Historical Society Collections

The Pennsylvania Hotel in Phoenixville, Pa
The Pennsylvania Hotel in Phoenixville, Pa

Speakers in 2024:

We had a terrific program called “Where We Ate – A Look Back at Phoenixville’s Beloved Restaurants” hosted by HSPA Bard member Karl Miller.   It highlighted guest panelists:  Elaine Dellaquilla, the owner of Dell’Aquilla’s Restaurant; Sheri Mastrangelo Jampo, daughter of the owner of the Trio; and Helen Jackson, a long time waitress at the Vale-Rio Diner. 

All speakers shared a lot of interesting stories and memories of their experiences at the restaurants and in  Phoenixville.   They answered many interesting questions from meeting attendees.  

Old photos of the restaurants were shown to the audience in a slide show during the talk.  View the video here.

Speakers in 2023:

December:

The Zoom meeting had a very interesting video presentation by HSPA Board Member Dave Smith about the Snyder’s Mill/Raps Dam area in East Pikeland Township where he grew up.  The area has a fascinating history including a gun powder factory for George Washington’s Army.   His presentation was done in the style of a running news account of the history of the area. 

September:

The annual meeting was held at the Phoenixville Country Club.  Our guest speaker was Jennifer Carlson who is the Executive Director of the Colonial Theater, its 120th anniversary. 

Her terrific presentation with many old photos was called “the Colonial Theater: Past, Present and Future”. 

June:

The meeting was held under the tent at HSPA.  Our speaker was Larry Cook, Ph. D., a historian who specializes in Presidential history.  He spoke about several Presidents including the only President from PA – James Buchanan from Lancaster.  He was in office from 1857 to 1861.

His Presidential memorabilia has over 8,000 items.  He had many interesting items and photos for his talk.   He is a personal friend of President Jimmy Carter and he told a lot of interesting stories about President Carter and other Presidents as well.  He told the audience that the President he would most like to speak to, if possible, was James Buchanan who he claims was actually a very good President and gets little credit for it. 

March:

The meeting was held at the First United Methodist Church.  Board Member Ginger Murphy hosted a special program called “Enterprising Entrepreneurs:  A Celebration of Phoenixville Women in Business”.  

Some of the businesses mentioned were Seacrists, Jaworski’s Music, Dolly Dish, and Hirsch’s Market.   Some of the people from those businesses were present to comment on their experiences. 

Speakers in 2022:

December:

The Zoom meeting had a presentation by Board Member Karl Miller on “Holiday Traditions of Phoenixville Places of Worship”.  It focused on the wide variety of religious traditions in Phoenixville at the holiday time of the year.  

September:

The annual meeting was held at the Phoenixville Country Club celebrating 45 years of service to the community.  Jack Ertell presented a terrific video that Applied Video Technology of Kimberton made for us about HSPA history going back to 1977. 

June:

The meeting was held under a large tent at HSPA.  Our speaker was Bob Lee from, Newmanstown, PA.  His topic was “It’s Wash Day”.  He shared his extensive antique laundry day collection of artifacts and knowledge of “Wash Day” from the1700s to 1940.  He showed old soaps, small scale old washing machines (salesman’s demo samples), and all kinds of other washing tools and explained “Wash Day” with humor and it’s history.

March:

Our speaker was Rosalyn Sheckleford who gave a talk called “A History of Negro League Baseball in Phoenixville”.  Her presentation traced the history of the Negro League in Phoenixville from the1930’s and she shared stories of some of the great Phoenixville athletes such as Andre Thornton.  She is a retired educator, a long-time community member, and is active in many organizations including Diversity in Action.

Speakers in 2021:

December:

Our Zoom speaker was Jane Peters Estes who is a Tour Guide for Starr Bus Charter & Tour Services in New Jersey.  Her Holiday program explored the origins of many of our Yuletide holiday traditions and highlights Christmas customs observed during the Civil War.  Her presentation was accompanied with many interesting stories, examples, and recreations of actual fashions with illustrations from that period.

September:

Our guest speaker was Board Member Joe Varady who gave a terrific slide show presentation about his new historical fiction book called Tales of Phoenixville.  The stories are based on historical people from Phoenixville using local landmarks and historical facts.

