Wednesday, December 1, 2021

2021 Retrospective, 2022 Plans

As my longtime readers know, I wrap up the blogging year in December by looking back at the events and accomplishments of the previous year and talking about what I hope to do in the year ahead. I'm doing it a little earlier than usual for 2021, in part because my work schedule is very heavy; I'm in retail and I'm technically management, so I've been working more hours than usual due to the holidays. To be perfectly honest, I'm having trouble sometimes remembering what day it is! I also have a lot of pain at this time of year, due to my chronic health issues and the cold temperatures basically hating each other, and every opportunity to rest is needed. So rather than potentially mess up my update schedule, I've decided that I'll take the month of December off from blogging, and start fresh in 2022.

2022. That doesn't even sound like a real year, does it?

My final historical project for the year was to create a calendar of some of my favorite images that I've taken in the course of writing the blog. Some of them you might recognize, but others either haven't been shared yet or weren't part of the post about the subject. If you'd like to add some of Pennsylvania's beauty to your office or living space, the details are here.

What are some facts about MarkerQuest™?

Earlier this year I made the transition from blogging every other week to blogging every Wednesday. It wasn't a decision I made lightly, but there are so many markers that if I'm to have a prayer of getting through anywhere close to half of them, I needed to step up my game. The blog now has more than 100 posts, which means we've hit more than 100 markers (since some posts have multiple markers in them). It's a start!

I did get to travel a bit more in 2021 with the restrictions being reduced, so I introduced lots of new counties to the blog - Monroe, Luzerne, Northumberland, York, and Adams Counties all got their first posts. I was also able to add Erie and Beaver Counties, thanks to guest contributions; John Robinson, a retired member of the PHMC, and my own very distant cousin Ron Bauerle both sent me pictures of markers from the far side of the state. I don't know when I'd have been able to add those without their help and I'm very grateful. I also want to thank Mike Korb, who cordially invited me to Wilkes-Barre for the 150th anniversary of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, and Larry, from the For the Historian bookstore in Gettysburg. And as always, I continue to appreciate the support of the Historical Marker Database and the PHMC itself. I hope my kind friend Karen Galle is enjoying retirement.

In keeping with tradition, let's see what the most popular posts of this past year have been. Quakertown's Fries Rebellion of 1799 (Bucks County) spent more than two years as my most-read post of all time, but it has finally been edged out by the Moravian Cemetery in Bethlehem (Northampton County). But of the posts actually published in 2021, the ten biggest hits were:

    10) George Taylor, Lehigh and Northampton Counties
      9) Oley Moravians, Oley, Berks County
      8) York Liberty Bell, York, York County
      7) Colonel Jacob Stroud, Stroudsburg, Monroe County
      6) Mahanoy Plane, Frackville, Schuylkill County
      5) Casimir A. Sienkiewicz, Doylestown, Bucks County
      4) Ashland Boys' Association, Ashland, Schuylkill County
      3) Northkill Amish, Bernville, Berks County
      2) Little Lithuania, USA, Shenandoah, Schuylkill County
      1) Christ Little Tulpehocken Church, Bernville, Berks County

I know my friends in the Berks History Buffs are to be credited with the popularity of the Berks County posts! I also more recently became part of the Bucks County History Group, who have welcomed my posts very warmly, and I appreciate all of you in both groups. In total, the blog has received more than 42,000 hits, which is close to twice as many as I reported in last year's summation post.

The blog's Facebook page has 212 followers as of this writing, almost double the number at this time last year, including several historical groups. I'm a little overwhelmed.

What's coming up for MarkerQuest™?

I honestly don't know! These last two years have been so unpredictable that I'm almost afraid to guess. I do know that (at least as of right now) my beloved Zenkaikon is scheduled to return to in-person status in March of next year, so I'll be enjoying a few days in beautiful historic Lancaster. I would dearly love to be able to return to Adams County, because two days in Gettysburg were not nearly enough. I also have some hopes of day trips, but we'll see what the better weather holds.

I was able to promote the blog through the publication of Laury's Island: The Lehigh Valley's Forgotten Park, which came out a little over a year ago; the COVID situation meant that promotion had to be a bit on the quiet side, but the Barnes & Noble at the Lehigh Valley Mall very graciously hosted me in October for a book signing. My book is on the shelf in the local history section, and it feels as good as I always thought it would I've encountered a number of people on Facebook who - much to my delight - recognized my name and shared how much they and their families enjoyed the book, which means a lot to me. (I was especially gratified to be able to help one of Judge Laury's descendants work out her own exact connection to him, and she shared with me a photo of her father, who is the judge's spitting image.) And yes, there is another book in the works.

I will be appearing at the Moravian Bookshop in Bethlehem this coming Saturday, December 4th, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. I'll be signing copies of Pip the Mouse and His Magical Christmas, a children's book I coauthored a few years ago. The Moravian Bookshop is the oldest continually-operating bookstore in the United States, and one of the oldest in the world, and it's always a treat to be there. Unfortunately I'll need to leave for work as soon as the event is over, so I can't stay and talk to people; but if you're in downtown Bethlehem I'd love to say hello.

