Visit Historic Places, help preserve History

Recently and article was posted on the Magical History Tour Facebook page about the decline in people visiting historic places. On the post there were several comments about the cost to visit many historic places. So I felt that it was time to research what places people could visit for free or at a low cost. Low cost sites we will consider any place where the adult price is less than $10 and the Child price is under $6. In the coming days, We will add sites in Ohio, West Virginia, and Maryland/DC areas.

Historic Moravian Bethlehem, Bethlehem PA – Historic Moravian Bethlehem features 18th century German Colonial architecture and many buildings preserved to look as they did centuries ago. There are many free events and you can visit all of the stores in the town. The town guided walking tour, apothecary tour and museum all require admission fees.

Valley Forge National Historic Park, Valley Forge, PA – Discover the place where George Washington and his troops camped during the brutal winter of 1777-1778. You can also explore cabins used by the soldiers, as well as Washington’s headquarters. You can bike, walk or ride horseback around designated areas in the park and attend special events such as storytelling and culture programs for free.

Fort Pitt Blockhouse, Pittsburgh PA – The Fort Pitt Blockhouse is the oldest standing building within the City of Pittsburgh, It is currently run by the Daughters of the American Revolution. The building itself is part of the original Fort Pitt and is inside Point State Park. Entry to the Blockhouse is free, donations are accepted.

Fort Pitt Museum, Pittsburgh PA – The Fort Pitt Museum is dedicated to the British and eventually United States fort at Fort Pitt. The Fort played and important role in the Fur Trade in the Ohio Country, the French and Indian War and Pontiac’s Rebellion. The Fort Pitt Museum is a low cost site.

Braddock’s Battlefield History Center, North Braddock PA – This museum, founded and opened by Mr. Robert T. Messner in 2012, is located on the original site of the Battle of the Monongahela. On July 9, 1755, French and Native American forces defeated British and American troops at the onset of the French and Indian War. Braddock’s Battlefield History Center is a low cost site.

Fort Necessity National Battlefield, Farmington PA – The battle at Fort Necessity in the summer of 1754 was the opening action of the French and Indian War. This war was a clash of British, French and American Indian cultures. It ended with the removal of French power from North America.

Historic Hanna’s Town – Established in 1773, Hanna’s Town was the site of the first seat of government for Westmoreland County and hosted the first English courts west of the Allegheny Mountains, signaling settlers foothold on the Pennsylvania frontier and the push to move west. The town was an oasis for travelers, settlers, and those seeking justice and order in the often chaotic environment of the western Pennsylvania frontier. Historic Hanna’s Town is a low cost site.

Old Bedford Village, Bedford PA – Old Bedford Village offers a rich variety of educational and entertainment activities. Visitors of all ages will enjoy our military and civilian re-enactments, colonial crafts, exhibits and instructions, festivals, murder/mystery evenings, old fashioned Christmas celebrations and more!  Old Bedford Village is a low cost Site.

Fort Bedford Museum, Bedford PA – For 57 years, the Museum displayed its entire collection as many museums once did: in rows of wood and glass cases. 
In 2015, the Bedford Heritage Trust began a five-year plan to renovate and update Fort Bedford’s exhibits, collections management practices, and educational programming. If you haven’t visited us lately, come see what we’ve done!! Two new interpretive exhibits—Becoming Bedford and Cave to Empire—are now open, and we’re planning a major celebration for 2018: the Museum’s 60th and original Fort’s 260th anniversaries! Fort Bedford Museum is a low cost site.

Gettysburg Military Park, Gettysburg PA – The site of the deadliest battle of the civil war. People may tour the battlefield and it’s monuments for free. There is a cost to enter the museum and view films. There are also varying costs for different sites and museums around the city of Gettysburg.

Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site, Philadelphia PA – The six years Edgar Allan Poe lived in Philadelphia were his happiest and most productive. Yet Poe also struggled with bad luck, personal demons and his wife’s illness. In Poe’s humble home, reflection the human spirit surmounting crushing obstacles, and celebrate Poe’s astonishing creativity. The Poe Historic site is free, and tours are free.

