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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Blair County: Center of Transportation

Blair County was among the last counties created by the Pennsylvania General Assembly. One factor which delayed the establishment of an additional county in the southern portion of central Pennsylvania was geography. The rugged, eastern slopes of the Appalachian Mountains, in which Blair County was eventually located, diverted settlers to other areas. Only after the discovery of iron ore...
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Northumberland County: The Mother County

Although named for the most northern of England’s shires, Northumberland County has been often called by many the “Mother County.” Organized on March 21, 1772, as Pennsylvania’s tenth county, at one time it encom­passed eighteen thousand square miles! The county once extended from the Lehigh to the Allegheny rivers, with the New York border as its north­ern boundary. Its...
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Berks County: Diamond of the Schuylkill Valley

Since 1811, when Schuylkill County was created to include part of what had been northern Berks County, Berks has been distinguishable by its diamond shape. It approxi­mates a geometric diamond or lozenge – an equilateral paral­lelogram without right angles. Its history also seems diamond-like, as it has com­bined a very hard, cutting, and persistently pragmatic charac­teristic with a...
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The Missionary and the Clockmaker: A Saga of Two Brothers-In-Law

Scion of a decayed Anglo-Irish Ascend­ancy family of Ireland’s County Monaghan, the young Rev. Thomas Barton journeyed in spring 1755 through the largely unbroken forests of Pennsylvania to the settlement known at the time as Contwager or Conewago. He made his way – “over Susquehanna,” as the contem­porary traveler commonly described it-to lands lying along the Bermudian...
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Finding a Light in the Forest: Conrad Weiser Homestead

More than any other, Conrad Weiser (1696-1760) captured the imagination of the Pennsylvania German community during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a time when its leaders asserted its right to be considered a major participant in the building of America. The veneration he was accorded led to the creation in 1923 of the historic park bearing his name and interpreting his...
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Burnt Cabins

On July 18, 1749, Seneca representatives complained to the Provincial government that white settlers were violating a treaty by building houses on land belonging to the Six Nations. In response, Lieutenant Governor James Hamilton issued a proclamation. “I … do hereby, in His Majesty’s Name,” Hamilton ordered, “strictly charge, command, and enjoin all & every the...
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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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On the Road in Search of William Penn’s Holy Experiment

When we think of historic sites in Pennsylvania, places such as the hallowed ground at Gettysburg, Philadelphia’s stately Independence Hall, or Fort Pitt in Pittsburgh, immediately come to mind. These places are normally associated with great military engagements or important political events. Yet when William Penn (1644–1718) ruminated about the things that would make Pennsylvania unique, he...
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