Friday, December 31, 2010

Slow Down to Enjoy Freemansburg

Canal manager's home.

Jacob Freeman (1792-1871) was described as a well-liked and respected citizen of the quaint small town where he lived. He served the town as the coroner and justice of the peace. He would expound upon the virtues of his hometown to anyone who would listen. That is if he wasn’t busy with his favorite pursuit of hunting game. His neighbors showed their appreciation for this town booster, by naming the town after him in1830. Jacob’s grandfather, Edward Freeman, had purchased the land, in 1790, where Freemansburg would eventually be established. Jacob was able to sell off several of his lots when the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company completed the 1.5-mile section of the canal, a lock tender’s house, mule barn and Locks No.43 and 44 in the autumn of 1829. Lock No. 43 is now within the city limits of Bethlehem. A few other European settlers had arrived to settle the area before the Freemans. John Nance was considered the first settler. He opened a gristmill, known as Nance’s Mill. Nancy Run, a stream that runs into the Lehigh River at the north end of town, was named for him. Freemansburg was originally called “Nance’s Mills.” Peter Bachman, another early settler, built his home and tavern at the west end of town, in 1760. The tavern was known as Willow Grove. It was the first stone home built in this area. Legend has it that some of the local Leni Lenape shot arrows at the stone masons, from the south side of the Lehigh River. They hoped to delay the building of the home. A Bethlehem Moravian, George Huber, in the early 1760s, built a sawmill and distillery at the northern end of Freemansburg. In 1817, George Butz built his gristmill on Nancy Run.
Before the construction of a temporary wooden bridge at Freemansburg, the only way to travel across the Lehigh River was by Currie’s Ferry. Lawyer, John Currie, who lived in Shimersville, which was located across the river from Freemansburg, had erected the service. Henry Jarrett built the first temporary bridge in 1816. The bridge only lasted until 1825; when the unfortunate Daniel Schnable, with a four-horse team and loaded wagon, found the bridge could not support him. He and his horses crashed through the structure and fell into the Lehigh. Schnable and his horses survived the fall. Three more bridges followed; a covered bridge made of wood (1826), a bridge made of steel (1896) and finally the modern cement bridge (1990) we use today.
Freemansburg owed its rapid development to the canal built by Josiah White and Erskine Hazard. The majority of the canal boats floating by Freemansburg carried coal; however a few hauled logs, grain, vegetables, and limestone. It wasn’t unusual for the boatmen or “canallers” to live with their families on the boats. They often docked in Freemansburg to trade a bucket of coal for a chicken, eggs or milk. If a bank dweller was without the funds to pay for coal, they were known to set up bottles along the bank. The boatman would play the game and throw coal at the bottles. This coal would be gathered by the bank dweller to keep his family warm.
During the 1830s, Jacob Freeman built the second tavern of the town, known as the Freemansburg Hotel. The structure was described as extravagant. Thomas & Bellows opened a general store in 1831. Three more stores came in the next few years, Leeser’s, Jacob Ginsinger and P.S. Bachman. Three boatyards were built by G.&A. Bachman, Warg & Luckenbach and A. Cortright. The boat yards employed over a hundred people and produced as many as one hundred boats per year.

By 1850 there were one hundred dwelling in Freemansburg. The population boom necessitated the building of a school in 1856 as well as the town’s incorporation as a borough on January 24, 1856. The heyday of the canal came to an end as the Central New Jersey Railroad came through the area in 1860. Some of the graves in the Lutheran Reformed Church Cemetery had to be moved to make way for the tracks. The trains stopped in Freemansburg for industry and passengers. Because of the increasing popularity of cars, buses and trucks, the Freemansburg passenger station was demolished in 1966 and all rail service had stopped by 1989.

Freemansburg attracted other important industries. Bachman and Clewell established the Lehigh Valley Manufacturing Company in 1867. Their company made soap and candles. The Northampton Iron Co. built the Northampton Furnace in 1872 for the production of pig iron. William Shimer & Son Co. from 1875 to 1895 operated a cast iron toy manufacturing company. These cast-iron toy banks, trains and canons are highly collectible today.

In 1901, Lehigh Valley Traction Co. offered trolley service between Freemansburg and South Bethlehem, making the borough a favorite bedroom community for Bethlehem Steel employees. Charles Derr, Vice-President of Freemansburg Borough Council, headed the Old Freemansburg Association. In the late 1990’s they restored the 1.5 miles of canal towpath, lock tender’s house, mule barn and Lock 44. The borough owns and maintains the entire historic property. It is a favorite destination for walkers, runners and bicyclists.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tannenberg, First American Organ Builder

Tannenberg organ at the York County Heritage Trust.

     David Tannenberg is the most well-known and respected American builder of organs of the eighteenth century. He became the first professional organ builder trained in North America. Tannenberg lived with his family in the Bethlehem, Nazareth and Lititz Moravian communities.
     In April of 1804, Tannenberg brought his last commission, a pedal pipe organ, to the 1762 Christ Lutheran Church in York where he and his assistant worked five weeks to install it in the gallery. Tannenberg did not live to see the installation finished. As he stood on scaffolding, he suffered a stroke, fell and struck his head. He died two days later on May 19, 1804, at 76 years of age. The instrument was played for the first time at his funeral service. Tannenberg was buried in the Moravian cemetery in York.
     Tannenberg was born in the village of Berthelsdorf, Saxony in the eastern part of Germany, on March 21, 1728. His parents, Johann Tannenberger and Judith Nitschmann were Moravians who had found refuge from religious persecution in their native Moravia (now the Czech Republic) on the estate of Count Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf. Count Zinzendorf came to know the young Tannenberg and saw to it that he received proper schooling.
     Tannenberg arrived in Bethlehem in May of 1749 at the age of 21. His occupation initially was that of a joiner, a woodworker who did carpentry or millwork. That summer, on July 15, 1749, Tannenberg and Anna Rosina Kerner, along with 30 other couples, were married in what came to be called the "Great Wedding". The Moravian Church leaders proposed the matches but the women and men had the right to refuse the marriage. They had five children, Rosina, Mary, Anna, David and Samuel.
     When Johann Gottlob Klemm, a professional organ builder from Germany arrived in Bethlehem, in 1757, Tannenberg found his calling in life. He became Klemm’s apprentice and they built at least five organs together until Klemm’s death in 1762. They had set up a shop in the house, at the Burnside Plantation.  Tannenberg wished to continue building organs however the Moravian elders decided that the occupation would bring Tannenberg into too much contact with the outside world. Tannenberg had been making frequent trips around the colonies in search of wood, ebony, ivory, and tin. Fortunately for American music lovers, Tannenberg disobeyed the Moravian elder’s order.
     To supplement the training he had received from Klemm, Tannenberg ordered a copy of Georg Andreas Sorge’s treatice on organ pipe scaling and tuning called "The Secret Art of the Measurement of Organ Pipes". Sorge, a court organist and musical theoretician from Lobenstein, Germany, was the first to apply logarithmic progression to the scaling of organ pipes.
     In 1765, Tannenberg moved with his family to Lititz and set up his organ factory there. During his long life, Tannenberg built approximately 50 organs, along with pianos and clavichords. In Lititz, he was a part of the musical community as an organist, violinist and a cantor for the church services. He initially built organs only for Moravian churches, however by 1769, Lutheran and Reformed churches requested organs as well. Tannenberg built his organs according to the needs of the congregation. He understood that Lutheran and Reformed churches would require an organ that could stand alone and lead congregational singing of the chorales. Moravian Churches used their organs to accompany stringed and woodwind instruments. The notes played on his Moravian Church organs have been described as sweet, lovely and not overpowering. His organs were built for churches in Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, New York and Maryland.
     George Washington was so impressed with Tannenberg’s organ at the Zion Lutheran Church in Philadelphia that he made a return visit to attend another organ recital in 1791. George (one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence) and Betsy (designer of the American flag) Ross, were admirers of Tannenberg and contracted with him to repair their house organ. Tannenberg was commissioned to build the organ for the Bethlehem Moravian Church. His plans required the church’s roof to be raised four feet higher than called for by the architect. This was done when the church was built. Tannenberg died before he could build this organ.
     There are nine surviving organs built by Tannenberg. The closest one is located at the Moravian Historical Society in the Whitefield House in Nazareth, PA., along with the only existing clavichord made by Tannenberg.  He built the organ in 1776 for the Moravian Chapel in the Single Brethren's House in Bethlehem. George Washington listened to music from this organ during a 1782 visit to Bethlehem. It was reconditioned by R. J. Brunner & Co. in 1997 through grants from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and Questers Whitefield Chapter 514. Questers is an international organization dedicated to preserving and restoring works of art and antiquities.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

