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Public library wishes happy birthday to namesake

On Sunday, John Graham would have been 170 years old, so the public library celebrated the milestone a day early with cake and tours of the former Graham home.


“It was a good opportunity for people to familiarize themselves with the John Graham Library,” said director Mary Schoedel. She became director last August and led the team during the past month to gather materials for Graham’s birthday party. She thinks it’s the first time the library has celebrated his date of birth with an event.


Born Aug. 4, 1843, on a farm two miles east of Newville, Graham was the son of George and Eliza Graham. His biography indicates he attended local schools and received a commercial education at Eastman's College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. He returned to Newville after his schooling in 1866 to work at a bank and then a successful tannery. Graham was elected to the Pennsylvania legislature in 1882 to represent Cumberland County and served until 1885.


Next, he became a leader in the electric railway business in Wilkes-Barre and helped to organize the Cumberland Railway in Carlisle about 1908. He was the railway’s first president and was a director at the time of his death. Passing away Dec. 15, 1915, at the age of 72, Graham directed in his will that his home on Parsonage Street become a public library. He also donated $20,000 to help with renovations and other expenses. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ inflation calculator, that is about $460,000 in today’s dollars.


One caveat, Schoedel explained, was that Graham’s third wife, Katherine, was still occupying the home, so the building couldn’t become a library yet. Katherine lived many years until 1962. The library started to rent some rooms of the home in 1961 and it underwent a major renovation in 1965 to make it more suitable for a library. More recently, an addition was put on in 1991 to house offices and a children’s room.


Visitors Saturday could eat white cake on Graham’s original dining table and also take a tour of the library, guided by Schoedel.


“I knew it had been the Graham’s [home] but it was very interesting to learn about the structure,” said Dorene Benjamin after the tour. The Green Ridge Village resident didn’t know about the rooms’ original uses – like that the dining room now holds juvenile/teen works. And she thought it was interesting that the library didn’t open until long after John Graham’s death.


Stephanie Bear, Newville resident, didn’t know that the library used to be Graham’s home. She “really enjoyed” reading about the house and liked the fact that the library was located in the borough.


Built about 1883, the original house was constructed in an Italianate style. Records indicate that sometime between 1894-1904, Graham added a modified L-shape to the house and then sometime between 1910-1923, a second addition was built that included the Beaux Arts porch.


Many bookshelves surround the walls today, making it difficult to envision the home’s former grandeur. But original photographs and old newspaper clippings displayed at the birthday party offered a glimpse into the mogul’s life and generosity.


(Photo by Curtis Garland)


Mechanicsburg librarian completes leadership program

MECHANICSBURG — Rebecca Swanger, of the Joseph T. Simpson Public Library in Mechanicsburg, was among librarians who graduated from the 2013 Pennsylvania Library Association Academy of Leadership Studies program.


The group completed a four-day program to learn about and develop the skills they need to be effective leaders.


Farmers’ market features produce ‘fresh off the vine’

Newville Borough resident Susan Wesner has been buying produce and flowers almost every week at the Farmers’ Market on the Lawn. And, she was back again to shop the local harvest Saturday outside of the John Graham Public Library.


Wesner said, “I like the fresh produce. I love the Kennebec potatoes that these guys have,” as she pointed to Horst’s produce stand.


Scott Horst and his sister Arlene operate the stand. Scott said they have a “real big” garden on their family’s property six miles north of Newville in Lower Mifflin Township.


“Most of it is extra of what we have,” said Scott.


And their excess would make other gardeners jealous. They brought a variety of produce to sell, including potatoes, red beets, herbs, peppers, peaches, tomatoes, jam, okra, hot peppers and wineberries. And if that wasn’t enough, there were handmade items like potholders, doilies, birdhouses and scrubbers.


A humble man, Scott confessed the peaches were not from his garden, but from Sunrise Orchards.


The Horst family has come to both years of the farmers’ market that began last year under the direction of former library director David Cubie. The new director, Mary Schoedel, has continued the event.


“It’s something that’s needed in the Newville community,” said Schoedel. “We offer locally grown produce and locally made items.”


