Express-Times Photo | SUE BEYERSamuel Moon paintings on display at the Sigal Museum.
Historical Treasures is a new feature that spotlights local artifacts found in local museums. It will appear every Sunday in the Connect section of The Express-Times.
Paintings by artist Samuel Moon at the Sigal Museum, 342 Northampton St., Easton
Samuel Moon was born Feb. 22, 1805, in East Caln Township (Downingtown), Pa., to a Quaker family whose ancestors arrived from Wales in 1682.
He showed exceptional talent and creativity. He liked to wander in the woods and fish from the banks of the Brandywine Creek. More often than not, he lost track of the fishing and drew the wonders he saw instead. There is a story that, during Quaker meetings, he sketched the congregants’ portraits on the high backs of the pews. It is said that they were so lifelike that they were allowed to remain there for a long time.
In 1827, Moon relocated to New Hope. He became a noted painter. His copy of David’s “Napoleon Crossing the Alps” was exhibited in Doylestown, Pa. It took him three months to complete because it was so large, measuring 6 feet by 4 feet. This work launched him to success at age 22.
Moon painted religious scenes, as well as landscapes, portraits, miniature portraits and copies of old masters. He painted a portrait of George Washington and a religious painting, “Resurrection of Lazarus,” that was his largest at 8 feet by 12 feet.
Moon moved in 1830 to Easton, where he set up an art studio in the Insurance Building on Centre Square. There was no other portrait painter in Easton at the time.
He married Matilda Lehn White, daughter of William (Chippy) White, in 1835 and they had eight children. Moon lived in Easton for 30 years and made his living painting portraits of wealthy people from Easton, Philadelphia, and Bucks and Chester counties.
The Sigal Museum has a large collection of Moon portraits, many of which are on exhibit in its decorative arts gallery. The museum’s entire collection was exhibited as a body when the Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society held its Moon Harvest in 1990.
According to the 1855 city directory, the Moons’ first address was 9 N. Third St. Some time before 1860, they moved to 5 Lehn’s Court. When Moon died, June 14, 1860, Dr. V.K. Swayze purchased all of the paintings in Moon’s gallery. He exhibited them in the Insurance Building on Centre Square.
Samuel and Matilda Moon are buried at Easton Cemetery.
Early newspapers of Northampton County are on display at the Sigal Museum, 342 Northampton St., Easton.
The earliest newspapers in Pennsylvania were published in Philadelphia as early as the end of the 17th century. There is no record of a newspaper in Northampton County until the end of the 18th century. At that time, the population of the county was largely German; therefore early newspapers were published in German or, occasionally, in both German and English.
View full sizeExpress-Times PhotoAn edition of The American Eagle from Aug. 22, 1799.
It was the first English language newspaper in Northampton County.
Of the many papers founded in the county, many lasted only a few months. Several lasted a few issues, and one survived for only one day. Early subscribers often paid for their paper with flour, wheat or whiskey.
In September 1793, Jacob Weygandt founded the NEUER UNPARTHEYISCHER EASTONER UND NORTHAMPTON KUNDECH (New Nonpartisan Easton Messenger and Northampton Intelligencer). He was both publisher and editor, and he worked to keep the paper nonpartisan.
Shortly thereafter, Weygandt and Sons began publication of the EASTON GERMAN PATRIOT AND COUNTRYMEN’S WEEKLY to express Weygandt’s political views. An original copy of that paper from 1804 shows a newspaper of 12 inches-by-20 inches, with 12 columns.
The first English newspaper in Northampton County was the AMERICAN EAGLE published weekly by Samuel Longcope from May 10, 1799, to 1805. The subscription price: $2 a year. It was in the Eagle that county residents first learned of the death of George Washington. In an early issue, Longcope advocated support for James Ross, of Pittsburgh, for Pennsylvania governor. His candidate lost the election. Longcope’s strong Federalist principles were in direct contrast to the German-speaking Democrats in the county and led to the demise of the Eagle in 1805.
Jacob Christian Hutter began another German newspaper, DER NORTHAMPTON CORRESPONDANT, in 1806. It would become the leading paper in Northampton County from 1806 to 1860.
