Fall 2016
In This Issue...

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CTHS Active with the Public and Behind the Scenes

The Society was hosted by the Barlow Volunteer Fire Company (BVFC) for the fall walking tour for our membership. Jim Brown, president of the fire company, presented an overview of the history of the company. CTHS members also saw the BVFC’s four major pieces of equipment. The Rescue 22 vehicle can do everything, including pumping. There is an auxiliary tank of 750 gallons of water to mix with 35 gallons of a “soapy” solution to produce foam. The company has two fire engines plus a service vehicle that carries other useful equipment: cones, cutting devices, and tools, along with an arrow board that is especially useful in traffic accidents.

With the need for more volunteers and the expense of the fire apparatus, many mergers of fire companies continue. BVFC has a marvelous association with the Gettysburg Fire Department (GFD), as many years ago the GFD members advised concerned citizens to help establish the BVFC. Today, with the 911 system, the fire companies are alerted to assist other companies, and many of the BVFC calls are to assist the Gettysburg Fire Department.

Mary Kay Turner, a retired teacher in the Adams and Hanover area and an active member of the Church of the Brethren, was our speaker for the Society’s September meeting. Her excellent presentation explained the immigration from Germany of the Church of the Brethren members to Germantown, Pa.

Also, a “Board Book” was completed recently. This book is for each member of the board and contains such items as the bylaws and information on each committee’s duties and responsibilities. Since the Society would not be here without the work of our founding directors, a section was included highlighting what each member did to bring the Society to fruition. Of special note is the fact that it took one year to obtain nonprofit status. Thanks to the hard work of those founders, CTHS is a 501(3)c nonprofit.

The Preservation Committee is in the planning stages to unite forces with other historic groups with preservation interests. This collaboration will be an outgrowth of the Central Adams Joint Comprehensive Plan and the CTHS identifying sites for preservation in Cumberland Township on the county’s interactive mapping program. We are excited to have the CTHS partnered with Adams County government in establishing an inventory of historic sites as they relate to future land development in Adams County.

The Nominating Committee offers congratulations to Doug Cooke and Ruby Warren, who have been nominated to fill the two three-year board of directors’ seats that will be voted on at the next CTHS public meeting on December 5, 2016.

The board has been very active in obtaining speakers for next year, as well as planning two walking tours. If anyone has ideas of topics they would like to see presented, please contact us. If you have old photographs or letters or any information of your family’s early history, we would like to hear from you. Help us preserve the history of Cumberland Township.

We wish to invite all our members to our December 5 program presented by Chris Brenneman. Chris is a licensed battlefield guide and assistant manager of Visitors’ Services for the Gettysburg Foundation. Chris has cowritten a new book with Sue Boardman on the Philippoteaux painting, revealing new information about the painting that is on display in the cyclorama at the Gettysburg National Military Park. He will speak on the history and interpretation of the cyclorama painting.
-- Elsie D. Morey
CTHS Chairman
CTHS Recognizes 'Yard of the Month' Winner As Guardian of Historic Centennial Hall School

When the Gettysburg Garden Club honored Bonnie Yingling with its “Yard of the Month” award in September, the focus was on the delightful landscaping around the small, 717-square-foot home.

As a September 16, 2016, Gettysburg Times article pointed out, however, Yingling’s property sparks interest for another reason, too: It was the former Centennial Hall School on Barlow Road in Cumberland Township.

Here’s an excerpt from that article:

“Centennial Hall School, on Barlow Road, was built in the 1830s, for first through eighth grade girls and boys. His and her toilets were behind the brick school, and a well, now capped, stood at the ready near the front door. Beneath the little school was a root cellar, while an attic rested above the 9-foot-high ceiling of the classroom. Old photos show that landscaping was non-existent, just like a paved road!

“In 1946, it closed its doors as a school and became a private dwelling. Eventually, interior walls and indoor plumbing were added, while ownership changed hands several times. This is where Bonnie Yingling came in.

“She was raised in nearby Taneytown, married in 1970, and moved nearby. Her then husband had bought this tiny home from his mother in 1969 as a rental property, which it remained, until Bonnie moved there in 1993. By then, the little house needed some TLC, which she provided.”

Yingling’s Yard of the Month award inspired CTHS Chairman Elsie Morey to write to her with the following words of appreciation:

“On behalf of the Board of Cumberland Township Historical Society, I would like to thank you for your dedicated guardianship of the historically significant Cumberland Township building (Centennial Hall School) and the wonderfully flowered grounds that were awarded the Gettysburg Garden Club’s Yard of the Month.

