Adams County Bicentennial Tidbits

October, 1999

 

 

10-1-99-          ‘FITTING SACRIFICE IN OUR EATING’

          "Whereas our country is in a state of war,…be it RESOLVED that we accept the challenge…that we do all in our power,…to show our patriotism to our nation,…by making fitting sacrifice in our eating. First we recommend that each individual limit his use of sugar…with our nation facing a sugar famine…we suggest that each use the smallest amount…that we celebrate a ‘meatless’ day once a week, and on no day have it three times…that we limit ourselves to wheat biscuits twice a week and cream of wheat one a week.

    -     From a resolution before Seminary students,
    November 5, 1917

     

10-2-99-          ‘THE PIG PENS MUST GO’

          "Unless the sanitary conditions of Gettysburg are not improved immediately the State Department of Health will be compelled to take charge of your community…" So informed was Charles Dougherty, council president, in a July 18, 1917 letter. Shortly thereafter, a deputy from the Department was in Gettysburg. "Your alleys and backyards are filthy." And finally, "People and pigs cannot live in the same community…The pig pens (about 50) must go." The Borough failed to act; the Department did. "…a nuisance prejudicial to health,…all hogs are ordered removed from the borough, floors of pens removed, all filth cleaned up, sites covered with unslaked lime within three days of publication of this action."

 

10-4-99-          MARCHING TO BOSTON

          Following armed hostilities at Lexington and Concord, the Continental Congress authorized the formation of an army and issued a call for men. On June 24, a group of March Creek settlement men gathered at Samuel Gettys’ tavern to form a militia unit. Volunteers went to York and joined Michael Doudle’s regiment (York Rifles). On July 1, the troops began a 21-day 400-mile march to the Boston area. There, they joined George Washington’s Continental Army which faced 10,000 British soldiers. Skilled in handling the "Pennsylvania Rifle", the men of the York regiment, it was reported, amazed many and "annoyed" others with their superior marksmanship.

 

10-5-99-          AN APPLE BREAKTHROUGH

          The development of fruit production and exportation as a commercial operation was slow-paced in the county prior to the Civil War. Earlier, the fruit produced was used locally to feel livestock, to make cider and apple butter and to provide fresh fruit for the table. By the mid-1800s, surpluses were being sent to Philadelphia and Baltimore. A major step in making Adams County a national, even international center of fruit exportation was taken by Noah Sheely and Samuel Bream. They traveled to the Chicago Exposition of 1893 to exhibit their fruits. They landed a contract to ship 1,500 barrels of apples for the Chicago market, a significant entry into a larger domestic market.

 

10-6-99-          ARENDTSVILLE VOCATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL

          On June 5, 1911, Arendtsville citizens requested their school directors to establish a high school, which would include instruction in the "practical" arts. Finally, in September 1917 the joint school boards of Butler and Franklin townships and Arendtsville opened the Arendtsville Vocational High School which offered a four-year program. For those choosing the opportunities in vocational studies, one half of each day was devoted to such courses during the first two years of study. Poultry, house construction, shop work, soils, cookery and fruit growing were among the courses. The school was the first of its kind in the county and among the first in the state.

 

10-7-99-          GETTYSBURG RFD

          The first Rural Free Delivery route in Adams County was begun February 1, 1900 with a round trip from Gettysburg to Harney, Maryland, moving south to Two Taverns and north on the Taneytown Road. The RFD service was met with some apprehension and opposition. Postmasters, expecting the closing of small post offices, feared losing their jobs. Some predicted new taxes to cover the service. Others foresaw the loss of social centers, small post offices, which offered opportunities to enjoy visits with neighbors. The service expanded in the county. The initial apprehension was justified. Small post offices were closed; jobs were lost. Locations for social exchange vanished.

 

10-8-99-          RICE FRUIT COMPANY GOES WORLDWIDE

          The contract for a shipment of 1,500 barrels of apples to the Chicago market obtained by Noah Sheely and Samuel Bream in 1893 set the stage for increased development of fruit exportation as a commercial enterprise. A little more than a hundred years later, the Rice Fruit Company of Gardners, the largest fresh apples packing facility east of the Mississippi, was packing 1,500,000 bushels of apples, peaches, pears, and nectarines for both domestic and foreign markets. Shipments were made throughout the eastern Untied States and Canada, to Central and South America and England, even as far as Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Indonesia. Many Adams countians, on journeys far from home, have been surprised and excited to see boxes of fruit bearing the Rice Fruit Company name.