History of Thanksgiving

     Our national holiday of Thanksgiving is linked to a thanksgiving feast held in Plymouth, Massachusetts in October of 1621. The three day event was attended by ninety members of the Wampanoag tribe and fifty English settlers.  Celebrations to rejoice a good harvest have been practiced through the ages. There are records of annual feasts celebrating bountiful harvests going back to the ancient Greeks and Hebrews. A few other American communities claim to have had the first Thanksgiving. St. Augustine, Florida maintains that a Roman Catholic Mass of Thanksgiving and communal meal with the native Seloy tribe in 1565, was the first Thanksgiving. Virginia states that a ceremony of thanks was recorded by its European settlers in 1619, two years before the pilgrims had theirs in Massachusetts.
     James W. Baker, the Senior Historian at Plimoth Plantation, debunks several of the myths of the first Thanksgiving in Massachusetts. The settlers’ first Thanksgiving meal consisted of mainly meat such as venison and wild fowl. Most vegetables were not available in autumn other than cooked, mashed pumpkin or corn. No desserts were prepared as there was little sugar. The food was piled directly on the table or ground as soon as it was cooked. The settlers ate with spoons, knives, and their fingers.  They did not typically wear black, preferring earth colors and buckles were not available.
     New Englanders continued the tradition of the Plymouth Thanksgiving but most Pennsylvanians preferred their Harvest Home festival. Pennsylvania Governor Simon Snyder, in 1817, was the first to recognize Thanksgiving as an official holiday on the third Thursday in November. Governor William Findlay continued the practice the following year, setting Thursday, November 19, as Thanksgiving Day. Governor John W. Geary of Pennsylvania, in 1868, issued a Thanksgiving proclamation urging citizens to “Let us thank Him with Christian humility for health and prosperity" and “our paths through life may be directed by the example and instructions of the Redeemer.”  A week after Geary’s proclamation seven Philadelphia rabbis signed a petition stating, “An elected official, chosen by a large constituency, as the guardian of inalienable rights, ought not to have evinced a spirit of exclusiveness.” Geary did not respond to the petition.
     Sarah Josepha Hale used her position as editor of the Godley’s Lady’s Book and Magazine to campaign for a national Thanksgiving Day holiday. Beginning in 1837, she wrote letters to five presidents and every state governor advocating the holiday as a device to keep the country unified. Southern states rejected the idea considering it a Yankee tradition.  Hale did finally gain President Abraham Lincoln’s ear. Lincoln declared it a national holiday in 1863, after the Union’s victory in the battle of Gettysburg. He dedicated the last Thursday of each November as a "day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father." The holiday emphasized the religious belief that the nation was blessed by God and given a special purpose in the world.
     The first Thanksgiving Day parade occurred in 1920 in Philadelphia. Ellis Gimbel of Gimbels Department Stores sent fifty costumed employees to parade in the street to lure customers to his toy department. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade began in 1924 when employees of the R. H. Macy and Company store on Herald Square, organized a parade to give thanks for their new adopted country. Many of the employees were immigrants and first-generation Americans.
     Public school teachers picked up on the idea of using the Thanksgiving Day holiday to teach lessons to the children of immigrants. This was an effort to Americanize immigrants. Pupils learned the story of the first Thanksgiving and acted in Thanksgiving pageants. The children then encouraged their parents to celebrate the holiday as Americans did.
     Football soon became essential entertainment on Thanksgiving. The Intercollegiate Football Association scheduled its first championship game on Thanksgiving Day in 1876. Thousands of high schools and colleges had scheduled games on the day by 1900. Listening to the Thanksgiving Day football game on the radio became an important part of celebrating the day, from the 1920s to 1950s. The first national radio broadcast of a NFL Thanksgiving Day game featured the Detroit Lions against the Chicago Bears in 1934. The first televised a broadcast of a NFL Thanksgiving game was viewed in 1956.
      President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed the date for Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday of November in 1939, approved by Congress in 1941, to accommodate retailers who wanted a longer Christmas shopping season. This Thanksgiving, whether you are with company or alone, it is a good time to consider all the things to be grateful for.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Scottish, Irish immigrants celebrated Halloween

