Learn the Address

To help celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, documentarian Ken Burns, along with numerous partners, has launched a national effort to encourage everyone in America to video record themselves reading or reciting the speech.  People from all across the country are participating in this historic effort including the Cambridge School.

As part of this national effort, THE ADDRESS, a 90-minute feature length documentary by Ken Burns, will air on April 15th at 8pm on PBS.   The film focuses on The Greenwood School in Putney, Vermont, where students with learning differences practice, memorize, and recite the Gettysburg Address.  In its exploration of the Greenwood School, the film also unlocks the history, context and importance of President Lincoln’s most powerful address.

The Cambridge School, the only school invited to participate in NJ, has partnered with the Greenwood School to help further the national conversation about learning differences through a contest for its middle school students.

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Adult Programs at the Township Library

Adult Spring Programs at the Township Library of Lower Southampton begin in March. Here’s what’s coming up:

* AARP Safety Driving Program for seniors in March. This class is a one-day refresher course. In order to be eligible for this class you must have taken an AARP Safety Driving Course within the last three years. You must bring proof that you took the class, such as a copy of your class certificate or your insurance bill. You must be a licensed driver 55 years or older to participate. You are also required to bring a pen or pencil and your current driver’s license to the class. The fee for this program is $15 for AARP members and $20 for non-members. The class will be held on Tuesday, March 18th from 12:30 to 5:00pm. If you have any questions or want to register, you can call Mr. Paul Strenge at 215-355-1037. The library will not be taking reservations for this class.

* A Military Fashion Show featuring military uniforms of early American forces and foes. Re-enactor Michael Jesberger will present an educational program on the various military attire and equipment worn by our early American fighting men and their foes. Complete with reproduction clothing, headgear and equipment, this program will inform and show you how the military uniform evolved from the pre-Revolutionary War militias to the soldiers of the American Civil War. This program will take place on Thursday, March 20th at 7:00 pm. Registration has begun for this class.

* “FDR: An Arsenal for Democracy” -  The date is December 29th, 1940. Franklin Delano Roosevelt has just been reelected to an unprecedented third term in office. But the world is in crisis. Nazi Germany has blazed the path of destruction across Europe, and America may soon be drawn into war. Visit the library and watch this famous moment come to life, as you meet with the President just prior to his delivery of the famous “Arsenal of Democracy” speech. Learn what President Roosevelt was thinking, and listen to his plea for the support of our Allies. Experience firsthand the history that shaped our nation. Actor Neill Hartley of the American Historical Theatre will portray FDR. This program will take place on Thursday, March 27th at 7:00pm. Registration begins on Monday, March 3rd.

You can register that the Library Information Desk or by calling the library at 215-355-1183 x104. The Township Library is located at 1983 Bridgetown Pike in Feasterville.

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Does anyone know opening date of original Centre Bridge?

The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission has a question that it hopes history enthusiasts in Bucks or Hunterdon Counties may be able answer: What was the specific date or month in 1814 when the original covered, timber Centre Bridge opened between Solebury Township, and the former Amwell Township, N.J.?

The Commission knows when the current steel-truss Centre Bridge-Stockton Toll Supported Bridge opened for public use – July 16th, 1927. And it knows when the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey assigned outright ownership of the bridge to the Commission – July 1st, 1987. But the Commission has no idea when the first wooden bridge at the location opened for business as a private shareholder-owned toll bridge 200 years ago.

None of the available texts – such as the book “Bridges Over the Delaware River” by author Frank T. Dale – identify a specific date or, for that matter, a month for when it opened in 1814. The private entity that financed and operated the original bridge – the Centre Bridge Company – dissolved shortly after the old wooden bridge (portions of it had been rebuilt in 1829 and 1841) was destroyed in a spectacular fire on July 22nd, 1923.

So, the Commission is left in the lurch as to when precisely the Centre Bridge began business as a river crossing. Both the agency’s bridge manual and books like Frank Dale’s make a vague reference to the opening as “in the spring of 1814.”

