The Historian is our bi-weekly online newsletter that informs you about upcoming events at our two locations, the Campus of History (230 N. President Avenue) and our downtown Museum Store and Gallery (4 West King Street).

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If you have questions or comments about The Historian, please contact Emily Miller, compiler of the issues, or visit our Historian FAQ


 

What Is A "Living History" Tour?

Since we often receive this question at LancasterHistory.org, we want to provide you with a thorough explanation of the two unique tour experiences we offer to visitors to President James Buchanan's Wheatland!

Read more: What Is A "Living History" Tour?
 
Horrifying Facts! Read – Consider – and Weigh Them!

horrifyingIn September 1808 a short pamphlet was published in southeastern Pennsylvania titled Erschreckende Thatsachen. A copy of this German language pamphlet is in the library collection of LancasterHistory.org, and for cataloging purposes we needed an English translation to determine the subject of the pamphlet. We contacted Cecile Zorach, Emeritus Professor of German at Franklin and Marshall College, for assistance. She was immediately able to read the old German script and shortly produced a translation for us—the full title being in English, Horrifying Facts! Read – Consider – and Weigh Them!

The pamphlet concerned the 1808 gubernatorial election of Pennsylvania between Democratic-Republican candidate Simon Schneider (Snyder) (1759-1819) and Federalist James Ross (1762-1847). The writers of the pamphlet were alerting the public to what they believed were threats to their freedoms if Snyder was elected:

Free Voters of Pennsylvania! Read the following pages, and consider what to do before it is too late. The time is extremely important: be alert, otherwise your freedom will disappear for ever, and all the famous rights and privileges will be sacrificed on the alter of anarchy.

The pamphlet includes testimonials from area persons who were worried that Snyder would call a convention to change the constitution to take away the rights of poor men to vote and to establish a military tribunal about the rights of conscience.

Interestingly, Simon Snyder did win the November 8, 1808 election by a 61% margin; however, he barely lost the vote in Adams, Lancaster and Chester counties among others.

Follow the link to read the entire text of Horrifying Facts!

[Horrifying Facts! Primary Source PDF]

 
Where is James Buchanan?

 

Do you know? Maybe you've seen him strolling Gallery Row, cruising the city in his Jaguar convertible, or cheering for the home team at the Barnstormers. Take your photo with the President and receive a 20% discount at The Museum Store (4 West King or 230 North President). Then tag us on Twitter or Instagram (@lancohistory) and use the hashtag #foundbuchanan!

Follow us today!

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foundbuchanan-for-historian

 
A Party You Can See From Space! (And Other Tales of Our Partner, Shumaker PDT)

Article appeared in The Historian online-newsletter on Wednesday, March 18, 2015.

At LancasterHistory.org, every day can feel like a party when we’re opening our doors to visitors, school groups, buses full of tourists, and researchers excited to see what they’ll learn from the collections! But every so often, we get to take that festive feel to the next level and really get the party started. We host a variety of annual events as fundraisers for our educational programs, and do our utmost best to bring an historical era of Lancaster’s past to life.

Read more: A Party You Can See From Space! (And Other Tales of Our Partner, Shumaker PDT)
 
The Historian FAQ

If you have any additional questions that have not been addressed in this FAQ, please email Emily, the compiler and moderator of the Historian, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.She will assist you as soon as possible!

Thank you!


Read more: The Historian FAQ
 
Lancaster Based U.S. Boiler Company Donates Boiler Equipment to Wheatland Estate

While cold weather and staying warm might be the last things on our minds in the sweltering days of July, Wheatland has been busy preparing for the upcoming fall and winter months by making sure the home is properly heated. Not only does the house keep volunteers, staff, and guests warm, but the building must stay at an even temperature to prevent damage to the beloved building and its beautiful period artifacts within. In the beginning of July, U.S. Boiler Company, Inc. kindly donated a new boiler system in Wheatland to keep President Buchanan's home warm during the winter months. For a bit of background on U.S. Boiler Company, Inc., a subsidiary of Burnham Holdings:

U.S. Boiler Company, Inc. is headquartered in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and manufactures an extensive line of residential boilers for home heating. Our rich history in the boiler business has made the Burnham® brand name an industry standard and has brought U.S. Boiler Company to the forefront as the industry leader in hydronic heating. We serve markets throughout the United States and Canada.

