Looking Back: Franklin County’s history November 26th

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 November 26th.

25 Years Ago 

November 26, 1995Sunday

“Foreign collectors are panting for vintage jeans” 

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Your favorite pair of jeans may be worth the world to you.  But would anyone else pay $30,000 for them?  

That’s what a Japanese businessman recently offered Ron and Cynthia Wright of Denver for a never-worn pair of size 36 Levi’s made in the 1920s.  

The Wrights, who own a vintage clothing store, aren’t selling yet. According to People magazine, they’re holding out until the year’s end for $75,000.  

Such bidding is proof of our continuing love affair with denim, says Lynn Downey, co-author of “This is a Pair of Levi’s Jeans” (Levi Strauss and Co., $50), a new coffee-table book that traces the history of the brand. 

Although a pair of slightly used jeans might earn you a couple of dollars at a resale store, the market for mint-condition antique jeans is a whole different ball game, one mostly conducted overseas by Japanese and European buyers.  Downey says foreign collectors have been vying for a decade to buy Levi’s that are 40 and 50 years old.  

“I believe it’s the whole idea of collecting Americana,” says Downey, a corporate historian for Levi Strauss and Co.  “American heroes like James Dean and Marilyn Monroe wore jeans.  That whole rebel aspect is appealing.”  

As part of her book tour, Downey is traveling cross-country with choice items from the Levi’s archives, including a denim tuxedo jacket made for Bing Crosby after he was turned down by a hotel for wearing jeans in the ’50s; bell-bottoms from the ’70s; and Sta-Prest pants from the ’60s that on their permanent crease from baked-in resin.  

The piece de resistance, however, had to stay home at the company’s San Francisco headquarters.  “They’re a pair of jeans from the 1890s that were found in a gold mine in 1948,” says Downey.  Asked to guess how much they’d be worth to collectors, Downey laughs.  “I can’t even count that high.” 

50 Years Ago   

November 26,1970Thursday

“ Obit of A. Thomas – formerly a resident of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania” 

Archie Thompson, 79, a retired farmer of Chambersburg, died at 5:50 p.m. Tuesday at Plessavant hospital in Jacksonville, Illinois.  

He was born in Pike county March 11, 1891, son of William and Maria Vaner Thompson.  He married Jenny Metz October 7, 1913 in Chicago.   

She survives with a foster son James Crow of Chambersburg. There are three grandchildren, a brother, Grover Thompson of Hastings, Nebraska; and a sister, Mrs. Della Hinton of Abingdon, survive him.  

He attended Chambersburg schools and was a member of Chambersburg Christian church.  

The remains are at the Mufnagel Funeral Home in Mt. Sterling where friends may call after 5 p.m. Thursday until noon Friday.  The body will lie in state 1-2 p.m. Friday.  

Funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday at the Chambersburg Christian church with Rev. Dale Lovelady and Rev. Elmer Palmer, officiating.  Interment will be in the Versailles cemetery. 

100 Years Ago  


John Stewart, of Chambersburg, Has Skull Fractured by Trolley Car 

“State Supreme Court Justice fatally injured” 

County's history November 26th
Justice John Stewart (1839 – 1920)

Justice John Stewart of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, was struck by a trolley car here tonight and instantly killed. The accident happened in front of Justice Stewart’s residence here. He was returning home after a Thanksgiving dinner at the home of his daughter, Dr. Helen Stewart, who lives across the street.   

The justice, who was 8I years old and quite feeble, apparently did not see the approaching car.  According to the motorman, he stepped directly in front of the trolley when it was only a few feet away.  The motorman said he immediately threw on his emergency brakes, but it was impossible to bring the car to a stop before striking the aged man, who was thrown several feet.  His skull was fractured and he was dead when picked up.  

Justice Stewart is survived by five daughters. Mary L. and  Anna W. Stewart, who lived with their father; Mrs. Charles Farber, of South Carolina; Janet Stewart, a Philadelphia newspaper writer and Dr. Helen Stewart, and a brother George H. Stewart, of Shippensburg, Pa. 

Arrangements for the funeral will be announced tomorrow. 

Born November 4, 1839 at Shippensburg, Justice Stewart was graduated from Princeton in 1857.  He was admitted to the bar in 1861 and came to Chambersburg the same year.  He served throughout  the Civil War as adjutant of the 126th Pennsylvania Regiment and at the close of the war he returned here and resumed the practice of law with Alexander K. McClure.  He was a delegate to four Republican national conventions, the first at Baltimore in 1863 when Abraham Lincoln was nominated.   

Justice Stewart was a member of the State senate from 1881 to 1884 and during this time he broke with the Republican State organization, headed by United States Senator Matthew Stanley Quay.  The break brought about a three-cornered fight for the governorship and resulted in the election of Robert E. Pattison, the only Democrat elected governor of Pennsylvania since the Civil war. Stewart ran as an independent Republican, while the organization Candidate was General James A. Reaver.  

Justice Stewart was one of the two surviving members of the State constitutional convention in 1874. In 1888 he was elected judge of Franklin County and was reelected in 1898. He was appointed to the Supreme Court in June, 1902, by Governor Pennypacker.  Next January he would automatically have become chief justice of that tribunal.  

He was a trustee of Wilson College, a Presbyterian institution of this city, and a member of the Scotch-Irish Society. 


EDITOR’S NOTE:   (Obit from “Find-A-Grave”) The son of Dr. Alexander & Elizabeth (Hammill) Stewart, in 1860 he was a law student living with his family in Shippensburg, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. 
A Civil War veteran, he enlisted in Chambersburg July 28, 1862, mustered into federal service at Harrisburg August 11 as 1st lieutenant of Co. A, 126th Pennsylvania Infantry, promoted to regimental adjutant August 16, and honorably discharged with the regiment May 20, 1863. 
He married Jane Holmes Larmour and fathered Mary Larmour (b. 1864), Alexander (b. 02/07/66), Ann Worrall (b. 1868), Elizabeth Keith (b. 1876), Helen Montgomery (b. ?), and Janet Holmes (b. 1879). 
After the war, he served in the Pennsylvania state senate 1881 – 1884 and then ran for governor as an independent Republican in a three-way election that put Democrat Robert E. Pattison in the governor’s chair.  A twice-elected judge in Franklin County, in 1902 he took a seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and was to have assumed the position of chief justice in January 1921.  

Instead, on his way from Thanksgiving dinner with his family, he inexplicably stepped in front of a moving trolley car that had no possibility of stopping.  Death reportedly occurred instantaneously due to a fractured skull. 


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