Gettysburg – After the Battle – Part 2

As I mentioned in the previous post, the movement to memorialize the battle began almost immediately.

In the first place, there was the practical need to provide for the burial of the massive number of dead soldiers that covered the fields and forests. This need lead to the establishment of our first national cemetery.

Soldiers National Monument Dedicated July 1, 1869
Soldiers National Monument                                                         Dedicated July 1, 1869

According to The Association of Licensed Battlefield Guides, the actual witnesses, local residents, began guiding curiosity seekers and grieving family members around the battlefield as soon as the warring parties cleared off the fields. I get the impression that the preservation of the battlefield and the information presented by guides was not held to any particular standard.

For instance, this is the first state memorial:

Urn placed by the veterans of the 1st Minnesota Infantry 1867
Urn placed by the veterans of the 1st Minnesota Infantry 1867

It took twelve years for another memorial to be placed. Veterans of the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry placed a tablet at the edge of Spangler’s Meadow to honor the soldiers who died at this site. The next year, the 91st Pennsylvania placed a monument On Little Round Top. I didn’t even see these memorials. Of course, there are more than 1,300 memorials, according to a book I am consulting, Gettysburg: Stories of Men and Monuments as told by Battlefield Guides. I couldn’t be expected to see all of them. Besides, would you want a report on all of them?

Around the 25th anniversary of the battle, in 1888, interest in commemorating the battle increased, and states began appropriating money to assist in placing memorials on the battlefield. Some states allocated smaller amounts. Indiana and Wisconsin set aside $3,000. Pennsylvania must have had deep pockets. They pitched in $400,000.

Pennsylvania State Memorial Dedicated September 27, 1910 Cost $182,000
Pennsylvania State Memorial Dedicated September 27, 1910 Cost $182,000

Now, in the introduction of the book I am consulting for some facts and figures said they set aside $400,000. In the section about this memorial, the same book said the memorial cost $182,000. I don’t know what happened to the rest of the money. Put your ideas in the comments.

Incidentally, this photo is from a website, Gettysburg: Stone Sentinels, as are several others that I didn’t track down in person. This monument was so large and people were all over that I couldn’t get a decent photo of it.

I did try to find some of the monuments of states that have some relationship to me. First of all, my the state of my birth, New York.

New York State Monument Dedicated: July 2, 1893 Located in the National Cemetery Cost $59,059
New York State Monument Dedicated: July 2, 1893 Located in the National Cemetery Cost $59,059

Then, my state of long-time residence, Michigan.

24th Michigan Infantry Reynold's Woods June 12, 1889 Cost $1350
24th Michigan Infantry Reynold’s Woods June 12, 1889 Cost $1350

And finally, my adopted state of Texas.

Texas State Memorial Location: South Confederate Avenue Dedicated: September 1964 Cost $100
Texas State Memorial Location: South Confederate Avenue Dedicated: September 1964 Cost $1000

I was surprised that Texas took so long to place a monument, but this was a result of a Civil War centennial effort to place identical monuments on the eleven battlefields where Texas troops fought. A smaller marker by a private citizens had been placed nearby in 1913.

In addition to state markers, there are memorials to generals. Of course, the Virginia State Memorial would have to be topped with General Lee.

Virginia State Memorial Located: West Confederate Avenue Dedicated June 8, 1917
Virginia State Memorial Located: West Confederate Avenue Dedicated June 8, 1917
Detail of Virginia Memorial
Detail of Virginia Memorial

And, just in case you had any ideas of making mischief:

Virginia memorial warning sign

Confederate veterans were initially not as interested in participating in marking their participation in the battle. The first memorial was put up by the veterans of the 2nd Maryland Infantry.

2nd Maryland Infantry Culp's Hill Dedicated November 19, 1886 Cost $1000
2nd Maryland Infantry Culp’s Hill Dedicated November 19, 1886 Cost $1000

After the fiftieth anniversary of the battle in 1913, southern states became more interested in honoring their citizens who had participated in this battle. Given the age of the surviving veterans and some opposition from their former enemies, their focus was on erecting memorials that honored all the participants from the state.

North Carolina State Memorial Location: West Confederate Avenue Dedicated: July 3, 1929 Cost: $50,000
North Carolina State Memorial Location: West Confederate Avenue Dedicated: July 3, 1929 Cost: $50,000

north carolina dedicaion photo

According to the interpretive sign at the memorial, Gutson Borglum, who is known for his work on Mount Rushmore, is standing at the center with his arms folded. I’m not sure which one he is, but it’s interesting to know.

Additional information on the sign said that North Carolina contributed more soldiers than any other state in the Confederacy. 14,000 participated and 6,100 were killed, wounded or missing.



Eternal Flame Dedicated July 3, 1938 Cost: $60,000
Eternal Flame Dedicated July 3, 1938 Cost: $60,000

Interest in commemorating the battle seems to peak every twenty five years. The Eternal Light Peace Memorial was dedicated by President Franklin Roosevelt on the seventy-fifth anniversary.  It was erected near the site of the encampment held for the fiftieth anniversary.

The Fiftieth Reunion
The Fiftieth Reunion 1913

Encampments are still going on, although they are no longer reunions of the participants. This one was taking place around the Pennsylvania State Memorial. No wonder there were so many people around it!