Should anyone know the answer to this mystery or be able to solve it, he or she is requested to contact the Commission’s Director of Community Affairs, Richard McClellan, at 267-790-1063 or rmcclellan@drjtbc.org.

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David Library of the American Revolution

The David Library of the American Revolution is a specialized research library dedicated to the study of American history circa 1750 to 1800. The Library is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00am to 5:00pm, admission free. 

Although the David Library serves the scholarly community and offers Fellowships to Ph.D. candidates and post-doctoral researchers, its unparalleled and comprehensive collections are available to anyone with any interest in any aspect of the Revolutionary era. Browsers are welcome! 

In support of its mission to educate the public about the early period of American history, the Library offers outstanding free lectures by leading historians.  

For more information, including a lecture schedule, visit the Library’s web site, www.dlar.org. The David Library is located 1.3 miles from the Washington Crossing Bridge at 1201 River Road, Washington Crossing. You may call the library at 215-493-6776.

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Solebury Township Historical Society

The Solebury Township Historical Society is an all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization dedicated to the interpretation and preservation of the historical and cultural resources in the township through research, advocacy and education. The township is rich in its historic architecture, industrial and cultural heritage and notable residents. The society seeks to expand the appreciation of our past and the understanding of how our heritage affects the quality of life of current and future residents.

The society owns the historic one-room schoolhouse at Sugan and Upper York roads in Solebury Village. The schoolhouse contains a research library, files on the history of Solebury homes built before 1900, files on prominent township families, records of students who attended the schoolhouse from 1921 to 1964, and more.

Extensive renovations were accomplished in 2013 through donations from the community and fundraising events.

The schoolhouse is staffed and open on Wednesdays from 3:00 to 5:00pm or by appointment (215-297-5091; soleburyhistory@verizon.net).

Their many programs include:

1.    Oral History project;

2.    Honored Citizens of Solebury awards;

3.    Scholarships awarded to graduating seniors from New Hope-Solebury High School and Solebury School;

4.    Providing educational resources to local schools;

7.    Producing a newsletter, The Solebury Chronicle;

8.    History walks and other education programs;

9.    Annual members’ picnic, New Year’s Brunch and other social activities.

Solebury has more National Historic Districts (six) than any non-city municipality in Pennsylvania, and three National Historic Landmarks are within its borders.

Visit them at the schoolhouse and go to their website for more about the Society, its programs and events, at www.soleburyhistory.org. But most important, take a drive around beautiful Solebury Township and enjoy the vistas – most of which are virtually unchanged since it was founded in 1702.

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Newtown Historic Association, Inc.

The Newtown Historic Association (NHA), incorporated in 1964, is an organization dedicated to the preservation of Newtown’s historic heritage. The 250+ member group meets at the Half Moon Inn (Court Inn), located at Court Street and Centre Avenue, at 8:00pm on the third Monday of almost each month. 

Each year the Association hosts Market Day, a festival of colonial crafts, in October as well as a Holiday Open House Tour, an exclusive tour through many private local homes and historic buildings the first Saturday in December. Other events are sponsored throughout the year, which includes monthly membership meetings, an annual meeting, an annual picnic, a tavern night and a special lecture series.

The association also maintains a Research Center and Barnsley Room of Newtown History, which is open to the public without charge on Tuesdays from 9:00am to 3:00pm, Thursdays from 7:00pm to 9:00pm, and by appointment. The Research Center is a repository of records focusing on Newtown history from its founding to the present time. The collection includes deeds, wills, diaries, genealogies, photographs, directories, inventories and maps dealing with Newtown people, land, houses, farms, schools, service organizations, events and many other topics of interest.

The collections are of particular value to persons interested in genealogical information of former Newtown residents, and the maps and deeds are of assistance to those studying land history or dating historic houses in the Newtown area.

