Blog Archives

The premiere performance of the General Hand Puppet Theatre at the 2018 May Fair at Rock Ford Plantation was such a huge hit that it has now been scheduled for two additional performances on Sunday, June 24 at 11 am and 1 pm in the Rock Ford barn. This all-ages event is being presented in collaboration with the Lancaster Marionette Theatre.

“The Hand Puppeteers worked so hard and are so dedicated that I thought they needed to keep the momentum going – Rock Ford has a barn so let’s put on a show,” said Robert Brock, the Artistic Director of the Lancaster Marionette Theatre. The General Hand Puppet Theatre performance features adventure, live music, surprises, romance, heroes and a revolution ending with America’s independence. The Hand Puppet cast includes Edward and Kitty Hand, George and Martha Washington and several of Edward Hand’s farm animals (including his favorite sheep Garamelli) … and mad King George III.

In addition to directing the production, Brock will include some of his 18th century marionette characters from “Treasure Island” as well as his marionettes depicting John Durang. Durang was the first American-born actor, dancer and puppeteer, who was born in Lancaster City in 1768.

Not publicly seen in years, one of Rock Ford’s hidden treasures – a 43-year-old, highly detailed dollhouse of the Rock Ford mansion – will be featured in the production. Little tours of the little mansion will be given periodically. An elaborate one-fourth inch scale replica of the mansion filled with period-style furniture, the dollhouse offers a Lilliputian experience not to be missed. Along with the little mansion will be a little gift shop, featuring Rock Ford’s most popular items (including shrub) for sale.

The volunteer puppet company, dressed in period attire, includes Pam Stoner, Meagen Lebo, Grace Kline, Ron Peters and Sarah Alberico.

Reservations are $5 per person and may be made by calling the Rock Ford office at 717-392-7223 or by clicking here. Seating is limited – do not miss this special experience. Refreshments will be offered for sale before and after each performance.

Proceeds from this event benefit educational programming at Rock Ford.

Dr. Timothy Trussell of Millersville University presents “The Archaeology of a Pioneer Settler’s Cabin: The 1714 Hans Graff Site.” The early pioneers of Lancaster County were extremely influential in setting the pattern for later development of broad swaths of the United States, through generations of out-migration in the 1700’s.  These flows of people carried the culture, lifeways, agricultural practices, and even architectural styles from Lancaster County to many other areas of the country.  For the first time, the original site of one of these early pioneers has been found and archaeologically excavated, giving us insights into that era which have been previously impossible.  This lecture will discuss the importance of the early settlers in Lancaster County to the later cultural and historical development of the United States, and will discuss the findings of two years of excavation at the Hans Graff site, the first original settlers cabin ever found or excavated in Lancaster County.

This lecture will take place in the Rock Ford Barn. Reservations are not required, but seating is limited.

Admission: $5 for non-members and free for members of the Rock Ford Foundation (upon showing valid membership ID card)

The Underground Railroad (UGRR) was the first interracial activist movement in the United States. It brought together people of diverse backgrounds and from a variety of regions, including Pennsylvania, in defiance of the institution of slavery. There are many myths which surround its operation. However, it becomes less mysterious upon understanding how it operated, the dangers faced by participants, and its impact upon both the South and the North. As this talk examines the effectiveness of the Underground Railroad, it also will offer insights into its significance as a catalyst for the Civil War.

Spencer R. Crew is the Clarence J. Robinson Professor of History at George Mason University.  Previous to that, he served as President of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio and Director of the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.  He recently served as a guest curator for one of the permanent history exhibitions at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. He has an AB from Brown University and a PH.D. from Rutgers University.  His most recent publication is Memories of the Enslaved: Voices from the Slave Narratives, co-authored with Lonnie Bunch and Clement Price.

Dr. Crew’s presentation will take place on Thursday, February 22 in Ryder Hall at LancasterHistory.org, 230 N. President Avenue in Lancaster. A speaker’s reception will begin at 4pm, followed by the main presentation at 4:30pm. The event is free and open to the public.

Join LancasterHistory.org on Thursday, November 9th as we welcome historian and author Brent M. Rogers, Ph.D. for a talk on A Question of Sovereignties: James Buchanan, Utah Territory, and the Onset of a Federal West. Rogers will examine the difficult challenges faced by President Buchanan’s administration in dealing with Territorial Governor Brigham Young as well as with the settlers of the Utah Territory.

Brent Rogers, Ph.D., Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day SaintsBrent M. Rogers, Ph.D. is the associate managing historian for The Joseph Smith Papers. He earned a BA with honors in history from San Diego State University, an MA in public history from California State University, Sacramento, and a Ph.D. with emphasis in nineteenth-century United States history from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Rogers is the author of Unpopular Sovereignty: Mormons and the Federal Management of Early Utah Territory (University of Nebraska Press in 2017) and several articles including “A ‘distinction between Mormons and Americans’: Mormon Indian Missionaries, Federal Indian Policy, and the Utah War,” Utah Historical Quarterly (Fall 2014), which won the Western History Association’s 2015 Arrington-Prucha Prize for Best Article on the History of Religion in the West. Rogers has also co-edited several volumes of the Joseph Smith Papers including Journals Volume 3: May 1843- June 1844 (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2015).

