What's New, What's Old?

Bonfire at Scranton Iron Furnaces, Oct. 2014 (via Facebook)
Now is the time to recognize historic properties or locations with statewide or national significance. 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the state Historical Marker program (the first markers didn't look like the blue and yellow signs we use today). The postmark deadline for nominations is December 1 (details on the program and how to submit).

Anthracite Heritage Museum and Scranton Iron Furnaces has posted photos from last weekend's Bonfire at the Furnaces, and the Scranton Times-Tribune had a great write-up of the program and its representation of Scranton's rich ethnic history and traditions.

The folks at Daniel Boone Homestead have shared photos of their Heritage Day celebration on Sunday, featuring the Bertolet Sawmill demos, colonial-era fly fishing, horse-drawn wagon rides (thanks to Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum), and much more.

The restoration project at the George and Frederick Rapp Houses at Old Economy Village is wrapping up in time for a grand re-opening in early November. Curator Sarah Buffington's two most recent blog posts feature the installation of new replica carpet and the work to return artifacts to their proper places.

The Pennsbury Society, the associate group at Pennsbury Manor, was recognized earlier this week by Foundations Community Partnership in Bucks County. They were among 14 non-profits cited for their work benefitting the county's children. Congratulations.

The State Museum of Pennsylvania celebrated National Fossil Day last Wednesday, and you can read about it on Storify.

This weekend:
Anthracite Heritage Museum and Scranton Iron Furnaces
Oct. 26: Remember Johnny Mitchell Day—Admission ($5) includes presentation of A Miner's Tale. Museum is open noon-5 pm; the play is at 2 pm.

Daniel Boone Homestead
Oct. 24 & 25: Haunted Homestead Tour—recommended for ages 8 and up. Admission charged (combo tickets with Sunday's program are available). 7-10 pm.
Oct. 26: Halloween at the Homestead—there will be loads of activities for kids and their families, including trick-or-treating (costumes encouraged). Admission charged (see website or Facebook for info). Noon-4 pm.

Drake Well Museum
Oct. 25: Family Day and Oil Valley Blacksmiths—Included in museum admission. Museum open 9 am-5 pm (blacksmiths on site until 2).

Eckley Miners’ Village
Oct. 24-25: Halloween Lantern Tours—this event is family-oriented but not recommended for children younger than 6. Admission charged. First tour leaves the visitor center at 6:30 pm, the last at 9 pm sharp.

Ephrata Cloister
Oct. 24-25: Mysterious, Melancholy, and Macabre—this year's program draws from some of the classics of Gothic literature. Admission charged. Performances at 7 and 8:30 pm each night.
Oct. 25: Gideon's Bones—geared for children 13 and younger. Admission charged. 1-3 pm.
Info on both programs and images from Mysterious, Melancholy and Macabre.

Erie Maritime Museum and Flagship Niagara
Oct. 27: Storytime at the Maritime—This month's story is Theodore and the Scary Cove. 10 am.

Graeme Park
Oct. 24: Moonlight Tales—see the Keith House by night and listen to spooky stories. Ticket sales begin at 6 pm, with performances at 7 and 8.
Oct. 26 Mini-Moonlight—a family event geared for kids age 4-9. RSVP requested. 2 pm.
Info on both programs.

Pennsbury Manor
Oct. 26: Family Halloween and Living History Theater—Family trick-or-treating and a presentation of the 1684 trial of Margaret Mattson, accused of witchcraft by some of her neighbors. Included in regular admission. 1-4 pm.

Somerset Historical Center
Oct. 25: Historical Halloween—Trick-or-treating along lantern-lit pathways. Admission is $5 per car. Please bring canned goods for the local food pantry and an apple for the cider press. 5-8 pm.

Washington Crossing Historic Park
Oct. 24: Films at the Farmstead—tonight's feature is Hotel Transyvlvania. Admission charged. Movie starts at dusk (about 7 pm).
Oct. 26: Lecture at the Visitor Center—Rick Wiggins will present a talk entitled "Embattled Farmers: Campaigns and Profiles of Revolutionary Soldiers from Lincoln, Mass., 1775-1783." Free of charge. 1 pm.

