February 2019 Chat

Weather its rain, snow or sun, the Hagers-town Town and Country Almanack has you covered! The Waynesboro Historical Society hosted its monthly Chat on Saturday, February 16 at the Oller House, with Mount St. Mary’s Professor and Almanack Weather Prognosticator Bill O'Toole facilitating.

 Born in Waynesboro, and now living in close-by Emmitsburg, MD, O'Toole has been predicting the weather and calculating astronomical data for detailed calendar pages for The Almanack since 1969. Over his 40+ year tenure as prognosticator, he has developed his own 'unique technique'; based upon traditional methods of solar and lunar charting that have been handed down over the years as well as advanced computer software that O'Toole custom developed for his purposes. As a result, his level of accuracy of predicting the nature of the weather rivals most meteorological experts and even the National Weather Service – and remember that all of his calculations and predictions are made up to 14 months in advance!

It was a lovely Chat, and the Oller House was filled with wonderful conversation in a causal yet educational atmosphere. He was able to answer a variety of questions – from the history of the Almanack to global warming: “The population of the Earth is 7.7 billion…this has to have an affect (on weather),” he responded.

The almanac has been in print since 1797, as established by John Gruber. It is the second oldest in the United States, the oldest being the Farmer’s Almanac.

The pictures provided by Pat Fleagle capture his calm-storm passion for weather.

The Society will host the next Chat on Saturday, March 9 from 10am until 11am, focusing on Waynesboro Genealogy. The Chats are free and open to the public, held at the Oller House at 138 West Main Street.


Bellarmine Retreat Center To Close

The picture below is of the Buena Vista Hotel and Bellarmine Hall built around the turn of the century. The once lavish hotel was a summer retreat for many from Washington DC and the surrounding area. The hotel flourished until the great depression. Unable to survive it was sold to The Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus in 1931. It was made available to Catholic and non-profit groups since the 1960s as a retreat. The main hotel structure burnt to the ground in 1967 and only the chapel and a few out building remain.

The Bellarmine Retreat Center operated by the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus as a retreat center since the 1960s. Unfortunately, due to changing priorities effective the Bellarmine Retreat Center will be permanently closing its doors on September 3, 2018. What started as a summer retreat for the very rich and prosperous, then became a haven for religious and non-profit groups, will now cease to exist.

Bellarmine HallBuena Vista 1912.jpg

Waynesboro Hospital

It is difficult to imagine a town of Waynesboro's size in 1920 (population 9,720 urban and almost as much more suburban) without a hospital. But that was the situation until October 2, 1922 when our first hospital building was dedicated. Before that time serious medical and operable cases had to be transported elsewhere, - over such roads and with such equipment as was avail- able at that time.

In February 1919, an intense campaign was launched for a Waynesboro Hospital, spurred by the devastating influenza epidemic of 1918-19.

By 1920 the sum of $327,516 had been raised and plans drawn for a 36-bed hospital which was completed as noted above. However, increasing need made it inadequate.
In March of 1939 the West Wing was added accommodating 31 more beds. The needs continued to grow.

In 1958 the East Wing and larger operating room was proposed, and a 1959 drive raised $909,956. Ground was broken February 10, 1961 for the East Wing which has 33 beds, making a total of 100 beds and room for 20 bassinets. In March 1962, an additional drive for $500,000 went over the top and we have one of the finest institutions for our size community.
It is manned by 135 full time employees and 70-part time employees such as nurse’s aids, etc.
The fiscal year begins July 1st of each year. In the year ending June 30, 1968 there were 27,543 patient days of care. The average length of stay was 7.7 days.

There were 3,588 admissions, 1,444 operations and 585 births.

Four thousand two hundred forty-seven emergencies handled, and 2,576 out patient days recorded.

Seventy-four thousand five hundred fifty-six laboratory tests were performed, and 6,380 x-rays taken.

