Saturday, March 24, 2012

World War II Weekend at Graeme Park

Update: For information on the 2013 WWII Weekend, please see our updated post, here.

On May 5 and 6 the grounds of Graeme Park and the adjacent Penrose-Strawbridge House will play host to a World War II encampment and battle reenactment. Reenactors representing American and German troops will set up camps, including restored period trucks, tanks, and other vehicles, and will be in authentic uniforms throughout the weekend.

On Saturday a battle reenactment will be staged using the stone outbuildings around the Penrose-Strawbridge House to represent a French village.

As of this writing, we have reenactors from the 110th medical battalion, who will have a medical tent set up, the 3rd and 9th infantries, the 4th armored division, the 9th S.S. and the 142nd Gebirgs signed up. When the battle isn't taking place, visitors will be able to tour the camps, see the vehicles on display, take a tour of the historic Keith House, shop the sutler's booths, or grab some lunch. After the battle there will be musical entertainment from the Fubar Boys and a big band concert (band to be determined) in the tent at Graeme Park. A brief military drill will cap off the day on Saturday. Sunday will be a bit less intense in terms of the fighting, but visitors can tour the camps, view the vehicles, tour the Keith House, hear a speaker or two and shop with the vendors.

The Schedule:

May 5 - 10:00 am—4:00 pm
Ongoing—Vendors, House Tours, Tour Camps
10—Troop Inspections
11:40—Welcome from Senator Stewart Greenleaf
11:50—Welcome from Representative Todd Stephens
12-1—Battle Reenactment
1:30—2—Fubar Boys (USO-Style Music)
2—3—Society Music Makers (Big Band Concert)
3:30—4—Military Demo

May 6 - 10:00—2:00 pm
Ongoing—Vendors, House Tours, Tour Camps
12—Speakers/War Stories

If it rains on Saturday, all activities will be held on Sunday. Admission cost is $10 for Saturday and $6 for Sunday. There is no charge for WWII vets. Please note the activities and camps are spread out around the property and will require some walking to see it all. Grounds are relatively flat, with a slight incline to access the battle viewing area. The terrain is mostly grass, with a gravel drive to the battle area and three flights of stairs to tour the Keith House.

Vendors and reenacting units who are interested in participating can contact Graeme Park at and we'll send you the information to sign up.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Six Degrees of Dr. Graeme

Did your ancestors immigrate through the Port of Philadelphia in the 1700s? If so, they may have crossed paths with Dr. Graeme! As both a Justice of the PA Supreme Court from 1731 through at least 1750, and the Port Physician for the Port of Philadelphia from 1727-1741 Graeme encountered thousands of immigrants and made determinations on whether or not they were healthy enough to disembark from the ship and take up residence in Pennsylvania and whether or not they could become naturalized citizens with all of the rights and privileges of natural-born citizens of the Crown.

German immigration into Pennsylvania is particularly well documented and the classic source is Pennsylvania German Pioneers by Ralph B. Strassburger and William J. Hinke. This 3-volume set and alphabetical index is available at large genealogical libraries, but if you're patient, persistent, or know the ship name and/or approximate date your ancestor arrived, you may be able to locate them online here. There are up to three lists, called List "A" or the Captain's List, List "B" or the Oath of Allegiance List, and List "C" or the Oath of Abjuration List. The Captain's List is generally the most complete and usually includes all of the passengers on the ship, although sometimes just lists the men. If you can find your ancestor on this list, often you will see Dr. Thomas Graeme's name at the end as the examining physician who cleared the ship for debarkation. The Oath of Allegiance List was generally made within a day or so of the ship's landing - all males ages 16 and over were supposed to go to the Courthouse and take an Oath of Allegiance to the King of England - so this list will include all males who went and took this Oath. This law requiring the Oath of Allegiance was actually enacted in Keith's time: at a Sep. 17, 1717 meeting, Keith noted that foreigners from Germany were settling in Pennsylvania without any certificates demonstrating their identity, origin or intention, so he and the provincial Council ordered that those aliens take the following oath of allegiance:

"We the subscribers, natives and late inhabitants of the Palatinate upon the Rhine and places adjacent, having transported ourselves into this Province of Pennsylvania, a colony subject to the Crown of Great Britain, in hopes and expectation of finding a retreat and peaceable settlement therein: Do solemnly promise and engage that we will be faithful and bear true allegiance to his present Majesty King George II, and his successors, and will be faithful to the Proprietors of this Province; and that we will demean ourselves peaceably to all his said Majesty's subjects, and strictly observe and conform to the laws of England and of this Province to the utmost of our power and best of our understanding."

In 1740 Parliament passed the Plantation Act to govern the naturalization process in the colonies and encourage immigration by allowing immigrants the same rights and abilities to engage in business as natural-born citizens. In order to be naturalized, petitioners had to have resided in America for seven years without leaving the country for more than two months at any given stretch and provide proof that they had taken the Sacrament in a Protestant church within the three months preceding their appearance in court (exceptions were made for Quakers and those of the Jewish faith, but specifically not for Catholics). Dr. Graeme was one of the justices in front of whom those seeking naturalization appeared. If your ancestors were naturalized in Philadelphia between 1740 and 1773 you may be able to find them from 1740-1759 here, 1760-1763 here, or 1764-1773 here although Dr. Graeme was only one of the presiding judges through about 1750.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Happy Birthday Pennsylvania! March 4, 1681

Don't forget Charter Day on Sunday the 11th beginning at noon. This is your once a year chance for a free tour of Graeme Park (and other historic sites operated by the PHMC or their assigns) in honor of the March 4, 1681 granting of the Pennsylvania Charter by King Charles II to William Penn as the fulfillment of a debt of about 16,000 English pounds (2.1 million in today's money) owed to Penn's father.

Founded as a “Holy Experiment” Pennsylvania (named by King Charles for Penn’s father) was to be a place where Quakers could practice their religion without fear of the persecution they received in England. To attract settlers in large numbers, Penn wrote a glowing prospectus, promising religious freedom as well as material advantages, which he marketed throughout Europe in various languages. Within six months he had parceled out 300,000 acres to over 250 prospective settlers, mostly rich London Quakers. Eventually he attracted other persecuted minorities including Huguenots, Mennonites, Amish, Catholics, Lutherans, and Jews from England, France, Holland, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Ireland, and Wales.

On Charter Day you'll be able to take a free, self-guided tour of the Keith House at Graeme Park with volunteers in each room to answer questions and tell you a bit of history about the people and the architecture as well as the benefits of becoming a member of the Friends of Graeme Park and the many special programs we offer throughout the year. We'll be here from 12 noon - 4 pm, but be sure to arrive by 3 or 3:30 so that you have time to go through the house. More detailed tours of the house are offered year round on Fridays - Saturdays from 10-3 and Sundays from 12-3 for a nominal cost.

Friday, March 2, 2012

First Friday Fotos - March 2012

This winter is just flying by - it's already March and time for the First Friday Foto again. Still not a lot of change out in the garden compared to our February Foto and our January Foto. The picture was snapped around 11:00 a.m. on a gray, cloudy day and just for fun we're offering a vertical shot too. Am I the only one that sees the mysterious "B" in the shingles? Perhaps "B"etsy is trying to tell us something?

And don't forget to set your clocks forward one hour next weekend and come out to Charter Day on Sunday 3/11. We'll be here from noon - 4, but try to get here by 3 or 3:30 so you have time to go through the house. Tours are self-guided with volunteers in each room to answer questions and are free of charge on this day only. If history repeats itself, we should have some cookies and snacks available too.
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