Blog: Experience John Brown and More

Abolitionist John Brown planned his raid on the Federal Arsonal at Harpers Ferry while staying at the Ritner Boarding House in Chambersburg.

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Downton Abbey Garden Tea Party

We are excited to announce plans for the May 30th Downton Abbey Garden Tea Party. The 2:00 pm event to be held in the East Court Yard of the Old Jail will feature: Special Guest: Lady Grantham Appearances by Lady Chatterley, Daisy Buchanan & Mary Pickford Period Dance Demonstration Performed by Frank Hancock & his team of high school students Prize Drawing Catered Tea by a Matter of Taste Downton Abbey “American Style” Exhibit Self-Guided Tour Tickets can be purchased by contacting the Society at 717-264-1667. Cost is $25 per person. Limited Seating, Advance Purchase Required by May 22, 2015.

Spring into History

On April 18, the Old Jail Museum will be part of the Franklin County’s third annual SPRING INTO HISTORY. The jail was built in 1818, survived the Confederate burning of Chambersburg in 1864, and was Pennsylvania’s oldest continuously operating jail.

Also available will be the Mary Ritner boarding house. This property was designated as an Underground Railroad site by the National Park Service’s Network to Freedom program and served as John Brown’s northern headquarters during the raid on Harpers Ferry in the summer of 1859.

This year’s Spring into History marks the official public opening of Franklin County’s only Civil War museum–the Battle of Monterey Pass Museum, which explores Civil War history and Pennsylvania’s second largest battle fought as part of the retreat of the Campaign of Gettysburg.

Spring Into History is a gateway to explore in Franklin County with twenty sites organized in a circular route to begin the tour at any point. All sites have no admission fee. Download the self-guided tour booklet at

At the Old Jail we are busy preparing an exhibit on the history of baseball in this area. Did you know in the summer of 1929 Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees played an exhibition game at Henninger Field against the Chambersburg Maroons? Babe Ruth hit a home run during the game.

Genealogy Workshop for Courthouse Research

Have you wanted to do research on family records at the county courthouse but didn’t know how to go about it? Then you will definitely want to sign up for the upcoming “Genealogy Workshop for Courthouse Research.” For three Fridays from 1 – 3 pm, you will have the opportunity to learn the procedures, systems and how to’’ve always wanted to know. March 27 will cover the basics of estate records – wills, probates, letters of administration and inventories. April 10 will be about land records – early tax records, deeds and releases. April 17 will cover Orphans Court – settling estates, auditor’s reports, widow’s appraisements, and guardian appointments. Each class is $15. You may register for only one or two classes, or the whole series. Pre-register by sending your payment with your name, address, phone number and email address to FCHS-K, 175 E. King St., Chambersburg, PA 17201. Indicate which classes you will be taking and whether you will need a case study to work on or have your own. Class size is limited. Email with any questions.

Downton Abbey – American Style

Downton Abbey Secretary“Downton Abbey – American Style” is an expression of that time period from the downing of the Titanic to the Roaring Twenties through storyboards that interpret the “men who made America”—the industrialists, the new technologies, the robber barons, and their importance. Look for the two connections to our area.

The exhibit is available Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Tour booklets are available for $2. Also be sure to enjoy the wonderful art exhibition “Down the Garden Path” during the month of February.