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Thursday, July 6, 2017

The "Southern Lancaster County's Hidden Gem - Part II" Story

LDub standing next to a Conestoga Wagon.
It was an ordinary day.  Having my photo taken by another visitor while standing next to a restored Conestoga Wagon inside The Conestoga Area Historical Society which is located in Erhlich Park in Conestoga Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  The main museum building, which is in a restored 1865 tobacco shed, is remarkable.  Three floors of history, much of which has come from the surrounding area.  Local artifacts are interspersed with period pieces as well as a very nice Native American collection from the hills around Southern Lancaster County.  The barn at one time belonged to Amos and Landis Graver who farmed the fields in the area.  At the time it was at a different location.  Upon the death of the last of the Gravers, the house and barn were purchased by other individuals.  
Sign directing you to the entrance.
Being that the barn was on the opposite side of the road from the house, it became expendable to the new buyers.  The Township supervisors were offered the barn as a gift and they then moved it to its location in Erhlich Park.  Volunteers spent the next three years preparing the barn to be the centerpiece of the Historical Society.  It officially opened on November 16, 1996.    In the main level of the tobacco shed is a permanent exhibit which houses, among other things, a Conestoga Wagon, artifacts from St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church of nearby Safe Harbor and a country store complete with items from a local store in Conestoga.  
Mr. Ken Hoak who is the Curator
and President Emeritus of the
Conestoga Historical Society.
The second floor has exhibits of animals from the area as well as a variety of other displays.  The third floor features an ice cream parlor complete with sign listing all the ice cream flavors available as well as a soda machine.  After entering at the main level, I signed the guest book, gave a donation and began my exploration of the exhibit titled "Play Ball: A Retrospective Exhibit of Over 100 Years of Athletic Activities in the Penn Manor Area."  This level of the tobacco barn has revolving displays and exhibits that are featured in the Grassel Hall gallery.  After a half-hour of looking at all the interesting photos, newspaper clippings and stone balls believed to have come from Indian tribes who inhabited the area years ago, I found my way through a door into a room that housed the Conestoga wagon I am now standing next to for my photograph.  
A display on the top floor of the barn
shows period furniture and accessories.
Hard to believe that this wagon was at one time the best means of transportation for both hauling goods as well as exploring the old West.  My story yesterday told of interesting artifacts and displays throughout the tobacco barn, but after walking out the door, I was amazed at the magnitude of out-buildings that were also filled with antiques, artifacts and period pieces of furniture that were all part of the Historical Society.  Closeby was the Tobias Stehman Blacksmith Shop.  It is an 1885 shop that was located on a Pequea Township farm and moved to this site where it underwent restoration.  The working shop houses some of the most interesting tools and equipment.  It is still in use today.  
This display on the same level shows an old ice cream parlor.
This is a replica of the Andrew Howard Confectionary from
the 1860s. It is the earliest record of an ice cream shop
in Millersville and was locate on North George Street.
Another nearby house, The Stephen Atkinson House, was moved to this location from the Sunnyside area of Lancaster City.  It is a 1740 log home that too was restored, decorated and furnished with period reproductions made by local craftsmen.  Next to it is a German four square garden, smokehouse and an outhouse.  The Michael Harnish House is from the 1740s and too was moved and restored.  In it are displays of the Harnish family including their home deed, blanket chest and family Bible. Well, as I left this small house, I noticed an approaching summer thunderstorm so I made my way to the car for a quick exit home.  A few other buildings drew my attention as I was scurried back to the car so I believe another visit to this museum will be on my agenda soon.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

The second floor has quite a few show cases filled with the wildlife of the area.
This showcase displays the long-tailed Weasel during the summer phase on the left and the winter phase on the right.
John Stuart, the Earl of Bute is wearing a cape featuring tails from the winter phase weasel.  You can tell by the black spots on the cape which are the tip of the weasel's tail.
The museum gives the viewer a visual chronology of 300 years of decorative arts in the Penn Manor area.  During those 300 years we have experienced eight distinct changes in life style design.  There are no inclusive definite dates for these periods.  There are always transitional overlapping.
This outdoor chart shows the many out-buildings around the main museum.  
This is the Stephen Atkinson log cabin.  It was moved from the Sunnyside area of Lancaster City in 1997, restored and opened in 1998. 
This is the outhouse with the German Four-square garden.
Interior photo of the cabin.

Two photos of the interior of the Tobias Stehman Blacksmith shop from 1880.
A black and white photo showing the tannery as it used to look.
Interior of the Samuel Myers tannery after being relocated and restored.  It was built in 1812.

These two photographs show the Michael Harnish House which was built in the mid-1740s.  It was moved to this site in 2000 and opened later that year after restoration.  The Bible featured in the top photo was printed by Rimber and Scharplet in the early 19th century.  The Bible was open to the family record page which showed the dates of the marriage of Barbara Buchwalter and Jacob Harnish (Nov. 14, 1850).  The chest featured in the photo was from the early 19th century.  It bears the initials B.B.H. which would have been Barbara Buchwalter Harnish.  A wedding date of 1850 can also be seen on the chest.  The bottom photo shows more furniture and displays written material found in the home. 

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