History of James Burd Elementary

Colonel James Burd

Born in Ormiston, near Edinburgh, Scotland, the son of Edward Burd, James Burd came to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1747-1748 where he worked as a merchant. On May 14, 1748, he married Sarah Shippen, daughter of former mayor Edward Shippen of the prominent Shippen family of Philadelphia. The couple had eleven children, eight of whom lived to maturity, including Edward Burd. In 1752, he moved his young family to manage his father-in-law’s vast land holdings in our wonderful community of Shippensburg. James Burd was a colonial American soldier in the French and Indian War, during which he played an important role in fortifying the Pennsylvania frontier.

Shippensburg could well have been named for James Burd, not Edward Shippen. Burd was a natural leader. He laid out Shippensburg’s streets, started Fort Morris between Fort and Burd Streets, and engineered the Burd-Forbes Road from Shippensburg to Pittsburgh. This all in addition to fighting Indians, the French and the British. Burd’s tactical ideas were well advanced beyond the traditional military thinking of the 1700’s and 1800’s as evidenced by a little known document he prepared in 1757 in which he outlined the overall plan of defense for the frontier. He described at length the tactics of the Indians and emphasized the importance of camouflage and small, fast snaring patrols of troops. He even suggested they wear green uniforms. In addition to his military duties, Col. Burd helped his father-in-law lay out and develop Shippensburg.

Burd and Shippen’s house still stands on Britton Road northeast of Shippensburg at the edge of Shippensburg University land.

Growth of James Burd Elementary School

Dedicated in 1960 in a joint ceremony with Nancy Grayson Elementary School, the building was constructed for about $400,000 a cost per square foot of $15.00. The first year, 429 students attended James Burd under the direction of Head Teacher Dorothy Hubley, who taught there until retirement in 1981.

Additions and renovations to the building enabled the school district to consolidate elementary schools for the 1986-1987 school year. The elementary schools of Orrstown, Leesburg, Mainsville, and Shippensburg were consolidated into James Burd Elementary School. The consolidated school also included Kindergarten students from the SASD Regional Kindergarten. The school configuration was Kindergarten through Sixth Grade students.

Additional construction in 1995 due to increased enrollment added 2 classrooms to the building.

During the 2007-2008 school year, the building was completely renovated which included the addition of an office area and air conditioning throughout the entire building.

The school has had numerous grade alignments during the years. Prior to 1986, it was a First-Sixth Grade Building, then adding Kindergarten during the 1986-1987 school year. Sixth Grade was moved from the building to the Shippensburg Area Middle School for the 1998-1999 school year. The Fourth and Fifth Grades were moved to the Shippensburg Area Intermediate School when it opened in February 2007. Since that time, James Burd Elementary School has remained a Kindergarten-Third Grade school.

Principal History at James Burd

Beginning in 1960…

Dorothy Hubley

Dale Hess

B.J Irvin

Suzanne Ritchey

Jane Johnston

Kenneth Jenkins

Nicole Donato

Scott Shapiro

Matthew Flohr



Kara Browne (Sentinel, 1997)

The Shippensburg Story 1730-1970 (The News-Chronicle Company)