Bookshelf provides descriptions and notices of recent publications on Pennsylvania subjects.

Pennsylvania Wilds: Images from the Allegheny National Forest

Photographs by Ed Bernik; story by Lisa Gensheimer
Forest Press, 2006; 138 pages, cloth, $39.95

For those who treasure the beauty of the Key­stone State’s unspoiled wilderness, Pennsylvania Wilds: Images from the Allegheny National Forest offers an armchair visit to the vast and glorious terrain of eight hundred square miles in north­central Pennsylvania. This sumptuous volume is a celebration – in dramatic photographs and in meaningful, informative text – of one of only fifteen national forests in the eastern United States. Pennsylvania Wilds moves far beyond being merely a collection of pretty pictures accom­panied by seemingly breathless text. It is a book as deep and rich in history as its awe-inspiring subject; it possesses substance and eloquence and beauty.

Author Lisa Gensheimer thought­fully chronicles the history of the re­gion, from its earliest epoch as a tropi­cal paradise, when more than three hundred and seventy-five years ago most of what is now the Allegheny Na­tional Forest was covered by a warm, inland sea. The period, “The Age of Fishes,” was marked by episodes of mountain building generated by heat and pressure deep inside the earth. The author succinctly and intelli­gently traces the area’s natural history, discussing unusual attractions, such as Rimrock, an ancient bedrock city “of hidden passageways, overhangs, and a jumble of irregular sandstone blocks that have eroded in place over 350 mil­lion years.”

“The First Americans” are the sub­ject of the second chapter, in which the author discusses settlements and, specifically, a former Seneca village located near the confluence of the Allegheny River and the Brokenstraw Creek known as Buckaloons. A cultural crossroads of sorts, Buckaloons has been inhabited by many different cultures over more than ten thousand years. Chapter two also examines European contact, the impact of the French and Indian War and the Ameri­can Revolution, and the results of early negotiations between government officials and representatives of the Six Nations. Tn this narrative, the great names in American history emerge: George Washington, Seneca Chief Cornplanter, General William Irvine, and more.

Subsequent chapters deal with the lumbering and oil booms, which forever changed the landscape – and the ways in which the entire world worked and played – and conservation practices to restore and preserve the precious landscape. Juxtaposed with spectacular photographs by Ed Bernik are historic images of logging opera­tions and petroleum explorations. In chapter five readers come face to face with “Today’s Pioneers,” described by the author as “the people who live in the shadow of the trees are as strong and as resilient as the forest itself. They are independent thinkers – creative entrepreneurs who find in the forest a source of sustenance, inspiration, and at the end of the day, quiet solitude.” Contemporary pioneers include Alpaca farmers, a fishing guide, independent oil producers, and Tionesta’s “Bird Lady.”

Pennsylvania Wilds showcases the people and places of this very special place with nearly one hundred photographs – each occupying a full page – by professional photographer Ed Ber­nik, whose works are as evocative as they are documentary. In addi­tion to his striking im­ages of the scenic (Bent Run), the picturesque (Allegheny Reservoir), the historic (Endeavor Social Hall), and the unusual (Dinosaur Park along the Kinzua Bridge Scenic Byway), the photographer offers intense, intimate portraits of people (Bruce the Black­smith, for one) which capture the spirit and independence of those who choose to call this forest “home.”

Pennsylvania Wilds: Images from the Allegheny National Forest is accompanied by a Forest Companion CD featuring a travel guide, map, screensaver, and more than fifty reasons to visit the region.

 

Money Pitcher: Chief Bender and the Tragedy of Indian Assimilation

By William C. Kashatus
Penn State University Press, 2006; 199 pages, cloth, $35.00

Charles Albert Bender (1884-1954) – known to legions of sports fans as “Chief” Bender – was one of baseball’s most talented pitchers. By the close of his major league career in 1925, he had accrued 212 wins and more than 1,700 strikeouts. In 1953, he became the first Native American elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame. However, as a high-profile Chippewa Indian in a society that ignored bigotry, Bender felt firsthand the trauma of racism and suffered the heartache of discrimination. Money Pitcher: Chief Bender and the Tragedy of Indian Assimilation, the first biography of this compelling and complex figure, examines the pitcher’s career and probes “his personal struggle to repress the anger he felt against a white society and sport that exploited him personally and financially.”

Bender’s baseball career began on the sandlots of Pennsylvania’s Carlisle Industrial Indian School, where he distinguished himself as a hard-throwing pitcher. It wasn’t long before Connie Mack, manager of the Philadelphia Athletics, signed Bender, in 1903, to his pitching staff, where he was a mainstay for more than a decade.

