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~ MECHANICSBURG HISTORY ~

Census of Mechanicsburg:


1807 - 5 or 6 houses
1820 - about 20 houses
1830 - 544
1840 - 670
1850 - 882
1860 - 1,939
1870 - 2,569
1880 - 3,018
1890 - 3,691
1900 - 3,841
1910 - 4,469
1920 -
1930 - 5,647
1940 - 5,709
1950 - 6,786
1960 - 8,123
1970 - 9,385
1980 - 9,487
1990 - 9,478
2000 - 9,042

(Source: Cumberland County
Planning Office)


Historical Markers in Mechanicsburg


Cumberland Valley Railroad

Incorporated in 1831. Completed, Lemoyne to Chambersburg, 1837; eventually, Harrisburg to Virginia. For over 80 years, vital to Valley's economic life; merged into Pennsylvania R.R., 1919. Passenger Station, Stationmaster's House here, built in the 1860s.

Irving Female College

Site of the College that was chartered in 1857, and named for Washington Irving, a trustee. First women's college in Pennsylvania to grant degrees in arts and sciences. It closed in 1929.

Simpson Ferry Road

Built about 1792. It extended from Michael Simpson's Ferry on the Susquehanna to Carlisle, following, at this point, a course later known as Simpson St. Used by many persons traveling to the western part of the state.

Union Church

Oldest public building in Mechanicsburg. Built in 1825 on land given by Martin Rupp. As provided in the charter, it has been used by many religious sects on payment of small fee.


Four Names For Our Town


Drytown - due to the extreme
scarcity of water in the winter and summer.

Staufferstown - in honor of Henry Stauffer.

Pinchgut - believed to be of German origin and used as a sign of amusement given to a small village of only a few people.

Mechanicsburg - incorporated
April 12, 1828 so named for the excellent mechanics who lived and were employed here.

Timeline of Mechanicsburg


-1700-


Mid to Late 1700's Leonard Fisher purchased 100 acres from Joseph Heynes tract (No. 1442 of an original grant of 267 acres from William Penn)

1790 Actual dates being obscure, there may have been two houses in the late 1700's in the Pinchgut

1792 The Trindle Springs Road (The Great Road) and Simpson Ferry Road (Road to Col. Simpson's Ferry across the Susquehanna) were built passing through land that is now in our borough.

-1800-


Dec. 2, 1800 Leonard Fisher sold to George Frankenberger 21 acres at a cost of 140 pounds. In 1804, Frankenberger purchased an additional 26 acres.

1801 George Frankenberger applied for and received a license to operate a tavern.

By 1807, there were enough houses (five or six) to call it a village. It was known as either Pinchgut or Drytown.

1807 Henry Stauffer built his house on a large tract of land that is now the center of town.

1808 The Kinsey family built a home at the corner of Locust and Frederick Streets.

April, 1812 John Gusweiler gave land to build a school on the northeast corner of Walnut and Simpson Street. It is questionable if a school was ever built. He later gave land at the corner of Chestnut and Locust Streets, where a school was built.

The name Mechanicsburg started to appear as early as 1811 / 1812 because the wagon mechanics who set up shops all along Trindle and Simpson Ferry Road.

1816 The first brick house was built by Lewis Zearing at the corner of Main and York Streets. It was referred to as "The Mansion."

1818 John Coover built the home at Frederick and Main Streets.

1819 John Gusweiler laid out the first lots in the eastern part of the town.

1820 Henry Stauffer laid out his land into building lots. He provided for a public square. This was referred to as Staufferstown.

1820 There were about 20 houses in the town.

April 12, 1828 The State Assembly at Harrisburg passed the Act of Incorporation "to erect the Town of Mechanicsburg, in the County of Cumberland, into a Borough." Mechanicsburg is located 8 miles west of Harrisburg and 10 miles east of Carlisle, the county seat.

May 16, 1828 First town council met and elected Henry Ford as the burgess.

April 2, 1831 The Legislature passed an act to provide for the incorporation of the Cumberland Valley Railroad.