Next weekend:
The November program listings will appear in next week's post, but that's cutting it too close for these events scheduled for Nov. 1-2:
1777 Whitemarsh Encampment at Hope Lodge
Trains & Troops/1940s Swing Dance at the Railroad Museum of PA

Communism and Capitalism at Old Economy Village

Program listings for October

Today's guest blogger is Kelly Westerlund, a senior at Robert Morris University. As part of her internship work with Old Economy Village curator Sarah Buffington, Kelly researched and developed an exhibit exploring the Harmony Society's economics and business practices. The exhibit, located in the lobby of the Visitor Center, will be on view through April 30, 2015 (or perhaps longer).


With Halloween just around the corner, now is the perfect time to talk about something that frightens many Americans; that big, red monster called communism. The word for most people conjures up images of the Berlin Wall, Tiananmen Square, and children hiding under their desks to hide from nuclear fallout. It is a very scary word in American culture and has been for just about all of the twentieth century. Even now, calling someone a communist is meant to discredit them. We often think of communism as the antithesis of capitalism, but the Harmony Society proved this to be untrue in the late eighteenth through the nineteenth century. Their religious beliefs melded these two ideologies together as I demonstrate in my exhibit, Juxtaposed Right Here! Communism and Capitalism, located in the Old Economy Village Visitor Center.

Oil derricks at Tidioute, PA, one of the Society’s many investments (Drake Well Museum collection)
I chose to research this topic as part of my internship with the site. I was interested in how the Harmony Society managed to provide housing, food, education, clothing and any other necessities to its members throughout its existence and still build a massive fortune. These amenities were even provided to their hired workers in addition to their normal wages. I concluded in my research that it was their religious principles that bonded communism and capitalism together. They needed to make as much money as possible to prepare for Christ’s return by operating and investing in capitalist businesses; but they also had to prepare their souls for Christ by living as equally as possible and sharing all the wealth they accumulated with each other.

Hired apple pickers (Old Economy Village collection)
I thought I would find evidence of food shortages, rationing, and possibly even harsh working conditions like what we usually associate with communism. Instead I discovered that the Harmonists lived very comfortable lives. Even now we would envy the Harmonists! Currency did not exist within the Society so members only had to ask for whatever they needed whenever they needed it. Religion and compassion for their brothers and sisters kept them from taking more than they needed.

Store where items were distributed, 1902 (Old Economy Village collection)
The Harmony Society’s religious, communist principles were able to flourish because they used capitalism to make their money. These ideas are not mutually exclusive to one another and neither are they big scary monsters coming to destroy our country. It is important that we clear the fog and change the way we discuss communism and capitalism. I invite you to come to Old Economy Village to check out my exhibit and learn about this amazing group that prospered with both ideologies working together.

(Editor's note 10/22: I had a brief chance to see the exhibit for myself late last week and snapped a photo.)
Visitor Center exhibit (photo by AKF)

A Little of This, A Little of That

Most sites on the PA Trails of History will be closed Monday, Oct. 13, for Columbus Day, but please check the list to see which ones will be open for visitors. The October program listings were posted last week, and I will continue to update them as I get new information.

This week's post is a selection of items that have come across my desk recently. I hope you'll find something new and interesting. And if not, I hope you'll have a good weekend anyway.

I have not been following closely the development of the new Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, but I did notice when I saw Facebook posts from two Trails of History sites related to the project. While the building is under construction, an elm tree will be cultivated and eventually planted at the museum as part of its opening ceremony (a couple of years from now, according to current plans). Soil from various Revolutionary battlefields, encampments, and other significant sites was collected to help nourish this modern-day Liberty Tree. Ephrata Cloister, which was the site of a makeshift military hospital after the Battle of Brandywine, and Washington Crossing Historic Park, where you-know-who crossed the you-know-what, both contributed to this collaborative effort.

Volunteer Clair Garman, photo courtesy of Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum
As Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum gears up for Harvest Days this weekend (Oct. 11-12), the local news ran a feature article about Clair Garman, who was the recipient of a PHMC Outstanding Service Award in 2012. He has been a volunteer at the museum since the 1950s and is particularly known for his wood-working skills.

Making a return appearance to the Erie Maritime Museum's Hirt Auditorium, The Hardtackers performed a free concert on Saturday, Sept. 27. They filmed the concert for an upcoming DVD, which will showcase their renditions of traditional and contemporary sea shanties. The following song from The Hardtackers' YouTube Channel features images of US Brig Niagara.