We’re taking Monday off, but wanted to wish everyone a happy Fourth of July.
Did Lebanon County have a role in America’s campaign for Independence? You bet it did.
Whether the Grubb iron furnace in Cornwall, Hessian prisoners at Tabor and Hebron, or the (possibly apocryphal) whiskey supply run by General George Washington to Schaefferstown during the bitter encampment at Valley Forge, it’s clear that the Lebanon Valley was crucial to the supply chain on which the Continental Army relied so dearly.
We should remember as well the early Lebanon Valley residents who served with the Lancaster County militia, Lebanon County then yet to be its own entity. See here for the 1st and 2nd Battalions which included a number of Lebanon Valley residents, such as the Rev. John Caspar Stoever, buried in Cleona at Hill Church.
In 1792, the war won, President Washington toured the region to see the monumental works of the Schuylkill and Susquehanna Canal Company, later the Union Canal, in the area between Myerstown and Lebanon. The canal was brainchild of war financier Robert Morris, a good friend of Washington’s who in fact provided the President with his Philadelphia house, the foundations of which are still visible on Independence Mall. Perhaps Washington saw his wartime friend John Gloninger as well, at the time a newly-minted state senator.
Washington may have indulged in nostalgia for his own frontier adventures, the Lebanon Valley not far removed from a more wild era and the perfect backdrop for remembering his own early and preternatural performance during the French and Indian Wars. In this vein, perhaps he too enjoyed a ride to Light’s Fort or Fort Zeller, paying respect to the constellation of outposts which had protected the increasingly rich bounty of the middle colonies – America’s bread basket at the time. In this editor’s humble estimation, the evidence suggests quite enthusiastically that Washington would have been highly predisposed to enjoying his time in Lebanon County.
Coincidentally, another Lebanon figure, Joseph Johns, would later say in 1906 that he was the last man alive in Pennsylvania to have lived and remembered the death of the American Cincinnatus in 1799.
We’re going to leave you for now with some historical covers from the Daily News over the last 60 years. Thanks for reading LebTown and we’ll be back next week.
This article was originally published in 2019.