FROM THE OUTGOING CHAIRMAN: Offering Thanks for the Year Past â€” and Looking Forward to the Year Ahead
As we move forward into the new year, let me take this opportunity to wish all our members/friends a happy and prosperous 2016. I would like to thank you all for your support during 2015. Our CTHS theme for 2015 was â€œGet Involved,â€ providing a chance for our members to make CTHS a positive impact on the community. Please allow me to highlight a few of our accomplishments:
Thanks to Deb Novotnyfor an excellent program on Evergreen Cemetery at our March public meeting. The cemetery has so much local history, and I encourage all to visit again and again as you will find new historical information whenever you go back.
Thanks to Philip and Elsie Moreyfor setting up the CTHS Endowment Fund in memory of Rene Clowney. Because of a tragic auto accident that befell the Clowney family, the Moreys transformed tragedy into triumph by taking this giant first step toward securing the financial future of CTHS. Sadly, we also lost Philip in August. His memory will live on in many ways, including with all of us at CTHS.
Thanks to Gabor Boritt for his article, â€œHistory of the Farm by the Ford,â€ published in the Gettysburg Times in June as a guest column from CTHS. Gabor traced the history of the farm from the Lenape/Delaware Indians, who used the area for trade, to Thomas McLean of the 1740 settlement to the present. A notable resident included Basil Biggs, â€œhorse doctor,â€ who was involved with the Underground Railroad. This was a great source of historical information in early Cumberland Township.
Thanks to Community Media and Ray Goukerfor air time on their Community Media Open House (which airs on Comcast Cable Channel 12 and can be seen online). The interview allowed me to inform everyone of the mission and purpose of the Cumberland Township Historical Society. It also allowed us to highlight our monthly articles in the Gettysburg Times and our very popular quarterly meetings and walking tours.
Thanks to Beverley Eddyfor her program on Camp Sharpe at our June public meeting. Just when you thought all topics on the Gettysburg Battlefield were exhausted, up pops the Camp Sharpe story. Beverly Eddyâ€™s book, â€œCamp Sharpeâ€™s â€˜Psycho Boysâ€™: From Gettysburg to Germany,â€ became a popular read for several of our members as a result of the meeting.
Thanks to Bob Angle and Wayne Twiggfor their portrayal of surveyors Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon at our August meeting. Thanks also to the Dave Waybright Familyfor the program they offered at the Mason Dixon Farm in August during their â€œMason and Dixon Day at the Mary-Penn B&B.â€ Highlights included a re-enactment of the Mary Jemison abduction, hay rides to see the Mason and Dixon mile marker stones by Marsh Creek, a tour of the house â€” half of which is in Maryland and half in Pennsylvania â€” and much more. I hope everyone enjoyed this as much as I did!!
Thanks to the CTHS Preservation Committeefor their ground-breaking work in identifying Cumberland Township historic sites and coordinating with the Central Adams County Joint Comprehensive Plan steering committee through Adams County Comprehensive Planner Carly Marshall to include those sites in the county mapping program. This is a big step forward in our preservation effort in Cumberland Township. A huge thanks to CTHS Vice Chairman John Horner and board member Doug Cooke for their work on this effort toward preservation of historic sites.
Thanks to Jackie White for her program on Fantasyland at our last public meeting of 2015. This was the granddaddy of them all. Nearly 200 attended, and emotions ran very high (in a good way) throughout the course of the evening. Allen Crouse, who was responsible for construction of the 35-acre site, past employees, and a host of local celebrities were among those who took a trip down memory lane as Jackie unraveled the history of Fantasyland for all those who attended. I was overwhelmed by the interest, enthusiasm, and emotion this program delivered.
Thanks to all of our CTHS committees and members for making this Historical Society a success in 2015. For all members, consider getting involved in 2016 to make CTHS even better!!
The CTHS Board of Directors welcomes two new members at the start of the new year.
Elsie Morey has agreed to serve a three-year term on the board and was unanimously elected the chairperson. Elsie previously served as chair of the Mount Joy Township Historical Committee.
In addition, CTHS member Ruby Warren has agreed to serve a one-year term on the board.
The current board membership is as follows:
Chairperson: Elsie Morey
Vice Chairman: John Horner
Treasurer: Linda Seamon
Member: Doug Cooke
Member: Ruby Warren
Outgoing board chairman Cyril Ackerman will be secretary.