Reenactment near the PA memorial

My first trip to Gettysburg was probably as a result of interest generated by the hundredth anniversary.

And, now it’s the one hundred and fifty years later. Things keep changing.

The visitor center has been really redone. Even compared with my second visit in 2001. The Cyclorama is still there, but the building is really new.

The New Visitor Center
The New Visitor Center

The Cyclorama is still pretty spectacular. It was painted in 1884 by French artist Paul Philippoteaux. He was a premier cyclorama painter, which was a popular form of entertainment – until motion pictures hit the scene. There used to be many of these that would tour the country, and most major citied had cylindrical or hexagonal buildings for displaying them.

This painting had been in Boston, but the theater that housed it went bankrupt at a fortuitous time. A Gettysburg business man bought it, repaired it an had it installing Gettysburg in 1913, in time for the fiftieth anniversary of the battle.

Cyclorama 1

Cyclorama 2

Cyclorama 3

It is 377 feet long, 42 feet high and weighs 12.5 tons.It is 377 feet long, 42 feet high and weighs 12.5 tons.

The National Parks Service bought the cyclorama in the 1940s, and they have been working hard to keep it in good conditions ever since. The last restoration cost $13,000,000.

Outside the building, is a statue of Abraham Lincoln. It is convenient for a souvenir portrait.

Abe and me
Abe and me

But, now I have one more item to put on my “to do” list. I might just have to swing back through Gettysburg next year.

Segway tours - add to the to-do list

I want to take a Segway tour!








Gettysburg – After the Battle, Part 1

When I was a youngster, I was a real Civil War buff. I could recite battles, dates, generals- you name it. These days, the details are not as sharp, and when I visited Gettysburg this time, I was not as taken with the battle itself as with how people responded to it.

No doubt about it, the battle was horrific. It lasted for three days – July 1-3, 1863. By this point in the war, the armies had gotten extremely efficient at killing and maiming their opponents.

Of the more than 160,000 soldiers from both sides taking part in the battle, almost 8,000 were killed, 17,000 wounded and 11,000 captured or  missing. To put that in some sense of perspective, Gettysburg itself had only about 2,400 residents living there at the time.

After the battle, they had to take action. The had to get their town back in order and they had to do something with all the dead. At first the dead were buried in shallow graves, with names written in pencil on wooden boards. Wind and rain began eroding the temporary graves and the townspeople began calling for a cemetery to provide for a more proper burial for the Union soldiers. Governor Curtin worked with a committee headed local lawyer David Wills to get the dead buried. The reburial process started at the end of October, four months after the battle.

This was the first national cemetery. Our country was still so young that such things were still being established.

National Cemetery Gettysburg, PA
National Cemetery Gettysburg, PA

Rather than the rows of white markers that we are familiar with in Arlington National Cemetery, these markers were laid flush with the ground, and were arranged in a semi-circle.

markers with names original

Enlisted men were buried next to officers.

Unknown soldiers

Unknown soldiers were buried as well.

The reburials had only been going on for about three weeks when the dedication ceremony took place. The reinterments continued until March of 1864.

Probably the most eloquent speech ever given was Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and it was made here on November 19, 1863.

That day, Gettysburg was invaded again. An estimated 20,000 people came to town for the dedication. Lincoln stayed at David Wills’ house, located on the town square. According to the guide at the Wills House, there were 38 people staying there for the dedication.


Wills House
Wills House

However, Lincoln was allowed his own room. The furnishings are believed to be the ones he used during his visit. Even the linens belonged to the Wills family, even if they are not the exact ones he used.

Lincoln's bedroom at the Wills house

He made his final revisions on his remarks while he was in this room.

The big draw for the ceremonies was the keynote speaker, Edward Everett. He spoke for two hours before Abraham Lincoln got up and spoke for two minutes.

Now, I always had the feeling that the committee that put together the ceremony had sort of slighted Lincoln by inviting this nobody Edward Everett to be the main speaker.

I thought that history rather laughed at Edward Everett. After all, he delivered a long, flowery speech, but Lincoln’s short dedication is the one that is remembered. However, Edward Everett really was somebody back then.

Edward Everett
Edward Everett

In addition to being a pastor and educator, he served as U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator and governor for the state of Massachusetts. He was also an Ambassador to Great Britain and president of Harvard. So, asking him to deliver the main speech probably wasn’t the slight to Abraham Lincoln that I imagined it to be. Besides, Lincoln had a war to run.

The reinterments had only been taking place for about three weeks when the dedication of the cemetery happened. It must have been a raw, muddy place. In spite of all the death and destruction of the battle, which had raged back and forth across this piece of land, there was a tree that survived.

Witness tree
Witness tree

That tree survives to this day. It is the honey locust that is in the center of the photo.

At the center of the cemetery, near where the speeches were given, is now a memorial to the soldiers.

soldier's memorial near where lincoln spoke

Close up figures soldiers monument

Close up figures soldiers monument 2


I particularly like how J. G. Batterson signed his work on the base.

The state memorials started coming in. The first one was a modest urn on a pedestal from Minnesota in 1867.

Minnesota monument 1867

The last one was from Tennessee in 1982.

Tennessee memorial

It has the distinction, I am told, of being the only one paid for entirely with private donations.

Thus ends Gettysburg – After the Battle, Part 1


Gettysburg – WAY before the Battle!

How about 1776?

