We are searching data for your request:
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.
William Penn served as governor of Pennsylvania for two years and did much to encourage its development. He urged acceptance of people from all faiths and wrote the Frame of Government, the colony's first constitution, which provided for representative government. Penn assured positive relations with the area's Native Americans by paying them for the lands he had been given by the King.Philadelphia, along with Charleston, South Carolina, was a successful example of a planned city. Despite his efforts and the prosperity of many of the settlers, Penn profited little from the colony and would later spend some time in debtors’ prison.Much tension developed between the aristocratic upper house of the Pennsylvania assembly and the more democratic lower house. Penn was persuaded to grant a Charter of Liberties in 1701, a reform measure that provided the following:
- Replaced the existing two-house legislature with a unicameral assembly
- Placed various restrictions on the powers of the proprietor
- Enabled the Three Lower Counties to form their own assembly. This area would continue to share a governor with Pennsylvania, but eventually would become a separate entity, Delaware.
Penn temporarily lost control of his colony in 1692-93; the new English monarchs, William and Mary, were suspicious about his close relationship with the previous king, James II. For the remainder of Penn's life, Pennsylvania was in some ways a troubled colony, at least from the political perspective. His heirs continued to govern the colony until the outbreak of the War for Independence.Conflicts with the French and Native AmericansDespite Penn's efforts to treat the Native Americans fairly, tensions developed later and involved Pennsylvania in the widespread warfare among the French, English and Native Americans.In 1755, General Edward Braddock was dispatched to reduce French forts that had been erected on Pennsylvania's western frontier. Marching from Virginia to Fort Duquesne, Braddock displayed a fatal adherence to old school tactics. Dismissing the advice of his staff, including young George Washington, led to his force's entrapment next to the Monongahela River by a combined French and Native American force. The English and colonists were grouped tightly together, making them easy targets for their opponents. Braddock fought with great bravery, having several horses shot out from under him, but sustained a fatal wound. English losses were tremendous: Only 459 soldiers of 1,373 avoided being killed or wounded.As a result of this stunning defeat, the Pennsylvania frontier was ravaged by the French and their allies. Fort Duquesne was taken finally by British and American forces in 1758, then renamed Fort Pitt.
See Exploration and Indian Warfare.
See also Indian Wars Time Table.
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania is one of the most complete and professional genealogy centers in the nation—and the largest in the Mid-Atlantic region. HSP collects genealogical materials from Pennsylvania and every other state east of the Mississippi River. Its collections also cover pre-migration from Europe, the genealogical “stepping stones” across the Caribbean, and out-migration to Canada. The following is a small sampling of collections and sources available at HSP. Please refer to our online catalog for information about our books, images, journals, manuscripts, maps, and other items in our collection. You can also contact a Reference Librarian for further assistance.
Family Papers and Manuscript Collections
HSP holds many diaries, journals, family trees, and related family documents and manuscripts that contribute to the understanding of many family histories. Collections of particular interest might be those of Pennsylvania’s founding families, including Penn, Logan, Norris, Pemberton, Drinker, Shippen, Cadwalader, Chew, Biddle and Powel.
You can search our Discover online catalog for family names, town or township names, or other locations and landmarks that may provide insights into your family history. Descriptions of all manuscript collections are available in the online catalog, and many collections have finding aids online or at HSP that provide more information. Visitors to HSP's library should also look for names and other terms of interest in our manuscripts card catalog, known as PC1 (and not available online), which serves as a name index for many manuscript items.
Wills, Probate Records, and Deeds
HSP holds microform copies of wills and deeds for many Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware counties. Generally indexed and often abstracted—especially helpful if you're looking for family connections—these records are typically available for the period from the first year of record through the 19th century. HSP also has indexes to letters of administration for many counties, as well as Orphans Court records for Philadelphia and other counties.
For a complete listing of our holdings by county, please search our online catalog for the subject-heading “probate records” and the name of the specific county in which you're interested (e.g. Bucks County Probate Records).
For Philadelphia, HSP has indexes to wills and administrations up to 1900, as well as abstracts of wills up to 1825:
However, estate inventories and administrations for Philadelphia County are not available at HSP. Please ask a Reference Librarian for further information.