Thank you to all board members for your willingness to get involved and help move CTHS forward on its mission to foster identification and preservation of the township heritage and to promote the public awareness and appreciation of this legacy.
Jackie White Draws Record CTHS Crowd with Fantasyland Program
Close to 200 people packed the CTHS public meeting in December for a few simple reasons: to remember how a place called Fantasyland Storybook Park enriched their lives, either as visitors or employees; to learn more about this one-time Cumberland Township landmark; and to pay tribute to the family that made make-believe a reality right here in Adams County.
With plenty of photos and a story for each, Jackie White took the audience on a tour through the park and through the years. She had an upbringing many would envy, working at the park, caring for the animals, and meeting new people.
Jackie started her program with the tale of how Fantasyland came to be. Her family had been vacationing at the Jersey Shore when her parents, Ken and Thelma Dick, decided to stop at a little park on the way back.
â€œMy mother kept saying, â€˜This is really nice, but you know, I could do better than this,â€™â€ Jackie said. â€œThey had a four-hour drive to come back home to Carlisle [where the family lived then], and by the time they got home, they had the park all figured out â€” how they were going to do it, how they were going to finance it, and the things they were going to put in.â€
BELOW: Thelma and Ken Dick on July 18, 1959, Fantasyland's opening day.
The couple narrowed the location to two possibilities: Lancaster or Gettysburg. The latter won, they bought two farms in Cumberland Township, work began, and the park opened on July 18, 1959. It started out at 10 acres and eventually grew to 35.
Fantasylandâ€™s entrance was at a prime location on Taneytown Road, across from General Meadeâ€™s headquarters. As Jackie put it, â€œThe Park Service had an absolute fit.â€
In fact, the National Park Service eventually took the land by eminent domain, but that turned out to be a good thing for the Dicks. In 1974, they were paid for the land but were granted the right to operate the park for the next 10 years.
Jackie told how her father made the park like a public garden, planting 50,000 tulip bulbs and making sure the place was always tidy. Her mother, Jackie said, would sketch out an idea for a costume or point to a storybook picture of a building, and soon those things went from idea to reality. She added that two local builders, brothers Don and Allen Crouse, constructed each building â€” from a Swiss chalet to a mini Taj Mahal â€” with awe-inspiring attention to detail.
Even getting into the park was fun. Those who could walk through a five-foot high entrance without stooping paid the childâ€™s price of 60 cents. Anyone taller paid $1.
Highlights of the park included a 23-foot-tall Mother Goose (shown below) who talked. Actually, a park employee, housed opposite Mother Goose on the second floor of the entrance building with a microphone in hand, did the talking.
BELOW: The 23-foot-tall Mother Goose "talked" to visitors. She suffered a tragedy one day when a discarded cigarette ignited some dried leaves that had blown under her skirt. "The flames went right up and burned her head off," Jackie White said. "Mother Goose had to get a brand-new head."
There were plenty of rides, including a train, German-made carousel, bumper cars, skyride, and many more. Visitors could also cruise around a lake on electric or pedal boats. Kids could climb up into Rapunzelâ€™s castle and slide out the window or play in a barn and slide into a hay mound. Cowboys and Indians had regular â€œshootoutsâ€ at Fort Apache; shows entertained with song and dance; and trained animals, such as the rabbit and chicken known as Punch and Judy, who waged war with mini cannons that shot ping-pong balls, were known to steal the show.
It was a local wonderland with visitors that included President Dwight Eisenhowerâ€™s grandchildren, Jacqueline Kennedy and children John and Caroline, and many others.
BELOW: Sisters Cindy (left), age 7, and Jackie, age 8, daughters of Ken and Thelma Dick, are dressed as Alice in Wonderland and Little Red Riding Hood and posing in front of Mother Goose.
Fantasyland closed its doors â€” or rather, its entrance gate â€” on Oct. 26, 1980, after accepting an offer to buy the rides, buildings, and other components that guests remember so well. Some of those treasures are still around today, such as the carousel in San Antonio, Texas, and the Mother Goose at Storybook Park in Egg Harbor, New Jersey.
Many thanks to Jackie White for giving this presentation, donating her speakerâ€™s fee back to CTHS, and helping the Historical Society gather its largest â€œbasket donationâ€ ever. The eveningâ€™s donations by those in attendance totaled $300!
Jerry Desko made his home in Ortanna, Adams County, but his sudden passing late last year is felt well outside that community.