Original house from chimney to chimney

I was thrilled to be able to get in on a tour of the Dobbin House with an excellent tour guide.

This house was build in 1776 by Reverend Alexander Dobbin. He was born in Ireland in 1742. He set sail for the Colonies with his wife, Isabella Gamble. They could each bring one trunk. Isabella filled hers with their clothes and the things they would need to start a new life. Reverend Dobbin filled his with books. Each were practical, in their own way.

He became pastor of the Rock Creek Presbyterian Church, just a little north of Gettysburg. He was a man who believed in multiple income streams.In addition to being a minister, he acquired 300 acres which were farmed. He also had a Classical School, which we would today call a combination theological seminary and liberal arts college. It was the first institution of it’s kind west of the Susquehanna River. His large collections of books was integral to its success. See? A trunkful of books is a good thing.

I do wonder if Isabella shared his vision.

Shuttered windows

Our guide pointed out that there were shutters only on the lower windows. They chose to do that as a safety measure against possible Indian attack. It turns out that the last attack was by a Shawnee and French raiding party in 1758, years before. She told us that the woman kidnapped in the raid was a 15 year-old named Mary Jemison. Conveniently, they had a copy of the book, A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison, for sale in the gift shop. I did buy it, and I look forward to reading it.

Anyway, the Dobbins needed that large house, which had six fireplaces when it was constructed. Some of the students stayed at the house, as borders, and Isabella had ten children before her death.

As if ten children wasn’t enough, Reverend Dobbin remarried. Mary Agnew brought nine children of her own into the union!

Dobbin House mantel SA carving

The guide told us that these initials were found carved into the mantel when the house was being restored. They are the colonial era style of lettering of the initials “S.A.” She told us that they had decided that Reverend Dobbin had permitted the eldest son of Mary Agnew to carve his initials into the mantel so that he would know that this was his home, too.

Perhaps so. It’s a nice story, but I am sure that wouldn’t have been acceptable in my house.

Dobbin House addition
Dobbin House addition

After Reverend Dobbin’s death in 1807, his eldest son, Matthew, inherited the property. His widow was provided for, though. According to the will, she was to be given a room and have access to the kitchen for as long as she lived.

Matthew added on to the house. He added a kitchen, a room above the kitchen and an attic. I think the guide told us that the attic portion was for spinning. He also added a secret room that was used as a stop on the Underground Railroad.

The room was situated under the eaves behind a cabinet. The shelves slide to the side on tracks and the escapees could hide behind the shelves.

Dobbin house addition staircase

The cabinet was just at the top of this photo frame. There were too many people on the tour to get a good shot of the hiding place.

The building changed hands several times over the course of its existence.  The last owner before the current owner used the upstairs as a tourist attraction. They had removed the walls that separated the space into bedroom and installed a diorama of the battlefield. That is the space that became the main dining room of the restaurant.

Dobbin house bedrooms

A a nod to the former use of the space, some of the tables are set up as if they are in four-poster canopy beds.

On our way back downstairs, the tour guide pointed out the only bullet hole from the battle.

Dobbin House civil War bullet hole

At least, that’s what she said.

The current owner dug out the cellar of the house and put in a tavern. Reverend Dobbin would never have allowed a tavern in his house.

Dobbin house tavern

She pointed out the ledge and said that was how much they had to excavate to put the tavern in. They also put in a steel beam to support the weight of the house.

Dick Bar plate

This plaque was on the bar. The current owner had an antique dealer looking for a bar for the tavern. Her great-grandfather, who was in his 90s at the time, was able to identify the bar because of some unique dovetail joinery that, unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo that. It is a nice touch that this family heirloom made it back to the fold.

Incidentally, our word, “bar” meaning a place that sold alcohol came from this device.

dobbin house bar

Since legal tender was rare, alcohol was used as a form of money. The bars were lowered and locked when they weren’t open for business. The bars swung up and hooked to the ceiling when they were open.

Dobbin House Liberty Blue Staffordshire, Eng

When they excavated the cellar and the midden piles (fancy term for “trash heap”) they uncovered many artifacts. These are not among the artifacts they discovered, but, based on the pottery pieces they found, they were able to buy the exact dishes that Reverend Dobbins used.

Now, the guide was very firm in telling us that the pattern used in the restaurant was Liberty Blue made in Staffordshire, England and that it was the same that the Dobbins used. I find it a little hard to believe that they would be producing dishes with pictures of Independence Hall and calling it Liberty Blue right around the time of the War for Independence.

But, that’s what she said.

Dobbin House original kitchen

It was a lovely tour, and amazing to think that this building was standing on its original foundations nearly 240 years after it was built.

Dobbin house flowers

And that’s what I say!




Gettysburg – Before the Battle

It seems that there are strings connecting all people and all places. This last connection didn’t even occur to me until I was returning to the campground for the last time.

I stayed at Caledonia State Park, about 15 miles outside of Gettysburg. As I turned off the main road, I decided to stop to read the Historical Marker by the road. Caledonia Furnace historical marker

Thaddeus Stevens?! I had been seeing markers with his name on them since Lancaster. The name rung a bell. I remembered that he was in Congress during the Civil War, but I couldn’t quite fit the pieces together.

In this particular place, it turns out that he had an iron forge and blacksmith shop that was destroyed by General Jubal Early abut a week before the start of the battle at Gettysburg.