Hutter prospered until he sold his paper to the publisher of the ARGUS in 1875.
The PEOPLES INSTRUCTOR was founded about 1812. It was the first bilingual paper in the county with side-by-side articles in German and English. That was not a popular format and the paper soon closed.
View full sizeExpress-Times Photo | BILL ADAMSA copy of The Easton Sentinel, from June 30, 1820.
That same year, Thomas J. Rogers founded THE NORTHAMPTON FARMER. When he sold the paper in 1818, the name was changed to THE SPIRIT OF PENNSYLVANIA. In 1817, Col. C.J. Hutter and Son founded theEASTON SENTINEL in support of “Democratic principles.”
THE WORLD ARGUS was successful from 1826 to 1844 under the leadership of editors Jacob Weygandt Jr. and Samuel Innes. In 1844, Col. William H. Hutter purchased this paper and changed the name to theDEMOCRAT AND ARGUS. Then later, with yet another new name, THE EASTON ARGUS became a 14-page weekly. It was a “penny paper” costing 1 cent an issue or $2 a year.
In 1855 the EASTON DAILY EXPRESS became the first daily printed north of Philadelphia. William Davis and William Eichman were the publishers. It was 11-inches-by-14 inches, with four pages of four columns, selling for 2 cents a copy or $4 a year.
It still publishes today, 156 years later at 30 N. Fourth St., as THE EXPRESS-TIMES.
Written By Jim Deegan
As a lad of 16, Trumbore volunteered for the Union Army shortly after the firing on Fort Sumter in 1861. He traveled to Boonton, N.J., to join the 4th New Jersey Regiment, part of the 4th New Jersey Brigade.
Young Trumbore soon became known as “Billy the Drummer Boy.” Billy served in the Army a total of five years, four months and 21 days, retiring with the rank of first sergeant.
Drums were an important asset to any Army unit. In addition to keeping a steady drum tempo for the marching troop, the drummer often issued commands on the battlefield. Drum orders could be heard over the noise and confusion of battle.
Trumbore’s drum is on display in the military area at the Sigal Museum.
Following the Civil War, Trumbore returned to Easton. He formed his own drum and bugle corps and played in several Lehigh Valley bands. He became drum major for a group known as the Easton Grays.
Trumbore was recognized as the drummer for the Grand Army of the Republic. In this capacity, he took pride in playing his drum over the graves of 1,198 of his Civil War brothers in arms.
Trumbore died in May 1917, having drummed for the last time only 15 days earlier.
Submitted by Elaine Greek.
German immigrants came to Pennsylvania to build a new life in a new country. One aspect of this new life was the melding of a new language and a new culture known as Pennsylvania Dutch. Talented Pennsylvania Dutch craftsmen expressed their creativity by producing beautiful household furnishings for daily use. One of the most important items was the “Aus schteier Kischt” (dower chest) also known as the hope chest or blanket chest.
Young Pennsylvania Dutch girls between the ages of 8 and 10 began to sew household items in preparation for marriage. To store her growing accumulation of goods, her father or brother would make her a “kischt.” These chests were usually 4 feet in length with a lift lid and painted or stained in a dark color. The girl’s name or initials, the date when made and the traditional Pennsylvania Dutch hearts and flowers were often painted on the front panel. Folkloric symbols, including those to ward off evil, were occasionally used. The amount of decorations varied by the wealth of the owner and the county in which the chest was made.
On her wedding day, the bride proudly displayed her bed linens, quilts, needlework, other personal items and family heirlooms stored in her kischt. Following the ceremony, the kischt was loaded into the “hochzich watte” (wedding wagon) for the trip to her new husband’s home.
The kischt displayed in the Pennsylvania Dutch area at the Sigal Museum of the Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society is thought to have been made for Cadrena Sandern in 1796. Her name, the date, and several small hex signs are painted on the front. Henry Marx, the prominent Easton librarian, donated the kischt to the historical society in the early 1900s.
Submitted by Elaine Greek
Victorian hair wreaths were created as a memorial for a single family member or occasionally included hair samples from an entire family. Hair would be collected from members of the family after they died and saved in a “hair keeper” until used. Friends and living family members often might contribute a lock of their own hair to be incorporated into the wreath as a token of love and appreciation for the deceased. For that reason, many wreaths show varying colors and textures.