 

10-9-99-          THE FIRST HANGING

          Adams County’s first execution occurred on January 3, 1818 when James Hunter was hanged for the murder of Henry Heagy. On the day of execution, gallows stood between the Taneytown and Emmitsburg roads near the junction in Gettysburg. Shortly before 1:00 p.m., "…the prisoner, clothed in his shroud, and bound with the fatal rope, the instrument of his death, was conducted from the prison to the place of execution." At the "decisive hour," one report noted, Hunter, "with fortitude and resignation, and in expression of hope founded only on the merits of the Son of God, yielded up his life."

          Several thousands (!) had gathered to witness the "awful event."

 

10-10-99-          Jackson – the county that might have been

          By almost all rankings considered one of our greater presidents, Andrew Jackson, who occupied the White House from 1829 to 1837, has nevertheless always been a highly controversial figure. It seems that people either hated him or loved him. Pointing to his strong views and sometimes strong methods, some of his opponents ridiculed him as King Andrew I. Insisting that he worked to increase political and economic democracy, his supporters praised him as a defender of the common people.

          Perhaps some remembered that in each of his eight annual messages to Congress he urged the abandonment of the electoral college in favor of the direct popular election of the president. This writer remembers being told years ago (perhaps with tongue in cheek, perhaps not) that there were then people in southern York county who were still voting for Andrew Jackson long after he had died. It is a fact that when he was reelected president in 1832, the popular vote in his favor in Codorus Township was 338 to 1.

          Today there are 24 of the 50 states perpetuating the memory of Andrew Jackson in the name of one of their counties. There is a Jackson county in almost every southern state. There is one in Minnesota, South Dakota, and Iowa; one in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky; and one as far west as Colorado and Oregon. Why then, in a state which voted solidly for Jacksonian presidential electors in 1828 and again in 1832, is there no Jackson county in Pennsylvania today? In our own defense, we can say that it was not because we did not try.

          In the early 1990s Wendy Bish, now Mrs. John McGrew, a long-time volunteer at the Hanover Public Library, came across an old map depicting the limits of a proposed new county in Pennsylvania. She shared her finding with us then. We are sharing them with Evening Sun readers now.

          On January 19, 1838, George Ford, chairman of a committee of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, presented a petition from some inhabitants of York and Adams counties, asking "for the erection of a new county out of parts of said counties." Twelve days later, after brief committee consideration, Ford introduced a bill, titled "An Act erecting parts of York and Adams counties, into a separate county to be called ‘Jackson.’"

          In the days that followed, more than 20 petitions both for and against the proposed new county were turned in. This expression of public opinion reminds one of what has happened in the years before Adams county was created in 1800.

          The legislative session which began in December 1837 and ended in April 1838 adjourned without acting on any of the requests then before it for the creation of as many as 15 new counties. No one later took up the cudgels for Jackson County, but other advocates of change were more successful. Clarion and Clinton counties date from 1839, Wyoming from 1842, and Carbon and Elk from 1843.

          One looks in vain for more than passing references to the Ford bill 1838 issues of two York newspapers for which there are available copies. Their readers were apparently more concerned at this time with the controversial plans to build a new courthouse in York and also about a new state constitution then in the works.

          Public meetings were held in many places in February 1838. The Hanover Herald reported that such meetings occurred in Hanover, Heidelberg Township, McSherrystown, Jefferson, Manheim Township, Codorus Township and Paradise Township. Unfortunately, since the paper stated that "for want of room," it was able to do no more than give the names of their presiding officers, we knew nothing of the debates and resolutions which they adopted. It is evident that virtually all of the support for a new county came from these towns and townships.

          In the Gettysburg Sentinel and Compiler for March 5, 1838, we find the fullest account of what happened at the town meeting in Gettysburg. After choosing a slate of officers, a committee of nine was appointed to retire and draw up a series of resolutions "expressive of the sense of the meeting." What they reported back was then adopted unanimously. It left no doubt where the members of this public meeting stood.

          "It is entirely a matter of astonishment that an attempt should be made to divide this county," the report declared, "which is already too small. There can be no necessity for it." The county seat is located close to the center of the county. Roads to and from all sections "are very good…with permanent bridges over every stream of water that ever becomes dangerous or impassable." Cases coming before the county courts are disposed of at every session.

          "The passage of this bill cannot be beneficial to any persons," they concluded, "unless it be the citizens of Hanover and its vicinity." Finally, if any York countians want to leave its jurisdiction, they should petition the legislature to add them to Adams. "We shall be pleased to receive them, as thereby this county may be increased to a proper size both in territory and population."