The Waynesboro Hospital Auxiliary has rendered invaluable assistance over a period of 46 years and their membership now numbers nearly 1,300. In addition to the time freely given to many small and some large duties, they purchase from time to time certain equipment for the Hospital. During their last fiscal year items totaling $3,855.52 were bought and paid for, including such items as six-wheel stretchers with slide rails ($2,100.00) and one baby's Isolette ($890.00), etc. The Waynesboro Hospital is a great institution to which many people contribute free of their most precious commodity - TIME - from the Executives of Industry, men practicing various professions, bankers and merchants serving on the Board of Directors or on various committee assignments.

Even with all the two groups mentioned above, nothing could be accomplished without the dedicated support of the surgeons, doctors, nurses, nurse’s aides, orderlies, clerks, maintenance men etc., whose interest in helping humanity is "above and beyond" their pay for services rendered.

The institution and our community are entitled to mutual admiration and respect.

Timeline Taken from Waynesboro Hospital Website

  • 1922 – Waynesboro Hospital is established by a group of volunteers in response to the Spanish Influenza.
  • The illness killed 40 Waynesboro residents and more than 20 million people worldwide. At this time, the hospital had 35 beds.
  • 1939 – A new wing was added to the west end of the building. This brought the hospital’s capacity to 78 beds.
  • 1962 – Another expansion increased the hospital’s capacity to 105 beds.
  • 1970 – A Coronary Care Unit was opened.
  • 1972 – The Coronary Care Unit was replaced by a 6-bed Intensive Care Unit.
  • 1980 – A major renovation lowered the hospital’s capacity to 88 beds. This reflected the trend within the healthcare industry to shift care toward outpatient services.
  • 1995 – Waynesboro Hospital became part of the Summit Health family. Summit Health is also the parent organization to Chambersburg Hospital and most of the area’s physician practices.
  • 2008 – Waynesboro Hospital received national recognition when it was named “America’s No. 1 Best Place to Work in Healthcare” by Modern Healthcare magazine.
  • 2013 – Waynesboro Hospital is a 56-bed facility offering a comprehensive selection of services. The hospital is staffed by about 175 physicians, 500 staff members, and more than 200 volunteers.
  • 2015 – Opening of our medical office building adjacent to Waynesboro Hospital, which houses several physician practices.
  • 2018 - Waynesboro Hospital currently has 57 beds

Penn's Holy Experiment

So, it was that when the English King Charles Il gave William Penn a grant of land in the new world, God gave Penn the vision to establish a colony which Penn called a "Holy Experiment". A colony where men were free to worship as they chose, where all qualifications for office holding or voting were eliminated, except the payment of a small state tax. Representation was apportioned on the basis of the number of taxables in each county. This swept away the concentration of power in the hands of a few. The integrity of contracts was exemplified.

While the influence of William Penn lasted there was less trouble with the Indians than in any of the other English colonies. In those days there were many immigrants who lived and died without ever seeing a hostile Indian. It was an accepted necessity for men to work out their own economic needs. Pastorius, who wrote of those early arrivals in Germantown "All have to fall to work and swing the axe most vigorously, for wherever you turn the cry is 'Itur in antiguam sylvan' - - nothing but endless forest."
In neighboring Maryland, a letter written in 1666 said, "The son works as well as the servant, so that before they eat their bread, they are commonly taught to earn it." They were not engaged in building a Utopia. Their hope was for a civilization in which each of them would be free, richer, and more independent, masters of themselves and their own local government. These were the people who look down on us today. Can we each be proud of our own effort to fulfill their ideals?

John Wallace, the elder, secured from the proprietors of the Province of Pennsylvania in 1750, under proprietary warrants, a tract of land containing 630 acres, 119 perches. This included the present site of Waynesboro, and territory to the east and south east. About that time John Wallace built his cabin by the spring which still flows east into the east branch of the Little Antietam. Other families settled nearby. Settlements in pioneer days frequently took the name of the chief land owner and Wallacetown became the favored name of the community.

As William Penn's influence faded after his return to England bitter feelings developed about the administration in Philadelphia. This resulted in a guerrilla type warfare, not only between the settlers and the Indians, but fierce antagonisms between the eastern and western part of the state. Disorder was common.
In July 1764, two renegade Indians killed and scalped two young girls, Sarah and Jane Renfrew, who were doing the family wash in their yard at a small log cabin a couple of hundred yards south of the point where present Route #16 crosses the east branch of the Little Antietam creek. Retribution was swift. They were pursued to the Tuscarora Mountain which rises west of the valley. There they were killed, and their scalps brought back to the scene of the crime. There was no organized protective force at that time, but individuals assumed the responsibility of peace keeping.

