John Wilkes Booth and the Land of Oil

Beginning about 10:25 on the evening of April 14, 1865, the time and date President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in Washington’s Ford Theatre by John Wilkes Booth, a mass of information including evidence and myths has accumulated regarding the act and those connected with it, particularJy about the assassin him­self. John Wilkes Booth was the ninth of ten children born to Junius...
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Rebels’ Revenge: The Burning of Chambersburg

Out of the predawn mist thundered the enemy, their horses’ hooves pounding the town’s dusty streets apocalyptically. Al­though grimy, weary and starv­ing, the cavalrymen were formidable, battle-hardened veterans, ready to fight at a moment’s notice. They had come to this little town to execute an order – a command which, when carried out, would add another bitter meas­ure...
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Madman or Saint? Abolitionist John Brown

The door to the jail cell creaked open, and the condemned old man stared at his visitor, not recognizing the face. The one who entered spoke first, identifying himself as Morrow B. Lowry of Erie. The prisoner suddenly remembered, and “cordially and gratefully” greeted his friend of many years ago. Their reunion must have seemed strange and sad. Low­ry, learning that his former...
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Franklin County

Our forefathers never could have envisioned the Franklin County we live in today. The hardships and struggles to merely survive while trying to establish new homes in a new land on a new frontier created memories that will live as long as man cares to remember. Modern major highways, a wide diversification of indus- try, fertile farm lands and persons who still care help make Franklin County,...
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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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Pippin

Artistic reputations are – much like the stock market – hard to assess, and harder yet to predict. Such is the case with the career of Horace Pippin (1888-1946), a self-taught African American painter who lived in West Chester in southeastern Pennsylvania. An artist of national standing by the early 1940s, Pippin had made a meteoric rise from the local renown of his Chester County...
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Painted With Pride in the U.S.A.

Although not a sketch artist like William Forbes and Alfred Waud, who drew scenes from the battlefield, African American painter David Bustill Bowser (1820-1900) is considered a Civil War artist-but for a much different reason. Active in Philadelphia from 1844 to 1889, he painted portraits of abolitionist John Brown and President Abraham Lincoln. Most important, he painted the regimental colors...
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Executive Director’s Message

On Thursday and Friday, May 2-3, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) will sponsor the twenty-fifth annual Conference on Black History in York. This conference series brings together scholars, teachers, and students to celebrate and to look critical­ly at the experience of African Americans over the past four centuries. Notable keynote speakers have included K. Leroy Irvis,...
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Joseph Winters

Joseph R. Winters J ( circa 1816-1916), a free African American born in the slave state of Virginia, moved in 1830, at the age of fourteen, to Chambersburg, Franklin County, where he eventually became well known as an entrepreneur, inventor, writer, songwriter, and outdoorsman. His most notable achievements were inventions, particularly a fire escape ladder and hose conductor (“hook and...
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Black Settlement on Yellow Hill

Anyone who has ever read about the Battle of Gettysburg or visited the historic American Civil War battlefield undoubtedly learned about the generals, the courageous soldiers who fought in the grisly three-day encounter, and the thousands that lost their lives on that hallowed ground in Adams County. The stories of the famous engagements that took place at Little Round Top, Devil’s Den, and the...
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