The Confederate Army had a standing order not to destroy the property of private citizens. General Early took it upon himself to make an exception for Congressman Stevens, who wanted to deprive them of their property – their slaves.

Workers from the Civilian Conservation Corps rebuilt a scaled down model of the forge in the 1930’s.

caledonia Furnace model

A close-up of the plaque
A close-up of the plaque

He also had a blacksmith shop across the street from the forge.

Caledonia Black Smith Shop
Caledonia Black Smith Shop

According to the interpretive signs, the stone walls survived the destruction in 1863. I assume that they meant the parts a the bottom, as opposed to the brickwork at the top.

The blacksmith shop was rebuilt and was in use as such until 1895, twenty years after the iron furnace was closed.

If I remember correctly, the blacksmith shop was used for other purposes after it closed, including as a trolley station, a swimming pool gatehouse and a museum.

According to the interpretive signage, Thaddeus Steven is “perhaps the most famous unknown person in American history.” He was a businessman, lawyer, congressman and the father of the 14th Amendment.

Thanks to Donald Trump, the 14th Amendment has been in the news lately, as he appears to think that its repeal would improve things in our country.

Just in case you need a cheat sheet when it comes to the Amendments, this is the 14th in a nutshell:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, as citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Thaddeus Stevens April 4, 1792 - August 11, 1868
Thaddeus Stevens
April 4, 1792 – August 11, 1868

It makes me wish I had paid more attention to the historical markers I saw earlier.

I suppose I could stop right there. Or I could go on and tell more about his life, which was rather amazing. But, maybe you might want to Google him and see what others say about him.

Find out how a fatherless young man with a club foot manages to become a lawyer, move from Vermont and do great things for his adopted state of Pennsylvania and make lasting contributions to the country as a whole.

I will take a moment to talk about the Caledonia State Park. This was a place we went on a family vacation in 1966. Dad borrowed his brother’s trailer and off we went.

I remember this park because there was a sign for a playhouse. I was excited by this, because when we moved from the first house I remember, we had to leave behind the playhouse Dad had built for us. I was disappointed to find out that this playhouse was a theater. And, the playhouse is still here.

I also remember it because we had a campsite that was up against a steep slope, and my little brother, Scott, was really into building campfires.

It’s amazing the little details you can remember nearly 50 years later.





Next installment, Gettysburg.

York – Get the Sensation!

Did you know York Peppermint Patties came from York, Pennsylvania? I didn’t!

York pepermint patties

Andrea from Lancaster and I made plans to meet at the Lancaster Central Market for lunch.

York Central Market
York Central Market

I stopped in to the Tourism Office at the market when I arrived, and I found out about the Peppermint Patties. I also found out that they are now made in Mexico.

I tried to get the woman at the information desk to give me an idea of what to do on a day in York. I hate to say that she seemed baffled by the question, but I guess York isn’t the tourism mecca that Lancaster is. She gave me a brochure and suggested that I might like to take a tour of a company in the county.

I thanked her, got a free mug full of swag for signing up for a newsletter and set out to wait for Andrea.

The York Central Market is more of a food court these days than the Market in Lancaster.

Inside the Central Market
Inside the Central Market

While I was waiting, I picked out a tour that I fought would be interesting and I called to see if they were giving tours today. I was in luck. Bluett Brothers Violins had a tour at 3:00 that afternoon.

Andrea got through the traffic and we finally made got together. We had a wonderful lunch of African food and chatted away like old friends. All too soon, though, our time together came to an end.  I hope I make it back that way again sometime.

I had a little time to kill, so I decided to look around.

At the back door of a restaurant
At the back door of a restaurant

I imagine that these came from an Italian restaurant.

A 17-sided climbing structure
A 17-sided climbing structure

And dig that cool web inside!

Muscletown USA mural
Muscletown USA mural

Who knew that York was Muscletown USA? Bob Hoffman founded York Barbell Corporation in 1932. He is hailed as the father or weightlifting and helped to popularize the bodybuilding movement.

The time for the tour rolled around and I showed up at the company.

Bluett Brothers Violins
Bluett Brothers Violins

Mark Bluett, Master Luthier, met me at the door with a big smile.

Bluett business cards

He began the tour by telling us that he worked on any sort of stringed instrument. In addition to building new instruments, he also repaired them.

Apprentices with frames
Apprentices with frames

He has two full-time apprentices and a couple part time ones that pay to learn. The one part time apprentice there was working on building his own mandolin.

Violin with plane and scraper
Violin with plane and scraper

Mark told us that he has a supply of wood drying that he bought in 1967. He says that he has enough stored to make more than four times the violins he can make in  his lifetime.

Mandolin back and caliper to measure thickness
Mandolin back and caliper to measure thickness

Maple is on the back of the violins, violas and cellos and they are scraped to five different thicknesses.

The wood on the sides and tops is spruce.

Inside bracing
Inside bracing

Mandolins have a lot more pressure on them than violins. There is 137 pounds of pressure on a mandolin  as opposed to 67 pounds on a violin.

Violin top and back
Violin top and back

He used to make bows, but found them boring. Now he will repair them, and keeps a stock of horse hair on hand for when he needs it.

Siberian horse hair
Siberian horse hair

The horse hair he uses comes from Siberia. It is from a line of horses that have been specially bred for the last 300 years for making violin bows.