December, 1831 Major Henry Leas and David Brenizer purchased 8 to 10 acres from George Stonespring and laid out 33 lots on the south side of Main Street. From that time forward the town continually grew.

1834 The Free School Law required that all children attend school until they received an elementary education.

1835 Professor McCron started first public school in the basement of the Methodist Church.

1835-1855 "Old Brown School House" in back of the Union Church was used for elementary education. It was a four room school house.

August 19, 1837, excursionists  boarded the "Cumberland Valley" for the first ride " on the rails" from Carlisle to White Hill. The Cumberland Valley Railroad became an institution in the economic importance of the town.

1840 A "select school" was established by F.M.L. Gillelen.

-1850-


1854 The "select school" became the Cumberland Valley Institute, all boy's school. on West Main between York and Washington Streets.

1859 Girls were admitted to Cumberland Valley Institute.

1854 The Mechanicsburg Gas and Water Company was formed.

1855 Keystone Coronet Band founded
  1861 Became the 7th Pennsylvania Infantry Volunteer Band.
  1865 Singer Coronet Band- David Singer, director.
  1876 Played in the Centennial Parade in Philadelphia.
  1950 Band disbanded
  1980 New Singer Band reorganized by Leonard Reid.

1856 The Water Works was built.

By 1858, there were four public schools from elementary to high school.
  School No. 1 Miss A. Rhinehart, principal
  School No. 2 Mrs. C. B. Young
  School No. 3 Mr. J.S. Hostetter
  School No. 4 Mr. J. Hinkle

1858 Irving College was founded by Solomon P. Gorgas. The State Legislature granted the charter in 1857. It discontinued education in 1929.

1858 Washington Fire Company was founded, operating from Washington Hall, the borough hall.

1858 Borough patrol was formed and a small jail called "the lockup" was built behind Washington Hall.

1859 Merkel, Mumma & Company was founded.
  1861 It became the Mechanicsburg Bank
  1864 First National Bank
  1927 First Bank and Trust
  1987 PNC

1860's CVRR passenger station, Stationmaster's house, and portion of the freight station were built.

Mar. 1, 1861 The Chestnut Hill Cemetery Association was founded.

1862 The first concrete pavement in town was laid in front of Union Church.

June, 1862 Mechanicsburg residents saw the first of the war when 450 Confederate prisoners passed through on the CVRR on their way to Harrisburg.

June 28, 1863 Confederate troops occupied Mechanicsburg, led by General Jenkins. He demanded 1,500 rations for his men, and grain for the horses to be collected in one and a half hours. Jenkins set up headquarters at the Railroad Hotel (our present day borough parking lot). By June 30, 1863 The troops began to withdraw to Carlisle. By Wednesday, July 1st, the last of the troops left town.

1863 The first borough street lights were installed, fueled by coal oil. A few churches had installed them earlier.

1866 Franklin Hall was built as borough hall. It was demolished in 1926.

1872 Library and Literacy Association was incorporated. They met on the second floor of the Wilson Building every Tuesday and Saturday evenings.

1873 Dillsburg Branch of the Cumberland Valley Railroad at Trindle Spring was built.

1875 Town council approved fire police for Washington Fire Co.

1876 House numbers were only on houses in the center of town.

1884 First dog laws enacted.

July 26, 1888 The Rescue Hook and Ladder Company was founded.

1891 Ordinance 88 established a more efficient police force (one man police chief).

1872 A two story school was built at Simpson and High Streets.

1875 The first graduating class consisted of one graduate.

1883 Mechanicsburg High Alumni Association was organized.

1894 An assistant police chief was added.

1895 Electric arc street lights (1600 candle power) were installed by Cumberland Light, Heat and Power Co. 1930 Upgraded electric street lights.

-1900-


1900-1936 Cumberland Valley Electric Passenger Railroad- trolley cars.

Jan., 1902 The Liberty Bell on a flat bed railroad car toured the country and came through Mechanicsburg. About 2,000 people gathered to see the bell.

1903 The Citizen's Fire Company was founded.

1903 Rakestraw's ice cream store was started.

1906 The first mention of repairs to the sewer system but no date was found for being installed. 1949 Residential sewers installed.

