Tag Archives: Polly Murphy

Houses & Horses: Preserving history in Lower Paxton Township.

The new Lower Paxton Township Historical Commission is on the hunt for horses. Well, not just any horses, but old, handcrafted ones that some township residents may remember fondly.

There was, for instance, the old Inn 22 horse that long graced the grounds of the restaurant located five miles east of Harrisburg on Route 22.

“We’re still looking for that horse,” said Lower Paxton Township Historical Commission Chairman Joe Murphy.

Then there were the carousel horses you once could find on a farm owned by Judy Miller Klinefelter’s family. For years, the Linglestown Fair operated on the land, near what is now the Blue Moose Bar & Grille.

“We held an annual fair here,” said Klinefelter. “State government officials would come out to visit, and we’d have cows, pigs, sheep and other animals, along with cake judging and so forth—sort of like a precursor to our modern-day farm show.”

One of the highlights of the fair was a carousel. According to Klinefelter, when the fair closed down for good, her grandfather received an urgent telephone call from a friend who said, “You’d better get down here, every car that is going through town has one of your horses on it.”

Her grandfather arrived on site to discover one lone horse remaining, and today it’s stabled in Klinefelter’s living room.

“You know there are a lot of things kids don’t want these days, but both my daughters want that horse,” says Klinefelter with a laugh.

As for the remaining horses, she still holds out hope that others might show up someday.
Sharing History

It’s stories like these that bring history to life, Murphy believes.

His wife, Polly, through her work with both the Linglestown and the Lower Paxton 250th anniversary celebrations, learned many more. As the tales unfolded, it became clear that something should be done, and this led to the creation of the Lower Paxton Historical Commission in February.

According to Murphy, the commission’s mission is to identify, preserve, promote and protect the historical heritage of the township. The commission held its first meeting in March and now is conducting monthly history presentations.

“We will also be sharing the history with local students and teachers,” he said.

Preservation serves many purposes, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. For instance, old structures exist as a reminder of a city’s culture and complexity. The trust stresses the fact that once an historic structure is torn down, there’s no way to bring it back.

And the Linglestown area is rich with old structures.

For instance, the building that houses St. Thomas Roasters, near Linglestown Square, once operated as a pharmacy and dates back to the 1800s. One of the oldest structures in the area, the Gilchrist House, was built in 1794. The home is located near Arooga’s in Linglestown and is one of the original homes built in Lower Paxton Township.

“We think it’s built around a log cabin and are hoping to get into it with a building inspector,” said Murphy, adding that the home has been vacant for 30 years. “The woman who owns it had no idea until we contacted her.”

And then there’s Thomas Lingle’s house, which still exists on Parkway West, just a few blocks west of Linglestown Square.

David Doyle, who serves as the commission’s vice chair, mentioned long-gone businesses that are fondly remembered and posted by the commission on Facebook. For instance, he said, Moulin Rouge was known for its steaks, Maurice Acri’s served Italian food and Gino’s cooked up locally famous burgers and fried chicken.

When the commission posted a picture of the old Dutch Pantry, which was located on the corner of Allentown Boulevard and Mountain Road, the “likes” skyrocketed, Doyle said. And, of course, the Eagle Hotel, located on Linglestown Square, remains popular to this day.

“As a pre-Civil War structure, it’s one of the oldest taverns in Lower Paxton Township,” Murphy said.

In 1919, the American Legion was formed on the third floor, where they also held auctions for livestock.

“The barn located behind what is now Mud Queen Pottery was where the animals were, and they marched them right over,” Murphy said. “At the time there were two entrances—one for men and one for women.”

Not all preservation projects are focused on structures. Murphy remarked on a 400-year-old tree located off Linglestown Road.

“The John Goodway sycamore is named after the last Indian in the area,” he said. “He’s buried 10 feet north of that tree.”

And speaking of gravesites, Murphy speculated on a tragic loss that may not have occurred had the historical commission existed in the 1950s.

“Around 1956, I-83 was cut onto Route 22,” he said. “This affected approximately 300 graves, most of which were marked and contained many veterans from the French and Indian War up to World War I. They were dumped into one big, mass grave, and they were able to do it because the deceased’s relatives were gone. It was the oldest part of the cemetery. This is what we are going to work on preventing in the future.”


Past Is Future

History, of course, isn’t just physical objects. It also includes memories and stories.

At a recent monthly presentation, the commission shared the story of a B-26 bomber that crashed into Blue Mountain in 1951 due to fog and radio problems. Plans are in the works to honor the crewmen with a memorial service.

“The three crewmen were National Guardsmen from the 202nd Squadron,” Doyle said. “We reached out to the unit to see if they can be of any help with our service.”

Looking ahead, the commission plans to work with Lower Paxton Township to set up markers to designate historical structures. Since the commission operates without taxpayer money, it is gearing up to learn more about grant writing and fundraising to achieve its future goals, including a permanent building to store, display and create an official township historical collection of artifacts and ephemera.

Committee members are optimistic that, as the word spreads, more people will want to learn about the rich history of the township and may consider joining in the important mission of preserving the past for the benefit of the future.

