Pennsbury Garden Features Rope Hops Wall

A new feature in the garden this year was our rope hops walls. These large structures were created to support 12 new hops plants, which in the future will be used in our beer brewing demonstrations.

Our staff gardener Mike and his volunteers spent time this summer working on building two walls to grow the hops that will be used in our beer brewing program. The walls are each 12 ft high and 21 ft wide, with six plants at the base protected by stacked firewood boxes. We’ve been watching over the past month as the hops slowly creep up and the gardeners wrap new tendrils around the ropes, encouraging them to spread out and up the wall. This fall when the hops are matured, the entire frame can be taken down and the vines easily harvested. 

It seems like craft beer brewing is all the rage these days, but it’s definitely not anything new!  Beer brewing had long been a common activity in the home when colonists began arriving in Pennsylvania. For those who could afford a higher quality beverage, professional breweries quickly sprang into action, making Philadelphia a beer-brewing center in the New World. William Penn was known to purchase up to 20 barrels of beer a month from renowned brewer Henry Badcock and ship them up the Delaware to his country estate, Pennsbury Manor. 

But for those who preferred to save their money, home brewing was easy and inexpensive. The two ingredients you need for a basic brew – barley and hops – could be grown in your Kitchen Garden. In fact, brewing your own beer would guarantee a ready supply of fresh yeast for baking in the kitchen. The brewing process involves bursts of activity followed by long periods of waiting, so it could be done in between other work in the kitchen. 

Pennsbury Manor features beer brewing demonstrations throughout the year; check the calendar of events for the upcoming program and stop out and savor the aroma.





 By Hannah Howard, Volunteer & Special Project Coordinator

Curioisities in Pennsbury Manor’s Garden

We have many vegetables and herbs growing in the Kitchen Garden that we still grow and use today, but what about the ones we don’t? 

For the adventurous visitor who loves to poke around and explore, there are some wonderfully unusual plants you can find tucked away in corners and along the side paths of the Kitchen Garden.  I love taking a tour with our gardener, he can point out all sorts of curiosities and the creative ways they discovered for using them in the 17th Century!

One of my favorite plants is definitely the marsh mallow… yes, you read that correctly!  The roots of this plant, when crushed up and beaten with sugar and egg whites, produces a gooey, white, mixture very similar to our modern marshmallows.  If you visit the garden, be sure to touch the leaves, which are amazing – they feel like a thick, luxurious velvet!

Along the right wall of the garden, you’ll find a very special plant  – jewelweed, also called lady’s purse. The juice in the stem can combat poison ivy and poison oak. Modern hikers and campers should definitely learn to recognize this plant, which is most distinctive when it starts to bloom in August.  The blossoms are bright orange, and can often be found near where the poison ivy is growing. The juice of this plant is often used to combat other problems, including bee stings and mosquito bites.

Be sure to stop by Pennsbury’s Kitchen Garden and check out what’s growing this season!

By Hannah Howard, Volunteer & Special Project Coordinator

Intern Reflections: Oral History

Pennsbury Manor’s interns have been hard at work researching new stories for our 75th anniversary. As they continue to explore Pennsbury’s history, we’ll be sharing their reflections on what they’re discovering!

 An Interview with Nancy Kolb

As we work to collect stories about Pennsbury Manor’s history and evolution, a major goal was tracking down and interviewing some of the staff and volunteers who worked with Pennsbury over the years. Their stories provide a great picture of Pennsbury as it grew and changed.


As site director for two years and a key component in developing the story of Pennsbury Manor, Nancy Kolb provided us with everything we had hoped for during a recent phone interview. She was a pleasure to talk to and had a surprising humor in her tone as she revealed, “I don’t think I’ve ever had more fun in my career than I did in the three years we were building that program.”

At the time of Mrs. Kolb’s appointment as Director of the site, Pennsbury was somewhat of a blank slate. With the assistance of the staff and outside resources, Mrs. Kolb re-furnished the Manor House, started up the school programs, and began the tradition of the tour guides dressing in period clothing. Her main goals were to create a more historically accurate Pennsbury that would interest children and adults alike.

Mrs. Kolb admits that there truly is no way to know what Pennsbury looked like to William Penn. She, like many others, used the small amount of historical evidence that she could find to better Pennsbury. She fondly admits, “When I was in England I actually went to Jordan’s [Crossing in Buckinghamshire] where he [William Penn] is buried and I expected a bolt of lightning to come out and hit me on the head, but it didn’t which was very reassuring”. This confirm to Nancy that she’d made Penn proud and hopefully he’ll continue to be as each site director adds to their own ideas and evolves Pennsbury into one of the most unique reconstructions in history!

