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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John Nicholson and Land as a Lure in the Infant Nation, 1790-1800

John Nicholson was an early Pennsylvania land speculator, financier and entrepreneur. He was born in 1757, emigrated from Wales at an early age and died in 1800. While serving as comptroller-general of the state (1782-1794), he was a major factor in helping Pennsylvania achieve financial solvency after the revolutionary war. In this capac­ity, Nicholson created political alliances with those who...
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Benjamin Henry Latrobe: The Artist as Commentator

Benjamin Henry La­trobe (1764-1820) is generally acknowl­edged to be America’s first professional architect and engineer, practicing in the United States from 1796, when he immigrated from England, until his untimely death from yellow fever in New Orleans in 1820. He worked, during that period, in cities as diverse as Richmond, Philadelphia, Balti­more, Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, and...
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The Search for Jacob Shallus

Long before the bicentennial of the United States Constitution rendered them ubiquitous, the pen strokes We the People probably formed the most famous and sacred piece of handwriting in the Western world. The original lettering, seen by swarms of visitors to the document’s repository in the nation’s capital, is the very script of the Constitution signed by members of the...
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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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“Prepare Thyself … to Meet the Lord Thy God!”: Religion in Pennsylvania During the Revolution

Religion in the colony of Pennsylvania was distinctive. In contrast to most areas of the western world, this province practiced freedom of religion. It never had an established church. Friends who controlled the first legislative assembly, meeting in Upland, now Chester, in 1682, specified that no one was “at any time [to] be com­pelled to frequent or Maintain anie religious worship, place...
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Historical Sketch of Greene County

Greene County lies in the southwestern corner of the state. Its many hills, the distinguishing feature of the countryside, grow more pronounced as one travels from the eastern to the western areas. The old Washington Waynes­burg Railroad, traveling through the hills, was famous for its 178 sharp turns, each of which jolted the passengers. There were some who took the trip just for the roller...
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Erie County: Where Geography Has Shaped History

Erie County forms the northwest corner of the state, bounded by Lake Erie on the northwest, the states of Ohio and New York on the west and east respectively and parts of Warren and Crawford counties on the east and south. Historically the county was divided into two sections. The sou them region of 259 ,000 acres fell within the original land grant to William Penn. The northern portion of...
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The Whiskey Boys Versus the Watermelon Army

When the issue of balancing the budget by raising taxes reared its ugly head recently, the nation once again saw the contro­versy and bitterness the sub­ject ignites. On Capitol Hill familiar questions were fiercely debated. Who should close the revenue gap, the wealthy or the working class? Should taxes be increased on ciga­rettes, gasoline, or liquor? Nearly two hundred years ago the Congress...
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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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