June:

Our June speaker was Samantha Freise who is employed as a Park Ranger for the National Park Service in Philadelphia at Independence Hall.  She gave an interesting program on the history and use of animals in American military conflicts from the Revolutionary War to Vietnam to the Middle East.  She spoke about the role of many animals, such as horses, mules, dogs, carrier pigeons, and even camels, and their important contribution to our military.

March:

In our March Zoom meetin, HSPA member and former President Sue Marshall gave a slide show presentation about Rebecca Lane Pennypacker Price.  She was a Phoenixville woman who was a nurse and who went to the battlefields at Gettysburg to help wounded soldiers.  She is buried in Morris Cemetery in Phoenixville.  She was a cousin to both Governor Samuel Pennypacker and to General Galusha Pennypacker.  She was at the famous George Spangler Farm in Gettysburg to care for the wounded soldiers.  Our September 2019, guest speaker was Ronald D. Kirkwood of York, PA, who gave a slide show presentation about the George Spangler Farm.

Speakers in 2020:

December:

Our December 2020, Zoom Quarterly meeting included a pre-recorded video cooking show highlighting Holiday Recipes and Cookbooks from the HSPA collection. Please click here to view the Christmas Recipes that were mentioned during the meeting.  Please click here to view the Cooks and Books video.

September:

Our Zoom guest speaker was Phoenixville Borough Mayor Peter J. Urscheler.  He has been the Mayor of Phoenixville since January of 2018.  He spoke about the pandemic and the Borough’s response to it and the process of re-opening the town as safe as can be done under the circumstances that we all face.  He discussed the Borough’s goal of achieving more affordable housing.  He discussed the Borough’s hopes that rail transportation can someday be resumed to Reading and Philadelphia although that will be very expensive and require substantial Federal and State funding.

June:

Our Zoom meeting played Paul Kusko’s virtual museum tour about early Phoenixville residents.  That talk can be accessed at:  https://youtu.be/wYpws4fq4Wg.

March:

Our March public meeting was canceled because of the COVID-19 outbreak.  However, a members-only virtual Quarterly Meeting was held via Zoom.  HSPA Member Adam Deveney would have been our meeting’s speaker.  He would have given a short talk about the Vietnam War.   He was a U. S. Marine helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War.  He made an HSPA virtual museum tour, which can be accessed at: https://youtu.be/TSQ6eIEyJiI.

Speakers in 2019:

December:

Our speaker was President-elect John Keenan who gave a visual history of Reeves Park, which is an integral part of the Phoenixville Community.  He used many photos and maps of the park through the years.

September:

Our guest speaker was Ronald D. Kirkwood of York, PA.   He gave a slide presentation about the George Spangler Farm in Gettysburg during the Civil War battle in July of 1863.  He told the story about the 166-acre farm that became a hospital.  The story recounted the story of nurses, surgeons, ambulance workers, musicians, teenage fighters, patients, and others during that fateful battle.  His book titled “Too Much For Human Endurance”: The George Spangler Farm Hospital And the Battle of Gettysburg” mentioned a nurse, Rebecca Lane Pennypacker Price, who was from Phoenixville and went to Gettysburg via Baltimore to help the wounded soldiers just after the battle ended.

Some of the notables who were at the farm included General George G. Meade, General Henry J. Hunt, Col. Edward E. Cross, General Francis Barlow, Col. Francis Mahler, Artillery Lt. Col Freeman McGilvery, and General Samuel K. Zook.  Private George Nixon III, great-grandfather of President Richard Nixon died there as did Confederate General Lewis A. Armistead, who was wounded during Pickett’s Charge.

The farm’s size and location enabled the Union Army to use the farm as a staging area to help get artillery and troops to the front lines from Little Round Top north to Cemetery Hill just in time to prevent a Confederate breakthrough. Mr. Kirkwood is a retired editor and writer for USA Today, The Baltimore Sun, The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, the York Daily Record, and was the NFL editor for USA Today Sports Weekly.  He has been a docent at The George Spangler Farm Field Hospital since it opened in 2013.  His e-mail address is rdkwood@hotmail.com.

June:  Our speaker was Dale Woodland who is the Director of the Reading Railroad Heritage Museum in Hamburg, PA.  His slide show topic was “The Reading – Then & Now”.  He has photos and maps of the railroad before 1976 when the Reading Railroad was taken over by Conrail.  His slide show had many old photos of train stations and trains and then recent photos taken from the same places.  He explained that some small “Short Line” railroads now exist in the old Reading Lines service area.  Norfolk Southern now owns some of the old Reading Lines tracks such as in the Phoenixville area.  He may be reached at rsa14.5302@gmail.com.  Please click here to link to the Reading Railroad Heritage Museum or call them at 610-562-5513.

