BY SPEROS MARINOS / AUGUST 2014
Al Ferranto, Judy Metheny, John Horner, and Tom Clowney started meeting and formed the Cumberland Township Historical Committee. In August of 2010, the Cumberland Township Historical Society was named and formed with five members. This happened at the Adams County Historical Society in Schmucker Hall of the Gettysburg Lutheran Theological Seminary.
Cumberland Township was formed in 1749 — 265 years ago. The township has a rich history. Mary Jamison and her family were living in the township then in York County. The borough of Gettysburg was carved out of the eastern side of Cumberland Township. Franklin Township was taken from the western side.
The most significant historical era in Cumberland Township is the Battle of Gettysburg. The vast majority of the battle happened within the township. The Gettysburg National Military Park owns about 6,000 acres in Adams County. The majority is in the township. The Harmon and Bliss families had all of their farm buildings destroyed by fire during the battle. The Sherfy family lost their barn and the house was severely damaged. Cumberland Township residents suffered crop damage, battle damage, and theft. The McKnight family sold their Cumberland Township farm and went back to Cumberland County eight months after the battle.
The township has changed over time. One hundred fifty one years of tourism, plus the recent influx of retirees, have made an interesting addition to the culture of the township. What has not changed is the strong agricultural identity.
The mission of the Cumberland Township Historical Society is to foster identification and preservation of the township heritage and to promote the public awareness and appreciation of this legacy.
Our mentor, Dr. Charles Glatfelter, addressed the society prior to his death in February of 2013. He was asked the question “Does merit exist in what we are doing?” He replied, “Absolutely yes.” Wayne Motts of the Adams County Historical Society stated, “Your society could have a positive impact on local history.”
The society has had nine quarterly public meetings. During the March 2012 meeting, Dr. G. presented a program on the history of Cumberland Township and was made the first life member.
In 2012, we started producing one article each month for the Gettysburg Times. In August of 2013, our late friend Elwood Crist wrote an article that included the history of the Lincoln Highway within the township. This is the 32nd article published. In addition to the articles, we have a small repository with thousands of documents.
The society has a 501 (c)3 status. We have finance, publicity, and preservation committees. We helped the township and PennDOT place 27 roadway sights at the borders.
Oct. 13, 2014, will be a celebration of the 265th anniversary of Cumberland Township. The township building will have an open house, as well as the Gettysburg Times office. The Cumberland Township Historical Society will have historical displays on the Gettysburg Times lawn, rain or shine. We have invited our township fire companies. It is our hope that other societies in Adams County will attend. Join us for a township birthday party.
Much work needs to be done to preserve the past of the township. We hope to build on the work put forth by all of the past historians of Adams County.
Speros Marinos is chairman of the Cumberland Township Historical Society.