While other guerrilla depredations occurred nearby, this is the only record of fatal attacks in our immediate area. In what is now Franklin and nearby counties loss of life and property were of sufficient magnitude that books have been written about them. Obviously, discussion of them does not come within the scope of this article. There was no confrontation of large forces near here.

However, we mention two events which were largely responsible for the comparative peace and growth of the area in the late 1790's. One was Col. Henry Bouquet's victory at Bushy Run, about 26 miles east of Pittsburgh, near present Greensburg, where the Pontiac's uprising was broken in 1763 and General Wayne's victory at Fallen Timbers at Maumee (now known as Miami, Ohio) in 1793 against the Little Turtle Indians and allies.

In 1793, John Wallace, grandson of the original John Wallace, inherited that portion of the Wallace land known as Mt. Vernon, containing approximately 200 acres. In 1797 he laid out a town site on a portion of this tract containing approximately 91 acres and named it Waynesborough in honor of General Anthony Wayne, who had been his commanding officer during the Revolutionary War. Washington and Quincy Townships were well settled at this time and were compelled to do all their trading either in Carlisle, Chambersburg or Hagerstown. The site of the original town was strategically located at the main cross roads leading from this section to the above points. His wisdom in selecting the location was soon justified. The first recorded sale of one of 90 lots Wallace laid out was to Henry Smith, a shoemaker, and by the time of his death in 1811 all the lots but one had been sold.

At the time the town was laid out it was a part of Antrim Township (Scotch Irish Name). Two years later in 1797 a new township was created from the eastern part of Antrim and named Washington Township. The town of Waynesborough remained under its jurisdiction until 1818. In that year a group of citizens petitioned the legislature asking that the town of Waynesburg be chartered as a Borough. Although the bill was introduced January 26, 1818 it took until December 21, 1818 for it to pass both houses and be approved by Governor Findlay. There is no record of the cause, but in 1824, a group of citizens petitioned the Legislature to repeal the chartering act of December 21, 1818 and it complied. The town again became part of Washington Township, where it remained for eight years. Various petitions on the subject were rejected from time to time, but eventually the Legislature passed a bill which was approved by Governor Wolff on January 25, 1831 giving corporate life to the Waynesboro of today.

Waynesboro functioned under this charter until 1852 when it went under the General Borough Law, abandoning the charter it had fought so long to secure. It continues to operate under this act, and the code of 1915 and its supplements to the present time. The original conception of our local government was in the minds of the corporators of our Borough a half century before the adoption of our State Constitution, and almost a hundred years before the adoption of our present Borough Code.This is a striking example of the type of men described in the fore part of this section, and who laid the foundation of our government, which permitted and encouraged us to grow to its present area of 1963 acres, with a population of over 10,400 in the Borough limits, and to develop industries giving employment which supports thousands more in the surrounding townships. The details of our developments are lengthy, and may seem tedious to some, but they show that the men who founded our Municipality had the combination of idealism and common sense. They blazed a trail others could follow in duty, honor and service.

Under the subject of service, water is the most important requirement. The original settlers dipped water from springs and streams or from shallow wells. For many years there was a town pump in Center Square. It was quite a land mark and some of the old pictures shown herewith illustrate it. In addition to supplying water needed in the vicinity, it quenched the thirst of many horses in the wagon trains moving thru the town which even then was becoming to be "The Cross Roads of Agriculture and Industry". There are many legends about its use by notables including General Robert E. Lee. At the present all traces of it have long since disappeared. At various times the Borough Engineers have had to make excavations in this area, but no evidence of the well which furnished the water to the pump have been noted.
Never-the-less, it has a definite place in the history of our town and in the nostalgic memories of some of our senior citizens.