The director estimates that five to seven vendors come each week along with 30-40 shoppers.


Market shopper turned vendor, Joann Cohick, was selling eggs and gladiolas for the first time at the market. A circulation clerk at the library, she came to sell the extra eggs from her six chickens that walk around on a property mostly in Upper Frankford Township.


Carol Graham (no relation to John Graham), while not there Saturday, usually sells handmade dolls and a few small paintings to add to the variety of the market’s offerings. The Newville resident has been making dolls “off and on” for 22 years.


Bill Myers, of New Kingston, was also on the lawn to sell extra produce. With a stand called Bill’s Ridge Hill Garden, Myers is not in it for the money.


“It’s not to get rich,” explained Myers, who was born and raised in Newville. He brought potatoes, blueberries, onions and red beets, but once his broccoli is ripe, he said it’s a popular item.


Jennifer Conners, of Lucky Acres in Bloserville, can relate to Myers.


“I don’t make any money but I do make friends,” said Conners. “We like the social aspect.”


Nancy Markowitz, operating the Mike and Nancy’s Eggs stand, feels the same way.


“There is a nice camaraderie amongst the vendors,” said Markowitz. “Everyone is really helpful. People don’t know what they’re missing.”


Markowitz and her husband have chosen not to use chemicals on their “mini-farm.” And she has free-range chickens as well.


“We don’t want to hurt the environment,” explained Markowitz.


Mary Pat Henry, who operates the Totem Pole Farm stand, shares the same view on sustainability. Her small farm near Newville does not use pesticides or herbicides.


“It’s fresh off the vine,” said Henry. “You don’t know how old the produce is at the store.”


“I like to help out the local people,” said Wesner, while holding two bags of the most local produce around.



Library hosts annual Loop 5K Race

CAMP HILL — The 8th annual Fredricksen Library Loop 5K Race and 1-Mile Fun Run/Walk will be Saturday in Camp Hill.


Check-in for both the 5K and the Fun Run begin at 7 a.m. Start time for the 5K race is 8:20 a.m., and the 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk starts at 8:25 a.m.


Registration and parking for the event will be at the Camp Hill United Methodist Church parking lot at 417 22nd St.. The event raises money for the Cleve J. Fredricksen Library.


Registration fee is $25 per runner or $15 per walker for the Fun Run. Racers and walkers of all ages are welcome, and strollers are allowed on the walk route.


For more information, call Kathleen Fey at 761-3900, ext. 244, or email her at


Auction to benefit Shippensburg Public Library

SHIPPENSBURG — The Friends of the Shippensburg Public Library will sponsor a public auction at 2 p.m. July 30 at Hershey Auctioneering Service, 1011 Ritner Highway, Shippensburg. Proceeds will benefit the Library Expansion Capital Campaign.


Angela Sachleben, a volunteer, said the auction will feature a variety of items that were not sold during April’s library estate sale. Among the items will be a clarinet, flute, floral couch, wooden chairs and rockers, computer desk, fireplace mantle, antique tools, china, pottery, glass items and framed artwork.


More than $7,000 was raised for the Capital Campaign at the estate sale, which was held at the Branch Creek offices. Sachleben attributed the success to teamwork.


“We were so pleased,” she said. “We had support from the Friends and the (library) board, and friends of Friends and friends of the board, and the community was great. We had a great response.


“All of the rooms of the Branch Creek offices were filled with furniture, antiques, jewelry, crafts, kitchen supplies, pictures, collectibles, china — and everything was donated by area residents.”


The Shippensburg Public Library, 73 W. King St., is located in the former George Stewart house. The expansion project includes the construction of an addition onto the existing library, which will house offices and rooms for library operations; an elevator in the addition that will access the current library; and installation of a new heating ventilation and air conditioning system. The electrical and fire alarm system will also be updated.


Library director Susan Sanders said additional renovations will include “bringing our telecommunications up to speed, upgrading windows, making things more energy efficient, making repairs to the infrastructure of the building, and having an expanded parking area.”


The Capital Campaign was launched in 2009.



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