Ada Hummel stood out among the rest to offer a toast to all the players of the Business and Industrial Basketball League.
It was April 20, 1926. Eighty women had gathered in the YWCA gymnasium at 15 W. High St., in Carlisle for the league’s first banquet.
The Sentinel reported that Hummel was a member of the Loah Business Girls’ Club team that dominated the 1926 season with four wins and one tie in five games. The league had six teams: Loahs and five others tied to a specific industry or trade.
Minnie Kohler of the Carlisle Shoe Co. gave a toast to the league while Katherine Fleegal of the Century Ribbon team wished everyone the best heading into the 1927 season.
“The tables were very attractively decorated in pink and white,” The Sentinel reported.
Quite a different scene greeted the unnamed journalist who covered a mother/daughter banquet in the gymnasium on May 12, 1927.
“The decorations were Japanese using vary-colored banners, wisteria and large golden lanterns to give the effect,” the reporter wrote. “The tables were beautifully decorated with bowls of purple and white iris and tall yellow tapers. On the speakers’ table the centerpiece was an attractive Japanese garden scene.”
Margaret Moss of the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare told those gathered that even though life today is very different from that of the Pilgrims “we, like them, need to have the spirit of the pioneer in our hearts and blaze new trails,” The Sentinel reported.
“Miss Moss stressed the need for mutual understanding between mothers and daughters in solving the puzzling questions that both are facing today,” the story read.
Tour Through Time runs every Saturday in The Sentinel print edition. Reporter Joseph Cress will work with the Cumberland County Historical Society each week to look at the county through the years. Send any questions, future ideas or tips to email@example.com.
1820 - The founding of Bethel AME Church
One of the earliest African-American churches west of the Susquehanna River can trace its origins to a small group of black Christians who held prayer meetings in local homes. As the congregation grew, members raised enough money to purchase land in 1826 on East Pomfret Street in Carlisle to build its first church.
The church had financial problems in its early years but was saved by John Peck and John Vashon, two African-American men from Philadelphia. An entrepreneur, Peck owned a number of downtown businesses that served as fronts for the Underground Railroad.
The church served as the host site of the first school for black children in Carlisle, operated out of the basement by Sarah Bell, a white woman.
1847 - The McClintock slave riot
Mid-19th century Carlisle had more southern leanings than northern.
A riot took place in front of the Old Courthouse on the Square in Carlisle on June 3, 1847. It started after free black people made a rush for a woman and a child who had just been released by the court into the custody of two slave owners. The black residents were able to rescue and spirit the fugitives away. In the ensuing brawl, the crowd assaulted one of the slave owners.
Dickinson College professor John McClintock had a reputation for being an outspoken critic of slavery. He had earlier advised the court of a new state law banning any county official from having a part in the recovery of fugitive slaves. His stance against slavery made McClintock a target of community anger, and he was arrested and later acquitted of charges he incited the riot.
1852 - Lawsuit against Daniel Kaufman
Daniel Kaufman, the founder of Boiling Springs, worked with the Underground Railroad from 1835 to 1848. His role ended after the owners of 13 fugitive slaves sued Kaufman to recover monetary damages on "lost property." On Nov. 4, 1852, a federal jury ruled against Kaufman for $2,800 in damages and $1,200 in costs.
The case against Kaufman was based on eyewitness testimony by Joseph Whitcomb who saw the runaway slaves in Kaufman’s stable between 8 and 9 p.m. on Oct. 9, 1847. The fugitives included two men, two women and their children. Kaufman would also shelter slaves overnight in an abandoned log cabin on Island Grove, an area of tangled underbrush about a mile south of the village.
While he kept no records, Kaufman estimated at least 60 fugitive slaves had passed through his station during the 13 years that he operated it.
1870 - The Founding of Mount Tabor Church in Mount Holly Springs
What is now an abandoned church was once the spiritual and social hub of a black faith community in Mount Holly Springs from 1870 to 1970. Located on Cedar Avenue, Mount Tabor Church was built by Elias Parker, a Baptist minister and former slave who moved from Hagerstown, Maryland, to Cumberland County after serving with the U.S. Colored Troops regiment during the Civil War.
Mount Tabor formed an enclave that served as a refuge for recently freed blacks seeking a fresh start. Census data shows that by 1880 about 13 families had moved north from Georgia, Maryland and Virginia to settle in Mount Holly Springs. It was believed they were drawn to the town by the lure of work and the existence of an already established African-American congregation.
Census records show a decline in the black population starting in the 1920s that continued through the 1940s as factories closed in Mount Holly Springs but thrived elsewhere. It is believed that many blacks left the town for better work prospects in Carlisle and Harrisburg. No doubt the church congregation shrank with this migration.
