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.


Bravo! I just finished reading the astonishingly well-done article treating antislavery entitled “Finding Sanctuary at Montrose” [Winter 2007]. Author William C. Kashatus deserves plaudits for filling a twofold gap: he raised the consciousness of black self-reliance and he targeted the hinterland of Susquehanna County.

The Underground Railroad was aggressive. The era preceding it was open, not hidden, and full with wherewithal and “moral suasion.” One reason my own studies choose to head off the safe-house era is due to discontent with the under-told story of black self-reliance.

Research evinces the kidnapping of free blacks in the 1700s urged Pennsylvanians to organize and trace-for-rescue those blacks “unlawfully held in bondage.” White and black citizens took different routes. Originally open white agencies switched to hidden operations in the nineteenth century. Black churches had begun forming before 1800, and they became chief places through which freedom-seekers were funneled. The author correctly cited the African Methodist Episcopal Church, A. M. E. Zion Reformed.

Thomas R. Smith
Upper Darby, Pa.



I was entranced by your Winter 2007 issue of Pennsylvania Heritage.

First, there was an informative piece on General George Gordon Meade, the Army “boss” of my grandfather, also named John Koenig, at the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg. (I am at least John Koenig III).

I did not know that Meade was responsible for lighthouse construction on the Delaware Bay, but I did know he designed “Old Barney,” the historic lighthouse at the northern tip of Long Beach Island, New Jersey. Every old Philadelphian/Pennsylvanian who summers at the island is aware of that, as a historical marker indicates the spot. I wondered why this was not mentioned in the otherwise excellent and all-inclusive “Profile.”

I was gratified to read that the PHMC placed a state historical marker on Delancey Street in Philadelphia, where General Meade had a home. The next time I am in Philadelphia, my native city, I will have to look it up.

In my days as an Associated Press (AP) reporter at the State Capitol in Harrisburg in the 1950s, we had a special relationship with a little newspaper in Montrose. I once drove up on a weekend to see the place and found it to be a pretty sight. In your excellent piece on the Underground Railroad at Montrose, you published a picture of the center of Montrose in 1852 – I found it to be quite the same a hundred years later and trust that it looks as good today.

Best of all, I noted the Montrose story was written by William C. Kashatus, of Paoli. In my library, I have a Kashatus book, Connie Mack’s ’29 Triumph, featuring the Philadelphia Athletics’ 1929 win in a World Series game over the Chicago Cubs by hammering out ten runs in the seventh inning to win, 10-8. As a small boy, I listened to the game on radio.

As an AP reporter, I extracted numerous stories from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, located in the building, which is now the Speaker Matthew J. Ryan Legislative Office Building. Dr. Donald A. Cadzow was head at the time, succeeded by Sylvester K. Stevens. Great men! They were good news sources for this old newsman later transplanted to the Washington, D.C., bureau of the AP and now, in retirement, to the university town of Athens, Georgia.

Keep up the good work at that great magazine!

John Koenig Jr.
Athens, Ga.


Could It Be?

I was looking through the Winter 2007 issue of Pennsylvania Heritage while at a doctor’s office and read about a new book on the Civilian Conservation Corps [CCC] by Joseph M. Speakman in “Bookshelf” on page 40. I think I recognized my father in a small picture that accompanied the article. I’m wondering could it be. Are the names of the men in this photograph recorded anywhere? It would mean a great deal to me to know if this is my father, as he worked for the CCC. My father’s name is Jay H. Hill.

Shirley A. Hahn
Chambersburg, Pa.

Like so many photographs, this image, which accompanied the review of At Work in Penn’s Woods: The Civilian Conservation Corps in Pennsylvania , contains no information about individuals. The photograph is in Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Forests and Waters (RG 6) of the Pennsylvania State Archives. Dated May 18, 1933, it was taken at Forksville, Sullivan County, by Henry E. Clepper (1901-1987), a 1921 graduate of the Pennsylvania State Forest Academy at Mont Alto who enjoyed a stellar career in both state and federal forestry agencies (see “Reviving – and Revising – the Reputation of Ralph Elwood Brock” in the fall 2007 issue). A prolific writer on forestry issues, he published hundreds of articles and several books.


