Waynesboro was founded in 1749 when Scotsman John Wallace settled near the Antietam Creek. Wallace held title to 633 acres, almost one square mile. He called his land “Mount Vernon,” while others referred to it as “Wallacetown.” His son, John, later inherited the land after fighting in the Revolutionary War. In 1797, John mapped out a town of 90 lots, which he named “Waynesburg” after his admired commander, General “Mad” Anthony Wayne. The town’s name was contested by several other Pennsylvania towns bearing the same name and the federal government soon ruled post offices in the same state could not have the same name. The town was incorporated as “Waynesborough,” which in 1831 was shortened to “Waynesboro.”
On The Frontier
As the years continued, Waynesboro became a crossroads town and prospered by providing goods and services for the wagon trains traveling west. According to local lore, during the French and Indian War, two young girls, the Renfrew sisters, were attacked and killed by Native Americans while washing laundry in a creek near their home. Several townspeople reportedly banded together to find those responsible for the girls’ deaths and obtain the girls’ remains so a proper burial could take place.
Civil War Involvement
During the Civil War in June 1863, Confederate troops preparing for the battle of Gettysburg captured the town and for 15 days forced citizens to provide food to soldiers and fly the Confederate flag. The Battle of Monterey Pass occurred in Blue Ridge Summit just days after the battle of Gettysburg. It was during this battle that George Armstrong Custer and his Michigan Calvary brigade attacked and captured part of Robert E. Lee’s retreating Army of Northern Virginia.
The foundation of Waynesboro’s industrial activity was laid by George Frick, whose invention of a small steam engine for farm use replaced cumbersome horsepower. He founded Frick Co., now known as Johnson Controls, in 1873, while brothers Abraham and Franklin Landis followed in his inventive footsteps. The Landis brothers not only manufactured the first cylindrical grinding machines in 1883, they also formed Landis Tool and Landis Machine, now known as Cinetic Landis Corp. and Landis Threading System, respectively.
Today, local industry wealth is further enhanced by Beck Manufacturing, maker of pipe nipples and couplings, and Manitowoc Crane Group. Formerly known as Grove Worldwide, Manitowoc is the world’s largest manufacturer of mobile cranes.