Independence Hall, Philadephia, PA – The building where the Declaration of Independence was approved and the U.S. took it’s stand against Great Britain. You can visit the hall for free, however, tickets and reservations are recommended . you can find ticket information on the website.

Pennsylvania State Museum, Harrisburg, PA – The State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, the official museum of the commonwealth, is a great place for exploration, fun, and discovery. The PA stat museum is a low cost site.

Brandywine Battlefield, Chadds Ford, PA – The Brandywine Battlefield is the site of the largest land battle of the American Revolution. You can walk the entire battlefield for free, there is a charge for the Museum.

Bushy Run Battlefield, Harrison City, PA – The 213 acres of forested and grassy areas that comprise Bushy Run Battlefield, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, can be viewed as one large historical entity. The events that transpired here in August 1763, during Pontiac’s War, forever set Bushy Run apart as a place of historical significance. The battle near Bushy Run and the events of Pontiac’s War leading to the battle add to the understanding of the Indian-European culture clash, which is an important theme in American history. Bushy Run is a Low Cost site.

Erie Maritime Museum, Erie PA – The Erie Maritime Museum is the home to the U.S. Flagship Niagara which won a decisive victory during the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812. The Erie Maritime Museum is a low cost site.

Drake Well Museum, Titusville, PA – Visit the Drake Well Museum and Park, home of the first oil well, the discovery of which changed the modern world. Drake Well Museum is a low cost site.

As a reminder, many of these sites offer Senior Citizens, Active Military and Veterans discounts. Check their websites to see what discounts are available.

In Flanders Fields – John McRae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Remember those who sacrificed to fight tyranny, fascism and genocide this day. Their sacrifice gives us the political strength that we hold dear.

The Yellow Creek Massacre

Yellow Creek is a tributary to the Ohio River in Hancock County, West Virginia, currently at the site of the Mountaineer Race Track and Gaming resort. On this land, a horrible massacre took place and those who perpetrated the massacre walked free and were even made out to be heroes to some.

On April 30, 1774, Daniel Greathouse, a settler living in the Ohio Country would lead a group of other white settlers to treachery against the family of a man known as “Chief Logan,” a man who was know as a friend to the white, English speaking settlers. The land where Greathouse had proclaimed his was in what is now the Northern panhandle of West Virginia, the Virginia Colony had claimed this area as Augusta County, Virginia, despite the fact that it was outside the proclamation zone set by King George. Greathouse and other white settlers in the area had heard rumors of an impending attack from “Indians,” fears based upon rumors circulated in the upper Ohio Valley and the hostile actions between settlers and Indians led Greathouse to gather other local settlers and plan an attack of their own.

Just across the Ohio River at the mouth of another creek there was a settlement of natives, these people were the relations of Chief Logan, and included members of the Mingo tribe as well as some Shawnee and other local tribes that had come to be a “family” by marriage, blood and friendship. The group lived peaceably near the shore of the Ohio river, collectively working the land, hunting and trading in the area.

Chief Logan – West Virginia Archives and History

On the day before the attack. Daniel Greathouse, his brother Jacob and another man, crossed the Ohio River to do some reconnaissance on the native settlement. The men found that the settlement was well defended and would have to devise another plan. The men chose to lure Logan’s family members across the river by promising a nice party with alcohol and games. The natives saw this as a friendly gesture and several of them chose to go across on the evening of April 30, 1774.

The natives were invited inside what was called Baker’s Tavern, food and drink were served. One of the native men had put on one of the settlers jackets in a way of joking, imitating the settlers. This seemed to be the spark that the settlers were looking for to light the fuse. The following statements were taken from men present at the Massacre, long after the incident.