Whatever you celebrate, I hope it's peaceful, warm, and full of joy. I look forward to resuming my weekly posts in January, and wish everyone a Happy New Year.

To all of my readers, my supporters, and the friends which MarkerQuest™ has gained over the last three years - thank you for joining me on this adventure. It wouldn't be nearly as much fun without you and I hope you'll continue to be a part of the MarkerQuest™ crew in the coming year.

Except where indicated, all writing and photography on this blog is the intellectual property of Laura Klotz. This blog is written with permission of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. I am not employed by the PHMC. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Casimir A. Sienkiewicz, Doylestown, Bucks County

I intended to go to Lehigh County in this week's post, but while setting up my research I made a mildly embarrassing discovery. The marker I planned to cover is actually one of a pair, and I haven't 'caught' the second one yet. This will require another dual-county post to talk about them both, which is great - I love hitting two at once - but since I don't have that second one yet, it'll have to wait. It may have to wait until the new year; we shall see.

So instead, we'll take a trip back to scenic Doylestown, in Bucks County, and learn about a local Renaissance man. He had his fingers in a lot of pies - finance, military, transportation, and art.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Ingram-Richardson Manufacturing Co., Beaver Falls, Beaver County

As of this writing, there's a distinct possibility that we could see our first snowfall in the next several days. Other parts of the state have already seen snow. (Ever notice that snow is a four-letter word? I kind of want to censor it.) I'm not a Game of Thrones fan, but even I know that winter is coming, and I'm trying to prepare - in between retail shifts, of course.

This week's quest was supposed to have been Lehigh County, but I realized as I was preparing it that I was missing a necessary component. So I'm jumping ahead to the next one on my schedule.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

John Nelson, Lawrence Park, Erie County

This week is Veterans' Day, so I just want to briefly express my appreciation for all the members of our Armed Forces, past and present! Thank you for your service and courage.

This week's quest is brought to us thanks to another contribution from my distant cousin, Ron Bauerle, who kindly sent me the marker we're examining. Thanks once again, Ron! We're going to take a look at a union struggle in the McCarthy era and the way it impacted one man in particular.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Wilkes-Barre Fort, Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County

I can't believe it's already November! Only a handful more blog posts before I do my annual retrospective post and look ahead to 2022. Hopefully I have enough material to get me through the winter months, especially if the snow is heavy and I can't go looking for more, although it would be nice if I can manage one more marker collecting quest before the days get too cold.

This blog is sort of a cross between a hobby and a job. It's both and it's neither all at once. I take it very seriously, because much of my personal identity is bound up in being a writer; but at the same time, I can't take it too seriously or I'll never have any fun with it, and life has enough things in it that aren't fun without volunteering for more. 

(On that note, thank you for the kind remarks I received following last week's post, with regards to the passing of my dear friend Jessica. I am very appreciative of all my readers who reached out to offer their condolences; it meant a lot.)

Today's post is one of those with which I've had a bit of fun. The subject itself isn't particularly amusing or anything, but the wording of the marker kind of is. See, almost without fail, the wording of the historical markers is sensible and easy to understand; this is a good thing, because otherwise most people would ignore them more than they already do. But today's marker is a little different - I kept reading the text and just sort of blinking at it. Why would Pennsylvania have had a fort which protected the courthouse of a county in Connecticut? On what map does that make any kind of sense?

Well, as it turns out, there was once a series of minor wars between Pennsylvania and Connecticut. If this is the first you're hearing of such a thing, don't feel bad, because I never heard about it either.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Gen. James M. Gavin, Mount Carmel, Northumberland County

I hate to open a blog post on a down note, but here we are. This bit has nothing to do with Pennsylvania history, although it's tangentially related to my writing. Shortly after last week's blog post went live, I received the devastating news that my dear friend Jessica had died unexpectedly. We had been friends for more than twenty years; she was one of my most supportive readers of nearly anything I wrote, and also one of my most honest and trustworthy critics. I valued her opinion deeply. She was much too young and it was a terrible shock. It feels strange to be writing something that, for the first time ever, I know she won't read.

But I know she's still making music where she is now, and I also know she'd want me to keep making words. So this is for you, Jess, with thanks for all the love and encouragement.

This week the blog makes its first visit to Northumberland County. I managed to snag this on the way home from a recent trip to Knoebels Amusement Park with husband Kevin, who deliberately veered off course in order to venture into the borough of Mount Carmel so we could all learn about "Jumpin' Jim" Gavin.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Fort Hamilton, Stroudsburg, Monroe County

First, hello to anyone who is finding their way here for the first time after my book signing this past Saturday! Thank you very much to everyone who turned out to see me. I had a really good time and they're hoping I'll come back again - maybe with a new book. We'll see what shakes out in the coming months.

I'm trying to get a little ahead of myself (instead of constantly feeling like I'm running behind) because the winter holidays are approaching, and since I'm in retail, you can imagine that my free time tends to be at a bit of a premium. So I'm doing my best to create a little bit of wiggle room in terms of having blog posts ready to fire up on a Wednesday. For this week's quest, we're heading back up to lovely Monroe County to have a look at a colonial fort which isn't there anymore.