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Valley of the Shadow

Franklin Repository: September 22, 1869

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Our County Poor House
(Column 01)
Summary: This article is part of the Repository's ongoing expose on the county poor house. The editors include statistics on the production of the public farm for the past decade.
Full Text of Article:

We stated in our last issue that we believed our Poor House farm to be a failure financially, and that we thought the best interests of our people would be subserved by selling all of the land except perhaps forty or fifty acres immediately around the buildings, and that the land thus retained could be worked almost entirely by the labor of the inmates of the institution, and would be amply sufficient for all their wants, thus saving a large sum of money each year. Reflection and an examination of the results of the operations of past years have confirmed us in the truth of our opinions. We say it without fear of contradiction, that no one of our prudent, practical farmers, would be satisfied if he knew that his farm, of equal cost and value with the Poor House farm, were not producing a better yield than has been gotten from the latter. He would quit farming at once--sell off his land, and put his money where it would yield him a larger profit.

We wish to misstate nothing, and our remarks upon this subject, are not intended to subserve the interests of any particular party. We are looking to the public good alone. Both political parties have had charge of the Poor House and farm, and under both we believe it has been a failure. To show that such has been the case, we give the principal products of the farm each year, commencing with 1855, but leaving out of consideration the pork, beef, veal, &c., raised and killed, and the small vegetables produced--as they could as well be raised upon 50 as upon 220 acres of land.

1855. David Piper, Steward. 391 bushels wheat, 1,100 corn, 608 oats, 300 potatoes, 25 onions, 20 beets, 26 loads hay, 13 fodder.

1856. David Piper, Steward. 657 bushels wheat, 550 corn, 33 oats, 71 rye, 75 potatoes, 8 onions, 10 beets, 33 loads hay, 5 fodder.

1857. William Shinafield, Steward. 600 bushels wheat, 675 corn, 286 oats, 60 potatoes, 10 onions, 10 beets, 31 loads hay, 11 fodder, 2,000 bushels lime.

1858. William Shinafield, Steward. 370 bushels wheat, 640 corn, 177 oats, 240 potatoes, 10 onions, 10 beets, 6 clover seeds, 30 loads hay, 9 1/2 fodder, 1,600 bushels lime.

1859. John Bowman, Steward. 634 bushels wheat, 625 corn, 163 oats, 204 potatoes, 5 onions, 10 beets, 3 clover seeds, 26 loads hay, 15 fodder, 3,000 bushels lime.

1860. James Chariton, Steward. 860 bushels wheat, 625 corn, 47 rye, 684 oats, 505 potatoes, 10 onions, 10 beets, 7 clover seeds, 39 loads hay, 22 fodder, 6,000 bushels lime.

1861. James Chariton, Steward. 900 bushels wheat, 675 corn, 150 rye, 450 oats, 400 potatoes, 8 onions, 10 beets, 40 tomatoes, 40 turnips, 17 clover seed, 39 loads hay, 10 fodder, 6,000 bushels lime.

1862. James Chariton, Steward. 900 bushels wheat, 569 corn, 382 oats, 400 potatoes, 17 onions, 32 beets, 22 tomatoes, 8 clover seed, 40 loads hay, 18 fodder and 3,700 bushels lime.

1863. James Chariton, Steward. 900 bushels wheat, 474 corn, 350 oats, 395 potatoes, 20 onions, 18 beets, 30 tomatoes, 18 turnips, 12 loads hay, 20 fodder, 3,000 bushels lime.

1864. Wm. M'Grath, Steward. 572 bushels wheat, 18 rye, 204 oats, 450 corn, 300 potatoes, 50 loads hay, 20 fodder.

1865. Wm. M'Grath, Steward. 508 bushels wheat, 52 rye, 806 corn, 92 oats, 687 potatoes, 27 tomatoes, 18 onions, 15 turnips, 18 beets, 50 loads hay, 20 fodder.

1866. John Ditzler, Steward. 479 bushels wheat, 70 1/2 rye, 405 oats, 302 corn, 7 timothy seed, 200 potatoes, 66 turnips, 45 beets, 15 onions, 22 tomatoes, 39 loads hay, 10 fodder.