     The celebration of Halloween gained in popularity, in Bethlehem, towards the end of the 1800’s. Scottish and Irish immigrants brought the holiday to the United States from their homelands. Two million Irish arrived in the states, driven out of Ireland by the Great Irish Potato Famine (1845-1849). Most of the Scots who migrated here were tenant farmers (known as crofters) who were evicted from their land in the Highland of Scotland by the large-scale sheep rearing industry. Before the arrival of the Irish and Scots, there was a dominant Puritan influence that frowned upon the holiday. 
     The Bethlehem Globe Times November 1st editions of 1877, 1894 and 1902 document the increasing popularity of Halloween with Bethlehem residents. In the 1877 publication the editor notes in a brief paragraph that Halloween seems to be catching on. He mentions that children of the town enjoyed receiving nuts, apples and candy the previous evening. He describes a fortune telling game with apple seeds. He admonishes a few youths who threw cabbage heads, flour and dried corn kernels around town and for running away after ringing doorbells.
     The 1894 publication dedicated more than an entire column to describing the origin of Halloween and it traditions. By 1894, Halloween had been accepted as an American holiday. Children engaged in roasting nuts, dipping for apples and playing the game of three bowls of fate. In this game, a young woman or man sits before three bowls, blindfolded. One bowl is filled with clear water, the second bowl with discolored water and the third bowl left empty. He or she dips their left hand toward the bowls. If their fingers land in the clear water it is predicted that they will have a happy marriage. If their fingers touch the discolored water then they will be widowed. If they touch the empty dish, then no marriage is predicted.
     In 1902, the paper described a parade of over seven hundred children that marched through the main streets of Bethlehem. Every child wore a costume representing various nationalities. This is the first mention of wearing costumes on Halloween in Bethlehem. Later that evening the pranksters freely threw about corn, flour and cabbage heads. They removed business signs through out the city and placed them in new spots. The mischief makers switched the physician’s sign with the undertaker’s sign. There were several Halloween parties through out the city. Typical decorations were autumn leaves, corn stalks and jack-o-lanterns. Musical entertainment included singing the songs
“The Coffin Song,” “Ghost of Betsy Ross” and “Ghost of the Men of Harlem”. Childrens costumes were described as old maid, Japanese lady, a Quaker, a cavalier (a man wearing elaborate embellished clothes, and plumed hat), country maid and a city belle. Refreshments for the evening were apples, cider, lemonade, ices and corn on the cob.
     Children were entertained with games of blowing out candles, roasting apples and chestnuts and several games that shared the theme of finding one’s true mate. During the apple paring contest each guest peeled an apple with a paring knife attempting to cut the longest peel. They then threw the peel over their left shoulder and looked to see what letter was formed by the dropped peel on the floor. The letter discerned was the initial of their future spouse’ name.  Also at midnight, young girls tried to catch a reflection of their future husbands in a mirror. In another contest, Dumb Cake, required the following steps with the participants not uttering a word. Each person placed a hand full of flour on a piece of white paper then sprinkled a pinch of salt and water on the flour. They then mixed their ingredients into dough, flattened the dough and marked their initials on it. The individual cakes were baked and then served at midnight. Their future husband or wife selected their initialed cake to eat.
     The theme of many of these early Halloween games was to predict who and when a young person would marry. The games seem nostalgic and romantic however parents today would find then inappropriate. Even the costumes of that time seem quaint with children today preferring to dress up as Spiderman, a pirate, Sponge Bob, a princess and Barbie. The best selling Halloween candy yesterday and today is the tri-color candy corn. It was invented in the 1880’s by George Renninger. That reminds me, I need to buy some candy, right now!

Monday, September 27, 2010

How We Treat Animals Is A Measure Of Our Enlightenment

Horse drinking fountain in Central Park N.Y.

     Henry Bergh, the son of a prominent New York shipbuilder, was traveling through Europe in 1864. During this trip, he met the Earl of Harrowby, president of England's Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the first organization of its kind in the world, founded in 1840. Bergh was so inspired by the mission of protecting animals that he proposed a charter for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to the New York State Legislature. It was passed on April 10, 1866 making it the first animal protection group in the United States. Nine days later, the same legislature passed an anti-cruelty law granting the ASPCA the right to enforce it. Bergh and his group immediately addressed the abuses suffered by working horses. Up until the inventions of electric trolleys and steam and gas engines, people depended on horses for transportation, farming, construction and hoisting. People viewed horses as property not as animals with rights. The engineer, James Watts, coined the term "horsepower" in 1782, when he measured how much coal could be lifted out of a mine by a horse. By 1900, there were 130,000 horses working in Manhattan.
     Bergh earned the nickname “the Great Meddler” by confronting abusive horse owners in the streets, where they worked. On one occasion, Bergh and his associates swooped down on a busy intersection and removed every maltreated horse they could find. The horses were pulling trolley cars during rush hour. The action resulted in a traffic jam for several hours with thousands of travelers forced to walk to their destinations.
     The ASPCA is celebrating their 142nd anniversary of their founding, on April 10, 2008. They are asking everyone, pet owners and pets alike, to wear something orange to show their support of the organization.
     The second Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was chartered in Philadelphia on April 4, 1868. The group was led by Colonel M. Richards Mucklé, a Philadelphia businessman and engineer. Their main focus was also on the many abuses perpetrated against horses. In the 1800s, Philadelphia working horses had to contend with cobblestone streets littered with broken glass, crockery and scraps from the various industries. The horses suffered through extreme weather without protection. There were no provisions for the horses to take rest breaks or drink water. The horses were frequently beaten by their drivers.
     Over the next several years, the Philadelphia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was successful in getting legislation passed that addressed these abuses. New regulations curtailed the use of the horse whip and provided for the availability of warm horse blankets in winter, water troughs and rest periods. Eventually the Society expanded their focus to the humane treatment of livestock and pet animals.
     Following London, New York and Philadelphia, humane societies began popping up in cities across the United States and the world.  It is interesting to note that it wasn’t until after animal protection groups were well established that children’s rights groups came into existence. The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, the first children’s protection group in the United States, was established eight years after the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was chartered. The animal protection groups were so successful that children’s rights groups used them as a model for organizing their groups.
     In 1866, the Borough of South Bethlehem Council passed an ordinance requiring their police constables to keep track of the pet dogs in the borough. Packs of stray dogs had become a problem. The citizens were upset by the high mortality rate for wild dogs who succumbed to starvation, rabies, extreme weather, and dog fights. Council required each dog owner to pay a yearly tax of one dollar for each male dog and two dollars for each female dog. The police constable was responsible for collecting these taxes. He was under orders to shoot any dog he found running wild on the streets, then he had to bury the creature. The Borough paid him 50 cents for providing this service and fined him 50 cents if he neglected this responsibility.
     Serving Northampton and Lehigh Counties today are the Northampton County SPCA (founded 1913), now known as The Center for Animal Health and Welfare, and the Lehigh County Humane Society (founded 1907.) Both organizations are non-profit groups that depend on volunteers and private donations. They offer the services of pet adoptions, reuniting pets with their owners, investigating reports of cruelty, neglect and abuse of animals, rescue and emergency services to homeless animals, euthanize animals that are too sick or aggressive to be safely placed in homes and community education.
  Our society has come a long way in acknowledging animal rights. Most people believe animals have a right to live free from pain and suffering. Mahatma Gandhi stated, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."

Friday, September 3, 2010

Lehigh Valley International Airport began as airmail stop.

