Franklin County Visitor Bureau Teams Up With Chambersburg Heritage Center for Joseph Winters Display

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The Franklin County Visitor Bureau is commemorating Black History Month at the Chambersburg Heritage Center with a display of the life and work of notable African American citizen Joseph Winters.

Joseph Winters was an inventor, freeman, and property owner.

Franklin County Visitors Bureau and the Chambersburg Heritage Center are teaming up on a Joseph Winters Exhibit for Black History Month.

. Inventing a device to help people from second and third story buildings was a contribution to the fire-fighting of the day, and organizing a meeting between American abolitionists Brown and Douglass was of national importance.

In recognition of Black History Month, the Chambersburg Heritage Center, located on Memorial Square in downtown, is hosting a Joseph Winters exhibit, which includes photographs, news accounts, and a copy of Winters’ patent of the fire escape ladder. The exhibit offers visitors a complimentary booklet about Joseph Winters’ life and contributions as an inventor, author, and supporter of the Underground Railroad.

Joseph Winters, a citizen of Franklin County lived a productive and diverse life. Laying the foundation for Winters’ pursuit of inventions was his employment as a machinist at the Cumberland Valley Railroad in Chambersburg. He, also, gained skill in metal working when he was employed by Jeremiah Senseney. These years of work sharpened Winters’ acumen in design and understanding of metal work, which helped him to develop several fire-related inventions from 1875 to 1882. He held patents for his inventions in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Belgium and Canada.

Franklin County PA, located just north of the Mason-Dixon Line, was a strategic location as the nation wrestled with America’s varying viewpoints on slavery and state’s rights in the eras of the Underground Railroad and the Civil War. Winters is credited with working with Henry Watson, a local African American barber and agent of the Underground Railroad, to coordinate the August 1859 meeting between John Brown and Frederick Douglass in Chambersburg. Chambersburg’s selection as Brown’s northern headquarters for the Raid of Harpers Ferry was not an isolated incident. Franklin County has a significant and documented Underground Railroad history. Included in the Joseph Winters display is a pamphlet, outlining the county’s Underground Railroad history.

The Joseph Winters story is a local success story, but Winters’ impact reaches beyond the boundaries of Franklin County PA. Inventing a device to help people from second and third story buildings was a contribution to the fire-fighting of the day, and organizing a meeting between American abolitionists Brown and Douglass was of national importance. Mike Rideout, a lifelong resident of Chambersburg, reached out the Franklin County Visitors Bureau for support in developing awareness of Winters as an important figure of local, black history. Rideout secured a number of articles and photos, and FCVB reached out to Maurice Marotte III, a collector of Cumberland Valley and Franklin County history. Marotte, who also has a keen interest in fire-fighting history, shared photos, articles, and other artifacts for the exhibit.

In an effort to engage homeschoolers, teachers, and just those who want to test their knowledge, FCVB added a crossword puzzle and a word find about Joseph Winters to the exhibit. Visitors can view the Joseph Winters exhibit and pick-up the take-aways by visiting the Chambersburg Heritage Center, 100 Lincoln Way East. The interpretive center of Franklin County history adjoins the Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce and is open Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM during winter.

The Franklin County Visitors Bureau invites all to explore Franklin County PA and enjoy the trails of history, arts and architecture, recreation, natural beauty, fresh foods and the warm hospitality of communities like Chambersburg, Greencastle, Mercersburg, Shippensburg, and Waynesboro. Franklin County PA is located just north of the Mason Dixon Line and is an easy drive to Washington DC, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. Discover more....plan a visit soon at ExploreFranklinCountyPA.com or by contacting 866.646.8060.

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Janet Pollard

Lauren Cappuccio
Ben Franklin
since: 04/2013
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