This article is a part of a series from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s excellent field guide on the architectural styles found in Pennsylvania.  In it, they’ve assigned key periods of development – from the Colonial period in the 18th Century to the Modern Movements of the 29th Century.  This article focuses on an overview of the Traditional/Vernacular style in Pennsylvania from 1638 through 1950

PA Architecture Meetinghouses 1700 – 1860

Identifiable Features

1.  1 or 2 story height
2.  Two individual entrance doors on front facade
3.  Austere interior furnishings
4.  Side gable roof
5.  Gabled hoods or transom over front door


The simply designed meetinghouse form is most often associated with the Quaker faith, but is also common to other religious sects, especially the Mennonites.  Other early religious sects built meetinghouse style churches in Pennsylvania as well, including the Moravians, German Baptists, the German or Dutch Reformed, and the Brethren in Christ.   In the early settlement period churches often shared a building for worship, so a meetinghouse may have been built to meet several sects’ needs.   Basically, meetinghouses are physical manifestations of faith.  Thus, religious sects that emphasized simplicity, piety, equality, and a focus on the spiritual, not material world chose the meetinghouse form of church as an expression of their religious values.  Interestingly, the Amish, a sect with many of these values, do not build churches or meetinghouses; rather they worship in homes or barns.

Quaker meetinghouses are among the earliest religious buildings in our state, since Pennsylvania was founded by Quaker William Penn as a colony committed to religious tolerance.   The simple style of the Quaker meetinghouse was derived from late 17th century English patterns and then adapted for use in the colonies.   The Quakers, like the Puritans of that era, desired simply styled churches with little ornamentation.  The building form chosen by the Quakers in Pennsylvania usually had separate entrances for men and women and separate seating areas as well.  Usually one or two stories in height, this Quaker meeting house form has a side gabled roof and often small gabled door hoods.  As a vernacular building type, designed without an architect or a desire to follow current fashionable styles, the meetinghouse form remains relatively unaltered over time.  However, there is some variation in the design of meetinghouses, due to the preferences of religious sects, regional preferences, or the era of construction. Built of stone, brick, log or clapboard, the meetinghouses are representative of building practices in their region.  Interior detail is usually very minimal with pews or benches for seating, but no altar, decorative stained windows, or bell tower.  Some meetinghouses have a front facing gable, but retain the side by side entry doors as does the New Providence Mennonite Church in New Providence, Lancaster County.    A Historic American Building Survey study of meetinghouses in southeastern Pennsylvania was undertaken in 1997 and produced photos and measured drawings of these buildings dating from 1695 to 1903.  This HABS data is available at

PA Architecture Traditional 1700 – 1870

This article is a part of a series from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s excellent field guide on the architectural styles found in Pennsylvania.  In it, they’ve assigned key periods of development – from the Colonial period in the 18th Century to the Modern Movements of the 29th Century.  This article focuses on an overview of the Traditional/Vernacular style in Pennsylvania from 1638 through 1950

Identifiable Features

1.  Steeply pitched gable roofs
2.  Stone, brick, log or frame construction
3.  Double  doors, four over four front facade
4.  Dual gable end chimneys
5.  Usually two and a half stories
6.  Summer kitchen located just behind main house

PA Architecture Traditional buildings reflect the strong cultural ties of the state’s early settlers form the German (Deutsch) speaking areas of central Europe.  These Deutsch speakers, came to be described as the “Pennsylvania Dutch” —a rather misleading name based on the mispronunciation of “Deutsch” as “Dutch.”  This Germanic influence is most apparent in the southeast section of the state where German settlement began in the early 1700s.  While the German settlement later extended throughout the state, this southeastern area retains the earliest and the highest concentration of the early Pennsylvania German Traditional buildings.

Traditional_Vernacular - 2013-09-18_17.46.03

Buildings in this category take several easily recognized forms.  The earliest PA German Traditional buildings were of log or stone construction and of distinctly medieval form with steep roofs, thick walls and small, irregularly spaced windows.  These small early houses had floor plans which  followed traditional layouts—some very simple one-room buildings, but more frequently a 2 or 3 room layout with a central chimney and corner “winder stair” leading up to a loft or second floor.  The 3 room format called for a large kitchen or  “kuche” on one side of the center chimney and two smaller rooms including a  parlor or “stube,” and a bedroom or “kammer”  on the other.  This three room Germanic folk house is sometimes  referred to as a “Continental Plan” by architectural historians. The two room format known as  the “Hall and Parlor Plan” had only a kitchen (hall)  and a parlor with a central chimney wall in between.

In the vernacular tradition some early stone houses were built over a spring to provide running water and a cool area for food storage in the basement.   Some houses were also built into a bank or hillside, partially underground for similar cold storage reasons, as well as cost and material efficiency.  This bank style of construction is attributed to medieval Swiss tradition, so buildings opf this type are  sometimes called “Swiss style.”  Many banked houses were later expanded to become 2 or 3 stories with the ground floor  then used only as a kitchen or for  storage.Some early houses on the expanding frontier of Pennsylvania were constructed as fortified houses with extra thick walls  and small windows to withstand Indian attack.  Fort Zeller built in 1745 near Newmanstown, Lebanon County was not actually a fort but such a fortified  (thick walled) house built in this manner.

Another traditional early house form was the combination house and barn where both shared a common roof.  Few examples remain, since it was a more of a short term pioneering practice than a desired housing type.  Certainly, for early settlers faced with the need to provide prompt shelter for both the family and livestock such a solution would have been expedient.  As family fortunes improved, additional buildings were constructed to separate the farm animals from the family.

The buildings of the Ephrata Cloister in Lancaster County are unique surviving examples of medieval German building practices. The Cloister was begun in 1732 as a religious community for mystical German Pietists led by Conral Beissel and drawn to Pennsylvania for its religious tolerance.  Ephrata Cloister has one of the best preserved collections of 18th century German vernacular domestic and religous buildings.  At its peak in 1750 the Cloister complex included a chapel, mens and womens dormitories, a variety of mills, a bake house, a pottery, cabins, barns and stables. The  celibate community declined after the Revolution and became part of the 7th Day German Baptist Church in 1814.  Much of the complex remaineds today and is operated as a historic site by the PHMC.  Significant buildings include the 1740 chapel called the Saal, a half-timbered, 5-story, clapboard building with shake shingles and small attached stone kitchen and the 1742 sisters house known as the Saron, a steep-roofed, 4-story, log house covered with clapboards containing floors of narrow sleeping cells.  The small, unevenly placed, casement windows, steep gable roofs, shed dormers, plain white plastered interior, winding stairs,  and center chimneys are all indicative of medieval German building traditions.

Some 18th and early 19th German Traditional houses incorporated the customary German floor plan into a more formally designed exterior, adopting some of the elements of the contermporary Georgian style.  These German influenced houses usually had four bays, rather than the usual five of the Georgian style and lacked the Georgian  center hall as well.  The Cooke House in York County  and the Christian Stauffer House of Lancaster County are good  examples of this blend of Germanic form with Georgian proportions.  One of the most interesting and intriguing types of PA German Traditional houses is the Four over Four or  Pennsylvania German Two Door Farmhouse.  These houses are easily identified by their two front doors, placed side by side in the center of the house with a window flanking each and four windows on the second floor.  Houses of this type usually date from the mid-1800s and are often built of brick or frame. The Green House in York County is a good example of this form. One front door opens directly into the family sitting room, and the other into the more formal parlor.  This housing form does not exist in central Europe, and is prevalent only in Pennsylvania and its borders, so it appears to be a style developed here.  Much debate of the significance of the double front doors has produced some general consensus that it represents the adaptation of traditional German form to the formal symmetry of the popular Georgian and Federal styles.  For some architectural historians the twin front doors represent the development of a more utilitarian floorplan with the elimination of the Georgian/Federal style central hall, while presenting a more formal and symmetrical exterior appearance than the earlier medieval German buildings.  These distinctive houses can be seen especially in the southeastern and south central portion of the state, often with a detached one room “summer kitchen” just off the rear elevation.  The summer kitchen kept the heat from cooking or washing clothes from the main house during hot weather.

Godey's Lady's BookGodey’s Lady’s Book was a United States magazine published in Philadelphia from 1830-1878.  At the height of its popularity in the 1860’s, Godey’s referred to itself as the “Queen of Monthlies”.

Marketed specifically to women, each issue contained poetry, articles, recipes, sheet music for the piano, dress patterns, illustrated fashion styles, and other engravings.  At $3 per year, a subscription to Godey’s was expensive.  Despite this, Godey’s was the most popular journal of its time.

The magazine is best known for the hand-tinted fashion plate that appeared at the start of each issue, which provide a record of the progression of women’s dress. Publisher Louis Godey boasted that in 1859, it cost $105,200 to produce the Lady’s Book, with the coloring of the fashion-plates costing $8,000.

Although it was a “Lady’s Book”, it was not a particularly feminist publication. There were special issues that included only work done by women, and beginning in 1852 a regular “Employment for Women” section made its debut – but in general, Godey disliked political or controversial topics in his magazine and stayed away from any potential conflict.

So much so that when the Civil War split the nation in half, Godey explicitly forbade the magazine from taking any position on the issue of slavery and so the issues of Godey’s Lady Book published in the runup to the Civil War and even during the Civil war make absolutely no acknowledgement of the Civil War at all.