March:  Our speaker was Ellen Endslow who is the Director of Collections/Curator of the Chester County Historical Society.  Her topic was “Many Nations | Chester County”.

She talked about 300 years of diversity through the lens of migration and provided some very interesting statistics about immigration into Chester County and how it changed over the years from source countries.  From contact between the Lenape and the first European settlers in the early 1600s, people have called Chester County their home.  She spoke about the ways national and international events led to such a diverse local population that continues to make a significant impact on our community.  Please click here to link to the Chester County Historical Society.

 Speakers in 2018:

December:  Our speaker was the Society’s Board Member and Archives Chairman Jack Ertell.  The talk’s title was “An Ethnic and Cultural History of the Phoenixville Area”,  which included a very informative slide program about the history of different ethnic groups, churches, and schools in Phoenixville from the colonial era to the present.

September: This was our annual banquet meeting.  Our speakers who appeared in costume as George and Martha Washington were John Lopes and Carol Spacht.  They shared the story of their courtship, former loves, and the trials of war and the Presidency upon their 40-year marriage.  George Washington explained some of the state’s diverse interests that hampered commerce such as different tax policies, different currencies, and private toll roads all of which were the result of the Articles of Confederation that lead to the creation of the United States of America.  George Washington railed against the poor quality of many news accounts during his Presidency and he complained about the absence of facts and the meanness in some of the news accounts of his day.

June: Our speaker was Mike Bertram from Adams County, PA , who presented a terrific program about deed history with an interactive map of historic Charlestown, which includes what is now Schuylkill Township and Phoenixville Borough. He has previously done an interactive deed map of Tredyffrin Township and Easttown Township.

The first part of his talk covered deed history research about the early history of Pennsylvania going back to William Penn and the creation of Charlestown Township.  The second half was an interactive demonstration of maps showing Charlestown properties and buildings at various times in the 1700s.   He pointed out that the early census’ did not include all the names of family members, just their last name.  He told us that French Creek was once known as Vincent River.  He told us that David Lloyd was the first landowner of what is now known as Phoenixville Borough.  His website with interactive maps and early census data is the2nomads.orgor the2nomads.org/charlestown/charlestown.html.  His websites have the 1790 and 1800 Charlestown census and maps of Charlestown in 1715, 1747, 1777 & 1799.june 2018 flyer

March:  Our speaker was Aaron Heckler who is a noted collector and dealer of books, postcards, and related paper items.  He presented a slide show of images from his extensive postcard collection of the Schuylkill Canals.

Coal was the major product shipped south from upstate Pennsylvania although lumber and other products were also shipped south to Philadelphia with manufactured goods being shipped upstate.  The Schuylkill Canal operated for about 75 years with its hay days being around 1835 to 1840.  Canal boats used the Schuylkill River for part of their journeys in the system of canals.   After the 1840s, railroads increasingly became the main transportation system utilized in commerce.march 2018 flyer

Speakers in 2017:

December: Jeff Amerine presented an exciting slide show program about the history of the Phoenix Bridge Company.  It included many photos of the bridges built by the Phoenix Bridge Company such as the Manhatten Bridge in New York, the Strawberry Mansion bridge in Phila., and the Calhoun Street bridge between Morrisville and Trenton.  It also includes pictures of a famous bridge that collapsed during construction over the St. Lawrence Seaway resulting in many deaths because of a poor design by a New York bridge designer.  He showed pictures of the famous Phoenix Column and even steel lighthouses that the company constructed in the 1800s.

September: This was our annual banquet meeting.  Board member Jack Ertell presented a slide show of the history of the Historical Society of the Phoenixville Area since its inception in 1976.  It highlighted the many accomplishments and contributions of many, many people including David Frees who was the Society’s first President.