As a commodity, hair was light and portable. It could be woven into intricate art forms, most often flowers, by twisting or sewing the strands around a thin wire. Then differently shaped hair flowers were combined to form a horseshoe-shaped wreath mounted on a silk or velvet background inside a shadowbox frame. The top of the horseshoe wreath was always kept open as to be pointing heavenward. The newest addition to the wreath was placed in the center for a mourning period of one year or until the next person passed away. The next addition would again be centered while the previous centerpiece would be moved aside then woven into the larger horseshoe shape.
Occasionally hair wreaths were made by a church group or a school as a special project. For these, living people contributed locks of their hair in memory of their friendship or of a special event with the sponsoring group. The larger of the two wreaths at Sigal was donated by Mrs. Charles Haines. The smaller, more circular wreath was a gift from Miss Annie Heller. It is believed that this wreath may be a memorial from the Eli Heller family, of Riegelsville.
During Colonial times, fire was a huge public safety issue. Each household in America was required by law to have a leather fire bucket sitting on the stoop outside at night to use in case of an emergency. Fighting fires in this way was extremely dangerous, exhausting and even futile in many cases.
In 1793, the Borough Council of Easton met and discussed, among other topics, the need for a pumper truck. Three years later, in 1796, a pumper was ordered from Philip Mason. Easton organized its first fire department in February 1797; the first company of volunteers was known as the Humane Company.
When an alarm for a fire was sounded, the fire company members raced to the firehouse. From there this pumper was hand-drawn by firefighters, not pulled by horses. A team of up to 10 men, five per side, would power the pump by pulling down the pump handle on their side to the engine.
On the pump handle at the front end, you will see a brass plate wrapped around the handle. That was the foreman’s station. The foreman called the cadence of the men pumping to provide the needed flow of water. Pumping teams would frequently need to be rotated, reportedly every 10 to 20 minutes depending on the cadence.
A good team would produce a steady water stream similar to what a modern-day garden hose delivers.
Homes in Colonial America and in Europe during the 1600s and early 1700s were often only one or two rooms. Because the bed was the largest and possibly the most expensive piece of furniture in the home, bed coverings were an important accessory. Woven coverlets, which pre-date quilts, were the bedspread most commonly used.
Some homes had a small loom set up on which the housewife could weave a strip about 36 inches wide. Two strips of finished fabric would be sewn together to make a coverlet. The looms produced “float weave” patterns of geometric design – stripes, squares or diamonds. The Sigal Museum showcases a simple coverlet of that type done in black and white squares in the Decorative Arts Gallery. Although the two pieces are well matched, a center seam is visible.
During the late 18th and early 19th century, itinerant weavers traveled with their own looms. They would contract with a family to weave an item and then set up their loom in the barn or in a spare room. The weaver stayed with the family until the coverlet or carpet was finished. On those and later looms, the foundation yarn, or warp, was of bleached cotton or linen. The colored design, or weft, was usually wool. The colors were made from natural materials, with the blue dye made from indigo being the most popular. Dogwood, bloodroot or Brazilwood produced the red color; goldenrod made green; bittersweet was orange and butternut bark made brown. These organic dyes produced a soft muted tone for the coverlet.
At the National Exposition in Paris in 1801, Joseph Marie Jacquard introduced the large loom that bears his name. This revolutionary loom created a pattern one line at a time. Jacquard’s design of using punch cards, similar to a player piano roll, suspended high above the loom produced a more complex pattern. These coverlets had a tighter weave and were double- faced so that either side could be displayed. These larger looms were permanently installed. It is believed that weavers traveled the countryside collecting spun wool. They could show the housewife a book of patterns to choose from and then return to their shop to create a coverlet for that specific family, using their own wool.
The Sigal Museum has several Jacquard coverlets made by Peter Seibert, of Easton.
Seibert was born in 1821 in Lowhill Township to Elizabeth and John Seibert. He learned his trade by assisting his father, a carpet and coverlet weaver. In 1843, Peter married Sarah Shmick and one year later he opened his yarn and weaving shop at 196 Northampton St. in Easton. His coverlets were made of linen and wool, some having fringe on three sides. At the time of the gold rush, Seibert shipped many of his coverlets to California.