ABE Airport, 1950s.
     In October of 1975, local newspapers announced plans for five days of dedication ceremonies to celebrate the opening of the new terminal at A-B-E-Airport. Over a thousand people attended the largest dinner dance held in the Lehigh Valley. Some 13,000 people previewed the multi-million dollar terminal complex that would begin operations on December 14th. The main terminal was encased in eleven steel frames, each 172 feet long and spaced 30 feet apart. The frames allowed for a large open space where ticketing agents would process seat assignments and check luggage. The main terminal was built into the terrain to give it a lower profile. In addition, the new departure lounge, food service wing and 1000 car parking lot made flying much easier for travelers.
     The airport began in 1927 when the U.S. Department of Commerce rented 50 acres of farmland as an emergency landing air strip for airmail pilots. This 1,500-foot grass landing strip was the first airstrip in the Lehigh Valley. A steel tower topped by a rotating beacon was erected and a small frame building constructed for an attendant.  This wooden structure eventually became the first terminal for the Allentown Airport Corporation. The original 50 acres form the northwest portion of the Allentown Bethlehem Easton Airport, known today as Lehigh Valley International Airport. It is one of the oldest airports in the country that still operates from its original location. The property was perfectly located, in Hanover Township, between Lehigh and Northampton counties.
     The Allentown Airport Corp., formed in 1929 by local businessmen, recognized the need for a local airport. The group purchased 317.5 acres, including the 50 acres rented by the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, with the goal of creating an airport. They built a 120-foot by 80-foot hangar and moved the beacon tower and former attendant’s quarters, next to the hangar.
     The first company to rent the airport was the Allentown Aviation Corporation, headed by John H. and Dorothy B. Leh. John was a partner in H. Leh’s Department Store. John and Dorothy were only the second couple in America to both earn flying licenses.
     The Allentown Airport Corp. ran into financial problems during the Great Depression. To stay afloat they sold 27 acres of land to farmer Frank Dlugus in 1933. Several years later, Mr. Dlugus obtained a court injunction on April 1, 1944 to halt flights at the airport. He complained that the low flying planes were disturbing his farm animals. The injunction was lifted May 27th allowing flights to return to the airport.
     On September 14, 1935, the Allentown Airport officially began accepting air mail service. Thousands of residents crowded the runway to observe mail bags containing nearly 10,000 pieces of mail depart on east and westbound planes. They witnessed the first United Air Way passenger planes (Boeing 247) arrive to begin service to Newark and Cleveland. That day the crowd also watched Laura Ingalls, a pioneer woman pilot, land her plane at the airport. Earlier that year Ingalls had accomplished the feat of being the first woman pilot to fly across America, from coast to coast. Ingalls was revered by the public for her accomplishments in aviation; however her politics irritated the F.B.I. In 1942, a jury found Ingalls guilty of being a spy for the Germans. She was a known peace advocate. She violated the law in 1939 by flying over the White House and dropping pamphlets that advocated U.S. isolationist policies. She served over 18 months in prison.                 
    In order to receive public funds through the WPA, the city of Allentown took over the title to the airport. Through the assistance, again, of John H. Leh and local businesses, three new runways and a new terminal building were constructed. During World War II, the Navy set up a flight training school at the airport and trained over 1,500 enlisted men.
     In 1948, the Allentown Airport Corporation was reorganized as the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority, to become eligible for federal funds.  At the same time, the name of the airport was changed to Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton Airport. In the same year, TWA began providing flights from A-B-E to Newark and Pittsburgh.
     Passenger terminal #3 was completed in 1950 for one million dollars. Colonial Airlines (soon to be acquired by Eastern Airlines) provided Lehigh Valley travelers flights to Washington D.C. and Montreal. In 1967, United Airlines introduced the first jet service. In 1969, Lehigh and Northampton counties assumed the financial burden of the airport from the cities Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton. Passenger terminal #4 was completed in 1972 at a cost of one million dollars.
     There was a rash of airplane hijackings occurring around the world, between 1967 and 1972. On May 5, 1972, an Eastern Airlines 727 jet was hijacked at A-B-E Airport. This, the airport’s only hijacking in its history, occurred when Frederick W. Hahneman, boarded the jet and threatened the crew with a gun. The jet was scheduled to fly to Washington D.C. then on to Miami, Florida.  Hahneman, a 49-year-old engineer from Easton, demanded $303,000 in large bills and six parachutes. He ordered the plane to land at Dulles International Airport where he received the ransom on board. He then released everyone except the crew. The plane made a stop in New Orleans for repairs then flew over Honduras where Hahneman jumped from the plane with the briefcase full of cash. On June 2nd Hahneman turned himself in to the U.S. Embassy in Honduras. He pled guilty to the charges of air piracy and served 12 years in prison. The F.B.I. found all of the $303,000 but would not give any details about their investigation.
     In 1994, the name of the airport was changed to the Lehigh Valley International Airport. The council governments of Bethlehem and Easton were not happy about the name change. Bethlehem City Council passed a resolution asking the Airport Authority to change it back to A-B-E. The Airport Authority declined their request as they believed the name Lehigh Valley International Airport represented a more regional image. The National Weather Service closed its LVIP station in 1996, citing budget constraints and leaving the airport to depend on automated systems.  In 1997, a new $13.5 million addition to the terminal was completed offering magnificent views of the surrounding area. The 33,000 square-foot addition with eight gates was named for Wilfred M. "Wiley" Post Jr., manager of the airport from 1937 to 1983. Post had a front row seat to the history of passenger air service. He was there to see the ten-seat Boeing 247 in operation, during the 1930s. By the time he retired in 1983, the Boeing 757 was in service, carrying 180 passengers.

Monday, August 23, 2010

It is Apple Butter Time!

     If you grew up in rural Pennsylvania then you know that October is apple butter time. Apple butter is an American invention and attributed to the Pennsylvania German settlers, dating as far back as the mid 1700s. Before they could rely on refrigeration, the local farmers had to sugar cure then smoke meat, pickle vegetables and dry fruit. The Pennsylvania Germans noted that applesauce became rancid before the end of winter. They found with a longer cooking process of the apples and cider they could produce a tasty condiment that could get them through the winter and longer. In the Pennsylvania German dialect, apple butter was called “lattwarick.” Some people claim that apple butter can last several years. The higher concentration of sugar gives apple butter a much longer shelf life than applesauce.
     Every farm had at least a small orchard of apple trees, which yielded apples from July to November. Apples were essential to the survival of the farmers and were eaten at every meal for most of the year. Harvesting and preparing the apples was labor intensive. The local farmers and their families would work together to make cider, dried apples, vinegar, applesauce and apple butter. Because making apple butter was an all day affair, a community would often celebrate with a dance when the chore was done.
     The first step in making apple butter was to press cider from sweet apples. The cider was then poured in a large copper kettle and heated with a hot wood fire. The cooking was usually done outdoors. The cider was boiled until half of the quantity was left. Then large amounts of pared, cored and sliced apple, called “schnitz,” were gradually added to the cider. These apples could be all the sweet variety or half sweet and half tart. It takes five pounds of apples to make a pound of apple butter. The mixture was constantly stirred with a long wooden paddle to prevent the apple butter from sticking to the pot and burning. The paddle was long enough to allow the stirrer to be several feet away from the smoke and heat. The stirring job was tiresome and went on for twelve hours. Children and young adults would team up to stir the pot with the teams taking turns. It became a social event and acceptable for a young man and woman to converse as they stirred. Eventually the heat causes the apples’ natural sugars to caramelize, giving the apple butter its distinctive deep brown color. Spices such as nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and sassafras root were added to give the apple butter its spicy flavor. The mixture became harder to stir as it thickened. The apple butter would be pored into clay crocks and stored in a cool place like a root cellar or a hole dug in the ground.
     The apple originated in the eastern Mediterranean region but was carried by traders and soldiers through out Europe and Asia. The only variety of apple native to American was the sour crabapple. The colonists brought new varieties of apples with them in the form of seeds, called pips. They grew specific types of apples for different uses such as baking, deserts or cider. Back then, the apples were small and stored in cellars or barns for months at a time. With the multitude of orchards soon there were thousands of different varieties of apples. Many of these heritage, antique, or heirloom apples have all but disappeared. In the 20th century, professional nurseries improved apple production with more heavy bearing varieties, cold storage and faster transportation. Consumers only wanted those varieties that looked good. Taste became a lower priority. Researchers are now rediscovering some of heritage varieties and preservation orchards have been planted. Some heritage varieties have been lost forever as urban sprawl has destroyed old apple orchards.
     Fortunately, farms such as the Burnside Plantation are growing heritage apples to preserve history. Their large apple orchard, which extends up the hill behind the farmhouse and past Martin Tower, is bursting with Newton Pippins, Roxbury Russets and Rhode Island Greenings. Other farms in the area specializing in heritage apples are the Glasbern County Inn in Fogelsville and Suyundalla Farms in Coplay. You can still find heritage apples at the Saucon Valley Farmers Market in Hellertown (Sundays 9am–2pm until November 18th), Emmaus Farmers Market (Sundays, 10-2, until November 25th) and Bethlehem Farmers' Market, New and Morton Streets (Thursdays, 12-5 until October).
You can go on a tour of apple butter production at Bauman’s Apple Butter Factory in Sassmansville, PA  The Baumans has been making apple butter since 1892 with the third generation at the helm now.
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Friday, August 13, 2010

