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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Harrisburg in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

George J. Heisely Residence and the National Anthem

 
 
George J. Heisely Residence and the National Anthem Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Pfingsten, March 21, 2008
1. George J. Heisely Residence and the National Anthem Marker
Inscription. In the building at the northwest corner of N. Second and Walnut Streets lived George J. Heisely (1789-1880) who was a Harrisburg mathematical instrument and clockmaker. Heisely had joined the First Regiment of the Pennsylvania Militia's First Brigade during the War of 1812 when a call was made for the defense of Baltimore in September of 1814. Heisely was accompanied by fellow regiment volunteers Ferdinand Durang and brother Charles Durang while encamped just outside the city. Francis Scott Key had written the stirring verses of the "Star-Spangled Banner" after the bombardment by the British of Fort McHenry at Baltimore harbor the night of September 12, 1814. Copies of the poem quickly reached the camp where Heisely and the Durang brothers were stationed. As Heisely was a flute player and was the only soldier with an instrument with him at the camp, it has been told, Ferdinand Durang saw the possibility of setting the poem to music and asked Heisely to assist in picking a tune in a songbook that Heisely happened to have with him. The old English drinking song entitled "To Anacreon in Heaven," was selected as a good fit. Fraught with enthusiasm over the match, Ferdinand Durang, who was an actor by profession as were his brother and father, obtained a furlough several days later. With what would eventually become The National Anthem, he
Same area of N. Second and Walnut today. image. Click for full size.
By William Pfingsten, March 21, 2008
2. Same area of N. Second and Walnut today.
performed the poem with tune for the first time at the Holliday Street Theater in Baltimore. Durang's mother is buried in Harrisburg Cemetery as she died here when the Durang family performed in Harrisburg in 1812. Although Heisely lived at the corner of Second and Chestnut Streets as a youth, his adult years were spent in the home at Second and Walnut Streets.
Top Photo
100 Block of N. Second Street in 1908 with Heisely property shaded in color.
Bottom Photo
1881 aerial lithograph showing portion of downtown which includes Heisey's property as marked with arrow at Second and Walnut Streets.

 
Erected by The Harrisburg History Project Commissioned by Mayor Stephen R. Reed.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Pennsylvania, The Harrisburg History Project marker series.
 
Location. Marker has been reported missing. It was located near 40° 15.631′ N, 76° 52.999′ W. Marker was in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in Dauphin County. Marker was at the intersection of N. Second Street and Walnut Street, on the right when traveling north on N. Second Street. Touch for map. Marker was in this post office area: Harrisburg PA 17101, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this location. Eagle Hotel and Bolton Hotel (within shouting distance of this marker); Old Dauphin County Prison (within shouting distance of this marker); Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King City Government Center (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Union Trust Building (about 300 feet away); Market Square During The Civil War (about 400 feet away); Harrisburg (about 500 feet away); Market Square (about 500 feet away); Prelude To Gettysburg (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Harrisburg.
 
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. Holliday Street Theater location where first performed.
 
Categories. Arts, Letters, MusicPatriots & PatriotismWar of 1812
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on July 25, 2017. This page originally submitted on March 26, 2008, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 1,694 times since then and 50 times this year. Last updated on July 24, 2017, by Christopher Eby of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on March 26, 2008, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.
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