The Perry Historians is pleased to announce the release of their latest publication.
African Americans in Perry County (Pennsylvania): 1820-1925
by Janet Taylor
A book signing and presentation will be held at the Harry Lenig
Library, the home of The Perry Historians on Sunday, August 12, 2012 at 2:00
p.m. in the Hoverter Archives. Light refreshments will be served following
The book is the result of research performed by Ms. Taylor funded by a
Preserve America Grant, administered under the Preserving African American
Heritage in Pennsylvania program of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum
Commission (PHMC). The PHMC grants are financed by the National Park
Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. The grant was written by the
Historians' secretary Jean Tuzinski, who also assisted in the editing of the
book. Editor, Jerry Clouse, also provided an introduction to the book.
Ms. Taylor's book is broken down by topical chapters that chronicle the
history of African Americans within the bounds of the county from the early
settlement era through the county's formation and the Civil War period to
the post World War I era. The end point of the study corresponds with the
First Great Migration when millions of rural African Americans poured into
the industrial centers of the North, and locally Blacks migrated to larger
towns such as Carlisle and Harrisburg where there were better job
opportunities as well as more social and religious organizations open to
The previous historiography of the county's African American history is
generally one of meagerness, and Ms. Taylor's book helps to fill that void.
Much of her information was gleaned from documents housed in The Perry
Historians' library holdings. The book is broken into topical chapters,
which deal with broad areas such as slavery and the Underground Railroad,
but it also gives detailed accounts of particular county incidents, which
define the dichotomy of feelings within the county's populace. There was
always that tension between pro-slavery supporters and those who favored its
abolition. Likewise, in the post-Civil War period some county folk
supported the growth of African American autonomy while others joined the Ku
Klux Klan in an effort to thwart their freedom.
One of the book's chapters focuses on Little Washington, a small hamlet
just northwest of Millerstown. George Washington appears to have been the
first African American to own land in this area, but it is Reverend Joshua
Thomas who gave the village the distinction of having its own religious
institution, an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. "Brother Joshua"
traveled throughout the state preaching the gospel and soliciting funds for
the church at Little Washington.
Ms. Taylor, a resident of Carlisle, is the widow of the late Lt. Col.
William E. Taylor. They wanted to retire close to a military institution
and be close to their children and grandchildren who reside in Perry County.
Whether she lived in Europe or in the United States, Taylor has always had
an interest in history. She is currently researching historic roads and log
structures in Perry County.
The products of this Preserve America Grant also included a PowerPoint
presentation, designed and edited by Jean Tuzinski, and a driving tour
produced by Steve Metzger. The Perry Historians will be donating copies of
the book to the four public libraries and the four high school libraries
within Perry County.
The book has been printed in both soft-bound and hard-bound editions.
To purchase a copy or copies, please drop by The Perry Historians / Harry
Lenig Library on days when we are open to the public or you can mail your
request to purchase. You can also contact The Perry Historians via e-mail
for purchase information using staff@ThePerryHistorians.com.
The Perry Historians / Harry Lenig Library's physical address is: 763 Dix Hill Rd., New Bloomfield, Perry Co., PA 17068.
Directions: The Harry Lenig Library is located at the intersection of Rte. 34 and Dix Hill Rd.
From New Bloomfield - on right hand side - 2 miles from square on Rte. 34 North
From Newport - on left hand side - 4 miles from Newport on Rte. 34 South
The Perry Historans / Harry Lenig Library's mailing address is: PO Box 73, Newport, PA. 17074-0073
The Perry Historians website: www.ThePerryHistorians.org