1867. John Ditzler, Steward. 703 bushels wheat, 63 rye, 368 oats, 297 corn, 253 potatoes, 40 beets, 31 turnips, 27 onions, 4 1/2 clover seed, 67 loads hay, 11 fodder.

1868. David Piper, Steward. 500 bushels wheat, 62 rye, 316 oats, 986 corn, 703 potatoes, 32 onions, 23 turnips, 26 beets, 54 loads hay, 12 fodder.

Any one of you, fellow citizens, can estimate the value of these products, year by year, and if you do, we feel satisfied that you will agree with us, that our public farm has not been doing as well as it might. The production during Mr. Chariton's time as Steward was the best for the last fourteen years, but even that was not near what it should have been, and it has since fallen off nearly one-half. And when the cost of producing these results is considered, we think you will agree with us that our county had better stop farming on so expensive a scale, as it will be much cheaper to purchase for cash every thing that may be wanted at the Poor House, that cannot be raised upon forty or fifty acres of land.

There are several provisions in the Act of Assembly incorporating our Poor House which have been so long unobserved and neglected that we suppose their very existence is unknown generally. One of them makes it the duty of the Directors, on or before the first of November of each year, to furnish to the County Commissioners a statement of the probable expense of the Poor House for the next year, which amount the Commissioners are directed to assess and collect for the use of the Poor House. Heretofore the Directors have been supplied out of the County Treasury just as they called for money, and they appear to have acted as if they had a right to whatever sum they might call for. In truth they are not now entitled by law to any money, as none has been assessed or collected for their use; and we think it would be wise to require this statement from them in the future and then hold them to their own estimate. If they spent all their money before the year is out let them do without for the balance of the year. This would insure economy, because the Directors would know that the public would be made acquainted with their estimate, and they would further know that no more money could be spent by them than was assessed and collected for their use.

The same law requires the Directors, at least once in every year, to lay before the Court of Quarter Sessions and Grand Jury "a list of the number, ages, and sexes of the persons maintained and employed in the said Poor House, or supported or assisted by them elsewhere, and of the children bound out to them to apprenticeship, with the names of the masters or mistresses, and their trade, occupation or calling." Neither of these provisions have ever been observed, and yet the information provided for in them would be of great interest to the public. If furnished, the greater part of it would of course be published by the newspapers of the county, and the people could thus learn whether too many persons were employed about their Poor House, and whether persons were receiving out-door aid who should not get it--and they would take measures to correct the evil if any existed.

Another provision of the law--and a most important one too--is that which provides for the appointment by the Court of Quarter Sessions, of visitors to examine the books and accounts of the Poor House--and all accounts of sales and purchases made by, or under authority of the Directors--and of the monies received and expended by them. This provision, if ever it was carried into practice, has been abandoned for many years. And yet how important it is. We know that the Grand Jury visit the Poor House every three months, and make a report; but their visits are always made at the heels of the Court, when the jury are tired out and want to get home, and are therefore of no real benefit because the jurors have neither the time nor inclination to look into the workings of the institution as they should. The time of their visit is always known before hand, and the "best face" is put upon both building and paupers, in order that no unfavorable impressions or reports may be made.

But if visitors were appointed Court after Court, to go to the Poor House, inspect the books, examine all the purchases and sales made, and report thereon--as well as upon the condition of the house and paupers--the number of employees who ought to be kept, &c., &c.--such visitors would most likely go there when they would not be expected, and would consequently see the institution in its "every day" dress--and be able to report more understandingly than are those the times of whose coming are known beforehand. Besides such visitors would have time to inspect all the books, and the purchases and sales; and they would be able to determine what favoritism was used--whether useless or too high priced articles were purchased--whether too many hired hands were employed, and whether the wages paid them were too great--and in short what mismanagement, if any, was going on about the institution, and what reforms should be made. Such visits are provided for by the law creating the Poor House, and any unprejudiced man can see at a glance that they could not fail of being of vast benefit to our burdened tax payers, however unsatisfactory, or inquisitorial they might appear to the Directors, Steward, or other interested parties.

