Friday, April 21, 2017

From the Files: A Strange Midday Darkness

The Reading Eagle, September 2, 1881

Port Jervis, Sept. 2 – There is a good deal of comment here over the unusual condition of the sky. The sun has been obscured all day, although no ordinary clouds have been visible. A haze prevails which is so dense that the mountains are obscured, and this forenoon a dense bank of haze moved eastward over the valley. There are no forest fires in the immediate vicinity, and there is no odor of smoke in the air. The atmosphere has been more or less hazy for a week. Nothing like the present dark condition is remembered. It is necessary to use gas in rooms not well lighted.

A note of interest: While the residents of Port Jervis note that there were no nearby forest fires and there was no noticeable smell of smoke, there were a number of them burning across Pennsylvania and New York at the time, which may account for the dark haze. The same edition of The Reading Eagle reports these fires and also the drought that was affecting the farmers in the region.

From The Files: Knife Blade in the Skull

The Reading Eagle, August 29, 1881

Valentine Kemmerer, of Pottsville, complained of a pain in the head. Doctors examined his skull and cut out a piece of the bone which contained a piece of a steel knife blade, about one and a half inches long.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Pennsylvania Place Names: Almost Counties

David Poyer, who is one of my favorite writers and a Pennsylvania native, wrote a series of novels about a fictional county in northwestern Pennsylvania. While his fictional Hemlock County does not really exist, the map of Pennsylvania would have had a different look had the bid for new counties been successful.

Some counties that almost existed, but did not make it through the Legislature, would appear again, but with a different name. Eagle County would be denied, but would be petitioned again and formed as Clinton. Even Clinton County’s neighbor Lycoming, was almost called Muncy County. Sinnemahoning County would be renamed in Honor of General James Potter while Fulton County was almost called Liberty. Union County was nearly named Buffalo and an early suggestion for Wyoming was Putnam County.

Penns County: One of the earliest failed bids to form a new county began in 1824. The desire was to form the new county out of the northern portion of Berks County, with the county seat being Kutztown. The attempt would renew in 1838 and the vote on the bill resulted in a tie and the county bid failed. There would be other unsuccessful attempts in 1847 and 1849 at creating  Penns County.

Windsor County: A proposal in 1838 wanted to create the county out of northern Berks and Southern Schuylkill Counties. The county would have taken its name from Windsor Township located in present-day Berks County. It was attempted again in 1850 without success.

Jackson County: The effort which was attempted in 1845 and again in 1849, would have been named in honor of President Jackson.

Madison County: The attempt to create Madison County happened in 1847 and was barely defeated in the Legislature. The attempt happened again in 1845 and 1855, but President Madison would not have a Pennsylvania County named after him. 

While I have not been able to determine the size that Jackson and Madison Counties would have covered, both wanted to use land that was a part of Berks, Chester and Montgomery Counties. My guess is that these attempts were driven by the same people who used the different names to create their own county.

Conestoga County: An attempt in 1845 to create a county out of Berks, Lancaster and Chester Counties. The town of Churchtown would have been the county seat. The name would have come from Conestoga Creek which flows through the region.

Lee County: A final attempt to carve a new county out of Berks County happened in 1852 with Bernville as the county seat. The origin of the proposed name is unknown.

Anthracite County: The county (which was to be named after the coal mined there) would have been created out of Schuylkill and Luzerne Counties. The plan was set in motion in 1853, but seems to have failed early in its planning stages.

Marion County: The attempt to create this county was fueled by residents of Titusville who desired to have their community as a county seat. The first attempt was in 1858 and a second attempt occurred in 1870. The county would have been formed out of portions of Warren, Crawford and Erie Counties and would have been named in honor of General Francis Marion..

Quay County: In the 1890s there was an attempt to create a county named after Senator Matthew S. Quay. The county would have been created out of Schuylkill, Carbon and Luzerne Counties. The bill passed the Legislature but was vetoed by Governor Daniel Hastings. Thankfully the county never came to be – in 1896 Senator Quay was charged with misappropriating state funds and was removed from office.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Pennsylvania Place Names: Penn's Rivers

The Susquehanna River, Marysville
Place names fascinate me. The origins of the names of towns and natural features within Pennsylvania’s borders have always been of interest. Who is the Delaware River named after? What is the origin of the name Allegheny? What about the Susquehanna? And the Delaware? Let’s take a look at some of these Pennsylvania waterways and how they came to be named. Please note: these are not all of the rivers within the state. We'll be exploring those other rivers in the future.

Delaware River: The headwaters of the Delaware River are in the Catskills of New York state. The West Branch begins near the town of Jefferson and forms the northeastern border of Pennsylvania. The East Branch of the Delaware begins near the town of Roxbury, New York and joins with the West Branch south of Hancock, New York. The waters form the entire length of the border between Pennsylvania and New Jersey before emptying into the Delaware Bay.

The Delaware River is named in honor of Sir Thomas West, an English nobleman and the first royal governor of the colony of Virginia. Sir West was the Third Baron De La Ware. The river was named in his honor in 1609 because the English believed that he had “discovered” it, though there is no evidence he actually visited it. The Lenape called it the Lenapi Wihituck which means “the rapid stream of the Lenape.” The Dutch who settled in the area referred to the river as South River until the English took control of the land.

