M.A. Foltz was a man with a vision for Chambersburg
Since the first newspaper was printed in Franklin County during the year of 1790, several were established and most ceased to exist.
However one of those newspapers that has survived and has endured many changes over the years is the “Public Opinion," which proved to be a leader in journalism.
The beginning of this story starts with the birth of Moses Abraham Foltz in Letterkenny Township on July 2nd, 1837.
As a young man he had an interest in pursuing the printing trade. He was fortunate enough to start an apprenticeship in 1855 at the office of the Transcript in Chambersburg and was able to complete his training in 1858. It was during this time period that Moses joins the Hope Hose Company in Chambersburg where he becomes an active member.
The Transcript was merging with the Franklin Repository and it was here that Moses was appointed as a foreman. He retained this title until April 1859 at which time he purchased the half interest in the “Times” with Mr. P.D. Frey. From here the “Times” was purchased in the year of 1860 by a Mr. Sellers and Mr. Kennedy and Moses continued as the foreman with the new ownership.
In 1861 Moses is hired as a foreman with the “Messenger” which was a publication of the Reformed Church but in 1864 the business was removed to Philadelphia. It was only for a brief period of time from 1864 to 1865 that he was the pressman for the Franklin Repository newspaper before forming a second partnership with P. Dock Frey in the hat and shoe business.
This partnership was short lived as Foltz decided to go back into the printing business once again. He realized the time had come for him to start his own printing business in May 1866; the name chosen for the publication was to be known as the “County Merchant.”
This successful business continued until June 1869 at which time the 32-year-old Foltz went on to start yet another publication by the name of “Public Opinion” where he was the sole owner and editor of the newspaper for an amazing 30 years.
You see, during Foltz's ownership and direction, the “Public Opinion” would grow to be a huge success in Franklin County and was well known and respected as the leading local newspaper. This publication has always been a colorful and informative source and had covered some of the following topics; latest up-to-date news, politics, agriculture, industrial, historical, and of course about the growth and advancement of Chambersburg and Franklin County.
M.A. Foltz, being a devout Republican, you would often see him represent his party at the local and state conventions. Moses was elected as a representative to the Pennsylvania State Legislature for the term of 1893-1894 and it was here during his term that the passage for the erection of the Pennsylvania Soldiers Orphans Industrial School ( locally known as the former Scotland School for Veterans Children) would be realized.
It was through Foltz's wisdom, knowledge and the support of many citizens throughout our community that this new school would be located at Scotland, Pa. Earlier I mentioned that M.A. Foltz as a young man had joined the Hope Hose Company and it was approximately 40 years later in December 1893 at a company banquet the Honorable M.A. Foltz was the guest speaker for the evening's activities .
It was during this special occasion that he reminisced about the earlier days of the Hope Company when he and other members could be seen running and pulling the machine in response to a fire alarm in Chambersburg. As a bystander standing on the sidewalk watching the firemen running down the street throughout the many streets of Chambersburg you would see them pulling a heavy piece of fire apparatus which would've been a sight to see. When the firemen arrived they obviously would be exhausted and then they had to hand pump the machine for the water to the nozzle man at the fire. This was truly a real test of endurance.
He went on to mention that the hand-drawn engine was an old piece of fire apparatus and it took a great deal of work to hand pump the needed pressure. The Hope's hand-drawn engine was nick named “Maria.” The printer of choice for the Hope's bylaws booklets and stationary was naturally member M.A. Foltz.
M.A. Foltz was appointed as the Postmaster at Chambersburg on February 27th, 1899 and at this time he set forth on a major accomplishment by establishing twelve rural delivery routes within the vicinity of Chambersburg.
The next chapter in Foltz's busy life involved selling his pride and joy, the “Public Opinion” on September 4th, 1899. He had been the anchor of this great publication for 30 informative years.
Moses was known to be a devoted member of the Zion Reformed Church of Chambersburg for over 50 years and was always engaged in its religious advancements.
M.A. Foltz had a real passion for history and was well known for his research and writing articles about the early days and promoting the rich historical past for the present and future generations. He was also proud to be an original member of the Kittochtinny Historical Society.
He had been nicknamed the “Dean” by the local journalists and was in the process of forming a press club before he peacefully passed away on April 16th, 1915 at his home 249 East Market Street (Lincoln Way East) in Chambersburg. His interment was at the Cedar Grove Cemetery on North Franklin Street in Chambersburg. He was truly “The Man With A Vision.”
As one looks back at the life of M.A. Foltz you can definitely say that in life he was appreciated and in death remembered. This isn't the end of the story about M.A. Foltz; you see it was approximately eight years later in April 1923 that at a congregational meeting held at the Zion Reformed Church in Chambersburg the members decided that it was time to renovate and redecorate the interior of the beautiful historic building.
One of the main features in doing this work was rebuilding of the magnificent mahogany altar and also the surrounding furnishings that were to be a memorial to the late M.A. Foltz. This memorial was given by his wife Charlotte and son Herbert with the work being completed during the summer of 1923.
M.L.“Mike” Marotte III is an Author and Historian who writes about the History of Franklin County. Read more of him at www.vintagefranklincountypa.com