Monday, November 29, 2010

God's Acre, A Historic Shippensburg Cemetery

Well, those of you who have been reading this blog for some time probably knew this post had to be coming sooner or later. Yes, I've managed to find a historic graveyard in Shippensburg; as Agent Smith says to Neo in the Matrix movies, it was inevitable! There are actually two historic cemeteries in the Shippensburg area. I visited God's Acre on North Prince Street just off King Street today; I'll be visiting the Spring Hill Cemetery, a much larger graveyard, another day.

Just behind the Vigilant Hose Company #1 fire station at the corner of King St. and North Prince St. is God's Acre, a cemetery first established in 1739 which was eventually dedicated to the soldiers of the Revolutionary, 1812, and Civil Wars and their families. Unlike the colonial era cemeteries of Newport, God's Acre is uncrowded. There are also no slate stones typical of New England cemeteries; God's Acre's stones are limestone, marble, or unpolished granite. [Note: For comparison, just click Cemeteries and Gravestones in the category cloud in the sidebar to look at my posts on Newport's colonial cemeteries and stone carvers.] The carving styles and decorative elements are also very different; this was an area settled by a far more diverse and less theologically radical population - Scots-Irish Presbyterians, English Anglicans, and German Lutherans and Mennonites. The imagery is "kinder and gentler" than the winged skulls of the Puritans and other Calvinists of New England. So let's go in through the lych gate on North Prince St. and take a look.

Note the plaque on the left gatepost. Below left is a close-up of it, and below right is a look at a plaque naming the Revolutionary War soldiers buried in God's Acre.

Now let's just wander through the graveyard looking at the different stones and carving styles and think about how different they are from the New England stones. I won't be providing any commentary on the carvers and the style elements because I know nothing (yet) about the funerary arts of this place and era. When my life's dust settles a little more than it has at this point, maybe I'll get a chance to study up on the subject; after all, the Shippensburg Historical Society is almost literally just around the corner!

© 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Nostalgia

I won't be around much tomorrow; lots of family around, lots of food to eat. So I decided to do my Thanksgiving post a day early. For those of you outside the US, this holiday is one set aside to give thanks for the bounties we've received in the past year, based on the meal the Pilgrims (Separatist Calvinists from England who emigrated to the New England coast to start their own colony across the Pond) shared with the local Native Americans to celebrate their survival. Not only is it a holiday for families and friends to gather together, it's also something of a celebration of Americana. With that in mind, I thought I'd take some of the photos I posted in the last few days and "paintify" them in Photoshop to give them something of a hand-done look.

The farm on the slopes of South Mountain given the oil on canvas look.

Mt. Pleasant Farm at sunset made to look like a watercolor.

A Burd's Run scene given the oil on canvas treatment.

The old courthouse on King St. made to look like an old linen postcard.

And to finish things out, a scene from the movie Godspell which includes the song "All Good Gifts". Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Note: I won't be posting again until Monday; we're going up to Newport for the weekend to pack up the rest of my stuff, clean the apartment up, and close up the Newport chapter of my life. See you when I get back.

Photos & text © 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Shippensburg, PA

Yesterday and today I went walking down to downtown Shippensburg, PA. I'm living with my brother and sister-in-law about a half-hour's walk out of downtown, so it's an easy visit. Yesterday was for finding my way to the major potential job spots, but today I went to absorb some of the historical atmosphere.

You've all seen what a history junkie I am from the stuff on Newport that I've done in the past. Shippensburg has its own share of history as well. The town was settled in 1730 and incorporated as a borough in 1819. It lies in the Cumberland Valley, which is essentially the north-of-the-Potomac-River extension of Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. The Cumberland was the main route taken by the Confederate army in their strike north which culminated in the Battle of Gettysburg, which is just on the other side of South Mountain from Shippensburg. And in fact Shippensburg was occupied by the Confederate army during that conflict.

Architecturally, the town's main street - King Street - is dominated by brick or stone houses based on the Federal style of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. This was a new sight for me. I've seen a lot of that same style up in Newport and the rest of New England, but there the building material was primarily wood with a brick house here and there. Seeing the same style in stone was intriguing, and became the focus of my photo shoot today. To start off, here are some general shots of places along King Street.

