|Welcome! I make return visits from time to time to set Pennsylvanians
straight about their history.
In the 1600’s, the century of my birth, a quaint expression ran,
"It was of that feather." Users meant: that is the way of the thing.
My mission, by appearance, is to improve understanding of Pennsylvania history. The Native Indian population called me Brother Onas:
Onas translated means: feather.
I wish to retrace some valley of the Susquehanna River and northern tier history. My life counterpart crisscrossed the region more than once. For half a century my treaties reined fine. In the 1740’s a new representative for my sons was needed. Natives held long memory and when the new person took over my place as treaty maker he was given my Indian name, Brother Onas. It was of that feather.
The new Brother Onas was Conrad Weiser (d. 1760). Once traveling with Chief Shikellamy, the pair bedded and resumed trekking over several days. One morn’ Chief Shikellamy said, ‘Brother Onas I dreamt last night that you gave me your fine copper cooking pot.’ Brother Onas obliged.
Weiser called Womlesdorf, Berks County his home. His life was full, complicated by his sideline as treaty maker. Word came to Weiser his father, who he had lamented dead yet lived unwell. Weiser took off in a canoe and headed to New York. This was Weiser’s second trip through the north tier wilderness. He found his father frail, suffering dementia. .Love and Herculean effort brought father to new home Berks County, where his final months were spent touched with loving care.
It was custom among natives to watch intruders and not to attack on first observance. Indians watched the travel and caring ministering Weiser provided to his father.
The observance enhanced the reputation of my counterpart, Brother Onas.
I write pieces for Delaware County papers and Philly ones. I STILL GO DOWN AND APPEAR as William PENN. in the Spring a $17,000 NEW MARKER IS BEING UNVEILED AT THE Penn's Landing site. I am to be there. I just did my first two local appearances as William Penn, in Wellsboro. Anyway, I wrote recently in the theme style I use a northern tier spin article. Best regards Tom Smith, Mansfield
10 SEP 2008
Welcome! I make return visits from time to time to set Pennsylvanians straight about their history.
In the 1600’s, the century of my birth, an expression ran,”To eat like a trencherman."
A trencher was a wooden plate. Most persons used a slice of bread in place of a plate and finished off their meal by eating their bread plate. A person who ate off a real plate could afford to eat well. Solders in the service of the king were served a fulsome meal on a square trencher, hence, they were served a square meal.
My mission, by appearance, is to improve understanding of Pennsylvania history. Today I wish to relate that I ate well and because my father had obtained the status of a national hero, as an Admiral I was privileged to eat off ceramic ware - instead of woodenware - called treenware.
When I arrived in Pennsylvania I lived for a time with a fellow Quaker Robert Wade. Soon I switched to the home of Thomas Fairman, who’s lived in Shackamaxon, on land destined to become Philadelphia. When Philadelphia was just starting some of the best building materials were used to construct my residence. Erected of more bricks than any other, it was topped with a slate roof, hence, the name it was known by, “The slate roof house. The same building in a different colony would have been known as the “Governor’s Palace.” Into the slate roof house went my fine house-hold items, including my ceramic dishes and my copper shaving dish, which I held up under chin, and into which I shook off my whiskers and shaving lather. A man of peace, on ceramic dishes I ate as well as a well fed soldier. But there were no soldiers in Pennsylvania.
On my second return visit to Pennsylvania, I erected a fine mansion between Philadelphia and sister Quaker settlement Burlington, New Jersey. I named it Pennsbury Manor.
In Pennsylvania, in common with other colonies, the populace used wooden plates, rounded in shape by a turner of wood. Since Pennsylvania was abundant with corn, berries, deer, and river shad, my colonists were accustomed to eating well.
The expression, To eat like a trencherman, had frequent usage in Pennsylvania.
In colonial times a land route stretching from New England to the Southern colonies connected the North to the South. In the middle Atlantic region, segments were first drawn up and connected by the Dutch in the 1650’s. Under English rule the road was ennobled: “The North – South Packet Road.” The inserted word “packet” meant it was used for mail purposes. All of the Founding Fathers traveled upon it, most collectively in the 1770’s. Crowning the road, on the southwest border of Philadelphia was a tavern. This precise tavern, the Blue Bell, served importantly as a stopping and meeting place, from the colonial era into early Federal times.