“People such as yourself are a wonderful example to all residents of Adams County and especially to those of Cumberland Township. Your efforts are most appreciated. Thank you.”

Do you live in a historic home in Cumberland Township? Email CTHS, include some photos, and CTHS will feature it in an upcoming newsletter!

Photo at top shows Bonnie Yingling relaxing on the porch of her home, the former Centennial Hall School. The smaller photo (above right) from Google Maps shows the house in 2013 from another angle.

Take a 1920s Look at Gettysburg Airport

The photo above, from the Adams County Historical Society’s collection, shows what ACHS describes as “a plane flying over a group of spectators at Gettysburg Airport (Forney Fields) in Cumberland Township, c. 1920s. The observation tower is visible in the background along the line of trees. The mail pouch poles are visible.”

The description also says that the back of the photo has a name card glued to it that states, “Mr. and Mrs. Malcolm K. ___.”

Part of an article from the August 16, 1927, issue of the Gettysburg Times, shown at right, announces the creation of a permanent airport. The advertisement shown below appeared in the Times just a few weeks later, on September 2, 1927.

A later article, from May 15, 1939, describes the process that All American Aviation, Inc., used to pick up the mail on its first flight through Gettysburg:

“The early afternoon planes here Sunday dropped one pouch on the first trip over the pickup point and on the second crossing snared the pouches suspended between the 40-foot poles with the claw-like hook dropped from the bottom of the plane at the end of 150 feet of rope. The specially constructed links holding the air mail pouch parted under 50 pounds of pressure as the hook snared the rope holding the pouch and was whisked upward into the plane.”

Historic newspaper clippings shown here are from

Do you have historic photos of Cumberland Township? Or do you need help identifying people or places in those images? Share those photos with CTHS! The Society will include them in its online and printed newsletter and on its website,
Barlow VFC Talks History, Future with CTHS Members

When about a dozen CTHS members visited the Barlow Volunteer Fire Company (BVFC) on August 29, company President Jim Brown (shown at right) walked the visitors through 85 years of its history, and Assistant Truck and Equipment Foreman Ross Maring explained the high-tech equipment that helps the volunteers save lives and property.

BVFC has been a Cumberland Township fixture since 1931, when a group of men met in Clarence Fair’s store and decided to organize a fire company. (Brown’s parents owned that same store decades later.)

Meetings moved to the Willow Grove schoolhouse, and the firefighters—essentially a bucket brigade—were called to action with the ringing of a bell outside Fair’s store. The company’s services were not in great demand—BVFC has record of only three fire calls in 1934—but the members had enough foresight to begin planning for the future.

Records show that on September 11, 1938, they purchased a parcel of land 100 feet by 200 feet from Harry Maring. David Crider gave the group an interest-free loan to construct a building there, a fire hall with a community center, and Frank Bishop was awarded the construction contract.

In 1941, Brown said, BVFC purchased its first piece of motorized equipment from Gettysburg Fire Department for $350. It added or replaced equipment as needed over the years, including, in 1971, a Chevrolet walk-in van used as a service unit.

“It was an old bread truck,” Brown said. “I remember riding to Fairfield for training in that.”

In 1975, a committee began researching equipment that would meet community needs for years to come.

“We still try to do that—project into the future,” Brown said.

They opened bids for the new apparatus in 1976, and it was delivered in 1978.

In the years since, BVFC has acquired more land and added on to the equipment building. Now, the company operates with two fire engines, a 2009 “Rescue 22” vehicle, and a service/signage vehicle that, among other things, alerts motorists to traffic accidents on the road ahead.

All that has been possible, Brown said, because of a good group of people who keep a close eye on the budget.

“We put everything we have into the equipment,” he added. “We don’t have the newest building, but we don’t need it.”

In fact, Brown said, “We have more trouble with members than money.”

By “trouble,” he means “lack of.” Membership has dropped from 165 in the company’s early days to about 100 members now, Brown said, with about 36 active firefighters.

That’s despite the fact that the company is called out between 160 and 180 times per year. Calls encompass everything from automatic alarms and minor smoke incidents to automobile accidents and full-blown fires.

Each one of those calls requires a response, and volunteers are becoming harder to find due to many factors, including the time commitment. For instance, while anyone, technically, can fight a fire with no experience, basic certification in Pennsylvania requires 160 hours of training.

“A lot of times you need the men more than the equipment,” Brown said. And while the company lets volunteers who are not certified go out on calls, they’re limited in what they can do.

“If we don’t prepare for the worst, we can’t be ready for it,” Brown added.

That’s why the company is considering a membership drive that will target 30- to 45-year-olds. Current volunteers range in age from about 21 to 70, with an average age of 40, Brown said.