When he retired in 1867 for health reasons, Peter and Sarah moved to Allentown. His business remained in Easton and was owned by his brother, Owen, and nephew, George.
One coverlet shown at the Sigal Museum includes the owner’s name – Sarah Schoch – woven into the corner and the date, 1840. This coverlet of red, blue and green has fringe on three sides and shows a center seam. It is not signed by the weaver. One of the Seibert coverlets, done in natural yarn and red, was made for Sarah Fitts. Along one edge of the coverlet is the legend “Made by Peter Seibert Easton.” Another multicolored coverlet in red, blue and green has a corner panel with the woven label “Made by Peter Seibert Easton Pensyl 1845.” No owner is shown.
The nation’s 100th birthday in 1876 also brought a renewed interest in Colonial crafts. A centennial coverlet at the Sigal Museum shows Memorial Hall at the center and the dates 1776-1876. Its vivid colors are the result of using commercial, rather than natural, dyes.
Coverlets can be found today in antique shops or at estate sales. The value of a coverlet is determined by its condition, color and design. However, the most important feature by far is the historical significance of the coverlet, preferably accompanied by written documentation.
Submitted by Elaine Greek.
The practice of using a branched wooden stick (a dowsing rod) to locate underground water or buried minerals is known as dowsing or divining. In some areas of the United States, this practice may be called doodlebugging or water witching.
Whether it actually works is open to interpretation.
Typically, the dowsing rod is the forked branch of a tree which an individual — the dowser — holds with the pointed stem of the branch pointing away from his body. In Europe, hazel twigs are the preferred wood. Witch hazel, willow or peach tree branches are the most commonly used in this area.
The dowser, the individual seeking the buried water or minerals, holds the branch in front of his body with the sharpened end pointed forward. He walks back and forth over an area which he suspects holds water or minerals. The rod supposedly pulls or bends downward to indicate the underground “find.”
However, the slightest movement by the dowser will affect results.
The process of dowsing may have originated in Germany about the 15th century as a means to find buried minerals. It is recorded that in 1518 Martin Luther preached against dowsing as a violation of the First Commandment. In 1556, a detailed description of dowsing for metallic ores was included in “De Re Metallica” by Georgius Agricola.
Over the following two centuries, opinions of dowsing swung back and forth between endorsement of the practice to declarations of satanic movement of the rod. It is interesting to note that during the Vietnam War in the 1960s, U.S. Marines used dowsing to locate buried weapons and tunnels.
There is no hard evidence that dowsing works. Researchers have investigated both physical and geophysical explanations for dowsing abilities. Various “scientific” studies in both Europe and the United States suggest that the result of finding underground water or mineral resources is no better than chance.
Modern-day dowsers often use a pair of metal “L” shaped rods, or perhaps glass or plastic rods. An alternate form of dowsing can be a crystal or metal pendulum suspended from a chain. The movement of the pendulum is believed to indicate the presence of buried resources.
Submitted by Elaine Greek
Medical care during the Civil War was far below present day standards for medicine. Many doctors had only one year of medical school or they learned their craft by assisting an established physician. Surgeons apprenticed from one to five years with another surgeon to learn their skills as there were no anatomy or physiology textbooks in the early 19th century.
Young men who volunteered for service in either the Union or Confederate forces were often farm boys. These boys who had lived in relative isolation were now massed together in training camps with thousands of others. Due to the crowded conditions, bad food, and poor sanitation, many young men died before ever reaching a battlefield. For an army regiment of one thousand men, there was usually one doctor who had been appointed by the governor of the state represented by the young recruits. The doctor was assisted by an assistant, a medical undergraduate, and a steward who did the clerical work of keeping records, recording diagnoses and prescriptions, mixing the needed prescriptions, and then distributing the prescriptions to the men in camp. Many of the common drugs of the day were arsenic, laudanum, and emetics which are recognized as poisons today. It is recorded that 420,000 men died of disease and diarrhea during the War.
