Letters to the Editor

Letters presents readers' comments and reactions to specific articles in Pennsylvania Heritage, the initiatives of PHMC, and other developments in the historical, cultural and museum communities of Pennsylvania.

Back to Barnes

The summer 1992 issue featured a salute to Frankford historian Howard L. Barnes (“Profile: Howard L. Barnes, Dean of Philadelphia’s Amateur Historians” by William C. Kashatus III), in which I noted as especially curious his claim of Swedish settlers occupying the Frankford area in the 1660s. Darby, in Delaware County, also boasts continuous permanent settlement since at least the 1660s – again, Swedish. I believe Mr. Barnes because Frankford is in line with the first row of hills west of the Atlantic Ocean. The New Sweden colonists tagged this hilly chain the “Great Hill.” To them, and other early groups, these hills represented a psychological line; to settle in the wilderness beyond them made little sense to the first waves of colonists. I do have one exception to Mr. Barnes’ claims for Frankford, however. He ranks Frankford as the oldest settled section of Philadelphia. Historians almost uniformly accord Kingsessing of southwest Philadelphia with that honor.

Thomas R. Smith
Upper Darby, Pa.

Thomas R. Smith is archivist for the Sellers Library in Upper Darby.


All For Naught?

1 am glad to see additional research on Whiskey Rebellion personalities (see “The Tax Collector of Bower Hill” by Chadwick Allen Harp in the fall 1992 issue), and I always enjoy the fine illustrative layout you provide. I would like to answer the author’s concluding question, “Had Gen. John Neville sacrificed his home and honor among friends and neighbors for naught?” Certainly not. Not only was Neville compensated for his property losses, but he continued to do well, receiving his commission for collecting excise taxes and expanding his financial control of the region as well. He may have dedi­cated himself to the public good, but he perceived this to mean increasing his personal wealth to provide him with the means to be a discretionary benefactor to members of the lower economic classes. Neville’s son-in-law, Isaac Craig, was deputy quartermas­ter general for the Army, the largest consumer of spirits in the West. Intimately connected with the military and political powers of the federalist government, Neville became one of the favored, as the region’s large whiskey producers pushed out his neighbors’ operations. On the national level, General Neville’s pushing the issue of the government’s right to collect taxes and enforce its laws made possible the testing of the nation’s new Constitu­tion. The Washington administration’s reply in military force demonstrated to the young nation and the world this democratic government’s will for main­taining the union through majority rule.

Jerry A. Clouse
Harrisburg, Pa.

Jerry A. Clouse is historic preservation specialist for the PHMC’s Bureau for Historic Preservation. He is also the author of “The Whiskey Boys Versus the Watermelon Army” which appeared in the spring 1991 edition.



Pennsylvania Heritage has entered the much touted age of state-of-the-art electronic publishing-but not without a glitch or two. Many readers will undoubtedly notice new innova­tive design components in the winter 1993 edition, but they will also note the confusing text in Marie Purnell Musser’s article entitled “Central Pennsylvania’s Very Own Painted Ladies.” This issue was the very first designed and laid out with the aid of computers but, alas, the system was not immune to computer gremlins who wreaked havoc with Mrs. Musser’s article. Because this article is so fascinating, we are making the correct version available to all interested readers. To obtain a copy, simply send your request to: “Painted Ladies,” Pennsylvania Heritage, P. O. Box 1026, Harrisburg, PA 17108-1026, or telephone (717) 787-9123.