Elias Ross, 2, and his mom, Jenn, of New Salem eat ice cream Sunday after the unveiling of a historic marker in Seven Valleys to commemorate the borough as
Elias Ross, 2, and his mom, Jenn, of New Salem eat ice cream Sunday after the unveiling of a historic marker in Seven Valleys to commemorate the borough as the birthplace of commercial ice cream production. More than 100 people showed up for the celebration on National Ice Cream Day at the fire company. (John A. Pavoncello photo)

Kenneth Shear's father used to work at an icehouse in Seven Valleys when the city was in its ice cream manufacturing prime.

Ice cream has been a staple for Shear, 86, since his childhood, and he was one of many Seven Valleys residents at the fire company on Sunday for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission marker dedication.

The marker commemorates Seven Valleys as the "birthplace of commercial ice cream production," and the ceremony coincided with National Ice Cream Day, which has been celebrated every July 15 since Ronald Reagan established the tradition in 1984.

Not only did Shear's father play a role in the icehouse aspect of ice cream production, but his family had several cows that Shear learned to milk by hand when he was just 7 years old.

"I never got a chance to eat what was manufactured here, but we used to make our own hand-cranked ice cream at home," Shear said as he waited in line for ice cream on Sunday.

Robert Bair, president of the Red Lion Grange welcomed everyone on Sunday, and musical performances were given by the Susquehanna Sound barbershop quartet.

Seven Valleys historian Ray Kinard said that someone once said, "Never to have tasted Seven Valleys ice cream is to never have lived half of your life. It was delicious."

Jacob Fussle manufactured the ice cream in Seven Valleys from 1851 to 1852, where the ingredients were - even though the bulk of his clients resided in Baltimore city, Kinard said.

Because of the surplus of milk in Seven Valleys, Fussle was able to charge 25 cents per quart of ice cream while his smaller competitors were charging 65 cents per quart.

By 1909 Fussle had completely transitioned to manufacturing millions of gallons of ice cream in Baltimore, but on Independence Day the city's officials still requested three railroad boxcars full of ice cream delivered from Seven Valleys, he said.

The marker will remain in Seven Valleys until it goes to Harrisburg to be displayed at the 2013 Pennsylvania Farm Show, and after that time it will return to the town.

- Reach Chelsea at 505-5432 or cshank@yorkdispatch.com