If you are into history, and particularly history of the local area, this is well worth the visit. The guide was knowledgeable and the tour was very interesting. There are... read more
The Franklin County Historical Society – Kittochtinny is a non-profit...
The Franklin County Historical Society – Kittochtinny is a non-profit organization, founded in 1898 to collect, preserve, and make available to the public materials relating to the historical development of the Cumberland Valley, its people, and, even more specifically, to Franklin County. It offers the use of its library and archives to both the serious researcher and the general public during hours of operation.
The Society is responsible for the Old Jail museum, the John Brown House, the Brown’s Mill School, the Chambersburg-Bedford Turnpike Tollhouse and the Carrick Furnace.
The jail was built in 1818 and survived the burning of Chambersburg by the Confederate Forces in 1864. This building of Georgian design is one of the oldest in Chambersburg and was placed on the State and National Register of Historical sites in 1970.
During more than 150 years of use as a prison, The Old Jail housed numerous local criminals, including “Lewis the Robber,” and Captain John Cook, one of John Brown’s men who was captured after the unsuccessful raid on the Federal Arsenal at Harpers Ferry. The cellar contains five domed dungeons with rings in the walls and floors that were used to shackle recalcitrant prisoners. Tradition suggests that these cells were also used as a way-station on the “Underground” railway to shelter runaway slaves enroute to freedom in the north.
The Old Jail complex consists of the original building erected in 1818, an annex built in 1880 and a yard enclosed by a 20-foot high limestone wall.
Several rooms of the original jail and part of the newer cell block comprise a museum of historical artifacts from Franklin County. The visitor experiences the story of the jail through interpretation and learns of the history of crime and punishment in the Cumberland Valley.
The John Brown House (Ritner Boarding House) was where the famous abolitionist boarded during the summer of 1859 under the alias of Isaac Smith. During this time, weapons were secretly secured and plans furthered to seize the arsenal at in October 1859.
The Society was able to purchase the John Brown House from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in 2002 through the generosity of Dr. W. R. McElroy and family. The John Brown House was rededicated and opened on May 2, 2009 as part of the 150th Anniversary of John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry. The John Brown House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.
The John Brown has been restored with period furniture. One visitor remarked that if John Brown came to Chambersburg today he feel right at home at the Ritner Boarding House.