Spring Cleaning at Pennsbury!

Spring Cleaning at Pennsbury Manor!

Every February, the staff here at Pennsbury Manor descends upon the Manor House with mops, buckets, brushes, vacuum cleaners, wax, and gloves. The once a year “spring cleaning” helps prepare the house for the many visitors that will come to Pennsbury Manor for a guided tour of William Penn’s 17th Century countryhome. Even though the house is dusted and vacuumed regularly, this gives us a chance to give it a once of year “thorough cleaning”.  It will take staff 151 hours and four days to clean all three floors of this Georgian style reconstruction of William Penn’s original home built in 1682.

Unlike a regular “spring house cleaning,” we are moving and cleaning objects that are over 300 years old. Special instructions on care are given to ensure that we do not damage or harm the objects in our collection. Gloves are used for handling textiles and wood, so as not to leave oils behind and gloves are taken off for glass and ceramics, so as not to have them slip and fall out of your hands. No butter fingers allowed here!

It is an impressive effort on the part of the staff to dust, vacuum, wax, mop, rinse, and repeat in each room of the house. The four bedchambers on the second floor take two people 3 hours and 27 minutes to clean. To vacuum all of the textiles on the first floor it takes two people a total of 2 hours. To clean all of the windows and Plexiglas covers it will take two people 10 hours. Phew!

The wear and tear of almost 30,000 feet takes a toll on our wood floors. To keep them looking good we will have to use ten 1-lb cans of butchers wax to hand wax all of the public areas and then buff the floors until the shine. Wow what a difference a newly waxed floor makes!

There isn’t any pledge found in our cleaning supplies. All wood is dusted with a clean, dry cloth baby diaper. We use around 60 diapers to clean the house. We then wash them and pack away for the next year. We try to be green! Textiles are a bit tricky. One must use a screen when vacuuming, to protect the fibers. Much care has to be taken while vacuuming these. Speaking of vacuums, it takes four vacuum cleaners and 16 vacuum bags to catch all the dirt and dust. Must be all of those feet bringing in lots of dirt!

It is an exhausting, but fun four days together getting dirty to get the house clean. Now we sit back and wait to show off the newly cleaned house to all of our visitors. Stop out to see us, we’ll be waiting!

By Tabitha Dardes, Director of PR & Marketing

Life in the Governor’s House: A Quaker Love Triangle!

Two young Quaker women conversing in Pennsbury's front court garden.

Two young Quaker women conversing in Pennsbury’s front court garden.  Marriage was an important decision, one that would require serious discussion with friends and family.

Ann Shippen’s Story (Part II)

In an earlier post we shared the story of Ann Shippen, who at age 17 was living with the Penn family at Pennsbury Manor.  Ann was being courted by two men, James Logan and Thomas Story, both loyal confidantes of William Penn and fellow Quakers.  Ann’s father, Edward Shippen, voiced his opinion regarding the courtship and favored Thomas Story over James Logan. He thought Logan, who was 10 years older than Ann, to be too young, too naïve, and not successful enough to support his daughter. He preferred Thomas Story because he was more mature (20 years older than Ann), and as a Quaker minister and a member of the Provincial Council, was more established.

Despite the discouragement of Edward Shippen, Logan continued to court Ann at the same time as Story. Their competition for Ann’s hand in marriage became so well known in Philadelphia that William Penn wrote of his concern in this 1704 letter to James Logan –

“I am anxiously grieved for thy unhappy love for thy sake and my own, for T.S., [Thomas Story] and thy discord has been no service here any more than there.”

After several years of courtship from both James Logan and Thomas Story, Ann was finally convinced of Thomas Story’s love for her.  Story confessed his love to her by saying that he had “ the patience beyond what was common,” and that he would, “reasonably try all or stretch upon the rack, which had no common heart, nor soul could be able to endure.” Ann overlooked the 20-year age difference, listened to her father, and finally accepted Thomas’s proposal.

The couple married in July, 1706 and lived in Philadelphia. Sadly, their marriage was short-lived.  Ann died in 1710. There were no children. Thomas, who died in 1742, never remarried.

Melanie Hankins, Intern

Further Reading

John W. Jordan, Colonial and Revolutionary Families of America, 1978.

Albert Cook Myers, Hannah Logan’s Courtship: A True Narrative, 1904.

Craig W. Hortle, Lawmaking and Legislators in Pennsylvania: A Biographical Dictionary Volume Two 1710-1756, 1993.

Life in the Governor’s House: Ann Shippen’s Story (Part I)

Pennsbury Manor's Manor House

 Ann Shippen was the 17 year-old daughter of Edward Shippen, a prominent Philadelphia Quaker. She became acquainted with the Penn family when they stayed at her father’s home in Philadelphia. When William and Hannah Penn moved into their new country home along the Delaware River in the spring of 1700, Ann joined the household at Pennsbury Manor.

It was common in Quaker families to have their daughters live with another Quaker family to further their education. Here at Pennsbury, Ann learned from Hannah Penn how to manage the many responsibilities of a household, and became friends with Penn’s daughter Letitia, and Abigail Pemberton, the daughter of Phineas Pemberton, who was also living at Pennsbury for the same reason. The girls helped Hannah with household tasks and other responsibilities to keep Pennsbury running smoothly. Hannah had also just given birth to her first child, so the extra help from Ann and the other girls was certainly helpful.

