Week 10 LCHS

This week at the Luzerne County Historical Society I unfortunately did not have a new assignment, so I was back to inventorying the Welles collection. Some things I came across in the collection were interesting, such as paper money that represented 25 cents, 15 cents, etc. The paper money sparked my interest because it was paper money, not coins identical to what we have today. Also, what was unique about the paper money was the different colors and designs on them. One 25 cent bill had a bright orange and yellow colors on it and an elegant design. Another interesting objects I came across were vintage gift tags from the 1800s. Some were with people, men, women and children or them individually, and others had flowers or birds. The flower and bird gift tags were charming and had nice colors.

In the past few weeks, I had the opportunity to interview the individuals from the historical society on their positions and gain more insight into the organization and their specific careers. I had an interview with the librarian and archivist of the Luzerne County Historical Society, who shared information about the process to get to where she is now. She informed me that there were specific tests she had to take. For instance, a test the librarian/archivist had to take was the Civil Service exam. She discussed with me that it is an exam in order to work for the state. Additionally, she advised me that for jobs in this career to check the state website first before anything else. She said that the state website is simpler than other ways to locate a position that I am looking for.

Another individual I had the opportunity to interview is the Executive Director of the Luzerne County Historical Society. She discussed with me her history that led up to her position here and it was quite interesting. She has a bachelor’s degree in history, one master’s degree in history, one doctorate degree in history (both the master’s and doctorate are with specializations), and now is working on her second master’s degree in business. She is well-educated in history and now business which is obviously well-suited for the position she is in. She worked at various small and large historical societies and museums. Thus, she advised me to decide whether I would want to work at a small or large society or museum. Making the decision to work at a small or large location is important because in a small location an individual would have more responsibilities in contrast to a larger one. In all, I am very grateful for both the librarian/archivist and the executive director willingly assisting me in my path towards a career choice.

Week 9 LCHS

This week at the Luzerne County Historical Society, I was assigned something new to do. I was assigned to go through the Luzerne County Historical Society’s Vulcan Iron Works collection. In the collection, I had to locate anything that would be useful for a research request. The specific individual was looking for information pertaining to a gentleman named Theodile Guibar, an inventor from Belgium. Theodile Guibar made many fans and other ventilators that the Vulcan Iron Works used in their locomotives in the late 1800s to early 1900s. The individual was looking for any letters between Theodile Guibar and engineers who worked for Vulcan Iron Works or any other documents mentioning him. Unfortunately, there were no letters between an engineer and Theodile Guibar or documents that mentioned his name. Many of the documents and books in the Luzerne County Historical Society’s collection consisted of sales records, books with records of executive meetings, inspection records, and any information related to the locomotives. Even though I could not assist the individual with any documents that had his name or letters, the archivist/librarian at the Luzerne County Historical Society stated that she would refer him or her to another historical society that has a Vulcan Iron Works collection.

During the few days I researched that collection, I came across some interesting information about the location. The Vulcan Iron Works was founded in 1849 by an individual named Richard Jones. Richard Jones was an engineer whose focus was to build iron machinery for mines. Before he founded the Vulcan Iron Works, Jones was an employee of another company named Riddle, Chambers, & Company. Subsequently, The Riddle, Chambers, & Company went bankrupt because of a depression in the early 1840s. The rising demand of the mining industry in the 1800s made the Vulcan Iron Works a financially successful company. The 1870s primarily was the pinnacle point of the Vulcan Iron Works’ financial success. One way this occurred was by the demand of machinery that made vertical shafts in mines. Thus, Vulcan Iron Works’ hoisting engines, elevator cages, and related items were in great demand.

In all, this assignment reminded me of the Luzerne County Historical Society’s willingness to assist an individual in his or her research project in any way they can. Also, the assignment was another way to utilize previous archival skills I learned from my last internship, which is great. I am excited to find out what new assignments I may acquire next week.

LCHS Week 8

       Similarly to my post last week, I came across another booklet recently concerning mineralogy that I found interesting to read. The booklet is an excerpt of the journal named The American Journal of Science and the article is titled “On Bixbyite, A New Mineral, and Notes on the Associated Topaz”. The article was written by S. I. Penfield and H. W. Foote, regarding Bixbyite and Topaz, minerals that Maynard Bixby discovered. Penfield and Foote discuss the physical features of bixbyite, the hardness of it, and the different mathematics to studying the mineral. Additionally, Penfield and Foote explore the method they used to analyze the mineral. Penfield and Foote laid out the procedure of the chemistry used, such as a thallium-silver nitrate mixture, and the addition of other chemicals, such as chlorine, in order to conclude that the mineral can dissolve; even though the mineral’s hardness is high (6-6.5). Furthermore, Penfield and Foote go on to discuss the other mineral, topaz. During their analysis, Penfield and Foote state that some topaz minerals can be over four centimeters long and can be either transparent, white, or a light wine color. Towards the end of the article, Penfield and Foote continue to discuss the chemistry behind their study of topaz.

