Looking Back: Franklin County’s history Dec 20th

County’s history Dec 4nd

Take a look back at Franklin County’s history through news and photos that appeared in local newspapers 25, 50, and 100 years ago on Dec 20th.

25 Years Ago

December 20, 1996 –   Friday

Students, residents join to preserve cemetery

“Hallowed ground tells of sacrifices in town’s past”

County's history Dec 20th
This tombstone marks the grave of a Shippensburg man who served as a sergeant m one of the federal governments so-called colored regiments during the Civil War.

Shippensburg  – A little-known cemetery has brought a small group of Shippensburg University students and borough residents together in the interest of preserving a small but important piece of local history.

Frances Banks has lived in Shippensburg 76 years.  And the Locust Grove Cemetery on Queen Street has been there as long as she remembers.

“My grandparents are buried there, my aunts are there, and I know a lot of (African American) veterans are buried there,” she said.

Many of the graves are of local men who fought and died in the Civil War.  According to military records at the Carlisle Barracks, they were mostly farmers born and raised in Shippensburg.

Banks and other older residents remember when Shippensburg Black American Legion helped to maintain the graveyard, which is about a two-minute drive from the Shippensburg campus.  The big annual spruce-up event was on Decoration Day.

“We called it Decoration Day, now it’s called Memorial Day,” Banks said. “We’d have a parade, then we’d go to the cemetery and put flowers on the graves.”

But times change.  

Much of Shippensburg’s African American community moved away, and there was a time when the cemetery fell into disarray.

“That is when the (Locust Grove) Cemetery Committee was formed to take over, ” said Walter Thompson, assistant director for financial aid at Shippensburg University.  Thompson is no longer involved with the committee but worked with the group in the past.

The committee raised money to help keep the grounds in good condition.  They built a storage shed and had a wrought iron gate installed.  The committee continues to work on ways to improve the cemetery’s appearance and to increase security there.

“We have plans to build a stone wall and a fence -to keep out vandals,” said Nancy Hodge, 48 W. Orange St., a member of the committee.  “Also, we’ve been trying to get the town to put a no-parking sign in front of the cemetery’s front gate.”

If not for the wrought iron gate erected by the cemetery committee, the burial site might not be noticed from the road.  The intricate gate is what caught the eye of a group of SU students.  When they went beyond the gate, they were fascinated with the historic cemetery.

These men faced racism from both sides of the war, but still stood strong. It’s important that they be remembered for what they did for their country and their people, ” Cancater said.

“I walked by it so many times and didn’t see it,” said Michelle Bailey, a junior at SU.  “Something like that needs to be recognized.  Most of the minorities on campus don’t even know that it’s there.”

Bailey and the other students felt like discovering the cemetery was discovering a part of history.

“Something like this is not only important to local blacks, or the descendants of these people, but to all of us, because our culture and history brings us together,” said junior Will Cancater.

Now that the students know about the grave site, they are considering joining the cemetery committee in its fund-raising efforts.

Bailey and others say they also want to work to make sure other students are aware of the history that’s right under their noses in Shippensburg.

“Maybe one day we can sponsor an old-fashioned Decoration Day party,” Bailey said.

This tombstone marks the grave of a Shippensburg man who served as a sergeant m one of the federal governments so-called colored regiments during the CM War.

50 Years Ago

December 20,  1971 – Monday


“Retired Couple Cycles Five Miles in the Evening”

County's history Dec 20th
David and Frances Eberly on Tandem Bike

When David Eberly retired in November from SKF Industries, he already had begun a physical conditioning program that is giving him one of the most pleasant experiences of his 65 years.  

He and his wife. Frances, 67, have become ardent cyclists and can be seen enjoying the scenery along the country roads on their tandem bicycle.  Since Oct. 15, when the energetic couple purchased their bike, they have covered over 315 miles.

They leave home on Shippensburg’s Eberly Drive after their evening meal, and usually cover a five-mile radius.  If something unforeseen occurs that prevents them from leaving at that time, they wait until they can go. In one instance it was 10 o’clock in the evening.

Why has the couple turned to cycling?  Francis says there are two reasons.  First, she became interested, after reading of its health promoting factors.  Second, the Eberly’s son’s family in Bridgeport, Conn., all five of them, are enthusiastic riders.

Frances confessed that she had never ridden before in her life. Already she is experiencing one of its advantages.  She has lost five pounds. David says he has shed 12 but is striving for another five.

The Eberbys are so captivated by the sport that they have attached a bike carrier to the top of their car, for trips to Connecticut.  

With a wide grin David prompted, “Ask us what we’re really looking forward to.”  The new arrival is expected in February, a striking five-speed model tandem that will help to lessen the exertion on inclines.

Meanwhile, the happy twosome can be seen peddling merrily on their way.  You can’t miss them . . . their rosy complexions are a sure giveaway.  Give a wave . . . they’ll wave back . . . that’s the kind of folks the Eberlys are.

100 Years Ago

December 20, 1921 Tuesday

“These lads are shivering right here in Franklin County”

“Will you please try and send us a pair of shoes and an overcoat for we need them very bad.  The shoes we hate have holes in them and a overcoat, why I haven’t even a little coat without a big overcoat. I got only a sweater and they don’t keep us half warm up here.”


This is the appeal that the local Red Cross got from two boy patients at the Mont Alto Sanatorium.  The lads are 8 and 12 years old respectively.  Their father is also a patient and their mother deserted them some years ago.  

It will be seen from this letter the boys need shoes, a suit and over coat each.  The state supplies everything for the patients at the sanatorium except clothing.  

If any local resident has old clothes to keep these children warm, send the articles to the Red Cross room, fourth floor, Trust Building.