History is front and center at the Franklin County 11/30 Visitors Center in downtown Chambersburg. Step into the African American History Is American History selfie installation. Add your selfie to the exhibit. Discover distinctive people, like Royal Christian, Joseph Winters, and Zelda Barbour. Share a favorite quote or story. Take a moment and read about Franklin County’s USCT (U.S. Colored Troops) from Dum Spiro, Spero: Chambersburg’s Black Civil War Soldiers and Sailors or read the oral history of Bernard Ruffin’s Voices of Chambersburg. Exhibit open from February to May 1. Come in person or join virtually by snapping a selfie with your own backdrop and emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
March brings Women’s History to the 11/30 Visitors Center with Vision, Voices, and the VOTE, a second self-building installation to encourage public participation. Learn about some of the first women of Franklin County, including revolutionary veteran Margaret Cochran Corbin and Franklin County’s first female judge, Carol Van Horn. Snap a selfie in person or join virtually by taking a picture of influential women in your life. Share the words of women, who inspired you. Exhibit open March 1 to May 1.
Inspired by the Martin Luther King quote: “The time is always right to do what is right,” Franklin County Visitors Bureau is sponsoring an essay contest. The contest is open to young and old. Doing the right thing shaped African American history, women’s history, and all of American history. Answer the question: What is your right thing? Submit the essay to Franklin County 11/30 Visitors Center, 15 South Main Street, Chambersburg, PA 17201. For prizes and further details, visit https://www.explorefranklincountypa.com/home/black-history-month-essay-contest/
Throughout April, Franklin County Visitors Bureau focuses on 300 years of American history in the county. The 2021 celebration will use cuisine as a connector of culture and history by hosting a series of four-cooking demonstrations—from the Pennsylvania German cooking of early immigrants through more current connections to Latin American flavors. Food connects people to home and family, to tradition and society, and brings people together. To top off the three-month celebration on May 1, Franklin County 11/30 Visitors Center will host Franklin County Flavor–300 Years of Food, a special multi-course, multi-cuisine food event. With more than 10,000 square feet of space and using two seatings, the 11/30 Visitors Center will safely be able to host up to 150 for this one-of-a-kind taste of history. Ticket sales open March 22.
Franklin County’s military history stretches back to colonial America and carries to the present day. Today, on Veterans Day, Franklin County Visitors Bureau remembers and honors the military history of Franklin County and extends sincere gratitude to all veterans.
If you would like to learn more about Franklin County, PA’s military history, please see the Franklin County Military Trail of History guidebook here. Discover the stories of Franklin County’s men and women—a medal of honor winner, prisoners of war, two 9-11 memorials, pre-Revolutionary War heroes, the Doughboy, USCT, Civil War soldiers, and more.
Franklin County Visitors Bureau and 11/30 Visitors Center would like to share a verse penned by Joanna Fuchs as a Veterans Day Tribute.
The Best on Earth:A Veteran's Day Tribute
If someone has done military service,
They earn the title "veteran," and more;
They earn our deep respect and admiration;
That they are special no one can ignore.
They sacrificed the comforts we enjoy;
The list is long of all the things they gave.
Our veterans are extraordinary people;
They’re loyal, dedicated, true and brave.
When terror and invasion were real threats,
They showed us they could handle any storm.
We owe our freedoms and our very lives
To our veterans, who served in uniform.
Our veterans should be celebrities;
They’re exceptional; no other group compares.
We’re grateful for the many things they’ve done;
They’re always in our hearts and in our prayers.
We owe our veterans support and friendship;
Let no one ever question what they’re worth.
These men and women served us and our country,
Our veterans--the very best on earth.
The Franklin County Visitors Bureau is hosting its annual African American History Is American History presentation on Saturday, February 22, at the 11/30 Visitors Center. The event begins at 1 PM in the second-level Great Room of the 11/30 Visitors Center. The 2020 installment of African American History Is American History focuses on Underground Railroad to USCT (United States Colored Troops).
Franklin County’s location on the Mason Dixon Line attracted many freedom seekers from 1830 to 1860. It was during this time that the anti-slavery movement gained momentum and became known as the Underground Railroad. In addition to being just over the Maryland-Pennsylvania line, Franklin County is situated in the central area of the Great Appalachian Valley and offered the protection of forests and caves. It was a key passageway on the Road to Freedom. Franklin County, also, offered opportunities in farming and labor for freedom seekers to have a livelihood.
Out of location, landscape, and livelihood, a sizeable African American population rooted in Franklin County. The Mercersburg area African American population was the largest. The Kerrstown area of Chambersburg was another sizeable population as well as areas adjoining the Caledonia Ironworks of Thaddeus Stevens.
By July 1862, the U.S. Congress passed the confiscation Act and Militia Act, emancipating slaves of the Confederacy in Union-controlled territory and allowing persons of African descent to participate in the military and Navy. Franklin County African American population answered the call and joined the USCT. Today, the county’s and the country’s USCT are interred in three local cemeteries—Mount Vernon, Zion Union, and Locust Grove. The presentation will conclude with an optional visit to the graves of USCT at Mount Vernon Cemetery.
Complimenting Saturday’s presentation is the “Beauty of Diversity” exhibit, displayed in the 11/30 Visitors Center lobby and presented in conjunction with regional photographer Phillip Whitely. African American History Is American History is a free event. Register here.