughter, Elizabeth (1767-1833), was then 17.

          We do not know when or how James Buchanan and Elizabeth Speer learned of each other’s existence, but the evidence indicated that James soon left the Russell household to work in a thriving warehouse in Franklin County, which he bought in June 1787. Ten months later, in April 1788, he and Elizabeth Speer were married. Between 1789 and 1811, they had 11 children, only five of whom outlived their mother. Soon after their oldest son James, was born, they moved into Mercersberg.

          After being granted by Dickinson College in 1809, Buchanan studied law in Lancaster County, bar in 1812. Ten years later, he was admitted to the Adams County bar in 1812. Ten years later, he was admitted to the Lancaster County bar in 1812. Ten years later, he was admitted the Adams County bar.

          In 1845, the Berlin Improvement Society, which had a long and useful existence as a literary institution in East Berlin, passed a resolution to elect "all distinguished and meritorious individuals in the United States as honorary members of this association." Among those selected were George M. Dallas, vice president of the United States, Thaddeus Stevens and Secretary of State James Buchanan. In a letter dated Washington, Jan. 5, 1846, Buchanan accepted the honor with thanks. "That their efforts in the great cause of education," he wrote, "thus laudably and I trust effectively concentrated, may prove as good seed sown in a fruitful soil" is my sincere wish.

          An article which appeared last Sunday in this series stressed the devotion of Adams County voters to Federalist and then Whig candidates for president. For only the second time in the history of the county thus far, the voters broke ranks in 1856, favoring Democrat James Buchanan over republican John C. Fremont by a vote of 2,637 to 2,345.

          In the Democratic weekly paper, the Gettysburg Compiler, for Dec. 15, 1856, Editor Henry J. Stahle reported that when county Democrats met near Caledonia to celebrate the results of the election, "in the course of the evening, the beautiful valley on the line of Franklin and Menallen townships, … was, at the instance of a large number of its inhabitants then and there present, christened ‘Buchanan Valley,’ which elicited several appropriate speeches."

          In this way, if in no other, Adams County to this day recognizes the 15th president of the United States who, if only his parents had stayed at home a few years longer, instead of wandering off into Franklin County, would have been a native of Adams County.


11-22-99- WALKOUT

          In October 1919, the employees, both male and females, of the Musselman Canning factories at Gardners and Biglerville requested increases in wages. Sensing possible labor problems, C.H. Musselman, owner, responded quickly. "To ensure harmony and to prevent a strike," he granted a wage increase. Harmony was gained. Shortly thereafter, a group of about 30 women apple peelers, without support of other workers, walked out of the Ivan Musselman Canning factory in Orrtanna. The owner declared, "The walk out has amounted to nothing…All the men are at work…We don’t care whether the women come back or not…We have discharged the ring leader of the affair and should have discharged her two weeks ago."



          Beechersville, a small settlement founded in 1825 by David Beecher ablong the Conewago Creek, is illustrative of small industrial areas in early Adams County. As early as the 1770s, a carding and fulling mill had been erected in the area. Beecher built a tannery in 1825 and in 1832 erected the Conewago Woolen Factory with Robert Morrison. Next came a paper mill along the creek in 1837. Later it was converted into a box board factory. The Conewago Paper Company, founded in 1873, enlarged that factory and began producing straw printing paper. For 50 years the village was an active small industrial area.



          The Adams Centinel, a weekly owned and edited by Robert Harper, was the first newspaper to be published in Adams County. The first issue appeared on Wednesday, November 12, 1800. Publication was suspended after the third issue for lack of public support, but was resumed January 7, 1801. Robert Harper died in 1817. His son, Robert G., became owner and continued publication of the paper until May 1867 when it consolidated with Star and Banner, forming the Star and Sentinel. Under the banner, "The Oldest Republican Newspaper in Pennsylvania," it continued publication until December 1953 when it merged with the politically non-partisan the Gettysburg Times in 1902.


11-25-99- CIGAR STRIKE

          On February 1, 1921, 363 workers, primarily of the Cigar Makers Union 316, walked out of 17 cigar factories in McSherrystown and Centennial over a wage dispute. Because of shortages in labor during WWI, owners had given a "bonus" to workers which put wages above the union standard at the time. The owners posted notices that wages would be rolled back to pre-war levels. They asserted that the raise was a "temporary bonus." The workers claimed that they had voted on a "permanent raise." A representative of the International Cigar Workers Union helped secure a solution to the strike. In March the workers voted to return to work under the wage scale of October 1919. Very little was gained from the one month strike.



          Hans Hamilton, one of the earliest Scotch-Irish settlers west of the Susquehanna River, landed at New Castle (in present Delaware) about 1732. By 1740 he had settled in the area of present day Arendtsville (then in Lancaster County, soon to be in York County and ultimately in Adams County.) After the formation of York County, he was a candidate for the office of county sheriff in 1750. After a bitter contest between the Germans and Scotch in the county, it was necessary for the provincial authorities to determined the election. Hamilton was commissioned as the first sheriff of York County, a post to which he was re-elected.