The Blue Bell’s start is hazy. I only claim to know what I witnessed
in life and as a ghost.
I sometimes cheat by doing my own research to fill in gaps, but the exact date of start is apparently lost to history. Only the Big Guy knows and I try not to be an imposition.
Clearly the Blue Bell was a public tavern or way station inn before 1750; it was used as a greeting place for the newly arrived (Penn family appointed) Governor of Pennsylvania Robert Hunter in 1745. or
Before advancing, it is fact but little known, because it deals with
disreputable society, but Philadelphia western fringe area was frequented
by hold up men. Two instances I know. Once a carriage was stopped
with a wealthy young woman in side, which event caused a rare outrage among
- prone-to-shush citizens. A second account recalls a highly respected
citizen who was accosted by a bandit. Kicking hard his mare’s
blithers the man made an escape, in doing he turned and fired a handgun
directly at the aggressor.
No attempt was made to learn the gun’s handiwork. A Quaker, the escapee felt pangs over the criminal misadventure.
In Quaker Pennsylvania, in defiance to royal decrees, military soldiery
was slow to
march. The first militia called themselves, “The Associators.” In 1774, the City’s First Troop grouped for a first time. It is not clear to me, if the Associators ever trooped out to the Blue Bell. It is record certain the \City’s First Troop cantered to the tavern. It was an open secret that the City Troop met visiting, noteworthy persons, at the Blue Bell, not just to provide proper pomp, but the Troop lent their service to thwart any road route unpleasantness.
Just beyond the city limits lay pacific Darby. The only times
quarrels ensued there was when tired travelers were forced by wicked weather
to stay over night in an over crowded
Tavern. Once I observed a overly tired Quaker clinch his fists. The Quaker did not raise them, but tension filled the room. With one exception - inclement weather - few travelers stopped going between Philadelphia and Chester. (Darby sat but short midway between.)
The Blue Bell functioned in connection with Delaware River pilots.
Chester was a better port than Philadelphia. Hence,
persons arriving by ship were placed ashore at Chester. The ship pilot
with crew sailed up river to Philadelphia. Of custom, pilots
of instruction knew to alert city leaders, who rreadied themselves and
send off the First Troop. Often city leaders accompanied the Troop:
The Blue Bell served for greeting.
In Delaware County, in brief overview, the fall-line figures
great in terms of stream flow because it comprises the hilly chain that
divided the head-
waters with the fast current zone. From the headwaters flows the source of the watershed’s fast water. The fronting headwaters gather strength by consumption of one stream run upon another, and once meeting with the crisscrossing fall-line the gathered waters gain gravitation power, which power long generated famous mills. In 1698, an early promoter of Pennsylvania wrote of the “famous Darby River“ (made famous by its mills).
Resuming personally: Now, a resident of Tioga County, a denizen beside the Tioga River, I find a new term of importance: the Anti-Cline (as opposed to Delaware County’s Fall-line). Incidentally, I like to say, New Yorkers share the border with Pennsylvania and Tioga County. In situation, Tioga County is midway between Lake Erie and the Delaware River. That boasted: What is an Anti-Cline?
As a land form an anti-cline is a “v” shaped layer of land. It can in fact be ‘upright’ or inverted. Mansfield, my current home, is brush-crossed by the Tioga River, which by the way flows north. Millions of years ago, the place where Mansfield sits was higher than the tops of the surrounding mountains. So the ant-cline in which Mansfield sets is ‘v’ shaped.
I do not wish to get beyond my ken of relevancy or beyond my ability to instruct. A little jokingly, that said, I can say with impunity to falsehood that the landform-kin related to anti-clines comprise curious fellows. The in-bred relationship gets complicated by such relatives as “Anti-forms.” Anti-forms mimic anti-clines and for practical mapping purposes they exist -- but do not exist. (Anti-forms sound as if invented for a Star Trek movie.)
I opened saying: When I formally lived in Darby Creek Valley, the stretch of the stream valley divided in into three zones: The Headwaters, the Fast water zone, and the Tidal water zone. The Valleys of Darby and Tioga link:
Darby Creek Valley boasted Pa.’s first interior moving settlers, whose descendants live in Tioga County. In July, I start giving talks on this topic.
Guest Column: One Room Libraries: The Older Time Service
By Thomas R. Smith, Times Guest Columnist
If you want to put a Big smile in my face, call me: “Mr. Liberty Man.” Regarding the tag I have a story to tell.