One of the old stone houses on King Street is the home of the Shippensburg Historical Society - the Dr. Alexander Stewart House, built in the 18th Century of brick and limestone, and one of the more distinctive buildings on King Street.

Another landmark on King Street is the Widow Piper's Tavern, built in 1735 and used for Cumberland County court sessions in 1750 - 1751, making it the first court house in Cumberland County.

And last but not least is the McLean House on King Street, on the banks of Burd's Run. It was built in 1798 by postmaster and local merchant Joseph Duncan. During the Civil War the house was owned by tanner William McLean, who hid his leather from the invading Confederate troops by hiding it in false bottoms built into his tanning vats. Clever, eh?

And that's a little more from where I live now.

© 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Monday, November 22, 2010

Back in Business

Well, I've been ensconced in the downstairs "suite" in my brother and sister-in-law's basement, and Teri (my SIL) has an extra Mac PowerBook G4 to use, and I'm back in business with posting photos. It's an involved process, though. I've set my regular computer up, but I can't do Internet on it here; I can, however, download and process my photos, and then all I do is plug the external drive I store my photos on into this laptop and voilà! I'm posting again.

So here are the best of the photos I took while staying with my Mom; they're from the several hikes I took, and they feature South Mountain - which dominates the landscape around here - and the next ridge over to the northwest, which is mostly a hazy blue in the distance.

A part of South Mountain from Black Gap Rd.

A farm with the next ridge over a hazy, distant blue on the horizon.

Looking at the distant ridge again from Mt. Pleasant Rd. This is the dominant scenery in this part of Pennsylvania - mountains and farms.

South Mountain from Mt. Pleasant Rd.

More farms and mountains.

South Mountain on a different day, from Black Gap Rd.

Farms up under the shoulder of South Mountain.

Mt. Pleasant Farm - a dairy farm - at sunset.

And that's what my world looks like these days.

© 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Hello out there! I'm still here and keepin' on keepin' on. Nothing of note has happened, the future is still uncertain, but I'm still hanging in there. I apologize profusely to all my bloggie friends for not being able to coment on your posts; I only have a limited amount of time on this computer.

I have been taking some long hikes and taking pictures of the mountain scenery around here, as well as the Fall foliage colors; unfortunately I still don't have acess to my own computer set-up, so I can't post them here. Heh, heh! One of the big things I keep not paying attention to is the fact that there are bigger and more hills here in Pennsylvania than in Newport - puff, puff, pant, pant! The big hike was this past Saturday, where I picked a route that took me up on the mountain; 13 miles altogether, which I walked in 6 hours. Not bad for an older fella! 4.3 miles of that was Stillouse Hollow Rd., one of the main thoroughfares through Michaux State Forest; in tose 4.3 miles this dirt road crawls up the shoulder of the ridge to the very top and rises 1,104 ft.. The way back down to civilization is Ridge Rd., which drops 1,054 ft. in 3.6 miles; a much steeper grade which made me very glad I didn't try this route from the other end and have to climp that monster! [Note: The picture at left is from the top of the ridge, but not taken by me. I found it on Google Images, and it was taken by David Dougherty and posted on his website.]

In any case, that's life in exile up to now.

Monday, November 01, 2010

The Latest News

At the moment I'm living with my Mom but may soon be set up in the downstairs in-law apartment at my brother's and sister-in-law's house. When that happens I'll have internet access on my own computer, and Ill be able to post pictures again. I've also gotten a new email address; on my sister-in-law's advice I'll be cutting my landline and goodies lile website and email from my Verizon account and just use them for barebones internet access. Check my profile in the sidebar for my new email addy. [Note to David and Tony: return emails are coming from my new address.]

I've been applying to jobs on the internet, but so far I've been rejected by Lowe's. Meanwhile, I spent the last 3 days in the hospital again, this time for actual physical illness; I seem to have developed a bleed in my upper gastrointestinal tract and lost enough blood to make me pass out before it dried up. I seem to be well again and I'm back to catching up again.
And that's all the news that fits. So far.