Religious Freedom: Key to Diversity

“There can be no reason to persecute any man in this world about anything that belongs to the next.” – William Penn   To describe Pennsylvania’s re­ligious diversity is to present the history of its religious develop­ment. Although many other states be­came religiously heterogeneous during the nineteenth century, Pennsylvania was pluralistic even as a colony within...
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The Ethnic Factor: Backbone of the Commonwealth

“… that those of our own, or other nations, that are inclined to transport themselves or families beyond the seas, may find another country …” – William Penn   The story of Pennsylvania can­not be adequately told without great emphasis upon its ethnic di­versity. More than simply an incidental feature, from the first contacts between Europeans and Indians to...
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Stability and Change: Culture During Three Periods

“Religion, … the best bond of human society, provided man did not err in the meaning of that excellent word.” – William Penn   Culture, broadly de­fined, is the way of life of a group of people; it includes all their behavioral patterns, beliefs and ar­tistic expressions. Culture is not static; it varies over time and place. Culture does not arise in a vacuum; it...
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Fayette at the Crossroads

Fayette County has always been at the crossroads, both literally and figuratively, its destiny shaped by its location, the incredible riches of its natural resources and the vi­tality of a people descended from al­most every nation of Europe. It has a son of dual personality, geo­graphically divided between mountains and lowlands, historically divided into two almost equal eras of economic...
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Juniata’s Hills: “Rolling Over Crags to Woodlands”

Oh, the hills of Juniata, Oh, her stony wooded hills, and her flower-scented valleys and her crystal streams and rills, Rolling over crags to woodlands, ‘Tis a sight worth far to go, Sun-kissed hills of Juniata, Oh, they thrill and still me so. The above lines are taken from the county poem (officially accepted as such during the 1981 Tercentenary celebration), written by the late Dr....
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The Last Frontier: Venango County Indians, Oil, Ghost Towns

Venango County. Its name is derivation of a the Seneca Indian word earliest for explorers “French and Creek.” Its earliest explorers and settlers were the French, shortly followed by the English. At one time, the territory was claimed simultaneously by France, and the colonies of Virginia and Pennsyl­vania. But Venango County’s rich history bespeaks vigorous pioneering a spirit...
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Life in an Industrial Boom Town: Monessen, 1898-1923

In reading about our nation’s past, we often forget how different life was for our ancestors. We read about historical figures and movements, but rarely – except in excellent historical novels – do we gain a glimpse into the living environment. We also tend to for­get that there are many past environ­ments, each producing its own style and pace of living. During the late...
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Dauphin County: Chocolates, Coal, and a Capital

Dauphin County celebrates its two hundredth anniver­sary this year. The events and themes that are the history of the county reflect the experience of Pennsylvania and the United States. Dauphin County has never been a homogeneous commu­nity; indeed, it is difficult to consider it as a single commu­nity. From the beginning it has comprised individuals of diverse ethnic, national and religious...
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The Call of the Clarion

To the eighteenth century French explorers, the river the Indians called Tobeco was Riviere au Fiel – the “River of Hate.” Pioneers know it as Toby or Stump Creek. In 1817 it was christened Clarion by road surveyors Daniel Stanard and David Lawson as they camped along its shores because the river’s clear, shrill sound reminded them of the medieval trumpet. The name of the...
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Montour County: The Little County that Persevered

Despite its size, Mon­tour County – with an area measuring one hundred and thirty square miles, making it the smallest county in the Commonwealth – claims an undeniably large role in the cultural, political and indus­trial development of Pennsyl­vania. Organized less than a century and a half ago, the county lays hold to a number of distinctions which hallmark its place in...
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