Waynesboro is situated in the southern part of Franklin County, Pennsylvania, about 2 miles north of the Mason-Dixon line. The community, with a current population of 10,568 (2010), had its beginnings about 1749, when John Wallace, a Scotsman, settled by a spring located a few hundred yards west of the Antietam Creek (East Branch).
Wallace held title to 633 acres,119 perches, almost a square mile. He called his land holdings Mt. Vernon. Upon his death, the land was conveyed to a son Robert, who later conveyed it to his brother George. George owned it a short time when he conveyed it to brother John, who had recently returned from fighting the war. The Wallaces’ lands were often referred to as Wallaces’ Town or Wallacetown, as they were the largest land holdings in the area.
In 1797, John decided to lay out a town and placed 90 lots on the market. He named the town Waynesburg, after General Anthony Wayne, his commanding officer in the war. There were several other communities in the state with similar names and in 1831, when the federal government ruled that the names of post offices in any one state could not be duplicated, our town was re-chartered and took for its corporate title the name of Waynesboro.
Waynesboro, because of its location on the frontier at the time of the French & Indian War (1755-1764), was in a particularly vulnerable position and was the scene of some of the Indians’ most barbarous raids. Two victims of such were the Renfrew sisters, who lived just east of Waynesboro along the Antietam Creek. Today, there is a museum and park named for the girls, at the site of their massacre. The museum, an outstanding exhibit of decorative fine arts, dates to 1812.
When the Civil War came along, Waynesboro was again cast in the role of a “frontier town”, this time because of its close proximity to the Mason-Dixon line. Historians tell us that residents of the area spent half their time burying and digging up their possessions and fleeing north toward Harrisburg. Among those fleeing when the Confederates entered Waynesboro was John Phillips, cashier of the local bank. Mr. Phillips made it to safety with the bank’s cash and valuables, his wife and son, all loaded into one carriage. Most residents stayed on, watching apprehensively, as 75,000 Confederate soldiers headed north to Gettysburg. Waynesboro was under Confederate rule for 15 days.
The foundation for Waynesboro’s industrial activity was laid by George Frick, who operated at a number of locations in the Waynesboro area. His invention of a steam engine, small enough for farm use, replaced cumbersome horse-powers. He founded the Frick Company in 1873. The firm switched to making refrigeration and air conditioning equipment and is now part of Johnson Controls. They are still one of the leading employers in the Waynesboro area.
Shortly after Mr. Frick established the Frick Company, two brothers, Abraham and Franklin Landis, came to the area from Lancaster County. With their inventive minds they manufactured the first cylindrical grinding machine in 1883. They formed a partnership in 1889 to manufacture and market the grinder, and six machines were sold in the first year of operation. A patent was granted to Abraham B. Landis in 1890, based on the 1883 design. The partnership was succeeded by the Landis Tool Company in 1897 and is now a division of Litton Industries.
A. B. Landis then turned his attention to the problems of threading bolts, and his solution to the problem was a new and unique screw-cutting die head for a turning machine, with one being built in 1887. A patent was granted in 1889, but the product was not marketed until 1903 when the Landis Machine Company was organized. This company is now known as Kennametal Landis Threading.
Education and religion have played a vital part in the cultural activity of the community. The first church and school, built somewhere between 1770 and 1780, still stands on Bourns Hill overlooking a school complex of 3 modern buildings. The log structure, often referred to as Bourns Cabin was used as a school on weekdays and as a church on Sundays. Early records of one schoolmaster indicated he had 17 pupils who were charged about $5.00 each for a 6 month session. Today, the Waynesboro School District consists of 4 elementary school buildings, 1 middle school building and 1 senior high building, all with a total enrollment of about 4,300.