” On the Town Fork of Yellow Creek, where the Indian town was, a small one; and they concluded to move Elsewhere down the river, stopped at Baker’s, drank. Mrs. Baker told Danl. Greathouse that a squaw told her (in a drunken fit) that the Indians intended to murder Baker’s family before leaving. Greathouse went & raised a party of abt. 30 men, George Cox, Edward King & others & went to Baker’s; there an Indian was drinking & strutting around in a military coat, some one shot him, & King then stabbed him while in the agonies of death, saying “Many a deer have I served in this way.” Then killed another Indian there; & two squaws the two latter shot by Danl. Greathouse & John Sappington. One of the squaws had a child, which was saved & sent to Col. Gibson as its father. Twelve Indians were killed in all. ”
Recollections of George Edgington

“Jos. Tomlinson said, that one of the Squaws was in the habit of crossing to Bakers to get milk, & Mrs. Baker was kind in giving her some for her 2 children. this squaw was Logan’s sister, & the father of her children was John Gibson. One day she said that the Indians were angry and would be over next day by a certain hour, & advised Mrs. Baker to move to Cat Fish’s camp (Washington PA): the next day several Indians came at the appointed time with their faces painted black; the men at the time were not in [the] house; the Indians went into Bakers, & without permission took liquor & drank, & also took what rifles there were there, & one put on Nathaniel Tomlinson’s military coat. After a little, Daniel Greathouse, Daniel Sappinton, & Nathl. Tomlinson, George Cox, & one other came in. Tomlinson wanted his regimental coat, which the Indian did not feel disposed to yield to its owner; & Tomlinson declared he would kill him, if he did not, & the probability is the Indians were indulged with more liquor. Cox was opposed to this summary course, said it would breed an Indian war, & that he would have no hand in it; & had not gone far in the woods [when he] heard firing at the house. Greathouse, Tomlinson & Sappington were all that were concerned in the affair. Baker had no hand in it, nor was he probably present. ” –
Information given to Dr. Draper by Michael Cresap, Jr.

The reality of what happened that night was nothing short of a modern horror story. Logan was away from the settlement on a hunting and trading trip with the Shawnee. Logan’s wife, Mellana, his brother Taylaynee, Taylaynee’s son Molnah, Taylaynee’s sister Koonay, who was the wife of English settler and trader John Gibson,were all at the camp, and accepted the invitation to come to Baker’s Tavern. All of the visitors were shot, and there bodies mutilated by Greathouse and his men. Jacob Greathouse ripped open Koonay’s abdomen and removed and scalped her unborn son. The only member of the first group who was not killed was Koonay’s two-year-old daughter who was eventually returned to the care of her father, John Gibson.

Logan, after the massacre of his family would state the following, which would come to be known as Logan’s Lament:

I appeal to any white man to say, if ever he entered Logan’s cabin hungry, and he gave him not meat; if ever he came cold and naked, and he clothed him not. During the course of the last long and bloody war, Logan remained idle in his cabin, an advocate for peace. Such was my love for the whites, that my countrymen pointed as they passed, and said, Logan is the friend of white men. I had even thought to have lived with you, but for the injuries of one man. Col. Cresap, the last spring, in cold blood, and unprovoked, murdered all the relations of Logan, not sparing even my women and children. There runs not a drop of my blood in the veins of any living creature. This called on me for revenge. I have sought it: I have killed many: I have fully glutted my vengeance. For my country, I rejoice at the beams of peace. But do not harbour a thought that mine is the joy of fear. Logan never felt fear. He will not turn on his heel to save his life. Who is there to mourn for Logan? Not one. “

Chief Logan – Explore PA History

You can find further statements on the history of the Yellow Creek Massacre at the following sites:

WV History and Culture

Greathouse Point

The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Special thanks to Alan Gutchess, Museum Director of the Fort Pitt Museum, who peaked my interest in this subject.

The Battle of Carlisle

On July 1, 1863, the first shots of the Battle of Gettysburg were fired. However, thirty miles north of Gettysburg, another battle was taking place. J.E.B Stuart and his cavalry forces had made his way to the north seeking supplies for his forces. On the evening of July 1st, Confederate troops led by Lt. Gen. Ewell arrived in Carlisle searching for supplies and food. Their plan was to stay in Carlisle overnight and continue towards Harrisburg the next day. The intent of Stuart and Ewell was to capture Harrisburg, this plan would change quickly once they received word of the conflict at Gettysburg.