I found this booklet to be quite interesting. I found it neat that there is a mineral named after Maynard Bixby. I would estimate that if a mineralogist found a new mineral and had it named after the individual, it would be quite rewarding. I think it would be rewarding to the individual because all of their hard work and determination paid off. However, I was not keen on all of the chemistry behind it, only due to my disinterest in the chemical components of a mineral and the chemical procedures. In all the discovery was a fascinating find and I learned a lot about these two minerals that I have not heard of previously.

Week 7 LCHS

It is almost the end of October and I have continued cataloging artifacts from the Welles Collection at the museum. Notably, I came across a small booklet that I feel anyone, especially mineralogists, would find interesting. The short, small booklet written by Maynard Bixby, one of Edward Welles’ cousins, contains information about certain minerals located in Utah and various localities. Maynard Bixby was born in Wyalusing, PA in 1853. His parents were George Bixby and Jane Welles; he was the eldest out of three children. He graduated from Lafayette College in 1876 and moved to Wilkes-Barre with his wife. Shortly after, Maynard became a bookkeeper and studied law. After some time being a bookkeeper, Maynard traveled around the US and worked in some mines. During that time, he was exposed to the vast number of minerals in different mines and locations.

Thus, in Maynard Bixby’s small booklet, he mentions one mineral named Topaz. He discovered topaz in Juab County, around the Thomas Mountain locality (nine miles north from the Detroit District). In the booklet, it describes the physical description of the mineral, as well as discussing the proper way to extract the mineral from the hillside and small gorges filled with sand. Furthermore, there were two minerals in the booklet that I found interesting, Tiemannite and Onofrite, located in the locality of Marysvale, in Piute County, Utah. Maynard Bixby wrote that Tiemannite could only be formed in Marysvale. This is not true, however, because there are records of Tiemannite located in Mexico. Nonetheless, Bixby did not state the reason to its location only in Marysvale. It is possible that the reason is because of the environment and or the components of the mineral. Two components of Tiemannite are mercury and selenide, HgSe. According to Bixby, he approximated that the largest recorded Tiemannite was one fourth of an inch. The other mineral, Onofrite, is described by Bixby as a mineral that is no longer available in Marysvale and is of no value.

I did some research on Onofrite and the mineral is quite unique. Onofrite is a mix of three chemicals: mercury, sulfur, and selenium. These three minerals form a slight metallic mineral with clusters of maroon and burgundy. Onofrite is a variation of the mineral, Metacinnabar, a HgS mineral that is malleable. Bixby stated in his booklet that the mineral can not be found in the Marysvale locality. However, I discovered that the mineral is located around the area. Overall, I am glad I came across this artifact in the collection because I had the opportunity to learn about exceptional minerals in the US.

The image can be found in Google images.

Week 6 LCHS

I am still cataloging the Welles collection here at the Luzerne County Historical Society. This week, I came upon interesting information concerning to the Hollenback family, particularly Matthias Hollenback. Matthias Hollenback, born in 1752 and died in 1829, was the great-uncle of Stella (Hollenback) Welles. There is a document in the collection, written by one of Hollenback’s nieces or nephews, about the life of Matthias Hollenback. The document discusses about Hollenback’s time in the army, his settlement in Wilkes-Barre and his experience of the Wyoming Massacre. Hollenback came to the Wyoming Valley from Lebanon county in 1769, when he was a teenager. He became a merchant shortly after and settled in Wilkes-Barre around the public square. There Hollenback built his store that sold necessities, such as groceries and a home above it. The building was burned down shortly after the Wyoming Massacre. Afterwards, Hollenback would travel out of Pennsylvania and settle in other places. However, after a short time he missed the Wyoming Valley and returned.

Throughout most of his life, Matthias Hollenback had many encounters with Native Americans, some of the accounts unpleasant and others not. For instance, Hollenback discussed the events after the Wyoming Massacre and notes that while he was fleeing the battle, the Indians located him in the river and tried to kill him. Additionally, Hollenback came across Indians who robbed many individuals in the Wyoming Valley and attempted to stop them. On the other hand, Hollenback spoke of an instance at Seneca Lake, New York, where an experience with the Indians ended positively. Hollenback went to New York to establish a small number of stores near Seneca Lake and trade with the Indians. One day Hollenback and a group of other men went to Seneca Lake to make a trade for goods, however the Indians assumed that they planned to steal their land. Thus, the Indians took them prisoner and inspected their saddles. Hollenback stated that the Indians would have killed them if one of them had a compass. I thought this was interesting because I do not understand why the Indians would kill them for a compass. Nevertheless, Hollenback and the other men were let go after he explained to the Indian chief their peaceful intentions, which led to a fur-trade agreement. I am glad I came across this document because of its interesting account on the Wyoming Massacre and the quarrel with the Indians.

