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Pa. governor's signatures displayed at museum

January 14, 2001

Pa. governor's signatures displayed at museum



By STACEY DANZUSO / Staff Writer, Chambersburg

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Alice Brumbaugh recalls that as a young boy, her brother set up a museum-like display of his collection of Pennsylvania governors' signatures in one of the family barns.

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Decades have passed and the collection has grown, and now 79-year-old Tom Brumbaugh's signatures are again on display, this time at the Allison-Antrim Museum in Greencastle, Pa.

"He was always interested in history and collecting," said Alice Brumbaugh, who grew up in Greencastle with her brother, who now lives in Tennessee.

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Tom Brumbaugh donated his collection to the museum when it opened in August 1998, but for the first time, the full collection is on display through Feb. 2, said Bonnie Shockey, president of the museum.

The museum is housed in an 1860 two-story brick home at 365 South Ridge Ave. and contains a significant collection of local, county, state and national artifacts and exhibits.

The latest display includes the pictures and signatures of 41 of Pennsylvania's 98 governors. The oldest belongs to former Gov. James Logan and the most recent is an autographed photo of current Gov. Tom Ridge.

"There are a variety of documents. (Tom Brumbaugh) wrote letters asking for their signatures, and three sent back autographed copies of their inaugural speeches," Shockey said.

Alice Brumbaugh said her brother obtained some of the older documents through auctions and local sales.

He collected signatures throughout his tenure as an art history professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and he is still collecting, according to his sister.

Most of the documents are yellowing, with the handwriting on some of the older ones - before the age of typewriters and computers - difficult to read.

Former Gov. Milton Shapp (1971-1979) sent Brumbaugh his typed 1971 inaugural address, which compared the civil unrest in the country at the time to what Abraham Lincoln faced a century before.

Not all the signatures were made when the men were governors.

A document signed by Logan, governor from 1736-1738, is dated March 10, 1715/1716, on animal skin parchment and traces the history, dating back to 1707, of two contiguous lots of land in Philadelphia. He signed it in his capacity of commissioner of property.

A land deed signed by Benjamin Franklin in the mid-1700s is kept in a display case in the dining room.

The deed is not part of Brumbaugh's collection, but is on loan from Matilda Sloan Wine and John Wine of Greencastle. The land referred to in the deed is still owned by the Sloan family.

Franklin served two terms as governor, from 1775 to 1776 and 1785 to 1788.

Shockey expects the unusual exhibit to get many visitors.

"It will be one of the highest draws for visitors because of the broad appeal. It's not just about Greencastle or Antrim Township or Franklin County. It will appeal to anyone in Pennsylvania or Maryland," she said.

To her knowledge, no other museum or historical organization has such a collection.

A few dozen people came to the museum Sunday, including Jim and Donna Johnson, of Hagerstown.

"We were looking for something different to do and my wife had heard of the museum," Jim Johnson said.

The museum is open from 1 to 4 p.m. on the second Sunday of each month. It will also be open Thursday from noon to 3 p.m. and by appointment. For more information, call (717) 597-9010.

Admission is free, but donations are accepted.

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