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

Advertisements

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.

Peaches and peppers and squash… oh my!

“The gardiner is brisk at work. The Peach-Trees are much broken down with the weight of Fruit this Year.”

The patched fence provides protection for Pennsbury’s crops and a sunny spot to grow.

William Penn’s steward James Harrison reported this good news in October of 1686, but the same could be said of the fall harvest in 2012!  Indian blood peaches, radishes, red and yellow cayenne peppers, squash, gourds, and culinary and medicinal herbs have all thrived this year in Penn’s kitchen garden.

According to Pennsbury’s gardener Mike Johnson, this is due in part to the recent restructuring of the garden’s fences. While Penn’s original garden covered about two acres of his estate, the smaller area has allowed the garden staff to protect the plants from pests and to interpret seventeenth and eighteenth-century garden activities more effectively for visitors.

 

One of the several varieties of gourds currently growing in Pennsbury Manor’s 17th-century kitchen garden.

You may be asking yourself, “What happens to all those fruits and vegetables?” Just as in Penn’s time, nothing goes to waste!  Harvested crops will be used in cooking demonstrations, educational programs, and seed-saving for future planting.

Let’s follow the path of the dipping gourd, which has yielded a particularly plentiful harvest this year. From the garden, the dipping gourds will make their way into storage to dry until next summer. At that time, our summer campers will remove the seeds and return them to the gardener so they can be planted. Once the seeds are removed, each gourd will be fashioned into a ladle-like tool used for watering plants. In a time when metal watering cans were expensive, being able to grow one’s own irrigation tools was certainly a favorable alternative. 

Dried gourds make excellent dippers for the cistern. Gourds and thumb-pots are favorite 17th-century tools kids can use as they water the garden’s many plants.

 

Several species of peppers are ready for harvesting in the Kitchen Garden.

2012 was also a “hot” year for red and yellow cayenne peppers. Growing cayenne peppers has given the garden staff an opportunity to interpret contradicting horticultural ideas, as not everyone on the estate would have eaten them.  African slaves living at Pennsbury had their own culinary culture and probably would have cultivated cayenne peppers as a food source. However, the Penn family and Pennsylvania’s other English residents would have considered them to be primarily ornamental plants with some medicinal and culinary value. For example, cayenne pepper and other spices would have been added to hot chocolate for an exotic burst of spicy flavor.

 

The fall harvest is well under way and will continue for the next few weeks. On your next visit to Pennsbury, take a walk through the garden and reflect on the efforts of our gardeners, past and present. They cultivated food for the table, medicine for those who were sick, and even tools for future growing seasons. Autumn is the perfect time to celebrate their achievements!

By Danielle Lehr, volunteer and former intern

Philadelphia versus Salem: Preventing Witch Hysteria

Last week, we shared the story of the Mattson Witch Trial, the only known witch trial Willaim Penn presided over.  Pennsylvania never reached anywhere near the heights of Salem’s infamous witch hunts.  So just how much did Penn’s ideals make a difference in the witch hysteria? 

“The Bewitched Man,” Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, 1798

The answer lies not within one difference, but many differences.  Penn and his Quaker colony had a very different social environment influenced by religion, politics, and education.  Penn founded his colony as a “holy experiment” grounded in his plans for religious tolerance, laws created and governed by the people, and a fair justice system.  These values changed how witch hysteria affected the communities in Pennsylvania.

Much like the Quakers, Salem’s Puritan founders created their community out of a desire to escape religious persecution in Europe. However, contrary to Penn’s policy of inclusion and tolerance, Salem prohibited any non-Puritans from living in Salem. 

 

“Witches’ Initiation,” David Teniers the Younger, 1647-49

Salem also had a history of persecution for witchcraft.  The religious leaders regularly gave sermons warning of the danger of witches and openly advertised the witch hunts that happened throughout Europe.  In addition, the court system did not really function and failed to regulate or protect those accused of witchcraft.  So in 1692, when the accusations and trials really began to engulf the community, the colony’s government failed to maintain order and sanity.