          As the accompanying map shows, if laid off as planned the new county would have encompassed about 200 square miles (the land area of the present Adams County is about 521 square miles) and about 15,000 inhabitants. Included would have been the towns of Hanover (which almost certainly would have been the new county seat), Jefferson, East Berlin, Abbottstown, New Oxford, McSherrystown and Littlestown. This helps to explain the distinct lack of enthusiasm for the proposal on the part of those who attended the Gettysburg town meeting.

          Thus it is that while Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Monroe have counties in Pennsylvania, there is none honoring Old Hickory, the hero of New Orleans, and a man who retired from the presidency as popular as when he went in. All that we have in this area to memorialize him is a township. When a township was taken from Paradise – yes, Paradise – in 1857, it was named Jackson.

          (Map caption reads: This plan for the proposed Jackson County was drawn by Henry Meyers in 1838.)

 

10-11-99-          PRISONER HARVESTERS

          The German prisoner-of-war camp located on the Gettysburg battlefield just south of the Borough was established in June 1944. Surrounded by a "stockade," the camp could house approximately 400 persons in tents. With the approach of winter, the prisoners were moved to the old CCC camp building on the battlefield. With a scarcity of workers for farms and orchards, the prisoners provided necessary labor to harvest beans and peas, cherries and apples. The presence of the camp, as in so many instances, was a source of controversy, and even wild rumors at times. By the time of their departure in May 1945, the prisoners had "won a reputation for efficiency, reliability and even trust."

 

10-12-99-          MICHAEL DIEDRICH GOTLOB PFEIFFER

          Michael Diedrich Gotlob Pfeiffer, a Prussian claiming to hold a degree from the University of Edinburg, arrived in new Oxford in the late 1830s. With the financial assistance of the townspeople, he founded the New Oxford College and Medical Institute in 1840 which continued for 20 years. Though the curriculum offered instruction in such areas as English, geography, history and Latin, the use of "college" was pretentious. A major component of the school was medical instruction which drew students from as far as Baltimore. Pfeiffer stressed courses in surgery and dissection. Charles Barnitz, Jr., an Adams County native and student of Pfeiffer, became a noted surgeon in Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio.

 

10-12-99-          LAVINIA L. DOCK

          Lavinia L. Dock, a Franklin Township resident who enjoyed an impressive career in nursing in New York City was a militant participant in the women’s suffrage movement. Arrested while attempting to vote in the 1896 New York City elections, Dock refused to pay the fine levied. The police commissioner, Theodore Roosevelt, refused to jail her. A tireless worker for the National Women’s Party (1917), she left her home near Caledonia on August 23, 1917 for Washington, D.C. "to work for a great cause and in a manner we deem wholly proper." The next day she was arrested while picketing the White House. In 1917, she was arrested three times and served two jail terms.

 

10-13-99-          TAVERNS – ESSENTIAL ESTABLISHMENTS

          Taverns, in early Adams County, were essential establishments for travelers – stagecoach passengers, wagon drivers and those on horse or foot – and "the locals." As early as 1756, Thomas Butler operated a licensed tavern in Germany Township. By 1800, there were 49 such taverns in the county. Located in towns, villages and at intervals along roads, they were public houses of hospitality which offered lodging, food and drink, including hard cider, beer, wine and spirits. Area residents frequented taverns for entertainment, social contact and exchange of views. Occasionally, public business was conducted at the houses which served also as places for posting public notices.

 

10-15-99-          MILLS – FIRST MAJOR INDUSTRY

          The streams of the county provided the power to operate the many mills along their banks, thus making milling the first major industry in Adams County. As early as the 1730s, William Wierman’s mill on the Bermudian Creek was operating and was still grinding wheat, buckwheat, corn and rye in 1911. There were in the county by 1810 more than 120 mills of various kinds – gristmills, saw mills, flax seed oil mills and fulling mills. Gristmills served producers of grain and consumers of flour. And they prompted the building of roads. Farmers desired easy access to the mills; millers needed easy access to larger routes for delivery of their products. By 1920, only six flour mills were operating in the county.

 

10-16-99-          REVEREND DOBBIN KEEPS A FULL HOUSEHOLD

          Reverend Dobbin answered the call of early Adams County settlers when he left his native Ireland in 1773 to come here as a minister of the Reformed Presbyterian or "Covenanter" Church. With his new wife, Isabella, they built a native stone house on 300 acres and raised crops and eight children. The house still stands today on Steinwehr Avenue in Gettysburg.

