Swatara Pine Ford Chapter
The Swatara Pine Ford Chapter, NSDAR, situated in Middletown, Dauphin County, was established on April 17, 1920. Unfortunately, the chapter dissolved on June 25, 2012. To ensure the preservation of its history, the Harrisburg Chapter decided to document and honor the legacy of their chapter. Most of the chapter records are believed to have been entrusted to the Middletown Historical Society, providing an avenue for further research. The information presented here primarily stems from the digital archives of the NSDAR Magazine.
Middletown, Pennsylvania, founded in 1755 by George Fisher, great-great-grandfather of Swatara Pine Ford Organizing Regent, Mrs. Ira R. Springer, holds the distinction of being the oldest town in Dauphin County. Its Revolutionary activities created fertile ground for the establishment of a society of descendants of the American Revolution.
The organization and growth of the chapter is the realization of the old adage, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”, for when in February 1920 the present presiding officer was appointed Organizing Regent of the chapter in Middletown and there were but three DAR members in the town. Two of these belonged to a neighboring chapter, and only one was ready to throw in her fortune with the new one about to be formed. Then just two months later, on April 17, 1920, a chapter was organized consisting of nineteen members and the name 'Swatara Pine Ford' was adopted to serve the Middletown community. - Source: Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine, Digital, May 1922, page 303.
The Swatara Pine Ford Chapter engaged in annual activities including Constitution Day luncheons with fellow South Central DAR Chapters, Flag Day events, Junior Member luncheons, national conventions, and more. The chapter also played an instrumental role in recognizing and awarding local school students for their achievements, including top senior history students at Middletown Area High School through the DAR Good Citizen awards. Celebrations of chapter birthdays often took the form of dinner-theater outings. The chapter took pride in placing Memorial Day flags on the graves of Middletown’s Revolutionary War Soldiers and deceased chapter members.
In 1925, the chapter erected a beautiful monument to mark the location of Old Pine Ford, the ancestral home of George Fisher, founder of Middletown. It is located on Route 230 on the banks of Swatara Creek. Over the years, the monument has become discolored. Unfortunately, the foundation of the monument suffered erosion due to weather and the 1972 flood caused by Hurricane Agnes. During the Chapter’s 60th birthday year in 1982, the chapter emphasized the repair of a monument.
Six years later in 1931, a monument was placed on the grounds of Middletown’s Historic St. Peter’s Kierch (built in 1767). The monument contains the names of 154 Revolutionary solders comprised of Middletown residents and vicinity who fought in the American Revolution. Over the years the monument has become discolored. The chapter had it cleaned in the spring of 1980 for Middletown’s 225th Birthday celebration. Additionally, they planted flowers at the monument honoring Middletown's 154 Revolutionary soldiers, located on the grounds of Middletown’s Historic St. Peter’s Kierch.
Revolutionary War Tablet erected 1931.
The Chapter’s Bicentennial project was finding a new location for the Middletown Public Library. The chapter looked at the Liberty Fire House on North Catherine Street that was abandoned by the Fire company because it was not large enough to house the modern fire fighting eqipment. A new, larger fire house was built to house the equipment along with an ambulance and a life support vehicle at the East End of Middletown. The old fire house was restored and refurbished to house the Middletown Public Library and the Middletown Historical Society.
Another project the chapter undertook was the production of a porringer, (a small bowl, typically with a handle, used for soup, stew, or similar dishes), in the lovely Wilton Armetale pewter to commemorate the nation’s bicentennial and George Fisher’s founding of Middletown in 1755. The porringer is especially meaningful to chapter members since the molder pictured in Wilton’s Molder Trademark is Loren Hancock, husband of Chapter Treasurer, Edith B Hancock. The chapter raised $500 selling these porringers which was used to purchase an American Flag and a piece of furniture for the library.
This chapter is located in the heart of Three-mile Island and the chapter needed to postpone the Apr 7, 1979 meeting due to the Nuclear Accident at Metropolitan Edison’s Nuclear Power Generating facility. The magazine noting “Before this accident, few people outside of this area had ever head of Middletown, PA; however, since the accident, probably just about everyone in the world knows it’s whereabouts."
The highlight in 1990 was the presentation of a framed copy of the Signing of the Constitution to the Courthouse of Dauphin County, located in Harrisburg, PA, the original of which is hanging in the second floor of the Independence Hall, Philadelphia, PA.
In 1992 the chapter presented a framed picture of the Signing of the Constitution to the Library of the Middletown Area High School and had two evergreen trees planted on the grounds of Middletown's Frey Village Retirement Center.
It is regrettable the chapter faced closure in 2012 due to a decline in membership and an aging membership base. Sadly, the chapter did not reach its 100th anniversary, as it was disbanded on June 25, 2012.
Pine Ford Monument erected April 4, 1925.
For more information, contact Middletown Historical Society.
PHONE: 513-424-5539 or LOCATION: The Canal Museum is located at 1605 North Verity Parkway on the outskirts of Smith Park. The Shartle House is located at 120 North Verity Parkway near the corner of Verity and Manchester.
Become a Member of Harrisburg Chapter, NSDAR
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Aside from our service committees and activities, Harrisburg Chapter, NSDAR, holds chapter meetings from October through June featuring speakers on a wide variety of subjects. Our meetings are held the second Thursday of the month, except for September, February, and June which are held on weekends. We do not host programs in July and August.