Currents

Peale Power The story of two generations of Philadelphia’s Peale family of artists and naturalists is one of the most captivating chapters in American history. Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827) and his chil­dren Raphaelle (1774-1825), Rembrandt (1778-1860), Rubens (1784-1865), and Titian Ramsey (1799-1860), Charles Willson’s brother James (1749-1831) and James’s children, Anna...
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Invention of the Jeep

A state historical marker erected by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) serves to remind the world that Butler, located in western Pennsylvania, about thirty-five miles north of Pittsburgh, is the birthplace of the vehicle now universally known as the jeep, built by the American Bantam Car Company. The factory, formerly the American Austin Car Company, which had produced...
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The Soulful and Sultry Miss Ethel Waters

Much of Ethel Waters’ success as a popular twentieth-century entertainer has been credited to the rather simple fact she, in her own words, never forgot who she was and where she came from. She achieved renown as blues singer, theater and film actress, and best selling author. She also emerged as a role model, if not icon, for several decades of African American women. And she accomplished...
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Into the Woodlands

Rarely does his name enjoy prominence in horticultural history, but William Hamilton (1745-1813), owner of The Woodlands, a picturesque eighteenth-century countryseat on the banks of the Schuylkill River in West Philadelphia, made sev­eral significant contributions that forever changed the landscape of North America. An avid plant collector he filled his English-style garden with as many new...
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Sowing a Wealth Uncommon

When Pennsylvania’s thirty-seven-year-old founder William Penn (1644-1718) drew plans for Philadelphia, he specified a central park of ten acres and four symmetrically placed squares of eight acres each “for the comfort and recreation of all forever.” In his September 30, 1681, instructions to his commissioners, he also mandated private space. “Let every House be placed,...
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Major League Governor: John Kinley Tener

The life of John Kinley Tener (1863-1946), governor of Pennsylvania from 1911 to 1915, is a remarkable success story in the annals of Pennsylvania­ – and American – history. Tener was born in County Tyrone, Ireland, on July 25, 1863, to Susan Wallis Tener and George Evans Tener. A month after his father’s death in May 1872, his family immigrated to Pittsburgh. In August, Susan...
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And They’re Off! Pennsylvania’s Horse Racing Tradition

Thoroughbred racing doesn’t normally look to Pennsylvania for its next champion, but a small colt may have changed all that. In November 2003, Smarty Jones, foaled in Chester County two years earlier, ran his first competitive race at Philadelphia Park, one of the state’s four licensed horse race tracks. Six months later, on Saturday, May 1, 2004, the plucky little horse became the...
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Camp Nepahwin, Canton, Pa.

Spelled throughout history as Lake Nephawin and as Lake Nepawhin, the sixty-acre lake located in the southwest corner of Bradford County, one mile south of Canton, was originally known as Gillett’s Pond. Popular writer and journalist Grace Greenwood, who had been dubbed “the Patriot” by President Abraham Lincoln for her ardent support of the U. S. Sanitary Commission during the Civil War,...
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“In Immortal Splendor”: Wilkes-Barre’s Fugitive Slave Case of 1853

On Saturday morning, September 3, 1853, U.S. Federal Marshal George Wynkoop of Philadelphia and two deputies, John Jenkins and James Crossen, sat down to breakfast in the dining room of the Phoenix Hotel on River Street in the Luzerne County seat of Wilkes-Barre. At the far end of the room was a handsome, powerfully built mulatto named Bill (or, according to various newspaper accounts, known as...
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Birthplace of Commercial Ice Cream Production

The small southern York County borough of Seven Valleys – which counted a population of 517 residents in the 2010 Census – has a lengthy history dating to the earliest German settlers in the mid-eighteenth century. In 1838 after the Northern Central Railroad Company’s line linked Baltimore, Maryland, with York, Jacob Smyser and John E. Ziegler opened the first store and...
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