Artifact of the Month
The Littlest Angel
The Littlest Angel died and was buried in this red chest the night before Chambersburg Burned. Her name was Mary Jane Lohr and she was one year and eight months old.
Her family lived in the tollgate house north of Chambersburg and they buried her beneath an apple tree temporarily because the Confederates refused interment in town. General McCausland was quoted as saying, “he had something of more importance to attend to than burying the dead,” according to Mr. Anthony Hollar to whom the General spoke.
After the Confederates left, Mary Jane’s body was raised and given a Christian burial in the United Brethren Church on Second St.
This story came through Miss Nan Shryock who would have been Mary Janes’ niece had she lived.
Oil on canvas of Christian Heyser Wolff, 1815-1887, son of Barnard and Judith Heyser Wollff. Born in Chambersburg but left the area to pursue another career in Pittsburgh, he was noted for his love of art. He became a patron of Emil Foerster, a well- known artist of some fame and who painted this portrait of Wolff.
Previous Artifacts of the Month
John Rogers became famous for his cast plaster figurines in the 19th century. Two of his sculptures, Taking The Oath (1860) and Returned Volunteer (1864) have been restored and are on exhibit in our Civil War Gallery. The Questers Organization, Falling Spring Chapter sponsored the restoration of both sculptures as well as purchase of the display case to hold them.
Frank Feather was an itinerant wood carver who worked his way through the north/south corridor, stopping at local farms and asking for a handout in return for a carved item. Well-known for his carved canes, this wall rack came into our museum collection in 2017 from a family in California, whose ancestors were the Schaeffer family members who owned and ran the Rocky Spring Mill.
Certificate of the Society of the Cincinnati for James Chambers, first son of Benjamin Chambers, dated and signed by George Washington. The Society, founded in 1783 by officers of the Continental Army, was open to officers of the American Revolution. It was based on the Roman hero Cincinnatus, who left his farm to fight in the wars, but afterward returned to his home.
The engraved sword and scabbard of Colonel Peter Housum. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he was the junior member in the firm of Housum and Wood (later T. B. Woods & Co) and was mustered in on April 20, 1861. He fell, mortally wounded at the battle of Stone River, Tennessee on Dec 31, 1862. He was buried there, but his remains were brought back to Chambersburg on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 1863 and reinterred at Cedar Grove Cemetery with an appropriate ceremony for a fallen patriot. The first local GAR Post was named for him and housed in a building on West Queen St, no longer standing.
This ladder back rocker, known as the Mother’s Chair, was donated by William Kinter. Ira Ebersole refinished and decorated it in a colonial pattern in 1941. Ira Ebersole was born in 1870 and died in 1948. Early in life he was employed in retail in downtown Chambersburg, then he became a postal worker, retiring in 1932. He took up antique furniture decorating as a hobby which developed into full time work as his reputation spread. He worked for many local families and kept the patterns he designed for each family’s piece.
Found in our collection was this book dated 1835 titled Right and Wrong in Boston, which was the report of the Boston Female Anti Slavery Society with a concise Statement of Events of the Annual meeting of 1835, published in 1836. At an 1835 meeting, William Lloyd Garrison was dragged through the streets at the end of a rope by anti-abolitionists. This society functioned as an abolitionist, interracial organization in Boston between 1833-1840. They had 3 national conventions, organized a petition campaign and sued southerners who brought slaves into Boston. Infighting caused it to dissolve by 1840.
This cornerstone, which had been in the possession of the Chambersburg School District was given to Murray Kauffman, our local historian, in 1986. After extensive research, he discovered that it came from Franklin Hall. Burned in 1864, it was rebuilt in 1866 as Franklin Repository. In the early 1900’s, partly torn down for the new Chambersburg Trust Company building, the cornerstone was saved. It’s a mystery why it was discovered at the local school district.”
A recent donation is the lap desk of William Culp. Originally from Adams County, he and his brother fought on separate sides in the Civil War. In 1874, William and his family moved to Chambersburg and lived on Washington St. in Chambersburg. He was a carriage trimmer and upholsterer and worked at the Henry Pfeiffer factory. He died in 1882 and was buried at the Evergreen Cemetery in Gettysburg. His descendants still live in the area today.
This white marble French ormolu style mantel clock was donated by Doris Hutton. Her father was given the clock by President Benjamin Harrison for personal favors when the President was courting a woman in NY. President Harrison was the son of Elizabeth Irwin, (born 1810) one of the sisters from Mercersburg to marry into the Harrison family.
Piggy Bank from The Valley National Bank of Chambersburg, today known as The Heritage Center. It was designed around 1916 by the firm of Furness, Evans, and Company. Frank Furness was a major architect of the 18th-19th centuries who designed over 600 buildings during his lifetime, including the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Rudeph Shalom Temple, the library for the University of Pennsylvania, and the First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia. Although, he died in 1912, his firm, with the men he mentored, continued until 1931.
Susan Brown Chambers
This oil on canvas, exhibited in the Chambers room, is a portrait of the granddaughter of the founder of Chambersburg, Colonel Benjamin Chambers, and daughter of his son Captain Benjamin Chambers. She lived on Main Street and never married, 1804-1884, and is buried in The Falling Spring Presbyterian Church graveyard in the Chambers plot.
(on loan from Lucy Chambers Kegerreis Yohe)
This pencil drawing was found in our collection and was penned in 1885 and autographed on the back by Helena Modjeska, a very famous Polish actress 1840-1909, who immigrated to America and became a naturalized citizen in California in 1883. A note on the back reads, “I thought you might like an autograph of the fair Helena, and so send this. RW.” But, the mystery lies in who RW might be and his connection to the fair Helena and to our Society.