Looking Back: Franklin County’s history Oct 6th

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 October 6th.

25 Years Ago

Oct 6, 1995 – Friday

Pheasants Forever works to lure wildlife back 

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“Thick Foliage Attracts Birds” 

County's history Oct 6th
“A bird’s going to come in here and feel safe,” said Brian Brake, showing the Public Opinion photographer Jason Malmont thick grasses on his property.

Mercersburg — Standing waist deep in a field of warm-season grass, Brian Brake explained how ring-necked pheasants, cottontail rabbits and meadowlarks have returned to his 113-acre farm.  

“If you provide the habitat, it will come,” Brake said.  

From a little more than a mile down Shimpstown Road, passers-by might not notice anything different around house number 11335.  

But a closer look at the Brake farm just south of Mercersburg reveals much: gently sloping hills covered with verdant foliage, a crystal-clear brook meandering beside wetlands and thick, native grasses bordering corn and alfalfa fields, prime habitats for birds and animals.  

Brake, habitat director of Cumberland Valley Pheasants Forever, has been restoring wildlife habitats on his farm for two years. He’s pleased with the results.  

 It provides cover for game ; it creates a little habitat,” said Brake, a 30-year-old math teacher at South Hagerstown (Md.) High School. Pheasants, which were once abundant in Pennsylvania, have recently declined in numbers primarily because their habitats have been disturbed or destroyed.  

Pheasants Forever, a national non-profit organization with 72,000 members, is dedicated to restoring those habitats in hopes that the Asian gamebirds will return, Brake said.  

The local chapter’s 80 members plant native warm-season grasses, pine trees, wildflowers and sorghum and erect stream-bank fencing to keep cows from polluting waterways.  

“It’s not just pheasants,” Brake said. It’s water quality, land ethics and habitat education.  

The group recently kicked off its “Wildflowers for Wildlife” campaign, a program it hopes will attract small property owners.  The program uses wildflowers (such as the black-eyed Susan), native grasses and pine trees to provide cover for wildlife.  

During the hot summer and even during a drought, warm-season grasses continue to grow, providing an ideal source of livestock feed. Brake said.  

Farmers can save money by grazing cattle on the grass during dry conditions.  At the same time, they’re providing nesting grounds for birds and animals, Brake said.  

“A bird’s going to come in here and feel safe,” Brake said, walking proudly through his field of warm-season grass.   

Several small patches of trampled foliage sure signs that white-tailed deer bed there could be seen.  

“There are other ideas besides just taking your whole yard and just mowing it,” Brake said.  

John Van Horn of Chambersburg has been a Pheasants Forever member for two years.  He doesn’t own a lot of property, but he joined the group because he said it promotes a worthwhile cause.   

“I had hunted pheasants for many years and we kind of lost them,” he said.  “It’s kind of nice to have them around again for hunting. “We have to try to create new habitats for things that have since been destroyed.”  

Larry Taylor, a member who is a farmer in Mercersburg, said Pheasants Forever has been a blessing.  

“I grew up here and I remember when there were a tremendous amount of pheasants and quail,” Taylor said. “I’d like to put back what I remember it was like for my grandchildren.”  

Dave Putnam, biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in State College, said the conservation group plays a critical part in restoring wildlife habitats.  

“Most farmers want wildlife back,” Putnam said.  “And the trend is not irreversible. We can see some really spectacular returns.” 

With people like Brian Brake, it’s critical to maximizing the effect of our dollars.”  

In a few years, Brake hopes to trap live birds and release them on his property where they can multiply and flourish.  

“Even if the pheasants don’t come back, big deal,” he said. “I’m doing the right thing.” 

50 Years Ago  

Oct6, 1970Tuesday


County's historyOct 6th

Henry Steiger, left, MMPW Volunteer Fire Co. fire chief, wears a white coat, symbol of a fire chief; Robin Robinson, center, one of the youngest firemen and son of Ben Robinson, the oldest active fireman, appears in turn-out gear, and Jack; Peck, right, captain of the volunteer firemen, models the new ambulance volunteer’s navy blue nylon jacket. This is Fire Prevention Week.

