Marking Time highlights one of the more than 2,500 markers that have been installed throughout the state since 1914 as part of the Pennsylvania Historical Marker Program, operated by PHMC's State Historic Preservation Office.

Proudly claimed as a native son by Pennsylva­nians, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Conrad Richter (1890-1968) was born and raised in Pine Grove, in western Schuylkill County, about thirty-five miles north of Harris­burg. Work took him increasingly westward until, in 1928, he and his wife. Harvena Achenbach Richter, relocated to Albuquerque, New Mexico, which pro­vided material for his first distinctive work, Early Americana and Other Stories, published in 1936, three years after he re­tuned “home” to the Keystone State. He used the Southwest as the setting in four more works of fiction, the most successful of which, The Sea of Grass, was published in 1937.

He followed The Sea of Grass with The Trees (1940), the first volume of a trilogy about frontier life in Ohio, which was cho­sen as a Book-of-the-Month-Club selection. The second volume, The Fields, appeared in 1946 and the final, considered by many critics to be his finest novel, The Town, was released four years later. The Town won a Pulitzer Prize in 1951.

Richter’s nakedly semi-autobiographical book, The Waters of Kronos, which took the National Book Award in 1960, firmly established his place among the liter­ary giants of the United States. In the book Richter appears as John Donner, an old man who revisits his Pennsylvania boyhood and youth in order to make sense of his life. In A Simple Honorable Man, published two years later, Donner plays a secondary role to that of his father, Harry Donner, an idealistic storekeeper-turned-Lutheran minister, a character based closely on the writer’s own father, John Absalom Richter.

Among Richter’s novels are Tacey Cromwell (1942), The Free Man (1943), The Light in the Forest (1953), The Lady (1957), The Grandfathers (1964), A Country of Strangers (1966), and The Aristocrat (1968).

On Thursday, December 8, 1994, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission dedicated a state historical marker in front of Richter’s former home at 11 Maple Street in Pine Grove, where he resided from 1950 until his death. Taking part in the ceremony was unswerving ad­mirer and fellow Pulitzer Prize winner, David McCullough, who met and be­friended Richter thirty years earlier. “Nobody at that point in my life – when I was trying to learn how to become a writer – was more helpful than Conrad Richter,” McCullough remembered.

McCullough praised Richter as “an American master” who wrote spare yet historically rich prose. Richter steeped himself in nineteenth-century history. He spent hours visiting the Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg to learn the common names and language of the peri­ods about which he wrote. Many of Conrad Richter’s novels and short stories, McCullough noted, celebrated basic val­ues of rural American life: honesty, self-reliance and, as Richter put it, the “power of simple goodness.”

Popular twentieth-century writers John O’Hara and Arthur H. Lewis were also Schuylkill County natives. A state historical marker honoring O’Hara was dedicated in Pottsville in 1982.