In 1845 Godey’s Lady Book became the first copyrighted publication in America. Louis Godey was widely criticized for this move, with other editors accusing him of taking a “narrowly selfish course”.

Preservation Pennsylvania has released their “Pennsylvania At-Risk: Twenty-Year Retrospective of Pennsylvania’s Endangered Historic Properties, Where Are They Now” edition. It’s a fascinating look at preservation in action and we’ll be posting a look at each property in a series of posts over the next several months.

Preservation Pennsylvania established the annual Pennsylvania At Risk list in 1992, making us the first statewide preservation organization in the United States to have an annual roster of endangered historic properties. Since 1992, we have listed and worked to preserve more than 200 endangered historic resources, including individual buildings, historic districts and thematic resources statewide. For 2012, as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of our organization, we are presenting a 20-year retrospective edition of Pennsylvania At Risk. In this issue, we revisit some of the amazing historic places across the Commonwealth, some of which have been rescued from extinction through preservation and rehabilitation efforts, and others that still need our help.

Approximately 18% of Pennsylvania’s At Risk properties have been lost, having been demolished or substantially altered. Another 32% have been saved or are in a condition or situation where the identified threat no longer poses a problem for the historic property. Approximately 50% of the 201 At Risk resources remain in danger, or we have not been able to confirm their current status as either saved or lost.

By monitoring these properties over the past 20 years and working with individuals and organizations trying to preserve them, we have learned many valuable lessons. Those lessons are called out throughout this publication.


2001 — Lazaretto, Delaware County

Camp Security, York County

The Lazaretto was built by the City of Philadelphia’s Board of Health between 1799 and 1801 as a quarantine station for ships heading toward the port of Philadelphia in order to protect its citizens from the effects of infectious diseases. Reflecting 18th century public health policy, the Lazaretto is the oldest extant quarantine structure in the United States. The property operated as a medical facility until 1895. Because of its prime waterfront location and proximity to Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Athletic Club began to operate the former Lazaretto as an elite pleasure ground known as the Orchard Club in the mid-1890s. Despite their heyday in the 1890s and first decade of the 1900s, the Orchard Club left the facility in 1910. In 1913, a flight school was opened on the property, and in 1915, it became a base for seaplanes. In 1916, operations were taken over by the Army Signal Corps for use as a training facility, with the Lazaretto’s main building as their headquarters and barracks through World War I. The facility’s use as a flight school and seaplane base continued into the 1990s.  After nearly 10 years on the market, the Lazaretto was sold in 2000. The new owners proposed demolition of the Lazaretto’s historic buildings to accommodate modern development in the form of parking or commercial development. As a result, Lazaretto Quarantine Station was documented by the Historic American Buildings Survey’s Endangered Buildings Program in 2000 (an addendum to the 1936 documentation), and was listed in Pennsylvania At Risk in 2001. Tinicum Township officials were concerned about the potential loss of this historic building, and acquired the property in order to preserve it, but the historic building was still in danger. Preservation partners at the Preservation

Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, Preservation Pennsylvania and the National Trust for Historic Preservation came together, determined to find a way to preserve this important historic place. The group worked with the Township to negotiate an agreement that permitted construction of a new firehouse on part of the grounds, while preserving the historic Lazaretto building and its connection with the river. On behalf of the project partners, Preservation Pennsylvania recently received a grant from the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission that will fund the exploration of rehabilitation alternatives, including use of the building as the Township’s offices. Although this project still faces many challenges, it is a good example of partnerships in action and the good things that can be accomplished when people work together toward a common goal.

2002 — The Boyd Theatre, Philadelphia

The Boyd Theatre


The Boyd Theatre is Philadelphia’s sole surviving movie palace from Hollywood’s Golden Era.  Opened in 1928, the Boyd reflects a period when theatres were characterized by enormous auditoriums with luxurious ornamentation, and services such as doormen and ushers. The interior of the Art Deco theatre is grand, with a huge two-story stained glass window, murals, and other ornamentation celebrating the progress of women throughout history. The theatre closed in 2002, already considered by many to be an eyesore. The Boyd has now been vacant for a decade, and its condition continues to deteriorate. A contentious battle raged over historic designation of the theatre by the Philadelphia Historical Commission, but there were no local protections for this theatre. As a result, a demolition permit was issued in 2002. The local outcry was tremendous: area residents called for its preservation in rallies, petitions and editorials. They also formed the Committee to Save the Sameric/Boyd, which came to be known as Friends of the Boyd, Inc.

With plans to spend $31 million to restore the Boyd as a live performing arts venue, Clear Channel, Inc. purchased the Boyd Theatre in 2005. However, Clear Channel soon reorganized, and the Boyd was transferred to Live Nation. Restoration plans were halted

in 2006, and the Boyd was again placed on the market. In 2008, the Boyd Theatre was recognized as endangered by the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia and included in the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. Later that year, the theatre was listed in the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. In September 2008, a local development firm entered into an agreement to buy the theatre and restore it. Unfortunately, the developer died before the deal was finalized. Today, the theatre still stands unused.  The Friends of the Boyd uses donations to pay for advocacy expenses and a security guard outside of the theatre at night to protect it from vandalism until a new owner can be found. They continue to meet with potential developers in the hope of finding one interested in acquiring the property and restoring it for use as a theatre. With limited public funds available, it is clear that the help of a philanthropist or corporate supporter will be critical to the success of the effort


We’ve been talking a lot about the recently released Preservation Primer, Volume 1: Avoid Common Mistakes that Cause Irreversible & Costly Damage to Your Historical Building’s Architectural Integrity and thought you might want to know more about the father/daughter preservation team that authored the book – our very own Chuck and Danielle.


Get to know Chuck Groshong

historic restorationBorn in Oregon in a year we won’t mention, Chuck had a very “All American” small-town childhood.  The oldest of 11 children (no, that isn’t a typo) he says he was a very innocent, shy, and sensitive boy who was very much into playing sports – wrestling and football in particular.

After high school he joined the Marine Corps to take advantage of a free college education.  While in the Marine Corps, he served in Vietnam from 1970-1971 – an experience he says drastically changed him.  “It was very different from the world I knew in my childhood.  In Vietnam I learned more truth about our government, racism, the Civil Rights movement, politics, patriotism, and the world at large than I ever did in school.”

Do “shy and sensitive”, “into sports”, “innocent”, and “joined the Marine Corps and served in Vietnam” strike you as an odd combination?  That’s our Chuck – an unusual, unexpected, and unique combination of the seemingly incompatible.

But Chuck and his quirks are no accident.  During his time in Vietnam, Chuck remembers consciously deciding he wasn’t going to live his life by the values and standards of the culture he was raised in.  “I realized that I didn’t have to approach life through the lens of stereotypes and generalizations.  So I decided that I would choose a path of specificity – judge people, places, situations individually and based on their own unique circumstances. “

Chuck began that new path for himself by heading off to college after being honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in 1971.  There he spent a few years studying “pretty much a little bit of everything” – liberal arts, art appreciation, quadratic equations, world geography, sociology, composition, history to name a few.  He even did well with debating – something he enjoyed just for the sake of debating.

“I was still pretty screwed up and unstable, which is probably why I didn’t settle down into anything specific.”

(We suspect there was more to it than that.  The Chuck we know and love is a curious guy who likes to learn about a lot of different things, and it’s a trait that those who know Chuck say has always been what has made Chuck the person he is.)

That settling down bit took Chuck awhile to master.  As a young man, Chuck says he was “pretty cocky and an out-of-control rebel – but not to change the world, I just didn’t want to be like the world.”  But Lois, lots of practice, and then his daughter Danielle worked their magic and somewhere in his 30’s Chuck says he finally managed to settle down.

historic restoration“Now I’m at peace with myself and there aren’t too many things in life that scare me.  I am completely settled and have carved out the life I want for myself.  I never aspired to be rich or “move up in the world” or any of the other typical aspirations of mainstream America.  My aspirations were of a higher level – creation of beauty, taking care of the people I love, being challenged on different levels, and to continue the evolution of myself.”

And one of those things about himself that he continues to evolve are his mad grilling and cooking skills.  (Take it from someone who has been lucky enough to dine on some fare grilled up by Chuck – the man can grill!)

“I think carpenters are excellent cooks because they like to build things and approach that building from the perspective of analyzing how all the individual pieces to need to be put together to get the finished product they envision.”

Sage insight from our resident sage.

Chuck likes to fish too and one of his fondest fishing memories is the time he caught a 50-pound Lingcod.  “You just don’t find them that big anymore, they’re no more than a few pounds each.”

He prefers to fish the lakes of Colorado and doesn’t fish just any fish.   “Some fish that fisherman like to target these days are historic and over a hundred years old.  Why would you disturb fish like that?”

Yet another sage point to ponder – one of the many that Chuck offers up.  Spend just a day in his presence and he’ll offer you no less than two or three thought-provoking points to mull over – a gift that results from his contemplative approach to life.

As for the rebel Chuck…”Well, I do still like to debate and I can do a number on somebody’s head sometimes – though it’s no longer just for the sake of arguing but is more persuasive debate based on my values and beliefs.”