The headquarters is housed in the Court Inn (known as the Half-Moon Inn during the mid-18th century), located at the corner of Court Street and Centre Avenue in historic Newtown. The Half Moon Inn (Court Inn) is one of the oldest and most historic buildings in Newtown. The Inn has served as the headquarters of the NHA since 1962 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Upcoming general membership meetings are scheduled for February 16th, March 17th, October 26st and November 17th. Other scheduled events for the year are: Tavern Night – March 8th; Annual Spring Clean-up Day – March 15th; Annual Meeting – April 21st; Historic Walking Tour – May 16th; Market Day on October 11th; and Holiday Open House Tour, December 6th.

For more information on the NHA, or to become a member, call the Court Inn at 215-968-4004 or visit their website at http://www.newtownhistoric.org/.

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Historic Summerseat

Few homes in America have been owned by, or occupied by such important people of the 18th century as Summerseat. Summerseat was General George Washington’s Headquarters in Decembers 1776 and owned by two signers of both the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution, Robert Morris and George Clymer.

During Washington’s time there, Summerseat was owned by Thomas Barclay who would become America’s first consul overseas and who also negotiated America’s first Treaty with foreign nation, Morocco.

Summerseat was built by one of America’s first self-made men, Adam Hoops, who was born on the Pennsylvania frontier around 1708, and who became one of the colony’s wealthiest men by hard work and sheer determination.

Summerseat is perhaps most famous as the headquarters of General Washington from December 8th to 14th, 1776. The well-known directive, “that all the boats and water crafts should be secured or destroyed,” along the Delaware, was issued by Washington while he was staying at Summerseat. Washington also wrote 20 letters from Summerseat and sent out many directives.

Washington, instead of defending Philadelphia, turned north up the Delaware River where 14 days later he and his army changed the future of the world with his success in Trenton on Christmas night 1776.

After the Trenton battle, Washington sent word to Thomas Barclay at Summerseat so Barclay would know that it was safe to stay at Summerseat, since Barclay was a well-known patriot at that time, and therefore in great danger from the British and Hessians.

Washington also enclosed a letter for Barclay to take to Robert Morris telling Morris it was safe to stay in Philadelphia where he was holding together the Revolutionary government.

Summerseat is now owned by Historic Morrisville Society, a 501 (c)3 non-profit, all volunteer organization. The HMS mandate is to preserve Summerseat, a Registered National Historic Landmark for future generations and to educate people about the history of Morrisville, this country and the part Summerseat played in that history. HMS raises all it’s own funding.

Summerseat is open the first Saturday of every month for free tours from 10:00am to 1:00pm, and arrangements can be made for a private tour at a cost of $5 person by calling 215-295-2900. Follow Summerseat events on Facebook.

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The Old Barracks Museum

The Old Barracks Museum in Trenton is an 18th century living history museum that hosts visitors from New Jersey and the world over. The structure was built in 1758 to house British troops during the French and Indian War and served as a military hospital for George Washington during the American Revolution. 

For over 100 years, it has been a museum in Trenton’s Capitol Complex where visitors can take a guided tour of the building and visit its gallery spaces, where it currently is displaying George Washington’s wallet and one of the oldest North American flags in existence! Walk-in tours are offered on the hour beginning at 10:00am, with the last tour starting at 4:00pm, Monday through Saturday. First person tours are available for groups of 15-120 people, Monday through Saturday. Camp-Ins are available during the warmer months.

Summer Day Camp runs July 14th-18th and July 21st-25th.

Upcoming events include: Three Centuries of African American Soldiers, February 22nd-23rd; Women’s History, March; French and Indian War “Marching Out,” April; 18th Century Sewing Workshops; Tavern Nights; and the Battles of Trenton Reenactments in December. Volunteer and internship opportunities are available.

Old Barracks Association Members receive free admission, special discounts, and voting privileges. Its Quartermaster Store gift shop is open 10:00am – 5:00pm, Monday through Saturday, and offers unique and charming items at attractive prices, with books, glassware, games, souvenirs, CDs, and more. The shop offers something for all ages and tastes. Admission is not required to browse the store.

