New dahlia name is a tribute to two Greencastle Dollys

Shawn Hardy
Echo Pilot

A blooming tribute to two women named Dolly, who each made an impact on the Greencastle-Antrim community, is the outcome of the dahlia naming contest at the Old Home Week flower show.

Dollys Heart, the name selected by LeeAnn Huber of Coseytown Flowers, honors Dolly Shoemaker, who chaired the flower show for decades, and Dolly Harris, Greencastle’s Civil War heroine.

“It is a name that endears the qualities of two Greencastle citizens that each left a lasting legacy in their own way. A name that speaks of standing up for what you believe in. A name that exudes bravery and tenacity. A name established in town pride and loyalty,” Huber said.

What’s in a dahlia’s name?

“Giving my local community an opportunity to name a brand new dahlia variety is special,” Huber said. “It was created and developed in their backyard.”

All Huber's hybrids have Coseytown in their name and tubers of the burgundy Coseytown Dollys Heart will be sold across the country and in Canada in 2023.

See the photos:Old Home Week flower show 'Back in Bloom'

Learn more about the dahlia naming: Name a flower, remember 'Mr. B' or pick up a paintbrush during OHW

“I enjoyed all the name submissions,” Huber said. “There were some good ones and I plan to keep more than a few for possible names of future Coseytown dahlias.”

People who visited the flower show on Aug. 8 and 9 were encouraged to tell the story behind their suggestion and the name Dolly quickly filtered to the top, Huber said.

Visitors to the flower show during Greencastle-Antrim’s 41st triennial Old Home Week could suggest names for a new dahlia hybrid from Coseytown Flowers. The name selected, Dollys Heart, honors both long-time flower show chair Dolly Shoemaker and Dolly Harris, Greencastle’s Civil War heroine.

“During the name selection process, I learned new things about my adoptive community,” said Huber, who moved to the area with her husband in 2008. “I have learned it has a long-standing history of residents that dearly love Greencastle.”

Bill Gour and Sue Miller both nominated Frances “Dolly” Harris, a young Greencastle woman who stood up to Confederate troops invading Pennsylvania in June 1863 before the Battle of Gettysburg.

Dolly Harris

“I immediately fell in love with her confidence, bravery and audaciousness,” Huber said.

“Finally, I found the card of an unknown entrant who suggested the name ‘Dollys Heart’ in honor of Dolly Shoemaker, who championed the flower show during Old Home Week for decades,” Huber explained. “I have never met Dolly Shoemaker, but I can appreciate the dedication someone can give over a lifetime. Communities are built upon the legacies developed over time by tenacious people that continue to show up.”

How flowers are in Dolly Shoemaker’s heart

Flowers, fresh and silk, arranged by Dolly Shoemaker have been part of Greencastle’s floral fabric for the majority of her 89 years.

Although she really didn’t care about flowers growing up, that changed soon when she went to work for a cousin at Linden Flowers.

“That’s where I got my training,” Shoemaker said, adding she started out doing funeral arrangements, progressing to wedding flowers, corsages and bouquets for delivery.

“I just enjoyed it. It came to me so easy, I guess it was what I was supposed to do at that time,” Shoemaker said.

Dolly Shoemaker, long-time chair of the Old Home Week flower show, was greeted by new chair Reagan Doyle at the show during Greencastle-Antrim’s 41st triennial celebration. A new hybrid dahlia from Coseytown Flowers in named Dollys Heart in honor of both Shoemaker and Dolly Harris, a Greencastle Civil War heroine.

“It just went from one thing to another,” she continued, explaining she started arranging silk flowers in her basement. She did all the flowers for the weddings four her children, as well as others in the community, and owned the Flower & Gift Nook on Center Square 16 years.

She was on the committee for Greencastle’s bicentennial flower show in 1982 and co-chaired or chaired the flower show, sponsored by the Greencastle-Antrim Lioness Club, for 14 triennial Old Home Weeks.

The Lioness Club disbanded in 2021 and Shoemaker, who has some health problems, felt she could no longer chair the flower show.

She’s grateful Reagan Doyle of Iron Willow Floral Design stepped forward to take her place this year during the 41st triennial celebration.

The pair shared some tearful moments when Shoemaker visited the flower show, where Doyle made several arrangements to display in her honor.

Shoemaker also still does some floral work, and flowers she placed on the altar of Evangelical Lutheran Church the first Sunday in August in memory of her husband Joe and parents Roy and Nora Oberholzer remained there for the Old Home Week Reminiscing sessions.

Doyle is “flower friends” with Huber, and their connection led to the naming contest.

“Oh, you’re kidding,” Shoemaker said when told about the new Coseytown Dollys Heart dahlia.

“That was a nice gesture. That’s wonderful. That’s a nice honor … it really is,” Shoemaker said. “It’s good to be associated with Dolly Harris.”

How did a Greencastle teen stand up to the Confederate soldiers?

Dolly Harris was 17 when Rebel troops passed by her home on North Carlisle Street in late June 1863, on their way to what would become the Battle of Gettysburg.

According to her obituary, as Gen. George Pickett’s men came down the street, she “rushed to the street in front of the leader of the southern band, waved the stars and stripes in his face and roundly denounced the troopers as traitors to their country, cut throats, and plunderers.”

This painting by Mark Twain Noe shows Confederate Gen. George Pickett raising his hat to Dolly Harris as she waves the American flag in June 1863 on North Carlisle Street in Greencastle.

“Aware that his men could very well retaliate, Pickett removed his hat and saluted the courageous young lady and the flag, thereby quelling an uprising in the street,” says the website of Greencastle’s Allison-Antrim Museum. “Following suit, Pickett’s men also saluted young Dolly, and as the division’s band passed by, it ‘serenaded’ Dolly by playing ‘The Bonny Blue Flag,’ also known as ‘Dixie.’”

Her story spread after the Gettysburg Reunion in 1887, when Col. William Aylett, who served in Pickett’s division, said, “Why the bravest woman I ever saw was a Pennsylvania girl who defied Pickett’s whole division as we marched through the little town called Greencastle. She had a United States flag as an apron which she defiantly waved up and down as our columns passed by her and dared us to take it from her.”

The story was picked up by the Harrisburg Telegraph and accounts would eventually appear in publications ranging from the Greencastle and Chambersburg newspapers to the New York Times.

Dolly Harris would go on to marry Civil War veteran John R. Lesher. They had four sons and two daughters and lived in Waynesboro and Chambersburg.

This painting by Ron Lesser depicts Dolly Harris’ encounter with Confederate troops on Greencastle’s North Carlisle Street in June 1863.

She died suddenly of a heart attack on Feb. 17, 1906, while helping at an ice cream parlor on Memorial Square in Chambersburg. Two days later, she was buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery, Chambersburg, with military honors by Chambersburg’s Col. Peter B. Housum Post of the Grand Army of the Republic.

“Dolly Harris is the only woman from Franklin County who was considered to be a Civil War heroine and was the only woman buried with military honors,” the museum website says. 

“I image she was a handful since birth,” Huber said. “She had heart and her brazen actions are still being talked about more than 100 years later.”

Shawn Hardy is a reporter with Gannett's Franklin County newspapers in south-central Pennsylvania — the Echo Pilot in Greencastle, The Record Herald in Waynesboro and the Public Opinion in Chambersburg. She has more than 35 years of journalism experience. Reach her at shardy@gannett.com