Susquehanna River: The Susquehanna, like the Delaware has two major branches. The North Branch of the Susquehanna starts near Cooperstown, New York. The Susquehanna dips into Pennsylvania passing through Susquehanna Depot and Great Bend before returning back into New York State. The River returns to Pennsylvania near the town of Sayre.

The West Branch of the Susquehanna starts near the community of Carrolltown in Cambria County. The two branches of the Susquehanna join near the community of Northumberland. The combined Susquehanna flows southward into Maryland before emptying into the Chesapeake Bay.

The river is named in honor of the Susquehannock Indians who once lived in the region. The word Susquehanna comes from the Algonquin meaning “muddy waters," but local legends state the name translates to “mile wide, foot deep,” referring to the river’s dimensions of being wide, but shallow.

Ohio River: The Ohio River is formed by the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers where they join in Pittsburgh. It flows westward exiting the state near East Liverpool, Ohio coming to Cairo, Illinois where it empties into the Mississippi Rivers. The river’s name is derived from the Iroquis word ohiiyo. Ohii means “river” and yo means “good, or fine.” The Ohio River literally translates to “Good River River.”

The headwaters of the Allegheny River, Coudersport
Allegheny River: The headwaters of the Allegheny River are located northeast of Coudersport on the western slope of Cobb Hill. Cobb Hill has the distinction of having it waters going to three different waterways. Waters from the northern slope of Cobb Hill flow into the Gennesse River and the St. Lawrence River, while waters from the southern slope are part of the Susquehanna watershed.

There are three possibilities for the origin of the Allegheny River. The first possible origin comes from the Delaware language, translating to “Good River.” When the Delaware were forced westward, they translated the Iroquis word into the Algonquin language, which is oolik-henne. Oolik means “best” and henne translates to “stream.” The word meaning “most beautiful stream” was anglicized into Allegheny. The second possible origin of the name comes from the Delaware word eleuwi-guneu, which means “endless.” A third possibility is the name being derived from the tribal name Allegewi (also referred to as the Talligewi) which means “people of the cave country.”

Monongahela River: The Monongahela River begins in Fairmont, West Virginia where the West Fork River joins with the Tygart Valley River. The river flows northward entering the state near Point Marion, where it joins with the Cheat River. Moravian Missionary David Zeisberger states that the name Menawngihella translates to “high bank.” The Lenni Lenapi referred to the river as Menaonkihela, meaning “where banks cave in or erode.”

Ohiopyle Falls on the Youghiogheny River, Ohiopyle State Park
Youghiogheny River:  Starting near Silver Lake, West Virginia, the Youghiogheny jumps over the West Virginia and Maryland state line until it enters the state southwest of Addison, Pennsylvania. The river crosses the border as a art of the Youghiogheny River Lake. The river empties into the Monongahela at McKeesport. The name comes from the Algonquin word meaning “a contrary stream.” An interesting fact about the Youghiogheny is that it is the only river that flows northward through Maryland – all the other rivers in Maryland flow southward.

Juniata River: The Juniata River has its start near the town of Alexandria in Huntingdon County where the Little Juniata (forms near Altoona) and the Frankstown Branch (it forms near Claysburg in Blair County) unite. A third branch of the Juniata known as the Raystown Branch (it forms in Somerset County east of the community of Berlin) joins near the community of Ardenheim just east of the town of Huntingdon.

The origin of the river’s name is believed to be a corruption of the Iroquois word Onayutta which translates to “Standing Stone.” Onayutta was an Iroquois village that existed where the town of Huntingdon is located.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Amanda Straw Snyder: The Dance of Eternal Spring

The Dance of Eternal Spring
Italian Lake, Harrisburg
The sun had barely risen in the sky when I arrived at the small cemetery that rested in the shadow of the Blue Mountain. Crossing the damp grass I paused at the entrance gate to the old cemetery.

Before I even entered, I realized why my contact suggested I visit this sacred place before the leaves turned green. Briars covered many of the graves and would make finding the one grave I sought a little more of a challenge. I stepped through the gate and paused at the first grave I came to. I was filled with a sadness as I discovered the words on the old, fragile stone could no longer be read.

Carefully stepping around the old stones, I read the ones that I could, searching for one famous grave among the many veterans resting here. At the rear of the cemetery, almost hidden by browned leaves, amid a small patch of brambles, I found the grave I sought. The flat stone was very simple and gives no hint of the interesting life the lady buried here lived. The stone merely states: “Amanda S. Snyder, June 2, 1875, Oct 29, 1972.”

Amanda was born in the Fishing Creek Valley, north of Harrisburg. When she was eighteen years old she moved in with a relative in Philadelphia to attend the Pierce Business College. She began performing in vaudeville where she was discovered by George Gibbs, an artist, to be his model. She was noted for her small stature, brown hair, and hourglass figure which was popular at the time.

At the start of her modeling career, she adopted the professional name of Madeline Stokes. As a part of her modeling, she would pose nude. Knowing her family would not have approved of her career choice, she changed her name so her family back home would not know what she was doing.

By her mid thirties, Amanda was in high demand and often sought after. She was known to have an unmoving pose. Once she struck a pose, she could go nearly twenty-five minutes without moving. After the taking a short break, she was able to return to the exact position without correction. Amanda’s ability set a record while she was modeling for a statue. She remained in a plaster cast that covered her entire body for nine hours.