You may also be interested in consulting the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania's online resource guides, which summarize where to find various counties' wills, deeds, and other records.
Some probate records are now available online. HSP offers visitors to our library free access to AncestryInstitution.com FamilySearch.org is free for all users. See an HSP Reference Librarian for further assistance using these resources in the library.
Genealogical Scrapbooks and Research Folders
Originally compiled by members of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania (GSP), HSP’s collection of scrapbooks and family history folders contain original research pertaining to literally thousands of family lines. The family history folders may contain a single sheet of paper or hundreds of pages of research and correspondence. Many items are listed in our Discover online catalog other items are indexed solely in GSP's Manuscript Archives Surname Index. It is recommended to search both resources for a surname that interests you.
Available in both original and microform format, tax records for Philadelphia and other tri-state localities can reveal information on family relationships, occupation, residences, and general economic status. Information on specific years and localities may be found in our Discover online catalog.
A large number of the records of the region’s many churches, meetings, and synagogues may be found within HSP's collections. Available in original, transcribed, abstracted, and microform format, these records offer invaluable access to information on births, marriages, deaths, burials, and community activities. Information on specific churches and denominations represented in our collections may be found through our Discover online catalog.
In addition, HSP partnered with Ancestry.com, the world’s largest online family history resource, to make our collection more accessible to researchers. As part of this partnership, Ancestry.com has digitized more than 7.5 million Pennsylvania vital records from HSP’s collection, including church, cemetery, and undertaker records from every county in the state from 1708 through 1985. All of these records are available online for free for members of HSP, as well as to visitors to HSP’s library and to Ancestry.com subscribers.
Birth and Marriage Records
Pennsylvania began issuing birth and death certificates in 1906. Before that time, some Pennsylvania counties kept birth registers as early as the Civil War, and some counties kept marriage registers even earlier. For example, check out Philadelphia's marriage registers, available on microfilm at HSP.
HSP’s collection of birth records includes published compilations covering various time periods, geographical regions, and religious affiliations, including Pennsylvania German Church Records (call # Ref F 160 .G3 P427 1983), Early Pennsylvania Births, 1675-1875 (call # REF F 148 .F5 1947), and Pennsylvania Vital Records from the Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine and the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (call # REF F 148 .P48 1983). Search HSP's online catalog using subject headings such as births, birth records, or the name of the specific church or denomination to which a family belonged. Also, search the family surname, town name and county name to see what records may be available.
HSP holds several indexes to Philadelphia's marriage records both before and after the initiation of civil registration:
Marriage Records Recorded by Various Philadelphia Mayors and Aldermen: 1800-1895. (Ph 25A:7, 10-19 XR 803:1-3)
Philadelphia Marriage Records Index and Register, 1860-1916. (Indexes 1860-1885: XR 875:1-6 Registers 1860-1885: XR 875:7-13) NOTE: The Marriage Register after 1885 must be obtained from the Philadelphia Marriage Records Department at City Hall, Room #415.
HSP's collection also contains a large number of marriage certificates, which can be located in our manuscripts card catalog (PC-1) under an individual's surname.
In addition, a number of newspapers have been indexed for marriage notices, and church records are also an excellent source for information about births and marriages. Search our online catalog by county name to see what birth and marriage records may be available.
Some birth and marriage records are now available online. HSP offers visitors to our library free access to AncestryInstitution.com FamilySearch.org is free for all users. See an HSP Reference Librarian for further assistance using these resources in the library.
Death and Burial Records
Death and burial records can be accessed through various published, unpublished and microform sources. In many instances, official records of deaths were not compiled until after the Civil War. However, church records often contain information about deaths or burials in church graveyards.
Philadelphia maintained semi-official records of deaths prior to 1860, documented in the Board of Health Cemetery Returns, 1803-1860.
For the period after 1860, the Philadelphia Death Register, 1860-1903 is the most comprehensive source for Philadelphia County. Please also see our research guide about Vital Records.
Records for dozens of current and past cemeteries in the region are also available at HSP, including Mt. Moriah Cemetery, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Odd Fellows Cemetery, and Greenwood Cemetery.
