German heritage celebrated

Andrea Rose
Bonnie Shockey and Tom Gerhart of the Pennsylvania German Society pose with a painting of Rev. Dr. Henry Harbaugh during the annual meeting.

Most folks who live in Franklin County are familiar with a group of people we call the "Pennsylvania Dutch." Many people might just consider them "Amish" and envision dark clothing and horse and buggies.

In fact, the Pennsylvania Dutch are really part of the Pennsylvania Germans — a group of people who have been in this country for more than 325 years.

Locally, this history of many Pennsylvania Germans traces back to the Blue Ridge Summit area with the families of Rev. Dr. Henry Harbaugh, who was born in Harbaugh Valley near the Mason-Dixon Line.

Recently, the Pennsylvania German Society, a national nonprofit educational organization based in Ephrata devoted to the study of the Pennsylvania German people and their history in America met in Greencastle for their annual meeting to discuss their rich history.

Founded in 1891, the Pennsylvania German Society promotes scholarly research, publishes and offers meetings and educational programs to its members and to the general public.

The group held its 127th annual meet at the Allison-Antrim Museum with 60 people representing 43 states and four counties in attendance. "We had to turn people away," said Thomas Gerhart, a Greencastle man who is president of the society and author of numerous books about the culture.

The day-long event included a discussion on the ancestral history of Harbaugh by descendent Bonnie Harbaugh Shockey, as well as a presentation on Snow Hill Cloister in Quincy Township.

Tours included Harbaugh Church, Snow Hill, and a barn tour of local Pennsylvania German barns.

Anyone interested in preserving the culture or celebrating their Pennsylvania German heritage is welcome to join the society. For information, call 717-597-7940 or visit