Today the water consumption of our municipality amounts to 1,800,000 gallons of water per DAY and has available capacity to furnish 2,300,000 gallons. This is backed up by dams which impound the collection from a watershed of more than 101/4 square miles. Water supply brings up the question of water disposal. To wit, a Sanitary Sewer System and disposal plant and pumping stations. In spite of the voter’s refusal on two occasions to authorize a bond issue — and other obstacles too numerous to mention, the Boro, with the aid of the Federal Government combined to install a complete system to protect the health and welfare of its inhabitants.

A firm skilled in appraisals of water and sewage systems has been engaged to give a valuation to our present installations. It is expected this will be available in time for the annual Boro report at the end of the year. It will run into the millions of dollars, but the lives saved, and illnesses avoided are incalculable.

The History of the Frick Company

Of the surviving businesses, Frick Co. is the oldest. (For historical purposes we shall treat all local businesses individually, regardless of mergers in the last decade). In October 1852 an advertisement by G. & J. D. Frick appeared in the Waynesboro "Village Record" which was to "Inform their friends and the public generally that they have opened a new machine shop." While the shop was located just over the Maryland line the advertisement suggested orders be sent to Waynesboro, Franklin County, Pa. or Ringgold, Washington County, Md.

When George Frick was born in 1826 wheat was still harvested with a cradle (with which a man could cut about two acres a day) and threshed with a flail (with which he could knock out eight bushels of grain in ten hours), a procedure which had changed very little in thousands of years.

In the Cumberland Valley, where water power was available, small industries grew up. Their part in the Industrial Revolution was in serving the agricultural community by furnishing machinery to reduce man-hour requirements. They furnished mechanical grain cleaners (fans) grist and flour mills, saw mills, paper mills, etc.

However, as the forests were cut down, the water ran off more rapidly and its power became less dependable. It was to fill the growing need for power that gave the opportunity to men in our vicinity to express their ingenuity and mechanical ability, both in this way and in further reducing the time and labor required to harvest and process grain.

Peter Geiser patented a threshing machine and from 1857 to 1865 George Frick manufactured this machine with improvements Geiser patented. During this period Frick developed and patented a portable boiler and steam engine.

George's business grew and in 1860 he moved to a two-story shop measuring 100 by 50 feet on Broad Street between Main and Second Street in Waynesboro. (Where F&M Bank now stands)

During the Gettysburg campaign the Confederates, whose lack of shoe leather was very serious, occupied Waynesboro for a few days. They took all the leather belting from the Frick shop, which was closed for a month.

After the war a new plant was erected across the street. It included a foundry, pattern department, boiler shop, forge shop and machine shop.

The Geiser Mfg. Co. was formed from the old firm of Geiser, Price & Co. and occupied the former Frick shops in 1869. It grew into one of Waynesboro's largest industries. At one time it had 1250 employees. They manufactured a general line of agricultural machinery.

In 1912 the Geiser Mfg. Co. was purchased by the Emerson Brantingham Co. It was continued in the same line for several years. Later the Brantingham organization management decided to close down the operation. Most of the buildings and machinery were sold piece meal. One large building remained empty. In 1938 it caught fire and burned to the ground. The Emerson Brantingham Co. had discontinued business.

Frick Co. was formed in the latter part of 1872 as a "co-partnership or association." The capital of the Association was $35,000 which was increased to $125,000 in 1879. During the mid-seventies they began building portable saw mills.

The completion of the Western Maryland and Mont Alto railroad greatly increased shipping facilities. In 1881 Frick Co. built a new shop in the west part of town adjoining the railroad tracks. The new plant was so extensive and modern, for that time, that the Scientific American printed a feature article about it.

In 1882 their first refrigerating machinery was manufactured. In this decade the steam traction engine was built. The engine could both haul the thresher and operate it. A great new era in power farming was opened up.

In 1885 the partnership was dissolved, and Frick Co. was chartered a Pennsylvania corporation with a capital of one million dollars of which $900,000 was paid in.

Since that time the plant grew to occupy 26 acres, employ about 1,000 people. Its last balance sheet before its incorporation into General Water Works (which is now owned by the International Utilities Corp.) showed a capital of $9,000,000 and a net worth of 15 million dollars.