HSP’s collections also include a number of undertakers' records. Most notable are those of the Oliver H. Bair Company, the Andrew J. Bair Company, David H. Bowen and Son, and Kirk & Nice, Inc. HSP partnered with Ancestry.com to digitize the index to the Oliver H. Bair Company records. The index is available online for free for HSP members, as well as to visitors to HSP's library and to Ancestry.com subscribers.
Pennsylvania records for deaths occurring after 1906 are maintained by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Division of Vital Records. These records are now available to the public for deaths that occured at least 50 years ago.
Some death and burial records are now available online. HSP offers visitors to our library free access to AncestryInstitution.com FamilySearch.org is free for all users. See an HSP Reference Librarian for further assistance using these resources in the library.
HSP holds census indexes and films for Pennsylvania from 1790-1900 (and the entire country for 1850). Materials available for additional states vary widely. Please see our guide on Census Records or speak to a Reference Librarian for further assistance.
Many census records are now available online. HSP offers visitors to our library free access to AncestryInstitution.com FamilySearch.org is free for all users. See an HSP Reference Librarian for further assistance using these resources in the library.
Passenger and Immigration Records
While HSP does not hold many original passenger or immigration lists, its collections do include an extensive number of indices and published abstracts. Notable among them are Filby’s Passenger and Immigration Lists Index and Philadelphia Naturalization Records, 1789-1880 and Philadelphia Passenger Lists, 1883-1948 [microfilm].
Note that some published sources are now available online. HSP's online catalog includes links to some of those sources (if available, the link will appear in that item's record in the catalog), or you can try searching in Google.com or another search engine to see what you can find online.
Some immigration records are also available online. HSP offers visitors to our library free access to AncestryInstitution.com FamilySearch.org is free for all users. You may also want to visit EllisIsland.org and Stephen Morse's One-Step Webpages, which include searching tools for Ellis Island and other immigration records. See an HSP Reference Librarian for further assistance using these online resources in the library.
HSP's library contains one of the largest collections of published family histories, many of them rarely available elsewhere. In addition, published biographies, personal narratives, church histories, and general county and township histories provide a wealth of genealogical information. Search our online catalog for more information about surnames, towns, counties, organizations, and landmarks that may fill in the gaps in your family history.
Newspapers and Periodicals
A number of newspapers have been indexed for obituary and marriage notices. Particularly noteworthy are the indexes to Poulson’s Daily Advertiser (1796-1839) the Philadelphia Public Ledger (1836-1875) the Pennsylvania Inquirer and Daily Courier Marriages and Deaths Index (1834-1854) the Index to Obituaries from the Sunday Dispatch (1868-1883) and Necrology from the Bulletin Almanac (1923-1966). Other newspaper indexes may be available by searching in our online catalog.
Aside from these indexes, many newspapers are available in original or microform format. HSP also offers visitors to our library free access to NewsBank's database, "Pennsylvania's Historical Newspapers," which includes primarily 18th- and 19th-century newspapers.
HSP members at the Patron Plus ($250) level and above also receive a free subscription to GenealogyBank.com, one of the largest online newspaper archives for family history research.
The Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania maintains a list of Philadelphia-area repositories, including a summary of which vital records can be found where. Follow this link for the Philadelphia County resource page the list of repositories is available under "Research Resources."
In addition, our Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) reveals the often hidden archival collections held by many small, primarily volunteer-run historical organizations in the Philadelphia area. Follow this link to explore HSP's regional directory of small repositories finding aids for those collections are available on the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL) finding aid website.
Early Settlers of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
This is a list of Lancaster county settlers who came between the years 1700 and 1718 and had purchased and held lands there before 1729:
Bare, Jacob, Jr.
Bare, Jno. Henry
Burkholder, John, Jr.
Hover, Jno. Woolrick
Landes, Felix, Jr.
Miller, Jacob (blk.)
Miller, Jacob, Jr.
Neiff, Francis, Jr.
Neiff, Jno. Henry
Neiff, Jno. Henry, Jr.
Shank, Big John
Light, Jno. Jacob
Snevely, Hans Jacob
Snevely, Jacob, Jr.
SOURCE: Vol, II, No 2, July 13, 1912 Genealogy: a journal of American ancestry
Early Pennsylvania - History
"There are people now living in Pittsburgh who have traveled diligently for a whole week to reach Philadelphia. The same persons can now go from our city to the eastern metropolis between sunrise and sunset of a summer's day, without fatigue, and without occasion for stopping to eat more than one meal."