Johann Sebastian Bach's music in America

Johann Sebastian Bach
     The earliest evidence of Johann Sebastian Bach's music in America can be found in the Moravian Archives. In 1823, a Bethlehem musician made copies of one of Bach’s cantatas. It took another Moravian musician to make Bach’s music a part of the musical tradition of Bethlehem, PA. Dr. J. Fred Wolle was visiting Munich in the spring of 1885 and took the opportunity to hear a production of Bach’s St. John Passion. Wolle returned to Bethlehem, determined to bring Bach’s music to life in America. Under his supervision, the Bethlehem Choral Union sang the St. John Passion, on June 5, 1888. It was the first complete rendition of the work in this country. Wolle conducted the first complete performance of Bach’s Mass in B Minor, at the Central Moravian Church in 1900. Due to the historical importance of these accomplishments, the Central Moravian Church earned recognition as a National Landmark of Music.
     The Bach Festival moved to the Packer Memorial Church of Lehigh University in 1912. A review in Outlook Magazine of the 1918 Bach Festival described the event. “Mr. Wolle leads without a baton, and his nervous arms and fingers seemed not only to be charged with electricity, but to electrify the whole body of people there, those in the choir seats and those in the pews alike. He made those people not only sing, but think the words as they sang them.”
     Johann Sebastian Bach was born on March 31, 1685, in Eisenach, Germany. He lived his entire life in Germany. He was born as the youngest and eighth child of Johan Ambrosius Bach and Elisabeth Lammerhirt. Johann Sebastian came from a long line of musicians and composers. He lost both his parents, within the same year, at the age of nine. Johann Sebastian and his brother Johann Jacob went to live with their eldest brother, Johann Christoph, who was organist in Ohrdruf.
     At age eighteen, Bach was appointed organist of the Neue Kirche in Arnstadt. His first known compositions were written during the early 1700s. At that time he was courting his second cousin and future wife, Maria Barbara Bach. A new job as organist of the Blasiuskirche in Mühlhausen and a small inheritance allowed them to marry in 1707. In Mühlhausen, Bach began to write cantatas. The cantatas that survived from this period are regarded as masterpieces. The Blasiuskirche suffered a great fire and Bach sought employment 40 miles north in the city of Weimar as organist in the court of Duke Wilhelm Ernst.
     While in Weimar, he continued to write cantatas along with compositions for the organ, harpsichord, choral preludes and fugues. Duke Wilhelm Ernst was in a contentious power struggle with another Duke in Weimar, Ernst August. Ignoring politics, Bach wrote compositions for both Dukes, which angered his employer. Duke Wilhelm Ernst had Bach jailed for a month.
     Upon leaving jail in 1717, Bach moved his family to Köthen and began his new job as Kapellmeister (director of music) to Prince Leopold von Anhalt-Köthen. During his stay in Köthen, Bach wrote the six Brandenburg Concertos, violin concertos in A Minor, E Major, and the double concert in D Minor, Invention, the French Suites and the English Suites. Bach’s wife, Maria Barbara, died in 1720 after a short illness. Bach married Anna Magdalena Wilcken, a talented soprano, in 1721.
     In 1723, Bach became Kapellmeister in the St Thomas School in Leipzig. Beginning in March 1729, Bach assumed the direction of the Collegium Musicum in Leipzig. Bach was always looking for ways to increase his income.  He sold books, music and Silbermann fortepianos. Bach finished his great B Minor Mass in 1749. Bach was practically blind due to cataracts at the end of his life. In 1750, he suffered a stroke. He died on July 28, 1750, probably from diabetes mellitus. During his lifetime, Bach was famous for his organ and harpsichord playing. The high regard for his compositions didn’t occur the 19th century.
     During the first two weekends of May, thousands of Bach lovers from across the country arrive in Bethlehem, PA to hear the Bach Choir and Bach Festival Orchestra.
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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

History of Boy Scouts of America

     Chicago publisher William Boyce founded the Boy Scouts of America on February 8, 1910. Boyce was inspired by the British organization of Scouting begun in 1907 by General Robert Baden-Powell. Baden-Powell was a hero in the Boer War and wrote a book about military scouting called Aids to Scouting. The book was a hit with British boys who used the book as a guide to outdoor activities. Baden-Powell rewrote the book as Scouting for Boys, galvanizing scout troops to organize all over England.
     Boyce employed as many as 30,000 boy-agents to sell his weeklies. Through working with these young men he came to understand the importance of providing for the needs of America's youth.
     Although there were several small scouting groups in America in 1910, William Boyce organized the Boy Scouts like one of his businesses. He incorporated the organization, hired experienced staff to design and operate the program, and he provided the funding to insure its success.
     The Boy scouts program was designed to have three divisions: Cub Scouting (for boys in 1st through 5th Grades); Boy Scouting (for boys and young men aged 11 through 17) and Venturing (formerly Exploring; for young men and young women aged 14 through 20.)
     In the Semi-Centennial Souvenir History of South Bethlehem, written in 1915, Henry Topfer is mentioned as scout master of Boy Scouts Troop One. Topfer was a printer for Bethlehem Steel and lived with his wife, Isabel, and their three sons in their home on Center Street. Topfer was raised in South Bethlehem on Vine Street. His father, Nicholas Topfer, was a talented florist and maintained five greenhouses at 813 Seneca Street. The number of Topfer’s troop suggests that it was the first Boy Scout troop in Bethlehem.
     The Bethlehem Area Council of Boy Scouts evolved from early troops such as Topfer’s. The Council opened a sleep away camp in the Delaware Water Gap area, in 1919. The Army donated land to the Council in Tobyhanna Township and the camp was moved there in 1928. Then in 1949, Samuel Rubel, largest Pennsylvanian ice and coal distributor, bequeathed to the Bethlehem Boy Scouts of America, 1,100 acres of camping grounds in the Pocono Mountains. Rubel, as a child, was a boy scout in Brooklyn, N.Y. He left the gift to express his appreciation. In the 1950’s Bethlehem Steel donated funds to rebuild the camp buildings. The camp re-opened in 1958 and has remained in operation at that location ever since. The camp, known as Camp Minsi today, is surrounded by beautiful woodlands with over 20 miles of hiking trails.
     In 1969, the Bethlehem Area Council joined Delaware Valley Area Council, and Lehigh Council to form the Minsi Trails Council. Today the council consists of six districts and maintains two camps (Camp Minsi and Trexler Scout Reservation). Its headquarters is located on Postal Road in Allentown. The R. Tait McKenzie sculpture “The Ideal Scout” stands outside the center. The Mini Trails Council scouting program continues to be very popular with local boys.
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Friday, July 23, 2010

