News and Events
May 9th: Annual Meeting and Cemetery Symbology presentation
The Millbrook's Society held its annual meeting Wednesday evening, May 9th at the Fellowship Hall in Hatboro Baptist Church. During the business portion, staff members provided a financial update and highlighted activities completed since May 2017 and those planned for the balance of 2018. Highlights for the balance of 2018 include archaeology activities at the Moland House starting in August, a Civil War encampment scheduled for September 15th, and work on a new book focusing on Hatboro "then and now." Members voted to renew the terms of current Board members Mary Porter, Ralph Ciaudelli, and David Shannon.
Millbrook Society staff members are serving with Hatboro-Horsham school district, borough representatives and other stakeholders on moving the Crooked Billet monument and refurbishing as part of the new Crooked Billet school project. This team also will be working together on establishing a museum and collection at the new Crooked Billet school honoring Crooked Billet and Hatboro history.
The Crooked Billet report was an appropriate segue to introducing the Society's guest speaker, Tammy Schane, who opened the meeting imploring attendees to "remember your ancestors! Who they are, this is who you are!"
This certitude motivated Tammy to begin her personal journey back through her family history, and as one would expect, to their final resting places, the place where their names, dates and symbols still quietly yet powerfully speak to us and hold us close to them. During Tammy's pilgrimages, the symbols on the gravestones in front of her and all around also spoke to her and she asked: What are they? What do they mean? What were they or are they trying to tell me and us? Her curiosity about 'cemetery symbology' led from intrigue to avocation, passion, and ultimately, to extensive research and a self-developed expertise on this interesting slice of our collective history.
A fundamental learning about this topic is understanding how communities perceived death in time and place across the centuries. This provides context for the symbols we see and what our ancestors wanted to share. In the 18th century, for example, Ms. Schane explained a more pragmatic, fatalistic and "hellfire" mindset prevailed, in which people knew they were not going to live long, death was something that happened frequently, and people died and were buried. Consequently, 'death head' or skull and cross bone symbols were common on gravestones in that era.
Later in the 18th and into the 19th century, this 'Age of Enlightenment' influenced new thinking here and in Europe, including concepts of death and dying, and hence, the symbolism they used to honor the departed. Death was now viewed as a transition from earth to eternity, or as Ms. Schane described it "a softer way of thinking about death." Symbols such as 'soul effigies' bridged the former 'death heads' and those of cherubs or angles that become prevalent later in the 19th century.
The 19th century ushered in the birth of cemeteries as we know them. Schane explained that death was then viewed as "a step in the journey" and that loved ones were "sleeping, not dead." Cemeteries were moved to open areas outside of cities to create a more bucolic, aesthetically pleasing, comfortable and peaceful place for mourners and for families and friend to visit their departed loved ones. Family plots were formed. Since many people were still illiterate, symbols provided a powerful medium to express what people wanted to say about and to honor their loved ones. Many gravestones and symbols were and are beautifully compelling visual expressions and true works of art.
Schane showed during her presentation just a sampling of the thousands of pictures she accumulated from research at hundreds of cemeteries across eight states. In her presentation she highlighted and delved into many familiar symbols and some that are more obscure, and masterfully translated for us the language of the cemetery symbols from across the centuries.
Tammy Schane regularly conducts cemetery tours of the Doylestown Historic Cemetery. Her book "Engraved: the meanings behind nineteenth-century tombstone symbols" informs readers with pictures and descriptions of 32 different gravestone symbols and other interesting historical facts and background. For more information, visit Tammy Schane at www.callmetaphy.blogspot.com or at email@example.com.
August 19th: Civil War Series, Program 3 "Living History! Civil War Encampment in Hatboro"
Civil War history was brought to life on the grounds of the Hatboro Baptist Church when troops from Company C of the 28th PA Volunteers Infantry Regiment set-up camp while on a recruiting campaign for men in the Montgomery and Bucks County areas!
Gentleman, ladies and children from the area visited the troops during their 6-hour stay in Hatboro. The company's officers and troops welcomed the visitors and shared first-hand what typical camp life was like. They conducted marching drills and demonstrated how to load and fire rifles. They explained that troops typically drilled about eight hours a day. Soldiers were also assigned camp duties to help support camp viability and discipline while keeping troops active and engaged in the often boring and tedious camp life.
