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7277782_f260.jpgPresident Woodrow Wilson turned to conscription as a way to raise an army to fight in World War I. The Selective Service Act of 1917 allowed required all men between 21 and 31 years old to register for the draft, though there were exceptions for dependency, essential occupations, and religious convictions. Local draft boards issued draft calls and determined exemptions. During 1917 and 1918, 24 million men registered and about 3 million of them were drafted into the armed forces. About 3,127 of them were from Franklin County.

Though there was some opposition and fraud, the World War I draft proceeded far more smoothly than the Civil War-era drafts.

One man who didn’t want to fight (at least in the war) was Daniel Kenney of Waynesboro, Pa. When the Franklin County draft board issued a draft call for September 12, 1918, Kenney was in jail.

This registration was the third and final registration call during World War I. The first registration had been on June 5, 1917, to register all eligible men. The second registration on June 5, 1918, was to register men who had turned 21 since the first registration. The September 12 registration was to register all men between 18 and 45 years old because the service age had been extended.

Being in jail was no excuse for getting registered, though. Kenney’s jailer asked him if he needed to register. Kenney said no, he was 49 years old and overage for registering with the draft.

“This was seriously doubted on account of his youthful appearance and Chief Gillan who know Kenney well began an investigation to learn whether this were true,” reported the Waynesboro Daily Record in October 1918.

So the police chief began an investigation into Kenney’s background. Gillan contacted the Hagerstown chief of police to search for Kenney’s marriage certificate, which had occurred in Washington County. The information on the certificate showed that Kenney had been 22 years old when he was married in 1911, which made him 29 years old on September 12, not 49.

Kenney was once again arrested but this time on a federal charge of evading the draft. He was taken to Chambersburg in October where he had a hearing before a United States commissioner and was found guilty.

If he could have held out a little longer Kenney might have gotten away with it. After the armistice was signed on November 11, which ended WWI, selective service organizations were closed. By the end of March 1919, local and district draft boards were closed.

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One of the aircraft spotting stations in Adams County during WWII. This one was located in Biglerville, PA. Gettysburg had one station located on the roof of the First National Bank building in downtown Gettysburg.

Early in the morning of June 22, 1943, air raid sirens blared throughout Adams County. People stumbled out of their beds, tripping in the dark because they couldn’t turn on any lights. Within an hour, it was obvious that the county had bombed.

The county hadn’t been bombed. It had bombed as in “failed.”

“If the surprise air raid test early Tuesday morning had been the real thing the amount of damage done in Adams County would have been terrible,” a member of the County Council of Defense told the Gettysburg Times.

Adams County had been staging air raid drills since the United States had entered World War II, but the U.S. Army had taken over running them in mid-June 1943 and within a week, ran its first drill. The army sent the alert at 4:10 a.m. and the yellow alarm was sounded 15 minutes later. In Gettysburg, the alarm was the undulating sound of the siren on the Gettysburg Fire Hall.

Lights should have been doused and blackout shades drawn all around the county. Instead, people stumbled around in a sleepy daze as the siren became an annoying alarm.

“So realistic was the test, the first sprung by the army, that a number of persons were fearful it was a real raid after they had discovered that the test was in progress,” the Gettysburg Times reported.

The blue alarm was sent at 4:35 a.m., though it didn’t sound until 4:42 because of the volume of telephone calls being made. The only operator on duty at the Gettysburg phone exchange began fielding lots of calls from firemen who wanted to know where the fire was. One of the members of the County Council of Defense said, “The magnificent work of the single operator on duty prevented complete collapse of the local system and allowed the air raid calls to go through.”

The hundreds of air raid wardens throughout the county (Gettysburg alone had 179 wardens and 35 highway entrance police) should have been outside by then walking along their streets to make sure no lights could be seen and people had taken cover. Spotters should have been at their station of the roof of the First National Bank looking for enemy aircraft. That wasn’t the case. Only a small portion had heeded the alarm.

“A number of county communities did not receive the alarms apparently because sleeping wardens did not hear their phones or failed to distinguish their ring on the party lines,” the Gettysburg Times reported.

