The Last Days of William Penn

“My poor Dearests last breath was fetchd this morning between 2 & 3 a Clock.” So wrote a distraught Hannah Penn to longtime friend and advisor Thomas Story on July 30, 1718. The remains of her husband were taken to Jordans Meeting House in Buckinghamshire and buried there on August 5 beside his first wife Gulielma. Quakers and non-Quakers alike attended the funeral. Jordans is a quiet place,...
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William Penn’s Side Chair

Pennsylvania founder and first proprietor William Penn lived in his colony for a total of only four years during two trips of two years each, 1682-84 and 1699-1701. Even before his first visit he had engaged his agent to purchase from the Lenapes land along the Delaware River that would become Pennsbury Manor, intended to be his permanent summer home in America. As fate would have it, however,...
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Preserving Bartram’s Garden: Recent Restoration of the House, Garden and Riverfront

Sitting on 45 acres of pastoral landscape, the Colonial-era house at Bartram’s Garden has long been recognized as a Philadelphia architectural landmark and one of the first historic buildings preserved as a public park in Pennsylvania. John Bartram (1699-1777), the first American-born botanist, began construction shortly after he purchased the farm of 102 acres in the fall of 1728 in what...
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Germantown: Gateway to the New World

We went on board the Concord at Gravesend, the 24th, 5th month, and after we lost sight of England, which was in about three weeks time, we were forty-nine days before we saw land in America, and the 1st 8th month, some of us went ashore in Pennsylvania. The blessing of the Lord did attend us, so we had a very comfortable passage, and had our health all the way. With these words James Claypoole...
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A Country Seat on the Susquehanna: Wright’s Ferry Mansion

On the eastern bank of the Susquehanna River in southeastern Pennsylvania, ten miles west of Lancaster, Wright’s Ferry Man­sion was built in 1738 for a remarkable English Quaker, Susanna Wright. In 1726, when Susanna was twenty-nine, she purchased one hundred acres in this region on the fringes of Pennsylvania wilderness, then inhabited by a small tribe of Indians and known as...
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An Epic in the Making

“It’s exciting. It’s moving. It’s surprising. It’s suspenseful It’s filled with men who became heroes, and women who became legends. It’s an epic 300 years in the making. It’s Pennsylvania history. Experience it. It’s too good to miss.”   Motivation is tough to describe, even tougher to define. It’s the stuff acting is made...
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Bryn Athyn Cathedral: Where Man May Forget the World

Bryn Athyn Cathedral, tucked well back from Second Street Pike in Montgomery County, is not immediately visible to the passerby. One is intro­duced to the finely chiseled spires, granite towers and sparkling glass in rapid, stop­-frame glimpses through a dense stand of trees. As the full view unfolds, one is at once compelled by the loom­ing one hundred and fifty foot central tower and beckoned...
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A Treasure Trove of Books

Considered one of the finest repositories of rare books in the nation, the Rare Book Collection of the State Library of Pennsylvania was, at its conception, nothing more than an accumulation of law books necessary for the founding fathers to organize and govern the province. In­deed, for two more centuries, the collection of rarities and unique volumes, as it is known and safeguarded today, was...
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Letitia’s Grave Secret

The tombstone of Wil­liam Penn’s daughter bears the name Letitia Penn – not her mar­ried name, Letitia Aubrey. One historian, given to conjecture, wondered, “Had she wished it so, remembering her hus­band’s bitter quarrels with her father, and the many other unhappinesses her husband had brought her?” What this woman “wished” on her tombstone no one...
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A Walk of Injustice

Just before sunrise on Monday, September 19, 1737, a strange gathering of Indians, white settlers and professional woodsmen assembled beneath a mam­moth chestnut tree along the Durham Road in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The Indians were Minsi and Shaw­nee of the Delaware Nation, along with two of their chiefs, Tisheekunk and Nutimus; the white settlers were men anx­ious for Pennsylvania to...
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