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 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.
100 Block of N. Second Street in 1908 with Heisely property shaded in color.
1881 aerial lithograph showing portion of downtown which includes Heisey's property as marked with arrow at Second and Walnut Streets.