June: Our March meeting was canceled because of a severe snowstorm, so we invited our planned speakers to return for this month’s meeting.  Our speakers were Cyndi Hyatt, a teacher at Conestoga High School, and Amadea Martino Smith, a student at Conestoga High School who just graduated.  They presented a terrific program about Joseph Vasko who was a sailor from Phoenixville who was killed three days after D-Day in 1944 when his LST was torpedoed by a German submarine.  He was a Shipfitter 3rd Class on LST-314.  They traveled to Washington, DC, and to Normandy, France, to learn about Joseph Vasko.  They did local research on his life in Phoenixville.  He was buried at Sea.  They presented a slide show of pictures they obtained.  Cyndi Hyatt and Amadea were selected as one of 15 teacher/student teams from across the country to participate in the Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom Institute.  Please click here to view a website about Joseph Vasko.

March: Our March meeting was canceled because of a severe snowstorm.  Our speakers were going to be Cyndi Hyatt, a teacher at Conestoga High School, and Amadea Martino Smith, a student at Conestoga High School.  They were going to present a program about Joseph Vasko who was a sailor from Phoenixville who was killed three days after D- Day while serving on LST-314 that was torpedoed by a German submarine.

Speakers in 2016:

December:    Our speaker was Ellen Endslow who is the curator of the Chester County Historical Society in West Chester, PA.  She had a slide show on the complex relationships between people and the land where they lived and worked in Chester County.  She talked about people from many heritages and walks of life who came to live in Chester County.  She had a fascinating talk about the beginnings of Mushroom growing in Chester County and its connection to the 1943 discovery of the technique of commercially making penicillin, which had an enormous effect on health since it was the first antibiotic medicine.  Until then it could not be mass-produced.

September:    Our guest speaker was Associate Professor Dr. Laura Sherrod.

Last Fall she and some of her students at Kutztown University conducted a geophysical site survey of the grounds of the Society. They used high-tech ground-penetrating radar to search for buried graves on the property.

June:    Our speaker was Susannah Brody from Coatesville, who is a storyteller and author of several books. Her website is www.susannahbrody.com.

Her presentation entitled “On the Homefront, Stories of the American Revolution” shared four stories of real people who lived in Southeastern, PA, at the time of the American Revolution. Included were stories about Thomas Cheyney, a Quaker who warned George Washington about British troop movements just before the Battle of Brandywine, and Thomazine Thomas who endured a looting raid by British soldiers in her home in West Whiteland. There was a story about Loyalist Judge William Moore whose home was rudely searched by Continental soldiers and then used as living quarters for Continental Army officers and Susannah Longenecker, a peaceful woman in Coventry who was charged with treason. She was wrongly accused and convicted of treason for feeding four men in her home whom she thought could have been British soldiers out of uniform but who were actually Continental soldiers out of uniform. They were dispatched to locate loyalists to the British.

March:    Our speaker was Edward W. Duffy who published a book in 2013 titled Philadelphia A Railroad History.

Mr. Duffy is a graduate of La Salle and Temple Universities. He is a former U. S. Army officer. He has worked for the Philadelphia Department of Commerce, its Planning Commission, its Port Corporation, and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation. His interest in railroads dates from his role as a liaison person between the City of Philadelphia and various rail reorganization agencies in the early 1970s that resulted in the creation of Conrail in 1976.

His presentation included some old photos and provided some of the history of Philadelphia and local railroads that trace their orgin to canals in the early 1800s.

Speakers in 2015:

      March:    Our speaker was  Ryan Conroy, who is the Society President.  He gave a slide show of old photos and gave an interesting talk entitled “Shamrocks & Shenanigans”, which is the story about the Irish history and experience in Phoenixville.

      June:    The Society’s Jack Ertell gave a terrific “Then and Now” slide show presentation of familiar sights in Phoenixville.  He showed the current pictures of various locations in Phoenixville and then he showed old photos of that site.  It was very interesting and educational.

      September:    Our speaker was  Bob Gleason from the American Historical Theatre who portrayed Samuel Langhorne Clemens aka Mark Twain in costume.  He used his hometown of Hannibal, MO as the background for his two most notable works; The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

       December:    Our speaker was Neal Hurst who is an assistant curator of the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia that will open in 2017.  Please click click here for their web site.   He gave a presentation called “George Washington Really Slept Here: Researching and Recreating the General’s Mobile Field Headquarters”.

Speakers in 2014:

      March:    Our guest speaker was Don Meyer, Ph.D., who was the President of the Valley Forge Christian College which is located on the former grounds of the Valley Forge General Hospital.  He became their President on January 1, 1997.  He gave an inspirational presentation about the history, current status, and anticipated growth of the college that led to the college becoming the University of Valley Forge later in 2014.  Please click here for the university’s website.