To learn more about the Lower Paxton Township Historical Commission, visit www.lowerpaxton-pa.gov or the Facebook page: Lower Paxton Historical Commission.

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Long-Time Friends: Many achievements behind, a celebration ahead for Friends of East Shore Area Library.

Screenshot 2015-08-26 00.00.00“When I look at this beautiful facility, I can’t believe it all started from a storefront in Colonial Park Plaza over 50 years ago. And with a dirt floor at that!”

I was sitting in a large, air-conditioned East Shore Area Library conference room across the table from Madelyn Wickert Smith, whose face broke into a smile every time she mentioned the library.

“Back in 1961, only one library existed in Harrisburg—the Harrisburg Public Library,” Smith said. “That library was housed in the present day McCormick Riverfront Library building. A group of us were not happy with our library support and were determined to do something about it.”

And that’s exactly what happened. On Sept. 22, the Friends will mark 50 years as an organization, a group that helped spearhead a new library in the quickly growing suburb of Colonial Park.

From the Ground Up
To start out, the group formed a steering committee, which sent a flier home with students at four elementary schools indicating that a planning committee for a new library was being formed and asking for volunteers.

“We received such a good response that we conducted a survey of slightly over 4,000 persons in the Colonial Park Shopping Center,” Smith said. “Over one-half of those surveyed said they would use a library in the shopping center, and would you believe nearly one-third of respondents told us they would pay taxes to support a library? How about that? We were delighted.”

The Friends of the East Shore Area Library officially formed several years later, in 1965, as a nonprofit organization. It then sent a letter to the head of the Harrisburg Public Library outlining the committee’s plans for a new library. It would be open 52 hours per week, have a book collection of 10,000 to 15,000 volumes and have a certified librarian on staff.

“In June of 1967, we were instrumental in helping the library receive a federal grant of $100,000 to open a new branch and to operate a bookmobile,” Smith said. “Our dream became a reality in October 1967, when the branch library opened in the Colonial Park Plaza. I remember that the plaza was divided into several sections, so we actually started out with a dirt floor. That’s why I’ve always said our effort really began from the ground up.”

The Next Step
The new facility quickly caught on, out-circulating other libraries in the system. So, the Friends soon began advocating for a new, larger building.

“In July of 1975, thanks to a capital campaign and the support of the Friends, ground was broken on Ethel Street for a building to house an expanded library,” Smith said. “In March of 1976, the library relocated to a modern brick building directly adjacent to its first temporary home. What a thrill for all of us.”

With its popularity increasing, the East Shore Area Branch Library became the main library of the Dauphin County Library System in 1985. Another expansion was undertaken in 1990-91, which doubled the public space in the building, and the branch designation was formally dropped from the library’s name.

Today, the role of the Friends is to enhance community awareness of the library, encourage gifts, endowments and bequests and sponsor special programs in cooperation with the staff.

“We’re proud of all we’ve done,” said Bonnie Hindman, the current vice president. “Today, we have over 300 members. At least a third of our members provide the energy for our two book sales each year.”

Over just the last few years, the Friends have raised more than $100,000 for the purchase of shelving, chairs, audiobooks, water fountains and supplies. In 2012, they began scheduling adult programs for the community, a service that the library had not been able to offer for many years due to budget constraints.

“One of our biggest accomplishments was sponsoring the Dr. Henry Greenawald room,” Hindman said. “This renovated room provides a dedicated space for children’s programming and was named in honor of a longtime Friend and book sale organizer.”

Help Celebrate
The 50-year celebration this month will follow the annual meeting of the Friends and will feature two presentations.

“First, we will share the history of the Friends and have on hand a display of memorabilia and artifacts from over the years,” said co-chair Andrea Morrison. “The second presentation will be ‘Things You Never Knew About Linglestown’ by Polly Murphy, which highlights the upcoming 250th anniversary of Linglestown.”

Fred Heagy, along with his daughter, will provide music for the occasion, their songs ranging from present-day hits to musical selections from 50, 40, 30, 20 and 10 years ago.

“The Friends plan to conduct tours of the library for all attendees,” co-chair Pat Lacasse said. “We will cap the celebration with food, a large cake and lots of door prizes. We hope you all will plan to attend.”

Friends of the East Shore Area Library will celebrate its 50th anniversary on Sept. 22 at 1:30 p.m. at the library, 4501 Ethel St., next to the Colonial Park Mall. For more information, visit www.dcls.org/esa or call 717-652-9380.
Don Helin published his first thriller, “Thy Kingdom Come,” in 2009. His novel, “Devil’s Den,” was selected as a finalist in the 2013 Indie Book Awards. His latest thriller, “Secret Assault,” was selected as the best suspense/thriller at the 2015 Indie Book Awards. Contact Don on his website, www.donhelin.com.



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Toasting a Town: Linglestown–2 roundabouts, 250 years of history.