Some of the Company C troops relaxed by their tents and talked about the equipment troops regularly carried with them, as well as some of the personal effects that provided them some peace, comfort and the sentiments from home. Click here to for more images and information about the accouterment and effects of the typical troop. The Company captain welcomed visitors to stop by his headquarters and to learn about his responsibilities. All the while, the camp cook was busy preparing an aromatic corned beef and cabbage lunch as a welcomed respite for the troops from their busy day of drilling and working.
June 26th: Civil War Series, Program 2 "Woman in the Civil War; Camp William Penn"
In the second program of Millbrook's Civil War Series, local historian and reenactor, Michael Jesberger, along with his captain of Company C of the 28th PA Volunteers, John Green, took attendees onto two fronts of the war: the role and contributions of the woman during the war; and, an overview of Camp William Penn in Cheltenham, PA.
The Civil War marked the first-time woman left their homes to actively support the war effort. Traditionally, a woman's role was raising the children and providing for a clean, comfortable and nurturing home.
With men from the North and South at war, women not only became heads of their households, but also played integral roles during the war. For example, women influenced the founding of the U.S. Sanitary Commission (approved by President Lincoln in 1861), a civilian effort for raising funds and collecting supplies to provide for the health and wellness of Union troops. Armies of woman volunteers in major cities formed groups that collected donations and held events that raised funds. Woman also provided for sewing clothes, making bandages, cooking, packing food and other goods, and serving as nurses in military hospitals. One of the grandest sanitary commission events was held on Logan Square in Philadelphia in June 1864, and was visited by President and Mrs. Lincoln.
All that is left today of Camp William Penn, located in the La Mott section of Cheltenham, are two stone pillars that held part of the gates to the complex. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863, paved the way for black troops to serve in the federal army and the establishment in May of the U.S. Bureau of Colored Troops (USCT) by the War Department. In June, Camp William Penn was established as the first and largest facility to train black federal soldiers. The land was owned by a relative of abolitionist Lucretia Mott and the camp was adjacent to her estate.
Over 10,000 black soldiers and 11 regiments were trained at Camp William Penn. Renowned abolitionist Frederick Douglas visited the camp and spoke to the 3rd USCT in July 1863 about their importance to the Union war effort and the positive impact of their service on their race. These soldiers wanted to prove they were just as good as white soldiers. Despite the formal recognition of black troops in the Union Army, racial animosity was relevant in the north, including Philadelphia. For example, the 3rd USCT was not allowed to parade through Philadelphia while departing from camp to war. These troops also were equipped less and paid less than white soldiers. After the 3rd USCT regiment and other USCT troops from other cities fought bravely in battle, subsequent troops were able to march proudly and were cheered loudly as they departed Camp William Penn for the battlefield.
May 10th: Annual Meeting Recap
David Shannon, Millbrook's President, welcomed attendees and opened the Annual Meeting with a special presentation recognizing the commitment and contribution of Christy McDuell, who concluded her long tenure as editor of Grist, the Society's journal. Christy started as Millbrook student intern, then briefly led the student intern program, and assumed responsibility as Grist editor. Thank you, Christy!
Lin Magaha highlighted operational budget items in the Treasurer's Report, and Ralph Ciaudelli reviewed Millbrook's 2016 accomplishments and updated goals for 2017. Current Board members Jim Maccaroni (and new Grist editor), Lin Magaha and Bob Schofield were elected for another 2-year term.
After the business portion of the meeting concluded, guest speaker Michael Jesberger and Captain John Greene, both reenactors with the 28th PA Militia Volunteers "mustered in" Millbrook's Civil War Series. Michael presented the series' first program, "Overview of the American Civil War on the home front. President Lincoln and Philadelphia." Mr. Jesberger's passion and style of uncovering history's time line with lesser known and local facts and anecdotes and images, left attendees not only more informed, but more reflective and appreciative of our history. His program highlighted Abraham Lincoln's four visits to Philadelphia, and especially how Lincoln was deeply impacted by his visit to Independence Hall. But, closer to home, his program also paid tribute to area soldiers, particularly the 20 known Civil War veterans whose final resting place is Hatboro.
