Harrisburg, PA – Chinese Workers in Beaver Falls, the first large workforce of Chinese in Pennsylvania; Dr. James Oscar Cooper, a founder of one of America’s first Black fraternities; Ephrata Female Composers, three women of a religious society who were among the first American women composers; and the classic Christmas song Winter Wonderland are among the subjects of the 23 new Pennsylvania Historical Markers approved by the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission (PHMC).
The new markers, selected from 39 applications, will be added to the nearly 2,300 familiar blue signs with gold lettering along roads throughout Pennsylvania.
Since 1946 PHMC’s Historical Markers have chronicled the people, places and events that have affected the lives of Pennsylvanians over the centuries. The signs feature subjects such as Native Americans and early settlers, government and politics, athletes, entertainers, artists, struggles for freedom and equality, factories and businesses, and a multitude of other noteworthy topics.
Nominations for Pennsylvania Historical Markers may be submitted by any individual or organization and are evaluated by a panel of independent experts from across the state and approved by the agency’s commissioners.
More information on the Pennsylvania Historical Marker Program, including application information, is available online at www.PAHistoricalMarkers.com.
The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission is the official history agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Learn more by visiting PHMC online or following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn.
The following is a list of the newly approved Pennsylvania Historical Markers with the name of the marker, location and a brief description:
Andy Warhol (1928-1987), Pittsburgh, Allegheny County
20th-century Pop artist from Pittsburgh. His iconic style is recognized worldwide. This unique style combined commercial images with fine art and has inspired numerous modern artists.
Anna Elizabeth Dickinson (1842-1932), Philadelphia
Quaker abolitionist and women’s rights advocate. She was an eloquent and highly paid public speaker, making her one of the most recognized American women of her time. She began public speaking at age 13 and was the first woman to address Congress in 1864.
Anna Morris Holstein (1900- 1975), Upper Merion Twp., Montgomery County
Holstein was the lead organizer in acquiring and restoring Washington’s Headquarters and its surrounding acreage and in the establishment of Valley Forge as a State Park (eventually a National Military Park).
Charlotte Elizabeth Battles (1864- 1952), Girard, Erie County
Battles defied late-19th- and early-20th-century gender roles by becoming a college graduate and a female bank president. Her most significant role as bank president was her refusal to close the Battles Bank during the Great Depression despite President Roosevelt’s Bank Holiday order for the closure of all banks in 1933. It was described as the only bank in the state and one of few in the nation to remain open and solvent.
Chinese Workers in Beaver Falls, Beaver Falls, Beaver County
The first substantial workforce of Chinese immigrants in Pennsylvania came to Beaver Falls in 1872. The workers were recruited to the Beaver Falls Cutlery Factory to replace white laborers on strike. They remained for several years learning specialized skills and assuring profitability for the company because of their reduced wages. Across the nation, other American labor unions and politicians felt these Chinese workers were a threat and advocated for the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, which remained in effect until 1943.
Dr. Oscar James Cooper (1888- 1972), Philadelphia
One of the founders of Omega Psi Phi (OPP) at Howard University, the nation’s first fraternity established at a historically Black college or university. Following graduation, Cooper became a physician and settled in Philadelphia where he spent his entire career. He continued his role as a founder of many influential organizations including the Philadelphia Chapter of OPP, was a charter member of the Pyramid Club, and supported many Black charities.
Earl “Fatha” Hines (1903- 1983), Duquesne, Allegheny County
Revolutionary jazz pianist who got his start in Pittsburgh. While there he became the first African American on a radio broadcast. He influenced many other jazz greats, and his band launched the careers of Billy Eckstein, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Nat King Cole and others. He was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame in 1980.
Ephrata Female Composers, Ephrata, Lancaster
Three members of the Ephrata Cloister religious community were among the earliest documented woman composers in America. Recent research determined that the women not only wrote hymn texts but also composed the music. Ephrata’s society allowed for more gender equality than American society at large. Ephrata Cloister is a PHMC historic site and PHMC supports the installation of the marker.
Gen. Lyman Louis Lemnitzer (1899-1988), Honesdale, Wayne County
Lemnitzer had a long and storied military career that culminated in his role as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and supreme Allied commander of NATO in the 1960s during the height of Cold War alliances. Following two tours in the Philippines and roles as military instructor, Lemnitzer was instrumental in the North African theater during World War II. When the US entered the Korean War, Lemnitzer, at 51, underwent jump training in order to command an airborne division.
George Alexander Spratt (1870- 1934), West Brandywine Township, Chester County
Early aviation design pioneer whose research was instrumental in the Wright brothers’ first flight. He performed countless experiments to understand the forces that would keep aircraft aloft. His innovative use of a wind tunnel led to greater understanding of the effect of lift, drag, and the center of pressure on a curved wing.
