The Craighead Family

The Craighead family’s love of the outdoors was fostered at their summer home on the Yellow Breeches Creek outside of Boiling Springs, Cumberland County. Frank “Rattlesnake” Craighead (1890–1982), his brother Eugene (1893–1959) and the family’s next generation of naturalists discovered the wonders of nature in the nearby fields, streams, meadows and mountains. Frank earned his nickname by...
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The Gender of Assimilation: The Carlisle Indian Industrial School Experiment

In his celebrated 1702 book Magnalia Christi American (The Glorious Works of Christ in America), Puritan minister Cotton Mather described local Native Americans. “The men are most abominably slothful; making their poor Squaws, or Wives,to plant and dress, and barn, and beat their Corn, and build their Wigwams for them; which perhaps may be the reason for their extraordinary Ease in Childbirth,”...
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History Cast in Iron: Rediscovering Keystone Markers

From Airville to Blooming Valley, from Camptown to Dornsife, and all the way to Wysox, York Haven and Zion View, Pennsylvania literally claims unusual – as well as unique – place names from A to Z. Most of the Commonwealth’s cities, towns and villages were once marked with cast iron name signs, painted in the rich blue and gold colors associated with Pennsylvania. Manufactured in an...
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York County: A Most Treasured Land

Planted squarely above the Maryland border, the gigantic horse’s hoof, which is the out­ line of York County, covers an area of 914 square miles, supporting a popula­tion of 300,000. Its eastern contour is delineated by the “long, crooked” Sus­quehanna, its pastern cleanly cut off by Cumberland County on the north, its outer edge defined by Adams Coun­ty on the west. This...
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Lancaster County: Diversity of People, Ideas and Economy

When Lancaster County was established on May 10, 1729, it became the proto­type for the sixty-three counties to follow. The original three counties­Philadelphia, Bucks and Chester – were created as copies of typical English shires. The frontier conditions of Ches­ter County’s backwoods, from which Lancaster was formed, presented knot­ty problems to the civilized English­men....
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Doing Time in Dauphin County, 1842-1901

They locked up Elias Nation on April 18, 1842, giving him official first place in Dauphin County’s new prison. (For the record, Jacob Stripe was registered nearly two weeks earlier, for assault and battery, but he was out before the prison’s grand opening.) Nation was twenty­-nine years old and looked “yellow,” wrote Keeper Wil­liam Watson; he underlined that fact in his...
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Fulton County: Where Country is Still Country

When the first settlers wandered into the Great Cove – a deep basin formed by the southern ranges of the Kit­tochtinny and Tuscarora mountains – they discovered strikingly beautiful valleys, incised with sparkling streams, whose only intrusions were Indian trails and remote pack­ers’ paths. During the two centuries since its settlement, the picturesque mountain ridges and...
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Watts’ Folly

When he is remem­bered at all, Fre­derick Watts is likely to be men­tioned in connection with the McCormick Reaper, the Cum­berland Valley Railroad, the establishment of the Pennsyl­vania State University or, more recently, the controversy over the demolition of his farm­stead in Carlisle. It may seem an incongruous legacy but therein lies the charm and the extraordinary genius of this man from...
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Mifflin County: The Crossroads of the Commonwealth

Mifflin County will celebrate its two hundredth birth­day on September 19, during a customarily beau­tiful month when glowing foliage sweeps over four hun­dred and thirty-one square miles of farms, small towns and wooded mountains. Ex­tending from Bear Gap to Kistler Borough through rug­ged and scenic valleys to the banks of the Juniata River, it’s just fifteen miles from the Seven...
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A Historical Sketch of Indiana County

Indiana County was named for the native Indians. During historic times the two principal tribes were the Delawares and Shawnees. Being reluctant to give up their lands, the Indians struggled desperately to keep out the tide of European settlers. Perhaps the first white settler to enter Indiana County was James LeTort, an Indian trader, about 1726-27. A place called “Letart’s...
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