      June:    Society President Ryan Conroy spoke about Phoenixville, photography, and World War I.  The talk’s title was “From the Trenches to the Studio, U.S. Photography in WWI”.  Ryan presented a slide show of photos from World War I.  Many of the photos were of men from Phoenixville who served in the military during the war.  Ryan also played a part in an audio recording he made several years ago of a World War I Navy veteran who was 106 at the time of the interview.  He told the story of his late Grandfather who served in the Army during World War I and was badly wounded during combat in France.

      September:    Our guest speaker was Robert K. Wittman of Chester Heights, PA.  He is a former FBI agent who formed the FBI unit called the Art Crimes Team.  That team rescued over $300 million in the world’s stolen treasures including a long-lost original copy of the Bill of Rights.  He is the author of a 2010 New York Times best seller “Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures”.  He described the huge magnitude of art and cultural property sales in the world and the U.S which has about 40% of the world’s sales that is about $80 billion a year in the U.S.  There is about $6 billion of illegal art and cultural property events in the U.S every year.  That includes thefts and forgeries.  About 90% of museum thefts are inside jobs followed by armed robberies and burglaries.   Please click here for his website.

      December:    Our guest speaker was Michael Axlerod of the Philadelphia Flag Day Association in Philadelphia, PA.  He is their Vice President. His talk was on the American flag and its history.

Speakers in 2013:

      March:   Our guest speaker was Paul H. Golfetto from Gilbertsville, PA, 610-473-2637, Pennsylvania Clock Company, Inc.  He restores watches & clocks for the public.  He gave a presentation about vintage watches and clocks.  Please click to go to the website of the National Watch & Clock in Columbia, PA, 717-684-8261, www.nawcc.org.

      June:   Our speakers were the Society Chairman of the Board Jack Ertell and our President-elect Ryan Conroy.  They talked about Phoenixville and the Civil War.  Jack Ertell gave a slide show presentation about the Phoenix Rifle that was made by Phoenix Iron Co. and different people who served in the Civil War, such as General Galusha Pennypacker, who was the youngest Brigadier General in the Union Army.  Ryan Conroy brought some very interesting Civil War-era pictures and Civil War-era documents.

      September:   Our guest speaker was Carol Spacht who appeared in costume as Betsy Ross.  She gave a presentation using some early Revolutionary War era flags and gave a terrific history of George Washington entering her shop and ordering the first American flag and how she made changes to his original design.  Please click on the link to her website, www.avisitwith.net.

      December:   Society members Sue Marshall and Marji Rohrbach put on a program about old Phoenixville videos that have been restored.

Speakers in 2012:

      March:   Our guest speaker was Barbara Cohen.  She is a local civic leader, a Society member, a President of the Schuylkill River Heritage Center, and a member of the Schuylkill Township Board of Supervisors.  She gave a powerpoint presentation about the concept of freedom, including religious freedom, going back to William Penn’s time.  Her presentation illustrated the early churches and synagogues in Philadelphia and Chester County from both an architectural and a religious perspective.

       June:   Our guest speaker was Bob Sullivan of Elverson who give a presentation about the Civil War Era “dime novels” and books.  He discussed the rise of the “dime novels” and the inexpensive “how to” books that coincided with the Civil War.  He showed a slice of the 1860s culture through books on sports, etiquette, public speaking, songs, and novels.  He talked about the publishing house of Irwin and Erastus Beadle, the creators of the “dime novel” as well as some of their rivals during the Civil War years.  He brought many copies of these works to the meeting.  They were in good condition considering their age.  He is the owner of Sullivan Press which is located in Morgantown, PA, whose specialty is reproductions of old books, documents, and stationary, www.sullivanpress.com.

        September:  Our guest speaker was Sean Moir of Berwyn, PA.  He gave a computer-animated program (GIS) showing a dynamic map of Revolutionary War troop movements in Chester County concentrating on the Battle of Brandywine and the Paoli Massacre.  His e-mail address is moirs@comcast.net.