By Nicole Smith, Intern

Intern Reflections: The William Penn Farm

Pennsbury Manor’s interns have been hard at work researching new stories for our 75th anniversary. As they continue to explore Pennsbury’s history, we’ll be sharing their reflections on what they’re discovering!

For having lived here only 4 years, Penn’s ties to the land and its people seems to have lasted long after the buildings had disappeared. Not only did they work the land, but people continued to remember him by naming landmarks and businesses in his honor. In fact, I discovered there was a William Penn Farm located in the same area as Penn’s original estate!

Barns near the Crozier Farmhouse

The Warner Company owned most of the land in the area where Pennsbury is today, and the acreage they weren’t using to mine sand and gravel was rented out to the King’s Farm Company, who owned and operated William Penn Farm.  The Crozier Family’s farmhouse, which had been built on Penn’s original Manor House foundations and was home to 3 generations of the Crozier family, was left standing and become home to a whole new generation of Pennsylvania farmers. The tenants and families who worked the Penn Farm created a community of their own.

Crozier Farmhouse


In 1900, William Morris Leedom was in charge of overseeing the farm. His grandson, Rev. George C. Leedom, Jr. recalls the Crozier house as being home of both his grandparents and parents. There have even been several Leedom family reunions held on the grounds at Pennsbury Manor. William Leedom also built an earthen wharf in 1900 named “Billy Penn Wharf.” This wharf served as a place for river traffic to bring goods for the Penn Farm and its neighbors, and as a way to ship farm produce for sale upriver to Trenton or down to Philadelphia. You can see the wharf, along the layout of the farm property, in the aerial shot below:

aerial view of Pennsbury, 1932


Seymour Yardley Warner, a Quaker, was the last owner of the farm under the steward system that had been in place. George Caulton Leedom, Rev. Leedom’s father, became in charge of the William Penn Farm when his father died in 1919. Rev. Leedom’s mother, Ethel Leedom, worked under Warner as a cook to feed him and his guests as well as overseer of the economic aspect of the farm. Warner sold the farm for gravel interests in 1926. Rev. Leedom believed that the land deeded to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was through the purchase from Warner.

 By Sarah Lepianka, Intern 

Source: “Belated Impressions of Pennsbury” by Rev. George C. Leedom, Jr.

Intern Reflections: Sailing in Style

Pennsbury Manor’s interns have been hard at work researching new stories for our 75th anniversary. As they continue to explore Pennsbury’s history, we’ll be sharing their reflections on what they’re discovering!

Over the past two months, I have been searching through the archives of Pennsbury Manor. My mission is to find points of interest that would help me in my proposal for a 75th anniversary exhibit. I must admit, the first time I looked through the archives I was overwhelmed. There were so many papers, maps, charts, and photos to look through that at times I have felt like I was going to drown with information!

Penn's Barge, 1982


But I have discovered some gems, and one of these gems is the Barge. A reproduction based on Penn’s original description, it’s currently located in an open shed right outside the Visitor Center. I noticed in following tours of the site, the barge was often glossed over, and I found myself doing the same in my own tours.  So I decided to focus much of my research on this fascinating boat. 

What I found really surprised me. The barge, which was completed in 1968, spent much of the late 70s and early 80s touring various museums and historical site as an important interpretation symbol of 17th century transportation. People even had the chance to use the boat in the water. I found dozens of documents detailing requests from other institutions such as the American Maritime Museum requesting the barge for various events. There was even a year (1988) where the barge took a month long journey across the Delaware River (for community events) with an additional trip to Erie.

One of the most interesting items I found was a Youtube video featuring the barge from a mini-series in 1986 called George Washington II: The Forging of a Nation. Check out the video at this link and look for the barge to appear around the 7:29 mark:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhkY25xfH9g

The Barge today is housed in the Boathouse behind the Visitor Center. Guests can read about the Delaware River transportation and try out knotting the ropes.


Unfortunately, all this travel took a toll on the barge, and by the early 90s it was time to either retire the barge or face the cost of major repairs. It just amazed and saddened me how the incredible journey of this object has gotten lost over the years. What I’m working on now is to answer how it came to be this way, and could anything had been done differently?