July 3 & 4, 1907 Centennial of the beginning of the town. Two big parades were held. The "Glorious Fourth Parade" had over 6,000 people viewing it. The "Industrial Parade" on Thursday had over 15,000 people viewing the parade and 1,500 people in the parade.

1909 Main Street was paved with bricks--1,000,000 bricks.

1919 CVRR was merged into the Pennsylvania Railroad.
  1968 Pennsylvania and New York Central merged to form Penn Central Railroad.
  1970 The Penn Central went bankrupt.
  1976 the federal government took over six bankrupt railroads and formed Conrail.
  1998 Norfolk Southern and CSX acquired Conrail.

1919 First football game.
  1924 First high school baseball game.
  1929 Girls' Intramural sports program began.
  1903-31 First basketball game.

1920 Boy Scouts of America was chartered in Mechanicsburg. Harry Mercer was first scout master.

Mid 1920's Girl Scouts of America were organized in Mechanicsburg.

1920 Stop signs were installed throughout the town.

1922 Sailors and Soldiers Memorial Park dedicated to the veterans of World War I was opened. There was a Recreation Department just for the park. The borough council approved the purchase of land in June, 1920.

1923 First Farmer and Merchants Jubilee Day- discontinues during World War II. Jubilee Day had events such as baby contests, Miss Mechanicsburg, craft demonstrations, livestock, cars, etc.

1926 First traffic light at the corner of Main and Markets Streets.

1929 Simpson Street School addition.

1936 Seidle Hospital opened. 1991 Hospital rebuilt.

1930's & 40's Romper Day at the Park- pet shows, doll shows, games.

1930's to'50's Dental Honor Roll Picnic at Willow Mill Park- for all students who had good dental hygiene.

1941 Naval Depot was started. The United States government bought 840 acres of farm land for $150.00 per acre.

1941 First parking meter.

1946 First Halloween parade.

1947 The football stadium was dedicated to those who lost their lives in World War II.

-1950-


1950 Dedication of the Harry Koser Memorial Park, a well respected policeman.

1952 Art Association was founded by a small group of local artists.

1952 Last commuter train service through Mechanicsburg

Early 1950's The Little Theater group was started with rehearsals in members homes and shows at the high school. In 1953, the Association purchased the Kohler Elementary School and in 1954, the first play was presented at their new place.

1957 Swimming pool opened. 1958, the bath house opened.

1961 Library was in a house on West Simpson Street.

1961 PRR removed its last passenger train, an overnight New York to Roanoke train, that passed through Mechanicsburg

1962 Library moved to corner of Frederick and Simpson Streets.

1963 Olympic pool built at the park.

1969 Mechanicsburg Area High School was built at Broad Street.

1969 The Recreation Board was created.

1975 Mechanicsburg Museum Association organized.

1990 Recycling began.

1996 Library moved to Walnut Street.

1999 The football field was dedicated to John H. Fredericks.

NEWSPAPERS IN MECHANICSBURG


  1835 The Microcosm, first newspaper in Mechanicsburg. Editor, Dr. Jacob Weaver, short lived.
  The School Visitor also short lived
  1843 The Independent Press Editor, Mr. Srigman
  1853 Mechanicsburg Gleaner Editor John Flinn
  1858-1876 The Cumberland Journal
  1868-1871 The Valley Democrat Editor Capt. T. F. Singiser
  1871 The Valley Independent formally The Valley Democrat
  1872 Independent Journal Editor Mr. R. H. Thomas
  1874 The Farmer's Journal Editor Mr. R. H. Thomas
  *1882 Farmer's Friend Editor Mr. R. H. Thomas
  *1882 Saturday Journal Editor Mr. R. H. Thomas, Jr. - Every Saturday
  *1893 Free Press - Mechanicsburg Daily
  *1908 The Valley Signal
  The Daily Journal - Published by Thomas Printing House every Wednesday
  *1925 Daily Local News - Editor J. A. Bushman Co.

   * Denotes that the newspapers were listed in Mechanicsburg Directories of that year

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