          When Isabella died, Dobbin married the widow Mary Agnew who had 10 children of her own. Their home also doubled as a "Classical Academy", the first classical school west of the Susquehanna. Dobbin taught Latin, Greek and Hebrew to young male students, many of whom became prominent men. When Rev. Dobbin died in 1809, his son Matthew inherited the property. Dubbin’s will left his wife the furniture she had brought when she married, a room in the house and the privilege to use the kitchen. After Mary’s death in 1825, the house was sold at sheriff’s sale to settle debts.

 

10-17-99-          Elementary education sufficient for most in late 18th century 

          One would scarcely consider George Washington a learned or scholarly man or call him an intellectual. While his five immediate successors as president of the United States either attended or were graduated by American colleges, Washington’s formal education might well be described as nondescript. His great influence both during and after the American Revolution was based on personal characteristics formed and strengthened outside the formal classroom.

          As first president of the United States of America under the Constitution of 1787, George Washington was fully aware that by whatever he said and did he was setting a precedent, something for his countrymen to reinforce or reject after him. As a devoted patriot, he wanted his precedents to set the young republic on its proper course.

          In his first inaugural address, on April 30, 1789, he devoted considerable time to an expression of the religious sentiments which he believed his countrymen shared with him. "No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States," he declared. "Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency." He then expressed "an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage." All of these reflections, he said, "have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed."

          Washington’s first inaugural address was brief and general in character. In his first annual message to Congress in January 1790, he could be more specific in offering his advice and counsel on both domestic and foreign matters. Ignoring the advice of those in our own day who insist that the federal government has no place or power whatsoever in the field of education, George Washington told the Congress that "there is nothing which can better deserve your patronage than the promotion of science and literature." While "knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness," where "the measures of government receive their impressions so immediately from the sense of the community as in ours," education is most essential. He went into considerable detail to explain why. Knowledge, he concluded, unites "a speedy but temperate vigilance against encroachments" upon individual rights and "an inviolable respect to the laws."

          As well as to people in New Hampshire and Georgia, George Washington’s words were addressed to those in York County, Pennsylvania. There is ample evidence that persons in every part of the county and of every ethnic backgrounds agreed with their president, although they may have differed in how best or properly to carry out the educational task.

          Living in a province and now a state in which there was no system of public education, the people of York County had to take the initiative in constructing school buildings and supporting teachers. Although the evidence for how they did this is skimpy indeed, there is just enough to enable us to say that many if not most of the congregations in the county had their own parish schools. Members of congregations which did not have them supported neighborhood schools. Just as George Washington related religion and free government, York County Presbyterians, Lutherans and others found a compelling reason for at least some education, especially for males, in the belief that their faith required the ability to read the Bible and knowledge enough to conduct the affairs of everyday life.

          While what we should call elementary education was deemed sufficient for the great majority of young people, some parents wanted more for their sons. There were academies, which we can compare to high schools of a later day, in eastern Pennsylvania to which they could be sent, and some were.

          There was nothing comparable to these schools closer to home until the Rev. Alexander Dobbin, a Reformed Presbyterian minister, arrived in York County in 1774, built what is now known as the Dobbin House, and in or about 1776 began operating an academy. Unfortunately, if he ever kept attendance records they have long since disappeared. Fortunately, in the biographical sketches of some of his former students who later became prominent there are references to their training in the academy. It is clear that until Dobbin closed his school about 1804-1805 it was a significant educational institution in the area.

          One good evidence of its importance is that in 1810 some prominent county leaders secured a state charter for an academy which it was hoped could continue Dobbin’s work. Using a state grant of $2,000 they constructed a building at the corner of high and Washington streets in Gettysburg. Its doors were opened in 1814-1815. The eight directors of the Gettysburg Academy were elected by the voters of Adams County.

          In colonial times not all young people or their parents were satisfied to stop with the education an academy could afford. The next step for them was to enroll in a college. Of the eight colleges in existence before the revolution, the nearest for a York County youth were the College of Philadelphia or the College of New Jersey, which we know as Princeton. Among Adams residents before the revolution, young Presbyterian males displayed most of the interest in going to college. Their choice would almost certainly be Princeton. According to its records, as many as 10 persons from the present York and Adams counties completed the course before 1776 and were awarded degrees.

          (Caption reads: Less than three months after their election in October 1800, the first three Adams County Commissioners had levied their first taxes an prepared to hear appeals from the dissatisfied. There is no evidence that any of these men had more than an elementary education, but all three could write their names well enough on the document shown here so that two centuries later we can read them. Jacob Greenamyer learned to write in a parochial school in what is now Leigh county, but apparently no one raised a fuss when he wrote his name in German script.)