There is one other matter which attracted our attention whilst examining the Poor House accounts as published, for the years referred to in the first part of this article, and that is the unsatisfactory condition of the debit side of those accounts, in not setting out specially the sources from which the various sums of money are received. Often articles are sold by the Steward, we are informed, and others are brought with the money thus received, without the money going into the Treasurer's hands at all. That in our opinion, is all wrong. All monies received should be paid to the Treasurer of the House, and drawn out again on orders from the Directors. Thus an account of them would appear on the books of the house and the books of the Treasurer, and the one would be a check upon the other, and all grounds for animadversion and ill-natured suspicions and remarks would be removed.

Taxpayers of Franklin county, we call upon you to reflect upon what we have written upon this subject, and if your views of it correspond with ours, see to it that the LAW is enforced in every respect. This institution is becoming a greater burden to you year after year. It now costs you nearly one-fifth as much as your whole county expenses, and we feel convinced if you take the matter in hand and have greater part of the land sold, and the other expenses reduced, you can accomplish reforms that will be greatly to your ease and benefit.

Packer's Taxes
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Summary: The paper accuses Democratic gubernatorial candidate Packer of tax evasion.
Packer Interviewed
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Summary: The paper criticizes Democratic gubernatorial candidate Packer for an evasive interview with the New York Sun. The editors charge that his unwillingness to take a meaningful stand on any political question is emblematic of his approach to office.
Full Text of Article:

Packer is a great man. If there had been any doubt of it before, that doubt is now dissipated. He has been interviewed by the New York Sun correspondent. Whenever a man is done by a great New York daily his greatness is a settled fact. Few men can boast of it, but the happy few are ever after indisputably great. Chase, on a time, was interviewed, so was Moses Johnson, so was Ben Butler, and a few others, and now Packer. Most men say something when interviewed. Our Moses always did. It wasn't new nor strange, but it was something. The Sun thinks in the matter of saying something Pennsylvania's great man isn't a success, and we think that those who read the report will endorse the Sun. Perhaps he has no opinions, or if he has he very unskillfully evaded expressing them, for to the reader the report looks exactly like the conversation of a man who has no fixed convictions upon the subject he is discussing. Indeed he prefaces his interview with a plea of ignorance of political subjects generally, and if he makes his election as good as he has made his plea he will be more than satisfied. Packer expresses it as his idea that the leading issue in the present campaign is the financial policy of the State, and thinks that the financial policy of the Republican State administration has not tended to strengthen the credit of the State as it might have done. Pressed by the reporter he thinks of two other features, which would be improved by his election. They are the indiscriminate use of the pardoning power and class legislation. One may be allowed to differ from him with reason as to the success of the State financially under Republican rule, when he compares it with that of other Democratic Governors. The loose exercise of the pardoning power and special legislation are as much deprecated by Republicans as by Democrats, and under Geary's administration fewer pardons were granted, and more special legislation was vetoed, than under any Democratic Governor in thirty years.

When asked whether the vast railroads of the State did not create a powerful monopoly, and whether this monopoly did not exert an undue influence upon the legislation of the State, Packer, who is a railroad king himself, talked about the State fostering and encouraging the construction and completion of new lines; about as pertinent to the question as if he had given his views on the Fifteenth Amendment. He tells enough to satisfy us that the Democrat who expects him to oppose monopolies, the means by which he made his great wealth, is a fool now, and will admit his folly hereafter if Packer should be elected. On the question of protection of State industry, or a tariff, he had no opinion, telling the reporter that he might believe what he pleased. Evidently he regards it a critical question for a candidate to handle. How the people must despise a man who is afraid to express his views lest he might loose a vote, especially on a subject so vital to Pennsylvania industry. In trying how not to say anything to the reporters question as to whether the Fifteenth Amendmet was in issue in the State contest, he intimated that the Southern States had adopted the Amendment under coercion, whereupon he was asked if he believed that the negroes of those States should be deprived of the ballot. His answer to this is such a clear case of coming out of the same hole at which he went in, and of going in at the wrong hole, that we give it in his own words:

Reporter.--The Southern States having adopted this Amendment, as you intimate, under coercion, ought the negroes in those States to be deprived of the ballot?

