History hunt helps Habitat

October 08, 2000

History hunt helps Habitat

By DON AINES / Staff Writer, Chambersburg

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT/ staff photographer

History HuntCHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - An historical scavenger hunt took about 50 participants to the four corners of Franklin County Sunday to raise money for Habitat for Humanity.

"I don't believe I was actually ever in the village of Amberson," said Joyce Horst of Marion, Pa., a lifelong county resident about her drive to the county's northernmost community. She and four companions were one group that made all 22 stops on the route mapped out by Alice Meloy, Pat Shreiner and Diane Hetrick of Habitat's church relations committee.

"I did not know that John Brown taught Sunday school in Mont Alto," said Agnes Jurgens of Chambersburg. That surprised a few other rally participants, as well.


"That must of been some class," her husband Harry said.

Brown also plotted his 1859 raid on Harper's Ferry while living in Chambersburg under an assumed name at a house on King Street, another stop on the route. Brown also met with abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass in Chambersburg in an unsuccessful attempt to gain his support for a slave revolt.

The road rally began with participants registering at locations in Chambersburg, Greencastle, Waynesboro and Mercersburg, according to Meloy. In Greencastle, Guy Camp, pastor at the Marion First United Methodist Church handed out maps of the county and lists of clues to the locations.

"We moved here about a year ago, so we figured this would be a good way to learn about the area," said Bob Fickes of Greencastle. He and his wife Dottie got to 19 of the sites.

"I'm one of those people who like to drive around and find things," he said.

Some of the sites were relatively easy to find for those familiar with the area. The reconstructed stockade in Fort Loudon and the site where Chambersburg founder Benjamin Chambers built his fort in 1734 are well known, as is the boyhood home of President James Buchanan on the grounds of Mercersburg Academy.

The log home, however, has been moved several times from its original site outside Mercersburg, including a period when it was in Chambersburg.

"That cabin's got a lot of miles on it," Harry Jurgens said.

"I never knew Waynesboro had the Confederate flag flying over it for 15 days," said Pam VanderWeele of Chambersburg. That was during the Gettysburg Campaign, and the town was also along Gen. Robert E. Lee's line of retreat after the battle.

Fickes said he was unaware Lee made his decision to go to Gettysburg while consulting with Gen. James Longstreet in Chambersburg's square. Lee had been considering invading the state capital in Harrisburg.

Those who made it to the county's north end learned that George Washington passed through Fannettsburg on his way to suppress the Whiskey Rebellion, the only time a president actually led troops in his role as commander-in-chief. One participant figured the entire route covered about 150 miles.

"The trip up through Caledonia was absolutely stunning," Agnes Jurgens said about the changing fall foliage. The forest east of Fayetteville is the site of an iron works once owned by Thaddeus Stevens, a U.S. senator during the Civil War and radical reconstructionist afterward.

"This was a clever way to expose people to the county's history" while raising money for Habitat for Humanity," Shreiner said. Habitat has built 11 houses in Franklin County and its first one next year will be built in Mercersburg, the first project in that area, she said.

Participants paid $5 each and finished with a spaghetti dinner at the St. Paul United Methodist Church in Chambersburg. The only reward, beside a few pumpkins handed out at the dinner, was in taking part.

"This is an idea I'll pass along to my friends in Habitat in Washington County," said Carol Austin of Hagerstown, who took the tour with her husband Jerry.

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