Scribbler

Jack Brubaker

Many readers who have lived in the area since at least the mid-1970s will remember the Bicentennial Wagon Train Pilgrimage to Pennsylvania. One wagon train passed through Lancaster County on June 30 and July 1.

The Scribbler doesn’t remember that because he was residing in Virginia. Several of the eight wagon trains, including the one that came to Lancaster, passed through Virginia, but none near the Scribbler’s home in Danville.

As a memory refresher for those who were living here, the wagon train that came through Lancaster on its way to Valley Forge for a Fourth of July celebration was called the Southern Route wagon train.

It included wagons from Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Tennessee. Mooney Lynn, husband of country and western singer Loretta Lynn, led the Tennessee contingent. He told a Columbia News reporter that running a wagon train was hard work and he had not seen his entertaining wife in six weeks.

The wagons entered Lancaster from the west, crossing the old Route 462 bridge single file. The News took a wide-angle shot of the bridge filled with two Conestoga wagons, eight Prairie Schooners, about 40 or 50 other wagons, and 350 horse riders. The Texas group had begun its journey that January.

The wagons paused in Columbia, traveled through Mountville and stayed overnight at the Circle M Ranch south of Millersville. On July 1, the train moved through Penn Square and out Lincoln Highway East to the Rough and Tumble Engineers Historical Association museum in Kinzers, where the wagoneers spent the night before heading for Downingtown July 2.

One of the most interesting wagon train stories involved what would happen to the horses and mules that pulled the wagons once the journey was completed.

“Will Wagon Train Horses Be Sold for Dog Food?” asked a July 9, 1976, Intelligencer Journal headline. A number of horses and mules were scheduled to be sold at auctions in New Holland and Doylestown. Auctioneers said some of the animals might become food for hungry hounds or, perhaps, Europeans who considered horse meat a delicacy.

The Women’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals took one look at that possibility and purchased 21 mules for $4,200. Another individual bought a horse for $300. Some wagon drivers no doubt took their animals home with them. No word about what the Lynns did.

Quarantine signs

The Edward Hand Medical Museum, working to stay up to date, is collecting information on the COVID-19 pandemic. But the museum remains interested in historic medical stories.

In 1918, during the so-called “Spanish” flu epidemic, the Lancaster Board of Health used Boy Scouts as couriers to carry information to businesses and to distribute quarantine signs to post outside houses of the afflicted.

Dr. Larry Carroll hopes readers might have such signs or photos of them to contribute to the museum. Contact pandemic@edwardhandmedicalmuseum.org.

Presidential baptism

The Scribbler’s May 27 column about President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s ancestors hailing from Lancaster County prompted reader Herb High to ask, “Who was our only president to be baptized while in office?”

Eisenhower, of course. Here’s why.

His River Brethren parents did not practice infant baptism. They later joined the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Ike grew up not joining any church. Following his inauguration Jan. 20, 1953, Ike was baptized Feb. 1 in a private service at the National Presbyterian Church in Washington.

— Jack Brubaker, retired from the LNP staff, writes “The Scribbler” column every Wednesday. He welcomes comments and contributions at scribblerlnp@gmail.com.