May 1, 2020

More Info on Binkley's Mill Covered Bridge

Location: New Holland Pike, Pennsylvania, USA
Self-described covered bridge buff Thomas Kipphorn found an old blog post of mine with stereoviews (below) by William Gill showing Binkley's Mill and Bridge on the New Holland Pike where it crosses over the Conestoga. He kindly sent me some of his research on the site, offering it for publication on this blog.
"Binkley's Mill and Bridge" (vws)
"Conestoga at Binkley's" (vws)
"Binkley's Bridge" (vws)
PA/38-36-80x Christian / Milo / David Binkley's Mill / Printer's Paper Mill Bridge- Was Big Conestoga #17, and then state owned. The site is now abandoned. It was a two span Double Burr Truss 306' long, with a clear span of 295'8", a 16' roadway, a 12'6" clearance and at 25', this was the highest built above water in the county except for Susquehanna River intercounty structures. The covered bridge had replaced an earlier multi-arch stone bridge that had been washed away. It was built in 1869 by Elias McMellen at a cost of $1,650.00.

It was located between East Lampeter and Manheim Townships, oriented east-northeast to west-southwest on what is now called Pennwick Road on the East Lampeter Township (east) side and Papermill Road on the other (T555 both sides), but formerly an old section of what is now Route 23, SR0023 or the New Holland Pike. On Saturday, November 25, 1882, the adjoining mill caught fire. Flames spread to the bridge and both were destroyed.

The Columbia Iron Bridge Company built a new two span wrought iron Pratt through truss bridge on the old abutments and center pier and that lasted until an overweight truck dropped one of the spans, killing the driver, on Thursday, September 29, 1929. After this, the road was relocated about 550' downstream (south), mainly to eliminate two right angle bends set in opposite directions of each other on the Pennwick Road end, which put the new road on the downstream side of the former Lancaster to New Holland trolley bridge (empty abutments now gone), in 1930, to a new two span steel pony truss bridge. This bridge was replaced in 1989 -1990 by the present four span concrete bridge at the same site. The two right angle bends of Pennwick Road, which can be seen in a Penn Pilot aerial photo dated to April 29, 1940, still exist behind a barricade, but there is no trace of the old abutments or center pier of the covered bridge.

A local resident says the stonework from the abutments and pier were used to build cofferdams to lay the foundations for the 1930 steel bridge. However, the foundation of the center pier can still be seen in low water. Coordinates are taken off the pier foundation: 40° 4.4723'N, 76° 15.5693'W.


June 8, 2019

The Rev. Charles A. Baer's Civil War

The Rev. Charles Alfred Baer
From album of Lutheran pastors in the
archive of LTS Philadelphia
While the Civil War has been thoroughly documented through lenses such as regiments, battles, and cities, how religious communities experienced the war is somewhat of an open question. Perhaps the minutia of congregational life and how people lived out religious commitments over the entire 19th century hasn't received too much attention, but the intense experience of the Civil War provides a natural focal point. Not long ago during a trip to the archives of the Lutheran Theological Seminary, I found a reference to the diaries of the Rev. Charles Alfred Baer conveniently published in the 1950 Bulletin of the Historical Society of Montgomery County, which are a fantastically interesting account of the Lancaster native's duties and how he cared for members of his congregation in Norristown.

The battlefield-home front connections are rather direct. He visited both the Antietam and Gettysburg battlefields, as well as the camp of the 122nd Pennsylvania. Trinity Lutheran Church in Norristown seems to be most connected with the 51st Pennsylvania, famous for charging across Burnside's Bridge at the Battle of Antietam. A role on the Board of Directors of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg brought him to Gettysburg after the battle, which makes sense as much planning for repairs would have needed to take place after the intense battle on Seminary Ridge on July 1, 1863. The trip to Gettysburg -- and, presumably, the time that he spent visiting battlefield hospitals -- caused his unexpected and much-lamented demise a few weeks later.