Daily Morning Post, Pittsburgh, on the opening of
the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1854.
Trains made Pennsylvania an industrial giant. And today, when a train rumbles by -whether it's a two-car freight on a rural line or the silvery, standing-room-only Paoli Local at rush hour - the state's railroading history is still being written. In Pennsylvania, railroading is not only alive but also thriving.
The symbols of the industry's rich past - the mournful sound of a steam-locomotive whistle, or banjo-plunking ballads about the lonely life of a brakeman - have been replaced by the daily marvel of fleets moving 10,000-ton coal trains out of the bituminous coalfields of Greene County to electric-generating stations across the Northeast. By the sight of intermodal trains, loaded with double-stacked cargo containers from the North Pacific and now slicing through Erie or Johnstown en route to the East Coast. Or by the sight of Amtrak's high-speed Acela train, capable of sprinting 150 miles an hour before gliding to a smooth stop at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia.
But the transition to the railroad revolution was many years in coming. Railroading started in the Keystone state nearly two centuries ago with a quarry tramway in Delaware County south of Philadelphia, near present-day Chester. Like all other railroads of that day, it relied on horses or mules for power. This and other early railways were but the dim ancestors of modern railroading. No faster than wagons or canal boats, their main virtue lay in their smooth-running rails, which were a significant improvement over rutted roads. Pennsylvania had no urgent reason to invest in railroad technology until 1825, when the Erie Canal linked New York City's ports to Midwest markets. Now this was a revolution.
Suddenly Pennsylvanians had to find a way to compete with New York and link their state to Midwestern markets. Harnessing the power of steam to create a movable form of propulsion first took place in Great Britain. It first arrived in the United States in 1829 when the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company imported the Stourbridge Lion, the first steam locomotive to operate in America, from England. But this and other early locomotives were too small and unreliable to move significant amounts of freight over the Allegheny Mountains.
Started in 1834, the state-owned Main Line of Public Works was an ingenious solution that used canal boats where possible on relatively level ground and a combination of gravity and stationary steam engines where necessary in the mountains. This patchwork of canals, railroads, and inclined planes offered a 3-1/2-day journey from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. But it was soon doomed by the coming of the cheaper, all-purpose, all-weather Pennsylvania Railroad.
Though canals continued to move substantial material within the state, faster, more versatile railroads soon took over the job of meeting most transportation needs. Railroads soon unlocked the raw materials with which Pennsylvania was blessed, allowing manufacturing to flourish. In 1844, the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad became the first line in America to carry a million tons of freight in a year. In Pennsylvania and the rest of the nation, the industrial revolution rode on American rails. Trains carried coal and lumber to consumers quickly and cheaply. They hauled minerals to iron foundries and steel mills, then turned around and moved the finished metal to market.
Trains also raised the standard of living by cheaply transporting consumer goods and foodstuffs over long distances. Pennsylvania agriculture expanded as once-isolated regions populated by farmers now reached out via the rails to new markets. The invention of refrigerator cars brought Iowa beef, California lettuce, and Florida oranges to the East Coast. Passenger trains carried people and mail rapidly. And travelers began to use trains to travel for shopping, business, vacations, and, around cities, to commute to and from work.
During the Civil War, railroads moved troops and materiel to the front, and evacuated wounded soldiers to hospitals. After the war, the industry began to agree on standards, which included a uniform track gauge of 4 feet 8-1/2 inches between the rails, and couplers and other fittings needed to freely exchange cars among railroads. With these steps, railroads grew from regional feeder lines into a national network, an achievement that was capped by the driving of the Golden Spike on the first transcontinental railroad in 1869. The mileage of American railroads more than quintupled from 1860 to 1890, growing from 30,000 miles to almost 160,000.
In this sprawling national network, Pennsylvania became a crossroads, with four major trunk lines linking the East Coast to western states (Pennsylvania Railroad, Baltimore and Ohio, New York Central, and Erie), and others linking Canada and northern states through Pittsburgh and Philadelphia to the states to the south. Founded in 1846 as purely an in-state line, the Philadelphia-based Pennsylvania Railroad became the nation's single most important railroad, carrying 10 percent of all freight in America and 20 percent of all passengers. In 1880, with 30,000 employees and $400 million in capital, it was the nation's largest corporation.