Our Lancaster based manufacturing facilities produce state-of-the art boilers and have continued to invest in the latest manufacturing technologies with CNC machines, robotics, lasers, and automated testing equipment to help assure we are providing our customers with the best products available for their heating comfort.

We are the largest subsidiary of Burnham Holdings, Inc. who has been very active throughout the Lancaster community for many years. It is with great pride that Wheatland and the Buchanan home now have a new boiler system designed and built by the local employees of U.S. Boiler Company who also call Lancaster their home.

While the house is heated by a Burnham boiler today, the topic begs further investigation on how President Buchanan heated his Federal home. The house exhibits traditional wood-burning fireplaces, coal grates, and wood stoves. While these were probably all used at some point during Buchanan's residency, heating and cooking updates were in order after Buchanan spent a chilly first winter at Wheatland in 1849. In October 1850, Buchanan contacted a Mr. M'Ilvain of Philadelphia to install a furnace and kitchen range. Most of the house, however, frequently used the fireplaces except for a few locations: the attic rooms (five total), the small bedchamber/dressing room on the 2nd floor, the upstairs study, and the later 19th-century bathroom that adjoins the aforementioned study.

During the time of the Willson family residency (1884-1930s), there were wall radiators in the first floor main hall and the first floor parlors. Additional radiators were most likely installed throughout the rest of the house. These radiators were later removed during the museum era of the house (post-1936), returning the home to its mid-century appearance.

We'd like to thank U.S. Boiler Company, Inc. and Burnham Holdings, Inc. for their generosity in donating a new boiler system and keeping Wheatland warm for many winters to come!

usboiler 

 
Buchanan’s Inaugural Rail Car Window Screen
Written by Barry Rauhauser   

 

LancasterHistory.org announces the acquisition of a stained window screen that was created for the inaugural rail car of President James Buchanan.

In November of 1856, James Buchanan, the former U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator, and U.S. Secretary of State, defeated the Republican candidate, John C. Fremont. In the months between his election and his inauguration Buchanan prepared for the presidency, spending time in Philadelphia, Lancaster, and Washington, D.C. selecting his cabinet and keeping abreast of current issues.

On March 2, 1857 Buchanan would begin his journey to Washington, D.C. for his inauguration. It was a cold morning when people began to gather in the city, marching over to Buchanan's beloved home, Wheatland, to parade the President and his family to the rail station. At around 7 am the gathering had reached Wheatland. Buchanan, his niece and First Lady Harriet Lane, James Buchanan Henry, and Miss Hetty Parker boarded the carriage. Led by the Lancaster Fencibles, Lancaster's volunteer militia group, the parade escorted the carriage to Lancaster's rail station to meet Buchanan's rail car.

For the trip from Lancaster to Washington, D.C., Superintendent of the Philadelphia & Columbia Railroad, Joseph B. Baker, had prepared four rail cars for Buchanan that were decorated with patriotic scenes. One decorative touch included the use of window screens that were painted with images of Wheatland. These window screens were composed of painted or "stained" glass that could be placed in the existing window wells. The window screen that is now in the collection of LancasterHistory.org was painted by a German immigrant, Philip Kraus of Baltimore, Maryland.

buckwindowscreen 500w

Buchanan's train traveled to Baltimore and then to Washington, D.C. The increasing affordability of railroad travel not only made Buchanan's inauguration trip possible, it also permitted many other people throughout the nation to attend the events. The crowds in Washington, D.C. for Buchanan's inauguration were the largest in history up to that time. He was sworn into office on March 4, 1857.

It is rumored that Buchanan loved Wheatland so much that he requested the window screens be removed from the cars and framed so that he could keep them in Washington, D.C. to remind him of his home in Lancaster. It is not known precisely what happened to the windows over the past 157 years. But, this particular window was well cared for and mounted in an exceptionally crafted stand. It has now found a permanent home in the collections of LancasterHistory.org thanks to the generosity of those who contributed towards its purchase: Andrew Bieber, Michael Birkner and Robin Wagner-Birkner, Margot Brubaker, Tom and Jan Dunlevy, Thomas G. Englert, Jerre and Phyllis Frankhouser, Dr. Wendell L. Funk, Eugene and Bernadette Gardner, Anne and Gene Gardner, Susan and James Volker.