Mack regarded Bender as his “money pitcher” – the hurler he relied on whenever he needed a critical victory. With success came suffering, though. Spectators jeered Bender on (and off) the field, taunting him with war whoops and vitriolic jeers. Newspapers ridiculed him in their sports pages. His own teammates derisively called him ”Chief,” and Mack paid him less than half the salary of other star pitchers.

The constant disrespect and derision became a major factor in one of the most controversial episodes in the history of baseball: the alleged corruption of the 1914 World Series. Despite being heavily favored going into the Series against the Boston Braves, the A’s lost four straight games. Money Pitcher offers compelling evidence that Bender intentionally compromised his performance in the series as retribution for the poor treatment he received.

Money Pitcher: Chief Bender and the Tragedy of Indian Assimilation goes far beyond the realm of sports. It is a book about social justice and Native Americans’ tragic pursuit of the white American Dream at the expense of their own identity. Having arrived in the major leagues just thirteen years after the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890, Bender experienced the disastrous effects of governmental assimilation policies designed to quash indigenous Indian culture. Nevertheless, his remarkable athleticism and dignified behavior disproved popular notions of Native American inferiority and opened the door to the majors for more than one hundred Indians who played baseball during the first half of the twentieth century.

 

Industry in Art: Pittsburgh, 1812 to 1920

By Rina C. Youngner
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2006 (188 pages, cloth, $29.95)

Industry in Art: Pittsburgh, 1812 to 1920, examines the artists, contexts, and societal factors that influenced the depiction of Pittsburgh industry and labor from the early nineteenth century through the early twentieth century with a variety of art forms that include illustration, painting, and graphic art.

In the early nineteenth century, most fine artists avoided portraying industry, although David Gilmour Blythe (1815-1865) and William Coventry Wall (1810-1886) captured the environmental changes caused by industrial growth. By the last quarter of the century, however, national weekly magazines, among them Harper’s Weekly and Every Saturday, illustrated Pittsburgh’s smoking industrial complexes as symbols of manufacturing might populated by stoic working-class heroes toiling with fire Commercial artists created graphic images of modern technology for topographic prints, advertising, and national periodicals that helped shape the country’s perception of Pittsburgh as both an industrial giant and the “City of the Future.”

Images in Harper’s Weekly and Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper of the 1877 railroad strike and the Homestead Strike of 1892, and Joseph Stella’s and Lewis Hine’s portrayals of mill workers for the Pittsburgh Survey in the early twentieth century, focused on industrial workers as angry strikers and as immigrants struggling to earn a livelihood. It was not until the closing of the nineteenth century that depictions of industry became acceptable in fine (or “high) art, as the Carnegie Institute brought European art and artists to Pittsburgh with its yearly International exhibitions and Aaron Gorson (1872-1933) discovered the dramatic effect of glowing steel mills at night. As perceptions of industry changed over time, artists reflected and shaped America’s attitudes toward industry and labor in the nineteenth century.

Industry in Art: Pittsburgh, 1812 to 1920, reproduces works by artists of the era, including Russell Smith, Joshua Shaw, Edwin Whitefield, Otto Krebs, Harry Fenn, Frederick B. Schell, Charles Graham, Frits Thaulow, and John White Alexander.

 

These Just In…

A number of new books about Pennsylvania history have been received by Pennsylvania Heritage’s editorial staff, which has not had the opportunity to review them, but wishes to share news of their availability with readers.

Willow Grove Park, by the Old York Road Historical Society, published by Arcadia Publishing, 2005; 128 pages, paper, $19.95.

The First Day at Gettysburg: A Walking Tour, by James E. Thomas, published by Thomas Publications, 2005; 80 pages, paper, $8.95.

Ben Franklin’s Philadelphia: A Guide, by Tom Huntingdon, published by Stackpole Books, 2006; 88 pages, paper, $9.95.

Bedford and Its Neighbors, by Daniel J. Burns, published by Arcadia Publishing, 2005; 128 pages, paper, $19.99.

Gettysburg’s Battlefield Photographer William H. Tipton: Selected Images from the Collection of the Adams County Historical Society, compiled by Timothy H. Smith, with an afterword by William A. Frassanito, published by Thomas Publications, 2005; 56 pages, paper, $8.95.

The Team That Changed Baseball: Roberto Clemente and the 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates, by Bruce Markusen, published by Westholme Publishing, 2006; 219 pages, cloth, $25.00.

Pennsylvania Impressions, photography by John McGrail, published by Farcountry Press, 2005; 80 pages, paper, $9.95.