Amanda posed for some famous artists of the time including John Sloan, Robert Henri, and N.C. Wyeth. When not modeling for famous artists, she had a tour schedule visiting art schools In Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and Illinois. She graced many magazine covers of the times including The Delineator, The Metropolitan Magazine, The Ladies’ Home Journal, and The Saturday Evening Post.

Amanda retired from modeling in 1914 (at the age of thirty-eight) after marrying artist Albert Snyder. They moved to a farm near Utica, New York, and she remained there until his death in the 1930s. After his death, she returned to the Fishing Creek Valley. In 1952 she moved into the Homeland Center in Harrisburg were she remained until her death in 1972.

My interest in Amanda and her life began after I stumbled upon an article about Italian Lake in Harrisburg. Located in the middle of Italian Lake is the sculpture known as The Dance of Eternal Spring and the three dancing nymphs are modeled after Amanda.

The dancing myphs
Top of The Dance of Eternal Spring
The story of the statue begins in 1909. That year Milton S. Hershey commissioned Giuseppe Donato, an Italian sculptor who was living in Philadelphia, to create a fountain for the grounds of Hershey’s estate. A verbal commitment was struck and Hershey gave Donato two thousand dollars as a down payment on the fountain.

Donato settled on Amanda as one of his models and set to work creating his masterpiece.

When finished, Donato presented the fountain to Hershey who refused to pay for it or even have anything to do with the fountain. Stokes in her later years claimed that she was extremely pleased with the fountain and Donato’s work.

The exact reason why Hershey refused the fountain is not clear. A popular thought at the time was Hershey was shocked at the dancing nudes and was afraid of what his Dutch neighbors would think. While this is a possibility the subject of the nudes was never brought up during the trial.

Another reason, and possibly the true reason, was the price tag of $30,000. Hershey refused to pay for the work and it sat for two years in a crate at the Hershey Railroad station.

In 1909, Donato sued Hershey in the Dauphin County Court. Donato claimed when he was commissioned to create the fountain despite the cost. Hershey claimed he wouldn’t pay ten dollars for anything from Donato’s studio and Donato responded by claiming the fountain that Hershey eventually purchased wasn’t worth the cost of demolishing and tossing into the Susquehanna River.

The end result was the jury awarded Donato a verdict of a little more than $23,000.

Even after paying for the fountain, Hershey refused to accept it and eventually gave it to Harrisburg officials who promptly placed it in storage while trying to figure out what to do with it. At one point it was going to be placed in Riverfront Park, but that never happened.

While the debate was going on, the fountain sat unassembled in its original packaging. A frustrated Donato was so upset that his fountain had yet to be displayed that he supposedly claimed that the The Dance of Eternal Spring could be melted down for bullets, so at least it was being used for something, but hoped that the city could find a place for it so its beauty could be seen by all.

In 1920 the statue was placed in Reservoir Park at a location that was hidden behind shrubbery. The fountain was moved to the Municipal Rose Garden that was located along Third Street in 1938. On September 15, 1938, the fountain was dedicated as a part of the Municipal Rose Gardens. It sat there until February of 1971. The hospital was planning on expanding and asked the city officials to remove the statue.

Donato’s fountain was going to be returned to storage. Rose bushes from the Memorial Gardens were salvaged by Reverend Doctor Bell and planted behind the Grace United Methodist Church. Bell argued before the council that the fountain should not remain in storage but as a part of the city’s heritage it should be displayed. He suggested Riverfront Park, but settled on Italian Lake. Amanda also addressed the council on the future of The Dance of Eternal Spring. At the age of ninety-eight she was described by reporters and still being very sharp and charming.

In July 1971, spectators watched as a crane lowered the fountain onto a small island in the midst of Italian Lake. Amanda was among those watching the fountain being lowered to the place that would become its home.

A story goes that after The Dance of Eternal Spring was first erected that Amanda and a friend from Fishing Creek Valley visited the fountain to view it. Her friend, not knowing Amanda’s lifestyle when away from Fishing Creek Valley, asked her if she could ever image posing as a nude model. Amanda, keeping her modeling career a secret, replied she could never image posing nude.

Amanda’s likeness can be seen in other places across the state. Her likeness can be spotted in the murals done by Violet Oakley that adorn the state capitol building. These murals are located in the Governor’s Reception Room, the Senate Chamber, and the Supreme Court Room. Amanda was also the model for Alexander Stirling Calder’s Sun Dial which stands in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia.

Grave of Amanda Straw Snyder
Fishing Creek Valley
A note about the name Straw: Amanda’s last name was Straw, from the German name Stroh. Interesting while her parents use Straw and most of her siblings used Straw, many of the family descendants have returned to using Stroh rather than Straw.

An interesting note about the 1938 moving of the statue: The moving of the fountain created a lot of interest at the time. How would the nudes be transported from place to place? Would citizens be offended by the nude figures being transported through the city? One group said they would cover it with a sheet. Another suggested they would move it at night. Another suggested they would cover it up and move it at night. Another suggested the use of a large covered truck. The debate seemed to come to an end when a city official stated he did not think it would necessary to cover the fountain during transport. When it was moved it was placed on the back of a truck bed and moved without incident.

A note about Italian Lake: How did Italian Lake get its name? The origin of the name is not clear. A popular version of the origins of the name is this place was once very popular place for the local Italian community. Another version of the park name came from the Italian Hotel that once stood on the spot where the park now exists.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Along the Way: Hedda Hopper

Grave of Hedda Hopper
Rose Hill Cemetery, Altoona
"You're kind of young to know who Hedda was…aren’t you?” the groundskeeper asked as he curiously stared at me.  Before I could answer the question he continued, "What do you know about Hedda?"

