"Pennsylvania Pride" is something we all should share in.
To help feel some of that pride there is a wonderful display at the Monroe County Historical Association (MCHA) located at the historic 1795 Stroud Mansion in Stroudsburg. It celebrates many Pennsylvania businesses, past and present, some dating as far back as the 1830s, and the many products that have been and continue to be manufactured right here in Pennsylvania. The display will be up until December 20.
"We were going through our collections and came across these interesting artifacts. We started thinking about the rich industrial history that is in Pennsylvania. As we looked at our items it was like, 'Gee whiz, I never knew that was made in Pennsylvania.' It has turned out to be a real fun exhibit," says Amy Leiser, executive director of the MCHA.
That fun exhibit has items dating back to the early 1800s. But Monroe County's industry history begins much earlier than that.
Dutch and Swedish settlers were the first to colonize what was later named Pennsylvania. In 1664, the English took it over and King Charles II of England granted a land tract to William Penn in 1681, because of a £16,000 debt the King owed to Penn's father. Penn founded a colony, a place of religious freedom for Quakers. He named it for his family "Penn" and "sylvania" which in Latin means "woods."
Penn's idealized pursuit of religious and social freedoms drew skilled and unskilled workers from across Europe.
Pennsylvania became a leader in ship building and iron productions.
The early 19th century coal resources provided inexpensive energy needed to fuel furnaces in the iron and steel industries.
Pennsylvania's vast waterways propelled the growth of textile mills throughout the Eastern part of the state.
The railway system provided quicker and more efficient means to transport raw and finished goods to manufacturers and consumers.
A second influx of immigrant workers in the mid-19th century provided affordable labor. From 1850-1920, two-thirds of all goods manufactured in the United States were produced in Pennsylvania.
Some of those companies manufactured thread, bricks, glass, socks and much more. Many of these items are part of the "Pennsylvania Pride" display, such as spools of thread from the Holland Thread Co., Inc. of Stroudsburg; a Woolrich hunting jacket from Woolwich; silk stockings from Nu Maid Nylon Stockings of Stroudsburg; Blue Ridge enamel faced bricks from Enameled Brick Co. of Saylorsburg; Williamsburg Carolers from Byer's Choice of Chalfont; a cast iron fire truck from Hubley Mfg. Co. of Lancaster; canning jars from Van Vilet Furit Jar Plant of Stroudsburg; cast iron ice shaver from Logan & Strobridge Iron Co. of New Brighton; a Waring blender of Waring Products Corp. of Shawnee-on-Delaware; bottles from A-Treat, established in 1918 in Allentown; cans and bottles from Yuengling, the oldest operating brewing company in the United States, established in 1829; a Zippo lighter from the Zippo Manufacturing Company of Bradford, formed in 1932; and so much more. In a display of food items that were or are manufactured in PA, many will recognize items from Planters Nut of Wilkes-Barre, Peeps from Just Born of Easton, Heinz Tomato Ketchup of Pittsburgh and Utz Potato Chips of Hanover.
"Our tag line for the display is 'From A-Treat soda to Zippo lighters,'" says Leiser.
Besides the current "Pennsylvania Pride" display, be sure to visit the rest of the Stroud Mansion. It was built by Stroudsburg's founder, Jacob Stroud around 1795, for his eldest son John. The 12-room Georgian-style home now is listed in the National Register of Historical places.
The museum offers exhibits highlighting the history of Monroe County. Permanent exhibits include artifacts from the time of the Native Americans to present day. Specialized collections and exhibits rotate throughout the year, focusing on the social, cultural, political and economic life of Monroe County. Featured rooms include an authentic Colonial-era cellar kitchen, the early 18th Century Stroud Room, a Victorian parlor, as well as a tool and weapons room, antique toy room and a textile collection.
"A lot of people come here to research their ancestry," says Leiser.
The Stroud Mansion houses the Elizabeth D. Walters Library, which has an extensive and unique collection of genealogical materials and local history resources. The library includes family files, census reports, church records, cemetery listings, newspaper clippings and more. Maps, indentures, family Bibles and other primary documents are also available to researchers. It is a treasure trove of local Monroe County history.
"We're a very unique building. It holds a history of the Stroud family and we house the history of the entire county from the time it became a county. You can learn about the beginnings of it to modern times. We can walk you through the history of Monroe County in one hour," says Leiser.
Visit the Stroud Mansion at 900 Main St., Stroudsburg, on Tuesdays-Fridays and first and third Saturdays from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. For more information, call 570-421-7703, email email@example.com or visit its website www.monroehistorical.org.