I grew up loving books. Still do... By using the word book I mean the centuries old form. I remember when libraries were small and either one room or intimate enough to be essentially counted little more
My intent is to present some library history. I plan to to end with personal memories. I open with the story of a hero of mine.
In 1840’s Pittsburgh a boy wished to use a precursor of the modern public library, a subscription library, whose patron created it to assist “clerks.” In title the library was the “Clerk’s Library.”
The boy (my hero) was a runner of memos between offices, whose desk staff were counted clerks. Technically he was not a clerk.
The boy served the entire clerk desk staff. One day in his off-time he presented himself to the Clerk’s Librarian. Learning the lad was not a clerk the librarian denied him membership Not-to-be stopped, the ten year old wrote to a local newspaper, succinctly making a case why he and other message runners should be admitted.
Next, the boy knocked on the door of wealthy library founder, who admitted him, heard his logic, and followed by instructing that ‘message runners’ be afforded access the same as seated clerks. The boy immersed in self learning via the walls of books.
The case making experience kindled through much of his life as a profound, vital life event. Then, in the 1880’s his early experience flamed; he founded a library in the tiny place of his nativity in Scotland. Soon he created a library in Pittsburgh where he had grown to manhood. He wished to provide to other under privileged, the opportunity to bootstrap through self education.
After a respite he restarted founding libraries, but with keener directives. Every library he dictated must be “Free.”
Open to All.
Every founded library had a sun carved over the entrance. Likewise he ordered the word “Free” to preface: “Free Library.”
A sum of 3,100 Carnegie Free Libraries was erected; the last ones, twenty-five, were erected in Philadelphia.
I am a decade’s long student of American library history. Simply, Andrew Carnegie stands to be praised above others. To his credit he essentially put the ideal of “free” into the American Public Library System.
American libraries in the 1820’s started to make changes, mindful for wider members. Start was slow. Lad Carnegie encountered it. A stage benchmark was the “Philadelphia Mercantile Library,” which - early and long - served the city’s elate merchants. The library’s exclusivity urged humble mechanics to found their own so-called: “Mechanics Libraries.” Other cities with learning hungry mechanics traced.
Modern library history starts in 1876. Many groups placed their society’s 1876 convention in Philadelphia, to tie into the nation’s Centennial Exposition. The American Library Association was one group. Among librarians - a sense had been mounting: American libraries ought to be free.
In the 1900’s, old hangers-on libraries, including the Philadelphia Mercantile Library formally folded into free library systems that were dedicated to the ideal of openness for all comers.
I am going to truncate by simply entering here my personal memories.
My mother, once, likely twice a month trekked from Garrettford, err - technically Drexel Hill, in trips to exchange books at the Upper Darby - Municipal Building, “Municipal Library.”
Allow to insert two memories, one non library, one Municipal Library based.
In my youth persons hard put, who I call “hard knocks,” often were reduced to alms-begging; but with an era different - pride difference. Of custom a cup with pencils was available for trade. My mother when she met a hard put person, always pulled out - purse money - for the giving.
I recall the first time I gave for my mother; she handed me the change.
I gave, but walked away without scooping up a pencil. Mother stopped me, she instructed me to retrace and take-up a pencil.
On that day I learned the meaning of “personal dignity.” It engraved on my heart.
Now it is time for me to tell my Municipal Library lesson. Some lessons come silently imprinted. The lesson learned in the library came to me uninstructed. Take my memory to heart:
From the 1930 start, the library had a Children’s Section. One room in full compliment, the Children’s part of the library was to the left as one entered. A larger section to the right was dedicated to adult readers.
Note insert: Precocious children found their way into the adult stacks.
Unmindful (of rule separation), finding an adult book of interest, some children would take it to the ‘the desk.’ Librarians had a discretion, be tough - and deny, or make an exception. Exceptions were kept hush-qt and involved a promise to take care. – Always the experience carried as a profound, vital event. Yes! This was shades of the earlier experience of “Andy” Carnegie.
Turning: In my youth a small retarded woman sat in with the children at Municipal library – at Story Time. “Marie” was her name. She was there in my time – in the 1950’s. She was one us. None picked up on any difference. Mothers, including mine, detected Marie’s presence. But she fitted perfectly in the kid crowd. Marie was sweet – her inclusion sweet: Perfectly fine. All together her presence was the sweet-proper, right decision.