Early morning defense workers had to dress in the dark and couldn’t leave their homes in time to get to work.

The all-clear alarm finally sounded at 5:02 a.m., less than an hour after the original alarm had been sounded.

People took a deep breath and began assessing what had happened. New Oxford and McSherrystown hadn’t even staged a blackout. When the army took over the air raid drills, the phrasing of how the drill alerts were made was changed. Though it was supposed to be simpler, it turned out to be confusing and so those communities hadn’t even realized that they were in the midst of an air raid drill. The county switched back to using the original phraseology a few weeks later.

In Gettysburg, Texas Hot Weiners, Dr. Bruce N. Wolff and the Sweetland Plaza Restaurant were all fined $5 and court costs for not adhering to blackout conditions.

“The test was the most unsuccessful held so far in regards to performance, but it was the most successful in revealing flaws in the system,” a Defense Council official told the Gettysburg Times.

Another change that was found to be necessary was a new alarm at the fire hall so that the air raid signals wouldn’t be mistaken for a fire alarm. On the east side of Gettysburg, the alarm had been confused with factory whistles, adding to residents’ confusion.

“That the present differentiation is not distinct enough to make everyone understand immediately that is an air raid alarm was proved all too well this morning. If they raid had been real, the result would have been tragic,” the Defense Council official said.

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indians_del_11310_lgChiefs of the Iroquois Indians and members of Pennsylvania’s government met on November 5, 1768. They sat down together and negotiated what is now called the Treaty of Fort Stanwix. The agreement opened up the Conemaugh Valley and Stonycreek Valley by encouraging their settlement. When the treaty became effective the following April, a warrant was taken out for 249 acres between Conemaugh and Stonycreek rivers. What was initially an Indian town called Conemaugh eventually grew into Johnstown. It also opened up the shortest land route between Philadelphia and the Great Lakes, which was of interest to merchants.

The treaty was a turning point in relations between Whites and Indians in the region. By that time, the two cultures had been trading for about 40 years. The Treaty of Fort Stanwix marked a formal agreement to settle some of the land disputes between the two cultures. It also marked the beginning of some of the problems as formals promises were broken.

Early Contact

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Shawnee Chief Tecumseh

 

Although trade between White men and Indians in the region began in 1728, the White men weren’t living in the area. In fact, pacts that the Penn Family had made with the Indians closed off most of the Allegheny Wilderness from white settlements. White men only came into the area to trade with the Indians.

One of these traders, John Hart, was granted a license to trade with the Indians in 1744. He set up a camp where the Kittanning Indian Trail crossed the Eastern Continental Divide. It was called Hart’s Sleeping Place and “is the first place in Cambria County selected and frequented by white men,” according to the brochure, On the Pioneer Trail in Rural Cambria County.

The Shawonese and Delaware Indians were the principal inhabitants of the Conemaugh Valley, according to Kathy Jones, curator with the Cambria County Historical Society. Henry Wilson Storey also notes in his book, History of Cambria County that while these were the principal tribes, Indians from most of the regional tribes could be found in the area although not in any great numbers.

Records indicate that the Shawonese were near universally considered treacherous and fierce by White settlers while opinion was split about the Delawares, according to Storey.

“The Delawares were natives of Pennsylvania, and, while they were guilty of many acts of cruelty toward the whites, yet it was probably a matter of self-defense, as their property had been taken from them,” Storey wrote.

The largest point of contention between the Delawares and whites was called “The Walking Purchase” even though it didn’t occur in the Conemaugh and Stonycreek valleys. William Penn’s heirs used a 1686 deed to claim land that the Lenape (or Delawares) had agreed to sell them. The Lenape promised to sell the amount of land from a point near modern-day Easton as far west as a man could walk in a day and a half. The Lenape assumed that the distance would be about 40 miles, but in 1737, John and Thomas Penn arranged for the three fastest runners in the Pennsylvania colony to run the trail. The furthest runner went 70 miles and the Whites claimed 1.2 million acres.

