Re-enactors map out war's impact on Franklin County

July 01, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Frontier re-enactors and amateur historians, Douglas Keefer and Gary Akers, have created a map showing incidents from the French and Indian War that took place in Franklin County in an effort to raise awareness about the war.

Keefer 47, of Shippensburg, Pa., said the Civil War and Revolutionary War get most of the attention from area historians and the public. He's hoping the map he and Akers researched, drew and published will bring more attention to the war that ravaged the American frontier from Virginia to New England from 1756 to 1765.

It was also a precursor to the American Revolution a decade later.

Keefer, with help from Akers, 42, of St. Thomas, Pa., spent more than two years researching events, times, locations and dates to list on the map.


"I gathered up a bunch of books and magazines and talked to friends who knew about the history," Keefer said.

The map measures 25 inches by 36 inches and is printed on parchment.

It shows nearly 30 forts - a few military, most private - that dotted the region during those turbulent times when Indian raiders massacred and captured settlers and burned their homes.

Two massacres in what is now southern Franklin County stand out - the murder of a teacher and 10 students by three Delaware Indians at Enoch Brown School near Greencastle, Pa., and the murder of the Renfrew sisters near Waynesboro, Pa.

The dates and locations of the attacks are noted on map, as are paths that Indians and the militia used, waterways, mountain ranges, taverns and inns, plus persons of historic interest.

"I used a topography map to pinpoint the streams and mountains," Keefer said.

The war was fought by the English and French over control of the Frontier, which in those days stretched to Ohio, Keefer said.

In 1755, George Washington and a company of Virginia soldiers (Americans were British subjects in those days) was sent to Pittsburgh to oust the French from a series of forts they had built along the Allegheny River. The French, with reinforcements, sent Washington back to Virginia.

"That started the war," Keefer said.

Both sides enlisted Indians to help in their fight. The French used them more than the British, Keefer said. The conflict went north into Canada when the British beat the French in the Battle of Quebec in 1763, he said.

Akers carves bone implements and jewelry; Keefer makes reproduction 18th century leather goods. They sell their wares at frontier re-enactments and rendezvous.

They plan to sell copies of their map at the same events.

Maps, which cost $20, also are available by calling Keefer at 717-530-5392 or Akers at 717-369-5779.

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