"Not a whole lot,” I answered honestly. “I know she was from Altoona and her columns were the forerunner of the gossip papers."

"Hollidaysburg,” he corrected. “She was born in Hollidaysburg. You know we used to have a lot of visitors stopping at her grave, but fewer and fewer come to visit her nowadays." He paused for a moment before suddenly blurting out, “Follow me.” I followed in my vehicle as he drove the lawn mower through the grounds of cemetery towards a place near the entrance. Parking along the drive, we walked over to the small, simple stone that marked the resting place of Hedda Hopper.

Hedda Hopper was born Elda Furry in Hollidaysburg, daughter of David and Margaret Furry. When she was three he moved his family to nearby Altoona.

While still in her teens Elda ran away from home for New York City, where she performed in a number of choruses on Broadway. Within a few years, she turned her focus on acting and was soon touring the United States performing in a number of plays. By 1915 she had left the touring performances behind and headed to Hollywood to act in the movies.

It was during her time touring that she married DeWolf Hopper, Sr. (their marriage lasted from 1913-1922), the owner of the touring company she performed for. Due to the fact he kept calling her by the names of his previous wives (this was his fifth marriage), Elda approached a psychic who proclaimed Elda should adopt the name of Hedda, which she did.

Hedda’s first movie was Battle of Hearts and over the next twenty-three years she would appear in more than 120 movies. She often was portrayed as the distinguished society woman. By the mid-1930s, her movie career was coming to an end.

In 1937, Hedda would be offered the chance of a lifetime: she would produce a gossip column. Known as “Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood," her gossip column found no boundaries as she exposed the darkest secrets of Hollywood. It was during her stint as a gossip columnist that she developed a feud with Louella Parsons, also a Hollywood gossip columnist, who started the whole "celebrity gossip" market. Hopper began her stint in the gossip market by feeding Louella information about what was going on in Hollywood. When Hopper was offered the job by a rival newspaper to write her own column, the two began a bitter feud. Both Louella and Hedda had power in the words they wrote and anything they said could help or hinder a person's career.

Hedda's column attacked all of Hollywood as she held nothing back. She would often accuse stars of homosexuality; at the time this would have destroyed their careers and any chance of them landing or keeping a leading role. In later years she would be a part of the "Red Scare" witch hunt accusing a number of Hollywood players of being Communists.

At the age of 80, Hedda Hopper died of pneumonia. Her body was returned to Altoona and buried in the family plot in Rose Hill Cemetery. While she hadn't made it big in the movies, the world has never been the same thanks to her career in "journalism" that we see every time we go to the store today.

We stood in silence for a minute or two before the groundskeeper announced that he had to get back to work. I finished paying my respects, snapped a couple pictures and left her to rest with her family.

Hedda is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery, Altoona. Finding her grave is a little tricky, but I’ll give the best directions that I can. When entering the cemetery, the road splits. Part of the road goes to the left; but you want to drive straight ahead. Park immediately before the road splits again. Look for the grave stone of William Rudy in the section on the left. Hedda is buried in the row of stones behind William's grave -- it will take a little bit of a search to find it, but it is there.

A note of interest: Hedda was born on May 5, 1885, but she often stated that she was born on June 2, 1890. The exact reason is murky, but most sources believe it was so people thought she was younger than she actually was.

Another interesting note: While I was talking to the groundskeeper he shared with me a story that I can neither prove nor disprove. He claimed that the former groundskeeper told him that Hedda was only partially buried here. The story goes that the family had her cremated and had some of her ashes buried here and some were scattered atop Brush Mountain. Again, I can’t prove this to be true, but it still makes an interesting story.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Along the Way: Nancy Kulp

Grave of Nancy Kulp
Westminster Cemetery, Mifflintown
On a hillside overlooking the Juniata River in Mifflintown, the county seat of Juniata County, among the quiet stones of Westminster Presbyterian Cemetery, is the resting place of Miss Jane Hathaway. Next to her parents among the rolling hills of the Juniata Valley is Nancy Kulp, a Pennsylvania native whose most noted role was Miss Jane Hathaway, the loyal, efficient secretary of Milburn Drysdale on The Beverly Hillbillies.

Nancy Kulp was born in Harrisburg on August 28, 1921, the only child of a traveling salesman and his wife. Her family moved to Florida in the 1930 where, in 1943, she graduated from Florida State University with a degree in journalism. She attended the University of Miami, but dropped out in 1944 to join the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). Lieutenant Junior Grade Kulp received various medals for her service, including the American Campaign Medal and the Good Conduct Medal.

Nancy left the service in 1946 and headed to Hollywood to become a publicist, but was soon convinced that she should be in front of the camera, not behind it. She started out by appearing in small roles in movies and television shows, but it wasn't until she landed a part in The Bob Cummings Show that she really became a household name. At the end of the shows run, she appeared in a number of shows, but when she landed the role of Miss Jane Hathaway, Nancy would forever be remembered.

