News and Events: 2018
Dec 7th & 8th: Hatboro's Annual Christmas Events!
Five members of The Millbrook Society dressed in colonial-period attire joined in the merriment of the Borough's annual Christmas tree lighting festivities on Friday evening, December 7th. A large crowd of the local citizenry converged upon Union Library and listened to rousing speeches by local dignitaries, sang Christmas caroles, lighted the town's Christmas tree, enjoyed cookies and cider, and greeted Santa and Mrs. Claus, who arrived in grand style on a very large, red, four-wheeled sleigh that closely resembled a fire engine! The Millbrook group then strolled up York Road to the Hatboro Dish to partake in more holiday cheer!
During the evening, Millbrook members celebrated the evening with representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, Borough government, Union Library Board/Staff, and PA State Representative Tom Murt (far right).
On Saturday evening, December 8th, Millbrook staff opened the Amy B. Yerkes Museum during the Hatboro Baptist Church's Small Town Christmas celebration, and welcomed visitors stopping by to see our renovated space and updated displays.
Nov 18th: Hatboro Holiday Parade...Reindeer Games!
Millbrook staffers donned colonial garb and joined in the festivities and fun of this traditional Hatboro community event! Our baskets and haversacks were filled with goodies to share with our fellow citizens, along with our glad tidings and good cheer!
Nov 14th: Remembering World War I
Millbrook coordinated an informal roundtable discussion commemorating the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, November 11, 1918 and the end of troop engagement in the first World War. About 10 of us gathered casually to share facts, figures, thoughts and opinions related to WWI. Some particularly shared interesting information about the war's impact locally, for example:
- Hatboro sent 52 of their sons to the war, and of that group, Frank Girard died in Europe. Millbrook shared information it acquired recently about his family here in Hatboro and communication between the Army and Mr. Girard's mother regarding eligibility and payment of Mr. Girard's pension. Stay tuned for more information and maybe a Grist article on this.
- The U.S.S. Olympia still docked in Philadelphia, was used as a transport ship in WWI. It transported U.S. troops to a northern Russian port, ran humanitarian trips in Italy to provide food and medical aid to those in need. Most notably, the Olympia transported the body of the unknown soldier eventually interred in the tomb at Arlington National Cemetery.
- Philadelphia's parade and war rally led to one of the worst influenza epidemics in the country. Millbrook members can read more about this in their Fall quarterly Grist.
Check the website for more roundtable and other educational programs in 2019.
Nov 3rd: Hope Lodge Annual Reenactment, 270th Anniversary!
Despite a rainy Friday and a windy Saturday, Colonial and British troops, sutlers and many visitors converged on historic Hope Lodge located near Fort Washington on Saturday, November 3rd to commemorate this important time in our local history.
The event commemorates the time from November 2 to December 11, 1777 when General George Washington and the Continental Army were encamped in the Whitemarsh Hills. The Millbrook Society staffed a table at the event.
Visit Hope Lodge at www.historichopelodge.org/
October was Archaeology Month in PA! Millbrook's program at Moland House on October 14th included a display sampling of interesting and diverse artifacts dating back to the pre-colonial period that were collected at Moland House.
Click on the picture to learn more about the event!
Also, visit the Archaeology page on this website under the "About" tab for more information about Millbrook's archaeology activities and schedule.
May 9th: Annual Meeting and Cemetery Symbology presentation
The Millbrook 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 angels 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 friends 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 4th: Millbrook kicks off Hatboro Summer Nights 2018 at the Crooked Billet Monument
Hatboro Summer Nights 2018 is featuring Hatboro historic site visits and collectible post cards. Starting May 4th, 10 historic sites in Hatboro will be featured. Historians will explain each site's history and give collectible post cards to all participants.
The Millbrook Society's David Shannon led the charge on May 4th, and offered a brief history lesson at the program's first stop, the Crooked Billet monument. This visit held a special meaning for all gathered since the monument in June is being removed and restored while the new Crooked Billet elementary school is being constructed on the same site. The monument will be rededicated in conjunction with the new school opening in 2020.
Visit here to recall the history and meaning of this local treasure!
April 24th, 26th: Junior Historians and Archeologists Visit Moland House!
Students and teachers visited Moland House in April for a first-hand experience in archeology and local history. Homeschooled students and their parents visited on April 24th and students and teachers from Titus Elementary visited on April 26th. The program was led by Moland House staff, and by Sybil Johnson, who heads the Archaeology Department for The Millbrook Society.
Several learning stations were set up at the house where students rotated through every 20 minutes. The overall experience included a tour of Moland house and hands-on introductions to colonial clothing, toys and games.
At the Archeology station, Sybil gave a brief history of the archaeological initiative at Moland House. She explained all of the steps involved in an archaeological investigation before, during and after an excavation. The students encountered an artifact display table highlighting interesting artifacts excavated over the years on the property. The students also reviewed several site maps, ground penetrating radar results at Moland, the Munsell soil color book, and typical equipment used such as a trowel and dust pan. They also explored several bags of catalogued artifacts which included bones (which are always popular) and several types of ceramics.
Millbrook kicks off 2018 with an education program for local Questers.
David Shannon and Lin Magaha of Millbrook facilitated the Hatboro Board of Trade film to about 30 Questers at the Heritage Creek community center in Warwick Township. David and Lin narrated this silent, black & white film which showcases the people, places and things representing life in Hatboro in 1939-1940.