Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
History Quarterly Digital Archives

Source: January 2003 Volume 40 Number 1, Pages 36–38


Page 36

Recollections of Howellville

Following publication of the July 2002 "Howellville Issue" of the Quarterly, (Vol. 39, No. 3), author and artist Sue Andrews received a note from journalist Henry Darling who had been quoted in her article,

Many thanks for sending us the History Club's Quarterly. It made for fascinating reading and brought back some nostalgic memories. We bought our first ewe from a guy named Tracey, who had a farm just east of Howellville and we took our ram lambs (always named Chops) to the butcher on Howellville road just south of the intersection. . . .

We were both impressed by the amount of time and effort you must have spent in putting this together. Interviews, libraries, old files, government records and, yes, newspaper articles. I am pleased to be a part of it.

The sketches are excellent. They really make the old village come alive. Peg and I agree the next time we come north we will drive through Howellville as we did so often many years ago. But this time, thanks to you, we will appreciate its historic background more than we ever did in the past.

And from Mary Ives, Sue also received a note which read in part,

. . . it brought back memories because I remember where the roads went before PennDOT rearranged them.

Page 37

When Matilda Navarro was a little girl, I used to go to Howellville on Sunday mornings to take her and her sister to Sunday School at Great Valley [Presbyterian] Church.

I also loved Henry Darling's tale about the crooked little house in the triangle, especially his line that perhaps it was built by a man who didn't own a level.

Back in the days I was working in Philadelphia, I got off the Paoli Local one cold, dark winter evening to find it was snowing very hard, and there was already a lot on the ground. Also on the train was Henry Darling. He had no car at the station, and there was no one to meet him. We did not know each other at all, but we struck up a conversation during which he said he lived in the Valley three miles away and doubted that anyone in his family would come out in the storm to get him. So, I offered to take him home in my trusty VW "Bug." We arrived safely at the lane to his house off Church road just south of St. Peter's Church, and shortly thereafter I arrived [home] at Mid-Cutstraw Farm [off Swedesford Road].

A New Exhibit at Valley Forge Park "Welcome Center"

On October 11, 2002, a redesigned display area opened in the "Welcome Center," formerly the visitor center, at Valley Forge National Historical Park (VFNHP). A new exhibit titled "Determined to Persevere" has been installed to tell the story of the Valley Forge encampment. It includes items such as Washington's tent, axes used to build the huts, muskets, rifles, diaries, letters, and personal artifacts.

Funded by a grant from Exelon Corp, (PECO's parent) to the National Center for the American Revolution, a newly created exhibit partner, the lower level of the visitor center is now brighter, better organized, and more logically presents this chapter of American history. The overhead sign quotes President Gerald Ford on his dedication visit July 4th, 1976. A large topographical map orients the visitor to ten key locations. The rear area displays artifacts from the winter of 1777-78. A slide projector flashes words on a screen.

Eight years of Revolutionary War history, and a time line of events, is on one side of the brightly colored, newly installed story boards; six months of 1777-78 (December 19-June 19) and a second time line on the other side reflects events during the Valley Forge encampment.

Page 38

About twenty glass display cases show off the artifacts from that winter. Each is carefully labeled.

The rear exhibit room, which is surrounded by airtight walls, contains Washington's tent, known as a "sleeping marquee." Windows permit a full view of the tent and command desk. (Washington's two other military tents, we are told, are located at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, and at Victory Park in Yorktown, Virginia. They are the baggage and campaign tents.)

This exhibit utilizes a compilation of previously displayed material (the tent); and items relocated from the Valley Forge Historical Society (VFHS) (the guns and bayonets); and has new design placards showing the events of the eight years of Revolutionary War history. It is free, and open to the public each day from 9am-5pm. It takes a good hour to absorb, and will be there two to three years while a new building is constructed nearby to better display the complete set of material belonging to the Center: the George Newman collection, sold to VFNHP in 1976; the Reed papers, now in vaults; and the 200 or so firearms from the Herman Benninghoff collection of the VFHS.

A Welcome Center store has period history books for sale, a gift shop carries snacks and postcards, and clean rest rooms make up the balance of the redesign. Park Ranger Bill Troppman Jr, who was knowledgeable, showed this visitor around. There are several other staff at the welcome desk, as well as helpful maps and newsletters.

The National Center for the American Revolution, a non-profit corporation and the successor to the Valley Forge Historical Society, has formed a public partnership with the National Park Service to embark on a $100 million project to build at Valley Forge the first museum dedicated solely to telling the entire story of the Revolutionary War. Plans call for the project to open in December 2005, with the Federal and state governments funding at least half the cost. Captain Thomas M. Daly, USN (Ret.), has been named President and Chief Executive Officer. A Board of Scholars, headed by David McCullough, has been constituted to provide ongoing consultation and review of exhibit themes and content for the Center.

(Steve Dittmann)


Page last updated: 2014-06-19 at 16:36 EDT
Copyright © 2006-2014 Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society. All rights reserved.
Permission is given to make copies for personal use only.
All other uses require written permission of the Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society.