Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Book cover: "Little Pilgrim to Penn's Woods"



In 2015 and 2018, I wrote about old postcards in my possession that concern Edna Albert, who had lifetime connections across southcentral Pennsylvania. She was a graduate of Millersville State Normal School, a member of the Adams County Historical Society and the Women's Christian Temperance Union ... and an author. I'm featuring one of her books today.

  • Title: Little Pilgrim to Penn's Woods
  • Author: Edna Albert (1878-1960)
  • Illustrator: Esther Brann (1899-1998)
  • Publisher: Longmans, Green and Co. (New York and Toronto)
  • Year: Originally published in 1930. This is the January 1952 reprint.
  • Pages: 300
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Dust jacket description: "This is the story of an eighteenth-century migration to the woods of William Penn told against a background that is historically notable. Selinda, the little pilgrim, is a real girl who with high courage and a singing heart traded old worlds for new. There is interwoven with the very atmosphere of the Rhineland and of Holland all the color and reality of pioneer life: an epic in homespun. The hardships of the journey are not minimized and yet are kept in the background as they would be in the mind of a child. And it is a joy to have the clear cut snapshots of the little towns, of the young Goethe, of the little Dutch Neltje, of the English sailors, of the Indian in his native forests, of eighteenth-century manners, without losing the sense of the idyllic unity of Selinda's story which the author has told with rare sympathy and surpassing interest."
  • Provenance: This copy was withdrawn from the Hamburg Junior High School Library Media Center.
  • Dedication: To my father who gave me in my childhood many a book of golden tales (Her father was Franklin Albert, 1838-1931)
  • Foreword: Written by Martin Grove Brumbaugh, who served as governor of Pennsylvania from 1915 to 1919, on March 8, 1930. He writes, "One cannot, in reading this narrative, fail to reach the conclusion that the author is really giving a type-story of a people who have so worthily aided in building this Commonwealth and, indeed, really a picture of her own ancestors. ... The volume merits and should have wide acceptance."
  • Some chapter titles: "The Silver Horn," "The Trumpeting Cherub," "Völker the Fiddler," "The Dam School," "Selinda's Indian Name," and "Wastela Visits the Boiling Springs."
  • First sentence: "Selinda perched on the end of the bench in her father's shop, playing with the shavings that rolled up before his plane."
  • Last sentence: "Her Story Finished October 16, 1764."
  • Random sentence from the middle: "The travelers stopped the whole day in York, for they had business also at the Land Office, but according to their custom they were off early on Tuesday, and evening found them camped near Dover, whence one road led out toward the mountain and on to Carlisle."
  • Rating on Goodreads: 3.5 stars out of 5 (2 ratings)
  • Rating on Amazon: 4.7 stars out of 5 (2 ratings)1
  • Amazon review: In 2019, Edith Dunn wrote: "I bought this because it was about the time in history that my ancestors left Germany to come to Pennsylvania. It gave me insight into the journey they took and difficulties encountered on their arduous trip. I also recognized many locations mentioned in Pennsylvania that I had visited in my childhood. It was a well written, descriptive book that helped me understand my ancestors. Although I'm in my 70's and have read this book twice, I feel it would be valuable to anyone wishing to know about pilgrims who came to America during colonial times."
  • More about Edna Albert: On the Ye Olde Sulphur Spa Historical Society Facebook page, this was written in 2016: "For her twentieth reunion, at Dickinson College, information provided by Miss Albert shows her pride in having been given suffrage under the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution as she noted, 'Republican. Votes.' She also noted that she had a Ford [automobile] named Peter." The page also indicates that Albert followed Little Pilgrim to Penn's Woods with two other books, The Shawl with the Yellow Bells and Peter of Smithfield, which was about her car.
  • More about her car: On Albert's Find A Grave page, this story was added by Roger Trostle earlier this year: "My mother told me this story. Edna Albert was driving to the Chestnut Grove Lutheran Church in Latimore one Sunday morning when she accidentally drove off the road in front of the Irvin Harbold Farm home. Her car narrowly missed a chicken house, rolling over completely and coming to rest on its four wheels. Not missing a beat, Edna drove her car back onto the road and on to Church. Other than her hat being a bit crooked, she was no worse for the wear and attended the worship service just as she set out to do."
  • And another story: Elmira Stambaugh adds this tale (which I have lightly edited) on the aforementioned Ye Olde Sulphur Spa Historical Society Facebook page in 2016: "My parents rented from her and she was a fascinating and kind lady. Sometimes when our parents were working and there was a thunderstorm, she would let us stay with her till our parents got home. She had this one room where she had an old typewriter and lots of books. I remember she had lots of National Geographics. We would spend a lot of time in that room looking at her books and playing with her typewriter. She would also take us to church at Chestnut Grove every Sunday. If I remember right, her car was a white coupe she called Peter!"

But wait, there's more!
Here is a look at the front endpapers designed by Esther Brann...


Footnote
1. You might be asking yourself, "How can a book with two ratings on a scale of 1 to 5 have an average rating of 4.7?" Good question. Amazon explains it this way: "Amazon calculates a product’s star ratings based on a machine learned model instead of a raw data average. The model takes into account factors including the age of a rating, whether the ratings are from verified purchasers, and factors that establish reviewer trustworthiness."

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