Now, heading into the “grand finale” of life he focuses his attention on building the business he started and values staying active in something he believes so strongly in – historic preservation.  “You know… I’m not quite ready to leave yet.  I’m still looking forward to what life has to teach me.”


Meet Danielle Groshong-Keperling

historic restorationBorn a natural tomboy in Denver, Colorado, Danielle’s early life was spent following in her Father’s footsteps – figuratively and literally.  Danielle recalls a photo of her at age two where she is wearing her Dad’s work boots and carrying his lunch box, fully prepared to go to work. “I wonder if that picture was a harbinger of things to come,” she says both with a laugh, and in all seriousness.

(And those of us who know Danielle don’t doubt for a second that even at age two, she really would have accompanied him right into work, fully prepared to pitch right in and get to work!)

“By the time I was in Middle School, I would help him clean the shop on weekends to spend time with him, sometimes I would even make wooden plugs,” says Danielle.

Danielle may have inherited a penchant for all things shop-related and a work ethic from her Dad, but she was born with an innate thirst for knowledge.  (Winnie the Pooh once asked Danielle, “Did you ever stop to think, and forget to start again?”  Danielle patted his head and offered him more honey.)

At the age of 11, Danielle migrated to Lancaster County, PA with her parents, where she began her long and lustrous career of educating herself.  She attended private Catholic grade schools and graduated from Lancaster Catholic High School.  After which she studied Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management at HACC and then completed her Organizational Leadership degree in 2009 at Eastern University.  In late 2011 she graduated with a Masters in Business Administration from Eastern University as well.

While she very much values her formal education, Danielle notes, “Real life eamples and experience have always been the ‘best’ teacher for me, which is one reason I did not feel as comfortable in a traditional college setting.  After all, my first ‘college’ experience was people that brought their real life experience to the ‘class room’.”

And believe it or not, she uses both her Culinary Arts education and her business education to this day.  As Chief Operating Officer at Historic Restorations and as a pastry chef at Byers Butterflake Bakery in Leola.

“I wanted to be a social worker until my senior year of high school when I had the revelation that I could not, in fact, save the world (or even, failing my saving of the world, just bring all the unwanted children home with me).  One day I was home from school sick with wisdom teeth, saw a commercial for a pastry arts program and decided that is what I wanted to do,” Danielle says.

Chief Operating Officer by “day”….  Wedding Cake Decorator by “night”….

And she could rivet too. 

That is indeed our Danielle.  Not having any interest in being anyone but herself, Danielle is funny, creative, decisive, determined, quirky, educated, and sharp.  So smart, we’re pretty sure we’ve seen tacks bow to her as she passes by them in the office.

In her spare time, when she’s not intimidating the office supplies, Danielle can be found reading, watching MSNBC or reality TV, helping friends, working in the community, or working on her master plan for world domination as she belts out her theme song – The Gambler by Kenny Rogers.

Danielle at Mercer MuseumDanielle pulls from all these strengths, her work history, and her education in her daily management of Historic Restorations’ operations, working hard towards good stewardship of our collective built history – the most rewarding part of what Historic Restorations does for Danielle.  ”My favorite quote points out that we are only on this planet for a short period of time, how we care for and preserve our history is a legacy for for future generations,” she says.

“Like people, houses are created, live, and grow old.  Like us, they eventually disappear.  Houses that survive to be studies, explored, and admired by distant generations should be regarded as emissaries from another time, as gateways into our past.”

 By Jack Larkin in WHERE WE LIVED: Discovering the Places We Once Called Home, The American Home from 1775 to 1840

But it’s only one of the legacies Danielle is working on leaving behind.  As a strong woman in a male-dominated field, she faces daily challenges in her career.  She says that while she does believe things are changing for women in construction, they still have to work a little bit harder and know their “stuff” a little bit better to get respect.  ”I don’t know how many men get winked at during a project meeting for knowing the right answer…. but I bet it’s not as many as me,” she says with a laugh.

She advocates for women in business to be supportive of other women in business by sharing stories and providing information, helpful resources, guidance, and support.  ”I’ve enjoyed reading books about women that have overcome obstacles and paved the way for my generation.  Including Personal History by Katherine Graham (the first woman to lead a Fortune 500 company after her father died), and If You Don’t Have Big Breasts, Put Ribbons on Your Pigtails: And Other Lessons I Learned from My Mom by Barbara Corcoran (who built her real estate empire with a $1,000 loan),” she notes.

So what does the future hold for Danielle?

“Babies, more puppies, penguins, teaching on the college level, a pygmy hippo, who knows?  I am waiting for my crystal ball to arrive – it has been back ordered for awhile now.”


Earlier this year we promised to provide you with regular posts on primary resources for the Civil War in honor of the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Civil War.  But life happens, and we’ve had an awful lot of “life” happening here in the office lately, so we haven’t been very regular.  We’re hoping to get more regular with these posts again now, but we’re not going to promise this time! Maybe we can offer you a “we’ll try as hard as we can”?

For this post, we’re taking a look at the battle of Fort Sumter through the eyes of Mary Boykin Miller – to whom we owe a tremendous debt for providing us for such rich insight into the Civil War at a time when recording history-in-the-making for posterity was difficult to do.  Literary critics have called Chesnut’s diary “a work of art” and the most important work by a Confederate author.

Who was Mary Boykin Miller?

mary boykin miller, civil war, civil war 150th anniversary, civil war diaries, civil war primary resources, civil war sesquicentennial, fort sumter, mary chesnut, women's historyMary Boykin Miller was born March 31, 1823 in the High Hills of Santee, South Carolina.  At the age of 17 she married James Chesnut, a prominent lawyer and politician who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1858, and went on to serve the Confederacy as an aide to Jefferson Davis and as a brigadier general.  The Chesnuts moved in the very highest circles of Southern society.

Mary was a South Carolina author noted for a book published as her Civil War diary, a “vivid picture of a society in the throes of its life-and-death struggle.” She described the war from within her upper-class circles of Southern planter society, but encompassed all classes in her book.

Chesnut worked toward a final form of her book in 1881-1884, based on her extensive diary written during the war years. It was published after her death in 1905.  C. Vann Woodward  annotated edition of the diary, Mary Chesnut’s Civil War (1981), won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1982.

The following is an excerpt from Mary’s diary entries while she was at the First Battle at Fort Sumter from April 11th, 1861 to April 13th, 1861.

April 12th.  Anderson will not capitulate. Yesterday’s was the merriest, maddest dinner we have had yet. Men were audaciously wise and witty. We had an unspoken foreboding that it was to be our last pleasant meeting. Mr. Miles dined with us to-day. Mrs. Henry King rushed in saying, “The news, I come for the latest news. All the men of the King family are on the Island,” of which fact she seemed proud.

While she was here our peace negotiator, or envoy, came in – that is, Mr. Chesnut returned. His interview with Colonel Anderson had been deeply interesting, but Mr. Chesnut was not inclined to be communicative. He wanted his dinner. He felt for Anderson and had telegraphed to President Davis for instructions – what answer to give Anderson, etc. He has now gone back to Fort Sumter with additional instructions. When they were about to leave the wharf A. H. Boykin sprang into the boat in great excitement. He thought himself ill-used, with a likelihood of fighting and he to be left behind!

I do not pretend to go to sleep. How can I? If Anderson does not accept terms at four, the orders are, he shall be fired upon. I count four, St. Michael’s bells chime out and I begin to hope. At half-past four the heavy booming of a cannon. I sprang out of bed, and on my knees prostrate I prayed as I never prayed before.

There was a sound of stir all over the house, pattering of feet in the corridors. All seemed hurrying one way. I put on my double-gown and a shawl and went, too. It was to the housetop. The shells were bursting. In the dark I heard a man say, “Waste of ammunition.” I knew my husband was rowing about in a boat somewhere in that dark bay, and that the shells were roofing it over, bursting toward the fort. If Anderson was obstinate, Colonel Chesnut was to order the fort on one side to open fire. Certainly fire had begun. The regular roar of the cannon, there it was. And who could tell what each volley accomplished of death and destruction?

The women were wild there on the housetop. Prayers came from the women and imprecations from the men. And then a shell would light up the scene. To-night they say the forces are to attempt to land. We watched up there, and everybody wondered that Fort Sumter did not fire a shot.

To-day Miles and Manning, colonels now, aides to Beauregard, dined with us. The latter hoped I would keep the peace. I gave him only good words, for he was to be under fire all day and night, down in the bay carrying orders, etc.

Last night, or this morning truly, up on the housetop I was so weak and weary I sat down on something that looked like a black stool. “Get up, you foolish woman. Your dress is on fire,” cried a man. And he put me out. I was on a chimney and the sparks had caught my clothes. Susan Preston and Mr. Venable then came up. But my fire had been extinguished before it burst out into a regular blaze.

Do you know, after all that noise and our tears and prayers, nobody has been hurt; sound and fury signifying nothing – a delusion and a snare.

Louisa Hamilton came here now. This is a sort of news center. Jack Hamilton, her handsome young husband, has all the credit of a famous battery, which is made of railroad iron. Mr. Petigru calls it the boomerang, because it throws the balls back the way they came; so Lou Hamilton tells us. During her first marriage, she had no children; hence the value of this lately achieved baby. To divert Louisa from the glories of “the Battery,” of which she raves, we asked if the baby could talk yet. “No, not exactly, but he imitates the big gun when he hears that. He claps his hands and cries ‘Boom, boom.’ ” Her mind is distinctly occupied by three things: Lieutenant Hamilton, whom she calls “Randolph,” the baby, and the big gun, and it refuses to hold more.

