Looking Back: Franklin County’s history January 16th

Franklin County’s history

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 January 16th.

25 Years Ago 

January 16, 1996 – Tuesday 

“Three cheers for Chambersburg snow plow movers” 

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County's history January 16th
Front row, from left: Bruce Carbaugh, Frank Mitchell and Jason Snyder. Back row: (from left) – Dick West, Don Horton, Don Rotz, Denny Fleagle, Tommy Wauls, Dave Bigler, Walter Kieth, Mike Kemp and John Pearl.

Wonder who was sitting in those snow plows cruising in Chambersburg during the two storms last week? 

Here’s the crew, getting ready Friday to tackle what nature was pouring on.  

50 Years Ago   


“159 Years Later – New Owner for Old Jail “ 

County's history January 16th
IT’S YOUR JAIL – Robert Peiffer, right, executive director of the Franklin County Redevelopment Authority, receives two ancient keys, emblematic of the transfer of the old county jail to authority owner ship, from Paul W. Bricker, county commissioner. The old keys, dating from 1818, still fit keyholes in old heavy wooden doors in the older part of the jail

In a quiet ceremony Friday afternoon in the Franklin County Commissioner’s office, ownership of the old Franklin County Jail on the corner of Second and King Streets passed out of possession of Franklin County after 159 years.  

A check for $225,000 was handed to the three Franklin County commissioners by Robert Peiffer, executive director of the Franklin County Redevelopment Authority at 1:45 p.m.  

The selling price was a considerable improvement over the county’s purchase price of $1925 in 1817.  

In turn Paul W. Bricker, chairman of the commissioners, handed over two large keys to Peiffer, signifying ownership of the brick and sandstone structure.   

The keys weigh one pound 13 ounces and one pound four ounces respectively.  They were fashioned by a black smith when the jail was constructed in 1818 and still fit into huge keyholes in massive jail doors.  More modern locks however have supplanted the actual use of the old keys.  

Signing the settlement papers were Commissioners Joseph S. Rahauser, J. Chester Shively. and Bricker; they were represented by Thomas Eumelsine, county solicitor.  

Peiffer was assisted at the proceedings by Millard Ullman, Redevelopment solicitor.  

The ceremony marked the end of five years effort to have the jail phased out of county use, after a decision in August 1966 to turn it over to Redevelopment as the key part of the King Street Urban Renewal project.  

On Aug. 1, 1969, the county entered an option agreement to sell the jail to the Authority at $225,000.  The indemnity option received court approval Sept. 17, 1969, and at the same time, a year’s extension, to 1971 to use it for prisoners. 

With completion of the new Franklin County Nursing Home last September, the county had room to temporarily place its prisoners while a new jail could be constructed.  They were moved the end of December into former security quarters at the old nursing home.  Last week bids were received totaling $1.6 million to construct the new jail on the Franklin Farms tract east of Chambersburg.  Target completion date is mid-1972. 

 While county plans move ahead, Redevelopment plans were stymied by a growing movement to preserve the jail as a cultural and historical museum. Proponents formed a new organization, Heritage, Inc.  A final phase of their struggle to save the jail will commence Monday when a re-use appraisal of the jail for historic preservation will get underway.  Result of the appraisal, said 

Peiffer Friday will be either turning over the jail to Heritage with the government picking up three fourths of a $90,000 for renovation, or tearing the structure down and turning over the lot site to Chambersburg Borough as site of a new, fire station.  The latter was the original plan under the Renewal program.  

Peiffer and Ullman said they did not care which way the decision works out after the appraisal.  However both expressed pleasure at the transfer of the jail, indicating the renewal project could get underway again.  

Said Peiffer, “We’ve been holding the whole project up because of the jail.  

When the jail was phased out for prisoners last month, it was the oldest operating jail in the state.  It was constructed on two parcels of land, bought by the county in 1817 from Jacob Sener and Frederick Best for $1350 and $575 respectively.  

In its walls three executions were held, fugitive slaves traveling the underground railroad were secreted, and numerous breakouts were attempted; along with fewer successful ones. 

The commissioners smiled happily on receiving the check.  It was immediately deposited by Chief Clerk Linford Pensinger to be invested in Treasury Bonds for six months until the money is needed for construction of the new jail.  

They suggested Peiffer keep a close eye on the heating plant and arranged to have the county insurance coverage on the jail end this weekend when the Authority takes over that responsibility.  

Commented Bricker “It’s the first time I was ever party to selling a jail.”  

Added Rahauser, “And you can be sure it will be the last.” 

100 Years Ago  


Killed In County during the Month February 

“Sportsmen pays 25 cents for each dead hawk“ 

The Franklin County Sportsmen’s Association has realized for a long  time the depredations been committed by hawks in thekets, county.   

Information from reliable sources has reached it of entire coveys of quail being wiped out during the winter months; even grouse and young turkeys being killed.  In addition to this poultry raisers throughout the county have told of the increasing prevalence of hawks in their localities and the resultant loss to poultry.  

There being no bounty on hawks the association feels that it is its duty to inaugurate a. campaign against hawks and as a result has added to hold during the month of February a hawk contest; that is, to pay a bounty of 25 cents for each hawk killed In the county during the month of February, 1920 and in addition to offer two prizes, one of $10 and another of $3 to persons having the largest score. 

The rules governing, the contest will be as follows: 

  • First  the  hawk must be killed in Franklin County during the month of February.  
  • Second, the hawk’s head must be produced, the person bringing or sending in the heads certifying or sending in a slip certifying that he had killed the hawks.
  • Third, the heads must be  brought in on designated days to representatives of the association, who shall later be named by the association; these representatives to keep an accurate score of the contestants. 

At the end of the month drafts will be Issued to all persons bringing in heads and the prizes allotted.  

A number of members of the association commented upon money and prize contributions available for the continuance of the drive.  The secretary of the Franklin County Sportmen’s Assn. cash or otherwise to assist in the campaign. The contest applies to all breeds of hawks except sparrow hawks, which are protected in Pennsylvania. 


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