Series explores Carlisle, Pa. at 'crossroads of history'

CARLISLE, Pa. — Carlisle has often been described as a crossroads of history.

It gets this distinction from being located partway up the Cumberland Valley that forms a natural gateway to the interior from the Susquehanna River in the east to the Potomac River in the southwest.

For his 2013 Fall History Series, local historian Jeff Wood goes beyond the geography and explores how Carlisle and Cumberland County became a crossroads of key ideas and concepts important to the history of both Pennsylvania and the nation.

A past president of the Cumberland County Historical Society, Wood has been retelling county history from its founding to present-day with an annual series of lectures and audience discussions since 2000. His latest series launches Tuesday, Sept. 17.

Titled “Crossroads of History,” the seven sessions investigate the momentous events in county history and how they affected people in their workaday lives. Each presentation includes PowerPoint tours of relevant county sites and objects of interest from local collections and the archives of the Cumberland County Historical Society.

The 2013 series explores how larger ideas in American society manifested themselves here in Cumberland County, Wood said. He said most every social and political movement in the country-at-large had its corresponding discussion locally.

“Sometimes it is civil — sometimes it is nasty,” Wood said. For example, the first session “Colonial County” explores the question of loyalty to the British Crown in the context of frontiersmen moving through Cumberland County and their reaction to directives limiting their ability to trade or settle beyond certain geographic boundaries.

Sessions will be every Tuesday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 17 to Oct. 29 at the historical society building, 21 N. Pitt St. Reservations are required by calling 249-7610 or by visiting www.historicalsociety.com. The cost is $50 for historical society members, $75 for non-members or $12 per session. The schedule is as follows:

Sept. 17: Colonial County – An introduction to the series and county history, this session touches on the early settlers of the county and what they did when provoked.

Sept. 24: Mother Cumberland, the early National period – This session will be about how the county nurtured the growth of the commonwealth.

Oct. 1: The Civil War 1 – This session discusses the response the Cumberland Valley had to the three invasions made by the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia during the war.

Oct. 8: The Civil War 2 – Touches on the 1863 invasion and the occupation of Rebel forces of Shippensburg, Carlisle and Mechanicsburg and of military actions on the West Shore.

Oct. 15: The Civil War 3 – Details the efforts made by witnesses and historians to chronicle the stories of the 1863 invasion.

Oct. 22: Home Front and Foreign Fields – Covers the situation on the homefront of various wars from the 20th century to now.

Oct. 29: A 21st Century Revolution – Self-reliance is an old radical idea that may be making a comeback in Cumberland County. Wood examines local movements in this emerging trend.

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