Pryor, of Virginia, spoke from the piazza of the Charleston hotel. I asked what he said. An irreverent woman replied: “Oh, they all say the same thing, but he made great play with that long hair of his, which he is always tossing aside!”

Somebody came in just now and reported Colonel Chesnut asleep on the sofa in General Beauregard’s room. After two such nights he must be so tired as to be able to sleep anywhere.

Just bade farewell to Langdon Cheves. He is forced to go home and leave this interesting place. Says he feels like the man that was not killed at Thermopylae. I think he said that unfortunate had to hang himself when he got home for very shame. Maybe he fell on his sword, which was the strictly classic way of ending matters.

I do not wonder at Louisa Hamilton’s baby; we hear nothing, can listen to nothing; boom, boom goes the cannon all the time. The nervous strain is awful, alone in this darkened room. “Richmond and Washington ablaze,” say the papers – blazing with excitement. Why not? To us these last days’ events seem frightfully great. We were all women on that iron balcony. Men are only seen at a distance now. Stark Means, marching under the piazza at the head of his regiment, held his cap in his hand all the time he was in sight. Mrs. Means was leaning over and looking with tearful eyes, when an unknown creature asked, “Why did he take his hat off?” Mrs. Means stood straight up and said: “He did that in honor of his mother; he saw me.” She is a proud mother, and at the same time most unhappy. Her lovely daughter Emma is dying in there, before her eyes, of consumption. At that moment I am sure Mrs. Means had a spasm of the heart; at least, she looked as I feel sometimes. She took my arm and we came in.

April 13th.  Nobody has been hurt after all. How gay we were last night. Reaction after the dread of all the slaughter we thought those dreadful cannon were making. Not even a battery the worse for wear. Fort Sumter has been on fire. Anderson has not yet silenced any of our guns. So the aides, still with swords and red sashes by way of uniform, tell us. But the sound of those guns makes regular meals impossible. None of us go to table. Tea-trays pervade the corridors going everywhere. Some of the anxious hearts lie on their beds and moan in solitary misery. Mrs. Wigfall and I solace ourselves with tea in my room. These women have all a satisfying faith. “God is on our side,” they say. When we are shut in Mrs. Wigfall and I ask “Why?” “Of course, He hates the Yankees, we are told. You’ll think that well of Him.”

Not by one word or look can we detect any change in the demeanor of these negro servants. Lawrence sits at our door, sleepy and respectful, and profoundly indifferent. So are they all, but they carry it too far. You could not tell that they even heard the awful roar going on in the bay, though it has been dinning in their ears night and day. People talk before them as if they were chairs and tables. They make no sign. Are they stolidly stupid? or wiser than we are; silent and strong, biding their time?

So tea and toast came; also came Colonel Manning, red sash and sword, to announce that he had been under fire, and didn’t mind it. He said gaily: “It is one of those things a fellow never knows how he will come out until he has been tried. Now I know I am a worthy descendant of my old Irish hero of an ancestor, who held the British officer before him as a shield in the Revolution, and backed out of danger gracefully.” We talked of St. Valentine’s eve, or the maid of Perth, and the drop of the white doe’s blood that sometimes spoiled all.

The war-steamers are still there, outside the bar. And there are people who thought the Charleston bar “no good” to Charleston. The bar is the silent partner, or sleeping partner, and in this fray it is doing us yeoman service.

April 15th.  I did not know that one could live such days of excitement. Some one called: “Come out! There is a crowd coming.” A mob it was, indeed, but it was headed by Colonels Chesnut and Manning. The crowd was shouting and showing these two as messengers of good news. They were escorted to Beauregard’s headquarters. Fort Sumter had surrendered! Those upon the housetops shouted to us “The fort is on fire.” That had been the story once or twice before.

When we had calmed down, Colonel Chesnut, who had taken it all quietly enough, if anything more unruffled than usual in his serenity, told us how the surrender came about. Wigfall was with them on Morris Island when they saw the fire in the fort; he jumped in a little boat, and with his handkerchief as a white flag, rowed over. Wigfall went in through a porthole. When Colonel Chesnut arrived shortly after, and was received at the regular entrance, Colonel Anderson told him he had need to pick his way warily, for the place was all mined. As far as I can make out the fort surrendered to Wigfall. But it is all confusion. Our flag is flying there. Fire-engines have been sent for to put out the fire. Everybody tells you half of something and then rushes off to tell something else or to hear the last news.

In the afternoon, Mrs. Preston, Mrs. Joe Heyward, and I drove around the Battery. We were in an open carriage.

What a changed scene – the very liveliest crowd I think I ever saw, everybody talking at once. All glasses were still turned on the grim old fort.

Russell,the correspondent of the London Times, was there. They took him everywhere. One man got out Thackeray to converse with him on equal terms. Poor Russell was awfully bored, they say. He only wanted to see the fort and to get news suitable to make up into an interesting article. Thackeray had become stale over the water.

Mrs. Frank Hampton and I went to see the camp of the Richland troops. South Carolina College had volunteered to a boy. Professor Venable (the mathematical), intends to raise a company from among them for the war, a permanent company. This is a grand frolic no more for the students, at least. Even the staid and severe of aspect, Clingman, is here. He says Virginia and North Carolina are arming to come to our rescue, for now the North will swoop down on us. Of that we may be sure. We have burned our ships. We are obliged to go on now. He calls us a poor, little, hot-blooded, headlong, rash, and troublesome sister State. General McQueen is in a rage because we are to send troops to Virginia.

Preston Hampton is in all the flush of his youth and beauty, six feet in stature; and after all only in his teens; he appeared in fine clothes and lemon-colored kid gloves to grace the scene. The camp in a fit of horse-play seized him and rubbed him in the mud. He fought manfully, but took it all naturally as a good joke.

Mrs. Frank Hampton knows already what civil war means. Her brother was in the New York Seventh Regiment, so roughly received in Baltimore. Frank will be in the opposite camp.

Good stories there may be and to spare for Russell, the man of the London Times, who has come over here to find out our weakness and our strength and to tell all the rest of the world about us.


Preservation of our local, small businesses is critical to preservation of place.  Walmart doesn’t tug at your heartstrings when you think of your hometown, the local Mom & Pop store you went to for penny-candy does.  Since it’s  National Small  Business Week this week, we’re offering a few of our “must use” small business resources in support of those awesome small businesses across the US that are helping up create and maintain our senses of place.



The US Small Business Administration – Support for Small Businesses

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation. We recognize that small business is critical to our economic recovery and strength, to building America’s future, and to helping the United States compete in today’s global marketplace. Although SBA has grown and evolved in the years since it was established in 1953, the bottom line mission remains the same. The SBA helps Americans start, build and grow businesses. Through an extensive network of field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations, SBA delivers its services to people throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U. S. Virgin Islands and Guam.

Their 2013 Resource Guide goes into detail on the programs and services they offer.


Seth Godin – Ground-breaking Marketing for Small Businesses

The entrepreneur of all entrepreneurs, Seth Godin is an American entrepreneur, author and public speaker.  Godin’s premise is three-fold:

1. Business marketers no longer have the power to command the attention of anyone they choose, whenever they choose.

2.  Consumers now have more power and marketers must show more respect; no spam, no deceit, keep promises, use “permission marketing” to provide only things that are “anticipated, personal, and relevant”.

3.  Godin believes that the only way to spread the word about something is for that something to earn the buzz by being remarkable – he refers to this as a “purple cow”.


MSNBC’s “Your Business” – Online Resources for Small Businesses

MSNBC currently runs the only tv show dedicated to small business owners – the “Your Business” segment that runs on Sunday mornings at 7:30am.  Hosted by JJ Ramberg, the show covers topics like, marketing, effective leadership, creating company culture,  crowd-funding, managing social media, dealing with bad reviews, and much to much to cover in detail here.

The Your Business website also has a discussion forum that you can join for networking and discussion with other small business members.


HUD’s Small Business Resource Guide for Pennsylvania

NOTE: If you would like to see the resource listings for another, state – visit the website and click on “Go Back to the Main State and Local List” link towards the top.

