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Historical society learns about First Ladies

Published February 22. 2010 05:00PM

The Palmerton Area Historical Society members watched a video about the first ladies of the country at their Feb. 8 meeting.

Martha Jefferson met Thomas through a mutual love of music. After the Declaration of Independence was signed, Thomas withdrew from politics because Martha was ill.

Dolley Madison served as first lady for Jefferson during his presidency. She had been educated in a Quaker school. Her husband and son were lost in the yellow fever epidemic.

She became first lady in her own right when her second husband, James Madison, became president. When the British came to burn Washington during the War of 1812, she refused to leave until she packed official documents and the artworks in the White House. After the war she headed a movement for volunteers to rebuild the city.

The British hoped to capture Dolley and parade her through the streets of London.

Elizabeth Monroe was known in France as "the beautiful American." In 1795 she saved the lives of the Marquis de Lafayette and his wife by letting the French know how highly America thought of them.

Her daughter was the first person to be married in the White House.

Louisa Adams, wife of John Quincy Adams, was born in London and attended a convent school. She had 12 pregnancies with seven miscarriages. Louisa was unhappy with the way John made family decisions without consulting her. She was also uncomfortable with Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams, who was the second president.

The one thing connecting the first ladies is that many of their babies died, though if they got through early childhood safely, many lived long lives.

The March 8 society meeting will be by Ben Walbert talking about the preservation of old buildings.

The poster contest for the 20th anniversary of the Society and 5th anniversary of the Heritage Center has begun. The judging will be held Feb. 25. There will be a founders' tea and public banquet with dates to be announced.

In other business: George Ashman said over 1,000 people have contributed to the archives which means there are well over 1,000 donations because a person usually made more than one at a time.

He stressed that if donations are received that are not applicable to the area they will be passed on to the appropriate historical society.

On Feb. 6 Betsy and Jim Burnhauser, Connie and Bob Reinhart and Dale Fruedenberger were amoung those who toured the west plant at the invitation of the new owner, George Petrole.

Burnhauser said the historical society may take whatever they want of the material remaining in the buildings. This includes many wooden patterns made by Joe Plechavy.

"Anything we can cart away we can have," she said.

The biggest building remaining was the bag house. Bags reached at least two stories high and workers walked on beams to shake the bags so the material would settle to the bottom.

"Anything the Zinc Company built would never fall down," said Burnhauser, talking about the well-built, old structures which will be torn down.

Rinehart took many pictures during the tour.

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