I entered the library field in the 1980’s. The Monday following my graduation I started work in the Municipal library. -- Marie Caputi was still attending: Story Time. I was delighted. We never discussed that I had sat beside her, but we became fast friends. For years all of the staff loved her.
For years Marie came into the library with little letters ‘rit large.’ Each note was addressed, “Dear Mr. Liberty Man.” I loved them. My female co-workers said the tag perfectly fitted. They winked that Marie was sweet on me.
If you want to put a Big smile on my face, call me: “Mr. Liberty Man.”
Age 97, my loving, instructive mother shall be given cause to smile, too.
Memory of Nicholas sets ablaze a smile. Unable to speak or hear, he
made himself clear to me through ‘signing.’ My face ablaze, now, I see
him now. Memory of him is engraved on my heart.
I see him: One hand tugging at an imaginary beard. This, while placing his other hand across his forehead. The latter forehead 'sign' conveyed a broad brim hat. The beard and broad brim hat hand motions summed his way of signing: a Mennonite.
To Nicholas: Memory of seeing the plain sect man in his rural scenery setting was golden. His face in delight was such it was hard for me not to tear. His normal face had been smile shorn.
I shall get back to Nicholas.
Within memory: Older libraries tended to be one room or essentially so in intimacy. In the manner of old fashion family households, parents, children, and often grandparents, intermingled in earshot. The setting was replete with a closer knit generational web. Relations still go to public libraries, and the web spread of generations continues there, but the once easy eyeing of one another is neigh impossible. Scope of collections is greater but something has lessened - what with persons so parted in self preoccupation, independent of one another.
All kinds of persons felt welcome in the library I was charged in. Persons with disabilities who felt unwelcome and unwanted came in with brightened spirits. I was never a noise snob. I loved patrons to punctuate with low toned chatter and banter. Liking ‘commingle’ is why I liked branch work over main library work.
Style me a liker of olden mode public libraries. Too many modern libraries are frenetic places and have lost the giggle of their former commingle. I sound old crab. I love and frequent public libraries. I spend gobs of time studying library history.
My intent is to present some library history. I plan to end with personal memories. I open with the story of a hero of mine.
Introductory note: It was once city dull notion-ed – in joke - that farmer plowmen looked all work-a-day upon a bouncing hind quarters. Once caricature ha-ha funny, but not true.
So doing would have produced poor furrows, and likely an abrupt crash at a field end. Along the same lines (no pun intended): It was once farmer proverbial that when a new field was made all but one un-pulled stump, obstacle free… That one stump – against all stern instruction – not-to-be hit: GOT HIT! In the doing a plow share got broken. Work thus stopped until a new plow share was gotten. Often the negligence was the work of a teen farm boy. Enter our Delco youth: John B.
Story start: In about the year 1716 a young teen farm boy started a habit he continued as long as he furrowed fields via personal plowing. His plow work start started on lower east bank Darby Creek.
John B. dreamt the same ‘wish’ every time he rested. More focused: Our farm boy wished he knew more about the ‘plant world.’ …But how? He always resumed – stumped (pun intended), and to himself said, “If wishes were kisses.” He would then resume his plowing. Farm life mounted same life same year in year out.
Springtime found the youth – each year older wiser – in plow of fields for the sowing of food for larder and for fodder storage for livestock. All the while he gave pause to pondering - the mysteries of plants. …But how?
One difference came in manhood when he bought at auction a farm tract just east, over the line in Philadelphia. No longer farming an uncle and grandmother’s tract, he was his own man on his own farm. Now he could - and did - give greater pause to pondering plants.
In 1730, or was it 1729, no matter, John could not pass over a daisy without wishes… Daisies are one of the first plants to upstart and John yearly pondered them early and long. One day he stopped! No furrow end, his horse was stood puzzled... John stooped and picked up an uprooted daisy. Sadness had matched curiosity and had struck up an urge to stop. John determined an action, an action of self-determination. Tomorrow he would visit his city friend Ben, Benjamin Franklin.
Wasn’t the next day, but next chance he got. He ferried across the Schuylkill River. In his colonial time rural-side greened west side Philadelphia County. John B. headed straight to Ben’s print shop. More than acquaintances, the men were chess match ups. Ben cheated. Ben liked to misdirect; to see what he could get away with. John did not have his chess board under his arm. He planted himself and asked about plants.