After the end of The Beverly Hillbillies Nancy continued acting, appearing in a handful of shows and also on Broadway. In 1984, she ran on the Democratic ticket for the U.S. House of Representative, but lost to Bud Shuster. After her defeat, she took up working with Juniata College as an Artist in Residence. After retiring, she moved to a farm in Connecticut. In 1990 she was diagnosed with cancer of the larynx and passed on February 3, 1991, at a friend's home in Palm Springs.

Through research had discovered that Kulp was buried in the Westminster Presbyterian Cemetery; however, I had not found where in the cemetery she was buried. As I was returning home from Harrisburg one day, I decided I’d make a side trip into Mifflintown to visit the cemetery. Having some time to search the grounds, I decidedto see if I could  find her resting place. Looking at pictures of the cemetery, I knew I had my work cut out and figured it would take a couple of trips to find it.

Grave of Nancy Kulp
Entering the cemetery from North Third Street, I drove slowly along the drive, scanning the names on the stones. I had only gone a short distance when I caught sight of the name Kulp on a stone. It was Nancy’s grave. Parking along the drive, I walked over to pay my respects to the talented actress who called Central Pennsylvania her home.

Growing up, The Beverly Hillbillies was often on television. Of course, I grew up on the reruns of the reruns of the reruns. I was familiar with the fictional characters, but I had never realized that one of their cast was from a neighboring county. By the time she was involved in state politics, I was still too young to have any interest in the politics of the state or nation for that matter, unless it was something that was affecting me directly. By the time she passed, I was in high school and if it was in the newspapers (which it probably was) I had no realization of who she was.

The sun was setting as I finished paying my respects and the sound of crickets filled the air as I left her resting on the hill overlooking the Juniata River.

Nancy’s grave is very easy to visit. From Route 322 take Route 35 into Mifflintown. Turn right  North Third Street (the road immediately behind the Juniata County Courthouse). Follow this street into the cemetery. Once through the gates, look to the left; her grave can be easily spotted from the roadway just a short distance inside.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Along the Way: Wechquetank

Wechquetank Mission Memorial
Mill Pond Road, Gilbert
Note the correction of the word "historical"
Just south of Gilbert, along Mill Pond Road, is a monument that most people are not aware of. It was on my third trip to the area that I discovered the monument, thanks to a friend’s directions. Had it not been for it being brought to my attention, I would never have ventured off Route 209 and onto the narrow back road, to visit the monument for the Wechquetank Mission.

On the north side of Mill Pond Road stands a shaft of granite, standing eight feet tall, four feet wide and two feet thick. The wording on the monument is vague and leaves the viewer questioning the exact importance of this spot.

The Site of
A Moravian
Indian Mission Station,
Erected by the
Moravian Historical Society,
A.D. 1907

The mission was founded by the Moravian Church as a means of converting the Native Americans to Christianity. Founded by the followers of Jan Hus (John Huss) in 1457, the Moravians became the first large scale Protestant missionary movement. Hus would not survive to see his teachings take root and grow; Hus would be tried for heresy against the Roman Catholic Church and was burned at the stake in 1415.

In North America, the Moravians were known for setting up missions and preaching to the natives to bring to them the news of Christianity. Wechquetank was one of these missions.

Set up in 1760, the mission came into existence four years after Fort Norris was erected just west of here. (More about Fort Norris can be found here: Fort Norris) The Wechquetank Mission was founded by Gottlieb Senseman in April of 1760. Its name was derived from the Indian word "Wekquitank," a species of willow that was common along Pohopoco Creek. Pohopoco is another native word for the same type of willow. Just a quick note: Pohopoco Creek is also referred to as Hoeth’s Creek, Head Creek, Heads Creek and Big Creek in various histories.

Wechquetank Mission Memorial
The mission housed thirty Indians who had accompanied Senseman from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Once the mission was established, Bernard A. Grube was placed in charge of it and under his guidance the mission flourished and grew during its three years of existence. While stationed here, Grube translated the Four Gospels into the Delaware language. 

With the onset of Pontiac's War in 1763, the mission floundered. The rise in hostilities created a deadly threat to the peaceful Indians living here. These converts faced death at the hands of both the white settlers and the raiding Indians.

In August 1763, these fears became real. A group of four Indians (Zacharias, his wife and child, and another convert known as Zippora) were traveling towards a village on the Susquehanna when they sought refuge in a barn under the guard of Captain Wetterhold. While they were sleeping, the soldiers, who were drunk at the time, shot and killed the group. White settlers feared retaliation from Zacharias’ four brothers for the senseless murder and Indians at the mission feared more violence against them.

On October 8, 1763, a group of hostile Indians raided the John Stinton farm near Bethlehem. Stinton and several soldiers were killed during the attack. It was in this skirmish Captain Wetterhold was severely wounded and died later that day from his injuries. The result of this raid was the immediate abandonment of the Wechquetank Mission. Fearing for their lives, those living at the mission fled to Nazareth seeking shelter and protection. These converts would eventually be moved to Philadelphia for their safety.

On November 6, the mission was officially abandoned and the peaceful Indians who remained were ordered from Wechquetank. Sometime around the 11th of November the mission was burned to the ground.

The monument was placed in 1907 by the Moravian Historical Society. The iron enclosed memorial is currently surrounded by rolling hills of a small farm. When visiting the site, I found very little parking. Thankfully, the day I visited, there was very little traffic on the back road where the monument is located.