        December:  Our guest speakers were Missy Livingston Farkouh and Cory Etchberger.  They gave a talk about the Medal of Honor Grove at the Freedoms Foundation in Valley Forge, PA.   Their talk included a slide show with a video about Richard L. Etchberger.  There have been 3,476 Medal of Honor recipients beginning with the Civil War.  The Freedoms Foundation has 96 acres of which 52 acres are dedicated to the Medal of Honor Grove.  The Grove was started in 1952.  Mr. Etchberger’s father, Richard L. Etchberger, received the Medal of Honor posthumously.   Ms. Farkouh’s father is James Livingston who is a living Medal of Honor recipient.  The Freedoms Foundation, www.freedomsfoundation.org, owns the grove, but it is maintained by the Friends of the Medal of Honor Grove, www.friendsmohgrove.org.

  Speakers in 2011:

          March:   Our speaker was Gene Pisasale who spoke about the important role that Marquis de Lafayette played in the Revolutionary War, including his participation in the Battle of the Brandywine that occurred on September 11, 1777.  He is the author of a historical novel titled “Lafayette’s Gold – The Lost Brandywine Treasure”.  Please click here to view his website.

          June:    The speaker for our June quarterly meeting was Scott Houting who gave a presentation about the 3-inch ordnance rifle that was made during the Civil War by the Phoenix Iron Company.  It was an updated version of the weapon that originally was the 1855 Griffen Gun that was designed by John Griffen.  Mr. Houting is a Park Ranger at the Valley Forge National Historical Park.

          September:   Our guest speakers were from the famous Tuskegee Airmen in the Greater Philadelphia Chapter, 6500 Wissahickon Ave., Phila., PA 19119.  From 1941 to 1946, over 2,000 African Americans trained at the Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama, where 992 of them became pilots, of which 450 served in Europe.  Sixty-six were lost to all causes.  Some of them became members of the 99th Fighter Squadron in May of 1942.  The Tuskegee Airmen saw combat in over 1,500 missions flown over Europe and North Africa.  Not one of the bombers that they escorted was lost to enemy fire, a record not duplicated by any other U. S. fighter squadron during the Second World War.  They are credited with shooting down 111 enemy fighter planes plus three German jet fighters.  Please click to view their website www.tuskegeeairmen.org.

         December:  Our three guest speakers gave a presentation about the Pennsylvania Soldiers Orphan School in Chester Springs, PA, which opened in 1869 and closed in 1912.  Our speakers were Susannah Brody who portrayed Eleanor Bechtel Moore who was the principal of the school.  Robert Momyer portrayed Teacher and School Manager D. A. Harmon.  Joel Halstead portrayed a Civil War Soldier with the song “Tell My Father”.  That is the poignant song of a young man preparing to go into battle during the Civil War who wanted to leave a message for his father to tell him how he stood bravely against adversity.

  Speakers in 2010:

          March:   Our speaker was Valley Forge resident and local historian Mike Bertram.  His topic was a slide show called “Fire & Water – A History of Valley Forge Industry”.   He showed old photos and drawings of the historical Valley Forge community.

          June:   Our speaker was Ron Sloto, who is a Senior Hydrologist with the U. S. Geological Survey.  He has worked on a wide variety of water resource issues and has published over 70 reports, abstracts, and journal articles on water resources, geophysics, geology, and mineralogy.  He recently published a book titled “The Mines and Minerals of Chester County, Pennsylvania”.  His power point presentation was about the mines in the Phoenixville area.

          September:   Our speaker was Kurt D. Zwickl, who is the Executive Director of the Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area in Pottstown, PA, and co-author of the recently published Arcadia Book “Along the Schuylkill”.  His topic was “Reflections on the Schuylkill River Heritage Area”.  He discussed the Schuylkill River watershed area’s heritage as one of America’s most significant cultural, historical, and industrial regions of the country  He discussed the progress of the Schuylkill River trail system.  They sponsor the 109-mile Schuylkill River Sojourn held every June.  Please click to view the Schuylkill River National & State Heritage Area website, www.schuylkillriver.org.

         December:   Our speaker was Dimitrios N. Bastas.  He is a long-time collector and dealer of Etruscan Majolica.  He gave a terrific graphic presentation of Etruscan Majolica.  Mr. Bastas has written two books about Etruscan Majolica.  Please click to view his website at www.etruscanmajolica.com.  Please click to link to the Majolica International Society in New York, NY.

Please click for a link to the Majolica International Society.

  Speakers in 2009:

          March:   Our speaker was Jeff Amerine, who is a Society member and serves on the Board of Directors of the Schuylkill River Heritage Society.   He presented a program on the bridges that were built by the Phoenix Iron Company and its subsidiary, The Phoenix Bridge Company.