Repair is a large part of his business, too.

Family heirloom banjo
Family heirloom banjo
Bowl back mandolin from 1889
Bowl back mandolin from 1889

He told us that each one of those ridges is a separate gore and that there is a band of rosewood between each gore. What incredibly detailed work!

He finished off the tour by showing us some of his recent instruments.

Bass mandolin
Bass mandolin
Miniature violin
Miniature violin
Violin demo
Violin demo

He told us that this is built on a scale of one one centimeter to one inch. It’s playable, if your fingers are small enough.

Three guitars and a $1200 case
Three guitars and a $1200 case

If the case is worth $1200, I can’t imagine what the instruments are worth.

And then it was time to head back to Flo.


A Little More Lancaster

Central market portrait entrance

Of course, I had to visit the Central Market of Lancaster! It is the oldest farmers’ market in the country and is held in a 120 year old brick building.

Central Market

There were loads of products available and I must admit that I did buy a few things.

Central Market stuff I bought

I also bought a bag to replace the one I left behind at Barb’s house.

Central Market bag

I wanted to look up the Lancaster Creative Reuse Center, which I had been following since it opened, and I found it!

Lancaster Creative Reuse Center sign

Back when I was first considering retirement, I though I might try to get something like this going in Kalamazoo.


Lancaster Creative Reuse Center

I didn’t, although, I probably had this much crammed in my house and in my closet at school. I could have opened up something without taking a single donation.

Lancaster Creative Reuse Center interior

Lancaster Creative Reuse turned out really well, though.  I was so happy that the founder, Andrea, was in the shop the day I visited. She gave me a lot of advice about starting a creative reuse center. Lancaster Creative Reuse Center me and Andrea

We made plans to meet another day for lunch.

I also made a trip to see Herr’s Snack and take a tour of the factory.  They do seem to like their chips and pretzels in this section of the state. There are any number of snack factories to tour.

Herr's Snack Tour

Most of the lines were down for maintenance, but it was still an interesting tour. And, they gave us samples to take with us.

Herr's tour swag

And a little book of sayings based on the book of Proverbs.

Heading back to Lancaster, I got a ping from the HISTORY Here app that I was near Robert Fulton’s birthplace. Detour!

Robert Fulton sign

Robert Fulton's house

Unfortunately, I missed the tours.

Robert Fulton tour times

Wrong day. Wrong month.

What would a trip to Lancaster be without eating in the Amish area?

Kling house crackers and pepper spread

I decided to head to Kling House. I liked these little crackers and pepper spread they brought with the menu. I had an interesting view out the window while waiting for my lunch.

Tall horse

When I first saw it, I would have sworn it was the tallest horse I’d ever seen.

Intercourse sign

All right, there you have it. My work here is done.

Pequea Creek Campground and Wheatland

I made an easy trip from Cumbola to Lancaster. The interesting part was the last ten miles from Lancaster to Pequea Creek Campground.

Once again, the roads were roller-coaster worthy. The scenery was beautiful and I was very thankful that the traffic was light.

Lori, the camp manager, sent me explicit driving directions. She told me that the sign on the road would tell me to turn, but that I shouldn’t. The bridge wouldn’t hold the weight of my trailer.

It was confusing, but I got there. And this is the bridge that I couldn’t cross with my trailer.

Covered Bridge

A covered bridge! Imagine that!

I got settled in to my campsite, right on the Pequea Creek.

Campsite at Pequea Creek

It was a happy little creek. There were signs prohibiting swimming, but there wasn’t enough water to get properly wet. There was also a foot bridge, if you felt like walking from the picnicking side to the camping side.

Pequeay foot bridge

AND a place to ford the creek, although they had a barrier up to prevent unauthorized fording.

Here's the ford
Here’s the ford. Where’s the Chevy?

Superman would have felt right at home here.

Pequeay phone booth

After setting up, I consulted my HISTORY Here app and set out to learn more about James Buchanan, our 15th president.

James Buchanan 4/23/1791 - 6/1/1868
James Buchanan
4/23/1791 – 6/1/1868

His home, Wheatland, is in Lancaster. It was built in 1828 for Williams Jenkins, and Buchanan bought it in 1848. He lived there with his niece and nephew, Harriet Lane and Buck Henry.

I arrived at the welcome center and watched a short video while I waited for the tour to start.

I was in a group of about 12 history buffs and we were greeted at the rear of the house by our guide dressed in period garb.

Wheatland backdoor

She was full of interesting facts and anecdotes, and I will share a few of them here.

Buchannan's Clock

This was Buchanan’s clock, and the venetian blinds were in the house way back when. They have been restrung and re-taped over the years, but the wooden slats are original. Imagine that! Do you suppose your vinyl mini-blinds will last 187 years?

I wish I  had a better picture of the floor. But, if you look carefully, you can see the pattern. The guide told us that the floor was covered with a material that was similar to linoleum. It was in good shape, but they had laid a protective covering over it and hired an artist to recreate the pattern.

Dining room
Dining room

The dining room was set up as if to receive company. The room has been modernized, but I find it surprising that the plaster design in the middle of the room existed even before they had a chandelier there.

Period illustration of the dining room
Period illustration of the dining room

Buchanan did some modernizing when he moved in. He closed off some of the fireplaces and added a coal furnace in the cellar.