State Agencies
Small Business Resource Center
Small Business Advocate
Entrepreneur Assistance Office
Pennsylvania Economic Development Financing Authority
Small Business First Division
Women’s Business Development
Minority Business Development
Small Business First Division
Enterprise Development ProgramDepartment of Community and Economic Development
374 Forum Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120
(800) 280-3801
(717) 783-2525
(717) 783-8950
(717) 783-1108
(717) 783-5046
(717) 787-3339
(717) 787-9147
(717) 783-5046
(717) 783-8950
Small Business Administration
Harrisburg Branch Office
100 Chestnut Street
Harrisburg, PA 17101
(717) 782-3840
Fax: (717) 782-4839
Philadelphia District Office
900 Market Street, 5th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 580-2722
Fax: (215) 580-2762
Pittsburgh District Office
100 Liberty Avenue
Federal Building, Room 1128
Pittsburgh, PA 15222-4004
(412) 395-6560
Fax: (412) 395-6562
Wilkes-Barre Branch Office
20 N. Pennsylvania Avenue
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18701-3589
(717) 826-6497
Fax: (717) 826-6287
Small Business Development Centers
For Small Business Development Centers in the State of Pennsylvania, please visit the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Center Network at:
SCORE Offices
ltoona SCORE
Mr. Donald Wissinger, Chairperson
1212 12th Avenue
Altoona, PA 16601
(814) 942-9054
Central Pennsylvania SCORE
Mr. Bob Allen, Chairperson
200 Innovation Boulevard – Suite 242B
State College, PA 16803
(814) 234-9415
Mr. Larry Brown, Chairperson
120 West Ninth Street
Erie, PA 16501
(814) 871-5650
Huntingdon Satellite Office
Mr. Glen Stampfle, Chairperson
Hunt Tower – 500 Allegheny Street
Huntingdon, PA 16652
(814) 643-3126
McKeesport Satellite Office
Ms. Donna Tollner, Office Manager
301 Fifth Avenue
McKeesport, PA 15132
(412) 664-1219
Meadville Satellite Chapter
Ms. Sara Vernier, Chairperson
628 Arch Street, Box A201
Meadville, PA 16335
(814) 337-5194
Mon Valley SCORE
Mon Valley Business Development Center
Mr. Herman Meade, Chairperson
435 Donner Avenue
Monessen, PA 15062
(724) 684-4277
Pittsburgh SCORE
Mr. Walt Becker, Chairperson
Federal Building
1000 Liberty Avenue, Room 1314
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
(412) 395-6560 ext. 130
Uniontown SCORE
Mr. Dan Radman, Chairperson
140 North Beeson Avenue
Uniontown, PA 15401
(724) 437-4222
Westmoreland SCORE
Saint Vincent College
Mr. Ron McKenzie, Chairperson
Placid Hall – 2nd Floor
300 Fraser Purchase Road
Latrobe, PA 15650
(724) 539-7505
Minority Business Development Agency
MBDA District Office
600 Arch Street, Room 10128
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 861-3598
Fax: (215) 861-3595
Minority Business Development Centers
Philadelphia Minority Business Development Center
Mulberry Atrium Building
105 – 107 N. 22nd Street, 2nd Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 496-9100
Fax: (215) 496-0980
Minority/Women/Native American Development Centers
Allegheny West Civic Council, Inc.
Women’s Business Enterprise Center
Ms. Chloe Velazquez, Business Services Director
901 Western Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15233
(412) 321-5660
Fax: (412) 321-5673
[email protected]
Women’s Business Development Center
Ms. Gerri Swift, President
1315 Walnut Street, Suite 1116
Philadelphia, PA 19107-4711
(215) 790-9232
Fax: (215) 790-9231
[email protected]
Opportunities with Public Housing Authorities (PHA)
See PHA contact information at:
Opportunities with Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) recipients
See CDBG contact information at:



For 30 years folk artist Nancy Rosier of Rosier Period Art has dedicated her life to the preservation of a dying and disappearing art form from the early to mid-1800’s – theorem painting.

Theorem painting is the art of making stencils and using them to make paintings on fabric (Nancy uses an egg-shelled colored velvet cotton).  Popular during the 1800’s, theorem painting was taught to women in academics and boarding schools in Colonial New England.  The appeal of the genre lay in the fact that it allowed the non-professional artist to create a work of art that was acceptable enough to display. It derived its name from the definition of the word – “an expression of relations in an equation or a formula”, according to Webster’s New World Dictionary.

Every one of Nancy’s paintings starts the same way – with a black and white line drawing that she will turn into a stencil to use during the painting phase.  These drawings are always drawn freehand, even when she is reproducing a period painting.

When she is ready to begin painting, Nancy doesn’t use the typical brushes one would expect a painter to use.  She uses a piece of the cotton velveteen over her finger, though she does go back over the painting at the end with a detail brush to add defining outlines as needed.

But Nancy does stop there, to have total artistic control over how her paintings are presented she has learned several traditional decorative art techniques she uses to paint the handmade frames for her theorems.  (Her husband even  constructs the frames for her to use.)

In true folk art style, Nancy is self-taught – she has learned her craft through studying antique theorems and reproducing them.  She became so accomplished at the historical reproductions that she was commissioned and provided Colonial Williamsburg with thirty-three large paintings, which hang in the public and private spaces of the Williamsburg Lodge.


After spending some time mastering the reproduction of 19th-Century theorems, she began to branch out to include her own original designs.

Her work clearly speaks for itself.

Nancy has been selected each year for close to twenty years as a member of the nationally acclaimed “Directory of Traditional American Crafts” which showcases America’s finest artisans who are dedicated to preserving the early American crafts.  Her work was among the few artists asked to contribute their art to decorting the Christmas White House during the Clinton administration.



150 years ago, the young America was on the tail end of decades of political strife that would result in the utter turmoil of a Civil War.  In honor of this Sesquicentennial (the term for a 150 year anniversary for those who would have to look it up like I did), we’ll post articles throughout the year pertaining to the Civil War.

This first article is something of a difficult read.  It’s the account of Lydia Catherine Ziegler, who was 13-years-old at the time of the Battle and living at the Schmucker Hall building we recently performed restoration work on – then known as the Lutheran Theological Seminary.

Lydia Catherine (Ziegler) Clare

Lutheran Theological

Lydia Catherine Ziegler (May 5, 1850 – April 11, 1915) was born in Gettysburg, PA, and died in Abbottstown, PA.  She married Rev. Richard H. Clare on July 4, 1872. She was the daughter of Emanuel Ziegler (1824-1893), the steward of the edifice of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in 1863.

(Written about the year 1900)

My children have long been urging me to give them in a short story my experience in the Battle of Gettysburg. I was then a girl of thirteen, living on the Seminary Ridge which today is known to every child who studies the history of the Civil War.

I shall never forget the June afternoon when I stood on the Seminary steps with my parents and other persons to see a Confederate host marching in the Chambersburg Pike. It seemed as if Pandemonium had broken loose. A more ragged and unkempt set of men would be hard to find. Many wore parts of Union soldiers’ suits which, I suppose, had been picked up on the field of battle, or had been discarded by our men. A squad from the main body was sent over to the Seminary to find out whether any Yankee soldiers were concealed there. After the investigators were informed that the building was a theological school edifice, a guard, was placed around it, and we felt perfectly safe. I do not think any property was destroyed at that time, excepting a few cars containing government supplies, which were burned and also the railroad bridge, a short distance from the town. Early the following morning our unwelcome guests took their departure for the purpose, they said, of capturing Baltimore and Washington. Shortly after the enemy left our place, we were made glad by seeing regiment after regiment of our own men come and encamp around us. We gave them a royal welcome.

meade's headquarters, gettysburg

Meade’s Headquarters, Gettysburg, PA

The spring and summer of ’63 were days in which the citizens of our quiet village were much disturbed, for scarcely two consecutive weeks would pass without rumors reaching us that the enemy has crossed the Potomac and were headed in our direction. Anxiety filled every breast. Farmers would flee with their horses to a place of safety and merchants would either ship their valuable goods away or securely hide them. So day followed day, each seeming to bring fresh trouble. The enemy were close at hand.

How well do I remember the happiness it gave me to hand out the cakes and pies that our kind mother made until late at night for those boys in blue who seemed almost famished for a taste of “home victuals” as they called them. And, vividly too, do I remember that night of the 30th of June when I stood in the Seminary cupola and saw, as  in panoramic view, the camp fires of the enemy all along the Blue Mountainside, only eight miles distant, while below us we beheld our little town entirely surrounded by thousands of camp fires of the Union Army. As we stood on that height and watched the soldiers on the eve of battle, our hearts were made heavy. Many of the soldiers were engaged in letter writing, perhaps writing the last loving missives their hands would ever pen to dear ones at home. In the near distance we could see a large circle of men engage in prayer, and as the breezes came our way, we could hear the petitions which ascended to the Father in heaven for his protecting care on the morrow. However, many of the boys seemed to be utterly oblivious to the dangers threatening them, and were singing with hearty good will “The Star Spangled Banner” and many of the other patriotic songs which we loved to hear.

A Common Soldier

A Common Soldier

July the 1st dawned brightly. The sun shone in all its splendor over the wheat fields which were of a golden hue and ready for the harvest. All nature seems to be offering praise to God for His manifold blessings. The members of our household were all up bright and early, for much was to be done for the comfort of the soldiers. But a spirit of unrest seemed to prevail everywhere. About eight o’clock an ominous sound was heard – a sound that struck terror to the hearts of all who heard it – it was the call to battle.  All was excitement; company after company, regiment after regiment, fell into line, and, accompanied by music, the march began towards the front.  As we stood in the doorway watching General Reynolds and his force approach, I asked father how the soldiers would cross the high fence surrounding our garden. I did not have long to wait until my curiosity was satisfied, for the General came at rapid pace, urging his men to follow, and the fence fell as if it were made of paper as the men pressed against it with crowbars and picks.

