Serious Nonsense by William W. Donner

Serious Nonsense: Groundhog Lodges, Versammlinge, and Pennsylvania German Heritage by William W. Donner Penn State University Press, 208 pp., paper $29.95 Serious Nonsense looks at the origin and development of the Pennsylvania Dutch versammlinge, a type of meeting in which the order of business and program are conducted solely in the Pennsylvania Dutch language, often referred to as “the...
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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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McKean County: Where the Gold is Green

The great gold and silver rushes of the late nineteenth century to places such as the Black Hills, Colorado, Arizona, California and Alaska have long been hailed in story and song for their excite­ment, riches and heartbreak. But, the rush for “green gold” to McKean County during the same century was equally or more exciting. First, there were the forests – immense forests of...
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Unlikely Capitalists: Harmonists as Textile Manufacturers

At the end of the eighteenth century, George Rapp (1757-1847) planned to create a religious community in the wilderness as near to heaven on earth as was humanly possible. He succeeded to a large extent, but in the process achieved a different kind of success: he created one of the largest textile manufacturing enter­prises in the Pennsylvania of his time. While still in his native Württemburg,...
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Montgomery County: Cultural Microcosm of the Commonwealth

The third most populous county in Pennsylvania, with ap­proximately 480 square miles of rolling hills criss-crossed by rivers, streams and superhighways, Montgom­ery County is a microcosm of the Com­monwealth, a reflection of its cultural development. Pan of Philadelphia County until 1784, Montgomery Coun­ty served as a sanctuary for numerous ethnic and religious groups seeking the freedom...
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Dauphin County: Chocolates, Coal, and a Capital

Dauphin County celebrates its two hundredth anniver­sary this year. The events and themes that are the history of the county reflect the experience of Pennsylvania and the United States. Dauphin County has never been a homogeneous commu­nity; indeed, it is difficult to consider it as a single commu­nity. From the beginning it has comprised individuals of diverse ethnic, national and religious...
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Pennsylvania’s Gift: The Decorated Tree

Tall, nearly touching the ceiling, its branches pungently spicing the room, the stately tree awaits its final array­ – twinkling lights, shiny ornaments, sparkling tinsel, as well as a few precious treasures from years gone by. The Christmas tree is Pennsyl­vania’s gift to the nation, and the story of its arrival, the struggle for its acceptance and the development of its decorations...
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Adams County: Tranquility Regained

One of Pennsylvania’s smaller counties, both in size and population, Adams County developed much the same as similar settlements along the Atlantic Seaboard. Its growth during the past two and a half centu­ries has been governed by its own particular circumstances, including location, terrain, soil, climate, vegetation, min­eral resources and the accom­plishments of the immigrants and...
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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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Bucks County

As one of the three original counties of Pennsylvania created shortly after William Penn arrived in his nascent colony in 1682, Bucks County has a heritage that reaches back to the very beginnings of the Commonwealth. Long before Penn’s arrival, the intrepid settlers of the Dutch and Swedish colonies farther down the Delaware River had ex­plored the wooded banks of the river as far as the...
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