 

10-19-99-          COMMISSIONER DAVID EDIE

          David Edie (1763-1837), who was elected one of the first three Adams commissioners in 1800, was a member of one of the county’s most distinguished families.

          His father, Samuel Edie (1732-1809), whose homestead was in Cumberland Township just west of Gettysburg, had served in many York County capacities: commissioner, sheriff, legislator, associate judge, and justice of the peace. David’s brother, John (1755-1825), was a revolutionary officer, sheriff, prothonotary, clerk of the courts, and state senator. He was also editor of York’s first newspaper, begun in 1789. When elected an Adams County commissioner, David was completing a three-year term serving in the same capacity for York County. For many years a resident of Cumberland Township, he moved into Gettysburg about 1814. A year later, the court appointed him a guardian of the late James Gettys’ two minor sons. The governor appointed him a notary public in 1820.

 

10-20-99-          ADAMS’ FIRST THREE COMMISSIONERS

          The law which established Adams County in January 1800 specified that until the annual election in the following October most York County officers should continue to function in Adams. On Sept. 9, 1800 the York County sheriff announced the October 14 election for both counties. Long before the day of direct primaries, there had to be some other way to choose candidates for office. In Adams in 1800 it worked this way. On Sept. 16, 25 deputies, as they were called, from all 13 townships met in Gettysburg to "settle on" a ticket. These men were Federalists who supported the re-election of President John Adams. Except for two positions, their political opponents, who called themselves Republicans (we would call them Democrats) and supported Thomas Jefferson for president, settled on the same ticket. When county voters went to the polls, after a most mercifully short campaign, they elected David Edie, Jacob Greenamyer, and Robert Mcllhenny the first three Adams County commissioners. With one victor from Menallen, one from Cumberland, and one from Germany, it was a balanced ticket geographically.

 

10-21-99-          COMMISSIONER JACOB GREENAMYER

          One of the first three Adams County commissioners signed his name in German script. He was Jacob Greenamyer (c. 1755-1822), who was a militia officer in Linn Township, Northampton (now Leigh) County, before coming to Adams. In the spring of 1781 he bought a 124-acre farm in Menallen Township, a short distance north northeast of Biglerville. When he was elected commissioner he owned some 200 acres. He was one of a small number of Germans who attended the meeting of deputies at which the first county ticket was selected. He was also one of 30 persons from York and Adams counties chosen to prepare an address to the voters on the importance of the election of 1800. Henry Slagle would have been better known and more experienced, but he was a candidate for the legislature (and he won). After serving his two-year term as commissioner, Greenamyer returned to his Menallen farm, where he lived until about 1810, when he sold out and moved to Columbiana County, Ohio, where he spent the rest of his life.

 

10-22-99-          COMMISSIONER ROBERT MCLLHENNY

          One of the first three county commissioners, Robert Mcllhenny (c. 1747-1826), was probably born in Mount Joy Township, where his father, Ezekiel, purchased a warrant for 300 acres of land in 1750. Robert left Mount Joy and moved into Littlestown, in Germany Township, about the time the revolution was beginning. In 1789, he was elected to a seven-year term as justice of the peace for the district consisting of Germany and Mount Joy townships. His name does not appear, as does Jacob Greenamyer’s, on any political document in 1800. It was his brother, James Mcllhenny, who represented Mount Joy Township when the first ticket was agreed upon. After his three-year term as commissioner ended, Robert sought to regain his old office. Appointed a justice by the governor in 1806, he continued to serve until his death 20 years later. His distinctive signature appears on many deeds, wills, estate inventories, and similar documents which he helped to prepare during his long tenure as a justice of the peace.

 

10-23-99-          A PUZZLING BIT OF NEWS

          The following appeared under the dateline York in the April 22, 1789 issue of the newspaper then being published in York:

          Wednesday last, a jury of inquest was held in the town of Berlin, in this county, on the body of Mary Guttery, of said place – After an examination of several witnesses, and from the appearance of her body, which was bruised in many places, it appeared to the jury, that her death was occasioned by the ill treatment she received from her husband, who has fled from justice.

          We regret to learn about the abuse which led to Mary’s death. The puzzle is what we have not been able to find anyone named Guttery (spelled with a C, a G, or a K) in the appropriate tax lists for four or five years before 1789. What became of the man?

 

10-24-99-          Adams embraced education in a free republic

          When Adams County came into existence in January 1800, elementary education in Pennsylvania was still in private hands, supported by churches and neighborhoods, and still mostly for males. A small number of academies still offered what secondary education existed.