On the evening of July 1st, Stuart and his Cavalry units arrived at Carlisle to accompany Ewell. The arrival of Stuart and Ewell, happened at the same time that General William “Baldy” Smith and 1,000 members of the Pennsylvania and New York militias were also occupying Carlisle. Stuart sent General Fitzhugh Lee to town to order the Union troops out as well as the women and children. Smith ordered the women and children out of the town, however, he and the union troops refused to leave. The Confederate horse artillery began to fire upon the town and continued to fire for over and hour. Stuart also ordered the burning of the Carlisle barracks. In the artillery shelling, several buildings were struck, but largely the city remained intact.

Many historians believe that the delay in the arrival of J.E.B, Stuart’s units heavily influenced the outcome of the battle of Gettysburg.

The Capture of New Orleans

At the onset of the Civil War, New Orleans was the largest city in the confederacy as well as a large inland port. New Orleans was the transfer point where products from Mississippi, Louisiana and other confederate states along the Mississippi river, the low draft river boats could transfer their stock to ocean going vessels for sales in Europe. The defenses for New Orleans were about 70 miles down river on opposite sides of the river named Fort Jackson and Fort Philip.

In what became a huge piece of the puzzle for General Winfield Scott’s “Anaconda Plan,” a naval blockade of the mouth of the Mississippi River and associated ports would begin. The next part of the plan was to take the Crescent City, Taking control of the Confederate’s biggest city and port. Public favor inside the city was likely more friendly to the Union, the residents of New Orleans wanted the city to remain a free city and stay outside of the conflict. Thomas Overton Moore, who was Governor at the time that Louisiana seceded held a closed meeting before the vote for secession, where only about 5% of the state was represented and in that meeting the decision to secede was made.

To capture New Orleans, General Scott felt that the Union would need a large flotilla of well armed boats and ships, Fort Jackson and Fort Philip stood in the way. The Union would deploy 17 Ships of war, as well as a number of Mortar Boats to take out the two forts and proceed up the river to capture New Orleans. On April 18, 1862, the Union Navy under the command of Flag Officer, Admiral David Farragut would begin a five day bombardment of the two forts, firing 16,800 shells and mortars upon them. After 5 days of bombardment, the forts had not fallen. With no clear end in site, Farragut order the naval crews to continue up stream to capture the city.

Admiral Farragut – History Central

The Confederate defense of New Orleans was under the command of Major General Mansfield Lovell. When Lovell heard that the Union Navy had moved past Fort Jackson and Fort Philip, he knew it was a matter of time before they arrived to take New Orleans. The protections that existed between the mouth of the Mississippi and the city were meant to stave off ground attacks, not a naval attack that could land soldiers directly at the port, very few of the gun batteries that were placed were in a position to fire upon the river. He had 3,000 militiamen to fight off ships, mortar boats and 5,000 Union Troops on the way under General Benjamin Butler. The Union ships would easily overrun the city since the river is higher than most of the city, the ships could easily fire anywhere in the town, or fire into a levee, breech and flood the city. Lovell had one choice, evacuate the troops and all military equipment from the city. Lovell sent the Confederate artillery as well as ammunition and other stores to Vicksburg, where he felt they would be safe. He had the militia burn all the store houses, the troops then departed by railroad to Camp Moore about 80 miles to the north.

New Orleans – Bangor Daily News

Farragut arrived at New Orleans with his ships several abreast occupying the river. At 2:00 p.m. on April 25 Farragut sent Captain Bailey, Commander of the USS Cayuga to accept the formal surrender of the city, angry mobs gathered to resist the Officers and Marines sent to take the surrender. The Mayor of New Orleans and General Lovell refused to surrender the city. Rather than destroy the city, Farragut moved his ships north to take out other Confederate defenses near the city. On April 9, Farragut sent 250 Marines to New Orleans city hall, to take the building, remove the Louisiana flag, and raise the stars and stripes . On May 1, 1862, General Benjamin Butler arrived with 5,000 men to begin occupation and military control of the city, the 5,000 troops met no resistance.