11-27-99- ROUND BARN

          The round barn, located on the Cashtown-Arendtsville Road, is a much-admired landmark in the orchard area of the county. In late 1913, the large barn on the Daniel and Robert Sheely farm was destroyed by fire. Rather then replace it with a conventional barn, they decided to erect a round barn. They requested information from the Illinois Agricultural Experiment Station which had built two round barns on the state college campus at Urbana. Built of lumber from their farm, the barn was completed in November 1914. It is 60 feet high built around a 12-foot diameter open silo with a capacity of 145 tons of silage. At the time of its construction, it accommodated 50 head of cattle.


11-28-99- Mt. Joy meteorite may be from 1833 meteor shower

          During the week of Nov. 14, The Evening Sun, as well as newspapers in Gettysburg and York, reported on a spectacular shower of meteors or shooting stars expected to be visible throughout the world on the early mornings of Nov. 18 and 19. "Up to 5,000 meteors an hour could blaze through earth’s atmosphere at 40 miles per second," noted The Evening Sun on Nov. 17.

          Two days later, the York Daily Record reported that an estimated 2,200 meteors sped through the atmosphere each hour while Thursday morning’s shower was in progress. NASA and the Air Force cosponsored an aerial mission which enabled some 60 astronomers to observe and evaluate what was happening.

          Named the Leonid meteor showers because it appears to originate from the region of the constellation Leo, the phenomenon is associated with a comet named Tempel-Tuttle which completes an orbit around the sun every 33 years. Tiny particles break off the comet and enter the earth’s atmosphere as multicolored shooting stars as the earth moves through what has been called the cosmic debris which the comet leaves in its path.

          Although there can be a meteor shower every year, one can expect a spectacular one every 33 years. One can expect it, but it does not occur that regularly, since cosmic forces (such as Jupiter’s gravitational pull) sometimes divert the comet or the earth a trifle from its accustomed orbit. Two of the major recorded showers in years past occurred in 1833 and 1866. Nothing of similar intensity took place for about a century thereafter.

          This brings us to an Adams county bicentennial story.

          In 1887, while digging a hole on his Mt. Joy Township farm, Jacob Synder struck a large, metallic object. After determining that it was not, as he first hoped, part of a potentially valuable iron deposit, he lost interest in his find. Four years later, after a local teacher persuaded him that an authority should examine the object more closely, staff member of the Smithsonian Institution were called in. They concluded that it was a meteorite. A Gettysburg newspaper described it as resembling "an oyster shell, measuring two feet in length and one foot in thickness, although the thickness was not uniform." It weighted 870 pounds and contained a large percentage or iron. Jacob Snyder proceeded to sell his prize, pieces of which eventually found their way into museums in this country and elsewhere.

          It is possible that what has long been called the Mt. Joy meteorite fell from the sky during the meteorite fell from the sky during the meteor shower of November 1833. On the previous Wednesday morning, wrote the editor of the Gettysburg Sentinel (Nov. 18, 1833), "One of the most splendid and awful spectacles the mind can conceive of, was witnessed in the heavens." He had not the "gratification of observing it" himself, he wrote, but he learned that it had lasted for two or three hours. "The whole heavens appeared to be illuminated by countless meteors, of different sizes, which darted frequently horizontally, leaving long trains, but generally fell silently to the earth, resembling, as some term it, large flakes of snow – or as it were ‘snowing stars.’" Since reports from many other places echoed what he wrote, the editor concluded that the shower must have been ‘general throughout the country." He found in his file of old newspapers a detailed story of a similar phenomenon in Richmond in 1803.

          Thirty-three years later, in the issue of the Gettysburg Compiler for Nov. 12, 1866, the editor advised his readers to "look out for ‘falling stars,’ to-night, tomorrow night, and the night after." No one should miss it, "if the ‘show’ itself don’t miss." A week later, the editor had to say that, although "everybody was on the look out," the predicted shower missed Adams county. Dispatches from places as far apart as New Haven and Washington indicated that, in general, the phenomenon did not live up to expectations, which were a repeat performance of the "grand sight" of 1833. This time, the show itself did miss.

          (Caption reads: On Nov. 26, 1833, the editor of the Gettysburg Star and Republican Banner gave his readers this "representation, as near as can be, of the occurrence of the 13th Inst. for the gratification of those who were not witnesses." Remember, no one was a witness. This representation was also intended for us.)



          One of the most artistic and commanding monuments of the Gettysburg battlefield is the North Carolina State Monument, located on Confederate Avenue at the scene of Pickett’s charge. Dedicated July 3, 1929, it was sculpted by John Gutzon Borglum who at the time was directing the work on the colossal carved figures of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt at Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota. For the monument, Borglum chose "to depict a group of infantry men who had ‘…just been ordered to charge across that very bloody field.’" He used photographs of Confederate veterans to model the men’s faces.


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Copyright 1999 Adams County Bicentennial Committee