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.

Boom Town

Thank you for the fine article “Survival of an American Boom Town” by Gregory DL Morris in the Summer 2005 issue about Bradford in McKean County. My father was born in Kendall, McKean County, in 1884. That community apparently no longer exists and has become part of Bradford, although there remains a Kendall Creek and a Kendall Avenue, as well as mention in the article of the Kendall Refining Company. The illustra­tions of postcards in the article display the time and environment that my father would have known. Like many, I wish I would have asked my father more about his early life in Kendall and Bradford. I do recall his sorrow that his mother died when he was only six years old. Your publication is superb. I came across it by chance in the Franklin Public Library when I was visiting Bradford and Oil City in October 2005.

John Doty
Bisbee, Ariz.


Civil War Votes

I very much enjoyed the article on the soldiers’ vote during the Civil War [“Supporting the Troops: Soldiers’ Right to Vote in Civil War Pennsylvania” by Jonathan W. White] in the Winter 2006 edition. I had written of the event in my book, The 50th Pennsylvania’s Civil War Odyssey: The Exciting Life and Hard Times of a Union Volunteer Infantry Regiment, 1861 to 1865, in which I quoted their regimental historian who wrote about the election in Petersburg, Virginia: “It was conducted quietly and much more fairly than was usual at home.” In that regiment of enlistees, draftees, and substitutes from eastern Pennsylvania, Lincoln won easily with 70 percent of the vote.

I am currently writing a book about the 101st Pennsylvania in which I cite Lieutenant John Reed, a former prisoner of war, who provided a story of that election in a regimental history published in 1910. Former Union officer prisoners of war held at Camp Sorghum in Columbia, South Carolina, recounted a story of events there that related to the national election in the North in the fall of 1864. The Confederate officers were all too aware of the election and the platform of the Democratic Party candidate General George B. McClellan. These officers sug­gested the prisoners hold a mock election, promising that the results would be published in a local civilian newspaper.

The prisoners conducted the election in early October, before the actual election was to be held in the north. It was said to have raised a spirited and sometimes heated debate. When the results were in, McClel­lan garnered only 167 votes, whereas President Abraham Lincoln’s supporters numbered about 1,250. It was a disap­pointing outcome for the Confederates who must have assumed the captured officers would not favor a candidate who would continue a war that kept them imprisoned. Needless to say, the results were not published in the Columbia newspaper and the voters undoubtedly gritted their teeth, more determined than ever to take the provisions as they came and the war continued.

Harold B. Birch
Columbia, S. C.


Making It Practical

It took me awhile to adjust to the new layout, editorial standards, and new features in Pennsylvania Heritage, but by the end of the reading of the Winter 2006 issue, I had adapted and am very pleased with the new product. Americans and Pennsylvanians are famous for taking an idea and making it practical. Bill Gates has even profited from his ability to do this. You did it with the sidebar “Travel Tips” accompanying the interview, “A Conversation about Citizenship” [among Barbara Franco, Marjorie 0. Rendell, and Richard Stengel]. You gave readers a vehicle to move from the philosophical to the practical. “Supporting the Troops” has the quality of research and writing to be in a scholarly journal, and “The Man Behind the Curtain: ‘Doc’ Mishler and his Legacy” [by Fred J. Lauver] was special because most stories like it are good on the “what” and “who” but leave out the “why” and “how.” We are going to Pittsburgh this weekend and will make good use of the information about the exhibit “Clash of Empires: The British, French and Indian War, 1754-1763,” contained in “Out and About.” Keep up the good work!

Dick Lewis
Reinholds, Pa.

P.S. I’m from just down the street where Mishler was born and raised!



Richard Saylor, a contributor to Pennsylva­nia Heritage and an archivist for the Pennsylvania State Archives, notes that in “Travel Tips” accompanying Jonathan W. White’s “Supporting the Troops: Soldiers’ Right to Vote in Civil War Pennsylvania,” in the Winter 2006 issue, it was General John F. Reynolds who was killed during the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, on July 1, 1863, and not General George Reynolds. The editor regrets the error.

Joel O. Lubenau, author of “Radium City, U.S.A.,” which appeared in the Fall 2005 edition, corrects the editorial error regarding the tonnages of raw materials used to produce one gram of radium. The correct figures are five tons each of ore and chemicals, plus one thousand tons of coal and ten thousand tons of water.

The editor wishes to note that physicist Marie Curie was born in Warsaw and not in Krakow as cited in “Radium City, U.S.A.”