Brownie Troop 7434 stops by Millbrook for a closer look at Hatboro history. On May 17th, about 15 girls and three leaders from Brownie Troop 7434 stopped by Millbrook. This activity was designed to introduce the girls to local history in Hatboro. David Shannon shared interesting facts and stories about Hatboro and called attention to many interesting artifacts in the collection. But, the highlight of the visit was each girl ringing the Hatboro Baptist Church bell!
The Society hosted Cub Scout Den 3 from Pack 17 in early March. About 10 cub scouts and 10
parents came to see the 1939 Board of Trade Movie. The silent film presents the way people, places and things looked at this time in Hatboro's history. David Shannon and Kathy Burgess presented the program.
The Queen Anne's Lace local Quester group visited Millbrook on Monday, January 9th. The members viewed items in our collection, and then Millbrook's president, David Shannon, presented a program on early land owners in Hatboro and Horsham based on information from Millbrook's recently published Charles Harper Smith book compendium.
The Questers are an international organization consisting of state and local chapters of members with a strong desire to see the best of American heritage is preserved for future generations through preservation, restoration and education.
The Millbrook Society brought sites and sounds of a colonial yuletide to Hatboro's annual Small Town Christmas at the Hatboro Baptist Church on Saturday, December 10th.
The church's meeting room was splendidly adourned in colonial-period accoutrement and activities! The room over all was dressed in evergreens and bows and candles, while a dining table displayed period ware, utensil and decorations, and a fireplace was warmed by a display of greens, fruits, candles and candle holders.
Children enjoyed playing colonial-era games and activities, including the always popular clove-orange decorations.
A highlight of the evening was a young Jack Thompson dressed in a colonial costume and playing Silent Night and other selections on his violin!
Thanks to the Millbrook members who helped with setting up and breaking down our colonial room, and to those who dressed in colonial attire during Small Town Christmas.
Several Millbrook members members staffed an informaiton table at the Hope Lodge Reenactment held Saturday, November 5th in Fort Washington, PA.
This activity commemorated the Whitemarsh Encampment when George Washington and the Continental Army were encamped in the Whitemarsh Hills area November 2 to December 11, 1777.
Originally known as Whitemarsh Estate, Hope Lodge was built in the mid-1700s by Samuel Morris, a prosperous Quaker entrepreneur. The house represents an excellent example of Georgian architecture.
Visitors on this pleasant autumn day were treated to many sights and sounds one might have witnessed during the colonial period. Colonial and British troop set-up campsites, and ran drills and maneuvers. Sutlers were peddling their wares. Reenactors provided lessons on medicine, clothing-making, and children's games. John Adams gave an inspiring talk from the steps of Hope Lodge and Dr. Benjamin Franklin demonstrated several of his numerous inventions. Click here for more information about Hope Lodge.
The Millbrook Society extends sincere thanks to Hatboro Federal Savings & Loan for its donation of $500.00 to support the Society's new history activity book. This book is geared primarily to children, but will no doubt contains fun and interest for everyone. It introduces Hatboro and its rich history to those new to our town, and to remind those who live here of our valued past.
The activity book will be available free of charge at Hatboro Federal and other locations in Hatboro. They will also be available to 5th graders at Pennypack and Crooked Billet schools. Pictured above: Millbrook Board member and activity book designer Jim Maccaroni (l) and Millbrook's President David Shannon proudly receive the donation check from Hatboro S&L's President/CEO Linda Roehner.
August 20th, Annual Revolutionary Reenactment at Moland House.
His Excellency, General George Washington, selected the Moland House as his headquarters from August 10th through the 23rd in 1777. The house was the hub for strategic planning between Washington and his generals and staff, and over 10,000 troops encamped on and in close proximity to the house during these 13 days. Visit the Moland House website for great information about the history of the house and the encampment at moland.org/moland-house.
Each year, the Moland House commemorate this significant historical period in its history and of our local history.
The Millbrook Society manages archeology at the Moland House throughout the year. During the annual reenactment, we demonstrate and discuss a typical screening process and showcase artifacts found on the property, including items dating back to the period when Native Americans lived in Bucks County.