Old Style vs New Style

Pope Gregory XIII, portrait by Lavinia FontanaImage via Wikipedia
     When the Moravians settled Bethlehem in 1741, they marked the beginning of a new year on March 25th. In 1741, for example, the year ended on March 24th, 1741; the following day was March 25th, 1742.  March was the first month of the year, April, the second, and continued on, with February as the twelfth and last month of the year. Pennsylvania, as a colony governed under British rule, was required to follow the British sanctioned Old Style or Julian calendar. The American settlers who originated from countries that used the Gregorian calendar (New Style) continued to use the New Style calendar after they immigrated to America. This led to much confusion, such as recording birthdays and celebrating holidays. Italy, Spain, Portugal, Poland, France, Belgium and the Catholic states of the Netherlands had all accepted the Gregorian calendar during the 1500s. Protestant Germany had made the change in 1700. The Moravian Brethren dealt with this problem by double dating their congressional diary entrees and correspondence with Old Style and New Style dates, separated with a slash.
     The tropical year of 365 days, five hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds is the time it takes the earth to circulate around the sun. The astronomer, Sosigenes, advised Julius Caesar to adopt a new calendar, in 46 BC, as an attempt to align the calendar with the tropical year. The new calendar, known as the Julian calendar, eventually was found to have some limitations. It was eleven minutes too long each year. By the sixteenth century, ten extra days had accumulated. Pope Gregory XIII was concerned that the calculated date of Easter by the Julian calendar had become incorrect. Christians believed that the date of the resurrection of Jesus Christ was the most important observance of the year. Therefore, upon the advice of the astronomer Clavius, Pope Gregory ordered the calendar to be revised, by papal bull. The Gregorian reform removed ten days from October 1582, and adjusted the leap year schedule to keep things on an even keel. The year 2008 will be a leap year.               
     The Catholic countries adopted the Gregorian calendar immediately. Because the Church of England was the official religion of England, its leaders were not inclined to follow Pope Gregory’s new calendar. However, by the mid-18th century, England (and her colonies) could no longer avoid the transition. Finally in 1751, the British Parliament passed the "Act for Regulating the Commencement of the Year; and for Correcting the Calendar now in Use" to join the rest of Europe, in using the Gregorian calendar. To fall in line with the correct date, Parliament degreed that eleven days needed to be eliminated. They omitted the days from September 3rd to 13th 1752. Parliament specified these dates as they avoided conflict with any major festivals in Britain.
     A painting by William Hogarth, in 1755; titled "An Election Entertainment", shows British commoners protesting against the Gregorian calendar with a banner stating, "Give us our Eleven days." Some citizens believed that the change in calendar was an attempt by landlords to cheat them out of a week and a half's rent.
     American newspapers and almanacs informed the colonists of the new act. The change to the New Style calendar appeared to have gone smoothly, as the newspapers did not report any protests. The Pennsylvania colonial proprietary government passed "An Act to prevent Disputes about the Dates of Conveyances, and other Instruments and Writings" shortly before the New Style calendar took effect. Benjamin Franklin printed the wording of the act in his Poor Richard's Almanac. Franklin’s comment about the omitted days was, "And what an indulgence is here, for those who love their pillow to lie down in peace on the second of this month and not perhaps awake till the morning of the fourteenth." Many colonists, such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, continued to celebrate the Old Style dates of their birthdays. Thomas Jefferson’s grave stone, located at Monticello in Virginia, is inscribed with his birth date followed by O.S.
     With all the American colonists using the same calendar in 1752, it helped to make transactions easier between them. It may have contributed to the establishment of an independent identity as nation, which was not what the British Parliament had in mind.

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Fraktur in the Lehigh Valley

     Around New Year's Day in the 18th and 19th centuries, children, friends or neighbors might give each other a Neuesjahreswunsch or New Year’s Wish. Verses were written on paper in elaborate handwriting and illustrated with flowers, birds or animals, in ink and watercolor. A translation from German on a greeting from 1798 says, “Let peace and unity reign at all times, that hatred and envy will disappear, that love bind, now and with this new year. O Lord! Make my wishes come true.”
     The Pennsylvania German emigrant documented births, baptisms (Taufschein) and marriages (Traufschein) with Fraktur, between 1750 and 1900. Henry Mercer defined Fraktur as a decorated document, handwritten in German in fractured pen strokes, although a few were written in English. The writing is similar to the 15th-century typeface called Fraktur. The documents were often colorfully embellished with paintings of birds, flowers, sun, moon, hearts, trees and animals. Lutheran and Reformed ministers and school teachers created many of the Fraktur that exist in collections today. It was an additional source of income for the poorly paid teachers. Eventually, traveling artists offered the services of creating Fraktur for the farm families of Pennsylvania.
     The origins of the art can be traced to Alsace or Switzerland. The European handwritten manuscripts communicated serious religious themes or governmental proclamations. In America, Fraktur became more personal and centered on family events. School teachers used Vorschrift (letter exercises), drawing samples of the alphabet, to teach lettering skills and penmanship. The Pennsylvanian German community adopted Fraktur as their own.
     There are only a few examples of Fraktur in the Moravian settlements as they preferred to document important events through their congregational daily diary. Their beautifully written memoirs or Lebenslaufe might be considered a form of Fraktur.
     The first Fraktur in America, were created by the German Seventh Day Baptist Cloister in Ephrata, Lancaster County, in the mid 1700s. The Mennonites, Dunkers, Schwenkfelders and Amish also produced Fraktur.
     Fraktur artists made their own or ordered imported pigments such as vermilion, gamboge (yellow), Prussian blue, indigo, and orpiment. The Osborne Company in Philadelphia began manufacturing watercolors in the 1820s, making the supplies easier to obtain. They could be purchased at the local apothecary or drugstore. In an Osborne paint box from 1826, thirty different pigment cakes were included. Many of the watercolor paints used from 1700 to 1850 contained lead. The deadly ingredient was used to make colors more opaque or lighter. Mercury and arsenic were also typical additives.
     Early pens were made from a quill taken from the wing of a goose, swan or turkey. By the 1800s, steel nibs were manufactured, which gave the artist more control. Iron gall ink, the commonly used black ink, was easily made; the ingredients were inexpensive and readily available.
Imported or from local paper mills, paper was always obtainable. Around 1689 William Rittenhouse constructed the first paper mill in the American colonies in Germantown. Most Fraktur were painted on sheets of paper measuring 16 by 13 inches or 8 by 13 inches.
     As more sophisticated printing processes became available, forms for fraktur were printed with colorful designs and blank spaces for information to be filled in later. Printers advanced from using woodblocks in the 18th century to lithographic printing in the 19th century. The Currier and Ives Company mass produced black-and-white as well as full-color Fraktur.
     With the German immigrants assimilation in America, the custom of Fraktur disappeared. When the Pennsylvania legislature created common schools in 1834, school teachers were required to teach only in english. The patriotic feelings evoked by the Civil War made it less popular for German Americans to champion their roots.
     A Northampton County schoolmaster, Johannes Ernst Spangenberg (1755-1814), was much in demand for his Fraktur and was known as the “Easton Bible Artist.” Spangenberg lived in Easton with his wife, Elizabeth Blantz and their eleven children. Spangenberg may have listened to the reading of the Declaration of Independence on July 8, 1776, in Easton, as he soon enlisted in the militia to fight in the Revolutionary War. He taught at the stone schoolhouse at 229 Church St. in Easton. His Fraktur work featured a variety of themes, including buildings with arched windows and turrets topped with pennants, musicians, flowers and animals. He was finally identified by Monroe Fabian, associate curator at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., who found a signature on one of the Fraktur. The Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society has two Spangenberg Fraktur in their collection. One of his Fraktur, owned by a private collector, sold for $134,500 at an auction in 2002.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Allentown State Hospital