Ann attracted several suitors while at Pennsbury Manor. James Logan and Thomas Story were both interested in courting Ann.  James Logan was William Penn’s secretary, and would later serve as the manager of Penn’s business affairs in the Pennsylvania colony.  Logan eventually became one of the most influential and wealthy Quakers in the colony, but at that time he was not so well-established. On the other hand, Thomas Story was already a prominent member of the community, a Quaker minister, and a member of the Provincial Council.

Picart, "Two figures for a fete galante," 1708

Picart, “Two figures for a fete galante,” 1708

Although these men were friends and colleagues for many years, their interest in Ann strained their relationship to the point where the men publicly debated the courtship.  Story charged Logan with offensive behavior through spoken and written word that was against Quaker discipline. Logan claimed Story could not carry a conversation with him in a civilized manner. Young Ann was caught in the middle. Who would she select as her future husband!

By Melanie Hankins, Intern

 

 

Further Reading

John W. Jordan, Colonial and Revolutionary Families of America, 1978.

Albert Cook Myers, Hannah Logan’s Courtship: A True Narrative, 1904.

Craig W. Hortle, Lawmaking and Legislators in Pennsylvania: A Biographical Dictionary Volume Two 1710-1756, 1993.

Peaceful Game-Changers

“Our principle is… to seek peace.”

George Fox, Founder of the Quakers, 1661 

mlkToday we remember Martin Luther King, Jr., who advocated for national equality and freedom at the expense of his own safety.  His commitment to peaceful change and the well-being of all people puts him in the highest company of our nation’s most honorable leaders and game-changers.  In honor of his memory, we’d like to reflect on the peaceful principles that influenced colonial Pennsylvania and the young nation it would help create. 

Born from a country ravaged by civil war and religious combat, the Quaker movement dedicated their time and resources to advocating a message of peace and acceptance.   One of their most articulate and effective members was actually a former soldier.  William Penn, after being sucked into war in Ireland, found the Quaker movement and determined that his life’s work should be the establishment of peace.  This evolved into his dream of a new colony, founded on Quaker principles of tolerance, religious freedom, and diversity.  This involved populating his land with people who held the same principles and creating a government to protect them.  Pennsylvania was the only colony who did not maintain a militia, who tried for years to refuse sending soldiers to fight in England’s wars, and established friendships with the native inhabitants of the land. 

penn

In this, Penn was extremely lucky.  The Lenape Indians who resided here were known in the native communities as peacemakers.  In wars between tribes, it was the Lenape who would often step up and broker a peace agreement.  So when Penn arrived to make friends and trade fairly for the land, the Lenape were willing to become friends.  The land westward, previously occupied by the Susquahannocks, had been vacated, so the Delaware Valley Indians were willing to relocate. 

Even though his passion was Pennsylvania, Penn never stopped believing in the possibility of peace throughout the Old World.  In 1693, he wrote “An essay towards the present and future peace of Europe” advocated for an end to the political violence.  Penn was not always successful in what he advocated, but peace and tolerance continued to be a dominant trait in his government and in the Quaker people’s beliefs. 

We honor the countless individuals, known and unknown, who struggled and sacrificed alongside William Penn and Martin Luther King Jr. to create a better world for the generations to come!

 

Hannah Howard, Volunteer & Special Project Coordinator

Our amazing (rain-free) Holly Nights Spectacular!

We had such a wonderful time with our visitors on Holly Nights this year!!  The rain gave us a 5-hour window to enjoy our Friday night, and we were so excited to see so many visitors come out.  This has been a long-standing tradition at Pennsbury Manor for at least 30 years, and both evenings turned out to be beautiful and full of holiday spirit.

We wanted to share some awesome photos of this year’s event:

 decorations Putting up the decorations!

DSC_0065 Volunteers help offer demonstrations every year, including this fan-favorite – Pomander Balls are made by sticking organges with cloves and rolling them in a mixture of cinnamin, nutmeg, and other spices

cooking over an open hearth

 Cooking over the open-hearth for visitors – looks delicious!

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 Candlelight makes the 17th-century manor house come alive

 william penn

William Penn defeats the notorious pirate Captain Kidd in our classic 17th-century Mummer’s Play!

blacksmith

Our awesome blacksmiths working in the warmest spot on site – lucky guys, but try doing this on a hot august afternoon…

the site with luminaries

Thank you so much to everyone who came out for Holly Nights!  We had between 80 and 120 volunteers participating each night (not including all our amazing performers!), so we owe all our success to their dedication and joyful holiday spirit.

Have a wonderful holiday season and we look forward to blogging with you in the New Year!

 

By Hannah Howard

Photographs courtesy of Tabitha Dardes, PR, and Joseph Long, volunteer

Confessions of a Costumier: Dressing the Community Leaders

Throughout the year we’ve been celebrating the unique clothing of the various peoples living and visiting Pennsbury Manor in the late 17th century.  After featuring the Laborers and the Servants/Tradespeople, we can highlight the Community Leaders! 