Week 5 LCHS

I am half way through the Welles Collection at the Luzerne County Historical Society. I have seen many interesting personal objects the Welles owned and many documents pertaining to each individual thus far. This week I came across an interesting document that was Edward Welles’ passport. The passport was only a folded up document that listed Edward Welles’ height, eye color, etc. and requesting that any location Edward Welles travels to provides him with safe passage. The document is interesting to me because it is extremely different than a passport today. A passport today is a small booklet containing an image of the individual, their date of birth, nationality, and sex, as well as other important information pertaining to the passport. Furthermore, the passport has American symbols on it such as the bald eagle and American flag, and the start of the Declaration of Independence. Edward Welles’ passport did not have an image of the American flag; there was only an image of a Roman woman in classical attire leaning on a pillar and a stone wall with a shield leaning on it.  I understand that Edward Welles passport would have details of his physical features because of the lack of photography. However, I think it is interesting to compare Edward Welles’ passport to a fairly recent one in order to identify similarities and differences.

Since I finished inventorying the boxes that held objects and documents of the Welles, I started inventorying objects and documents in the first filling cabinet. I have come across interesting information about the Alexander family. The Alexander family were friends with the Welles, and have an interesting family history. The Alexander family came originally from a noble family in England, starting with an individual named Andrew, the son of Archibald Alexander of Ballybigley. Andrew of Ballybigley purchased the estate of Crew from a parish in Ireland and raised a large family. Andrew’s son, Thomas, emigrated to America, where his family would be a part of many events in early America. For instance, Andrew’s descendants took part in the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Additionally, Emily Alexander, one individual from the Alexander family, was related to Captain William Burritt. Captain William Burritt worked alongside George Washington and a member of the Order of the Cincinnati. In conclusion, I am looking forward to learning more about the Welles and their collection of objects from other prominent families in Wilkes-Barre, PA.

Week 4 LCHS

This week, I continued filling out the inventory for the Welles Collection at the Luzerne County Historical Society. During that time, I came upon some interesting information about Edward and Stella (Hollenback) Welles’ son, Edward Welles Jr., Edward Welles’ cousin Alexander Baird, and an achievement of Edward Welles. I came across information on Edward Welles Jr. in a document discussing the struggle with his health. Edward Welles Jr. suffered from digestive problems that doctors believed could have been prevented. Throughout Edward Welles Jr.’s first year to adolescence he would refuse to eat healthy and only eat non-nutritive foods. As a result, Edward Welles Jr.  suffered from harsh stomach aches and malnutrition. Edward Welles Jr.’s decisions were influenced by the decisions of his family. His father and his brothers also suffered from stomach disorders that many individuals today recognize as the result of an irregular diet. Most foods the Welles family consumed were made with pork fat, foods with high amounts of starch, and fried foods. However, not all of Edward Welles Jr.’s health problems were due to poor diet decisions; he also suffered from eczema. He suffered with eczema throughout his life because he inherited it from his father.

Another interesting artifact I came across was a group of letters written by Edward Welles’ cousin, Alexander Baird, during the Civil War and a document validating his service in the Confederate army. There is a small folder containing several pages of letters Alexander Baird wrote to his mother during his time at different camps and after battles. For instance, there is a letter Alexander Baird wrote after the aftermath of the Battle of Fredericksburg. Baird states that at least 5000 Union soldiers were captured during the battle and praises General Robert E. Lee for his ability to foil the Union army’s plan of attack. Lastly,  I came across a small pamphlet concerning Edward Welles’ retirement. The pamphlet was created by directors and other officials at the People’s Bank located in Wilkes-Barre, and states that they acknowledge Edward Welles’ retirement, congratulate him, and wish him the best. Next week I will continue to process this collection and hope to discover more interesting things about the Welles.

Week 3 LCHS

Amber Kelley, Anthracite History Museum, 2017This past week at the Luzerne County Historical Society, I worked on inventorying some more objects from the Welles Collection. I came across many nice photographs of individuals who had relations to the Welles or photographs of the Welles. Also, I found something interesting about the way individuals addressed Edward Welles in a letter. The individual who wrote a letter to Edward Welles started with “Bro,…”. I found this interesting because I did not think that individuals at that time used informal language when writing to someone. The Welles family always wrote formally to family members, as well as to acquaintances. The notion of individuals writing only formally at that time is why the informal language in that letter surprised me.