National Park Service:

Civil War Academy:

American Civil War:

History Central:

American Battlefield Trust:

The Ranger Sets Sail from Brest, France

On April 10, 1778, The USS Ranger set sail from Brest, France to begin a campaign of Naval Guerrilla Warfare against the British Navy. At the helm of the Ranger was Captain John Paul Jones a man who would become a legend of naval warfare and a star of the United States Navy. The Ranger was a ‘Sloop-of-War’ launched on May 10, 1777 with a large part of her 140 person crew being from Portsmouth and the Piscataqua River area. The ship carried 18 nine-pounder guns, had a 110 foot (33.5 meters) long, and a 78 foot (23.75 meter) keel (width). The Ranger was a square-rigged, three mast ship.

The Campaign that Captain Jones started would be a serious challenge for the British and would stoke claims of piracy against the American fleet for acting in “uncivilized warfare.” After just four days patrolling the Irish Sea, the Ranger captured it’s first British ship placing American officers in command and sending the ship back to France as a prize of war. On the 23rd of April, Jones and his crew raided the British port of Whitehaven, spiking the cannons at the two forts that protected the harbor, but failing to burn the ships there. The Ranger continued on towards St. Marie’s Island, Scotland to capture the Earl of Selkirk at his home, however, the Earl was not home. The crew captured silver and valuables at the Earl’s residence, including his wife’s teapot, with hot breakfast tea still in it.

Now knowing of the Ranger’s actions, several British vessels were dispatched to the Irish Sea to seek out Jones and his crew. On the sea near Carrickfergus, Ireland, Jones enticed the HMS Drake to come close, the Drake carried 14 guns. The drake sailed in against the wind and tide to capture the American vessel. A battle ensued that lasted nearly an hour, the HMS Drake struck her colors after the captain and first officer had been killed. After taking the Drake as a prize, the Ranger and her crew continued down the west coast of Ireland. Further down the coast, the two ships lay siege to a stock ship, capturing her and returning both captured prizes to Brest on May 8, 1778. The naval tactics employed by John Paul Jones, that began with this one month sail, made Jones both famous and infamous in the history of 18th century naval warfare.

Captain John Paul Jones

Major Martin Robinson Delany

Martin Delany is probably the most recognized name in the abolition movement in
Pittsburgh. He was born in Charles Town, Virginia (now part of West Virginia) the son of a slave and reportedly the grandson of a Prince, his grandparents were taken by slave traders and sold into slavery in the American colonies. Reports from some who researched his family history say, all of his grandparents had been brought over from Africa to be slaves, but his father’s father was by some accounts a village chieftain, and his mother’s father a Mandingo prince. Delany’s mother earned her freedom and worked as a seamstress in Virginia, his father was an enslaved carpenter. Denay’s mother Pati was determined to educate her five children so she taught the children in secret. When a local sheriff found out that Pati had been educating her African-American children, Pati chose to take the children and flee Virginia where educating African-Americans was illegal. The family settled in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania where Pati could teach her children without fear of prosecution in a free-state. Delany’s father, Samuel was able to purchase his freedom a year after the family had moved to Pennsylvania. Delany continued his education in Pennsylvania, alternating with work to help support his family.

Maj. Martin R. Delany – Encyclopedia Virginia

When Martin Delany was 19 years old, he walked from Chambersburg,
Pennsylvania to Pittsburgh (160 miles) seeking education. While in Pittsburgh, Delany became an active member of the Vigilance Committee, helping runaway slaves on their way to freedom. He also joined the integrated militia which protected African- Americans from white mobs that would roam about intimidating former slaves. He was welcomed into the home of John Vashon, a noted Pittsburgh Abolitionist and began his education at the African Education Society School. At the school, he met Reverend Lewis Woodson, who would take Delany under his wing and encouraged Delany’s movement towards Black Nationalism. While attending school, Delaney established the Theban Literary Society, the group was established for young African-American men to study and debate topics. With his education, Delaney had the desire to become a doctor. Delaney began to learn and practice medicine under the training of Dr. Joseph Gazzam and Dr. Francis LeMoyne.