More on Martino

My brother and I find such meaningful articles in Pennsylvania Heritage, and we especially enjoyed the Spring 2007 issue. Of special interest was the fine article about the Martinos [“From Manayunk to the Metropolitan: Philadelphia’s Martino Family of Artists” by James McClelland]. Thank you!

Alice Brumbaugh
Chambersburg, Pa.

Everyone, including family, friends, and a few of my father’s painting collectors, are as thrilled as we are about the article devoted to the Martino family. Needless to say, James McClelland did a beautiful job and the presentation was superbly done. My only regret is that I failed to send photos of my work to be included together with my father’s paintings. Thank you for an excellent tribute.

Marie Martino Manos
Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Carrying on a family tradition, Marie Martino Manos is an artist and the daughter of Antonio Pietro “Tony” Martino (1902-1988), well known for his scenes of Manayunk and Bucks County (see “The Last of the New Hope Crowd: Faye Swengel and Bernard Badura” by Joe Conti and Irwin Richman in the fall 2007 edition).


Finding Sanctuary

The article “Finding Sanctuary at Montrose” by William C. Kashatus in the Winter 2007 issue interested me on several levels. First, although I have heard and read about the Underground Railroad, I had the impression that most of the effort to help escaping slaves was to get them to Canada, rather than to have a settlement for them in northern Pennsylvania, as your article so colorfully describes. Second, the map on page 30 shows my hometown, Palmerton. I cannot find any date for that map. Palmerton was not founded until 1898, several decades after the end of the Underground Railroad.

As a native of Palmerton and an active member of the Palmerton Area Historical Society, I have heard many rumors and legends of Underground Railroad activity in this vicinity. The most common one relates to the Marshall mansion on a hill overlooking Palmerton. There have been claims of (literally) passages from there to the town level. The truth is that the house apparently had no well, and used a cistern to store drinking water. But the most convincing answer to the rumors is that the house was built by a Civil War officer, in the 1870s or 1880s – again, well past the time for the Underground Railroad.

A more likely community for Underground Railroad activity in this area would have been Mauch Chunk, renamed Jim Thorpe in 1953, which counted Quakers among its prominent citizens as early as the 1820s. However, none of the history buffs in the Jim Thorpe area with whom I am acquainted has presented any evidence of such activity.

Where did the map originate and when? I would appreciate any further information you can supply on the inclusion of Palmerton on it.

George W. Ashman
Palmerton, Pa.

The map, drawn by Kevin J. Switala, is modern and appeared in William J. Switala’s Underground Railroad in Pennsylvania, published in 2001 by Stackpole Books. It is based on information originally collected by distinguished historian Wilbur H. Siebert (1866-1961) for his 1898 monumental study, The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom. After corresponding with hundreds of aging abolitionists, Siebert drew maps of “lines” that traced and connected various routes. Switala’s map showing the northeastern corridor of the Underground Railroad in Pennsylvania includes Palmerton because a station was located near the present-day community. Escaping slaves who had made it as far as Bethlehem would follow the Lehigh River northward to Carbon County and then take the well- established Lehigh Indian Path to Wilkes- Barre. Eminent African American historian and author Charles J. Blockson makes the same contention and believes a station was also located in nearby Lehighton. According to Blockson, Moravians assisted runaway slaves in Lehigh County but did not want their occasional involvement known. Although Palmerton was established just before the opening of the twentieth century, individuals began settling in the region along the Lehigh River a century earlier.


One of a Kind

The article on Pennsylvania’s brownstone industry [“Hummelstown Brownstone: A Victorian Era Treasure” by Ben F. Olena, Spring 2007] is outstanding! The author’s research and presentation in the beautiful publication – one of a kind – preserves the happenings of the past for the future.

Barbara S. Jeffries
Palmyra, Pa.