While he and the rest of BVFC are always looking to the future, they have a healthy respect for the past. CTHS members reminisced about events they and their families had attended at the fire hall, from dances to Cub Scout meetings.

CTHS hopes to commemorate one aspect of the company’s history, its link to President and Mrs. Eisenhower, in the near future with a plaque.

When the Eisenhowers took up residence in Cumberland Township, BVFC provided fire protection for what Brown called “the Gettysburg White House.” The firefighters were known as “Ike’s Boys,” and BVFC was the Eisenhowers’ polling place. More than once, the president flew from the White House to BVFC in a helicopter to cast his vote and then head back to work. In 1955, BVFC voted to make President Eisenhower an honorary member.

The company is clearly proud of its history, with pieces of its past on display in the fire hall. Their main focus, however, is how best to serve residents in the coming years. That’s one reason BVFC is discussing a merger with Gettysburg Fire Department.

The outcome will be based on what’s best for the community, a factor that has driven BVFC since its inception.

BELOW: BVFC at dusk, glowing with energy- and cost-efficient LED lights.

BELOW: The company's fire engines are complex pieces of equipment.

BELOW: At left, CTHS members Mary Horner, Todd Durboraw, Speros Marinos, and Ruby Warren (photo by Elsie Morey). At right, BVFC volunteer Ross Maring discusses the self-contained breathing apparatus that is critical to a firefighter's job. The units feature the latest technology and are 12 to 15 pounds lighter than previous versions, can be upgraded, and can include a thermal imaging camera. Maring also noted how the county's new radio system facilitates communication across a wide area and, therefore, enhances public safety.


BELOW: A BVFC fundraising ad from the September 24, 1931, Gettysburg Times (from

BELOW: President Eisenhower's letter to the BVFC after he was made an honorary member.

Local Brethren Church Traces a Long History

At the Cumberland Township Historical Society’s third public meeting of the year, speaker Mary Kay Turner shared the history of the Church of the Brethren from a small town in Germany to a small township in Pennsylvania.

Turner, a retired teacher in the Adams/Hanover area who is very active in the Gettysburg/Marsh Creek Church of the Brethren, traced the church’s origin to a group of eight men and women in what is now Germany who believed the churches were not following the teachings of Jesus. Under the leadership of Alexander Mack, they began to study together. They believed that anyone wanting to be baptized should understand and be ready to live by those teachings. They baptized one another in the Ader River in Schwarzenau—an act of civil disobedience because they had been baptized as babies, and the rules forbade them being baptized again.

“With this act, Alexander Mack, his wife Anna, and six of their friends started a denomination with the New Testament as the only creed,” Turner said.

At the time, she added, they were called “Dunkards” or “Tunkers” by people who ridiculed them.

Seeking religious freedom in America
The first group of Brethren set sail for the New World in 1719, Turner said, with the goal of worshiping as they wanted to. By 1740, all the Brethren had emigrated to America, landing in Philadelphia and making their homes in Germantown, which had been settled by Mennonites and Quakers.

“These people, who had similar beliefs and the same language, were very helpful to the Brethren in getting settled here,” Turner said.

Some of the Brethren, mostly farmers, moved north in search of land to farm and formed the Conestoga congregation. Conrad Beissel, a controversial figure, was one of the leaders there until 1728. At that time, he and some others started a new community in Ephrata­­­—the beginning of the Ephrata Cloisters.

In 1748, Johann Michael Pfoutz was elected an elder in the Conestoga congregation. He worked enthusiastically to expand the church, bringing in 57 members in his first year of leadership.

By 1770, the Brethren included more than 1,500 baptized members and 42 ministers in 33 congregations in Pennsylvania, 1 in New Jersey, and 17 in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

In 1786, the Brethren held their first annual meeting to keep members connected and make decisions about proper behavior. The first recorded decision said that Brethren could not own slaves, and owners would have to free any slaves they owned before they could join the church.

“A few years later,” Turner said, “the annual meeting decisions went beyond this and said a freed slave must be taught a skill and outfitted with decent clothes.”

Roots of the Gettysburg/Marsh Creek congregation
Eventually, Johann’s son Michael Pfoutz moved to northern Maryland, and in about 1790, Turner said, Michael’s son David moved to a property on Marsh Creek, about three miles west of Gettysburg, in what was then York County, Pa. David bought a fulling mill to card and process wool. In 1797, he bought more land from John and Richard Penn.

In 1805, David Pfoutz and 12 others formed the Dunkard Society of Marsh Creek, meeting in each other’s homes to worship. Pfoutz served as elder of the congregation from 1821 until his death in 1849.