That and a call from a signal officer on the cupola sent me speeding to the house. There I found that all the family had repaired to the cellar for safety and well they did, for in a very short time two shells struck the building. After General Reynolds was killed and our army was being driven back towards the town which is a half-mile distant, father decided that we had better stay in line with our own soldiers, so we left the building and took up our march.  My mother and the older members of the family hurriedly snatched up a couple of loaves of bread as we left the house, and It was well they did, for we had ample need of it before the day ended.    I always had a desire to see something of a battle, so here was my opportunity.  I quietly slipped from the house to the edge of the woods back of the Seminary, and was enjoying the awe-inspiring scene, when a bullet flew so near my head that I could hear the whizzing sound it made.

Our march into town was heart-sickening. Soldiers had fallen on all sides, and were wounded in every imaginable way. It seems that I can almost hear at this late day the groans and cries of the suffering men as they lay at our foot. War is, indeed. a terrible thing!  We did not remain in the town very long for we felt that the woods would be safer. The first place we got to was Culp’s Hill, but our stay there was of short duration, for the shells and bullets drove us out.  Next we went to Spangler’s Spring with no better result. Then we stopped on Wolf’s Hill. A heavy rain had come on, lasting about an hour; we were drenched to the skin, and Oh! so very tired and hungry. Mother divided the bread among us, and we children gathered wild raspberries to eat with it; and. even now, although we are all men and women, I think each one will say that that was the most palatable meal we ever ate.

We, however, found that we had not yet reached our haven of rest, for even here the shells and bullets began to fall, so our wandering began again.  Our poor, faithful old dog Sport could no longer walk, so we children took turns in carrying him, and the poor old fellow would lick our hands to show his gratitude.

About four o’clock in the afternoon we found our way out to the Baltimore Pike, near Two Taverns.  There we met General Slocum’s Corps advancing towards Gettysburg on double quick. The poor soldiers looked so jaded and tired.  Many of them had been compelled to fall out of line and we came upon them lying by the roadside, sick and hungry. The poor fellows had been marching all day without anything to eat. Such, however, is soldier’s life.

The shades of night had fallen ere we reached the home of a friend who kindly gave us shelter during the time of battle, another friend took us as far as Round Top in a wagon on our homeward journey.  From that place the distance to the town is about three miles, and we decided to walk, for the ground was thickly strewn with unexploded shells which were likely to burst if struck.  As we were starting for home, this dear friend gave us a bag containing six large loaves of bread, saying that we might find use for it, when we reached home.

Confederate Dead at Gettysburg

Confederate Dead at Gettysburg

We did not have to carry this bread very far after we left the wagon, for we found lying on the field lots of wounded men who had not had a bite to eat for three days, and they would beg us “for God’s sake” to give them some of the bread and some water to drink.  I can picture to my mind even to this day my father and mother as they stood by these wounded men, father with his pocket knife cutting off pieces of the bread which my mother would have to put into the mouths of some who were too weak even to lift the bread to their lips, or take the water which we children carried from the little streams or springs nearby in cups made by fastening leaves together.  Pen cannot describe the awful sights which met our gaze on that day.

I wish to make a correction to my statement that all was lost.  We owned two beautiful white cows which still were alive when we returned to our home.  These cows had been in the thickest of the fight for three days, yet were not hurt in any way.  I suppose it is not necessary for me to tell you that they did not suffer from want of being milked during that time – the soldiers saw to it that that task was performed.  We found the feet of out four fat hogs lying in the pen.  The dying and the dead were all around us – men and beasts.  We could count as high as twenty dead horses lying side by side.  Imagine, if you can, the stench of one dead animal lying in the hot July sun for days.  Here they were by the hundreds.  All day long we ministered to the wants of the suffering, and it was night when we reached home, or what had been home, only to find the house filled with wounded soldiers.  Oh, what a home-coming!  Everything we owned was gone – not a bed to lie on, and not a change of clothing.  Many things had been destroyed, and the rest had been converted to hospital purposes.  And I am sorry to say right here that, while our government has plenty of money to dispose of, we who suffered such great loss at Gettysburg have never received one cent.  Is there justice in this treatment?  I would like to ask those in authority.

I do not wish to dwell on this subject too long, so will say that we tried to forget self and our losses in our care of the suffering who needed our help.  It was a ghastly sight to see some of the men lying in pools of blood on the bare floor where they had been placed on the first and second days of the fight, many of them having received no care what ever.  Nurses and doctors were in demand everywhere, so were hospital supplies.  Transportation had been cut by the destruction of railroads and the burning of bridges.  Many a poor fellow died within the first ten days after the battle for want of care and nourishing food.  After the trains could run again, supplies came, and everything was carried on in a systematic manner.

The Suffering After the Battle

The Suffering After the Battle

But we could not think of sleep or rest during those trying days.  Nights and days were alike spent in trying to alleviate the suffering of the wounded and dying.  How often did I receive the dying message of a father or husband to send his loved ones whom he would never meet again on earth!  I shall ever hold in sweet memory the repeatedly uttered “God bless you, my girl!” from the poor fellows after some little act of kindness had been shown them.  So many pathetic scenes took place during those days.  I remember going into the yard, late in the afternoon, about a week after the battle, and finding there an old man supporting the head of a sweet faced old lady on his shoulder.  I walked up to this couple and asked if I could be of any assistance, for I saw the old lady looked faint and weary.

After listening to the pitiful story told us of losing four sons in the war, and knowing their last son had been in the battle of Gettysburg, and walking all of the twenty-one miles over the mountains from Chambersburg, since there was no other mode of travel for them, and carrying all this distance a satchel filled with dainties such as Charlie was fond of, we attempted to help them.  And their son Charlie was found lying in one of the rooms of the third floor of the Seminary building in a dying condition.  The cries of that mother as she bent over the body of her boy were heartbreaking.  For a short time consciousness returned to Charlie, and he knew his parents, who shortly after had at least some measure of comfort in taking his dead body home for burial.   The answer came from the trembling lips of the old gentleman: “Mother’s most tuckered out, but if we can find our boy Charlie, I guess she will be all right.”

I should like to tell you more about my varied experiences during the three months our home was used as a hospital, but my story has already become too lengthy.


At the time of the great Battle of Gettysburg, Emanuel Ziegler, the father of Lydia Catherine, was steward of the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Seminary Ridge, where he and his wife and their six children had quarters on the first floor.  Lydia Catherine, the youngest of the family, had four brothers – Jacob, John, William and Hugh, and one sister Anna.

On July 4th 1872, she was married in the Seminary Chapel to the Rev. Richard H. Clare, who had in the Spring of that year graduated from that institution, and who later, with her loving and ever-faithful co-operation, served parishes in Blain, PA, Bridgeton, New Jersey, Chambersburg, Pa., Hamilton Scotia, Pa., and Abbottstown, Pa.  Pastor Clare died on February the 14th, 1908, and Lydia Catherine on April the 11th, 1915.  They were survived by five children – the Rev. Henry E. Clare, Miss Mary R. Clare, the Rev. Robert D. Clare, the Rev. Martin L. Clare and Dr. Milo R. Clare, D.D., Stonehurst Court, C-220, Upper Darby, Pa.

The other week, Lois, Danielle, Katie, and Karri’s family took a field trip to see the ruins of the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.  A nearly 200-year-old prison that looks like an abandoned castle and held scores of the dangerous, morally bankrupt, and sometimes the completely innocent for about 150 years… does it get any spookier than that?

Take a few minutes to explore with us.  We’ll begin with some basic history of the prison and then you can “walk” around the grounds with us as we comment on what we saw and learned.  The spoooooooooooky stuff we saved until last, because we didn’t want to scare you away from all of the rest of the fantastic stuff in this post.  But if you like to be scared first, feel free to scroll on down to the end.

After you’re done with our article, there is an excellent detailed description of the daily life and operations (including some surprisingly horrendous punishments for a “more humane” approach to imprisonment) at Eastern State read “Solitary Confinement: History & Hauntings of Eastern State Penitentiary”.

Note: Click on any of the smaller pictures to see them in full size.

Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State Penitentiary

Built in 1829, the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA was the world’s first, true penitentiary.  After gaining their independence and launching a new nation, America’s founders were eager to lead the way in social development too.  At the time, prisons were nothing more than places to hold large groups of criminals, and not necessarily even humane or safe places.  Overcrowding and abuse of prisoners was common, as were unsanitary conditions and horrific physical punishments.

Inspired by Enlightenment thinking, a group of Philadelphians founded The Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons in Benjamin Franklin’s home.  The goal of the Society was to establish a ground-breaking prison system that would encourage true penitence and spiritual change in a criminal’s heart.

Designed by John Haviland, the Penitentiary turned the concept of incarceration at the time on its head and strove to rehabilitate instead of punish.  Based on the Separate System principle of isolation, the Penitentiary used solitary confinement to encourage self-reflection.  Not only were daily schedules and activities structured to encourage that self-reflection, the Penitentiary’s architecture was too.

Katie: It was interesting that the Pennsylvania System was used in most of Europe but the New York System was popular in the United States.

Note: The New York (or “Auburn”) System also strove to rehabilitate prisoners.  It did so by having prisoners work in silent groups during the day. At night they would retire to solitary, and once again silent, confinement.  This was to teach them discipline and respect for work, property, and other people.  An example of a prison founded on the Auburn System principles is Sing Sing in New York.