The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare is currently closing the Allentown State Hospital, one of seven state psychiatric hospitals in the state. The hospital serves patients from Lehigh, Northampton, Carbon, Monroe, and Pike counties. Institutional care for the mentally ill has been replaced by community based care since the Mental Heath Procedures Act of 1976 was passed. Today the usual course of treatment would involve a short stay in a psychiatric ward of a hospital, such as St. Luke’s Hospital. The patient would receive a diagnosis, group therapy and appropriate medication. They would then be discharged to a day program to ease back into the community.
When the Allentown State Hospital opened on October 2, 1912, it was the first homeopathic hospital in the state. It was originally called the Pennsylvania Homeopathic Hospital for the Insane. The hospital was built on 209 acres in Hanover Township, which included the former estates of Robert E. Wright and J. Marshall Wright. The site was equal distance between Allentown and Bethlehem, in an area known as Rittersville.
The ceremony for the laying of the corner-stone on June 27, 1904, was attended by Governor Samuel W. Pennypacker, many state legislators and a large group of “homeopathic” physicians. The guests traveled by trains, trolleys and carriages. Music was provided by the Allentown Pioneer Band and a prayer given by Rev. William D.C. Keiter of Bethlehem. Architect Philip H. Johnson presented a copper box containing the newspapers of the day, assortment of coins, a copy of the Act of Legislature ordering the building of the hospital and a list of all the homeopathic physicians in the state. The Governor then spread cement over the cornerstone and the “time capsule.” After the ceremony, the guests walked to the vacated Wright buildings to enjoy a lunch arranged on long tables.
Due to financial problems in the state there was a delay of eight years before the hospital was completed. The institution was built to serve 1000 patients. The Central Railroad ran by the southern end of the property. The Lehigh Valley Trolley Co. ran a line bordering the property on the north.
The hospital, designed by Johnson, was built in a block plan with several buildings connected by corridors. The buildings included; administration buildings, four patient ward buildings, two chapels, dining rooms, operating room, auditorium, kitchen, ice plant, laundry, boiler, and electric plant. An aerial tramway was built between the railroad and the power plant to facilitate the delivery of coal. It was a totally self contained community Land and building costs totaled $1,931,270.
The first Board of Trustees, appointed by Governor John K. Tener, were Harry C, Trexler, president; Edward M. Young, secretary and treasurer; Russel C. Stewart, Archibald Johnston, John J. Tuller, M.D., William A Seibert, M.D., Leonard Peckitt, F.J. Slough, M.D. and George R. Bedford. Henry I Klopp was appointed the first superintendent. The hospital was at near capacity within a year. Norristown and Danville State Hospitals transferred 750 patients immediately, due to overcrowded conditions in those institutions.
The homeopathic treatment for a patient began with a period of bed rest. The patient then received plenty of fresh air, nutritious food, hydrotherapy, exercise, re-education and occupational therapy. The belief was that under proper conditions, the body would heal itself.
A farm was operated on the grounds through the labor of employees and hospital patients. The produce fed the staff and patients. The cost for care for a week of hospitalization was about $5.00 per patient.
In the 1790s, Samuel Christian Friedrich Hahnemann of Germany, created the homeopathic approach to the treatment of illnesses. Homeopathy treats the mind and body together. Hahnemann wrote medical papers on his new treatment and trained medical students in Germany. Because of the high numbers of German immigrants to Philadelphia and the Lehigh Valley, many physicians in the area were trained in this method. The first homeopathic medical college in the world was founded in 1836 in Allentown. The college president, Constantine Hering, is considered the Father of American Homeopathy. It is no surprise that in 1901, the state legislature selected a site between Allentown and Bethlehem to build the state’s first homeopathic treatment hospital for the mentally ill.
During the Great Depression, the Public Works Administration contracted with architects Lovelace and Spillman of Bethlehem to design a new dining hall for the hospital. During the 1950s, the hospital was severely overcrowded, reaching the highest patient population in its history of 2012. Today there are 175 patients in the care of the hospital.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Lehigh Canal

