THE ISSUE: It’s Monday, the day we take a few moments to highlight the good news in Lancaster County. Local stories of achievement, perseverance, compassion and creativity represent welcome points of light in a difficult time, and they deserve a brighter spotlight.
The number of vaccinated people in Lancaster County continues to rise daily, our afternoons are getting warmer and it’s officially spring, which means the baseball season is right around the corner. To further bolster spirits, here are some of the local stories last week that made us smile.
— In an October 2019 editorial, we first praised Lampeter-Strasburg High School teacher Adam Zurn for being the creator of Uncharted Lancaster, a website offering free, self-guided scavenger hunts.
“We love history. We love the outdoors,” we wrote then. “So Zurn’s way of engaging people of all ages with Lancaster’s past gets a big endorsement from us.”
Now, Zurn is upping his game in a way that should get folks to put on their thinking caps, don their walking shoes and take a shot at finding an actual treasure.
Zurn and the Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County “have teamed up to create an epic six-week-long Secret Trust Adventure with a grand prize valued at more than $3,000,” LNP | LancasterOnline’s Mike Andrelczyk explained.
The ultimate winner of the puzzle-filled hunt will receive a box with $1,000 worth of $1 coins and a painting valued at more than $2,000.
In addition to encouraging folks to use their brains and go outside for some fresh air as they seek clues across Lancaster County, the contest will boost a worthy organization: You must be a member of the Historic Preservation Trust to take part, and those memberships begin at $25.
The trust is focused on education, appreciation and protection of historic sites in the county, so increasing its membership rolls seems like a win-win situation.
“Existing members and new members that sign up at any level will gain access to instructions as well as a special decoder paper that is necessary for unlocking the correct sequence of GPS coordinates that will ultimately put players in close proximity to the treasure,” Andrelczyk explained.
— We have a couple more recent articles about embracing history. LNP | LancasterOnline’s Erin Negley told the story of the Brown family in Strasburg Township. They worked seven years on the amazing feat of piecing together an 1800s log cabin in their backyard. Now it’s their family retreat.
“The cabin’s built from Tennessee timbers hand-hewn with a broad ax,” Negley wrote. Also among the materials: slate from a historic barn, stone from a neighboring farm, red sandstone cornerstones from northern Lancaster County and wide-plank white pine wood from Barnyard Boys in Peach Bottom.
Putting the cabin together from those Tennessee timbers, which had been disassembled for the move, was a challenge for Doug Brown and his primary assistant — daughter Chloe Brown, who is now 19.
“There were clues that helped put together the cabin-sized puzzle,” Negley explained. “Each log had a numbered tag, but about half of the numbers had faded away. Some logs had remnants of lines spray-painted when the cabin was intact. A few photos of the cabin helped as well.”
But the years of work paid off for the family. In fact, they paid off all along the way.
“In the end, it’s worth it,” Doug Brown said. “It’s more about the journey than the destination. If you get somebody to build it for you, it’s not the same as doing it yourself.”
— History, however, can yield more than just tantalizing treasures and cozy cabins. It can also help to solve modern crimes.
LNP | LancasterOnline’s Dan Nephin explained how Elizabethtown College student Eric Schubert is using genealogy tools to help law enforcement tackle cold cases.
Rewind a bit: To keep himself occupied while suffering bouts of pneumonia as a child, Schubert starting learning how to use the genealogical site Ancestry.com as a fourth grader.
“He delved into his family’s genealogy, often with a bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream to help make him feel better,” Nephin wrote.
At age 15, he created his own genealogy website and helped people work on their family trees. Word spread of his sleuthing skills, and Schubert was eventually contacted by a police department in Montgomery County that needed help with a cold case.
Schubert indeed was able to provide an assist, although, as Nephin noted, “he’s not at liberty to discuss it because an arrest hasn’t been made yet.”
Now, that young man who once surfed Ancestry.com is helping other police departments with cold cases involving homicide and sexual assault.
Meanwhile, he’s majoring in political science and history at Elizabethtown and has an internship with the U.S. State Department.
When one of Schubert’s far-future descendants looks him up while researching their family trees, we suspect they’ll be quite impressed with his accomplishments. We certainly are.
— Moving from tales involving history to the present day, the Mountville Outdoor Community Event was held March 13 at Froelich Park. It featured live music, games (including an Easter egg hunt), local artisans selling crafts — and lots and lots of Girl Scout cookies. To the tune of more than 100 boxes being sold in 45 minutes.
For many attendees who had been through a year of much isolation, it was a happy moment in the literal sunshine.
“It feels better than I thought it would feel, just being able to see people and be outside and get some fresh air,” Kellan Kernisky of Columbia told LNP | LancasterOnline’s Erik Yabor.
It was almost ... normal.
“It’s nice to be out in the sunshine and see people again, sell my wares and get good feedback on it,” vendor Cortney Cope said. “It’s really good encouragement.”
As the upward trend on vaccinations continues and if we can stay the course on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines when out in public, it should be a very encouraging spring, indeed.