Looking Back: Franklin County’s history Dec 9th

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 9th.

25 Years Ago

December 9, 1996 –   Monday

“College Looks Back at History”

Shippensburg — It began with one building on 10 acres of unkept land.  People knew it then, in the early 1870s, as Cumberland Valley State Normal School, when every student was required to practice calisthenics or gymnastics daily, and tuition was $5.50 per week.  

Now, 125 years later, the small teachers’ college has expanded into the state-owned Shippensburg University, with 200 acres, 50 undergraduate programs, and 35 buildings.

“Almost all the buildings that are currently here were built between 1958 and 1971,” said Dr. Jim Coolsen, history professor at the university for almost 30 years.  “There have been a few built since.”

Coolsen is writing a history of the university from the 1960s to the present.  “This is a place in which (professors), when they come to it, (they) stay” Coolsen said. “I may be on the first page of the seniority list, but I’m not the only one.”  


Posters and banners declaring the anniversary hang throughout campus, in the Cumberland Union Building, where students snack between classes, and in Old Main, the oldest building still standing.

The 125th anniversary has stirred up a lot of memories.  

The interest in the school’s past prompted university president Anthony Ceddia to ask Coolsen to write a book about the school’s history.  For the past year, Coolsen’s been interviewing former students and faculty members.  He hopes to complete the book by May.

One person who remembers the school of the early days is Ethel Spangler Hopkins, a 1936 graduate.  She remembers when on-campus students had to rise at 5:30 a.m. and eat breakfast together.

“We had chapel and we were supposed to attend,” she said. “I spent four years there and I never missed a class,” she recalls.

Hopkins has five great-grandchildren who currently attend the university.  One of them, Melissa Koser, is 19, and a graduate of Big Spring High School, Newville.  Koser plans to major in elementary education.

“I decided to go (here) because it was close to home.  I didn’t really want to leave, and I like it.  It’s a down-home type of place.  Professors are really caring and want to know if you have problems.”

Books about the university’s first 100 years have already been researched and written by Dr. John Hubley, former executive vice president of the college who retired in 1988.  

He wrote “The Fountainhead of Good Teachers” for his doctoral dissertation, and updated it 10 years later, in 1971, with “Hilltop  Heritage.”  

“There is a Shippensburg spirit that started with the people in this community after the Civil War who decided that they wanted a better education for their children,” said Hubley, 68.  “So as a result they decided to start a … school here.”

An advertisement ran in the paper asking for volunteers to clean up the muddy, rocky land that would be the campus.  “They went up with their horses and their wagons and their picks and their shovels and they cleared those rocks out and beautified the campus,” he said.

Hubley attended kindergarten in 1933 at Shippensburg’s training school, formerly in Gilbert Hall. He returned to the campus in 1946 when the veterans returned after World War II.

 “That was the first year that there were more men enrolled than women,” he said.  

While most things about the university have changed for the better, some Shippensburg residents believe more students today party every weekend and skip classes.  More than 300 have been arrested this year for underage drinking.  

Hopkins said she doesn’t recall ever attending “wild” parties in the 1930s.

“To me, it was strictly school.  I worked, I studied, and I was quite proud of getting a good grade,” she said.  

But Hubley said students today are the same as when he went to school.

These things happened in the past, but the students grew, and they matured,” he said.  They’re going to get over this, they’re going to grow and they’re going to make their contributions to society. … I have confidence in the student population today the same as I’ve had over the years.”

Changing Times, Changing Rules

At Shippensburg University, the rules have changed over the years:

  • In the late 1800s, ladies and gentleman could not have long conversations with one another unless it had to do with school activities, and only with permission of the principal or a faculty member. 
  • In 1934, students were no longer obligated to attend church, but were “urged” to go every Sabbath morning.
  • In 1950, only male students could bring cars to campus.   Women were permitted to stay out until 1 a.m. only one Saturday a month. Women were not permitted to enter taverns, but in 1956, they were given permission to smoke in Horton Hall.
  • In 1964, a female was not permitted to stay in a hotel or motel overnight in the area.   At the evening meal, men had to wear coats and dress shirts with neckties.  Women were to dress accordingly.  Bobby socks were barred.
  • In 1976, bicycles ridden on campus had to be registered with Campus Security.

50 Years Ago

December 9,  1971 – Thursday

“Mistletoe:  Myth vs Menace”

Norse legend says after the god Balder was slain by mistletoe, the plant promised never to do harm again.  

But mistletoe apparently has reverted to its bad habits. Arceuthobium, or dwarf mistletoe, annually destroys thousands of acres of valuable trees.  

“The ‘dwarfs’ are responsible for the toss of up to $100 million worth of timber in a single year,” reports Dr. Delbert Wiens.  A biologist, he has been studying mistletoe for more than a decade.  

To forestry officials and scientists, mistletoe is more than a Christmas decoration.  Foresters regard it as a dangerous pest whose progress can be checked only by cutting down infested trees. Researchers consider it an unusual plant and want to learn more about it.

“Mistletoe fascinates me because it is one of the few plant families which are flowering parasites,” explained Dr. Wiens before leaving recently to spend a year on the track of specimens in Africa.  Dr. Wiens is on leave from the University of Utah, and his project is supported by the National Geographic Society and the National Science Foundation.

Some 1,200 species of mistletoe are found in tropic and temperate zones on all continents except Antarctica. But their classification is incomplete, and little is known of their evolution.

“We must know more about mistletoe, for example, before we can control it,” Dr. Wiens points out.  “And the more we learn of chromosome behavior in any group, the better we can apply this knowledge to benefit crop plants.”  

Karyology, or the study of the number, shape, and size of chromosomes, is Dr. Wiens’ specialty.  Early studies of mistletoe classified the plants chiefly by external appearance.  This can be misleading, but interrelationships show up clearly in plant chromosomes.

In traveling through 18 African countries as well as Austraiia and New Zealand, the biologist will study more than 300 species of mistletoe in an effort to discover how the plant originally spread across most of the Earth.  

In ancient times, mistletoe was regarded as sacred from the Mediterranean to the Baltic.  It was “the golden bough” that protected Aeneas on his trip to the underworld.

Pliny related how Druid priests ceremoniously gathered it with golden sickles, while maidens caught the boughs in white cloth so it would not touch the ground.’  Romans believed a sprig of mistletoe assured safe passage across the River Styx into Hades.

In the Middle Ages, medicine was brewed from it in France; Swedes chewed mistletoe leaves as a cure for ulcers.  As late as 1720 in England it was believed able to cure epilepsy, among other illnesses.

Mistletoe first may have inspired awe because it does not grow on the ground like other plants.  It is found only on trees and bushes, from which it draws nutrients.  Since it is green in winter, when its host tree appears dead, the belief arose those forests were reborn each spring from the spirit of the mistletoe.

100 Years ago

December 9, 1921 Friday

“Please Mr. Santa Claus”

County's history Dec 9th

She needs you so much, this little girl. She earnestly believes in Santa Claus. And doesn’t he bring gifts to all good little girls, whether they are rich or poor?  

Of course, her daddy has been sick a long time, and her mother finds it hard to get work, so this little girl wonders what Santa CIaus will bring.   

Well, you can answer, by speaking to any member of the Junior Civic Club, which is now forming its Empty Stocking Club, and giving n dollar.  

The girls will buy toys and things for the kids and see that they get them.  If you don’t know any Junior Civic Club girl you can leave your money at Public Opinion office.

The girls will do the rest.



Brian Scott Handy obituary 1970~2023

Brian was an Army Veteran who had served in the Gulf War. He enjoyed Video Games, Cooking, and working with his hands, as well as many outdoor activities.