As the sun was setting on Bethlehem, on August 9, 1814, a crudely built ship, called an ark, was floating by on the Lehigh River. Its cargo would bring Bethlehem into the industrial age. The ark contained twenty-four tons of “black diamonds” or anthracite coal from the Room Run Mine. The ark was sixty-five feet in length and fourteen feet in width and built with hemlock wood. It began its journey at the landings at Lausanne with a crew of six men. Within a quarter mile the ark collided with a slate ledge which caused a gash its side. The crew ripped off their clothing and successfully plugged the hole. The ark stayed afloat all the way to its destination of Philadelphia, five days later.
The Lenni Lenape were the first to discover the coal and spoke of it to the early settlers. Philip Ginter may have heard these rumors so when he stumbled upon some black rocks, in 1791, while hunting on the summit of the Sharp Mountain, he took them home for further examination. Ginter had migrated to the Mahoning region in the 1770s. He was a miller, farmer and landowner of 300 acres. It is believed that Ginter took a piece of this coal to the local blacksmith, Joe Neyer, who was able to ignite the rock, confirming it was coal. Next, Ginter gave samples of the coal to Colonel Jacob Weis who was living in the area of Weissport, formally New Gnaddenhuetten or Fort Allen.
Weiss had served as the assistant deputy quartermaster-general at Easton (1780-1783.) Upon retirement in 1783, Weis purchased 700 acres, which included the former Fort Allen, from the Moravian Brethrens and moved his family to that location. He started a lumber business and farm. Weis took the coal to Philadelphia to seek the advice of his cousin, Michael Hillegas, United States Treasurer during the Revolutionary War, Charles Cist, a printer and his brother-in-law, John Nicholson, the Comptroller General of Pennsylvania. Cist was able to verify that the stone was anthracite coal. With this discovery they decided to form the Lehigh Coal Mine Company, in 1792. Weiss offered Ginter assistance in securing a land warrant in exchange for pointing out the spot where he found the coal.
At first the company’s plan seemed easily accomplished. They needed to find coal deposits, purchase the property containing the deposits, improve the Lehigh River so transportation of the coal by boat would be unimpeded and develop a market for the coal. Every part of this plan proved difficult. Weiss took charge of purchasing 10,000 acres of coal rich land. As he attempted to buy land, counter claims would surface. Weiss eventually sorted out ownership with the company purchasing the land between Mauch Chunk and Tamaqua, along the Lehigh River. The idea of mining coal from shallow pits was abandoned for digging mine shafts at the Room Run Mine near Nesquehoning. This mine was closer to the river therefore reducing the cost of transporting it. Several attempts to clear the Lehigh River for transportation of the coal failed. In 1798, a separate company was organized to deal specifically with this task, the Lehigh Navigation Company.
The War of 1812 raised the cost of coal and limited its availability through the British blockade of Chesapeake and Delaware bays. This inspired a new attempt of transporting coal from the Lehigh Coal Mine Company down the Lehigh River to the Philadelphia market. The Lehigh Coal Mine Company began leasing their mines to other enterprising men hoping to increase the value of their mines. Some of the original investors, Hillegas, Cist and Nicholson, had passed away. The next generation (Jacob Weiss, Isaac Abel Chapman, Jacob Cist, Charles Miner, and John Robinson) took their chances with the mining and selling of anthracite. Arks were produced at Jacob Weiss’ sawmill at Lausanne. They were sixty-five feet long by fourteen to sixteen feet wide. Each ark could carry from twenty to thirty tons of coal. The ark was controlled by a pilot who navigated with a pole.
Josiah White and Erskine Hazard purchased a cart load of the coal that was piled on the ark that passed through Bethlehem in 1814. They wanted to investigate its usefulness for heating the furnace at their mill, the Fairmount Nail and Wire Works, at the Falls of the Schuylkill (northwest of Philadelphia). They experimented with lighting the coal for several hours but soon gave up. They shut the furnace door and left the mill, greatly discouraged. One of the mill workers realized that he had left his jacket. He returned to the mill thirty minutes later to find the furnace to be red hot. The closed furnace door increased the flow of oxygen and facilitated the combustion. White and Hazard saw the great potential of anthracite. Their involvement in the anthracite mining industry solved many of the problems encountered by the Lehigh Coal Mine Company.

Bird Day

Charles A. Babcock, the Superintendent of Schools in Oil City, PA, had noticed that his students were keenly interested in the study of birds. He thought it would be useful to devote an entire day to presentations, discussions, and nature trips centered on Pennsylvania birds. Babcock wrote to a number of bird enthusiasts to ask their opinion of instituting an annual "Bird Day" in the schools. He received exceedingly positive responses to the idea from such notable people as the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture J. Sterling Morton, known as the father of "Arbor Day," ornithologist Olive Thorne Miller and writer John Burroughs.
On May 4, 1894, the school children of Oil City celebrated the first Bird Day. The students spent the day discussing birds in literature and visiting bird habitats. The day was such a success that Bird Day became an annual event, in Oil City.
Oil City’s curriculum called for more than the scientific study of birds. The educators sought to impart the immorality of harming birds. In 1894, J. Sterling Morton summed up this sentiment in his letter to Babcock, “We should strive continually to develop and intensify the sentiment of bird protection, not alone for the sake of preserving the birds, but also for the sake of replacing as far as possible the barbaric impulses inherent in child nature by the nobler impulses and aspirations that should characterize advanced civilization.”
Word spread quickly about Bird Day. Newspapers and magazines praised the goals of Bird Day. The American Ornithologist Union made a plea for a national Bird Day at their annual meeting in 1897. Educational journals promoted books and other material for a Bird Day curriculum. One popular book was written by Ida S. Elson, Birdies; what they do (1900.) Her 104 page, cloth book is included in a collection of literature that reflects the Bird Day movement in the Library of Congress. Before Ida married Henry W. Elson, a history professor at Thiel College, she ran a kindergarten school, out of her Market St. home, in Bethlehem. Ida S. (maiden name McMullen) was fondly remembered by her students, such as well-known writers Hilda Doolittle, Laura and William Rose Benet.
A typical Bird Day program would involve students installing bird houses, singing songs “Peep Said the Little Bird”, reading stories such as Abbott’s The birds about us and reciting Longfellow’s poem “The Birds of Killingworth.” Charles A. Babcock wrote his book Bird Day; How to prepare for it (1901) to instruct educators on all aspects of Bird Day. He included the history of the movement along with specific program suggestions. He warned that the numbers of songbirds were declining. He stated, “It is currently reported that a million bobolinks were destroyed in Pennsylvania alone last year to satisfy the demand of the milliners.”
It was a popular trend in Victorian times for women to wear dead songbirds or their feathers on elaborate hats. The fashion was started by Marie Antoinette and spread throughout Europe and the United States. These feathered hats eventually inspired the first U.S. grass roots conservation campaign. Audubon Societies were formed across America to advocate bird protection from the bird and feather trade. Finally in 1900, the U.S. Congress passed the Lacey Act. This was the first federal legislation to address conservation and it effectively stopped the interstate shipment of wild birds killed in violation of state laws.
By 1910, Bird Day became a fixture in the schools across the United States. Twenty-five state legislatures went so far as to establish Bird Day as an official day of commemoration. Two of Pennsylvania’s Governors, Gifford Pinchot, in 1923, and Arthur H. James, in 1940, made official proclamations about the importance of Bird Day.
It was widely celebrated in conjunction with Arbor Day. Arbor Day is a day dedicated to tree planting and increasing awareness of the importance of trees. In Pennsylvania, National Arbor Day is still celebrated each year on the last Friday in April. Both events focused upon conservation awareness.
The Nature Conservancy, incorporated in 1951 and the Ecology movement, begun in the 1960’s (inspired by Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring), shifted conservation efforts toward other goals. Earth Day, started in 1970, promotes environmental citizenship which encompasses the objectives of Bird Day and Arbor Day.

Brief History of the Lehigh Valley

The Lenni Lenape (Delaware) tribes hunted, fished, and quarried jasper in the area that became the Lehigh Valley. Europeans first arrived in the area in the early 1700s to trade with the Indians. By 1730, German settlers were drawn to settle the Lehigh Valley after reading favorable descriptions of the land in advertisements promoted by William Penn. In 1737, Penn’s sons expanded their land holdings to include most of the Lehigh Valley through their swindle of the Lenni Lenape called the “Walking Purchase.” The Lenni Lenape retaliated with occasional raids in the 1750s and early 1760s upon the European settlers. However by the mid-1760s, the Lenni Lenape moved out of the area, allowing Europeans to settle it.
The Lehigh Valley was considered part of Bucks County, established in 1682 then became Northampton County in 1752. In 1812, Lehigh County was divided off from Northampton County. The first European settlers were families that moved from the more populated areas around Philadelphia to the valuable farmland further north.
There was no organization to the immigration of thousands of German settlers in the Lehigh Valley in the 1800s. Most of these settlers came to farm and each member of the farming family needed to learn a variety of skills. Their survival depended on it.