          There was now a college closer to home than had been the case before the revolution. Chartered in 1783 and located in Carlisle, Dickinson College was named for John Dickinson, but its chief sponsor was Benjamin Rush, a Philadelphia physician and consistent supporter of American independence. Rush believed fervently that the success of republican institutions in Pennsylvania depended upon a system of education which elementary schools and ended with the university. He favored locating one of several new colleges he proposed in central Pennsylvania.

          Five of the first trustees of Dickinson College were residents of what was soon to become Adams County. Three were Presbyterian ministers (Black, Dobbin and McKnight), one was a leading political figure and Presbyterian layman (Robert McPherson), and the fifth was the most prominent German in the area (Henry Slagle). Dickinson graduated its first class in 1787. Before long a few Adams Contains finished its course and received degrees.

          Benjamin Rush hoped that both Scotch-Irish and Germans would unite in supporting Dickinson. When he become convinced that German leaders would not go along, out of fear they would become very junior partners in the effort, he urged them to establish their own college. The result was Franklin College, which opened with considerable fanfare in Lancaster in 1787. Since there was little financial support and few students enrolled, Franklin College never granted even one baccalaureate degree. It continues for a long time as a secondary school.

* * *

          In 1800 the supporters of public elementary education in Pennsylvania still had a long and difficult struggle ahead of them before they succeeded. The state constitution of 1790 enjoined the legislature to establish s system of schools "as soon as conveniently may be." Year after year governors prodded the legislators to do duty. In 1810 Simon Synder declared that to explain "the importance of a general diffusion of knowledge in a republican representative government would surely be unnecessary to an enlightened and patriotic legislature."

          All the enlightened and patriotic legislature would come up with at this time was an act passed in 1809, which required assessors each year to take down the names of all 5-to-12-year-old children in their district whose parents stated they could not pay for their schooling. These children would then attend private schools, and the teachers would submit charges they incurred for payment by the county commissioners. This pauper school act, as it was called, remained in effect until 1834. It made no provision for regulation of schools or teachers. Years later, when he represented Adams County in the legislature, Thaddeus Stevens called it a measure "of a most hateful and degrading character," since booth parents and children who took advantage of its provisions were publicly known as paupers. There was no confidentiality about the arrangement.

          The average number of Adams County children in each township in pauper schools in 1830 was about 25 and the cost to the county in that year, while only about $907, was still one of the larger items in the county budget.

          The Gettysburg Academy referred to in the Part 1 of this article as a successor to Alexander Dobbin’s school began operating in 1814-1815 in a new building and with high hopes. The two trustees the county voters chose each year to govern it include some of the most respected names in the county: McPherson, Russell, Cobean, Edie, Dobbin, McClean, McConaughy, Hinsch and Harper. Unfortunately, these men were unable to find the resources to meet its financial needs. By the mid-1820s it was no longer a functioning institution. The question was: what would become of the building and the school?

* * *

          Although certainly no one at the time was aware of what was about to happen, in the year 1826, Adams County entered upon a 12-year period of educational developments which resulted in four new educational institutions. This period of educational developments which resulted in four new educational institutions. This period was probably the most momentous in its educational history.

          In 1826 the General Synod of the Lutheran church, under the leadership of Samuel Simon Schmucker, selected Gettysburg over Carlisle and Hagerstown as the site of its Lutheran theological seminary. Community leader offered $7,000 and the use of the academy building until the institution could secure more permanent quarters. The seminary opened for instruction in September 1826, with Schmucker as its first its first professor. It moved to its present location in the fall of 1832.

          Aware that a preparatory school for seminary students was sorely needed, Schmucker opened what he called a classical school in 1827 and then a gymnasium in 1829. Two years later, he made his next move. Obtaining support of local leaders, he presented his case for a liberal arts college to the legislature, which granted a charter to Pennsylvania College of Gettysburg in April 1832. Seven months later that first classes were held. In 1834 Schmucker returned to Harrisburg, seeking money for a large new building. He returned with the promise of $18,000.

          While in Harrisburg, Schmucker learned that the legislature was actively considering a bill which at long last would create the system of free public education which the Constitution of 1790 called for. With only four dissenting votes, both houses passed, and on April 1, 1834, the governor signed an act to Establish a General System of Education by Common Schools.

          This act divided the state into 987 districts, called for prompt voting in each to approve or reject common schools, promised state funds for accepting districts, authorized elected school directors to levy taxes for school purposes, provided that pauper schools would continue in non-accepting districts, and permitted districts each year to change their mind one way or the other about common schools.

