Friday, December 9, 2011

William Penn and the Indians

The more I read about William Penn, the more I want to understand him. I encountered an interesting tidbit on Hall and Joan Worthington’s website where they have compiled four different earlier biographies of William Penn into one.

The interesting tidbit? One of the reasons that William Penn treated the Indians so well came from his idea that they descended from the nation of Israel. Yes, in other words, Mr. Penn believed them to be of Jewish origin.

He had studied their language and observed their physical looks. With what he knew of Hebrew and the physical characteristics of Jews, he believed that the natives in America at the time he arrived, looked and sounded like Jewish people.

William Penn valued Jewish people. For one thing, Penn’s moral state caused him to treat all people well. As a student of the Bible and what it says, he realized God’s value of people. God asks us to value all men as He does.

Second, Penn knew what the Bible says. I would venture that he knew the verse that asks those who read it to bless the Jews. Psalm 122:6 says, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.”

Remember the story of Balaam? Balak, the king of Moab, feared the numerous nation of Israel when they arrived in the plains of Moab on their journey to the Promised Land. Balak sent for Balaam. Balak thought Balaam could call spiritual forces to come against Israel. “Curse that nation,” Balak commanded.

Despite the fact that the true and living God spoke to Balaam and told him not to curse His people, Balaam insisted on going. An angel waited to kill Balaam. The donkey saved his life and God used the donkey’s voice to startle Balaam. After that, He showed Balaam the angel that intended to kill him.

The sum is that God is on Israel’s side. If any one is going to punish or rebuke them, it is going to be Him. We are to pray for the nation and stand up for them. William Penn believed in valuing all people. Each of us need to do the same.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thomas Buchanan Read

“A Man of Many Talents”

I’ve sewed, knitted, crocheted, patiently tatted, tried oil painting, hooked a rug, glued tiny curls of paper, constructed fabric frames, produced stacks of calligraphy, collected postcards, created miniature furniture, and scrapbooked long before it became the thing to do.

At some point I realized that I need to focus on just a few things. That is still a hard for me to do. Now I’m into writing. I’m writing Pennsylvania history books, but other topics and genres still attract and entice me.

Yesterday, I was working on a biography of Thomas Buchanan Read. This morning I am thinking about who he was and what made him famous.

Thomas Read grew up in a little place called Corner Ketch in Chester County, Pennsylvania, where he first worked for a tailor, At age fifteen, he worked in Philadelphia for grocer and also a tobacconist. After that he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, to live with his sister where he learned portrait painting and sculpting. He began to work his way through the eastern United States, sometimes as a sign painter. After meeting Henry Wadsworth Longfellow who encouraged him to write, he published a book of poetry and created a serial story for a magazine. As a soldier in the Civil War, he wrote patriotic songs. He also took up drawing and produced thirty-seven sketches of an immigrant family living along the Susquehanna River.

Today, Thomas Read’s most well-known work is a lyrical poem called “Sheridan’s Ride.” and a ten-by-fourteen foot portrait of Union General Sheridan on his horse. Mr. Read, inspired by a photo in the newspaper and the accompanying account, wrote about General Sheridan’s furious ride from Washington, D.C. to Cedar Creek, Virginia. General Sheridan had been on business in Washington and learned of the engagement of his troops. On arrival at Cedar Creek, Sheridan found the Confederates had the upper hand, but he rallied his troops and won. Later, Mr. Read painted a huge portrait of Sheridan as he had appeared in the photo in the newspaper.

Should we work to develop many talents? Or do we miss the best by trying too many things? Would Thomas Buchanan Read still have been famous if he had stuck to one specialty? Or would he have been even more famous?

I don’t know the answers to those questions, but they make think of where my focus should be-- pleasing the Lord. In whatever I do, I need to pray and seek His direction to develop my God-given gifts for His pleasure and His glory.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Poor Versus Rich

On researching Winfield Scott Hancock, a United States general, I encountered an interesting story of his night at the Astor Place Opera House. Since I had already encountered this story when reading about the Pennsylvania born actor, Edwin Forrest, this piqued my interest. Edwin Forrest and British actor, William MaCready had an ongoing antagonism. While both performed in plays in England, the British took MaCready’s side. Now both appeared in New York City, and Forrest became the favorite of the Americans.

The particular night that Hancock attended the theatre, May 10, 1849, a riot broke out. The New York state militia, given the orders to fire into the crowd to stop the rioting, killed twenty-two and wounded thirty-six. Hancock and his three friends became separated and each feared for the safety of the others but left unscathed.

The commentary I’ve read about why the riot happened said that it wasn’t just about Forrest versus MaCready. They only provided the spark. This particular opera house’s location played a part as well as the Irish resentment of what was taking place in Ireland at the time.

The opera house, built in 1847, sat between Broadway and Bowery. Broadway represented the better part of town and Bowery the poor section. The rules at the opera house said that for a man to enter he had to have shaved and wearing evening dress including a clean waistcoat and kid gloves. Those on Bowery Street didn’t have the means to do that and resented the fact that they couldn’t attend a play at this opera house.

The Irish now living in America had a disliking for anyone British. Many had recently arrived in New York because of the Potato Famine in Ireland. (These included some of my ancestors!) Many Irish took part in the riots that night.