Lancaster Caramel Company, Lancaster, Lancaster County
Milton Hershey’s first successful company (1886) that dominated the United States confectionery market. Hershey started a chocolate company as a subsidiary of the caramel company. In 1900, believing caramel was a vanishing fad and greater fortune was in the chocolate market, he sold the caramel company to the American Caramel Co. for $1 million. He retained the chocolate business that grew into the most successful chocolate company in America.
Mary Ella Roberts Rinehart (1876- 1958), Pittsburgh, Allegheny County
American mystery writer often compared to Agatha Christie although she predated her. She was a best-selling author of more than 30 novels, short stories, essays and plays. Many of her works were adapted for stage or screen. She also served as a war correspondent during World War I.
McFate Archaeological Site, Cochranton, Crawford County
In a 1938 Works Progress Administration project, archaeologists unearthed a series of overlapping palisaded settlements dating to the Late Woodland Period (1200-1500 AD). The distinctive pottery designs made with wrapped cords found here have been termed “McFate Incised.”
Mead Island Tradition, Conewango Township, Warren County
First discovered in 1964, it is considered an archaeological “Type Site” because of the unique characteristics not previously found in other excavations of the region. Mead Island was the dominant Native American culture within the middle Allegheny River between 960 and 1360 AD.
Out of This Furnace, Braddock, Allegheny County
Novel by Braddock native Thomas Bell describing three generations of a family’s experience working in the steel industry. It is widely used at colleges and universities worldwide as a text relating to labor, immigration and ethnic studies.
Pittsburgh Chinatown, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County
Established as early as the 1870s, Chinatown was the cultural and economic center of the Chinese community in western Pennsylvania that served Chinese populations in New York, Ohio and West Virginia. The growth of the community was suppressed by political and labor efforts leading to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. The community was destroyed by the construction of the Boulevard of the Allies in the 1920s and its residents and businesses were displaced. Remnants remained until 1959.
Richard Schlegel (1927- 2006), Harrisburg, Dauphin County
Early gay activist who brought the second case in the nation before the US Supreme Court that dealt with employment termination due to sexual orientation. He also formed the first gay rights organization chapter (Janus) in central Pennsylvania.
Rolling Mill Mine Disaster, Johnstown, Cambria County
Explosion at the bituminous coal mine owned by the Cambria Iron Co. in 1902. It is cited as one of several in the first decade of the 1900s – the deadliest in the history of US mining – that contributed to the establishment of the Pennsylvania Department of Mines. The 112 miners who died were nearly all immigrants from eastern Europe.
Shapp Administration LGBT Initiatives, Harrisburg, Dauphin County
During Gov. Milton Shapp’s administration several significant strides were made for gay civil rights. In 1975 an executive order prohibited job discrimination for state employees based on sexual orientation, making Pennsylvania the first state in the nation to provide such protections. In 1978 its scope was interpreted to include transgender people, another national first. The Pennsylvania Council for Sexual Minorities (1976) became the first government body devoted to LGBT Affairs.
Siberian Iron Works, Leechburg, Armstrong County
Constructed in 1872, it was one of the earliest foundries in the US to produce black plate and tin plate on an industrial scale. It was founded in response to tariffs imposed on foreign tin plate, primarily obtained from England, in order to meet the demand for the product at a more reasonable price. By 1895 domestic tinplate outpaced foreign 5 to 1 providing many new jobs and a wave of British immigration.
Stan Musial (1920-2013), Donora, Washington County
Considered one of the best baseball players of all time, Musial began playing on the local Donora Zincs baseball team while in high school against adult men. Drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1941 and remaining through 1963, he became one of the best hitters in Major League Baseball. He is a member of both the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame.
Winter Wonderland, Honesdale, Wayne County
Classic Christmas song written by lyricist and Pennsylvania native Richard Smith. Smith wrote the words while convalescing in a tuberculosis sanatorium outside Scranton and was inspired by the winter scenes he observed out his window. Tragically, Smith succumbed to the deadly disease at the age of 34.
Wyck House and Rose Garden, Philadelphia
A National Historic Landmark, Wyck served as the ancestral home of one of Philadelphia’s leading families from 1690 to 1972 before being taken over by the Wyck Association and opened to the public in 1974. Originally constructed in 1690, the house was renovated by renowned architect William Strickland in 1824 and has undergone few changes since that period. Wyck is significant for its gardens, especially the rose garden that retains heirloom plants in their original plan. Many of the varieties exist only at Wyck or have been the source of plant material to other historic properties, such as Monticello.