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Carlisle Barracks-1854-1855: From the Letters of Lt. Thomas W. Sweeny, 2nd Infantry

In July 1855, six companies from the 2nd Infantry rook possession of an old fur trading post on the banks of the Upper Missouri River and transformed it into a base of operations against the Sioux. But before setting out on this assignment, the officers and men of this regiment spent almost a year and a half at Carlisle Barracks filling their ranks, drilling, and preparing for service on the prairie. Among the officers in this contingent was 34-year-old Lieutenant Thomas William Sweeny.

A native of County Cork, Ireland, Sweeny and his family came to the United States in 1832 and settled in New York, where he received his education and later apprenticed to a book publisher. Sweeny also belonged to "military and literary" clubs in the city, and it was through these associations that he received a commission in the 1st New York Volunteers when the Mexican War started. The regiment took part in the drive from Veracruz to Mexico City, and suffered heavy casualties in the battle of Churubusco. Among those casualties was Lieutenant Sweeny, whose right arm was amputated. After the war he received a commission in the 2nd Infantry and served at San Diego and Fort Yuma in Southern California from 1849 to 1853. He returned to New York in January 1854, and after a brief stint on recruiting duty joined his regiment at Carlisle Barracks in September of that year.

The Carlisle Deluge, 1779

On the night of August 19, 1779, there occurred on the south side of the North Mountain about ten miles northwest of Carlisle a geological phenomenon that eventually drew the attention of the astronomer David Rittenhouse, Dr. Benjamin Franklin, the Secretary of War, and the president of Harvard College, and was described both in private letters among these and other men and also in the published proceedings of the second oldest learned society in the United States.

The Carlisle Deluge, 1779, Revisited

We report here that evidence for the 1779 Carlisle Deluge still exists. In the Summer, 1996 issue of Cumberland County History, Whitfield J. Bell described what he called the Carlisle Deluge. Bell used primary sources, mainly a letter from David Rittenhouse to Benjamin Franklin, to describe how, on the night of August 19, 1779, a thunderstorm with copious rain opened a gash on the south side of North (Blue) Mountain east of Flat Rock and northwest of the present Bloserville. Rocks and trees were carried down the mountain. A channel four to ten feet deep and 30 to 100 feet wide was carved into the mountainside from near its top to the base. According to a later report by Benjamin Lincoln, mud rose in the channel to as much as 30 feet deep, as determined by marks on trees left standing. The scar could be seen from Carlisle, ten miles away. The water caused Conodoguinet Creek to rise ten feet in a very short time. The feature attracted the curious for some decades afterward.

Charles Francis Himes (1838-1918): Portrait of a Photographer

The life of Charles Francis Himes, professor of physics at Dickinson College from 1865 to 1896, was one of many and varied pursuits. He was a scientist, an educator, and a historian; and with each of these roles his interest and achievements in photography were integrated.

In the late twentieth century photography is taken granted. Anyone nowadays can buy a camera and take a picture, regardless of knowledge or skill; development and printing are done commercially; and photographs are used in every discipline. In Himes' time, however, the art and science of photography were still growing and developing in basic and significant ways. It was more a science than an avocation. Himes, who had been an amateur photographer since 1858, was aware of these developments and, as an experimental scientist, was led to investigate new ideas in photography and to consider their applications to science, history, and education. He was, he wrote, "a constant reader of its [photography's] literature, ... one enjoying each advance, each new application, and the rapid growth of photography as an amateur art ... " And he had participated in, and contributed to, those advances. "Photography," he declared in his address at the opening of a science building at Dickinson College in 1885,

The Children's Garden: A Mechanicsburg Kindergarten

I shall not call this an infant school, because I do not intend the children to be schooled, but to be allowed under the gentlest treatment to develop freely. -Friedrick Frobell

Very little is known about the kindergarten that was once in the basement of the PNC Bank on Main Street in Mechanicsburg. Most of the people associated with it can recall only bits and pieces of its appearance and history, or have passed on, taking their memories with them. I would like to take the reader back to Mrs. Kelley's kindergarten and share what is remembered by surviving students and parents.

Chloe's Story

The Carothers or Carruthers families (Carruthers in Scotland, Carothers in America) were among the first settlers in Cumberland County; in 1750 when the county was formed, there were seven established Carothers households in West and East Pennsborough Townships

Churchtown Perspectives, 1875

When John Bratton, editor of the American Volunteer newspaper, paid a visit to the village of Churchtown in April 1875, and then wrote about it in his newspaper, little did he know he would rile up the editor of a competing newspaper and send him off on his own trip to Churchtown.

Why was Oliver Haddock, the editor of the Carlisle Herald, so annoyed by several remarks in the American Volunteer article? Newspapers have always had a political affiliation. The Carlisle Herald was decidedly Republican while the American Volunteer was Democratic. The editor of the Herald claimed that the Volunteer's story was "grossly exaggerated" in two instances, but it was the conversation that the editor of the Volunteer had with Mr. Devinney, the post master of Churchtown, that angered the editor of the Herald the most. Mr. Devinney, the article in the Volunteer claimed, said that "the Volunteer had more subscribers at the Allen post office [Churchtown] than any other paper in the county. Mr. D., the article said, "is a Republican in politics, but thinks it would not be doing the "square thing" to give Ulysess a third term."

The Civil War Board of Relief of Cumberland County

Among the historical records that are included in the archives of Cumberland County, are those of the Civil War Board of Relief. These records provide an opportunity to learn how the war affected the day to day lives of military families in Cumberland County during this tumultuous period of our history.

In a law enacted May 15, 1861, by the Pennsylvania General Assembly, it states that " ... the county commissioners of the several counties of this commonwealth shall constitute a board of relief to meet monthly, or as often as they find necessary ... for the support of the families of the volunteers mustered into service .... " Although this law was for the state of Pennsylvania, there is evidence that there were other Civil War relief boards around the country, including the states of Georgia, Illinois, and Iowa. The Cumberland County Board of Relief records are organized by the dates the board met and list the names of the soldiers' families receiving aid for that particular month. They are further organized by the name of the local representative and the municipality they represented. These papers help researchers understand how families were impacted by the Civil War and sheds light on the experiences of those living in Cumberland County. We are now marking the150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War, and these documents provide us an opportunity to reflect on this time in our history.

Coming to Kansas: Details of the Trip and Location of a Pennsylvania Colony

Reprinted from Kansas City Times in the Carlisle Mirror; April 19, 1878.

The tide of emigration that has set in like a flood since the first opening of spring has become a matter of general comment, but so far nothing has been definitely known regarding the settlement of the various parties that have passed through Kansas City farther than that they nearly all settled in the State of Kansas.