Baer was born on May 28, 1831, to John and Frances Baer in Lancaster. John Baer was a prominent publisher in Lancaster who might be best known for a farmer's almanac that is still published today. After studying in Lancaster under Prof. F. A. Muhlenberg, he went to Yale, which was actually the setting for a spiritual awakening. He proceeded to the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg and ended up as the pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Norristown in 1859. His diaries ended up in the hands of someone named Kirke Bryan, who published selections in successive issues of the 1950 Bulletin of the Historical Society of Montgomery County. I don't know where the diaries are now. Just a few examples of the rich content that stuck out to me include:
  1. On August 15, 1862, he received a letter from his brother, Benjamin F. Baer, who was going off to war as a captain in the 122nd Pennsylvania. Charles Baer rushed to Lancaster to see him off, but missed seeing his brother. Charles Baer stuck around to visit with the Sunday schools on August 17 and preach a sermon entitled, "A Good Soldier of Jesus Christ," that evening in Holy Trinity.
  2. On August 27, he was back in Norristown talking to the Sunday school assembled for a picnic. To impress the young people, he borrowed a sword from the Schall family -- which had several sons as officers in the 51st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry -- that had seen use in Burnside's North Carolina Expedition: "The exercises opened with singing several pieces and prayer, after which I made an address. I took with me a sword which I borrowed from Schalls' which had been used in battles in North Carolina. It attracted the attention of the scholars. From the 'carnal weapon' I led them to the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and showed them how they must use that weapon to keep them safe from the assaults of the Devil." 
  3. From Sunday, September 21, 1862: "Just as the people were gathering to churches several of our wounded men of the 51st Regiment came up the street, returning home. One of them was Mr. John Freedley, who was wounded in the battle of Antietam. He had been reported dead, but his family had the gratification to meet him alive." Also, "Evening services were well attended. I preached on the parable of the Good Samaritan, and made an application of it to the duty of caring for our wounded soldiers."
Some other links and notes: 

The charge of the 51st Pennsylvania across Burnside's Bridge at the Battle of Antietam
Many of Pastor Baer's parishioners served in this regiment.
Sketch by Edwin Forbes (source)

June 7, 2019

"Bride of a Month" -- The Tragic Death of Emma Greenwald

Location: 501 S Queen St, Lancaster, PA 17603, USA
Gravestone of Emma Greenwald in Woodward Hill Cemetery
As you travel on the path that winds through Woodward Hill Cemetery, a particular phrase on a tombstone will likely stand out to you in the cemetery's easternmost section. One tombstone, which already catches the eye as it's a horizontal stone (is altar stone the correct term), is emblazoned with the words, "Bride of a Month." The mind might dart to a Wilkie Collins novel or Tim Burton film, but let's investigate the real story.

The gravestone marks the final resting place of Emma Greenwald. Behind her stone is that of her parents, Levinia and the Rev. Emanuel Greenwald, who served as Holy Trinity Lutheran Church's pastor from 1867 until 1885. Emma was born on October 25, 1852, which would be when her father was serving a Lutheran church and college in Columbus, Ohio. In a memorial volume written by the Rev. C. Elvin Haupt after Pastor Greenwald's death in 1885, Haupt described the roles of Emma and her sister, Ada, in the early years of Pastor Greenwald's pastorate in Lancaster:
During these years two faithful daughters had been the diligent aids of their father in the midst of his duties. Emma and Ada were wont to be seen accompanying their father, or taking prominent parts aiding the missionary operations, both at home and abroad. It seemed a peculiar delight for Emma to join her father in his visits to the needy, the sick or the missions; and, although it began to be very evident that her strength was failing, and that an insidious pulmonary trouble was more and more asserting itself, the nobility of the Christian womanhood that was in her could not be quenched. She had previously become the betrothed of Mr. B. Frank Saylor, well known and justly prominent as a photographer, of the city of Lancaster, and a very active member of the Church of the Holy Trinity. At her desire and knowing that her remaining days were but a few, the marriage of this beloved daughter occurred. It was not long after that those who watched about her saw with regret that the end was fast approaching. Emma Saylor died as the bride of a month. The joy of her parents, her sisters, her husband and hosts of loving friends, her life work was complete. Her tomb rests surrounded by those of many whom on earth she loved, and among the changing shadows of the beautiful Woodward Hill cemetery of the city of Lancaster. 
Cabinet Card by B. F. Saylor (vws)
The Rev. Emanuel Greenwald in center
A good guess for the cause of Emma's death based on the description would seem to be tuberculosis. To compound the tragedy, it would appear that Emma's niece, who was named after her, died a few months before Emma and only a couple of days after Emma's wedding.

