Searching for Mountain Mary: The Life and Legend of an Early Pennsylvania Saint

“There, underneath this mountain stone, Lies Mary Young, who lived alone, High on the lofty mountainside, Beloved and honored till she died.” —Ralph Bigony, 1846   Enshrined in works of art and immortalized in poetry, the life and deeds of Mountain Mary, or Anna Maria Jung (1744–1819), has become one of the preeminent legends of early southeastern Pennsylvania, embodying the spirit of the...
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The Early Days of the William Penn Highway: How Present-Day U.S. Route 22 Got its Start

At the dawn of the automobile age, the major roadways crossing Pennsylvania were rutted, dusty, farm-to-market thoroughfares traveled mainly by horses and wagons. Many of these were still privately owned turnpikes, some with wooden-plank road surfaces. Most towns had improved streets, but the paving, if any, usually ended at the city line. Stagecoach lines still operated here and there, but...
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A Gift to America: Maxo Vanka and the Millvale Murals

“This is my gift to America,” declared Croatian artist Maksimilijan “Maxo” Vanka (1889–1963) in 1941, when he completed a vast mural cycle for a small Catholic church in Millvale, Pennsylvania, a working-class town just across the river from Pittsburgh. A recent émigré, Vanka had not yet been in the United States a full decade when he completed the 4,500 square feet of wall painting for St....
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Run-Up to the Revolution: Philadelphia’s Response to the Taxation Crisis

Colonial America in the 18th century was a dynamic environment — constantly shifting, changing and growing as its population increased and governments and institutions developed to support it. More merchants progressively established shops in cities such as Philadelphia, Boston and New York, selling a dizzying array of necessities and luxury goods both domestic and imported. These goods,...
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Pennsylvania’s Forgotten Roseland: George Cochran Lambdin and Rose Culture in Germantown

Hugh Scott (1900–94), a Pennsylvania lawmaker and Republican who served in the U.S. House of Representatives, 1947–59, and the U.S. Senate, 1959–77, was an avid rosarian who actively worked to have the rose proclaimed as the official flower of the United States — a feat he accomplished when President Ronald Reagan signed appropriate legislation in 1986. A resident of Philadelphia, Scott came...
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The Source: Native American Quarries in Pennsylvania

Sitting in a folding chair in front of an informational table at the annual Danville Heritage Festival, PennDOT archaeologist Susanne Haney considers an inch-and-a-half-thick, dinner-platesized fragment of metarhyolite. Susanne is one of the most accomplished flintknappers I know. Flintknapping is the prehistoric art of producing stone tools by shaping various kinds of suitable rock with stone...
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Dox Thrash and the “Poetry of the Artist’s Own People”

A son of sharecroppers, Dox Thrash was born in 1893 and raised in a cabin outside the town of Griffin in rural Georgia. The second of four children, he was raised primarily, perhaps solely, by his beloved mother, Ophelia. Throughout her adult life, Ophelia Thrash worked six to seven days a week as a housekeeper and cook for a white family named Taylor while providing materially and spiritually...
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“Drawing to Represent”: Lewis Miller of York, Chronicler of 19th-Century Life

Lewis Miller’s depictions of people and their everyday lives have been used repeatedly to illustrate 19th-century American life. Whether it is a flood of molasses flowing down the street or Simon Einstein bringing a load of cabbages to town to celebrate his election victory, Miller seemed to have seen it all, and he depicted many of these scenes during his long lifetime. Miller also recorded...
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“From My Own Observation and Familiar Acquaintance”: Phebe Earle Gibbons Introduces the Pennsylvania Dutch to the World

  “It was on a Sunday morning in March, when the air was bleak and the roads were execrable, that I obtained a driver to escort me to the farm-house where an Amish meeting was to be held,” wrote Phebe Earle Gibbons (1821–93), describing a Lancaster County Amish religious gathering in the late 1860s. “The floors were bare, but on one of the open doors hung a long white towel,...
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The Man for the Moment: Tom Ridge and the 9/11 Inflection Point

  On the cloudless, blue-sky morning of September 11, 2001, Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge, unaware the State Police in Harrisburg were looking for him, was at his Erie home enjoying the crisp air while he cleared his raised flower beds of dead stems and dried leaves. Gardening was a favorite pastime for the Vietnam War veteran and former congressman. For Ridge, that peaceful moment in his...
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