          June:   Our speaker was Eugene L. DiOrio, Executive Director of the Graystone Society of Coatsville, PA. He presented a program on the history of the Lukens Steel Co. and the Lukens National Historic District, which was established in Coatsville in 1994.

          September:   Our speaker was William Watson, Ph.D., who is a History Professor at Immaculata University.   He gave a presentation on the “Duffy’s Cut Project”.  He has been leading the investigation and archeological dig on the mysterious deaths in 1832 of 57 Irish immigrants who worked for the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad.  They were buried in a mass grave in Malvern next to the railroad tracks.  Please click to view their website http://duffyscut.immaculata.edu.

          December:   Our speaker was Nancy K. Loane, Ed.D. She gave a presentation on the “Love Letters from Valley Forge”.   She came in period dress and described the Valley Forge encampment using letters between family members and soldiers at Valley Forge.

  Speakers in 2008:

          March:   Our speaker was Sandy Momyer, who is the Archivist at Yellow Springs and a Society member.   She gave a graphic presentation about the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the country school at Historic Yellow Springs.

          June:   Our speaker was Laurie Rofini, who is the Director of Chester County Archives and Record Services.   She presented a program entitled “Grant me Relief from this Loathsome Jail: Down and Out in Early Chester County”.

          September:   Our speaker was George Vinter, who is an early American re-enactor. He gave a presentation about 18th and 19th Century toys, games, and other play items from early America.  Please click to view his website www.toydemonstrater.zoomshare.com.

          December:   Our speaker was Gus Spector, MD, who is a physician at the Phoenixville Hospital and author of four books about old images depicting Philadelphia.   He gave a slide show presentation about old postcard images depicting Philadelphia.

  Speakers in 2007:

          March:   We had a speaker from the Wharton Esherick museum give a presentation about “The Life and Work of Chester County Artist and Craftsman – Wharton Esherick”.   A slide show and lecture provided a history of a unique local museum and discussed the life of a local artist and craftsman.

          June: Our speaker was Leon Rowe, who is a retired Avon Grove schoolteacher.   He gave a presentation about the art and rewards of postcard collecting, which he and his wife have been doing for over 40 years.

          September:   Our speakers were Linda Ries and Steve Noel from the PA State Archives.   They gave a presentation about the Pennsylvania Civil War Muster Rolls Project that is being conducted by the PA State Archives.   The Muster Rolls Project is a massive effort to preserve original Civil War documents containing information on the more than 360,000 Pennsylvanians who served in the Union Army.

          December:   Our speaker was Mr. Set Momjian, who is a retired Ford executive and a former U. S. Diplomat at the U. N. and a noted authority and collector of Presidential porcelain.   He gave a presentation about Presidential china. He spoke about his White House experiences with Presidents and First Ladies going back to Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s.

  Speakers in 2006:

          March:   Society member and board member Ryan Conroy and Paul Johnson, who teaches history at Upper Dublin High School, gave a presentation on the history of photography from its beginnings in 1840.   They spoke about the different types and processes that developed during the formative years and how to identify and date old photographs.

          June:   Our speaker was Eloine Dunlap of New Jersey, who is a former school teacher.   She gave a presentation on Colonial Art. Since her retirement, she has taken a serious interest in museum art exhibitions.

          September:   Our speaker was Vincent Martino, Jr., who is a lifelong resident of Phoenixville and an author of a book about Phoenixville.   He gave a presentation about “Phoenixville, Then and Now”.   He has acquired an extensive postcard and photograph collection of the Phoenixville area.

          December:   Our speaker was Richard Wolf, who is a Phoenixville resident and a retired Federal Park Ranger at the Valley Forge National Park.   He gave a presentation entitled “18th and 19th Century Medicine”.   He appeared in a period dress and showed authentic medical tools, powders and potions, and surgery instruments.   He explained common treatments such as purging, bleeding, and blistering.

  Speakers in 2005:

          March:   Our speakers were Becky Manley, Ryan Conroy, and his parents Mr. and Mrs. Joe Conroy.   They are Civil War re-enactors and members of the “Bucktails”, who are based in Phoenixville.  They gave a program about the Civil War era including military and civilian life, jewelry, and cookery.

