Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Items From Adams County Pennsylvania

From Suffering Comes Compassion

The flu epidemic had gotten so bad at Camp Colt that the facility was put under quarantine in late September of 1918.  The influenza had made it into Adams County. The military installation had the most cases since it was an efficient incubator and superb conduit of infection.

The epidemic thrived because the camp was in the process of being broken up.  Staffing was down and the hospital was a shadow of its former self and more significantly, the nursing staff was drastically cut.  The Gettysburg Times for 3 October reported that twenty-one soldiers died in a single day at Camp Colt.  The outbreak by now had affected the whole community.

The local Red Cross set up a temporary, one hundred bed hospital at Xavier Hall on West High Street, for the military's worst cases.  Volunteers assisted as aides and attendants and the public also supplied food and medicine.  With the increased exposure more civilians were affected by the disease.  Burgess William Weaver recalled, "...it seemed that our whole town was a hospital and morgue."

In a public statement, Major Dwight D. Eisenhower, commander of Camp Colt, thanked the local community for their support and sacrifices, "... during the recent regrettable epidemic."  Estimates vary but by the end of the year, close to 200 soldiers had died from the influenza.

One of the local volunteers who contracted the flu was Annie M. Warner, the sixty-five year old wife of local businessman John M. Warner. John was eighty-five years old..  Fortunately for the Warners, Annie survived her sickness and her recovery inspired John to have a hospital built in honor of his wife.

In 1918 there were no hospitals close to the Borough of Gettysburg.  The closest hospitals were located in York, Carlisle or Harrisburg.

In 1919, John Warner, with the assistance of local businessmen and concerned citizens, formed a corporation which aided in construction of the hospital.  The hospital was to be named the Annie M. Warner Hospital.  Its purpose was , "... for relieving the wants of the afflicted who may be suffering from accident or disease without distinction of race, color, creed or condition..."  John Warner contributed six acres of land and $25,000 to the project.

Money for construction, staffing and equipping the hospital came from many sources.  The funding ranged from money raised from food sales and dances to subscriptions from local citizens and assistance from the state legislature. 

On March 25, 1919, Annie Warner broke the ground at the site of the proposed hospital.  The cornerstone was laid on July 1, 1919.  Construction of the forty bed, two story hospital was completed in September of 1920 but due to another shortage of nurses, the building was not occupied.  Finally on March 17, 1921, the Annie M. Warner Hospital admitted its first patient.

In 1980 after fifty-nine years of service the original building was demolished so a modern and larger hospital could be built.  On July 1, 1982, the name was changed to The Gettysburg Hospital to better represent the community in which it serves. Today, the hospital is once again undergoing renovation.

Regardless of all the changes, the caring, selfless and compassionate legacy of John and Annie Warner will carry on forever in Adams County. 

Gerald J. Desko @ 2012.All rights reserved.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Items From Adams County Pennsylvania

An Icon of Adams County

In 1832 the economy was sound and the location of the town allowed easy access from a wide geographic area.  The need for the services the firm offered, had steadily increased.  These were the major factors that caused the enterprise to thrive. 

Practically from the beginning, they knew their original facility was too small to accommodate the number of people they would have. The building was woefully inadequate but lack of funding blocked expansion.

In  February 1834, the legislature, with the support of Thaddeus Stevens, provided funding for $18,000 over a six-year time frame.  In April1835, the institution purchased six acres of land on the north side of Gettysburg on the top of a small prominence amidst the open terrain, for their new building.

The designer of the building was architect and engineer John Trautwine.  It may have been the largest building in Gettysburg at that time,  measuring 150 feet long by 50 feet wide and was 4 stories high with a cupola centered on the roof.  It was Greek Revival in style sporting a portico on the south side of the structure, complete with four Doric columns.  Construction began in April of 1836 and it was completed in the fall of 1837. 

The Edifice, as it would be called, now had room for its enrollees.  It had classrooms, dining hall, staff offices, library, chapel and rooms for the steward and his family.  In the near future additional buildings were added to the institution.  Linnaean Hall was added in 1847 and the White House was added in 1860.  There were also some other support buildings on the grounds which included a springhouse, smokehouse, oven, stable, washhouse and privies.

The events of July 1, 1863, turned the institution upside town.  First, signalmen from the Union Army interrupted activities inquiring about and briefly occupying the cupola.  Because of the chaos, business was suspended until further notice.  By nightfall, members of the Confederate Army occupied the building from top to bottom.

During the battle the Edifice was used as a Confederate hospital, housing up to about 700 soldiers.  It remained a hospital well after the battle ended.  One person visiting the building during this time reported the rooms and halls full of wounded soldiers.  Moans shrieks and cries could be heard throughout the building and the sight of blood was evident on the floors and on books that were temporarily used as pillows. 

The dead were placed in temporary graves dug adjacent to the Edifice.  The bodies would be removed after a period of time but bits of human bone were periodically found in the area.  The last pieces found were in 1937, when the Beachem portico was added to the north side of the building.

The Edifice, the Old Dorm, or Pennsylvania Hall had survived the Battle of Gettysburg.  The building survived the institution changing its name from Pennsylvania College to Gettysburg College in 1921. It also survived a renovation, rather than a demolition, from 1969 to 1970, which transformed the building from an academic building into an administrative building. 

This iconic building and its hallowed halls was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 16, 1972.

The American flag atop the cupola of Pennsylvania Hall flies twenty-four seven and is a thirty-four star flag as it was in 1863. 

When you visit Gettysburg. please take time to walk the Old Quad at Gettysburg College and personally view, "Yonder beautiful and stately college edifice."

Pennsylvania Hall - view from the Old Quad, south side.

The Cupola with the thirty-four star flag flying.

The north side of Pennsylvania Hall showing the Beachem Portico.