 

Shawnee house

A typical Shawnee home.

The Lenape were forced to leave the area and they migrated west with a distrust of White men. Bad interactions like this led to problems.

 

The Shawonese originally arrived in Pennsylvania from the Carolinas in 1698. The Delawares welcomed them, but even they had trouble with the Shawonese. In 1732, it was estimated that there were 700 fighting Indians in Pennsylvania and of that number about half were Shawonese.

“Ever restless and quarrelsome themselves, and being encroached upon by the white man, they retired from one hunting ground to another until they joined the French at Pittsburg, in 1755, and finally drifted to the west,” Storey wrote.

Hostilities

The Indians first mounted a large attack against White men in the area was during the Battle of the Monongahela in 1755. This was at the beginning of the French and Indian War. The French soldiers and Native American warriors joined to fight and defeat British General Edward Braddock.

Braddock was mortally wounded during the battle and died near present-day Uniontown.

Years later, Native Americans started warring on their own against White settlers and the British.

“The Native Americans were upset over British laws being enforced by General Jeffrey Amherst,” said Scott Perry, museum facilitator at the Bushey Run Battlefield.

One problem was that Amherst cut off the Native American supply of gunpowder, which they had grown dependent on for their hunting.

This was named Pontiac’s War after one of the leading Native American generals. The Native American raids were initially quite successful and the conflict spread from the Great Lakes region eastward into the Pennsylvania.

Col. Henry Bouquet was leading an expedition to help re-establish some of the forts in western Pennsylvania when his soldiers were attacked at Bushey Run. The battle that followed was a significant victory for the British and is said to have turned the tide of the war.

“Militarily, the British hadn’t known how to deal with the Native Americans,” Perry said. “However, the British not only defeated them, but defeated them in their own territories in their own kind of fight.”

Kittanning Trail

Shawnee-indian

A Shawnee Indian.

 

The Kittanning Trail was one of four major Indian trails that passed through Cambria County. It ran from Frankstown in Butler County, passing through Cambria County east of Carrolltown, and ended at Kittanning on the Allegheny River. It was used from 1721 to 1781 and helped bring white men into the region.

In the 1750s, Indians who were unhappy that they had lost much of their land rights because of the language of the “walking purchase”, would use the path to reach white settlements near the eastern end of the trail, raid them, and then retreat to Kittanning.

Col. John Armstrong pursued the Delaware Indian Shingas along the path in 1755 after Shingas had raided a white settlement and taken prisoners. Armstrong and his men went on to destroy Kittanning.

 End of Hostilities

In the end, it was simply a matter of numbers. White settlers kept moving into the region and easily outnumbered the small Indian population. The Kittanning Trail was essentially abandoned by 1781.

“By 1800, most Indians whose original homelands were within Pennsylvania’s borders had moved out of the state to new homes in Ohio, Canada, or farther west. With the exception of a small Seneca community living in the northwest corner of the state, there were no officially recognized reservations or self-governing Indian communities remaining within Pennsylvania’s borders,” according to ExplorePaHistory.com.

 

Shawnee Indian signing the treaty with William Penn

Shawnee Indians signing a treaty with William Penn.

Today

 

It’s hard to find traces of the Indians and White pioneers in the area nowadays. You can find some old cemeteries with the graves of white pioneers. One of these is Shanks Cemetery just south of the Chest Springs.

The Indian villages and original white settlements are gone or built over by modern incarnations like Johnstown being built where an Indian settlement had been. You can get an idea of what Indian villages of the time were like at the Fort Hill archaeological site near Confluence in Somerset County.

You can also visit the Bushey Run Battlefield and visitors’ center in Jeannette.

A section of the Kittanning Trail still exists at Carrolltown. It has been surveyed to match the original trail and preserved.

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Some thought that it might be a killer that waited in hiding to pounce on the unsuspecting. Others thought that it was where other killers hid their dead. It was both, and while cautious, the residents of McSherrystown didn’t fear the pits of sand around them, perhaps because the body count accumulated over decades.