To visit the monument, turn south from the red light in Gilbert onto State Route 3005 (also known as Gilbert Road). This is the same road, that if you go north on it, will take you to the Kresge Family Monument. Information about it can be found here: Kresge Monument. Travel approximately one mile, turn right onto Mill Pond Road (this will be the first intersection). The monument is a short distance along this road on the right.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Enoch Brown Massacre

Memorial for Enoch Brown and his pupils
Sadly in the modern world violence has become such a part of our lives that we tend to be insensitive to the horrific acts that permeate the news outlets. While some are quickly forgotten, others remain fresh in our minds, especially when it comes to major acts of senseless violence that haunt our schools. I know in my own mind I can tell you where I was at when I heard about the shooting at the Columbine High School in Colorado and at the Amish School at Nickel Mines here in Pennsylvania.

The history of school violence predates these modern shootings by two hundred plus years. The first act of school violence in the Americas occurs in 1764, within the borders of Pennsylvania.

ocated northwest of Greencastle, the Enoch Brown Memorial Park is a lasting memorial to the act of violence that affected the Pennsylvania frontier. Enjoying the drive among the rolling hills of Franklin County, I found my way to the park. Turning down the narrow, pine tree-lined dirt road, an eerie feeling seemed to fill the air as I drove slowly toward my destination. I could see the memorial at the end of the tunnel of trees, which caused me to shiver at the tragedy that happened here so long ago.

Passing the pavilion and playground area, I found a place to park near the large memorial. Despite having read about the massacre, actually seeing the location first-hand sent goosebumps up my arms as I read the words carved into the large memorial that was erected at the spot where the old schoolhouse once stood. As I stood before the memorial, the stillness of the countryside seemed to grow even quieter – all of nature seemed to grow silent as I paid my respects to those who died here so long ago.

One side of the memorial
For Enoch Brown and his pupils
I first encountered the senseless deaths of the teacher Enoch Brown and his pupils in Sipe's Indian Wars of Pennsylvania. Sipe records the summer of 1764 as a very violent and bloody year on the Pennsylvania frontier.

The Seven Years' War (known in America as the French and Indian War) had ended only the year before with the Treaty of Paris (1763). Though European countries had found a temporary state of peace, the war that had scarred the landscape and damaged the lives of those living on the American frontier raged on. Due to the constant attacks and threats of warfare on the advancing settlements, the state of Pennsylvania offered a reward for any Indian scalp, male or female, taken from one who was over the age of ten.

Life on the frontier would become even bloodier. With the promise of a monetary reward, settlers killed Indians at first sight and Indians retaliated by raiding the settlements even more than they had in the past. Tensions were high and both sides were spoiling for a fight. The result was known as Pontiac's War.

Starting at the end of the French and Indian War in 1763, Pontiac's War lasted until 1766. In the conflict, members of the Iroquois Nations joined together to fight the British in North America. People tend to think of the conflict as the British colonists versus the Indians, but it was not that clear cut  as many Indians did not want to go to war and instead sought peace among the settlers. But the warring factions brought a reign of terror on the western frontier that swept all Indians – whether friendly or not – into a continual cycle of violence.

But the Indians were not the only ones responsible for terrible and horrific crimes on the Pennsylvania frontier. On December 14, 1763, a group of men known as the Paxton Boys raided a peaceful Indian settlement at Conestoga, killing six of them. The remaining fourteen Conestogas were arrested for their safety and placed in the jail at Lancaster. On December 27, the Paxton Boys attacked again, breaking into the Lancaster jail and slaughtered the Conestogas being held there.

The spring of 1764 saw a number of raids into present-day Cumberland and Franklin Counties. Settlers knew that danger seemed to be behind every hill, bush and tree. But nothing would prepare the settlers of the terrible event that would occur in the summer of that year.

On July 26, 1764 one of the most horrific massacres of Pontiac's War occurred. Located roughly three miles northwest of present-day Greencastle was a small schoolhouse run by Enoch Brown. Very little has been recorded about the life of Enoch Brown. However what little has been written describes him as a kindhearted school master who showed good Christian values.

The mass grave holding the remains of
Enoch Brown and ten of his pupils
Nothing seemed out of the ordinary that morning as eleven students arrived at the schoolhouse for their lessons. The students included two girls and nine boys – Archie McCullough, Ruth Hale, Ruth Hart, Eben Taylor, George Dustan, two boys of the Dean family, plus four others whose names have unfortunately been forgotten over the years.

According to local legend, a number of students skipped class for one reason or another that morning, sparing their lives. If legend is true, then at least six children (if not more) had strange reasons they were not in class – ranging from stopping to watch people cut hay to one girl who had a strange feeling of dread. One of the students who supposedly skipped school that day was a young James Poe, who would later become a noted Indian fighter on the Pennsylvania frontier.

While teaching the students that morning, the classroom was disrupted by three Indians who barged into the schoolhouse. The trio, consisting of two elderly men and a young warrior, burst through the door bringing the day's lesson to an end. Enoch obviously knew what was about to happen and in an attempt to save the lives of the children, he stepped forwarded and offered himself as a sacrifice. Enoch Brown was struck down, beaten and scalped in front of his horrified students.

The taking of Enoch's life did nothing to appease the raiders. They attacked the children next. One by one the children fell and were scalped.

The horrific scene was discovered a couple hours later by a passerby who was curious why the schoolhouse seemed so quiet. Looking inside the building, the terrible atrocity was discovered – Enoch Brown lay butchered in the center of the room, still holding onto the Bible he taught from. Around him were ten of the eleven students who attended class that day. The room was a bloody mess and the mangled bodies were lying in a large pool of blood.