100 Years Ago 

Oct6, 1920Wednesday


County's history Oct 6th
Rippy T. Shearer

Rippy T. Shearer received hls commission as major In the eighth regiment of the Pennsylvania national guard and today assumed command of a battalion of the state’s guardsmen. 

Major Shearer will have four companies in his command. Company O, of Carlisle, and the three companies being organized, at Chambersburg and York.  

He was for several years first lieutenant of Company O of the National Guard of Pennsylvania, and saw active service In France. During the war he was commanding officer of Company D, II 2th regiment.  

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following was taken from  “The Evening Sentinel,” Carlisle, Pa., Tuesday, February 22, 1955 


 Former Sheriff Was Grid Star At Dickinson 

 Rippey T. Shearer, 320 Parker Street, member of an old Carlisle family, former sheriff of Cumberland County, veteran of World War I and one of Dickinson College’s all time football “greats,” died shortly before 7 o’clock this morning in the Carlisle Hospital after a brief illness.  He would have been 66 years old on June 1. 

A lieutenant in World War I , he was the first American officer to cross the Marne River.  He commanded a battalion of the 112th Infantry at Chateau Thierry after his superior officers had been killed. 

 At Legion Founding 

 He was a delegate of the 26th Division to the conference in Paris in 1919 at which the American Legion was formed and he was one of the organizers of Carlisle Post No. 101 and its second commander.  

 Born in Carlisle, he was the son of the late Raymond E. and Jennie Rippey Shearer.  His mother was a native of Shippensburg where her ancestors, the Rippeys, were among the earliest settlers.  His father was collector of internal revenue for the Federal Government for many years and also conducted a real estate and insurance business. 

 Educated in the elementary schools of Carlisle, he was graduated from Conway Hall and from Dickinson School of Law in 1914.  He was admitted to the Cumberland County Bar.  He played end on the Dickinson College football teams for three years, 1911-1913 and had a record of playing every minute of every game but one quarter.  At that time law school students played on the college team.  He frequently recalled tackling the famous Jim Thorpe in the weekly scrimmages between Dickinson and the Indian School eleven.  

 A lieutenant in the Pennsylvania National Guard, he served on the Mexican border in 1916 with old Co. G, 8th Regiment, which was composed largely of Carlisle men. 

 Major in 104th Cavalry 

 After World War I he returned to the National Guard and with the organization of the 104th Cavalry in July, 1921, he became major and commander of the Second Squadron.  He resigned in 1923. 

 He became a member of the firm of Shearer Brothers, auto dealers, which later also operated in Chambersburg and Mechanicsburg. 

 He was elected sheriff of the county in 1921 on the Democratic ticket and served from 1922 to 1926 in that office.  Later he also conducted a real estate and insurance agency in connection with his law practice. 

 From 1938 through 1948 he was assistant director of research and statistics for the Veterans Administration.  In recent years he was affiliated with the Claims Division of the State Department of Public Assistance. 

 He never lost his interest in sports and was an ardent follower of both Carlisle High and Dickinson football teams. 

 Surviving are his wife, the former Helen Bainbridge, Paterson, N. J.; a son, Rippey T. Jr., Los Angeles; a daughter, Mrs. Francis C. Gerber, Lancaster; three grandchildren; four sisters, Mrs. Mary S. Gibbs, Garden City, N. Y.; Mrs. C. U. Edwards, Washington, D. C.; Mrs. Leland S. Smith, New York City, and Mrs. James M. Robinson, Detroit; and four brothers, Joseph B., Washington; Robert P., Carlisle; Kirkwood M., Camp Hill, and William J., Toronto, Canada. 

 He was a member of American Legion Post No. 101 and Cpl. Orlando Newcomer Post, Veterans of Foreign Wars. 

Funeral services will be held at 2 o’clock Thursday afternoon at the J. R. Shulenberger Funeral Home, 169 West High Street with Rev. John G. Hilton, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church, officiating.  Burial will be in Westminster Cemetery.  


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