Railroads even regulated the pace of life. Standard time zones, established by the railroads in 1883, replaced the fragmented system by which, as a PRR timetable once explained, "Philadelphia local time" is seven minutes faster than Harrisburg time, thirteen minutes faster than Altoona time, and nineteen minutes faster than Pittsburgh time."
Soon tens of thousands of men, and some women, worked both for the carriers and for supporting industries throughout Pennsylvania. These included firms that built locomotives, freight and passenger cars, air brakes, signals, and steel rails, and, of course, the suppliers of lumber and the raw iron and steel that went into making such items.
Railroads also brought about social change, and not always for the better. With hand brakes and old-fashioned link-and-pin couplers, work was so hazardous that many insurance companies refused to write policies for trainmen. The need for accident and death benefits led railroaders to organize their own benevolent mutual insurance brotherhoods. In time, they joined the emerging organized labor movement to counter the influence of capital. Fueled by labor unrest, a backlash against the railroads boiled over in strikes and riots in most Pennsylvania cities in 1877, sometimes with fatal results.
Railroads also changed the nature of work. Train crews were on call around the clock, so daily rhythms of eating and sleeping were continually disrupted. Maintaining a normal social life was nearly impossible. When they reached the end of their run over a division (usually 100 miles), crews were often stuck in that city on layovers, sometimes for days, waiting to work a train back to their home terminal. With time and money on their hands, and separated from family and home routines, some trainmen were easy prey for vices such as gambling, drinking, or prostitution.
Through both union rules and management preference, railroads also enforced ethnic and racial divisions. Menial jobs such as grading and laying track went first to Irish laborers, and later to Italians, Eastern Europeans, African Americans, and, during World War II, Mexicans. For blacks, other jobs were limited to locomotive firemen, coach cleaners, station janitors, redcaps, or dining-car waiters. Even the highest-ranking job for African-Americans -Pullman sleeping-car porter - was still a subservient position.
Women worked primarily as telegraphers or signal tower operators until World War I, when railroads hired them to replace men who joined the military. Soon they were working as full-time clerks, secretaries, and ticket agents. By the early 1950s, the Pennsylvania Railroad boasted that it employed several women lawyers in its legal department.
Railroads built civil engineering and architectural landmarks in Pennsylvania's cities and countryside (including probably the most widely known - Horseshoe Curve near Altoona), and stations, bridges, and tunnels in every part of the state. U.S. railroad mileage peaked in 1916 at 254,000 miles Pennsylvania's mileage topped out at 11,500.
With the coming of publicly funded highways and the availability of automobiles, railroads began a long downward slide after World War II. Two mid-sized regional railroads in Pennsylvania were among the first line-haul carriers to be abandoned nationally - the Pittsburgh, Shawmut and Northern in 1948 (190 miles) and the New York, Ontario and Western in 1957 (547 miles). Nearly every major line in Pennsylvania failed in the 1960s and 1970s.
The Penn Central (successor to PRR), Erie Lackawanna, Reading, Jersey Central, Lehigh Valley, and Lehigh and Hudson River railroads all went bankrupt, and Baltimore and Ohio nearly did so. To preserve essential freight and passenger service, Congress created new corporations to take over intercity rail passenger service (Amtrak, in 1971) and northeastern freight service (Conrail, in 1976, took over PC, EL, Reading, Jersey Central, Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines (a minor New Jersey subsidiary of PC and Reading, LV, and L and HR). With regulatory reforms, the ability to set prices in a freer market, and the help of labor concessions, Conrail in 1987 returned to the private sector, and, more importantly, to profitability. Its key location made it a desirable plum for other Eastern carriers and in 1999 it was split up and sold to CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Corporation for $10 billion.
The century that followed was a period of great expansion and turmoil for Pennsylvania. Its interior included land that was claimed by the French, and, as time went on, the Indians became increasingly hostile to the expansion of settlements to the west and north. Much of the fighting during the French and Indian War (1754–63) took place in Pennsylvania. There the young George Washington began his journey into the Ohio valley to warn the French to leave later, it was in Pennsylvania that the English general Edward Braddock suffered defeat at the hands of the French forces and their Native American allies.