Modernized fireplace
Modernized fireplace
White House desk
White House desk

This desk was the one he used when he was in the White House.

He had a separate study for receiving business callers.

Table in the study
Table in the study

The items on the table are things that belonged to Buchanan, including his last bottle of wine. Those are his law books in the cases, as well.

Buchanan was a Mason.

Wheatland Mason Plaque

I mention this because our guide told us an interesting story. After the Confederates and taken York, and the battle of Gettysburg was in the offing, he sent his family to Philadelphia for safety, and the Masons showed up to guard him. She told us that they also participated in burning the bridge over the Susquehanna at Wrightsville, which kept the confederates from crossing over and moving one toward Philadelphia.

Faux wood treatment on plaster
Faux wood treatment on plaster

Our guide pointed out a portion of the wall that was behind glass. They had removed a bookcase that had been on the wall, but wasn’t there when Buchanan had the house. They left it as an example of finishes used at the time. I am including it, partly for the ghostly image of the guide reflected in the glass.

Wheatland guide

Here is a glimpse of the guide and a better look at the floor covering.

Peace Stone
Peace Stone

The guide pointed out the pink “Peace Stone” imbedded in the newel post. It indicated that the owners had paid off the mortgage and had “peace of mind.”

Buchanan paid $6,750 for the property. In 2014 dollars, that would have been $182,075. However, I have a feeling that the house in the neighborhood would be worth considerably more than that.

For instance, this house is next door:


Wheatland Bannister

The original bannister, made of rosewood mahogany and tiger eye maple.

The bedrooms were upstairs. The first one we visited belonged to his niece, Harriet Lane. Since Buchanan was unmarried, Harriet served as the First Lady. In fact, the term “First Lady” was invented for her. Previous women in her position had been referred to as Mrs. Whomever. Since she was not married to the president, the press figured she needed a more dignified title than Miss Lane. I mean, what is less dignified than being an unmarried woman?

Harriet Lane, the first First Lady
Harriet Lane, the first First Lady

Our guide told us that this portrait was most likely made of her in the dress she wore to the inauguration.

Writing desk

She had a lovely little writing desk in her bedroom.


I’m not sure of the significance of the doll, but I thought the picture was nice.

Next door Buck Henry’s room. It was part of Buchanan’s bedroom suite, and was occupied by the secretary. I believe another of Buchanan’s nephews took over the secretarial duties after Buck moved on to other opportunities.

nephew's bedroom in suite

Buchanan's footbath
Buchanan’s footbath

Back in the day, bathing was done in the bedrooms. The guide told us that this footbath also functioned as a shower, with water being poured over the head. The windows had interior shutters that could block off only the lower windows when bathing was taking place. They could also close off whole windows, when desired.

remodeled bathroom

This bathroom was added after Buchanan’s time. Not only did it have a tub, but that little appliance at the end of it is a bidet. The guide did not mention when “flushies”were installed.

But, the emptying of chamberpots would be taken care of by the hired help. Buchanan had one trusted employee, who was with him for 30 years, Miss Hetty Parker. She warranted her own bedroom!

House manager's bedroom

The rest of the staff slept up in the attic. We didn’t see that part of the house, but they all had to enter and leave their quarters through a door in her bedroom. That’s one way to manage employees.

Fireplace in the warming kitchen
Fireplace in the warming kitchen

This room was the last stop on our tour, the warming kitchen. The food was prepared in the regular kitchen in the cellar and then brought to the main level with a dumb waiter.

Dumbwaiter to warming kitchen

No, not the least intelligent worker – a dumb waiter is a small elevator for raising and lowering food and supplies between floors. But, you all knew that, right?

Have you ever seen a brick sh%$ house? You’ve heard the expression, right? Mom always used to say, “Built like a brick sh%$ house.”

Wheatland brick shithouse

Here is one of them!

Wheatland shithouse interior

At first, I was taken aback by the lack of privacy partitions. Then I noticed the variety of seating options, and I have to admit I was impressed.

After Wheatland, I made one final stop on the Buchanan trail.

Buchannan grave

It was also his final stop.

Hegins Valley Arts and Crafts Faire

We got up bright and early and headed out for the Hegins Valley Arts and Crafts Faire. We were greeted by Faire queens who wore sashes. The welcomed us and gave us guides to the faire and pens so we could mark down the vendors we wanted to be sure not to miss. Barb, Jeanine and Sissy come every year and they have their favorites they always look for.

But, first, breakfast!

The church ladies do breakfast
The church ladies do breakfast

Eggs, bacon, ham, pancakes, toast, juice and coffee.

Provisioned thusly, we were more suited to napping than shopping, but we set out to see what there was to see. My friends were towing a shopping basket on wheels, so I knew they were planning on shopping. I didn’t need anything, so I was planning on keeping my wallet shut and my hands in my pockets.

Crafts under the trees

It was a beautiful site for a craft fair! There were tents and tables arranged in rows in a beautiful grove of trees.

Baked goods for sale

In addition to the usual crafts, there were baked goods and fruits and vegetables.

Broom maker

My favorite booth at the faire was the broom maker. I could have watched him for an hour! I was tempted to buy one of his brooms, but I didn’t.

Three reasons:

  1. I already have a broom.
  2. Those good brooms need to be hung up. I didn’t want to try to figure that out.
  3. I am cheap. (Well, cheapish.)