Judge Packer.--The question of suffrage, as I have said, belongs to the people of the States respectively; and while Alabama has no right to interfere with Pennsylvania in determining this matter, Pennsylvania has no more right to interfere with Alabama. One State has no right to coerce another into the adoption or the rejection of such a measure, either by the opinion of its people or the votes of its Senators and representatives in Congress.

When asked if he favored the Eight Hour Labor law, instead of replying either yes or no, he did neither, and indulged in the following bit of flunkeysim, as much like Andy Johnson's as if Andy had said it himself:

Judge Packer.--I favor all movements that tend to the amelioration of the condition of the laboring man, and they have my most cordial co-operation. As I said in my letter of acceptance, "having earned my bread by the labor of my hands during many, and I may add, the happiest years of my life, and owing whatever I possess (under the providence of God) to patient and honest toil; I can never be unmindful of the interests of those with whom my entire life has been associated."

This is an interesting story of his rise and progress from poverty and obscurity to wealth and fame, but not a word about the law. Laboring men need not look to Packer in their efforts to alleviate their condition. The man who equivocates so magnificently on a question so simple, evidently lacks sincerity and truthfulness.

To the questions put to him on the subject of our national finances, he asks the reporter to copy some extracts, generalities, they are, from the writings of Jackson and Jefferson. They express no opinion and give no clue to his personal opinions. Throughout, the interview is a series of evasions. There is not a single candid, straight forward reply in it. Perhaps the most sincere part of it it that wherein he admits his ignorance of politics. The voters of the State will accept his own estimate of himself, and allow him to remain where he can devote himself uninterruptedly to his great personal enterprises.

Packer and the Border Damages
(Column 04)
Summary: The paper charges that Packer's record as a tax evader makes it very unlikely that, in the event of his election as governor, he would raise taxes to meet the war-damage claims of the border counties.

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[No Title]
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Summary: The paper reports on a recent meeting of the Franklin County Soldiers' Monumental Association.
(Names in announcement: Judge Rowe, Harry Strickler, James G. Elder, B. F. Winger, Theodore M'Gowan, William H. Mackey, Walter Crawford, Amos Stouffer, William Bossert, Samuel Gelwix, Morrow R. Skinner, John S. Nimmon, John L. Ritchey, William Burgess, George B. Weistling, James B. Orr, William D. Dixon, T. D. French, Joseph Phenicle, G. W. Skinner, Harry Strickler, William S. Stenger, John A. Seiders, Thomas J. Grimison, D. W. Rowe)
Full Text of Article:

The Central Branch of the Franklin County Soldiers' Monumental Association, met on Tuesday evening last, in the rooms of Judge Rowe, for the purpose of re-organization. The meeting was organized by calling Judge Rowe to the chair. Harry Strickler was chosen temporary Secretary. A Constitution and By-Laws were adopted by the association. The resignations of the former officers were accepted, after which the association proceeded to the election of permanent officers, resulting in the choice of the following persons:

President--James G. Elder.

Vice Presidents--Antrim, B. F. Winger; Chamb'g., Theo. M'Gowan; Fannett, Wm H. Mackey; Green, Walter Crawford; Guilford, Amos Stouffer; Hamilton, Wm. Bossert; Letterkenny, Samuel Gelwix; Lurgan, Morrow R. Skinner; Metal, John S. Nimmon; Montgomery, John L. Ritchey; Peters, Wm. Burgess; Quincy, Geo. B. Weistling; Southampton, James B. Orr; St. Thomas, Wm. D. Dixon; Washington, T. D. French; Warren, Joseph Phenicle.

Secretaries--G. W. Skinner and Harry Strickler.

Treasurer--Wm. S. Stenger.

The chair appointed an Executive Committee as provided for in the constitution, consisting of the following persons:--Hon. D. W. Rowe, John A. Seiders and Thos. J. Grimison.