A former CTHS member, Jerry is recognized and respected as an author and historian. The Civil War Education Association wrote these words in his memory: â€œWe salute Jerry for leading a life of excellence and accomplishment and thank him for all of his services to the CWEA and to the wider history community.â€
Jerry was born April 9, 1954, in Endicott, N.Y., and died at home December 19, 2015, of congestive heart failure. He was a 1972 graduate of Endicott High School and in 1976, the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, in Syracuse N.Y. While attending the collegeâ€™s summer session in Warrensburg, N.Y., he met his wife of 37 years, Kathleen Lucci Desko, who survives him. Kathi was instrumental in brainstorming publicity ideas for the CTHS, including this newsletter, soon after its inception.
Jerry was a retired New York State Environmental Conservation Officer who served for more than 27 years, the last 5 years as a lieutenant. He was a well-regarded instructor of Fish Identification, Firearms, Impaired Driver Recognition, and Impaired Boater Recognition. Growing tomatoes and other vegetables, and especially garlic, were important to him. An NRA member, he loved to fish and hunt and to spend a week with family at Fair Haven Beach State Park in New York in the summer.
In the last five years, he was fortunate enough to take four tours in Europe. The greatest highlight of them all was standing on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, where he felt truly in awe of what the Allied soldiers had done there.
In lieu of flowers and in memory of Jerry and all the dogs now greeting him at the other end of the Rainbow Bridge, memorial contributions may be made to the Adams County SPCA or the Mid-Atlantic German Shepherd Rescue Group. Donations may also be made to the Adams County Historical Society.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR A 'Thank You' to the Women of CTHS
I have had the pleasure of being involved with this Historical Society since its inception, and I have been struck for some time by the following observation:
The majority of CTHSâ€™ founders were men. Today, women are in large part responsible not only for the day-to-day operation of the organization but also for its ongoing success.
For example, the board of directors is being chaired by the very qualified Elsie Morey, Linda Seamon handles the finances as treasurer, and Ruby Warren has taken office, too. Our website and this newsletter both exist thanks to the efforts of women who volunteer their time. The same goes for administration of our membership database and the much-lauded group of volunteers who provide refreshments at each quarterly meeting.
In this day and age, not everyone is able or willing to give the gift of their time when other duties call. I offer a special thanks to those who are doing so for CTHS.
Welcome to Part 2 of our look at the historical markers in Cumberland Township erected by the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission. More than 2,000 of these markers can be found across the commonwealth, offering a glimpse into the places and events that helped make Pennsylvania what it is today.
The marker shown below is located along Biglerville Road (Route 34), in front of Adams Rural Electric Cooperative Inc.
Mark Your Calendar!
The Cumberland Township Historical Society holds quarterly public meetings, each featuring a special presentation on a specific aspect of the township's history. All presentations are free and open to the public.
All events are held at 7 p.m. at the Church of the Brethren, 1710 Biglerville Road, Gettysburg, unless otherwise noted. Come and explore our local history!
March 7 â€” Carly Marshall, Adams County Comprehensive Planner, discusses current planning projects that will impact the future of Cumberland Township.
April â€” Walking tour â€” watch for details.
June 6 â€” James Rada discusses the â€œ1922 March, Battles, & Deaths of U.S. Marines at Gettysburg.â€ In 1922, more than 5,000 Marines marched from Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. to Gettysburg. It was a training exercise, a public awareness campaign, and much more.
August â€” Walking tour â€” watch for details.
September 6 â€” The Church of the Brethren has more than 210 years of history in and around Cumberland Township. Learn more about it from past to present.
December 5 â€” Licensed Battlefield Guide Chris Brenneman discusses Paul Philippoteauxâ€™s cyclorama painting â€œThe Battle of Gettysburg.â€
Watch your email for more information on this event about two weeks before the scheduled date. Details will also be posted on theCTHS website.
Witness Tree Artifacts Support CTHS
The handcrafted keepsakes shown below are made from a tree that witnessed President Lincoln as he rode toward the National Cemetery to deliver his Gettysburg Address. Your purchase of a pen, letter opener, magnet, paperweight, or ornament supports the mission of the Cumberland Township Historical Society.
Pricing is as follows:
Magnet â€“ $15
Hanging ornament â€“ $15
Paper weight â€“ $20
Letter opener â€“ $25
Pen â€“ $45
The items may be purchased at the CTHS quarterly meetings or by contacting CTHS member Tom Clowney at (717) 334-5406.