But, it was fun to watch him work and see the tools and materials he uses.

Another stand that fascinated me was the soup stand. I’d never been to a fair where soup was a big seller. Maybe it’s a regional thing.

Steaming soup cauldrons

Strong men stand and stir steaming cauldrons of soup. Come to think of it, I could watch that for a while, too.

The amazing thing was that the soup was cooked over wood fires!

soup kettles over fire

Speaking of the old-fashioned way of doing things, they have a playground with the kind of equipment I remember from my childhood.

Old fashioned parking lot

Fun! And I guess they must not be litigious in that part of Pennsylvania. When I first saw the toys, I mentally gasped. Too many years of teaching, I guess. I still look for the hazards in areas with children. I’m glad I’m not responsible for them anymore – at least not in a way that I could be sued myself.

How about some potty parity
How about some potty parity?

When we had seen and bought all that we had come for, it was time for one last stop.

That afternoon, we ate in a restaurant that is a favorite of Barb, Sissy and Jeanine. And, I liked it too.

Jeanine, Barb and Sissy
Jeanine, Barb and Sissy

The portions were huge! Look at the bags in their hands with the leftover containers. Jeanine went back to New Jersey and we went home.

The next day, it was time to hitch up and head out.

Adios a casa Y!
Adios a casa Y!

Next stop, Lancaster!


The oldest brewery in America, and one of the best factory tours I’ve ever taken – and I’ve taken a few.

Yuengling Brewery outside

The brewery was founded in 1829 in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, and has been a family business ever since. In fact, the current owner, Dick Yuengling, met us at the door as we were coming in.

Enter through the gift shop
Enter through the gift shop

As with any factory tour, you have to wear closed toed shoes. However, if you came in sandals, they have shoes for you to borrow. I’m glad I wore my sneakers.

Loaner shoes
Loaner shoes

While we waited for our FREE tour to state, we looked at the souvenirs.

Y in a Y hat
Y in a Y hat

We met our tour guide, Sharon, and she took us to the first stop on our tour, the rack room.

Racking room with old-style kegs
Racking room with old-style kegs

Back in the day, there was a team of four guys who used to fill the kegs. They would take turns bringing the empty kegs, positioning them, filling them, hammering in the bungs and then hoisting them on to the racks where they would sit until they were shipped out.

It sounds like they worked like a well-oiled machine, until real well-oiled machines took over.

Sharon, the tour guide, with a modern keg
Sharon, the tour guide, with a modern keg
Old wooden vat in the cave
Old wooden vat in the cave

The cave was hand hewn and provided natural refrigeration. It was in the 50s down there. As Sharon said,  “This was the original man cave.”

1920 brick wall
1920 brick wall

Almost a century of brewing came to a screeching halt in 1920, with the beginning of prohibition. The federal government sent worked to brick up the cellar, and part of the wall remains.

The Yuenglings are a thrifty lot, as hands-on business owners are. They reused the wood from the old vats to make display cabinets in the gift shop.

What to do during prohibition? Well, they did make some beer. Interestingly, pregnant women and nursing mothers could still get beer, and beer was available by prescription through a pharmacist. I think pretzels were still available over the counter.

They also started another business. They made ice cream.

Yuengling Ice Cream plant
Yuengling Ice Cream plant

It was in business from 1920 – 1985. Recently, though, it was reintroduced. Sharon didn’t touch much on the ice cream. For her, it was all about the beer.


This painting was the day prohibition ended.

Meter room for taxing purposes
Meter room for taxing purposes

On the way to the brewing room, we passed the cellar where all the beer is measured and taxed. The taxes are applied before it is sold, so they have to be careful not to spill any.

Stained glass ceiling
Stained glass ceiling

They have a stained glass ceiling over the brewing kettles. It’s there to keep the sun coming in from the skylight from hurting the workers’ eyes. It was made in 1881.

Stained glass window suspended under the skylight
Stained glass window suspended under the skylight

In the old days, all the kettles and tubs and such were made from copper. It was a point of pride to keep the copper bright and shiny.

Copper remnants from the old days
Copper remnants from the old days

Can you imagine how bright a whole room full of copper would look at high noon on a sunny day?

They weren’t brewing the day we visited, but we could still get the idea of how all the ingredients came together.


Corn grits, malted barley of different flavors and hops. Their hops come from Washington State.

Brewing room - coopers

Murals of the coopers

bottlw washing women

The bottle washers didn’t look too happy. Sharon told us that it was a particularly hot and unpleasant job. Now a-days, machines take care of the dirty work.

Speaking of machines, on to the bottling plant. The bottling plant wasn’t running either, but you could kind of get the idea of how things worked.

bottling line 1

bottling line 2

bottling line 3

bottling line 4

And that was pretty much the end of the tour. Oh, except for the pub!

Sharon poured two samples for each of us. I tried the Black and Tan for my first cup and the Traditional for the second. I liked them both.

hops in jar


While we were waiting in like, we examined what hops look like before they are processed into the pellets they use in their brewing.

And here were are, on our way out.

Barb and me after the tour

Still upright.

Oh, and if you are curious about the future of the company, Dick Yuengling has his daughters lined up to take the reins.


Cumbola? Yes, Cumbola!