May 11th, THE MILLBROOK SOCIETY'S ANNUAL MEETING
The Annual Meeting was held Wednesday evening May 11th with close to 50 members attending. Millbrook President David Shannon welcomed everyone and called the business meeting to order: Four board members were voted to new 2-year terms, Lin Magaha provided a budget update and Ralph Ciaudelli reported on the Society's accomplishments in 2015 and goals for 2016.
offered an inspiring presentation about how people and places of Bucks and Montgomery counties were forever shaped and marked by its place among the major battles and troop actions of the American Revolution.
He wove many interesting stories--many little known--about historical events at places like Langhorne, Core Creek Park, Warwick, Springhouse, Skippack, Whitemarsh, and of course, Hatboro, all of which dot the historical landscape across the counties. With the assistance of his son, Eric, Michael, enhanced his stories with maps, manuscripts and artifacts. Most compelling was his recounting those soldiers lying in unmarked graves, never to be known to history for giving the last full measure of devotion to the cause and to their country.
March 30th, "EXPLORING PENNSYLVANIA GENEALOGY"
Mary Porter, the Society's librarian and head of Archives and Research, hoped her presentation "helps people with family roots in Pennsylvania to find the information they need for their search." Her one and one-half hour program explained what online and print resources are available in PA for those researching their genealogy. It offered information about where and how to access data, and the parameters one needs to follow. Each participant received a PowerPoint presentation of her program which provides helpful reference information and tools.
January 13, QUESTERS GROUPS VIEW BOARD OF TRADE FILM
The Millbrook Society kicked off 2016 with a presentation to a joint group of the Questers as Millbrook's president, David Shannon, narrated the 1940 Board of Trade movie "See yourself and your town in the Movies" on January 13th.
The group of 27 members of the Damian House and Willow Springs Questers groups enjoyed the 30-minute black and white, silent film as they traveled 75 years back in time through the streets of Hatboro. The film presents the way Hatboro's people, places and things looked in 1940, and showcases Hatboro as a place of community, commerce and camaraderie. David's commentary throughout the film provided background which stimulated interest and recollections of Hatboro in a very different era.
The Millbrook Society and The Questers both are non-profit organizations dedicated to the study, education, and preservation of history and historical objects and landmarks.
The 1940 Hatboro Board of Trade short film was in high demand during Hatboro's 300th anniversary last year. It was presented to over 2,000 students and teachers at Crooked Billet and Pennypack elementary schools and Keith Valley Middle School. Other groups such as The Hatboro Rotary, The Craven Hall Historical Society of Warminster and Saint John's Lutheran Church of Hatboro also invited Millbrook to conduct showings.
The program tends to be interactive and inspires various responses: the students and younger audiences marvel at the differences between their Hatboro today and that of their grandparents or great grandparents, while the more senior groups recollect, reminisce and share stores about the Hatboro of their youth.
Is your organization interested in viewing the Hatboro 1940 Board of Trade Film at an upcoming meeting or event…or interested in a presentation/program about relevant topics of local history? Please email or call The Millbrook Society at 215-957-1877 (mailbox) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
December 31, LUKENS CLOCK REDEDICATED
Hatboro's Tricentennial year culminated the night of New Year's Eve with the rededication by borough and state officials of the Luken's Clock in the resplendent Loller Academy tower. As the refurbished clock struck 7 o'clock, its bells rang proudly to hearty applause and to signal the start of the closing fireworks display in Miller Meadow across York Road. The Millbrook Society has been working with the Borough of Hatboro in the restoration and preservation of the Isaiah Lukens Clock at Loller Academy.
December 12, SMALL TOWN CHRISTMAS
Small Town Christmas is an annual tradition at the Hatboro Baptist Church that offered planned activities for the entire family. Staff from The Millbrook Society dressed in costume and recreated a colonial-themed holiday room that included colonial-era games and activities for the children.
December 11, COLONIAL CHRISTMAS OPEN HOUSE
As part of Hatboro's 300th anniversary celebration, a Colonial Christmas open house was held at Cressbrook Farm (former Isaac Walton house) located on York Road across from the Hatboro YMCA. The YMCA hosted the event with support from several members of The Millbrook Society staff who served as colonial-costumed interpreters.