By Lindsay Jordan, Intern

Do you have memories of seeing the barge in action?  Please share in the comments!

Intern Reflections: An Evolving Story

Pennsbury Manor’s interns have been hard at work researching new stories for our upcoming 75th anniversary. As they continue to explore Pennsbury’s history, we’ll be sharing their reflections on what they’re discovering!

If there is one thing I have learned interning here at Pennsbury Manor, it is that Pennsbury is constantly evolving. As new information is discovered and new eyes set upon a topic, a fresh interpretation is born and often implemented. Pennsbury has had as many as four different interpretation plans during its 75 years, which have changed the Manor from a place that focuses solely on William Penn and his belongings to focusing on the culture of Penn’s time, while still incorporating William, his family, and the different relationships he had at his manor.

Apple trees growing along the fence

Our interpretation is not the only thing that has changed over time. The physical layout of the site and buildings has also changed as well. Some changes were minor, such as furniture bouncing from room to room as spaces are updated with a more authentic look. Other changes were on a much larger scale. A few years after Pennsbury was open to the public in 1949, a new outbuilding was constructed. Another major change was the location of Penn’s barge. The barge was initially along the river, a necessity when docking one’s boat. Today, the barge is now located next to the visitors center to prevent water damage.

View of the back of the Manor House

Pennsbury Manor is doing something that many other museums simply cannot seem to do: adapt. Pennsbury is always adapting to new information that is uncovered, and strives to become as historically accurate as possible with the little information accessible. All while honoring the man who constructed the city of brotherly love, and who Thomas Jefferson once called “the greatest lawgiver the world has produced.”

By Kyle Lutteroty, Intern

Pennsbury Manor’s Summer Harvest

It’s been a great summer for our garden here at Pennsbury Manor! 

Because of all the rain, our summer harvest is growing quickly and will need to be harvested in the next few weeks.  This would have been fantastic news in the 17th Century.  By harvesting the summer crops quickly, they have more time to turn over the beds and replant the next crop. They wouldn’t want to waste a single day of warm weather, since what they can cultivate during the spring, summer, and fall will determine how much food they have to last the winter.

For those of us whose summer BBQ’s wouldn’t be the same without some tangy horseradish, check out the amazing crop growing near the garden cistern! Horseradish is one of those plants that can be continually harvested as needed, so it needs some good protection from the bunnies who like to tour our Kitchen Garden!  The fencing shown here is called “wattle fencing” and uses the flexible branches trimmed off of the apple trees in the spring. It’s a wonderful way to use the resources of the garden while also created a sturdy protection for your crops. 

Most of our field crops – barley, buckwheat, oats, wheat, and rye – were just harvested. Grains were an essential part of the colonists’ diet and could be dried and stored away to use throughout the winter.  The last one we’ll harvest will be the flax, which gets pulled up by the root and used as a fiber in making linen.  Most farms wouldn’t make their own linen, but they could grow it and sell it to the nearby cottage industries, who would then break the reeds, comb out the fibers, and weave on a loom. 

Our white pattypan squash has taken over one of the garden beds, it’s gorgeous!  Pattypan is an early squash, you can see they are starting to blossom and will hopefully have a large harvest.  Next up will be another planting of beans, radishes, beets, and yellow crookneck squash which wil be harvest this fall.

 Chives are a great plant to grow in the Kitchen Garden, since you can chop off the stalks and it will keep growing back all season.  Mustard Greens are another constant resource that can be picked anytime, and they are self-sewn and easy to grow. But some plants take a longer time to mature. Our asparagus is still in its first year of growth, so we’re not ready to harvest this year. Leaving the asparagus shoots alone for 2-3 years before harvesting means you will have a much bigger yield with larger stalks. But of course when living in the new colony, if the garden had a bad season and you were desperate for the food, you would have to harvest what you could to survive. 

 Stay tuned this fall for more updates on our Kitchen Garden’s progress!


Happy National Cheesecake Day

Finally a good excuse to eat cheesecake… it’s National Cheesecake Day!

Today we celebrate a time-honored treat that has been enjoyed for centuries. In fact, Pennsylvania’s early colonists would have been making their own versions of cheesecake at this very time of year! During the warm spring and summer months, cows would be producing plenty of fresh cream to use in recipes and preserve as butter and cheese. Soft cheese curds could be made into hard cheese wheels for the winter, but could also be enjoyed fresh in some delicious seasonal recipes… like cheesecake! 

