Crawford County: Welcoming the 21st Century

We passed over some good land since we eft Venango, and through several extensive and very rich meadows, one of which, I believe, was nearly four miles in length, and consid­erably wide in some places. Twenty-one year old George Washington, who would in time become a major landholder and land specula­tor, described Crawford County in 1753 as he carried a dispatch demanding the com­mander of the...
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A Special Place for Photography

Edward L. Wilson wanted photography to have a special place at the Centennial Exhibition. Smartly dressed, the publisher of the nationally­-read Philadelphia Photographer stood out from the typically rumpled and chemical-stained lensman. But his enthusiastic promotion caused him to stand out even more. Wilson nudged his colleagues toward professionalism and toward his vision of a productive,...
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Uniontown’s Prince of the Gilded Age

Nothing captures the attention of the press more than a good scandal. In Uniontown, Pennsylvania, in January 1915, it had one. The financial collapse of coal baron Josiah V. Thompson, and the ruin of his bank, summoned a reporter from the New York Tribune to the Fayette County seat. Stepping off at the Pennsyl­vania Railroad station, the unidentified reporter hurried to Thompson’s office...
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The Battles Bank: When Honesty Was Collateral and Chickens Paid the Interest

On the day the pri­vately owned R. S. Battles Bank in Girard, Erie County, closed, it had been in operation for eighty-seven years. For nearly a century its owners had steadfastly offered services to their depositors despite panics, recessions, depressions, robberies, even a presidential proclamation. Oddly enough, the doors of the vine covered brick building were ultimately closed in 1946 by...
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The New Taste in Pennsylvania

Like the nation itself during the so-called “Federal” period, the arts in Pennsylvania reached a crescendo in their development that had an unexpected unity, a strong purpose, and a national style. Despite great varia­tions in the Germanic and English traditions, Pennsylvania emerged from the revolutionary period reasonably cohesive. City and country perspectives, naive and...
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Historical Sketch of Greene County

Greene County lies in the southwestern corner of the state. Its many hills, the distinguishing feature of the countryside, grow more pronounced as one travels from the eastern to the western areas. The old Washington Waynes­burg Railroad, traveling through the hills, was famous for its 178 sharp turns, each of which jolted the passengers. There were some who took the trip just for the roller...
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Chester County Welcomes Thee

The history of Chester County constitutes a significant part of the history of Pennsylvania, both province and commonwealth, and of the history of the United States of America. At the beginning of our nation’s Bicentennial and on the threshold of our state’s and our county’s tricentennial celebrations, Chester County looks proudly upon its past accomplishments and with...
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Allentown’s Boom Decade

Allentown underwent rapid development in the 1850’s. Population grew at the rate of 116 percent from 3,779 in 1850 to 8,025 in 1860. This expansion in population was matched by territorial growth in 1852 as a sizable section of land to the east of the original borough – the land lying between the Jordan and Lehigh rivers – was annexed. The economic basis for this development...
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Rural Bust and Boom: Snyder County, 1880-1920

Between 1880 and 1920 a dialectic of sorts operated in Snyder County. These were years of decline. This decline was both absolute, in population and the generation of wealth, and relative, when compared to the growth in numbers, wealth and cultural richness occuring elsewhere. The area did not have easily tilled fertile soil; its minerals were neither accessible nor rich; its population was...
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Historic Preservation in Pennsylvania: A Primer

Depending on the individual, historic preser­vation evokes a myriad of interpretations. To the local historical society, it’s restoring the town’s oldest structure to a house-museum showcasing collections of period antiques. To community planners, it often results in a challenge of saving the best while destroying the rest. And to many, historic preservation means little more than a...
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