          June:   Our speaker was Ed Grusheski, who is the general manager of the Public Affairs Division of the Philadelphia Water Department.  He gave a slide show presentation entitled “Life, Death, and Rebirth of the Schuylkill River”.

          September:   Our speaker was Bruce Mowday, who is the chairman of the board of trustees of the Chester County Historical Society and a journalist.  He discussed his latest book entitled “September 11, 1777: Washington’s Defeat at Brandywine Dooms Philadelphia”.  He specializes in local history and he has written three pictoral and postcard history books.

          December:   Our speaker was Dr. Nancy Loane, who is a member of our Society and who spent 8 years researching her subject and gave a presentation about her book, “Present But Not Accounted For – The Women of the Valley Forge Encampment”.  Her list of women is headed by Martha Washington, who spent two months in the early part of 1778 at Valley Forge with George Washington.  She has studied more than 400 diaries, journals, letters, returns, orderly books, and periodicals of the Revolutionary War.

  Speakers in 2004:

           March:   Our speaker was Ray Waltz who gave a slide show presentation entitled “Emergency Money of the Civil War”.  He is an active coin collector and photographer of old money.

           June:   Our speaker was Wesley Sessa, who owns 18th Century Restorations of Coventryville.  He gave a presentation about historic preservation jobs of buildings and antiques that take a lot of time and money to accomplish.

           September:   Our speaker was Nancy Webster who is a historian and belongs to the Society of Friends.  She gave a presentation about Quaker customs and ties to the area.

           December:   Our speaker was Anthony Gulotta, who lives in Phoenixville and writes “Poets Corner” for The Phoenix. He discussed poetry and his experiences as a poet.  He has written a lot of poetry and he is sometimes referred to as Phoenixville’s “poet laureate”.

  Speakers in 2003:

           March:  Our speaker was L. Alan Gehert, the ornithologist at Mill Grove Museum and Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary.  Mill Grove was the home of James Audubon.  He spoke about James Audubon and his lifelong interest in birds.

            June:   Our speaker was Russell Schulz, USN (Retired).  He spoke about the history of the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge and its mission in our society.  Captain Schulz has been a staff member of the Freedoms Foundation since 1995 and was the current executive vice president.  Its mission is to educate Americans about our national heritage and the basic values of freedom.

           September:  Our speaker was William C. Kashatus, Ph. D, a noted local historian and author of several books.  He spoke in costume as Thomas Paine.  Dr. Kashatus spoke about Thomas Paine’s famous publication in 1776 “Common Sence” which gave reasons for people to support the American revolution.

           December:  Our speaker was Eric Schmincki, who is a Civil War impersonator.  He gave a first-person presentation of Union Civil War General Samuel K. Zook.  General Zook was a native of Tredyffrin Township, who commanded troops during several Civil War battles.  He was killed at Gettysburg. His home is now the Park Ranger Station at Valley Forge National Park.

  Speakers in 2002:

             March:   Our speaker was William C. Kashatus, Ph. D, a noted local historian and author of several books.  He gave a presentation about the Underground Railroad.  He had recently put-up an exhibit about the Underground Railroad at the Chester County Historical Society where he served as the Director of Public Programs.

             June:   Our speaker was Tim McAvoy, who lives in Schuylkill Township near the McAvoy family brick plant.  He spoke about his family’s brick-making business which goes back to 1896 when Thomas Bell McAvoy started a brick production facility on the banks of the Schuylkill River.  He spoke about the McAvoy family’s contributions to the area, clay mining from the adjourning property for the brick plant, and the use of the bricks in the area including in Philadelphia.

             September:  Our speaker was K. Ward Vinson, who lives in Langhorne, Bucks County, PA, and is a retired history professor at Bucks County Community College.  He gave a presentation in costume as General George Washington.

             December:   No meeting was held due to inclement weather.

Historical Society Special Exhibit "Collected Ephemera and Rare Photos From Forgotten Scrapbooks".

Because of Covid this display remained until March of 2022.

 

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We have many of the old newspapers of the Phoenixville area ready for purchase and non-original films available for research only.  Phoenixville had a newspaper of its own since 1846 starting with the Phoenix Gazette.  That newspaper was followed by a number of other weekly newspapers, such as The Weekly Republican.  The Daily Republican started in 1888 and became The Evening Phoenix in 1975 and then The Phoenix in 1992.

                      
                      
                      
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