In 1830, David Pfoutz’s son John and daughter-in-law Rachel gave land to build the first stone meetinghouse near Marsh Creek. This was allowed by the annual meeting rules as long as the congregation avoided unnecessary adornment of the structure.

It was a typical Brethren meetinghouse of that day, Turner said: a plain room with a full-length table at the front for elders and preachers, and benches for the congregation with backs that converted to tabletops. Hymns were sung without the benefit of an instrument for accompaniment.

When the Civil War came to Gettysburg in 1863, many of the Marsh Creek Dunkards were affected—especially the Sherfy family, which owned the peach orchard. Heavy fighting caused them to flee. When they returned, they discovered $2,466 in damage, but their home was still standing. Other Brethren congregations collected money and distributed it to those in need, including the Sherfys.

After the battle, the Marsh Creek congregation planned a “love feast” for October 1863, a regular event that consists of washing the feet of others followed by a holy kiss, a fellowship meal, and communion.

In 1881, after a three-way split over naming during the annual meeting, one group took the name of German Baptist Brethren, the more conservative organized as the Old German Baptist Brethren, and the more progressive became the Brethren Church.

In 1905, the Gettysburg/Marsh Creek congregation bought a United Brethren Church three miles south of town and moved it to the site of a former reservoir at South Stratton and High Streets. In 1944, the congregation voted to hire a minister instead of relying on their own members, who all had other jobs.

By 1951, the congregation was gearing up for another move. Levi and Julia Ogburn donated land on Biglerville Road for a new meetinghouse, which is still in use today. The cornerstone laying ceremony was held July 8, 1951, and the building was dedicated January 25, 1953. A large building debt was paid off after church members made and sold dinners at the South Mountain Fair to raise money.

The Brethren take seriously the Bible verse “love thy neighbor as thyself” and administer Brethren Disaster Ministries and Children’s Disaster Services to help others at home and around the world. Also, what is now Heifer International began with the idea of one brother, grew into a partnership between the United Nations and Church of the Brethren, and is now an independent non-profit that provides animals to help those in need with both food and a reliable income.

PHOTO AT TOP: Mary Kay Turner made this dress in celebration of the congregation’s 200th anniversary in 2005. She wore it for her CTHS presentation in September.
Marking History: Commencement of the Gettysburg Campaign

Cumberland Township is home to several Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission markers designating sites that played a part in the Battle of Gettysburg—a reminder that much of the campaign took place in the township.

The marker shown at right is on U.S. Route 30, approaching Gettysburg from the west, across the street from a statue of Union General John Buford.

(Photo by Mike Florer)

Mark Your Calendar: Upcoming Events and Opportunities

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.

The final event of the year will be held MONDAY, DEC. 5, AT 7 PM!
  • Licensed Battlefield Guide Chris Brenneman will discuss Paul Philippoteaux's cyclorama painting "The Battle of Gettysburg".
  • Members will vote to fill two three-year positions on the CTHS board of directors. Nominees are Ruby Warren and Doug Cooke, who currently serve on the board and whose terms are expiring.


The December CTHS meeting is the perfect time to become a member or renew your membership. The Membership Committee will be on hand to assist you. And if you can't make it to the meeting, visit to download a membership form that you can print and submit by mail.

Public meetings in 2017 will be held March 6, June 6, and September 11. Several members-only walking tours will also be scheduled.

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!

Watch your email for more information on each event about two weeks before the scheduled date. Details will also be posted on the CTHS website.
The Holidays Are Coming! Give the Gift of History

The holidays are just around the corner, and you can help support CTHS with the purchase of a commemorative keepsake. Browse the options below and make your purchase at the December 5 meeting or by contacting CTHS member Tom Clowney at (717) 334-5406.

This cozy throw ($36) depicts Sachs Bridge, as well as the Cumberland Township logo.

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.

Pricing for the items shown above follows:
  • Magnet – $15
  • Hanging ornament – $15
  • Paper weight – $20
  • Letter opener – $25
  • Pen – $45
The following printed documents are also available:
  • The Inhabitants of Cumberland Township During the Civil War ($10)
  • The Agricultural History of Cumberland Township, 1749-2014 ($5)
Thank you for your purchase and your support of the Cumberland Township Historical Society.
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CTHS Board of Directors:
Elsie Morey, Chairman
John Horner, Vice Chairman
Linda Seamon, Treasurer
Doug Cooke, Member
Ruby Warren: Member
Webmaster: Cindy Flox, Butterfly Consulting LLC
Newsletter Editor: Jennifer Florer
Copyright © 2016 Cumberland Township Historical Society, All rights reserved.

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