Eastern State Penitentiary’s overall design was seven main cell blocks arranged around a center hub, like spokes on a wheel.  This enabled the guards to watch each cell block from the center hub.  For the exterior of the Penitentiary, Haviland deliberately chose the intimidating gothic style to both keep outsiders at a distance and imply the kind of fortitude we associate with massive, stone castles.

Lois: The layout may look like wheel spokes from an arial view, but walking around inside the Penitentiary felt much more like a maze!  If an inmate, used to walking around with a hood over their head, managed to get into the main part of the building, they would never have been able to find their way out.

Aerial View of Eastern State Penitentiary Layout

[pe2-gallery] Watchtower at Eastern State Penitentiary   Eastern State Penitentiary   Eastern State Penitentiary[/pe2-gallery]

Front Wall at Eastern State Penitentiary

[pe2-gallery] Eastern State Penitentiary   Eastern State Penitentiary   Front Entrance of Eastern State Penitentiary[/pe2-gallery]

Note: The gargoyles are not original.  They are circa 9/20/2012 when they were erected for the Penitentiary’s annual “Terror Behind the Walls”.

Danielle: Eastern State Penitentiary definitely seemed like a fortress from the outside.  As imposing as it seems today, it must have been more so sitting on top of a hill in the midst of fields and forest a few miles outside of the hustle and bustle of the “civilized” city in the 1800’s.

The Cells at Eastern State Penitentiary

Individual cells were small, sparse, and closed off by a heavy wooden door that had a hole just large enough to pass food through.  At the back of each cell was an entrance to an outdoor exercise yard that was also small, sparse, and closed off from the rest of the prison and prisoners (though there was no roof).  Inmates spent all of their time in their cells, and were allowed a single hour out of every day in their exercise yards.  For those rare times a prisoner needed to be anywhere other than his cell or exercise yards, they were transported with hoods over their heads to eliminate contact with others and keep security tight.  After all, inmates couldn’t escape if they didn’t know the layout of the prison they were held in.

[pe2-gallery] Later Cell Skylights at Eastern State Penitentiary  Original Cell Skylights at Eastern State Penitentiary  The Exercise Yard at Eastern State Penitentiary[/pe2-gallery]

Note: The original cells had the much-smaller circle skylights seen in the second picture instead of the larger rectangle seen in the first picture.  To give you an idea of the size of the exercise yard – those cute kids of mine are standing at the door to the cell and I am back against the outside wall.  That was all the space they had to “exercise” in.

Katie: The solitude the prisoners felt must have been unbearable.  I can’t imagine being walked into a prison with a hood on my head and not really knowing the layout of the building.

Karri: I see the roots in Enlightenment philosophy and the mimicry of monastic life, and I see where it would be easy to think of a place like Eastern State Penitentiary as being a much better approach than the traditional prisons of the time.  But were they really?  Or were they just a horror of a totally different sort?  It seems akin to sensory deprivation and other kinds of psychological torture – to subject another person to such complete isolation against their will.  And I wonder how well this approach really worked?  How many inmates truly changed and were successfully rehabilitated?  How many simply went mad?  (Is it perhaps telling that no one really talks about whether or not this revolutionary approach worked?)  Oh, and can you imagine the eye strain the prisoners must have experienced working in such low light?  My eyeballs are hurting just thinking about it.

Lois: This humane system’s intent was to repair souls that had gone astray.  But we will never know if more harm than good was accomplished.

A special note about this very topic… Some deeper research after our field trip reveals that prisoners often did go mad while imprisoned at Eastern State Penitentiary.  During the 1800’s, the many cases of insanity that were documented by prison doctors at Eastern State were listed as being caused by one of two things: genes and excessive masturbation.  Never once was the total isolation of the prison listed as a cause of any of the breakdowns.

During the 23 hours out of a day that inmates spent in their cells, they were expected to work diligently and studiously at a vocation.  The founders of the Pennsylvania System believed that lack of training in a trade or education in general was a contributing factor in someone developing a criminal career.  They also believed that providing criminals with education and training in a vocation or trade was a critical aspect to rehabilitating them.

[pe2-gallery] Recreated Cell at Eastern State Penitentiary       Eastern State Penitentiary[/pe2-gallery]

Tucker: Someone really should have invented TV back then so the poor guys could sit back and watch the game after they were done working.

Katie: The cells even had feed doors and doors to their own exercise yards to minimize contact between other prisoners and guards.

The Door System at Eastern State Penitentiary

[pe2-gallery] Cell Door at Eastern State Penitentiary  Cell Door Track at Eastern State Penitentiary  Original Door Hinges from Eastern State Penitentiary  Gratuitous Cute Kid Shot at Eastern State Penitentiary  Cell Numbers at Eastern State Penitentiary  The Doors of Eastern State Penitentiary[/pe2-gallery]

The door system for each cell was intriguing.  There was a solid iron interior door (the grated one you see in the pictures) that swung out on hinges, and a heavy solid wood exterior door that slid on a track.  Both of the doors were secured with a locking system, and both locking systems had special little “tricks” to them that weren’t easily figured out in the event that an unauthorized person did try to let someone out.  The pictures below show the kids trying their hand at getting into a cell – not an easy task.  Note: not all of the doors that are currently at the Penitentiary are original.  The wooden doors that are original have a cross in their ironwork, as pictured above.

Karri: I think there is something so much more final, and foreboding, about a sliding door like the wooden doors on the outside of the cells.  I think it’s those little things that might have added up to a terrible madness.  Think about it, put yourself inside that cell.  What seems more restricting to you – a door that slides back or one that swings open?

[pe2-gallery] Unlocking a Cell Door at Eastern State Penitentiary  Unlocking a Cell Door at Eastern State Penitentiary  Unlocking a Cell Door at Eastern State Penitentiary  Unlocking a Cell Door at Eastern State Penitentiary  [/pe2-gallery]

Bean: I could have TOTALLY picked that lock if I was a prisoner!
(Let’s not burst his little 5yr-old bubble and tell him if he was a prisoner he would have been on the other side of the doors.)

Gracie: I would have thought, “Oh crap I’m going to be stuck here for the rest of my sentence because I’mnever breaking out of here.”  Then I probably would have asked, “Can I have Al Capone’s cell?”.

The front gate of Eastern State Penitentiary had a similar set-up.  There were three sets of doors at the entrance to the Penitentiary, and only one set was opened at a time.  This ensured that people and deliveries could be moved in and out of the Penitentiary without any chance of someone slipping in or out.  Again, there were “tricks” to the locking system so that someone unfamiliar with how it worked couldn’t quickly unlock the door.

[pe2-gallery] DSC05046.JPG Unlocking the Front Gate at Eastern State Penitentiary Unlocking the Front Gate at Eastern State Penitentiary Unlocking the Front Gate at Eastern State Penitentiary Unlocking the Front Gate at Eastern State Penitentiary Unlocking the Front Gate at Eastern State Penitentiary[/pe2-gallery]

Mason: Opening up the front gate was really neat.  I can’t believe it weighed 3,400lbs and I could move it.  See, Mama, you were wrong – I don’t actually need spinach to grow big and strong!

With all that time in their cells, inmates often “decorated”.  Perhaps not quite as lavishly as Al Capone’s cell, or other inmates of higher status, but many painted murals in their rooms or faux-finished their walls.

[pe2-gallery] Cell Decorations at Eastern State Penitentiary Cell Decorations at Eastern State Penitentiary Cell Decorations at Eastern State Penitentiary Cell Decorations at Eastern State Penitentiary Cell Decorations at Eastern State Penitentiary Cell Decorations at Eastern State Penitentiary Cell Decorations at Eastern State Penitentiary[/pe2-gallery]

Karri: The story behind that eye above the door was intriguing.  Positioned like that above the door, it’s unlikely that guards or prison officials ever saw it, or at least didn’t see it right away – which makes me wonder if the positioning was chosen deliberately to remain as “hidden” as possible.  The kids and I also couldn’t decide if the tear of sorrow was for the prisoner, or the guards.  Because we’re really not sure who’s fate was more sorrowful.

Eastern State Penitentiary is self-described as a “stabilized ruins” – an apt description of the property.  Some improvements have been made. There is a modernized admissions office and gift store, and a few places in the Penitentiary that have been restored to original condition to show visitors what it would have been like.  But largely, the Penitentiary remains as it has been since it was abandoned in the 1970’s.

Lois: “Stabilized ruins” isn’t just an appropriate title, it seems an appropriate manifestation as well.

Danielle: Not only are there guides throughout the Penitentiary to answer questions and host demonstrations and tours, the Penitentiary also offers an “audio tour”.  When we arrived, we each received headsets to wear as we walked around.  While at a specific spot (the exhibit on women in the prison, for example), you could play a recording of information about that topic.  These recordings included a lot of first-hand accounts of life in the prison – something I found incredibly valuable.

[pe2-gallery] Eastern State University  Another Gratuitous Cute Kid Shot at Eastern State University  Eastern State University  Eastern State University  Eastern State University  Eastern State University  Eastern State University  Eastern State University  Gratuitous Cute Husband Shot at Eastern State University  A View from the Center Hub at Eastern State University  Eastern State University  Eastern State University  Gratuitous Cute Family Shot at Eastern State University  Eastern State University  The Greenhouse at Eastern State University  The Greenhouse at Eastern State University  The Bocci Court at Eastern State University  The Visiting Room at Eastern State University[/pe2-gallery]

Bean: Those prisoners were pretty lucky – they got to play Bocci!