After receiving a great deal of training from these two white abolitionist doctors, Delaney was accepted to Harvard Medical School, however, protests over his race by white students ended this opportunity quickly and Delany returned to Pittsburgh. Upon his return to Pittsburgh, Delany began producing a weekly abolitionist newspaper called The Mystery. It was the first abolitionist paper to be produced west of the Allegheny Mountains. After he reported on the Pittsburgh fire of 1845, Delany was sued for libel by an African American named Fiddler Johnson. Delany was found guilty of libel after reporting that Johnson was implicit in helping slave catchers in Pittsburgh. Delany’s colleagues in the abolitionist community and journalism profession helped pay the fine of $650, but the resulting damage meant Delany had to sell The Mystery sheet to the African Methodist Episcopal Church where it was published as the Christian Recorder. Shortly thereafter, Delany began to write for The North Star an Abolitionist Newspaper produced by Frederick Douglas. After the Fugitive Slave Act was passed in 1850, Delany began to spearhead a Black Nationalist Movement to seek out a new land for free former slaves to live and start a new life. This movement held a convention in Cleveland, Ohio in 1851 with 106 delegates from 11 states. In 1859, Delaney and others surveyed land from West Africa through the Niger Delta to find a suitable place to establish a new place for free blacks to emigrate. other than his newspaper reporting with the North Star, Delany also published several books including; The Origin and Objects of Ancient Freemasonry; Its Introduction into the United States and Legitimacy Among Colored Men and The Condition, Elevation, Emigration and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States Politically Considered which explored the topic of African-Americans returning to Africa.

Delany – Mason Report

Once the Civil War broke out, Delany had a renewed hope that all slaves would be freed. The United States Department of War issued General Order #143 on May 22, 1863, establishing the Bureau of Colored Troops.  Its purpose was to recruit colored soldiers to provide the Union Army with much needed additional manpower and to meet the demands of those who felt African Americans deserved the chance to fight in the Civil War.  Delany enlisted in the U.S. Army, he was immediately promoted to the rank of Major and assigned to recruitment of African-American soldiers. Delany became the first African-American officer commissioned by President Abraham Lincoln and the highest ranking African-American officer in the Union Army. The Emancipation Proclamation gave Delany hope that emigration might not be necessary, and he became active in promoting the use of African Americans in the Union Army .

In February 1865, Martin Delany met with President Abraham Lincoln at the Executive Mansion (Personal quarters of the White House). He proposed to the President to increase the number of African- American officers, especially in charge of African-American soldiers. Delany recognized that it was too early for an integrated Union Army, however, he proposed that “Colored Troops should be managed by colored officers”, much like the Irish Brigades and Zouave units had been commanded by people of their nationality. The president was agreeable and quite impressed by Delany, The president gave Delany letters to meet with Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton to further discuss increasing the numbers of U.S. Colored Troops and African-American officers to run those units. At the end of Delany and Lincoln’s meeting, the cannons in the capitol began firing in celebration. Union Troops had taken Charleston, SC. Lincoln’s letter to Stanton said:

Do not fail to have an interview with this most extraordinary and intelligent black man.”

A. Lincoln

After the war was over, Delany went to work for the Freedman’s Bureau, assuring adequate housing and working conditions for newly freed slaves. There he called for black pride, the enforcement of black civil rights and land for the freedpeople. Delany became active in local Republican politics, losing a close election for Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina but later serving briefly as a judge in Charleston, South Carolina. After failures in African-American voting rights and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in the reconstruction South, Delany again became a proponent of African-American emigration.

Martin Delany died of tuberculosis on January 24, 1885, in Wilberforce, Ohio. He became an inspiration for Civil Rights icons in the United States including Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. His writings are still studied in many colleges in universities today.