August 14, 2022

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Many were hanged on Gallows Hill where F&M’s Old Main now stands [The Scribbler] | Local Voices

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Many were hanged on Gallows Hill where F&M’s Old Main now stands [The Scribbler] | Local Voices

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Dear Dr. Scribblerhang:

Just wanted to know where Gallows Hill was. Was it at the present site of Franklin & Marshall College or on King Street where Manor Street breaks off?

Tom Englert

Lancaster

Dear Tom:

And the correct answer is: F&M.

Lancaster County hanged its guiltiest citizens on that hill in the western end of town until 1834 — about two decades before the combined colleges of Franklin and Marshall built Old Main.

Gallows Hill received its name, of course, from the gallows the county constructed there. The hill was a popular place on execution day.

Negley K. Teeters described one of many public hangings in a 1960 article for the Journal of the Lancaster County Historical Society. John Lechler’s execution in October 1822 drew a crowd of between 20,000 and 30,000 people. The population of the entire county was only about 70,000 at that time.

The hanging was the climax of a parade of Lechler and his executioners from the county lockup at West King and North Prince streets to Gallows Hill. Spectators lined the way. Many climbed trees and stood on roofs to watch the procession.

Lancaster’s mayor had issued a proclamation promoting calm and ordering liquor sellers to shut down their operations. Nevertheless, John Wilson got drunk and stabbed Thomas Burns to death. Charged with second-degree murder, Wilson was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

That sort of drunken mayhem during the mass observance of a ghoulish spectacle explains why the county ultimately shut down public executions and dismantled the gallows in 1834.

Dear Dr. Scribblermart:

With the latest revival of the Southern Market, there have been several articles in the paper concerning the other farmers’ markets that used to operated in town — the Central, Eastern, Western and Northern markets.

If my memory is correct, there was another downtown market called the Arcade Market. I certainly hope there was such a market. If not, my fond memory of getting a delicious dewey bun there must be nothing more than a doughnut dream.”

Joanne Michniewicz

Mount Joy

Dear Joanne:

Your dewey dream is absolutely correct, Joanne. The Farmers Arcade Market opened in the spring of 1927 on the first floor of the three-story Arcade Garage. Vehicles parked on the upper floors.

The Arcade Market continued operating after a fire destroyed the third floor on Sept. 26, 1953. The upper level became an open-air garage.

The market shut down in the mid-1960s and disappeared in 1969 when the entire Arcade building was demolished to make way for the Prince Street Parking Garage.

Dear Dr. Scribblemart2:

Why are Central and Southern markets so close to each other? It seems like they could have spaced them out better.

Jane Holahan

Lancaster

Dear Jane:

You might have added the Arcade Market to your question, Jane. Central and Southern markets are a little over a block apart. The Arcade, which at one time competed for customers, was less than a block from Central Market.

Richard Altick explained part of the reason for this cluster of markets in his 1991 memoir, “Remembering Lancaster: Of a Place and a Time,” as “the abiding evidence of the dimensions and demands of the Lancastrian stomach.”

Also, farmers’ markets were the city’s primary source of food in the first half of the 20th century. There were no large grocery stores and corner grocery stores were not ubiquitous. Markets downtown and elsewhere in the city provided fresh food from nearby farms to fill demanding stomachs.

Jack Brubaker, retired from the LNP staff, writes “The Scribbler” column every Sunday. He welcomes comments and contributions at [email protected]

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