Pep the Dog

Although Eastern State Penitentiary housed some pretty big names (Al Capone spent almost a year there), perhaps its most infamous “inmate” was Pep the Dog.  Legend has it that Pep killed the Governor’s wife’s cat and was sentenced to life in the penitentiary.  Pep even had a mug shot taken, and was wearing an inmate number in that mug shot.  The Governor’s official story is that he donated the dog as a “prison mascot” of sorts to improve morale among the inmates.  But skeptics of that theory point out that Pep’s inmate number was never assigned to a human inmate and is completely missing from prison records….almost as if it had been assigned to Pep.

Danielle: Pep might have been a bad dog, but he must have been a very popular prisoner – he had the most items devoted to him in the gift shop!  Of course, the gift shop also had shank magnets available, so……  (And really? Shank magnets? Who buys those for their fridge?)

Katie: I thought the story behind Pep the dog was cute, but I think he was really just donated to the prison.

The Kids (resoundingly, as in all four of them): Somebody should have helped him escape, it’s not fair to lock a dog up behind bars and never let him out again.

The Inevitable Escape Attempts at Eastern State Penitentiary

Speaking of escape attempts, Eastern State Penitentiary did have its share of them.  Over 100, in fact, though only two go down in history.  The first because it was the only time a prisoner escaped and wasn’t recaptured when six men used a 30-foot ladder to climb over the Penitentiary walls in 1923.  All were recaptured, except Leo Callahan.  Callahan vanished and no one knows where he went or what happened to him after that.  The second, perhaps most infamous simply for its audacity, is the tunnel escape in 1945.  In that escape, 12 men crawled through a tunnel to escape under the Penitentiary wall.  The tunnel went down 15 feet from an inmate’s cell, across 97 feet under the courtyard, and up 15 feet outside of the Penitentiary’s 30-foot walls (which also ran 10-foot deep below-ground).   The first prisoners were recaptured within minutes of escaping, and all were recaptured within weeks.  One prisoner even turned himself back in after just a few days on the outside – he was tired, hungry, and cold and needed somewhere warm to sleep and eat.

Karri: Leo Callahan fascinates me simply because he’s the sole successful escapee from the Penitentiary.  Where did he go?  How did he just disappear?  What did he do that the five other men who escaped with him and were re-caught didn’t do?  Did he plan better?  Did he run further?  Was it just luck?  The tunnel escape was brilliant, but how did they do it?  It took them years to dig that tunnel, where did they put the dirt?  How did they hide what they were doing?  How did they keep it secret from other inmates? And just how on earth did they know that the exterior walls of the Penitentiary went down 10-foot underground?  That’s got to be the most brilliant of all, to have taken into consideration that those walls just might go deeper than normal.  Me?  I would have dug down a couple feet and then dug over to the wall and smacked straight into the stone.

[pe2-gallery] 1945 Escape Tunnel at Eastern State University 1945 Escape Tunnel at Eastern State University 1945 Escape Tunnel at Eastern State University[/pe2-gallery]

Surprising Details

[pe2-gallery] Eastern State University Eastern State University Eastern State University Barber Shop Chair at Eastern State University Barber Shop Chair at Eastern State University Al Capone's Cell at Eastern State University The Greenhouse at Eastern State University The Greenhouse at Eastern State University Eastern State University Eastern State University Eastern State University Eastern State University [/pe2-gallery]

Danielle: Despite the somber Gothic architecture and serious nature of what the purpose of the Penitentiary was, it was equipped with beautifully ornate details and very modern amenities.  Every cell block had its own barber shop that would (in later years) become the “social spots” where inmates gathered.  There was a “hospital” where inmates received medical care and a greenhouse where they grew fresh foods.  The Penitentiary even had running water and a central heating system before the White House did. 

As part of the modern preservation of Eastern State Penitentiary, there are a number of different “artist installations” around the Penitentiary that are all commentary on the Penitentiary – some good commentary, some purely historical commentary, some critical commentary.

[pe2-gallery] Art Installation at Eastern State University Art Installation at Eastern State University Art Installation at Eastern State University Art Installation at Eastern State University Art Installation at Eastern State University Art Installation at Eastern State University Art Installation at Eastern State University Art Installation at Eastern State University Art Installation at Eastern State University [/pe2-gallery]

Karri: In 2012, we look back at history and the things our culture has done in the past and often think, “How could they have done that to another human?”  It is certainly easy to wander the Eastern State ruins and wonder that very thing, and then breathe a sigh of relief that we were born in a much more progressive time.  Until you come across the art installation that depicts a Guantanamo Bay cell sitting inside an Eastern State Penitentiary cell.  For as little as the Eastern State cells looked (and they were indeed tiny), the modern-day Guantanamo Bay cell was significantly smaller.  And looked like a dog cage.  A dog cage.  Let me correct that….looked like a cage most of us wouldn’t even house our dogs in. Somehow, the stone cell of Eastern State with its chipping whitewash, total silence, small cot, toilet, and a sink seemed so much more homier and comfortable than a dog cage with no light, no ventilation, and two buckets instead of plumbing.  How could we still be doing that to another human being?

Speaking of doing things to human beings… punishment was horrific at Eastern State Penitentiary – a penitentiary founded as a humane alternative to prisons at that time. In the beginning of the Penitentiary’s long existence, punishment didn’t happen – administrators and the Penitentiary’s founders and designers believed the solitary confinement in small cells was punishment enough.  But as prisoners continued breaking the rules, punishment began to be used and progressively worsened stepping far outside the Quaker roots of the prison.

“The Mad Chair” was a punishment where an offending inmate would be strapped to a chair so snugly that they could not move at all and was left there (without food and water) for a period of time that depended on the severity of their offense ranging from hours to days.

“The Water Bath” punishment involved dunking or dousing an inmate in ice cold water, hoisting them up onto a wall with chains, and then leaving then leaving them there overnight (a “treatment” method used at that time in mental hospitals).  When used during the winter months (the time of year the guards most often used this form of punishment), a layer of ice would form over the inmate’s skin by morning.

“The Iron Gag” was the most popular form of punishment at Eastern State – and the most feared by prisoners.  The gag was an iron collar that went around a prisoner’s neck, with a metal piece that went in the prisoner’s mouth to suppress their tongue.  The prisoner’s hands were then crossed and pulled tight behind their necks and attached to the collar as well.  Any movement of their hands or arms would pull at their tongues and prisoner’s mouth was usually bloody and sore by the time their punishment was over.

“The Hole” was a set of incredibly small, completely windowless and utterly dark, rooms beneath the Penitentiary where inmates could be thrown for weeks at a time.  While in The Hole prisoners were given one cup of water and one slice of bread a day, and did not leave the dank cells for anything.  Not even bathroom breaks.  They were left to sit in their own filth, fighting off rats and other vermin until their punishment was done.

The Spooooooooooooooooooky Stuff at Eastern State Penitentiary

Rumors of ghosts at Eastern State Penitentiary have been around since the early 1900’s.  Surprisingly, or perhaps not, the first solid ghost story at Eastern State Penitentiary involved Al Capone.  Purportedly, Capone was haunted mercilessly by one of his St. Valentine’s Day Massacre victims and could be heard repeatedly screaming and begging in his cell for the ghost to go away and leave him alone.

But even before Capone getting his just desserts, prisoners and guards alike have reported supernatural goings-on at Eastern State Penitentiary – footsteps in empty halls, pacing in empty cells, wails coming from empty darkness, and dark shapes that resembled human forms drafting past.  Since the site has been opened to the public in the middle of the 1970’s as a National Historic Landmark, tourists and staff confirm even more supernatural encounters.

In Cell Block #12, independent witnesses have reported hearing laughter in certain cells and shadowy apparitions.  Similar shadowy apparitions have been sited in Cell Block #6 and “Death Row” Cell Block #15.  The most frequent “ghost” siting occurs in the older cell blocks, where visitors report a dark, human-like figure who just stands there emitting angry energy.

Mason: It doesn’t seem like it’s actually haunted – I checked pretty thoroughly.  Maybe even in a few spots I wasn’t technically supposed to.

Gracie: Eastern State Penitentiary was creepy, mysterious, intriguing, and ancient all at the same time.

[pe2-gallery] Spooky Eastern State Penitentiary Spooky Eastern State PenitentiarySpooky Eastern State Penitentiary Spooky Eastern State PenitentiarySpooky Eastern State Penitentiary Spooky Eastern State PenitentiarySpooky Eastern State Penitentiary Spooky Eastern State PenitentiarySpooky Eastern State Penitentiary Spooky Eastern State PenitentiarySpooky Eastern State Penitentiary Spooky Eastern State PenitentiarySpooky Eastern State Penitentiary Spooky Eastern State PenitentiarySpooky Eastern State Penitentiary Spooky Eastern State PenitentiarySpooky Eastern State Penitentiary Spooky Eastern State PenitentiarySpooky Eastern State Penitentiary Spooky Eastern State PenitentiarySpooky Eastern State Penitentiary Spooky Eastern State PenitentiarySpooky Eastern State Penitentiary Spooky Eastern State Penitentiary[/pe2-gallery]