The Sigal Museum has arm splints made of wire and paper and a wooden traction leg splint on display in the special Civil War exhibit. These medical artifacts were the property of Surgeon Dr. Jacob Ludlow, a Lt. Colonel in the 1st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Family tradition says that Dr. Ludlow treated General Ulysses S. Grant after the Battle of Vicksburg. Mrs. David Ludlow is the donor of these items. In the permanent collection at the Museum, there is a surgeon’s case of varying size saws used for amputations. This case belonged to Dr. Jabez Gwinnup of Belvidere, NJ and was donated to the Sigal Museum by Samuel L. Beatty and Ralph Coopersmith.
Dr. Jonathan Letterman, a career (U.S.) Army surgeon serving since 1849, is recognized as the Father of Modern Battlefield Medicine. In 1862 following the Battle of Manassas (known as Bull Run in the North), Dr. Letterman revamped the Army Medical Corps. As head of Medical Services for the Army of the Potomac, he decreed that each soldier bathe once a week for fifteen minutes; fruits and vegetables must be added to the Army diet four times a week; and sanitary facilities must be improved in the camp sites. Dr. Letterman commandeered quartermaster wagons, used to haul ammunition and supplies, and outfitted them as ambulances for the wounded. He trained ambulance drivers and stretcher bearers. He established what is known today as Triage. Field Dressing or Aid Stations where wounds were bandaged and tourniquets applied were set up near a battlefield. The wounded were then sent to a Field Hospital, often a nearby house or barn, for emergency treatment or surgery (similar to today’s MASH unit.) Bullet wounds could be successfully treated and many soldiers returned to duty. Amputations of arms or legs were common. Wounds to the chest or head were beyond the skill of Civil War physicians. Large hospitals for long term care were established away from the battlefield.
Physicians from both sides treated both Union and Confederate wounded. Following a battle, surgeons would often share medications and supplies with their counterparts on the opposing side. In 1864, when General Ulysses S. Grant was appointed commander of the Union forces, he no longer permitted Union doctors to treat the Confederate wounded.
-Submitted by C.Elaine Greek
Jacob Haas and his dummy, “Little Master Bobby” are on display in the Civil War Gallery of the Sigal Museum at 342 Northampton Street. Jacob, son of Mary and Henry Haas, was an apprentice harness maker in Easton when he became interested in ventriloquism. This ancient art of throwing the voice dates from the 6th Century B. C. and earlier when the practice was common in religious rites and practices all over the world. During the 19thcentury, ventriloquism became a performance art in vaudeville. The expertise of the practitioner in not moving his mouth or his lips was more important than any humorous content of the material.
Jacob Haas became quite adept at throwing his voice. At the age of nineteen, Haas made his dummy “Master Bobby” and began entertaining locally. “Bobby”, made of papier mache and wood measuring between thirty-four and forty-two inches, fits the parameters for professional dummies of the period. Beginning in 1850, Haas took his “Bobby” show on the road for eleven years traveling through the New England and Middle Atlantic states.
Then in August 1862, Haas enlisted for nine months in the 129th Volunteer Infantry. He began keeping detailed diaries of his days as a soldier in the Civil War. He wrote of the cold and the hunger, the long marches, and the endless canteens of coffee. He chronicled the battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. He was discharged from the Army in Harrisburg in May 1863.
Within a few months in February 1864, Haas re-enlisted in the 51st Regiment, Company B, 9th Army Corps of Pennsylvania Volunteers. He fought in several major battles as the war wound down. In his diary, Haas noted the Confederate reconnaissance balloons observing the Union Army positions. He was present at Lee’s surrender at Appomattox and mustered out in Virginia on July 27, 1865.
Haas returned to Easton and resumed his ventriloquism career. His expense accounts indicate that in January of 1866, he returned to show business where he was known professionally as “Professor.” He performed with several different circuses traveling across the country to California and later to Canada.
When he could no longer travel, Haas returned to Easton and performed throughout the surrounding counties with his “talking dolls” and Punch and Judy show. His last public appearance was in Bangor, PA in 1908. Jacob Haas died on March 23, 1921 in Easton in his 89th year.
-Submitted by Elaine Greek