Event Information: This event takes place in Ryder Hall at LancasterHistory.org. A speaker’s reception begins at 4pm, followed by the lecture at 4:30pm. The event is free and open to the public.

To commemorate the 300th anniversary of the arrival of Jacob Böhm, (the progenitor of the Boehm family) to present day Lancaster County, Darvin L. Martin will discuss the genetic background and the land records of local 1717 Mennonite families.

Martin has been exploring the DNA of Swiss-German Mennonite families, since 2010, and has used this data to reconstruct the ethnic origins of local Anabaptist families back into medieval Europe or beyond.

LancasterHistory.org continues the 2017 Presidential Lecture Series on Thursday, October 19, 2017 with Dr. Amy S. Greenberg for Expansionism Denied: President Buchanan’s Failed Quest to Annex Cuba. During his tenure as Secretary of State under President Polk, Buchanan sought the annexation of the island of Cuba. Greenberg’s presentation will explore how Buchanan was once again denied the annexation of Cuba during his own Presidency as he continued to pursue his interest in securing the island for the United States.

Amy S. Greenberg, Ph.D., Penn State UniversityAmy S. Greenberg is the Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Humanities at Penn State University. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1995, and B.A. from U.C. Berkeley in 1989. Her four books include Manifest Manhood and the Antebellum American Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2005), Manifest Destiny and American Territorial Expansion: A Brief History with Documents (Bedford/St. Martin’s Press, 2012), and most recently, A Wicked War: Polk, Clay, Lincoln and the 1846 U.S. Invasion of Mexico (Alfred A. Knopf, cloth: 2012; Vintage Books revised paperback edition, 2013), which was awarded book prizes from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, the Western History Association, and the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic.

This event takes place in Ryder Hall at LancasterHistory.org. A speaker’s reception begins at 4pm, followed by the lecture at 4:30pm. The event is free and open to the public.

IMGP9289A culmination of a year’s worth of hard work, Harvest Days is Landis Valley’s oldest and largest family event. Come for demonstrations, exhibits, live music and activities, as well as horse-drawn wagon rides and a children’s discovery tent. Taste heirloom varieties of apples and watch them become apple butter and cider. Witness wool go from sheep to shawl. Pick a pumpkin of your very own and then decorate it. All of this and more are packed into two fun-filled days.

Food will be available for purchase on site.  Free parking.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission: $12/Adults
$10/Seniors
$8/Ages 6-11
Free for ages 5 & under

Owens child with pumpkin 1 IMGP9279 IMG_0100 IMG_0123

LancasterHistory.org kicks off the 2017 Presidential Lecture series on Friday, September 29, 2017 with Dr. Michael F. Holt for Sink Hole: How Kansas Crises Doomed the Presidencies of Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan. Holt’s presentation will explore how the two critical changes in the United States’ rule of law, the 1854 Kansas Nebraska Act and the 1857 Dred Scott Decision, created political tripping stones that destroyed the Presidencies of the 14th and 15th Presidents of the United States. 

Michael F. Holt, Ph.D. is the Langbourne M. Williams Professor of American History Emeritus at the University of Virginia. Dr. Holt received his Bachelor of Arts at Princeton University and his doctorate at Johns Hopkins. He is the author of six books, including the award-winning The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party and By One Vote: The Disputed Presidential Election of 1876. One the United States’ most prolific and influential scholars on antebellum politics, Dr. Holt served as a keynote speaker at the 2008 President James Buchanan National Symposium at LancasterHistory.org. 

Event Information: This event takes place in Ryder Hall at LancasterHistory.org. A social gathering begins at 4pm, followed by the lecture at 4:30pm. The event is free and open to the public. Ample parking available on-site. 

LancasterHistory.org kicks off the 2017 Presidential Lecture series on Friday, September 29, 2017 with Dr. Michael F. Holt for Sink Hole: How Kansas Crises Doomed the Presidencies of Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan. Holt’s presentation will explore how the two critical changes in the United State’s rule of law, the 1854 Kansas Nebraska Act and the 1857 Dred Scott Decision, created political tripping stones that destroyed the Presidencies of the 14th and 15th Presidents of the United States.

Michael F. Holt, Ph.D. is the Langbourne M. Williams Professor of American History Emeritus at the University of Virginia. Dr. Holt received his Bachelor of Arts at Princeton University and his doctorate at Johns Hopkins. He is the author of six books, including the award-winning The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party and By One Vote: The Disputed Presidential Election of 1876. One the United State’s most prolific and influential scholars on antebellum politics, Dr. Holt served as a keynote speaker at the 2008 President James Buchanan National Symposium at LancasterHistory.org.

Event Information: This event takes place in Ryder Hall at LancasterHistory.org. A social gathering begins at 4pm, followed by the lecture at 4:30pm. The event is free and open to the public. Ample parking available on-site.

A Rock Ford docent in period costume will read a story of Early America to children gathered on the porch of the mansion. Following the story, children will participate in a fun activity. A light snack and beverage will be served.

Children must be accompanied by a parent or other responsible adult.

The suggested age range for Stories on the Porch is preschool through 5th grade, but all are welcome.

Free of charge, but voluntary donations are greatly appreciated.