Sundays in September to feature historical flavor

September 12, 2005|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The 8-foot rotating statue of Franklin County's namesake caught the attention of a group of children and adults Sunday at the Heritage Center, with the children learning more about the life of Benjamin Franklin in a reading and craft program.

Elise Stendal and Madison Schmus, both 6 and from Chambersburg, colored in paper figures of the inventor, statesman and philosopher during the program, the first of three this month at the center highlighting local history.

Rosalie Lidard, a staff member at the center, explained the history of the statue, which stood atop the county courthouse across the street from the center from 1865 to 1992. Carved out of pine, the figure of Franklin was exposed to the elements and pigeons for 127 years before the much-needed restoration, which included 50 or more pounds of wood putty and a covering of gold leaf.


The old Franklin statue was replaced by a fiberglass replica molded from the original statue, Lidard said.

Jane Yuhas, a center volunteer, read excerpts from Robert Lawson's "Ben and Me," a book that looked at the founding father's accomplishments through the eyes of a church mouse.

Each child also received an activity book with games and puzzles relating to Franklin's life, although his famous aphorisms, such as "A penny saved is a penny earned," seemed a bit puzzling to some.

At 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18, the center will hold another children's program on the life of Mary Jemison, who was kidnapped by Indians in the 18th century, said Janet Pollard, the center's operations director.

Jemison's family was killed by the Indians, who later sold her to the Seneca tribe, Pollard said. She was adopted by the Seneca and chose to remain with the tribe even when she was free to return to the white culture, Pollard said.

The free presentation will be geared toward children in third through sixth grades, she said.

On Sept. 25, the center will focus on the county's role in the Underground Railroad, helping escaped slaves make their way to freedom, Pollard said.

Lidard donned Colonial garb after the presentation to lead a walking tour of the downtown, which included stops at the courthouse, the Old Jail and the site of Chambers' Fort. The tour costs $3 for adults and $1.50 for children 12 years old and younger, Pollard said.

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