Screenshot 2015-08-26 00.00.37 Screenshot 2015-08-26 00.00.29Paulus Lingel came to Philadelphia from the Palatinate region of Germany around 1737. He had 11 children. One of his seven sons was Thomas Lingle.

Through generations of begetting, people today named Lingle, Lengel, Langle and Lingle are linked to their common forebear, Paulus, and to the crossroads town that came to be called after Thomas Lingle. Some now will travel from as far away as California and Colorado to join the celebration of Linglestown’s 250th anniversary from Oct. 9 to 11.

The big birthday bash concludes a year’s worth of events involving Linglestown businesses and residents, as well as people who just appreciate the quaint village on the roundabout.


Floored, Flabbergasted

In 1765, Thomas Lingle, whose father had settled in Berks County, laid out 80 lots and called it the Town of St. Thomas after his namesake, the Apostle Thomas.

It’s not known exactly why Thomas chose this spot. Some of his brothers got land grants from the sons of William Penn. Family historian Thomas Lengle, of Crownsville, Md., says he has no record of Thomas getting a land grant, but it’s possible that he received one, sold the land, and used the proceeds to buy the property that would become his village.

People called the village Lingle’s town. After Lingle’s death in 1811, the name stuck. Today, the actual boundaries of Linglestown are a bit fuzzy. It is a cluster of homes, churches and businesses at the intersection of Route 39 and Colonial Road in Lower Paxton Township. And it is a place that people are passionate about.

“There is the actual historic village area,” says Pam Jones, co-chair with Polly Murphy of Linglestown 250, the celebration committee. “I don’t know there is a boundary. People who live pretty far out on Linglestown Road still think they’re in Linglestown.”

The village has celebrated its founding every 50 years, so, around 2012, the Linglestown Area Civic Association formed the Linglestown 250 Anniversary, a project of The Foundation for Enhancing Communities. The birthday celebration was not to be one blowout event but a series of happenings that spotlight local history and culture, sponsored by a wide range of businesses and individuals.

In fall 2014, the kickoff spaghetti dinner and auction raised a whopping $13,000.

“In one evening, we were floored, just flabbergasted by it,” says Jones. “That got us going. That got our funding absolutely on track.”


Flocking to Town

Since the kickoff, there have been many other activities: a food, wine and beer tasting on the square, ladies’ day at Colonial Golf & Tennis Club, a home and garden show, a dulcimer concert, a Lego show and paintball.

The Linglestown 250 speaker series spotlighted central Pennsylvania abolitionists, Harrisburg trolley cars, frontier forts and “Linglestown Then and Now,” featuring Murphy presenting historic and contemporary photos and researchers Laura Gifford and Denise Deimler on their commemorative book, “250 Years of Linglestown, Pennsylvania.”

Celebration weekend, Oct. 9 to 11, promises many more events.

The festivities begin with a community church service. Then there will be walking tours, a flower show, a 5K race, Civil War reenactors, a Native American settlement, crafts sales and demonstrations, a children’s history hunt and the Popcorn Hat Players, music, a time capsule, firefighters vs. police softball and more music, culminating with fireworks in Koons Memorial Park. Colonial Park Rotary will dedicate its Linglestown Clock in the square, and St. Thomas UCC, where Thomas Lingle is buried, is reviving the Linglestown Fair, originally held in the 1920s.

Then there’s the Linglestown 250 parade.

“I think Polly and I want to take a little rest and vacation on the 12th,” Jones admitted.

Jones and Murphy also created Roundabout after a young volunteer suggested the celebration needed a costumed mascot. A raccoon seemed to be the thing. Roundabout has appeared at schools and fundraisers and at Linglestown’s National Night Out festivities. For Roundabout Around Town, entrants are painting wooden raccoons for display and prizes on celebration weekend.

Screenshot 2015-08-26 00.00.45

“Roundabout will be in the parade,” said Jones. “Any place we’ve been, he’s been there to greet the kids.”

Before Friday’s church service, about 100 descendants of Thomas Lingle and his brothers will dine at the Knights of Columbus. A Lengle will sing during social hour. Organizer Thomas Lengle, the family historian, hopes to line up a Lengle minister for the invocation. Prominent historian Edward G. Lengel of the University of Virginia—a great nephew of Thomas Lingle and an authority on George Washington—will keynote on the Revolutionary War service of Thomas Lingle and his brothers.

The fact that a place bears their name may help explain why people are flocking from all over the country for a village anniversary, says Lengle. He’s also “been surprised by the number of young people that have a total interest in this.”

“A lot of people wanted to know who’s who in the family and how’d we get here, and this is a big opportunity,” he said.

Linglestown 250 organizers hope to capitalize on the spirit stirred up by their celebration. Jones likes the small-town feel of Linglestown and its ever-present history. She and Murphy and the other participants “hope this has captured that energy.”

“We hope the vision has caught on,” she says. “We hope that people will keep the enthusiasm going and make this little village a little more attractive for people coming to town.”

Linglestown 250 will take place Oct. 9 to 11 in and around Linglestown. For schedule, sponsorship and volunteering information, as well as book orders, visit www.linglestown250.com.

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