What a treat to visit friends! The friend in question is another college chum named Y. Well, her last name starts with Y – Yenelavage. First name, Barb.

I got to Cumbola and found her house. She had a spot saved for me in a lot a few doors down.

Reserved for Kim, Bart, Flo and Cora.
Reserved for Kim, Bart, Flo and Cora.

She had dinner waiting for me. I think she said the were called “No Time to Spare Ribs”.

Hot food on a plate! My favorite!
Hot food on a plate! My favorite!

We visited and made our touristic plans. The next day, were were off to Berks County Heritage Center, which was an interesting facility on the Union Canal.

Red Covered Bridge over the Union Canal
Red Covered Bridge over the Union Canal

After the introductory video, our guide took us over to the Gruber Wagon Works, which had been moved over in four pieces and reassembled.  The Army Corps of Engineers planned to build a dam to control flooding and it would flood the site of the company.

Gruber Wagon Shop
Gruber Wagon Works

The Gruber Wagon Works was a family business that was started in 1882 by Franklin Gruber. It stayed in the family until it closed in the early twentieth century. It just closed – no one was interested in continuing the business. All the tools and records were left behind. When the Berks County Heritage Center took possession, everything was documented and archived. After it was put back together, all the items were returned to where they had been left.

Wheelbarrows and a Sleigh
Wheelbarrows and a Sleigh

Gruber made wheelbarrows, wagons, and hay flats. This sleigh was in the building when they took it over, although there is no record of them having made sleighs. Maybe they were just making a repair.

Wheel diagram and price list

I like the price list they had up on the chalkboard. I am sure it was a modern posting, up to use with school groups that tour the site.

Tools left behind

There were tools all over the building. It was a busy place. Many of the tools were built and repaired by the workers.

Drive belts to run the machines
Drive belts to run the machines

When the factory opened, the machines were powered by a water turbine that ran the belts.

Mending the drive belts
Mending the drive belts

When the drive belts would break or become worn, they would be mended in the shop. They had a tool that would put the metal loops in the ends. Then a pin, much like on a hinge, would connect the pieces.

Eventually, other power sources were added. They added an engine that provided the power for the belts and it still runs. They fire it up twice a year to keep everything lubricated and in good working order.

E.I. Shower - electrician
E.I. Shower – electrician

Electricity was added in 1910 by E.I. Shower, who signed his work. It was the old rod-and-tube wiring.

Rod-and-tube wiring
Rod-and-tube wiring
Tool for making hubs
Tool for making hubs
Hinged wall to get wagons into the building
Hinged wall to get wagons into the building

If you look carefully, you can see the hinges they used to customize this wall. It reminded me of the wall my father put in our garage. He could pull cars through the garage and into the back yard when he had more cars than room. He used to buy cars, fix them up and sell them. Well, he could sell them if we didn’t get our hands on them first!

Mechanism for lifting the wagons to the second floor
Mechanism for lifting the wagons to the second floor

There was more than one way to get the wagons into the building, though. They also had an elevator that they could use to lift them to the second floor for painting.

Painting seemed to be a point of pride for them. There were remnants of paint on the older wheelbarrows and glorious designs on the hay flat that had been restored by “Dutch” Maugle from Quakertown, PA.

decorative aping on greem wagon 2


I couldn’t get a full shot of the restored hay flat, but here is an old picture of one being used to harvest hay.

Old hay flat
Old hay flat

Not much hay flat visible under the hay!

Old wagon wheel
Old wagon wheel

You can tell that this is an older wheel because it is made in six segments. As technology evolved, they switched to steaming the wood to bend it. The newer wheels were made with only two pieces.

Hydraulic machine for fitting the tire on the wheel
Hydraulic machine for fitting the tire on the wheel

That metal band around the rim is called a tire. In the old days, fitting it to the wheel was done with heat and hammering. Eventually, they switched to a hydraulic press that forced the tire down to the rim. Those round protuberances could be switched out to accommodate wheels of different diameters.

Old advertising
Old advertising

This sign wasn’t their only form of advertising.

Blacksmith advertisement

If you look carefully, you can see a small anvil extending down from the second floor. That told all who passed by that there was a blacksmith available.

After that, we went over to the ​C. Howard Hiester Canal Center. Mr. Heister had a boatyard and loved the old canal lore. He collected all that he could.

Unfortunately, canal-related items seems to decay quickly. However, it shed some light on a few questions I had about canals in the region.

Principal canals in 1850
Principal canals in 1850

Now I can see how Elmira could ship things all over!

Canal boat model
Canal boat model

Canal boats had to be the right size to go through the locks. From what I understood, the locks were not necessarily the same width as the canals. Here’s a little data.

Canal sizes vs boat sizes


And, after our trip through the canal center, we said our goodbyes to the distelfink, which is a stylized goldfinch that is frequently seen in Pennsylvania Dutch folk art.

On the way home, we stopped and picked up the fixin’s for dinner. I took a nap

Barb and her mother worked on making some Lithuanian dishes for dinner.

Dashris bulovas
Dashris bulovas

This is a potato sausage.

Dashris bulovas, netikas zuikas, and applesauce
Dashris bulovas, netikas zuikas, and applesauce


Netkas zulikas is meatloaf. It was the best meatloaf I’d had since my mother’s meatloaf.

And ketchup is a vegetable.

The next day: Yuengling Brewery – the oldest brewery in America!