Almost an assistant, bright chap, Joseph Brientnall, was in shop. Ben and Joe told John the study of plants was called Botany. To his query as to how to study it he was told to “Go see” James Logan in Germantown – then eight miles above the city. Ben gave him an introductory note. This in hand he trekked to Logan, who claimed (over Franklin) the greatest scientific mind in the colonies, and a contented library to match, including botany tombs.
By boot strap study John B. became book smart. Years of personal study of plants aided him mightily. Now he came to know the names to plant parts to plants he already knew inside out. By turns he picked up Latin and attached – to such plants he connected to his readings, and learned to identify each by Latin name. Today John B., namely John Bartram, is freely credited “America’s first botanist.” But he is more; in Library history in particular.
In 1731 Ben and Joe and close friends wished they had more books to read. Ben reminded the knit crowd of the Alexandrian Library. Why not found their own little one, “Right here in Philadelphia.”
But how? Chimed the crowd. Books were gotten from London. Who buys books?
Ben and Joe looked knowingly. Friend James Logan had connected John Bartram
with London based Peter Collinson, who, for a promise of plants, had started
to send to Bartram botany books. Peter bought them, he sent them. Bartram
owed Ben and Joe a favor for their help in getting him right directed.
In crowd cooperation a book list was scratched out. This list was pressed to John Bartram, with instructions that he forward the list to Peter Collinson, who was pressed in service as book buyer. It worked. In 1731 the corporate “Library Company of Philadelphia” founded. Founded it survives today. It morphed into what can be styled a “Special Library.” Today there exists two sorts: “Public” and “Special.”
The 1731 founded LCP is the premier holder of Colonial American printed items. Mostly the Library Company holds books, but the imprint list is as wide as colonial printing. John Bartram, born in Delaware County, Darby, in 1743, was vital in the founded of the “Darby Library Company, which was a corporate mirror of the Philly Library Comp.
Bartram, Darby born, would be very pleased. A Quaker he sought brotherhood in meditated prayer and it quiet action. Not a “Public Friend,” a Quaker who liked into limelight, Bartram succeeded in evading inclusion in library history.
Be it noted: John Bartram (1699-1778), humble Darby born Quaker, was vital in the founding of the first - and second libraries founded in North America. He was more.
A fact really pleases Bartram. The fact that the Darby Library Company morphed into: the “Mother of Public Libraries.” What could please a bookish Quaker more?
I am a personal friend of the ghost of William Penn. Ghost Governor Penn tells me that when anyone bespeaks of the “Darby Free Library,” John Bartram’s face blazes a wide smile. Cogent of this, he turns his head. More: The Upper Darby libraries are a direct descendant of the near parent Darby Library. Hence Bartram likes to watch over the Darby near relation in Upper Darby.
Governor Penn informed me that Bartram became on-High aware of Nicholas. Back to him:
In my library career I made thousands of friends. One, only one, sometime, when in a state of intense frustration made wheezy grunts. My friend Nicholas came in often, his normal day was full of trial. Sometimes he arrived overflowing, but in his most frustrated state, he soon found calm among his library friends.
If I listed his living conditions, if I listed a list of all to whom he sought help, but was denied, it would break hearts. I could go on, but I do not want to wrench anew. Instead I would like to put my face ablaze.
In closing, I recall the time I took him for a trip to rural Pa. There he saw a Mennonite man.
For me: the thinly settled land opposite New Jersey took on an attraction.
Take notice: Yes, as a safe haven for Quakers and others persecuted for
conscience misbehavior. Yes, also, as a safe haven for myself and my family,
Somehow the last fact goes untold. Now I make it a truth-be-told: I skedaddled.
It took time, but I skedaddled.
Yes. I did return to England in 1684, but only after Pennsylvania was an entity. Truth told: I exhibited a yellow streak in the going, but this was cleansed by my brave return in 1684. Back in England there were times I hid – I hid to live another day. Please blur what I just wrote, I wish to wind down pleasanter.
As I have always wished, I wish Pennsylvanians shall keep up a keen conscience for religious tolerance and mankind's equality.
I affirm what I have told. I do not wish to over burden. I close.
Your Governor thanks you,
This is Tri-Counties Page 16271