17th-century cheesecake, freshly baked in a cast-iron pot... yum!

For more information about the cheese-making process and dairying, check out our blog post from last year: We’re So Cheesy

Draining the cheese curds in the Kitchen House

William Penn’s first wife, Gulielma, must have been a fan of cheesecake, since she had three recipes (also called “receipts”) for this tasty dish. This type of cheesecake would have been made from fresh cream, cheese curds, and eggs – all ingredients that would only be available during the warm months. William Penn had his cousin Edward Blackfan transcribe Gulielma’s receipt book in 1702, and this is the only surviving record we have.

Here is one of the recipes – can you imagine how much cheesecake would turn out if you used 2 lbs flour and currants, 1 lb sugar and butter, and 20 egg yolks??

To make Cheese Cake

 Take 15 quarts of new milk warme as it is from the Cow, or else make it warm then, putt too it 4 spunfulls of Rennett, and Lett it stand, while it is Coming, make youre Cofins too 2 pound of flouer, take 1/2 a pound of butter youre Liquor must boyle and then youre Chees is pritiwell Com, then put it in a Cheese Cloath and Lett it hang and Drain till all the whay bee kum from it, then take the Curd and Rubb it through a sciefe of hairs and with thy hand, too this Curd take 2 pounds Corants one pound of suger 3 nutmegs, 6 spunfuls of Rose water the yeolk of 20 eggs, one pound of butter, and Lett the Coffin bee hardened in the oven and then fill them not to full and Lett the oven bee quick and 1/2 an houer will bake them.


By Hannah Howard, Volunteer & Special Project Coordinator

How to Raise Your (Colonial) Kids!

A child’s life today is quite different from that of a 17th-century child. Having children was necessity for the survival of a family. It was common for colonial households to have large families, but there was also a high mortality rate. Charms and remedies were often made to try and protect babies from death. Children helped their parents take care of household chores and worked in their family’s store, workshop, or farm.
"Domestic interior with a family," Adriaen van Ostade, 1673

Just like today, there were many different theories on how to raise children properly. Some of their ideas seem outrageous by today’s standards. From birth the midwife would shape the babies’ head to smooth it out and the infant would be fully swaddled, for a time, to insure their limbs grew in straight. Babies were also considered savage creatures that must be civilized, so crawling like an animal was not allowed. Instead, they would learn first to stand upright, often using the popular “standing stool,” and then how to walk.

"The Virgin seated with the Christ Child on her lap before a small fire with a cat beyond, in a domestic interior," Nicolaes Maes, late 17th century
Thomas Locke’s Some Thoughts Concerning Education published in the 1690s had many readers in Colonial America. Locke suggested regularly dipping your child’s feet in cold water, and having shoes so thin, water leaked in. Locke also suggested playing in open air and dancing as recommendation for good health of children. His suggestion of any sort of frequent bathing was a radical idea as the English rarely bathed. He also suggested a diet for children with regular milk, which would have been important added nutrition. Though some of Locke’s suggestions may not seem radical to us now, they were extremely radical for the times.
"O Rare Show," John Smith, late 17th century


By Amanda Rockwood, Intern

Animals and Art in the 17th Century

Every dog lover knows just how much our canine friends are part of our daily lives, and the 17th century was no different!

Animals have been included in paintings and drawings throughout history. Our research at Pennsbury involves looking at these images of the world that William Penn knew, concentrating on the years from 1670 to 1710. As we explore these images, our intern Jessica made a fun discovery.  She noticed the appearance of a certain dog again and again in many different paintings!   

The Children of Charles I of England, Anthony van Dyck, 1636?

In the past when monarchs have favored a specific type of dog, that breed would suddenly become the most fashionable pets and were kept by many aristocratic families. Look in the paintings featured here and see if you can find the same type of dog in each:

Mother Lacing Her Bodice beside a Cradle, Pieter de Hooch,1659-60

Upon further research, we’ve discovered the dog we found to be a Dutch Partridge Dog, which is a type of spaniel breed. Artists often used symbolic backgrounds, objects, and animals in art as clues to the identity and personality of the individual or idea being depicted.  For example, squirrels were symbols of obedience and dogs represent faithfulness.

Portrait of a Family, Jan Anthonie Coxcie, 1694

So next time you visit a museum or historic site, take a closer look at the paintings and see if you can spot the animals and guess what they symbolize! 

By Jessica McClaire, Intern

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