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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 Feb. 26th.

25 Years Ago

February 26, 1995 – Sunday

“St Paul congregation has a new ‘home,’ same strong spirit”

Franklin County history
The Rev. Harold E. Posey preaches in the congregation’s new ‘home.

The congregation sat on brown folding chairs, surrounded by yellow brick walls a far cry from the wooden pews and majestic stained-glass windows of their sanctuary. 

But nothing else had changed. 

“The Spirit was here!” said Charlotte Murphy, 78, who has attended St. Paul United Methodist Church in Chambersburg for 68 years.

Sunday, members of the burned-out church met in Eugene C. Clarke Jr. Community Center on Third Street.

Flames gutted their 98-year-old church on Feb. 19. Arson is suspected in the $6 million blaze. 

Church trustees had voted to install an early-warning fire alarm system weeks ago. 

“The irony is, I knew that we had to cover that building. It just dawned on me the end of November . . . that here we have this treasure and it’s not protected as it should be,” the Rev. Harold E. Posey said Sunday after giving a tearful sermon. 

“The devastation is terrible; it’s hard to accept,” said Bob Curtis, a 40-year member of St. Paul. 

Curtis said the congregation is like a family. Although everyone is devastated, they will help each other through the ordeal. 

On her way to rehearse a solo for the 11 a.m. service, Sulynn Carlinsaid she has only attended the church since August. But she’s noticed that the fire has drawn the congregation closer than she thought possible. 

“I feel a great spirit of togetherness and fellowship.”

After attending St. Paul for 40 years, Sam and Evelyn Kessinger were shocked when they heard about the fire. Evelyn said the emotions poured from the congregation once the service began Sunday. 

“When you get together with everybody, it’s kind of emotional,” Evelyn said. “The beauty of our sanctuary, we’ll never, never replace it.”

“I think (the service) was fairly emotional but there’s a mood of expectation and joy. We’re ready to move on,” said associate pastor Linda Eshelman. 

Posey said that after 24 years as pastor, he felt sad to be out of the church on a Sunday. But amidst the tears and the pain, when he looked at the faces of his congregation, he found courage and Joy. 

He’ll miss the wooden pews and the beautiful windows. 

“They were very helpful to anybody who would preach there, to be surrounded by marvelous symbols of holy or biblical characters.” 

“It was a beautiful sanctuary and the people really worked together. We love each other,” Murphy said.

50 Years Ago

February 26, 1970  Thursday

FFA Youths Win Honors at Penn State”

Chambersburg members of Future Farmers of America won a number of first place awards in the FFA State Farming Program Records Book Contest at Penn State recently. Pictured here are 12 of the winners.Not pictured is Jeffrey Wingert, R. R. 3, Chambersburg, son of Mr. and Mrs. Nelson Wingert, who was named second place Wildlife Conservation Boy of Pennsylvania, receiving $100 for the honor, and received gold medals for his conservation and farm mechanics projects and a bronze medal for a home improvement project.

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100 Years Ago

February 26, 1920 – Thursday

“Farm Bureau to Meet Here March 6th

Chambersburg – The Farm Bureau of Franklin County will hold its annual meeting in the courthouse on Saturday afternoon, March 6, at 1:30 o’clock. The following is the program for the meeting: 

Reading of minutes of the 1919 annual meeting, R. J. Gillan, secretary; report of treasurer, I. M. Shields; president’s remarks, J. O. Craig;report of committees, election of officers, report of the county agent, including program for 1920, E. A. Rice; address, “The County and the Farm Bureau Organization,” M. S. Mc Dowell, director of agriculture extension State College. 

The object of this meeting is to put before the public the work which has been accomplished during the past year and outline the work of the Farm Bureau for the coming year.

“This meeting is for the public and should be of interest to farmer and city folk alike because of the close relationship of town and country,” says Farm Agent Rice.

Local History

Looking Back: Franklin County’s history April 6th

Learn what happened in our community 25, 50 and 100 years ago in this daily column by columnist Linda Osborn.
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