 

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This shot of an old sand quarry give you an idea of how the McSherrystown quarries might have looked. Courtesy of http://www.rossbullock.co.uk.

In September 1901, a dead newborn baby was found in one of the sand holes from the quarry in McSherrystown. “The body was wrapped in the sleeve of an undershirt, which was next bound with a cloth and then enclosed in newspaper,” the New Oxford Item reported. A coroner’s inquest determined that the baby had been born alive, but no marks of violence were found on the body. The child may have suffocated in the sand. The parents were never found.

 

Whether or not the baby was the first person killed by the sand, he was not the last.

In December 1905, the New Oxford Item reported, “The ghastly discovery was made by several school boys, who, on their way home, while passing over the hill, saw a bundle lying in one of the sand holes. A scramble was made for possession of the bundle, and on picking it up the paper covering tore, and the body of a male child rolled to the ground.”

The boys were frightened at first, but they were boys. They quickly recovered and began spreading the story of how they had found a dead body.

The coroner’s inquest was only able to determine that the child had been dead for about a week when he had been found. Once again, the killers were never caught.

The sand holes around the town gave up their secrets reluctantly and then not all of them.

In October 1907, a horse and cart were buried under 20 feet of sand. The driver, Levi Reed, only narrowly escaped the same fate.

Reed had been loading the wagon with rough sand that needed to be put through the crusher to make it finer. “Levi Reed, who was near the horse, felt the tremor as the sand shifted and quickly he succeeded in reaching the edge of the bank, thereby saving himself from being drawn in,” the New Oxford Item reported.

A month later, Reed had another close call in the sand holes, but his partner, John Frock wasn’t so lucky. They had a contract to supply sand for the building of the York and Hanover trolley and were loading a wagon with sand. “They were working at the base of a jagged wall of sand above. Without warning this wall of sand shifted, sliding with force to the bottom of the hole,” the Gettysburg Compiler reported.

 

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This shot of an old quarry shows how close they could be to residential areas. 

 

The sand buried Frock, and he suffocated. Rescuers dug his body out from beneath two feet of sand.

In 1914, Urban Gouker fell 20 feet into one of the sand holes. He sustained multiple broken bones. He was lucky. At least he lived.

Another resident who was lucky to avoid being killed in the sand holes was William Farley. He was driving his car on Third Street in McSherrystown and failed to make a turn in the road. His car slid off the road and into a sand pit 25 feet below.

“Although the machine, a touring car, landed in an almost perpendicular position, with its radiator buried in a heap of rubbish in the pit, the driver crawled from the automobile apparently unhurt, but later was reported confined to a bed at his home suffering from pains in his head,” the Hanover Evening Sun reported.

In December 1915, the Gettysburg Times reported that residents of McSherrystown had seen the shadowy form of a woman had been seen wandering near the sand holes, supposedly searching for her lost child. The newspaper pointed out that it was a ghost story that circulated from time to time in the area.

“Fictitious as the story is, it, however, recalls the fact that the dead bodies of three infants have been found in these quarries, at various times, within the past twenty years, the last child having been found one Sunday about ten years ago, wrapped in a white sheet,” according to the newspaper.

Besides hiding bodies, the holes were also used as the town dump. This created a fire hazard from time to time as the trash would catch on fire.

In 1930, a group of school boys hit the mother lode in a sand hole when they found cases of unopened beer buried in a hole. It was believed that the beer had been seized in a raid in which law enforcement officers had failed to dispose of the alcohol properly.

The boys, who were ages 7 to 13, found the treasure trove. “One boy had two cases of it in bags. They drank some of it and sold some at five cents a bottle to anyone who cared to take a chance,” according to the Hanover Evening Sun. Some of the boys also imbibed and were drunk when the police found them.

The 1930s also saw the town begin to fill in some of the sand holes, which had fallen into disuse. One area was filled in and turned into a playground. Other areas were partially filled in, which at least reduced the depth that someone might fall. However, some holes remained open even into the late 1940s when one hole was used as a local swimming hole.