The poor resenting the actions of the rich is still going on today. One of my friends posted a picture on Facebook of the October 15, 2011 Occupy Lewisburg protest not long ago. She and her husband had been there and later we had the occasion to talk about why they went. She said, “I researched this movement and it has some bad sides, but I believe in some of what they are saying so we went. I am just tired of a small amount of people having all the wealth in this country while on my street are hungry kids.”

The other parallel is the little bit of Bolivian history that I learned when reading the book, Crossfire by Jeanette Winder. The Revolutionary Nationalist Movement took place in Bolivia in 1950’s. The revolutionaries overthrew the government and one of their actions was to redistribute the land, a Robin Hood type action of taking from the rich to give to the poor.

I don’t personally approve of such policy. Forcibly redistributing wealth is not democratic. The only result from the opera house riot that I can find is that the place soon went bankrupt. No one wanted to appear or attend a place where so many had been killed.

As to Occupy Wall Street? The outcome of this movement is not evident yet.

We can be sure of God’s word. II Chronicles 7:14 runs through my mind. We, who go by the name of Christian, need to consistently hold up our country in prayer.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Natural Bents

In the homeschooling circle we speak of enabling a child’s natural bent. What I mean is if he talks about cars constantly, teach him to change oil. If she shows an interest in crafts, get her the materials to create. (Sorry if that sounds sexist, but those are mini-portraits of my first two children.) One of the reasons I like homeschooling is that children have more time to follow their natural bents.

Several 1800’s figures showed inclinations at early ages toward their life works. Winfield Scott Hancock (1824-1886), who was born and raised near Philadelphia, commanded troops during the Civil War. First of all, his father and mother named him after another famous general, Winfield Scott. Second, in his early years at school he persuaded fellow students to practice marching and organized a company which named him captain.

Elisha Kent Kane (1820-1857) born in Philadelphia is another example of this. As a child, he liked to try new things and especially loved a physical challenge. He also enjoyed the outdoors. What did he become? World known explorer! He visited Rio de Janeiro, the Andes Mountains, Bombay, Ceylon, Macao, Persia, Syria, Egypt, Greece, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and Africa. Kane became most famous for his travels to the Arctic regions, but he also ventured into the crater of a volcano in the Philippines.

A third nineteenth-century man showed his abilities early. Edwin Forrest (1806-1872) loved to recite for friends of his family. He was apprenticed at the age of ten to merchants, but still practiced his speaking and acting. He belonged to a Thespian society at the age of eleven and played the parts of children in plays. At fourteen he played a part that received requests for more performances. At seventeen, he began to act in New Orleans, where at nineteen he starred as the Shakespearian King Lear. He became very rich and famous performing in many major cities of the United States and in London, England.

So watch for your children’s natural abilities and encourage them. Who knows? You may be raising the next famous general, space explorer, or actor. Thinking about natural bents reminded me of song, “The High Chair,” by Steve and Annie Chapman.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


I like research. When others were moaning about their papers due in college, I was having fun in the library. Because of this it is never hard for me to start a new book.

My next one will be about famous people of Pennsylvania. I found a good resource at Midtown Bookstore when I was there. Noted Pennsylvanians by Walter Lefferts was published in 1913. Leffert’s story about Robert Morris made a huge impression on me.

Robert Morris believed in a cause so much that he was willing to invest huge amounts of money and asked others to do the same. His cause was the United States fight for independence from England. During the war, members of congress fled Philadelphia. Morris stayed and continued to take care of the nation’s business. He made sure that large amounts of goods were moved to Lancaster and other places so that the British wouldn’t confiscate them. The new navy had unfinished ships in the harbor. Mr. Morris hired civilians to finish them. He ordered obstructions put in the river to deter the British from sailing in. On and on go the stories of things Morris did. Morris ended up giving all his money for the war effort. He died a penniless man. He gave up ALL for the cause that he believed in.

This story and another recent encounter made me think about my willingness to die to self. I have been pondering whether I believe in the cause of spreading gospel of Christ to the point that I would give up ALL, especially my material goods? Recently, I went to a concert where I heard Weaver’s singing group. The father shared the story of a change in their lives. They recently sold their large home and chose to live on a tour bus with all ten members of their family so they can continue the ministry that God has called them to. Could I do the same if God asked me to?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Blue Jacket

Recently, my husband took me on a date of my choice. What did I choose? A bookstore that was recommended to me, Midtown Scholar on Third Street, Harrisburg.

I browsed the Pennsylvania history section and was excited to find a book called, Blue Jacket by Allan W. Eckert. My interest was piqued because when I worked on my mother’s family genealogy, I read about Blue Jacket. Blue Jacket would have been my great, great, great, great, great grandfather’s nephew.

The book, Blue Jacket, is about a 17-year-old boy, Marmaduke Van Swearingen, who was captured by the Shawnee Indians in 1771. In exchange for the freedom of his little brother, captured at the same time, Marmaduke promised to go willingly with the Shawnees and become an Indian. The Shawnee named him Blue Jacket because of the garment he was wearing at the time of capture. Marmaduke kept his promise which wasn’t as hard as it may seem since he had grown up loving everything about the Indians and desiring to be one anyway. He later became the only white to become a war chief of the Shawnee.

By the way, we did go out to eat and went shopping elsewhere in addition to the bookstore that night. I’m not entirely a nerd.

In 2016, I read that DNA tests proved this story wrong. The DNA from the descendents of Marmaduke and the descendents of Blue Jacket did not match. Wikipedia on Blue Jacket

Report on DNA of Blue Jacket