For information on tours, events, summer day camp, volunteer opportunities, and membership, call 609-396-1776 or visit www.barracks.org.

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Historic Langhorne Association

Historic Langhorne Association (HLA) was established in 1965 for the purpose of researching, recording, and preserving Langhorne’s rich history. Its headquarters is in the former Langhorne Library, 160 W. Maple Avenue.

Built in 1888, the Gothic style Victorian library that later served as a branch of the Bucks County Free Library, was made possible by a bequest of Anna Mary Williamson whose generosity allowed books to be brought from private homes to one location. 

HLA has occupied the library since 1977. The building is open to the public as a museum and research library with many books on local history. There is an extensive collection of artifacts donated by townspeople, genealogical records of local families and an archives collection including hundreds of photographs and documents, many of which can be viewed by computer. 

The site also houses a gift shop with items reflective of Langhorne’s past. Some of these items include Bucks County history books, postcards, maps, prints and pottery.

Programs on historic topics are held at 7:30pm on the fourth Monday of September, October, February, March and April featuring guest speakers and refreshments, and are free and open to the public. 

Other activities include field trips to historic places, the October Ghost Tours, the Holiday House Tour sponsored by the Four Lanes End Garden Club in November, Santa’s visit and Community Carol Sing in December, the Annual Tea, the Memorial Day Open House and the June Strawberry Festival. Special exhibits are also held from time to time.

The easy-to-use website, www.historiclanghorne.org, offers a glimpse into HLA activities and a collection of vintage photos and articles about local history.

The building is open to the public Wednesday and Saturday mornings from 10:00am to noon and Wednesday evenings from 7:00 to 9:00pm and is accessible at the rear entrance with a handicapped lift.

There is no admission charged. Appointments for other hours can be arranged by calling 215-757-1888. For further information, contact President Jim Maier at 215-757-1888, or e-mail historiclanghorne1@verizon.net.

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Revolutionary War Burial Site Committee

The Revolutionary War Burial Site, located at Flowers and Bellevue Avenues in Langhorne Borough, is on the National Register of Historic Places. This special site is encircled by a period farmers’ fence and a wrought iron fence with a flagpole, a memorial bench for contemplation and granite monument noting a brief history contained by the fencing. A Pennsylvania State Marker guards the entrance.

In this quiet plot, approximately 166 Continental Soldiers were buried, while their comrades fought the First Battle of Trenton (December 25th, 1776), Second Battle of Trenton (January 2nd, 1777) and Battle of Princeton (January 3rd, 1777). The majority of the 166 men, however, died not of battle wounds, but from disease and starvation.

In 1776, an 11-year-old child named Jane Richardson, watched the drama unfold from the window of her father’s home, which still stands on the corner of Bellevue and Maple Avenues. Jane watched the activity at the Hicks Tannery and home, just across the street that had been converted into an infirmary for the sick and dying soldiers.

Soldiers were placed in shallow graves, three or four coffins per grave, until the hospital closed in May, 1777. Knowledge of the soldiers’ resting place was almost lost but town legend became fact in 1990, when citizens prompted the Langhorne Borough Council to insist on an archaeological inspection prior to considering a change in zoning.

Evidence confirmed the 18th-century burial site with the discovery of rose-head coffin nails, wood fragments and other findings consistent with Jane Richardson’s story, as was recorded by a nephew in an 1869 journal. The parcel was then deeded to Langhorne to be preserved forever and this historic site now belongs to the public.

In 2010 a new placard showing the approximate location of the graves with new signage was installed that added more information and visually completes the site.

Tax-deductible contributions for this project or site maintenance and improvement may be directed to Langhorne Borough, 114 East Maple Avenue, Langhorne, PA 19047. Further information regarding the Revolutionary War Burial Site may be received by calling 215-752-1508.

Educational programs on the site are offered to schools, scouts, senior centers, libraries, historical organizations and various groups that are interested in American history. Contact Mike Jesberger for more information at 267-278-0943 or J4Regiment@comcast.net.

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