For many Pennsylvanians, the period following these conflicts marked growing dissatisfaction with British rule. Limitations on westward expansion, especially as established by proclamation in 1763, were imposed to pacify the Indians, but Pennsylvanians pressed westward over the Allegheny Mountains. Outposts such as Fort Pitt (Fort Duquesne under the French now Pittsburgh) became settlements vital to the flow of trade from the opening lands to the west.
By the eve of the American Revolution, Pennsylvania had become a centre of military, economic, and political activity. The first (1774) and second (1775–76) Continental Congresses met in Philadelphia the Declaration of Independence was signed there and after the war the city became the capital of the short-lived Confederation and of the fledgling U.S. government.
Welcome to Bedford County Pennsylvania History and Genealogy
My name is Rhonda Kevorkian , and I am your Bedford County host. Submissions are encouraged. Please email me and include source information if possible to help other researchers. My goal is to make as much free information available as possible. Updates will be made regularly to this site, so keep checking back! I regret that I am unable to do personal research.
Robert MacRay opened the first trading post in Raystown (which is now Bedford) on the land that is now Bedford County in 1750. The settlers had a difficult time dealing with raids from Indians and the fighting between the French and the British.
In 1759, after the capture of Fort Duquesne in Allegheny County, a road was built between the fort (which was renamed to Fort Pitt) to the newly built Fort Bedford in Raystown. The road turned from Indian trails, into "Forbes Road", and still later into the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Bedford County was created on March 9, 1771 from part of Cumberland County and named in honor of the Fort Bedford.
The area quickly increased in population once safety became more established. The land with its lush farmland and woodland became an attractive site. It also formed an important center on the way to Pittsburgh and farther west of Pennsylvania. George Washington stayed in the county in response to the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794.
The Bedford Springs Hotel became an important site for the wealthy. Under President James Buchanan, the hotel became the summer White House. The U.S. Supreme Court met at the hotel once. It was the only time that the high court met outside of the Capital.
The 19th century featured a population boom in the county with the population doubling in size between 1870 and 1890. Railroads passing through the town connected the county with the mining industry. -- Wikipedia.com
Bedford County Courthouse
Bedford County Data Online
|site search by freefind|
John Dicken and Heirs of Brice Blair Indenture SAMUEL D. COULTER to JAMES McCOY THOMAS DICKEN and CATHERINE his wife to and SAMUEL ELLIOTT - Contributed by Margaret Gagliardi
Deaths 1806 to Oct 1808 and 1834 to Jan 1835 [Source: Bedford County and Huntingdon County newspapers. Unknown author, 1900]
- 1843 History of Bedford County [Source: Historical Collections of the State of Pennsylvania, by Sherman Day, 1843]
- Bedford Springs in 1811 (Taken from The Centinel, Gettysburg, PA)
- Updated! Jun 2021Marriage Notices and Wedding Announcements
- Marriages 1806 to Oct 1808 and 1834 to Jan 1835 [Source: Bedford County and Huntingdon County newspapers. Unknown author, 1900]
Updated! Jun 2021 Bedford County War Casualties - Transcribed by Tammy Clark
|Block Reason:||Access from your area has been temporarily limited for security reasons.|
|Time:||Mon, 28 Jun 2021 10:43:10 GMT|
Wordfence is a security plugin installed on over 3 million WordPress sites. The owner of this site is using Wordfence to manage access to their site.
You can also read the documentation to learn about Wordfence's blocking tools, or visit wordfence.com to learn more about Wordfence.
Generated by Wordfence at Mon, 28 Jun 2021 10:43:10 GMT.
Your computer's time: .
Escape From European Persecution
In 1681, William Penn, a Quaker, was given a land grant from King Charles II, who owed money to Penn's deceased father. Immediately, Penn sent his cousin William Markham to the territory to take control of it and be its governor. Penn's goal with Pennsylvania was to create a colony that allowed for freedom of religion. The Quakers were among the most radical of the English Protestant sects that had sprung up in the 17th century. Penn sought a colony in America—what he called a "holy experiment"—to protect himself and fellow Quakers from persecution.