Upon discovering this dreadful sight, the passerby ran to spread word. Soon families and neighbors arrived to claim their dead. A search of the area would discover the missing child, who had survived the massacre. Archie McCullough, was discovered washing his bloody, scalped head at the nearby spring that provided water for the schoolhouse.

Archie would later tell of how Enoch Brown offered his life for the safety of the children and how the Indians attacked the defenseless children. The raiding Indians struck Archie on the head and brutally ripped a portion of his scalp away. Once the Indians left the building Archie managed to hide himself behind the fireplace in case they would come back in and found him still alive. Only after he was convinced they were gone, he crawled from the schoolhouse to the nearby spring where searchers discovered him. Archie would never mentally be the same again.

Marker at the grave site
The families of the victims would have a large box constructed and Enoch and the ten children would be buried in a mass grave near the schoolhouse.

Leaving the larger marker, I crossed the recently cut grass to the grave site which was a short distance away. I stood there taking in the events of that terrible day, unable to take in the fear that the children and their teacher must have known as the hollow seemed to grow even quieter – it was as if nature was remembering the deaths of the innocents.

A deeper sadness permeated the air as I realized that, almost a hundred years after the horrible event, it had been mostly forgotten about by locals.

Yes, most residents have completely forgotten, or have never learned, about the terrible events of that day. There they would lie, almost completely forgotten about by most. Many thought that the story of the massacre was merely a legend, because no identifiable grave could be located near the old schoolhouse. It would not be until the mid-1840s when the common grave was discovered by a group of men who marked the grave with four locust trees.

In the spring of 1883, the four locust trees were cut down and, fearing that the grave would be lost, a group of local men offered to purchase the land. On August 4, 1885, a marker was erected in honor of the victims of the massacre. At the mass grave, a tombstone was placed for the ten victims resting there. The memorial was placed a short distance from the common grave which is at the location of the old schoolhouse.

Memorial at Archie's Spring
After paying my respects to those buried there, I glanced down the Bell Trail and could see another marker. Walking down the hill, I discovered another marker that covered a spring, known now as Archie's Spring. This was the spot where they located the scalped survivor as he attempted to wash the blood from his head.

As I stood there in silence, the only thing I could hear was the sound of water running. The feeling of sadness that lingered in the air finally took its toll on me as a tear rolled down my check. I wiped it quickly away as I remembered the senseless violence that happened that terrible day. I recomposed myself and rather than continuing down the trail, I returned to the grave site to say one more word of remembrance before leaving the memories of the past lingering in the hollow behind me

Though it is a park, complete with a pavilion and and playground, please be respectful if you choose to visit, especially the area of the grave.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Kresge Monument

The Kresge Monument
Salem Church Cemetery, Gilbert
A couple years ago I had stumbled upon the old Salem Church Cemetery, located on the northern edge of the small community of Gilbert. I had turned onto Gilbert Road looking for a place to turn around when I spotted the cemetery a short distance away at the junction of Gilbert and Long Mountain Roads.

Always curious when it comes to cemeteries, I immediately spotted a large monument next to Long Mountain Road that caught my curiosity. The large stone towered over the other stones on this sacred piece of land. After parking in the dirt lot on the opposite side of the road, I crossed it and entered through an old gate.

I carefully walked among the old stones toward the monument. At the base of the monument, on the backside of it, is a row of old stones. Studying the stones, I noted they were in a foreign language, one that I recognized as German, but had no clue exactly what was chiseled into them.

What I did find interesting is the different spellings of the same last name on the stones. The family name was spelled Kresge, Gresie, and Kersi, until the spelling of the name was settled on as Kresge.

Stepping to the front of the memorial, I was taken in by a magnificent carving of an Indian stalking a man and young boy, which I immediately interpreted as being father and son, with the father cutting down a tree. An inscription at the base of the monument reads

In memory of Conrad Kresge and Family
Pioneer settlers of Monroe County.
By their descendants in America.

Below the inscription was a row of brass plaques set into the base of the monument. I quickly realized that these plaques held the translation of German wording on the old stones at the rear of the memorial. While the main monument was dedicated on August 19, 1915, these plaques and the stone that they are set in were added in 1971. I learned that the old stones were originally located in front of the memorial, but at some point (I’m assuming it was in 1971 when the plaques were added to the memorial) they were reset at the rear of the memorial and the plaques were added.

The historic stones at the back of the Kresge Monument
Conrad settled in the region around 1745. He would marry Anna Margarethe Kohl and they would settle in the area of present day Effort, which is located a short distance north of Gilbert. Margarethe’s stone states she bore twelve children, lived to see eighty-three grandchildren and seventy-five great-grandchildren. 

A note about Anna Margarthe: I found it interesting that while her stone lists her name as Margarthe, many histories and official documents list her name as Anna Margarthe. I will refer to her as Margarthe in this entry due to it being the name on her tombstone.

I found it interesting that Conrad does not have a stone at the family monument. Digging into the family history, I discovered that this is because he is not buried within the boundaries of this cemetery. In fact, it is not known exactly where Conrad is buried. Most sources believe he rests in an unmarked grave at the cemetery in Effort, which was closer to the family homestead. Some other places state he may have been buried on the family homestead.