This painting by Matthijs Naiveu, “The Cloth Shop,” 1709 depicts two different couples. The couple in the foreground is obviously from a wealthy and aristocratic background. The business owners in the background have a more limited but substantial position in the community. Their clothing modeled the rich textiles they might sell.

Continue reading

Our Not-So-Quaker Holly Nights!

Pennsbury Manor's Holly Nights

The staff at Pennsbury Manor are scurrying everywhere getting ready for our annual Holly Nights this week, but in reality William Penn’s home would have been quiet and uninterrupted over the holiday season.  Quakers did not believe in setting apart certain days as more “holy” than others, so they typically let the 12 days of Christmas pass by uncelebrated.

But we at Pennsbury just can’t pass up the opportunity to celebrate this special season!  Our classic Holly Nights, a two-evening candelit event, includes some of our favorite 17th-century traditions that William Penn would have known as a child growing up in England.  Our amazing volunteers will be Wassailing the apple orchard, burning evergreens to bless the New Year, brewing beer, cooking a sumptuous feast in the kitchens, and much more! 

Pennsbury Manor's Holly Nights

I thought about writing up a post about some of the holiday traditions Penn would have known, having been raised in a typical 17th-century Anglican family, but Colonial Williamsburg and their partners at the Jamestown Settlement have already done it!  Click here to read their amazing article and pick up some cool ideas for your own holiday merry-making! 

HOLLY NIGHTS

Bring your family and friends and kick off your holiday season with style at Pennsbury Manor

Thursday, December 6 and Friday, December 7  from 6:00-9:00 PM.   Visit our website and download our $1.00 off coupon!

Pennsbury Manor's Holly Nights

By Hannah Howard, Volunteer Coordinator & Costumier

Keep Your Wig On!

We just got out new “William Penn” wig today, and we’re wiggin’ out!!

Pennsbury Society board member Sue Crook is having a “Hairspray” moment – William Penn’s going to have to work hard to pull this look off better than her!

Many thanks to Colonial Williamsburg’s Wig Shop, who constructed this wig along with another on display here at Pennsbury Manor.  I know it’s not their typical time period, so we appreciate them taking on the challenge of late 17th-century styles! 

Curator Todd Galle models our first “William Penn” wig, put on display in the Manor House in November 2011. We are excited to premiere the “Penn Wig 2.0” at Holly Nights next week!

Our official “William Penn” was in desperate need of a properly style ‘do, so I know he’s excited to try this on for size.  The new wig will settle in nicely as it travels all over the community visiting classrooms, bouncing down parade routes, and welcoming visitors at Pennsbury Manor.

Come to next week’s Holly Nights and see William Penn vanquish the infamous pirate Captain Kidd in our traditional Mummer’s Play!  Visit Pennsbury’s website for event details and a coupon! 

 

By Hannah Howard, Volunteer Coordinator and Costumier

German Cooking: Not the “Wurst” Food in the Colony!

During the 17th century, what we know as Germany was a hodgepodge of different states disputing everything from religion to politics. With religious persecution and destruction brought about by The Thirty Years War, many Germans were fed up and chose to leave for the New World.  But leaving their country behind didn’t mean leaving their traditions – especially when it came to their food!

 

Map of Western Europe, 1648

A smokehouse at Pennsbury Manor demonstrates one of several ways colonists could preserve meat

The colony of Pennsylvania was appealing to a large variety of people, for it accepted diversity and offered freedom of religion. The first wave of German immigrants purchased about 15,000 acres from William Penn, a tract of land about 6 miles north of Philadelphia.  There they founded “Germantown” and were free to prosper without the political disputes of the Old World.  As the settlement prospered, many more Germans followed, and soon their population swelled to dominate south central Pennsylvania!

These new inhabitants came with respected farming techniques and prized cooking traditions.  The recipes used by these new settlers greatly varied by what regions of Germany they came from.  These people, erroneously referred to as the “Pennsylvania Dutch,” rather than the proper “Pennsylvania Deutsch,” became famously known for their hearty meals, heavy in starches and fats. As they mingled with the English, French, and other nationalities living in Pennsylvania, their traditions would intermingle.  William Penn was especially fond of the smoked meats Germans favored. 

A sampling of seasonal ingredients used for Open-Hearth Cooking at Pennsbury Manor

The majority of these immigrants came here impoverished, so what they ate was determined by what their new land offered. They became well known for their sausages and soups, which were great ways of getting the most from the ingredients available. Even today, local delicacies like Scrapple and Pork Rolls have their roots in the colonial Deutsch culture.  With the opportunities William Penn offered in his new colony, German immigrants helped establish the diverse state Pennsylvania has become.

Visit Pennsbury Manor on Sunday, November 18th 1:00 – 4:00 to watch our Open-Hearth Cooks preparing traditional German cuisine!

Written by Ray Tarasiewicz, Intern

Edited by Hannah Howard

Further Reading:

Fletcher, S. W. Pennsylvania Agriculture and Country Life 1640-1840. Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1971. Print.