Artifact of the Month

Previous Artifacts of the Month

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.

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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 mentored, continued until 1931.


Dr. Benjamin Rush Senseney, born in Chambersburg son of Dr Abram Huber Senseney, while visiting in the west saw the effects of smallpox.  After 3 years, he returned to Chambersburg and established the Pennsylvania Vaccine Farm in Hamilton Township, on land on the Warm Spring Road in the “Cherry Lane” area.  Here he used heifers to produce an animal virus which was shipped over the world.  It saved the lives of thousands of people by immunizing them against the virus.


This tin plate was left by soldiers camping in the lumber yard of Leonard Ebert (today where Chambersburg Fire Department stands) during April 1863.  The scene of the old King St Bridge was painted by Ebert’s daughter Carrie.

Recent acquisitions from the Cree family include portraits of John and Jemima Cree, very prominent members of the community in the 1800’s.  Jemima, nee Kirby, made this school girl sampler in 1812 when she was 12 years old.   Her father, Thomas Kirby, was one of the first educators in the county, beginning at Back Creek, Brown’s Mill School, and coming to Chambersburg to teach at a school on the corner of Water and Washington Sts.  Buying property on W. Queen St, he opened what would be considered the beginning of the Academy.

Later he became a county surveyor and died in 1815 and is buried at Falling Spring Presbyterian Church graveyard.


This lovely marble top occasional table made in the Victorian style was donated by Joan Bowen.  It was made by her great uncle, William Houser, at Sierer Furniture Company in Chambersburg around 1890 especially for the family.  William was born in 1854, son of John and Caroline Poorman Houser, and worked at the furniture factory for over 30 years.