The life Conrad and Margarthe lived in the wilds of the Pocono Mountains was a harsh and trying one. They, like all of the settlers within this rugged terrain, dealt with attacks from the Delaware and Shawnee Indians during the French and Indian War and then by the Iroquois Indians during the Revolutionary War.

The scene on the front of the memorial tells the harsh reality of pioneer life. Conrad and Margarthe would lose their first child, daughter Anna, in infancy. Their next child was John, who was born in 1764. Sadly, John would not reach adulthood either.

In 1776, Conrad Kresge set out one morning to cut wood near the family homestead. On this particular journey he was accompanied by his twelve year old son, John. It happened on this day that a band of Indians would sweep through the area. One of the victims was young John Kresge who was shot and killed by an arrow; his lifeless body was scalped by the raiding party. According to family tradition, Conrad escaped by deflecting the arrows and tomahawks by using the axe he carried.

Wounded during the attack, Conrad was not able to join the party that went in search of the raiding Indians. According to family tradition, these wounds would actually save his life, as the party was ambushed by the Indians and massacred.

Sebastian S. Kresge, one of Conrad’s great-great-grandsons, is buried in a large mausoleum within the borders of the Salem Church Cemetery. His burial spot is the only mausoleum in the cemetery and is a short walk from the family memorial.

Sebastian would make his mark on the American landscape. A businessman by nature, in 1899 he founded the S.S. Kresge Company, which operated a number of five-and-dime stores with the first being opened in Detroit, Michigan. When the company was incorporated in 1911, it had grown to 150 stores. These stores would undergo a name change in 1962 becoming the national retailer K-Mart, the first mass market stores in America.

The Kresge Monument
Note: Sebastion Kresge's mausoleum in the background
Interestingly, the monument for the Kresge family was completed by the Wenz Monument Company who also did the memorial for Aquila Henning. The story of his memorial can be found here:    .

I paid my respects to the Kresge family, along with the other early pioneers of Monroe County, before leaving them slumbering for eternity. As always if you choose to visit the memorial, please do so with the respect this piece of land and those resting here deserve.

A genealogical note: I’ve discovered that a number of newspaper articles about Sebastian. In many places he is listed as being the great-great-grandson of Conrad and Elizabeth Kresge, not Conrad and Margarthe. He is the great-grandson of Conrad and Elizabeth – this Conrad was the son of Conrad and Margarthe.

A note about the Salem Church Cemetery: I found two different sources that mention that the monument marking the graves of the Kresge Family, and many of the stones in this section of the cemetery, may not be located at the correct spot. The cemetery had undergone many years of neglect and many of the stones had been discovered resting along the edge of the cemetery. Donations had been taken and the stones were reset in the area it was believed they once stood. I have not been able to find an official statement if this is true or not.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Along the Way: Salt Creek Covered Bridge

Salt Creek Covered Bridge, Zanesville, Ohio
 My plans for the morning were falling apart quickly. The plan was to spend the morning in Zanesville, exploring the town and its surroundings. I arrived in town only to get detoured due to some big event that was going on (I never did figure out what it was).

Looking through my list of things to visit in the region, I settled on a covered bridge a little further east. Rather than the more direct route, the GPS had me taking numerous winding, narrow country roads which had some very sharp turns on them. After a thirty minute drive I finally spotted the covered bridge ahead of me on the left. (I’m not sure why the GPS took me the route it did, but when I left the covered bridge it was a ten minute drive to the exact spot I started at, but the drive was worth it because I saw a number of deer and a flock of turkeys as I drove along.)

Salt Creek Covered Bridge with
Ohio State Historical Marker
Stone to left of bridge is a historical plaque
I found a parking spot in a small pull-off area that had been part of the original road before the bridge was detoured by the current one, I had only taken a couple of steps before the dark skies let go and the cold rain fell. I dashed quickly for the bridge and found a place to stay dry. The sound of the rain hitting the tin roof was comforting, though I hoped that the shower would pass quickly.

Located along Arch Hill Road, the Salt Creek Covered Bridge (also known as Johnson Mill Covered Bridge – Johnson Mills is the community that once existed here) is one of the two remaining in Muskingum County and is the older of the two, having been built in 1876. It spans Big Salt Creek with a length of eighty-seven feet long and has a Warren Truss. An interesting piece of information I’ve discovered that this is the only remaining covered bridge with a pure Warren Truss design in the United States.

Historical plaque on stone next to the bridge
Unlike most covered bridges, the history of the Salt Lick Covered Bridge has been well documented. Originally built in 1876, it was covered in 1879. In 1953 the bridge was bypassed by Arch Hill Road and the bridge reverted to the property owner. The Southern Ohio Covered Bridge Association was formed in 1960 and purchased the bridge, replacing the roof with a tin one in 1962. The bridge was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. In order to get funding for upkeep, the bridge ownership was given to the county in 1995.

The rain stopped as quickly as it started and I exited the other end of the bridge to view the Ohio State Historical Marker that mentioned the importance of covered bridges and also a brief history of the Salt Creek Covered Bridge. A plaque on a stone next to the bridge also provided a little more information on the history of the bridge.

Salt Creek Covered Bridge
Ohio State Historical Marker
After taking a couple more pictures of the bridge, I was interrupted by the distant sound of thunder. I paused long enough to take a couple final photographs before leaving the peaceful location in search of a couple more interesting pieces of regional history before the next storm arrived.