It also allowed the sand hole to claim a victim by drowning when an 81-year-old man was accidentally knocked into the hole and died.

When the last hole was filled in, all of the secrets hidden in the sand were covered over, and given the depth of the holes, may never be discovered.

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Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of three posts about the civilians who were taken as prisoners of war by the Confederate Army after the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863.

libby-prison

Libby Prison in Richmond, Va., where the Gettysburg civilian prisoners were kept for a time.

In March of 1865, the country was still at war, but the end was near. The Confederacy was collapsing and the Union was pressing its advantage and forcing the Confederate Army to retreat.

They would not surrender easily, though. Just a couple weeks earlier, 40 McNeill’s Rangers had snuck into Union-occupied Cumberland, Md., and kidnapped General George Crook and General Benjamin Kelley from their hotel rooms. They escaped back into Virginia and delivered the prisoners to the infamous Libby Prison where they were promptly ransomed back to the Union.

The generals’ incarceration hadn’t even lasted a month. They were lucky.

Around the same time negotiations were underway to free the generals, several men returned home to Adams County, Pennsylvania. They had been missing for 20 months. They weren’t victorious soldiers. They were farmers, postmasters, and ordinary citizens. They were also a secret, or perhaps, a shame of the Confederacy because these men were civilians arrested by the Confederate Army at the end of the Battle of Gettysburg and marched back to Virginia when the Confederate Army retreated.

“The hostages were selected from three target groups. They were agents of the government such as postmasters or tax collectors, they defied or criticized the invaders or they were prominent citizens in the community,” James Cole, a descendant of one of the hostages, said in a 1994 interview.

On July 2, 1863, Confederate soldiers arrested Samuel Pitzer and his uncle, George Patterson on the suspicion that they were spies. The rebel sharpshooters were hidden behind the Pitzer Schoolhouse and surprised Pitzer and Patterson.

The two men argued that they were farmers not spies. The soldiers told them that they would have to go to the headquarters for a hearing.

“As they did not find any firearms upon us they assured us that we would not be held after the hearing. When we reached headquarters however Major Fairfax said it was too late to give the hearing that night and put if off till morning,” Pitzer wrote of his experiences years later and reported in the History of the St. James Lutheran Church.

The following day, the Confederates were defeated and started their retreat. All thought of the hearing was forgotten and the prisoners were forced to march south, accompanied by a guard who stood beside each prisoner.

Emanuel Trostle, was another Gettysburg farmer. He lived with his wife and child on Emmittsburg Road. During the battle, a Confederate colonel rode up to his farmhouse and warned him that his family was in danger because of the battle.

“Mr. Trostle, who was crippled at the time, and walked with the aid of a staff and crutch, told the colonel that he could not pass through his pickets. The colonel told him that he would take him through, and accordingly did so,” the Gettysburg Times reported in 1914 when Trostle died.

Trostle had second thoughts the next morning, though. He worried about some of the household goods that he had left behind and headed back, accompanied by a friend. They got as far as the pickets before they were captured.

“He was taken to the battle-field, expecting to be paroled, but the firing opened before the parole could be made out. He was taken to Staunton, Va., walking the entire distance of 175 miles; was on the road six days, and for three days had not a mouthful to eat,” according to the Gettysburg Times.

When the Confederates left Pennsylvania at the end of the Battle of Gettysburg, they left with eight civilians: George Codori, J. Crawford Guinn, Alexander Harper, William Harper, Samuel Pitzer, George Patterson, George Arendt, and Emanuel Trostle.

Here are the other parts of the story:

 

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The big top and midway of the Tom Mix Circus (formerly the Sam Dill Circus). Courtesy of circusesandsideshows.com.

Early Wednesday morning, July 19, 1933, a long train arrived in York, Pa., and stopped near the fairground. The Sam B. Dill Circus had arrived.

“Young America, having caught the infectious circus spirit is likely to be in ahead of both morning orb and circus and be on the lot along with enthusiastic adults to greet the show train on its arrival there,” The York Dispatch reported the day before the train’s arrival.

