Letters presents readers' comments and reactions to specific articles in Pennsylvania Heritage, the initiatives of PHMC, and other developments in the historical, cultural and museum communities of Pennsylvania.

Profile: Nellie Bly

The biography of Nellie Bly appearing in Profiles in the Winter 2003 edition states that Elizabeth Jane Cochran adopted the pseudonym from a song written by Stephen Foster in 1870. Just to set the record straight, Foster died in 1864. According to Ken Emerson, author of Doo-Dah: Stephen Foster and the Rise of American Popular Culture, Foster wrote Nellie Bly in 1850. One of the highlights of a visit I made to Pittsburgh several years ago was a stop at the Stephen Foster Memorial at the University of Pittsburgh. It is regrettable that so little is known of this genius in light of the beautiful music he created, including “Beautiful Dream­er,” “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair,” and many, many others.

Ralph Rostock
Calverton, Pa.

The editor stands corrected; “Nelly Bly” was copyrighted by the New York publishing firm of Firth, Pond and Company on February 8, 1850. Editors at the Pittsburgh Dispatch gave the nom de plume Nellie Bly to Elizabeth Jane Cochran (1864-1922), their promising young investigative reporter. Born July 4, 1826, Stephen Collins Foster composed a number of popular melodies such as “Oh! Susanna” (1848), “The Camptown Races” (1850), “Old Folks at Home” (1851), and “My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night!” (1862). The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has erected three state historical markers commemorating the native Pennsylvanian and his contributions: one in the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh citing his work for the Christy’s Minstrels, erected in 1976; one in Camptown, Bradford County, documenting the races from the village to Wyalusing as the inspiration for “The Camp­town Races,” erected in 1969; and one in Towanda, also in Bradford County, where the composer attended the Towanda Academy, from 1840 to 1841, erected in 1947.


Eyes Wide Open

How much I enjoyed the article on the Hay Creek Forge [“To Forge History for the Future” by John C. Leighow Jr.] in the Winter 2003 issue! As I drive Pennsylvania’s back roads, I am keeping my eyes wide open for other relics of the past that may have been neglected or forgotten over the years. Nothing now escapes my attention, and even the “usual suspects” – bank barns, train sheds, pottery kilns, blacksmith shops, canal locks, bridges, grain silos, and the like – warrant a second look. I hope someday to find a building or structure as historically important as the Hay Creek Forge that I can share with fellow Pennsylvanians. Thanks for such an engaging article.

William S. Garber
Philadephia, Pa.

The Hay Creek Forge article was rivet­ing. I enjoyed it from beginning to end. This is one magazine article I did not skim or breeze through – I read every single word. The photographs of the pieces of the forge currently being con­served were absolutely beautiful and perfectly complemented the old photographs. I don’t know who the photog­rapher is, but the picture of wooden gear wheel appearing on the front cover is a work of art in itself. Thanks for the absorbing account and the wonderful photographs. Stories like this make me an avid reader and loyal history support­er. Keep up the excellent work.

Janice Black
Pittsburgh, Pa.

Don Giles of The State Museum of Pennsyl­vania deserves credit for the outstanding photographs that illustrated this cover story.


Wyck? Wow!

Wyck? Wow! What a great article on a wonderful historic house, which is one that knowing Philadelphians – and former resi­dents such as me – treasure [see “Wyck: Witness to a Way of Life” by John M. Groff, Stephanie Grauman Wolf, and San­dra Mackenzie Lloyd, Winter 2003). This is one attraction that every reader of Pennsylvania Heritage should visit at least once, especially when the lovely old-fashioned roses are in bloom. Wyck is a special place where history (the house) and “heaven on earth” (the garden) meet to educate and enchant all fortunate enough to take it in.

Joan Derr Eakin
Atlanta, Ga.