Looking Back: Franklin County’s History on March 31st

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 March 31st.

25 Years Ago

March 31, 1995  Friday

“Writer teaches tales of history”

Franklin County history
Robert Miller: “You’ve got to find out there was more than one story.”

Shippensburg – Robert Miller knows about black cowboys. 

He’s related to them, he writes about them and he dresses like them. 

Sporting a brown vest, cowboy hat and kerchief, the author from New Jersey led a writing workshop Thursday with seventh-graders at Shippensburg Area Junior High School. He plans to spend more time today teaching pupils to put their creativity on paper. 

Miller critiques the children’s stories after he gives them writing time. 

“As a young writer, she painted a picture in your mind,” he said after listening to a story by Natalie Saunders. 

“There are three things that make up a story: the beginning, middle and end,” he told the pupils.

Classroom teacher April Hoover said she has been working with pupils to improve their writing skills all year. 

Miller says many people still don’t know that 25% of all cowboys were black.

He hopes to spread the message by the way he dresses and through his children’s books.

“African-American people were involved in a lot more” than history tells, he said. 

“As young adults you’ve got to find out that there was more than just one story.” 

Miller’s latest book published, Buffalo Soldiers: The Story of Emmanuel Stance, is about the first black man to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.

50 Years Ago

March 31, 1970 – Tuesday

Clarence Armstrong VFW Post anniversary

Franklin county history
ANNIVERSARY PARTICTPANTS – Joining in the 23th anniversary dinner and program of the Clarence Armstrong VFW Post Saturday night were, from left, Marty Nelson, master of ceremonies and past post commander; ussell Straley, past post commander and historian, Sen. D. Elmer Hawbaker, speaker and post member, and Danny Stouffer, current commander.

Sen. D. Elmer Hawbaker spoke to 250 members, their wives, guests and auxiliary members of Clarence Armstrong VFW Post No. 6241, when they celebrated their 23th anniversary at the post home Saturday evening. 


The invocation was given by John Angle.

Following dinner, Russel V. Straley, past commander and ardent supporter of the post, cave the past history and accomplishments of the post, since 32 members met March 29, 1946, to plan organization. 

The late Harold B. (Happy) Glaser was the first commander. Meetings were held in the Farmers Bank. Glaser served as commander from 1946-47. The post was named for Clarence Armstrong, son of Mr. and Mrs. . George Armstrong, who gave his life in service during World War II. The Armstrongs had three other sons serving in the same war. 

Clarence (Bud) Frye was commander during 1947, when the decision was made to buy the Jimmy Currao property, adjacent to the present post, from Charles Shank for $10,000. Articles of incorporation were approved at the same time. The first meeting was held in the Shank property on June 19, 1947, with members using packing crates as furniture.

Edwin C. Baker served as commander during 1948, with membership at 72.Howard Dovey Jr. served as commander during 1949. with membership at 83.

With members doing portions of the work themselves, the present post home emerged With the sale of the former home, after two years the new $30,000 home was paid. The first meeting in the present home was held in November 1957 Marty Nelson served as commander during this period, when membership was 272. 

From 1958 to 1960, William Swailes was commander, and membership climbed to 296. At this time, playground equipment was bought for 400 for the Lions Club Community Park. 

Ray Byers served as commander from 1961 to 1963, and has the distinction of serving the longest term, since the installation date during 1963 was moved from March to July. Membership moved to 313. It was during Byers term of office the decision was made to buy the Rankin property behind the post home from Leonard Fry, for $3,000. 

During these years, Mercersburg Little League was having problems finding a ball field. The group approached the VFW, to purchase the present park from Fred Gluck for $3,000. The VFW has supported the Little League, and has purchased seven complete team sets of uniforms. The park is now-known as VFW Memorial ParkI

In 1962, a group of people interested in starting a football program at James Buchanan High School, organized the James Buchanan Athletic Boosters, and asked the VFW for a start. The VFW backed them over the years with approximately 1,000. With help from other organizations, football was started at J. B. From this has come numerous college scholarships for athletes.

Charles Strait served as commander in 1964; Mike Myers in Danny Stouffer, 1969-70. 

Presidents of the Home Association commended were Kenneth Hoch, James Mills and John Hawbaker. 

Last year, members voted to expand and modernize the lounge. Already this year they are working on the basement, renovating it into a meeting and recreation room.  

Other presentations included: 

Donation of $1,000 to students of J.B. to attend the Green Bay Packer game; each year they contribute toward Christmas decorations in the town; Christmas treats; Christmas baskets for the needy; Mercersburg Library; Pony League; soccer,bowling; children’s Aid Society; heart fund; cancer fund, and all drives for worthy causes. 

Sen. Hawbaker spoke of past and present wars in this country, stressing the fact that, for centuries, conquerors exploited and enslaved the vanquished The United States instead rehabilitates the countries they conquer. 

Serving as master of ceremonies was Past Commander Martin A. Nelson. 

Twelve floral bouquets were awarded as door prizes, as were six leather wallets.

Members and guests were entertained by Al Sims and Co. band, “Simplicities” for dancing following the program. Members of the band are students at Penn State University.

100 Years Ago

March 31, 1920  Tuesday

“Army Officer’s Auto Stolen Sunday Found Near Town”

Captain W. C. Hoover of the U. S. army at Marsh Run, near New Cumberland,accompanied by two army officers, arrived in Chambersburg yesterday to claim the Oakland roadster, which was stolen at Harrisburg on Saturday night and found on Monday afternoon, between Turkeyfoot and Social Island by W. H. Davis, a resident of that section.  The officers drove the car to New Cumberland yesterday afternoon. 

The local police had been notified that an Oakland roadster bearing a license tag 209427 had been stolen at Harrisburg in Thirteenth street on Saturday night at 9:15 o’clock. Chief of Police Byers was notified by W. H.-Davis that auto was standing along the road near Social Island. The description given by Davis tallied with that of the stolen car and a party composed of the chief of police and Burgess Wingert went to that point and brought the car to town. 

The license tag had been mutilated by the auto thief, the number having been cut off, making the number read 20942. The thief has not been apprehended.