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Displaying items by tag: Whitpain

Thursday, 07 October 2021 17:44

Shady Grove School

 

 

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Yesterday as I was scanning photographs I came across a few pictures of Shady Grove School, not the current elementary school, but the earlier one-room school house.

Shady Grove can trace its lineage back to the James School. A Dr. James, living near Dawesfield on Lewis Lane hired a schoolmaster for his children and some of the neighboring children in the late 18th century. The school lasted several decades although the original building that housed it was torn down. Jones Detwiler recorded that from 1820-1825, Standish Jennings was the teacher.

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Some accounting for the Whitpain School District, 1858

In 1836, Pennsylvania established the Common School System, and the Whitpain school district purchased the school the following year and renaming it the Mount Pleasant School. At some point the school moved, most likely (according to the 1977 book Whitpain… Crossroads in Time) to the intersection of Morris Road and Mount Pleasant Ave.

Jones Detwiler left us a description of these early one-room schools, “The early school houses were all built of stone. The desks placed around against the walls, and the pupils occupying them but facing the windows. Benches without backs for the smaller scholars occupied the middle of the room.”

According to the History of Public Education in Montgomery County, Whitpain had 6 teachers in 1836 (all male), 294 pupils, and the school year was 4 months.

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In 1855 that school was sold and new one was built on Lewis Lane. Since it was no longer on Mount Pleasant Avenue, the school district decided to rename the school. It chose “Shady Grove” because of the woods that surrounded the school, according to Detwiler.

In 1916, the township built the Whitpain Township Consolidated School. The smaller neighborhood schools, like Shady Grove, were closed. These photographs of Shady Grove are undated, but probably from the 1960’s. The building itself was torn down in 1971.

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The current Shady Grove Elementary School (Home of the Bulldogs) was built in 1957 originally as a Junior High School for grades 7 through 9. Later it was used for all the 5th and 6th graders in the consolidated Wissahickon School District.

Published in Found in Collection
Thursday, 22 October 2020 19:54

Boehm’s Church

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While wandering around the upper stacks looking for my next project, I came across an old Bible with a tag that claimed it was once owned by John Philip Boehm, founder of Boehm’s Church in Blue Bell.

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Title page from the Bible

This massive book was published in Nuremberg in 1733. The Bible has many illustrations and additional material. Like most of the 18th and 19th century German Bibles in our collection, this one was translated by Martin Luther, and it includes an illustration of Luther and a biography. There are also brief biographies of the rulers of Saxony, the German state that protected Luther from the Holy Roman Emperor starting with Friedrich III or Wise. There is also an index of names and a chronology of events in the Bible.

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An illustraion of Friedrich III

 

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Martin Luther

The man who owned the Bible, John Philip Boehm, was born in 1683 in the town of Hochstadt (now part of the city of Maintel) in Germany. His father was a minister in the Reformed Church (the Reformed churches followed the teachings of John Calvin). The young John Philip Boehm was an innkeeper and later a teacher at Reformed schools in Worms and Lambsheim. In 1720 he emigrated to Pennsylvania where he became a farmer. One of our books on Boehm says that he left because he was persecuted by Catholics, but the much more detailed book Life and Letters of the Reverend John Philip Boehm, says there was a dispute in Lambsheim over the use of land by ministers and schoolteachers, and that the Catholic schoolmaster joined Boehm in protesting the town’s policy.

Really, we don’t know exactly why Boehm left Germany, but in 1720 he begins to appear in Pennsylvania records. At that time, the German population of Pennsylvania was increasing, but there were no Reformed ministers in the area. Some joined other churches or worshipped with Quakers, but when the well-educated Boehm arrived, his neighbors asked him to serve as their minister. Boehm demurred because he wasn’t ordained, but after five years of asking, he gave in and began preaching in three places: Skippack, Faulkner Swamp, and Whitemarsh.