1892 - Columbus Day outrage in Carlisle
On Oct. 21, 1892, Carlisle celebrated the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the New World with special events organized at the grassroots level. A large parade was held in the downtown featuring a procession of 1,200 school children, black and white. Afterward, a ceremony was held in front of the Wilson High School on the northwest corner of Pitt and North streets.
The Sentinel reported that prior to the ceremony, black children were “roughly spoken to” by a Carlisle school board member and made to leave an elevated platform for the sidewalk. They were soon replaced by Dickinson College students and members of a community-based fraternal organization. This shifting around of ceremony participants sparked outrage among black residents who convened an Indignation Meeting on Oct. 25
1897 - The Carlisle Brown vs. the Board of Education
Fifty-seven years before the landmark 1954 Supreme Court case, Carlisle had to contend with its own version of Brown vs. the Board of Education regarding the issue of segregation in schools.
The local case began in September 1896 when Mary Brown asked a committee of black men to have her son, Edward, admitted into the high school for white students that once stood on the northwest corner of West North and North Pitt streets. As a black child, Edward was refused admission. She wanted to bring to the board’s attention the inequalities that existed in the grading, curriculum and location of school buildings within the district.
This case was argued on Feb. 8, 1897, in the Old Courthouse on the Square. Lawyers for the Carlisle School District argued the refusal had nothing to do with race. Instead, Brown and his mother had failed to follow the procedure necessary for a student to be approved for a transfer between buildings.
The court in its pretrial rulings sided with the district and focused the attention of the case on whether mother and son had followed procedures. Brown ultimately lost the case. The more famous Supreme Court case involved the school board of Topeka, Kansas, where the high court ruled unconstitutional state laws protecting school segregation.
1961 - The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. visits Carlisle
On April 11, 1961, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached a sermon from the pulpit of the Allison United Methodist Church during a visit to Carlisle. King was part of a Representative American Preacher series organized by Dickinson College. In his speech, King declared that segregation in America is dead and that only a small percentage of whites are segregationists.
Less than seven years later, on April 4, 1968, King was assassinated by James Earl Ray in Memphis. The Carlisle Community Action Program responded with a sympathy demonstration held on the steps of the borough municipal building. Carlisle schools excused black students so that they could mourn the loss of King with pride, dignity and respect.
1964 - CORE picketing against discrimination
For two days in early December 1964, members of the Congress on Racial Equality conducted a silent picket of the Winkleman Barber Shop on West High Street in downtown Carlisle. The picket was in response to allegations the shop owner refused to cut the hair of black customers.
The Carlisle Barbers Association hosted a meeting that was attended by CORE members along with representatives of the Harrisburg Human Relations Commission and the Carlisle Committee on Human Rights. The barber group asked for “a week of grace” while it formulated a policy to address the concerns.
A week later, on Dec. 9, The Sentinel reported that an “amicable agreement” had been reached between the association and the groups requiring that all barber shops be open to all the public in exchange for an end to the peaceful protests.
1969 - Racial tensions rise in Carlisle
Racial tensions in Carlisle boiled over in early April 1969 in the form of arson and other civil disturbances centered on the northwest quadrant of town. The resulting arrests prompted a peaceful march on April 9, 1969, by about 75 people on the borough municipal building on West South Street.
The following evening, about 150 people showed up at a special borough council meeting called to “iron out” ongoing problems. The Sentinel reported that there were many in the audience who hurled accusations of police brutality and inequality. Several people wanted to know if a police officer would be arrested on charges he threw a brick through a window, injuring a 14-year-old girl.
Council President G. Kenneth Bishop read a prepared statement in which he said the civil disorder of recent days could undo progress made in race relations between the borough council and the Progress Now Committee. Bishop called on young people, black and white, to talk and build a dialogue in order to address equal opportunity to receive justice, education, housing and jobs.
Four days later, on April 14, the council held a follow-up meeting with representatives of the black community to plan ways of bridging the communications gap between the races. Three months later, racial tensions in nearby York exploded into rioting that claimed two lives — a black woman and a white police officer.
1972 - The conversion of Lincoln Cemetery
The burial ground that became the Lincoln Cemetery was first deeded to the black people of Carlisle by the Penn family when the town was laid out. The original provisions called for it to be of equal size to the 5-acre Old Graveyard on South Street, where white people were buried. Instead, Lincoln Cemetery ended up measuring 100 by 300 feet.
A victim of poor upkeep, the graveyard at Pitt and Penn streets was converted into a passive recreation area in 1972 at the request of neighborhood residents who signed a petition. Not only was the Lincoln Cemetery not well maintained, but also the drainage was poor and the tombstones were vandalized. As part of the conversion, all but one of the grave markers were removed and placed into storage, only to disappear.
The site came under a new focus last spring with the approval of a gift of an archway from the U.S. Army War College Class of 2019. Since then, meetings have been held to launch an effort to research Lincoln Cemetery and to restore the sanctity of the grounds.
Email Joseph Cress at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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