A resolution was adopted, giving all persons heretofore connected with the association four weeks time to sign the constitution, otherwise they must be regularly elected to membership, if they desire continuing their connection with the association. Those wishing to sign the constitution should call upon the Secretaries or attend the meetings. The next meeting will held in Judge Rowe's office, on Thursday evening at 7 o'clock.

The Second Exhibition of the Franklin County Horticultural Society
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Summary: The second exhibition of the society will be held on Repository Hall on the 25th. Admission is free during the day, but 15 cents at night when refreshments will be served. The society solicits produce for exhibition.
[No Title]
(Column 02)
Summary: The Franklin County Horticultural Society won a silver medal for their display of fruit at the Pomological Convention in Philadelphia. Every state in the Union was represented with entries. The Franklin County delegation was the only Pennsylvania group to win a prize.
(Names in announcement: T. B. Jenkins, R. P. Hazelet, B. L. Ryder, Tobias Martin)
[No Title]
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Summary: Lt. Robert A. Sharp, conductor of the afternoon passenger train on the Cumberland Valley railroad, died on Monday at the National Hotel after a short illness. "Lt. Sharpe was an affable gentleman and discharged his duties with satisfaction to the people and his employers. He was a gallant soldier during the war, and served faithfully as a private in the 126th Penna. Vols., and afterwards as a Lieutenant in another regiment, and was always noted for his courage and bravery."
(Names in announcement: Lt. Robert A. Sharp)
[No Title]
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Summary: An "ingenious musician" entertained Chambersburg citizens by playing a bass drum, cymbals, a wind instrument made out of reeds, and a hurdygurdy all at one time.
[No Title]
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Summary: An "old German" named John Lininger was found dead at his residence in Letterkenny near Keefer's store. He died from apoplexy and left a will making Wilson Reilly sole beneficiary of his estate worth about $1,500.
(Names in announcement: John Lininger)
[No Title]
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Summary: The Republicans of the North Ward of Chambersburg met at John Fisher's Hotel, and those of the South Ward at the Indian Queen Hotel on Friday at 7:00 for the purpose of nominating borough officers.
[No Title]
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Summary: The members of the Sabbath School of the German Reformed Church of St. Thomas will hold a fair on Friday and Saturday to raise money to buy books for a library. The 'Citizens Band' will perform.
[No Title]
(Column 03)
Summary: Barnet Earley of Chambersburg was appointed coin teller in the office of the Assistant U.S. Treasurer at Philadelphia. The paper endorses Earley as "honest, reliable man."
(Names in announcement: Barnet Earley)
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Summary: Jere Cook and Miss H. Jennie M'Keehan were married in Chambersburg at the M. E. Church on September 21st by the Rev. S. Barnes.
(Names in announcement: Jere Cook, H. Jennie M'Keehan, Rev. S. Barnes)
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Summary: Dr. James A. Maxwell, formerly of Chambersburg, and Miss Rebecca Ross were married in Pennsylvania on September 8th by the Rev. W. R. H. Deatrich.
(Names in announcement: Dr. James A. Maxwell, Rebecca Ross, Rev. W. R. H. Deatrich)
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Summary: Aaron Hartranft and Kate Lesher, both of Franklin, were married on September 10th by the Rev. B. S. Schneck.
(Names in announcement: Aaron Hartranft, Kate Lesher, Rev. B. S. Schneck)
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Summary: Samuel Hartman and Miss Margaret Friese, both of St. Thomas, were married at Keefer's Store on September 14th by the Rev. A. Tripner.
(Names in announcement: Samuel Hartman, Margaret Friese, Rev. A. Tripner)
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Summary: Cyrus M'Gowan of St. Thomas and Miss Letitia Cline of M'Connellsburg were married on September 14th by the Rev. L. A. Gotwald.
(Names in announcement: Cyrus M'Gowan, Letitia Cline, Rev. L. A. Gotwald)
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Summary: Mrs. Mary S. Reynolds, wife of the late Thomas B. Reynolds of Mercersburg, died in Pennsylvania on September 1st at the residence of her son-in-law, Dr. W. T. Smith.
(Names in announcement: Mary S. Reynolds, Thomas B. Reynolds, Dr. W. T. Smith)

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