Emma's husband, Benjamin Franklin Saylor, would remarry, and his second wife would help raise money for a memorial window dedicated to Pastor Greenwald at Christ Lutheran Church in the 1890s. In my collection -- an eBay find -- is a cabinet card by Frank Saylor of Pastor Greenwald and his various assistant pastors that is a collage photo of the portrait photographs that he took.

June 5, 2019

A Stereoview of Woodward Hill Cemetery

Location: 501 S Queen St, Lancaster, PA 17603, USA
Stereoview of Woodward Hill Cemetery by William Gill, c. 1866
Dennis Collection, New York Public Library
On Sunday, June 9, 2019, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church will hold a tour of Woodward Hill Cemetery focused on members of the church family who happened to live in the 19th century as part of its "Sneaker Sunday" series. My father is organizing the program, and I've helped him with the content although will unfortunately not be in Lancaster to attend. Full details are:
The destination of Holy Trinity’s Sneaker Sunday on Sunday, June 9 is Woodward Hill Cemetery. Walkers will leave between 9:35 & 9:40 from the Duke Street steps of the Parish House. The distance is .9 miles. Those driving should park at the end of the straight road at the cemetery, away from Queen St. We will lead tours highlighting the history of Woodward Hill, gravesites of four Trinity pastors – Muhlenberg, Baker, Krotel, & Greenwald, other notable Trinity families such as Hager, Eicholtz, Fondersmith & Heinitsh, and notable Lancastrians such as President Buchanan, Watt and Steinman. Total tour walking distance in the cemetery will be less than .5 miles. Please join us!
Anyway, I thought I'd use the occasion to present a stereoview from around 1866 of Woodward Hill Cemetery and list the biographies of some pastors and members whose life stories will be highlighted. The cemetery was founded by Trinity Lutheran Church in 1850 as an alternative to the church's graveyard, but was quickly converted to an independent organization. It is a fantastic example of the rural cemetery movement, although the last several decades do not appear to have been kind to Woodward Hill's maintenance or appearance. For more information, check out the cemetery's registration form for the National Register of Historic Places.

The stereoview is part of the Dennis Collection at the New York Public Library. It is the only one of about ten views created by William L. Gill around 1866 as part of his series of Lancaster stereoviews (see here for a list). I will have to check it out in person, but I believe the image is looking north from the path on the west side of the cemetery's chapel. You can view it as an anaglyph or a wiggle 3D photo -- although I struggled to get the 3D working right on this one.

Anaglyph of Woodward Hill Cemetery
Wiggle 3D Animated GIF of Woodward Hill Cemetery

The following pastors of Holy Trinity will be featured on the tour:
The following members will be featured, as well: 
The good deeds and extensive committee work of many of these members are documented in a history of the congregation written by Pastor Krotel in 1861 as part of its "Centenary Jubilee" celebrating the 100th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone. Besides the pastors, the set of names that have been selected above for the tour is somewhat random based on whom I've happened to run into in my research and whose plot is along the tour route. Some, like Charles A. Baer and John F. Huber, had their lives cut short by diseases acquired in Civil War hospitals. Others like Frederick A. Muhlenberg and Christopher Hager presided over the church vestry and played leading roles in the city's economy. Heinitsh and Kevinski supervised the shipment and distribution of supplies to soldiers after the Battle of Antietam. A few of the rest helped with church Sunday School efforts that led to the establishment of new Lutheran churches in Lancaster. 

I hope everyone involved in Sunday's tour enjoys the chance to get out and see Woodward Hill Cemetery, as well as hear some stories that can help inspire service to their church, community, and country. I'll try to provide some of those stories in future posts, particularly a post about Charles A. Baer's 1862-1863 fascinating diaries and the wartime diary of Horace Rathvon's sister-in-law (whose husband was a Lutheran pastor in Virginia and whose elderly father owned the Forney farm at Gettysburg where fighting occurred on July 1, 1863).