The window screen will be on display beginning Saturday, June 21, 2014 in the current exhibition County Commonwealth & Country which is on display in Groff Gallery. Admission to view this gallery is $7 per day for adults, $5 per day for seniors (65+) and students (11-17). Admission is free for all youth under 11 years of age and free to members of LancasterHistory.org.

You can read the full text of President James Buchanan's inaugural address here:
http://www.inaugural.senate.gov/swearing-in/event/james-buchanan-1857

To view other primary sources related to President James Buchanan's inauguration, visit the Library of Congress:
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/pihtml/pi020.html

 
LancasterHistory.org names Ralph Goodno: Fellow of the Lancaster County Historical Society.

At its 159th Annual Dinner Meeting on June 11, 2014, before 180 supporters of history and preservation in Lancaster County, LancasterHistory.org bestowed its highest honor on Ralph Goodno, former Executive Director of the Lancaster County Conservancy, by naming him a Fellow of the Lancaster County Historical Society. The designation is awarded, from time to time, to select individuals who have demonstrated a long-standing and distinguished commitment to preserving and promoting Lancaster County's history.

In presenting the award, LancasterHistory.org President and CEO, Tom Ryan, said "Ralph's legacy of leadership in the preservation of land and pristine natural landscapes, the very feature which drew Europeans here in the late seventeenth century, makes him a most fitting candidate for this honor." Ryan continued: "Through 12 years of leadership, Ralph graced our community with a clear vision for land preservation, a calm but determined spirit of urgency, and a warmth of character that made us genuinely happy to be in his presence."

Ryan spoke of Goodno as a trusted colleague and someone to whom we all looked to as a model. Ryan concluded that: "It is our fervent hope that in Ralph's remaining days he will see in this award the gratitude of an entire community that he served so well, and that he will rest assured knowing that his long labors stand as his legacy to us and his gift to future generations."

 
LancasterHistory.org Museum Stores

Image of Museum Store items for the holidays.

We invite you to stop into our Museum Stores, located at our main headquarters at 230 North President Avenue and in the City of Lancaster at 4 West King Street. Both stores offer unique and special home decorative items and related books to Lancaster's rich history. There are numerous local artisans who contribute to our wide variety of contemporary and folk art, including; scherenschnitte, fraktur, tinware, painted birds and small decorated chests. The store carries seasonal items, as well as specialties related to President James Buchanan and his estate at Wheatland.

Hours of Operation

230 North President, Lancaster

  • Monday - Saturday from 10am - 4pm

4 West King Street, Lancaster

  • Tuesday - Saturday from 10 - 4pm

Current Sale

Presidents Day Sale! 20% off select items in the Museum Store. Sale does not apply to consignment items. Sale ongoing at both Museum Store locations until Tuesday, February 28.

Gallery at 4 West King

LancasterHistory On the Square also features a small gallery.  The latest exhibit in the gallery, Digging Lancaster, looks at the historical archaeology of Lancaster and the various techniques that archaeologists use to learn about the history of our county. The gallery is free and open to the public. 

 

Directions & Parking

There is plenty of free, off-street parking at our Museum Store at 230 North President Avenue.

To visit our downtown store at 4 West King, there is parking available in nearby parking garages or on street. Valuable downtown transportation information is available via Red Rose Transit Authority, including information on Bus Schedules and Fees, "Free Fares" for seniors 65 and older, Park and Ride options, and Discount Passes.

Click on the Green and White Arrow icons for more information about nearby parking lots. Type in your starting location in the box below the map to create a driving route to 4 W King or to any of these available parking locations. Costs of parking vary by lot.

There is also metered parking along some of the streets.  Be sure to note that much of this streetside parking utilizes centralized kiosks for payment.  For more information visit The Lancaster Parking Authority.

From Address: To:

 
County, Commonwealth, & Country

shreinereagle tnCounty, Commonwealth, & Country, our newest exhibit on display in the Groff Gallery at LancasterHistory.org will open to the public on April 29, 2013.