This led to problems a couple of years later when a Reformed minister arrived from Europe and ordered Boehm to end his ministry. In response, Boehm and his supporters contacted the Dutch Reformed Church in New York. The New York ministers forwarded his request for ordination their leaders in Amsterdam, who recognized Boehm’s ministry and gave permission to the New York ministers to ordain him.

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From the book Life and Letters of the Reverend John Philip Boehm

Boehm was actually the founder of several congregations in southeastern PA, and the one known as Boehm’s Church (pronouned "beems") was his last. According to the church’s website, as Boehm got older, traveling to all the different churches became more tiring. In 1847, a small stone church was built near his farm in Whitpain.

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The church as rebuilt in 1818; the spire was added in 1870

Boehm's Church, now a United Church of Christ, continues his ministry to this day.

Source:

Hinke, Rev. William J., Life and Letters of the Reverend John Philip Boehm (Philadelphia: Publication and Sunday School Board of the Reformed Church in the United States, 1916)

Published in Found in Collection
Thursday, 05 September 2019 19:09

The Saturday Evening Post and Montgomery County

Readers of a certain age no doubt remember The Saturday Evening Post. Even readers born after the Post’s heyday, are probably familiar with some of its familiar Normal Rockwell covers. But, did you know of Montgomery County’s connection to the iconic American weekly?

Published in Philadelphia, The Saturday Evening Post goes all the way back to 1821, but it rose to prominence in the twentieth century under the direction of Charles Horace Lorimer. Lorimer lived in Wyncote, part of Cheltenham township. Much of his estate is now occupied by Ancillae Assumpta Academy.

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Lorimer was also the author of the book Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son. While it’s not widely known today, it was a best-seller in the early twentieth century.

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Cover from Letters from a Self-Made Merchant, from our collection

Lorimer left the Post in 1936, in part, according to the Saturday Evening Post Society’s website, because he felt out of touch with New Deal era America. The cover in our collection dates to 1949, when Ben Higgs was editor.

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It shows a well-known corner of Montgomery County – Skippack Pike and 202 in Whitpain.  Men run to the engin of the Center Square Fire Company on one side of the street and the recently closed Reed’s Store appears on the other side. The note for this  cover claims that the artist, Stevan Dohanos, was looking to capture a small town fire company. It goes on to say, “Incidentally, four Post artists, long fascinated by that Center Square department store, have tried to figure out a theme for coverizing it, and failed.”

The Post continued to be an influential magazine into the 1960’s when competition from television led to the decline of print media. The Post’s parent company lost a major libel suit and the magazine stopped printing in 1969. Since then, it has been revived, most recently by the non-profit Saturday Evening Post Society.

Published in Found in Collection
Thursday, 20 September 2018 19:30

President Cleveland stays at Montgomery County home

This week's blog comes to us from volunteer and trustee Ed Ziegler.

 

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During the 1888 Presidential campaign, President Grover Cleveland and his private secretary Col. Daniel Lamont, stayed in Montgomery County, to rest from campaigning, according to the National Defender newspaper. On September 22nd and 23rd, 1888. They stayed with William M. Singerly at his Whitpain Township “Record Farm”. Mr. Singerly was the publisher of the Philadelphia Record, a Democratic newspaper, and he was known for his experiments in improved farming methods. The President left the next day for Washington.

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Mr Singerly’s farm house had been the Franklinville Hotel (Franklinville was the area around the intersection of DeKalb Pike and Morris Road). He closed the hotel and purchased surrounding farms, eventually owning over 500 acres in Whitpain and Gwynedd townships. He was particularly known for his herd of over 100 Holstein cattle. Mr. Singerly went on to be the Democratic candidate for governor of Pennsylvania in 1894.

After Singerly died suddenly in 1898 (from what doctors called “tobacco heart,” Singlery smoked 18 to 25 cigars a day), a Dr. Wilson, who used it for years as a summer home, purchased the farm. The farm was then purchased by Ralph Beaver Strassberger, publisher of the Norristown Times-Herald, who named it Normandy Farm. The house Strassberger lived in is, in part, the old Franklinville Hotel.

Published in Found in Collection