The unloading and setting up of the circus tents and shows worked smoothly. All of the performers knew their jobs. They had been doing it multiple times each week since the circus had opened its season in Dallas, Tex., on April 9.

Wagons containing the menagerie were rolled down ramps. Trunks were carried off to other areas. Elephants and roustabouts worked to raise the big top as the sun rose. Within a relatively short time, the big top tent was erected and the performers went to work preparing their equipment inside while the roustabouts set up the bleacher seating.

By the time everything was finished around 9 a.m., the cooks in the circus kitchen had breakfast ready.

The Sam B. Dill Circus was scheduled to play two performances, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., for York residents.

“Sam B. Dill’s Circus isn’t the biggest circus in the world but what it lacks in size it makes up in quality,” the Amarillo Sunday News and Globe wrote about the circus.

Dill had managed the famous John Robinson Circus, but when it was sold to the American Circus Corp., Dill had struck out on his own. Though not a large circus, Dill’s circus was popular and tended to sell out its performances.

After breakfast, everyone had a short rest and then they began to scurry around getting the menagerie wagons harnessed to horses and in a line. Performers dressed in their bright and flamboyant costumes. At noon, “a long column of red, gold and glitter, with bands playing and banners flying will move sinuously out of the Richland avenue gate,” The York Dispatch reported.

From the Richland Avenue, the parade moved east on Princess Street, then north on George Street to Continental Square. From the square, the circus moved west on Market Street and then back to Richland Avenue. Thousands of spectators lined the route to watch the performers, hear the music, and marvel at the wild animals.

The first wagon was the band wagon where Shirley Pitts, the country’s only female calliope player, conducted the band. Then came the wagons pulling tigers, monkeys, seals, and more. Other flat wagons featured clowns goofing off and Wild West displays.

When the parade arrived back at the fairgrounds, many of the spectators followed them. Although the big top wouldn’t open until one o’clock, they wandered the midway, playing games, getting an up close look at the menagerie, or visiting some of the shows in the smaller tents.

The three-ring show under the big top had dozens of animals such as Oscar the Lion, Buddy the performing sea lion, camels, zebras, horses, elephants, dogs, monkeys and ponies.

Christian Belmont swung on the trapeze, along with aerialist Rene Larue. Mary Miller performed a head-balancing act. The four Bell Brothers showed off their acrobatic skills and Betha Owen owned the high wire. Among the clowns, young Jimmy Thomas was noted as the “youngest clown in the circus world.” He traveled with his mother Lorette Jordan, who was also an aerialist with the show.

The circus also liked to feature a western movie star with its Wild West acts. In 1933, that performer was Buck Steel. The following year, Tom Mix joined the circus. He had been a major western movie star who had seen his popularity decline in the 1920s. In 1935, he bought it from Dill and renamed it the Tom Mix Circus.

Following the second performance at 8 p.m., the performers broke down the circus and loaded it back on the train to head out for the next city by midnight.

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While the George Washington Masonic Lodge in Chambersburg, Pa., wasn’t the first lodge of the Free and Accepted Masons in Franklin County, it is the oldest and April 23, 2016, marks two centuries of service in the county.

Lodge No. 79

The first Masonic Lodge in the county was formed in 1800. General James Chambers, son of Chambersburg’s founder Benjamin Chambers, served as the Warrant Master. Over the next five years, the lodge met 54 times and then closed its doors, not having gotten a strong membership base.

This didn’t end Freemasonry in the county, though. Men continued to travel great distances to meet and fellowship at other lodges. However, the rigors of long travel for a relatively short meeting grows old quickly, and a group of men began petitioning for a new lodge to be formed in Chambersburg.

635853400538363680-cpo-sub-121015-masonic-templeGeorge Washington Lodge No. 143

In 1815, the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania acted favorably on the petition and issued a warrant on January 15, 1816, to George Washington Lodge No. 143. The lodge was constituted on April 23, 1816, and the Masons began meeting at various locations around the town.