Another interesting object I came across during the week was a small booklet titled “Sayings of Edward Welles Jr.” This booklet held a small collection of things or sayings that Edward Welles Jr. did or said. For instance, there was an instance where Edward Welles Jr.’s grandfather visited them. When the grandfather was leaving, Edward Welles Jr. did not want him to leave, so he tried to take his grandfather’s satchel. Once he attempted to take his grandfather’s satchel, Edward Welles Jr. said “Don’t go Grandpa, I got to stay here, you stay here.” When I read this, I thought what Edward Welles Jr. did and said to his Grandfather was cute. I am not surprised that Edward Welles Jr. did this to his grandfather because I have seen letters he would write to his grandfather at a very young age that he missed him.

During my time inventorying some of the collection, I came across the Wilkes-Barre record of Stella Welles’ death in 1947. The document lays out many activities where Stella Welles was a participant. For instance, she was a part of the YMCA board. I thought it is interesting that she was a board member of the YMCA because of the name Young Men’s Christian Association. I just assumed that the board consisted only of men during the late 1800s to early 1900s.  This is good to know that women could be a part of the YMCA at that time. Anyhow, I enjoyed my week at the Luzerne County Historical Society and I excited to find more intriguing objects from the Welles collection.

Week 2 LCHS

Amber Kelley, Anthracite History Museum, 2017This past week at the Luzerne County Historical Society I continued working on the inventory of the Welles collection donation. Through one of the boxes I came across this week, I found some interesting material related to a flood along the Susquehanna River. The flood occurred in May of 1909 where many locations along the river, including Wilkes-Barre, were flooded. The flood was recorded as minor, but there was a significant amount of damage in the city. Additionally, the death toll of this flood was 11. The Welles Collection held one newspaper article and two small books on the topic, as well as a record of Virginia A. Welles’ experience of the event. It was difficult to uncover her experiences of the event, however, because of the evanescent ink.  The two small books pertaining to the event held many photographs of definitive locations in Wilkes-Barre that were flooded and showcased many damaged objects. Additionally, the photographs show the individuals who were helping rescue others. Finding these objects in the Welles collection reminds me of the Hurricanes that have recently hit the Caribbean Islands, Hurricane Harvey striking Texas and Oklahoma, and Hurricane Irma’s wrath on Florida. My heart goes out to every one affected by the storms who have lost personal belongs, their homes, and or loved ones. I wish the best for them moving forwards having to start at scratch and or any other personal matter.

During my time inventorying the Welles Collection, I came across some objects pertaining to the Battle of Wyoming, also known as the Wyoming Massacre. In the collection, there is a small pamphlet announcing the first commemoration of the Wyoming Massacre. The commemoration of the horrible event in Pennsylvania’s history was through a reenactment of the third day of July, 1778. On that fateful day, approximately 360 people, consisting of men, women, and children, lost their lives. Others that escaped the attack eluded it only to die later on, either from starvation, wounds, or exposure to the environment. Likewise, I came across a book about the event as well. In the book, there is a plethora of interesting information pertaining to the event and a map of the areas American settlers stayed at in present day Wilkes-Barre, Forty Fort, etc.

I am looking forward to continue working on the inventory of the Welles Collection because I’ve found several objects that hold interesting information about Pennsylvania’s history. Not only am I interested in learning more about Pennsylvania’s history through this project, I am excited to find out any information pertaining to the Welles family. At this time, I have not come across anything that has caught my eye, but I hope something will next week.

Week 1 LCHS

Amber Kelley, Anthracite History Museum, 2017It is my first week here at the Luzerne Historical Society. This week the archivist/librarian took me on a tour around the Luzerne Historical Society’s archive/library building. She showed be the numerous areas where there are many shelves of archival material, including objects that either have not been inventoried yet or have but are too large for archival boxes. After that tour, I went over to the society’s museum and one of the full time employees took me on a tour. On the tour, there were numerous areas of objects, such as clothing from numerous decades, antique military helmets, etc. One interesting object I found on the tour was a container that held a hat from the 1920s. The employee informed me that this specific hat had traveled around the world in the 1920s. I thought that was pretty amazing.

During this week, I had the opportunity to help the Luzerne Historical Society put up an exhibit on the Agnus flood of 1972. I helped another employee place some of the framed pictures on the walls. The unveiling of the exhibit to the public was this past Friday, so I came to the event to help them out. It was interesting seeing people from the public come and listening to their memories of the flood. Additionally, the unveiling of the exhibit was featured on Fox News and some of the employees from the Luzerne Historical Society were interviewed. If you are interested in watching that, you can find the video on Fox’s website.

Lastly, my first project is composing an inventory of the Welles collection. The Welles Collection is an assortment of object such as photographs, deeds and other documents, etc. The Welles were a large, wealthy family who resided in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Many of the objects I have come across so far belonged to Edward Welles Sr. who was active in many parts of Wilkes-Barre. For instance, he was the director of the Second National Bank for eight years and then made director of People’s National Bank. Edward Welles Sr. was a part of other companies such as the Hollenback Coal Company as well. I will be working on this project for quite some time during this internship and I am excited to discover more interesting facts about this family.

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