 

Anonymous drawing of witches at work from Johann Geiler von Kayersberg, 1517. Cornell University Library.

All of these factors play into the horrible persecution of the 59 people tried in Salem, of which 20 were put to death before anyone could stop the hysteria. By the end of the summer in 1692, 13 women and 6 men were hanged in Salem, Mass. for the crime of witchcraft.

Needless to say the hysteria of witch hunts struck hard for centuries throughout Europe and the colonies, leading to severe persecution, shunning, and often death for the accused men and women.  Anything mysterious or hard to explain, like cows not producing milk or infant deaths, could be blamed on a witch.  Science would later prove the real reasons for such events, but it would come to late to save the many people who were burned or hanged or drowned as witches.Pennsylvania avoided most of this madness, but not entirely, as Margret Mattson and Yeshro Hendrickson’s trial proves.

 

Visit Pennsbury Manor on Sunday, October 28 1:00-4:00 for our FREE Trick-or-Treat at the Manor event!  Families with costumed kids get free admission to our many activities, including a Reenactment of the Margret Mattson Witch Trial!

 

Written by Mary Barbagallo, Intern

Edited by Hannah Howard

Sources:

Pennsylvania Colonial Cases – Proprietor vs. Mattson

 The Malleus Malficarum of Henrich Kramer and James Sprenger: Translated with an introduction by the Reverend Montague Summers, Dover Publication, Inc., New York, NY, 1971.

 The Witch Hunts: A History of the Witch persecutions in Europe and North America, Robert Thurston, Pearson Education Ltd., United Kingdom, 2007.

“What magic words do you utter then?”: How to Catch a Witch!

‘Tis the month of ghost and ghouls and all things otherworldly… so it’s a great time to explore the role of witchcraft in 17th-century society!

So how would you react as a colonist, if someone in your community was accused of witchcraft?  Well first you have to understand what constitutes witchcraft.  Otherwise, how exactly would you know if your neighbor down the street had made a pact with the devil?  And then, if you found someone to be a witch, what exactly could you do about it?

Malleus Maleficarum, published  1487

In making these and all other decisions regarding witchcraft, there was a lengthy and well-known piece of literature that was referenced and it was called The Malleus Maleficarum (“The Hammer of Witches”). It gave well-respected advise on defining witchcraft, the powers possessed by witches, connections they had to the devil, and the threat this presented to society, as well as the judicial process for charging witches and how to punish them accordingly. Among these descriptions it also provided a set of questions to further help in the trial processes, one of which provides the title to this blog. In fact, the Malleus Maleficarum was such a bestseller, it was published in four languages between 1487 and 1669.  It even made its way across the Atlantic Ocean and was used within the colonies during bouts of 17th-century witch hysteria that found hold in even the most liberal of colonial governments!

“The witches’ sabbat,” Gottlief Spisseln, 1687

Although the majority of hysteria during this time was not directly tied to Pennsylvania, there is one recorded witch trial in Penn’s colony in 1684. A Swedish immigrant to the colony, Margret Mattson pleaded “not guilty’ to accusations of being a witch and practicing her craft. Presiding as judge, Penn allowed Margret to defend herself on the stand, provided interpreters and fellow Swedes on the jury. After testimony was over Penn gave the jury his charge and the verdict was reached.  

 The jury found Mattson, along with the other woman being charged with witchcraft, Yeshro Hendrickson, guilty of having the reputation of being a witch (“the common fame of”), but there was no law against such a thing. However, in order to maintain calm within the community, Penn imposed a fine on both women’s husbands of £50 to be held as bond and for Mattson and Hendrickson to be on good behavior for 6 months. If no further charges were brought against them in this time by their neighbors, the money would be returned. This type of “sentencing” was known as a “peace bond” and often utilized by Quakers as a tool to encourage good behavior and to keep the peace within their settlement. Moreover, the death penalty was abolished by Penn for crimes of any sort with the exception of willful murder.