Funded through a grant from the Richard C. von Hess Foundation, County, Commonwealth, & Country begins with the idea that local history provides a lens for viewing the broader American story. By looking closely at the objects from our collections, County, Commonwealth, & Country intertwines the stories of Lancaster, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the United States of America. In fact, many of America's foundational principles—liberty and freedom, tolerance and diversity, democracy and the political process—were molded and shaped in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

From the county's beginning as a part of William Penn's unique experiment in religious freedom and cultural pluralism, to its critical role in the emergence of national democratic politics in the 19th century, Lancaster County's story chronicles the many ideals that formed and transformed our state and nation. Our county tells stories of varied immigration and migration, tolerance and struggle, slavery and race relations, and the ever-changing saga of democratic politics in a nation that is still, on an international scale, in its political adolescence. The story of the county becomes the story of America.

Be sure to visit the Groff Gallery on or after April 29, 2013 and take a close look at the objects in our collection and learn how even the smallest object can tell the story of our nation in County, Commonwealth, & Country. Also, be sure to go to the Lower Level and examine the many objects that are housed in the open storage of the Richard C. von Hess Foundation Decorative Arts Center.

 
Thaddeus Stevens & Lydia Hamilton Smith Historic Site

stevens

 

In 2010, LancasterHistory.org assumed responsibility for the future development of the Thaddeus Stevens & Lydia Hamilton Smith Historic Site in Lancaster City. This project lies at the core of our mission to engage learners of all ages and every walk of life about the history of the people, places, and events that shaped our County, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the United States of America.

The Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster has beautifully restored the facades of the Thaddeus Stevens House, Kleiss Tavern, and Lydia Hamilton Smith Houses, as well as unearthed over 100,000 compelling pieces of archeological evidence, many pointing to possible Underground Railroad activity. Its many dedicated volunteers enforced historic preservation easements, brought the site's potential to the attention of the Lancaster community, and put in motion actions that saved the buildings, thus completing the first phase of the Stevens & Smith Historic Site, a cornerstone of historic preservation in Lancaster City and an engaging historical context for visitors to the recently completed Lancaster County Convention Center and Marriott Hotel.

Our plan is to proceed thoughtfully and work carefully to ensure that the future development of this site is viable from the start and sustainable over the long haul.  While the Thaddeus Stevens & Lydia Hamilton Smith Historic Site is not currently open to the public, we are already hard at work developing public programs to share the legacy of Thaddeus Stevens and Lydia Hamilton Smith through lectures, school programs, publications, and online resources.

[Learn More About Thaddeus Stevens & Lydia Hamilton Smith]

 

The Thaddeus Stevens & Lydia Hamilton Smith Historic Site

45 South Queen Street
Lancaster, PA 17603

While this historic site is not currently open to the public, visitors may get a glimpse of a part of the building and view the interpretive panels which are located in the Vine Street Entrance Lobby of the Lancaster County Convention Center

Valuable downtown transportation information is available via Red Rose Transit Authority, including information on Bus Schedules and Fees, "Free Fares" for seniors 65 and older, Park and Ride options, and Discount Passes.

Click on the Green and White Arrow icons for more information about nearby parking lots. Type in your starting location in the box below the map to create a driving route to 4 W King or to any of these available parking locations. Costs of parking vary by lot.

There is also metered parking along some of the streets.  Be sure to note that much of this streetside parking utilizes centralized kiosks for payment.  For more information visit The Lancaster Parking Authority.

From Address: To:

 

Our Blogs

The History Bucket

bloghistbucket

Because the world is a bucketful of questions.  And someone's gotta answer them

While working with the object collections of LancasterHistory.org we come across many questions.  Visit here to see some of the more unusual stories that we have uncovered.

[Read My Blog]

Historically Speaking

speaking

The staff and volunteers of the Archives Department at LancasterHistory.org never know what they'll find when working on the documents and records in the collections.  Fortunately, when they do discover something noteworthy they are very willing to share!

[Read Our Blog]

Marianne's PhotoBlog

photblogheading

Because pictures are worth a thousand words, but sometimes they need an interpreter.

You know that cliché about a picture being worth a thousand words? Ok, well, imagine the stories going on in my head after cataloging several hundred photos every single day!

[Read My Blog]

Wheatland: A Love Story

Who would have guessed that a young lady would fall in love with an old President and his old house?

One Young Lady, One Old House, Two Hundred Years of History

I’m Jennifer Walton, Museum Associate at President James Buchanan's Wheatland, and I love an old President and his old house! Over the past nine years, I’ve learned quite a lot about both, and I would love to share it with you!

[Read My Blog]

 

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