          After the college moved into its new building, now Pennsylvania Hall, in 1838, local leaders secured a state charter for the Gettysburg Female Academy, which then occupied the old structure at High and Washington streets. The charter trustees included Schmucker, Stevens, banker John B. McPherson and editor Robert G. Harper. While this new institution was never able to live up to all the expectations of its founders, operating as the Gettysburg Female Seminary and under several proprietors, it did offer new opportunities for young women in the county.

* * *

          Of the 987 districts into which the 1834 act divided the state, 512 (a few more than half) accepted common schools in that year. Most of the opposition came for German townships. In neighboring York County, were there were 29 districts, only seven accepted at first. The last holdout there gave in only in 1869. In Adams County, with 17 districts, seven accepted at once: Berwick, Franklin, Gettysburg, Hamiltonban, Menallen and Straban. Conewago in 1842 and Reading in 1843 were the last to fall into line.

          At the end of the 1864-1865 school year, as the Civil War ended, there were 153 common schools (most of them in one room) in the county. The average number of months in the school year was between four and five. There were 93 male and 62 female teachers. Their average monthly salary was less then $24. The number of male students enrolled was 3,977 and of females, 3,243. It is clear that, with the appearance of common schools, for the first time in the history of the county, young females had what amounted to an equal opportunity to obtain an elementary education.

          The act of 1834 applied only to elementary schools. Only in 1887 was it amended to include secondary or high schools. This helps to explain why private academies continued to flourish in different parts of the county until long after the Civil War.

          The Lutheran seminary which began in 1826 and the college in 1832 have continued to function to this day. By the end of the year 1864-65, some 773 male students had enrolled in the seminary. Most later entered the Lutheran ministry and provided that church with the first large infusion of learned pastors in its history in this country. As for the college, by 1864-65, it has awarded bachelor’s degrees to 381 male candidates who had completed its course. In the case of both seminary and college, the day of women students and women graduates had not yet arrived in 1865.

          (Picture caption reads: The first buildings of both Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary and Gettysburg College are still in use. Schmucker Hall, above, on the seminary campus was first occupied in the fall of 1832. Pennsylvania Hall, below, on the college campus was first occupied in the fall of 1837. Source: Sherman Day, Historical Collections of the State of Pennsylvania (1843).)

 

10-25-99-          WOULD RATHER LET THE STUFF ROT

          In spring 1944, the county’s growers and processors of vegetables and fruits feared a severe shortage of workers for the expected large summer and fall harvest. In conversations with the local Emergency Farm Labor office, they firmly rejected one possible solution. It was suggested that American-Japanese who were being held in detention camps could be brought to the county as workers. One farmer responded that he "would rather let the stuff rot in the fields than bring Japs into the county." Others expressed the conviction that they could not assure the safety of the American-Japanese in the fields, orchards or processing plants. Discussion of the possibility ended quickly.

 

10-26-99-          PRISONER HARVESTERS

          The German prisoner of war camp, located south of Gettysburg, was in full operation by June 1944. To supply a large contingent of workers in meeting the agricultural needs of the county was a primary purpose of its establishment. Throughout the summer and fall, more than 350 German prisoners harvested peas, beans, tomatoes, cherries and apples. Some labored in the processing plants. The German prisoners were not free labor. The U.S. Government, in accordance with the Geneva Convention, required payment of "the area prevailing wage for agricultural workers." However, a prisoner could receive only 80 cents a day of the wages with the government retaining the remainder.

 

10-27-99-          MILKWEED D-DAY

          The federal government in spring 1944 urged the school children of the nation to gather 1,500,000 pounds of common milkweed floss. The floss, because of its buoyancy, was to be used in producing lifesaving jackets and aviator’s suits. Kapok, a material similar to milkweed, had been the preferred raw material. The areas of the major source of Kapok were controlled by the Japanese. Thus milkweed floss had become "war emergency material." The task of gathering the floss was touted as "a war activity in which children can engage." "Every milkweed pod in Adams County for Uncle Sam" was the local slogan. In the county, Milkweed D-Day was set for September 21-23.

 

10-28-99-          OUTSIDE HELP

          Responding to the critical agriculture labor shortage of 1944, the U.S. War Food Administration in June brought to the county 100 young Jamaican men, British subjects, to work in the various tasks of the harvest. Shortly, an additional 50 men joined their countrymen. They were housed in the Old Forge Civilian Conservation camp buildings near Mont Alto and remained in the county until November working in the areas of Fairfield, Orrtanna, Cashtown, Arendtsville and Flora Dale. Of the wages each worker received, one dollar a day was deducted and sent to his family in Jamaica; $7.50 a day was deducted for room and board; and the remainder was given to the individual in cash.

