Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Ida Tarbell's Influence on National Geographic Magazine

On January 27, 1888, the National GeographicSociety was founded in Washington, D.C., for “the increase and diffusion of geographical knowledge.” What many may not realize is that the publication of the society’s famous periodical, National Geographic Magazine, might not have gained notoriety without the help of Ida Tarbell, the forerunner of modern investigative journalism from Titusville, Pennsylvania.

Tarbell’s fame is often associated with her 1902 McClure’s serial expose of J.D. Rockefeller, which heavily influenced the demise of Standard Oil as a monopoly. Prior to this, however, Tarbell’s career began following her graduation fromAllegheny College in 1880 where she studied biology and was the only woman in her graduating class. After a brief stint as a teacher in Ohio, Tarbell returned to Crawford County where she met Theodore L. Flood, editor of The Chautauquan, which was published in Meadville. In time, Tarbell’s talents and work ethic would, in time, lead to a position as the managing editor of the publication.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Don't Fence Me In: A.C. Huidekoper's Government Tangle Over Public Lands

Arthur Clarke Huidekoper Badlands Rancher
A.C. early ranching days
Friction between ranchers and the federal government over the use of public lands recently witnessed in the news is nothing new in our history. Prominent Meadville businessman and Civil War veteran, Arthur Clarke (A. C.) Huidekoper had a running feud with the government over the fencing of public lands near his cattle and horse ranches in the badlands of North Dakota.  A. C., who built in Holland Hall along Terrace Street, first visited North Dakota during a trip to Bismarck in the fall of 1879. 

The untamed beauty and wildness of the territory captivated A. C. who returned in 1881 to hunt buffalo near the small outpost town of Medora. Recognizing the area’s potential, A. C. purchased land in southern Billings County from the Northern Pacific Railway Company the following year to establish the Custer Trail Ranch. Among his ranching neighbors was an adventurous French nobleman and cavalry officer by the name of Marquisde Mores, and a young, energetic, politician from New York City who was part owner of the Maltese Cross Ranch, Theodore Roosevelt.    

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Alice Bentley: Crawford County's Champion for Women's Rights in the Downton Abbey Era

Among the many themes centered around the changing times in the popular PBS television series, Downton Abbey, women's growing independence has remained a constant, if not a central focus. Such independence was not a circumstance experienced within a vacuum behind the walls of Downton, but rather, life at Downton provides context to the growing freedoms gained by women of all classes on both sides of the Atlantic.

Among these many freedoms was the suffrage movement, a cause championed the Suffragettes. Suffragettes were members of women's organizations in the late 19th and early 20th century which advocated the extension of the "franchise", or the right to vote in public elections, to women. British suffragettes were mostly women from upper- and middle-class backgrounds, frustrated by their social and economic situation much like the Crawley women at Downton. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Crawford County Estates in the Downton Abbey Era

Baldwin Reynolds Home & Estate
The "Downton" Era (1910s and 1920s) was a time or expansion of ideas, but for a tightening of funds in large manors, or, in the case in America, smaller landed estates. "The Terrace," as it was called in Meadville, was the undisputed millionaire's row of the city which, along with upper Chestnut Street and a few smaller neighborhoods interspersed throughout town, boasted the Huidekoper, Reynolds, Magaw, Boileau, and Shryock families.

Many of these homes were estates in their own right, the Reynolds family (of the Baldwin-Reynolds House) owned land adjoining Bentley Hall at Allegheny College down to French Creek and the Huidekoper family once claimed ownership of much of the upper Chestnut area, Grove Street being named after a large orchard and forest in that location connected to their properties.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Frenchtown's Crystal Chandelier

This chandelier hanging from the starry ceiling of the Saint Hippolytes church in Frenchtown, near Guys Mills, Pennsylvania‬ was donated around 1888 by Otthille and Lydie Bousson, two sisters from France who operated a shirt factory in New York City. The Bousson sisters amassed a fortune from producing high-quality shirts worn by the Astors, Vanderbilts, and even U.S. Grant. Eventually the two moved to the area, building a brick mansion between Frenchtown and Pettis, now aptly known as Bousson.