When Markham arrived on the western shore of the Delaware River, however, he found that the region was already inhabited by Europeans. Part of present-day Pennsylvania was actually included in the territory named New Sweden that had been founded by Swedish settlers in 1638. This territory was then surrendered to the Dutch in 1655 when Peter Stuyvesant sent a large force to invade. Swedes and Finns continued to arrive and settle in what would become Pennsylvania.
Early American History in Harmony, Pennsylvania
A half hour’s drive north of Pittsburgh, the tiny Western Pennsylvania town of Harmony, with a population of fewer than 1,000 people, has an unusual history that makes for a fascinating visit.
Harmony, which is a National Historic Landmark District, was founded in 1804 as a religious commune by George Rapp, a German Lutheran Separatist, who combined the philosophy and writing of the early Christians and Karl Marx. Rapp taught that the “end time” was near and advocated celibacy and a communal form of living. Each settler gave his earnings to Father Rapp who parceled it out according to each person’s needs.
The Harmonists created and lived in Harmony until 1814, when they sold the town, whose land was communally owned, to a Mennonite group headed by Abraham Ziegler. The Harmonists moved first to Indiana Territory, where they built a new town, also called Harmony (now New Harmony, Indiana). Several years later, in 1824, they moved back to Pennsylvania, and founded yet another town, before the society dissolved in 1906. The heritage of both groups still exists in Harmony.
The Harmony Museum
Historic Harmony, a nonprofit historical society and preservation group, owns eight properties that preserve the town’s history, but the Harmony Museum is the place to start your tour. It has a large display of the tools the Harmonists needed to turn the virgin forest into a town, an exhibit that is a recreation of Rapp’s bedroom, as well as information about the Harmonists beliefs and religious practices. The museum also provides information on the Mennonite settlers. For example, there is a family tree of Ziegler descendants that starts with Abraham Ziegler and his 13 children. The Mennonites did not practice celibacy.
Another key site is the 1819 one-room Ziegler Cabin, which showcases the Mennonite lifestyle. The small cabin is well preserved with a huge stone fireplace to handle Western Pennsylvanian winters and a barrel-shaped wood heater that vented through the fireplace chimney.
The cabin contains all the necessities of life for a Mennonite in the early 1800s. The furnishings are simple but beautiful. There’s a low-poster double bed with a wooden cradle at its foot. There are two spinning wheels. A wooden cabinet stores dishes and utensils and baskets for storage hang from the ceiling. The unusual doorknocker is of particular interest. It is a woman with closed eyes wearing a bonnet. When you raise the handle to knock, her eyes open.
German Traditions in the Current Day
In Harmony, and Butler County, where it sits, you can find authentic German food often in buildings that date back to the Harmonists or Mennonite period. The Harmony Inn, right on the square, was built as the home of Austin Pierce, a railroad president and businessman, in 1856. When he fell upon hard times, he sold to a Ziegler relative who operated it as a rooming house. Over the years, it passed through many hands. At one time the attic was used to quarantine children who had scarlet fever. Some of the children died there.
Today Bob and Jodi McCafferty own it. They also carry on a German brewing tradition at North Country Brewing Company. The Harmony Inn is now a tavern and restaurant where you can get traditional German dishes like spaetzle, strudel, and authentic German pretzels.
German Coffee and Treats
Wunderbar Coffee and Crepes and the Two Fraus Bakery, also both in Harmony, serve German-themed refreshments. Chef Seth in Wonderbar makes the crepes right in front of you.
Next door, the two fraus are Joanie Sine and Kirsten Peffer who have been friends since childhood. They left their medical careers to follow their dream. Their slogan, “Brot ist Lieb!” is German for, “Bread is love.” Their German-style bakery reflects this with all natural products. Both are housed in a 1800s opera house.
The Log Cabin Inn on the outskirts of Harmony is built around a historic log cabin dating back to the early 1800’s. The restaurant expanded beyond the cabin but the furnishings take you back to colonial times. Most of the menu choices are Americanized but you will find a few German touches like pretzels served with cheese.
Strolling around the square in Harmony is a voyage in time it’s filled with buildings, several of them made of logs, dating back to the early 1800s. Many have plaques designating their early uses.