 

10-29-99-          1800 COUNTY SEAT

          In 1769, a highway was laid out, part of which became known as the Shippensburg-Baltimore Road. Beginning at Sarah Black’s tavern (site of Mummasburg), it tracked to the southeast crossing the York-Nicholas’ Gap Road at "Samuel Gate’s" tavern and passing through Peter Lintel’s town before crossing the province line. In 1786, James Gettys laid out 210 lots on his 116-acre tract about the intersection of those roads. In part, due to Gettysburg’s central location at the intersection of two major roadways, the town was selected as the county seat of Adams in 1800, beating out Hunterstown and New Oxford for that honor.

 

10-30-99-          TURNPIKE

          Public road construction generated development. In 1808, the Gettysburg and Petersburg (later Littlestown) Turnpike Company was chartered. The toll road extended from Gettysburg down the present Baltimore Pike to the Mason-Dixon Line south of Littlestown. In 1810, the company laid out a northwest extension from Gettysburg through Black’s Gap. Completed about 1812, this extension approximated present Route 30 and the Lincoln Highway. During the ensuing years, inns were built along the new turnpike’s right of way. In most instances, these taverns generated residential development. They were: Sweney’s, later Herr’s; Arnold’s, later Seven Stars; McKnight’s at McKnightstown; and Peter Mark’s at Cashtown.

 

10-31-99-          Adams Countians part of effort in first World War

          On April 6, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signed the congressional resolution declaring war with the Imperial Government of Germany. Adams County took its place in the effort to make the world "safe for democracy."

          In the same month, the Department of War chosen an area on the Gettysburg battlefield along the Emmitsburg Road for a military camp site. By June, over 2,000 men of the Fourth United States Infantry had arrived at the tent camp. The first arrivals, having come from areas along the Mexican border, delighted in "the green fields, woods and trees, and everything else in Adams County."

          The comp remained until late fall. With the approaching winter, the men were transferred south to a warmer climate then Pennsylvania. More than 15,000 infantrymen had trained at the comp by time of its closing.

          The was required a large military. The federal government instituted a draft system to secure the army needed. June 5, 1917, was set as the registration day for all men between the ages of 21 and 31 years. At the close of the day, 2,441 Adams County men had registered. A second registration, including all men between the ages of 18 and 45 years, was conducted in September 1918.

          On Sept. 18, 1917, Adams County’s first draftees, 124, went to Camp Meade, Md. In all, 548 men were drafted. The last group departed for camp on Nov. 10, 1918, but returned home the next day, Armistice Day.

          More than 1,070 Adams County men, including the draftees, served in the armed forces during the war. Fifty-three died while in military service. Their names are inscribed on a memorial shaft in front of the GAR Post building in Gettysburg.

          Twelve Adams County women rendered service as nurses. Seven were with the American Expedition Forces in Europe.

          The war had to be financed. Over the course of the war, four Liberty Bond Loan campaigns and the Victory Bond campaign of April 1919 raised necessary funds. The total quota allocated to Adams County for the five campaigns was $5,061,444. Countians subscribed $5,577,800.

          Camp Colt, an Army tank training school, was established in spring 1918 on the Gettysburg battlefield, remaining until November. Captain Dwight D. Eisenhower commanded the camp. The population of the camp climbed to almost 8,000 men.

          Elsie Singmaster, the county’s Red Cross secretary, reported many local contributions to the war effort. The organization enlisted 2,645 volunteers. Workrooms produced 39,550 surgical dressings and 7,068 hospital supplies and garments. The knitting department completed 2,960 sweaters, pairs of socks and "wristlets."

          The military camps at Gettysburg received more than 3,000 jars and glasses of jams and jellies. Reading and game rooms with writing materials, magazines, books, piano and victrola were provided for military personnel by the college, the First National Bank and several churches.

          On Dec. 27, 1917, the first of many army truck trains, traveling the uncompleted Lincoln Highway with supplies from western factories to eastern camps and shipping points, entered Gettysburg. Initially, men were furnished with sandwiches, coffee, apples and tobacco. Soon lunches and dinners were provided in the rooms of St. James Lutheran Church, often with 120 men being served at a meal.

          On Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1918, bells rang; whistles blew; factories and businesses closed; prayers of thanksgiving were offered throughout the county.

 

Home
1pixel.gif (43 bytes)
Copyright 1999 Adams County Bicentennial Committee