So why did Pennsylvania’s witch trial turn out so differently than other colonies?  Check back next week to catch Part 2 of this bewitching comparison!

William Penn presiding over the Margret Mattson Trial

Visit Pennsbury Manor on Sunday, October 28 1:00-4:00 for our FREE Trick-or-Treat at the Manor event!  Families with costumed kids get free admission to our many activities, including a Reenactment of the Margret Mattson Witch Trial!

Written by Mary Barbagallo, Intern

Edited by Hannah Howard

Sources:

Pennsylvania Colonial Cases – Proprietor vs. Mattson

The Malleus Malficarum of Henrich Kramer and James Sprenger: Translated with an Introduction by the Reverend Montague Summers, Dover Publication, Inc., New York, NY, 1971.

The Witch Hunts: A History of the Witch persecutions in Europe and North America, Robert Thurston, Pearson Education Ltd., United Kingdom, 2007.

Miniature Models – Dressing Children in the 17th Century

As the school year quickly shifts into high-gear and stores advertise their latest sales on backpacks and sneakers, the staff at Pennsbury can’t help but notice the differences between modern life and childhood back in the 17th century.  We spent the summer posting on children’s daily lives and education, so maybe it’s time to feature what they’d be wearing! 

Pieter de Hooch – A Women with a Baby in Her Lap, and a Small Child (Detail) -1658

“Dress to impress”  is surely a phrase we’re common with this day in age, but not something you would necessarily abide by in William Penn’s time. In 17th century England and the colonies thereof, clothing was expensive. With the majority of the common folk working solely to survive, the average household could not afford to pay as much attention to fashion as their modern counterparts. 

What was purchased and worn had to be durable enough to endure the work they’d be doing – silk brocade mantua gowns and embroidered coats were not going to cut it!  The secondhand clothing found in the markets of the day actually became a great source among the working class for affordable and up-to-date options for dress.

A portrait of a commonly dressed mother with her child. Adriaen Jansz van Ostade – “Mother Holding her Child in a Doorway” -1667

However, this lack of emphasis on fleeting fashion does not to diminish its true importance of clothing. “What people wore defined their social position and every colonial government tried with sumptuary legislation to keep class lines clear.” In 1619 in Massachusetts, legislation was passed “against excess apparel” among plain people . The court ordered that offenders be fined by local priests. Nevertheless, the lines blurred in many cases and it became sometimes difficult for guests in well-to-do families’ households to distinguish between the lady of the house and her servant!

Children of the time followed the same standards as their parents. “Dressed as miniature adults from the time they could walk,” children always knew their families’ status in society and were direct representations of such status. “Wives of the well-to-do imposed standards of proper dress on the children” and likewise, if you were from the country and a farmer’s child, the same aprons, straw hats, and patterns your mother wore would also be your attire. 

A prime example of a miniature adult of the upper classes. Gerard Terborch -“Helena van der Schalcke as a Child” – 1644

In the 17th century, what you wore was much more telling of who you were then in our modern society.  In our world, many people can afford even the cheapest imitations of the season’s latest fashions, and children of all families are often dressed up like dolls!  But for the Penn Family, their clothing would have reflected their social position and their Quaker beliefs.

Although a man of power and money, William and his family would have dressed in the best fabrics and high-quality materials, but their religion would have demanded the fashionable embellishment and frills be left off.  This was sure to define the family in a rather unique way, in comparison to their Protestant and Anglican English counterparts of equal social rank. 

Written by Mary Barbagallo

Edited by Hannah Howard

 

Further Reading: 

 Everyday Life in Early America, David Freeman Hawke, Harper and Row, Publishers, Inc. 1988,  New York, NY.

The Criers and Hawkers of London: Engraving and Drawings by Marcellus Laroon, Standford University Press, Standford, CA,1990.