“The meetings were first held in the Franklin County Courthouse, but that was considered an inconvenience,” Mike Marote, a member of the George Washington Lodge. Another location where the Masons met was Capt. George Coffey’s Inn, but no one is sure where that inn was located in town.

The Masons purchased land for their temple in April 1823 and Silas Harry, a bridge builder, set the work to build the temple for $2,500. The final structure was a two-story brick building that was 32 feet wide by 67 feet long. The foundation stone was laid on June 24, 1823, and the building was occupied on September 16 of the following year.

The 1830s saw a period where Masons were persecuted in the country and the George Washington Lodge decided on December 3, 1830, “to go dark” as Lodge Worshipful Master Kevin Hicks said. The charter was returned to the Grand Lodge in 1831, essentially disbanding the lodge, but the Masons still met quietly and out of the public eye.

During this time, the Masons didn’t own the temple and it was used as a church printing office. The lodge reconstituted itself in 1845, but it wasn’t until 1860 that the George Washington Lodge was able to repurchase the temple for $2,000.

The Burning of Chambersburg

When Confederate General Jubal Early demanded a ransom from Chambersburg in 1864, the people weren’t able to pay it. Early ordered the town burned and $1.7 million in property was lost in the resulting flames.

One area of the town was left untouched, though. The Masonic temple and the buildings in the half block area surrounding it were unscathed.

“Confederate soldiers were posted out front prevented other Confederate soldiers from burning the lodge,” Marote said.

The reason for this is that as the orders were being given to burn Chambersburg, an unnamed Confederate officer saw the lodge and took steps to save it. The surrounding buildings were also preserved because they were so close to the temple that if they had burned, they might have caught the temple on fire.

“Because the temple wasn’t being burned, women and children were able to take shelter inside,” Hicks added.

Since the officer was never identified, the story is considered a well-authenticated legend. Many of the other details have been verified and the half block around the temple was left untouched while the town burned around it.

Teachings

While there is much fellowshipping among the Masons, there is also instruction. Masons learn various speeches, passwords, and signs to move through 33 different degrees. Hicks noted that a man becomes a Master Mason at the third degree, though.

“We are learning what I call moral lessons with allegories,” Hick said.

Though generally believed to be a Christian group, Masons include many faiths. The one requirement is that Masons must believe in a higher being. Each lodge has a book of faith on its central altar. The George Washington Lodge uses a Bible that is more than 100 years old, but other lodges can include a book of faith for the predominant religion of the lodge.

“Freemasonry is not a church,” Hicks said. “I look at it as a steady moral compass. You treat people like you want to be treated.”

Masons are involved in many civic activities and participates in parades and building dedications. They can be identified in full regalia that includes tuxedos, top hats, and aprons.

“We have a belief in working for the greater good and for the good of the community,” Hicks said.

Although the teachings are private matters for Masons, the public has occasionally been invited in to witness these meetings. The last time was in December 2014. It was so well received in the community that not only were all the seats in the meeting room filled, but 37 additional chairs had to be brought in to accommodate the crowd, according to Hicks.

Hicks would also like to open the temple up, on occasion, for artists to come in and use their time in the temple for inspiration for their art. He would then set up the social room as an art gallery where the artists could sell their works one evening.

Other Lodges

Franklin County currently has three other Masonic Lodges: Acacia Lodge No. 586 in Waynesboro, Mount Pisgah Lodge No. 443 in Greencastle, and Orrstown Lodge No. 262 in Orrstown. A fourth lodge, Gen. James Chambers Lodge No. 801, has recently merged with the George Washington Lodge to make both lodges stronger.

The George Washington Lodge boasts a membership of around 800 Masons.img_2501

200 Years

To celebrate its bicentennial year, the George Washington Lodge will have a luncheon and rededication of the cornerstone of the original lodge on August 23, 2016. Oddly enough, as of August 2015, the lodge was still unsure as to where the original cornerstone was located. They are hoping to find buried beneath the earth before the ceremony. There will also be an evening banquet at Green Grove Gardens in Greencastle. The Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania will be the featured speaker.

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