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.

Laurel Hill

Your most interesting article on Laurel Hill [“An Address for the Afterlife at Laurel Hill Cemetery” by James McClelland, Winter 2007] could have named many important families. One may be of particular interest to readers in Lebanon, Lancaster, and Dauphin Counties.

The immensely wealthy and influential Coleman family of Lebanon, Cornwall, Mt. Gretna, and Colebrook, as well as the related Brock family of Lebanon, maintained a Philadelphia existence and, despite their homes being close to their mines and operations, they buried their dead at Laurel Hill Cemetery. Perhaps especially notable is that Robert Habersham Coleman buried his first wife beneath the altar of Lebanon’s St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, which was to some degree a chapel in her memory, but when he married a second time, her remains were reinterred in the family plot at Laurel Hill Cemetery, where he and his second wife were also buried. So cherished a spot was Laurel Hill!

Karl E. Moyer
Lancaster, Pa.


Preservation Trades

It was a great pleasure to read about the Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology students who participated in the PHMC’s preservation trades apprenticeship program. “Hands-On History” in the Winter 2007 edition did a wonderful job of telling about the work and learning accomplished by students Justin Bellone and Jarred Geist. The photographic images of the preservation efforts were striking.

It was also very interesting, in terms of continuity, to find this article positioned just after “A Place in Time,” which described the historic Derry Session House that Milton S. Hershey had preserved by encasing it in a larger glass structure in 1929. That preservation project was supervised by the late D. Paul Witmer, accurately enough described as a “self-trained architect and engineer.” Witmer’s genius is still apparent in the grand Circular Dining Room of the Hotel Hershey and the innovative design of the Hersheypark Arena, among many other existing structures. He was a life-long learner, but also, like current students Bellone and Geist, he, too, was a product of Thaddeus Stevens.

Paul R. Hoffer
Millersville, Pa.


My First Issue

I just saw my first issue of Pennsylvania Heritage. Thumbing through it, my eyes were captured by the Derry Session House, which I have visited. Being a proud Presbyterian of Scots-Irish descent, it was important that I do so. I’m so glad it has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

I hope you will consider doing a story on the sycamore trees that line Route 147 near Halifax, Dauphin County, as they just made the list of the National Register of Historic Places.

You have a wonderful magazine!

Polly McMillen Eby
New Bloomfield, Pa.

This observant reader’s recommendation is well taken and the Legislative Route 1 Sycamore Allée, added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 7, 2007, is highlighted in “A Place of Time” appearing in the summer 2007 issue.


On the Main Line

The well-written and illustrated article, “Frank Rizzo: Philadelphia’s Tough Cop Turned Mayor” [by William C. Kashatus, Winter 2007], contains a small error. Bala, Cynwyd, Merion, Haverford, and Swarthmore were called “Main Line communities.” That designation, however, is usually limited to Philadelphia suburbs located along the East-West line of the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR).

Actually, Bala and Cynwd were then on the Norristown line of the Pennsy’s Philadelphia Terminal Division. Swarthmore was on the West Chester line. Only Merion and Haverford could be correctly called “Main Line.” I should know. As an extra agent of the PRR, from high school graduation in June 1941 until the beginning of my military service during World War II in February 1943, I worked in every Main Line station from Overbrook to Paoli.

Incidentally, I was born in the Pennsylvania Railroad Company’s station at Douglassville, Berks County. My father was an agent and we lived in an upstairs apartment. My aunt, brother-in-law, and grandfather also worked for the Pennsy. I returned to the employ of the PRR in mid-1946 until I was recalled to active Air Force duty early in 1951.

Thank you for publishing such an interesting magazine.

John F. Reilly, Lt. Col., USAF (Ret.)
Lititz, Pa.