Garden Spot: Lancaster County, the Old Order Amish, and the Selling of Rural America

By David Walbert | Go to book overview

2
PRIDE AND PROGRESS
Education, Literacy, and the Little Red Schoolhouse

Rejoice, I say, rejoice, for the wilderness has blossomed the rose!

—PERCY JEWETT BURRELL

On three muggy evenings in the early summer of 1929, thousands of Lancaster Countians packed Franklin and Marshall College's football stadium to watch their history come alive. To mark the county's bicentennial, several hundred of their neighbors had staged a “Pageant of Gratitude” for two centuries of God's blessing. The figure of William Penn opened the pageant, establishing the colony of Pennsylvania as a haven for the oppressed of body and spirit and proclaiming it “destined to be blessed by God.” Hans Herr and his band of Mennonites followed close behind, fleeing the Old World's persecution to find in Lancaster County “a land of plenty where peace and liberty shall be our portion.” From there the actors traced the county's growth through the major events of the nation's history: revolution, civil war, and world war. Modeled after the drama of ancient Greece, the pageant came complete with a narrative chorus of Lancaster's townships and boroughs and climaxed with a procession of the Fruits of the Soil, of Civilization, and of the Spirit before an Altar of Gratitude. 1

Agriculture, not surprisingly, played a starring role in the celebration. A “Hymn of Gratitude” composed for the occasion praised the land for its bounty: “Rich is thy soil and merciful thy clime / Thy streams unfailing in the Summer's drought.” The figure of the Farmer led all the Fruits of Civilization, for he had earned his county “the fairest of all names— ‘The Garden Spot of America.’” The Minister followed the Farmer, emphasizing the link between the fruits of soil and spirit; then came the Teacher, Physician, Statesman, Scientist, Artist, Merchant, Artisan, Manufacturer, and, lastly, the Soldier. 2 But if the order of procession

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Garden Spot: Lancaster County, the Old Order Amish, and the Selling of Rural America
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Contents xii
  • Garden Spot *
  • Introduction - A Fertile Soil 3
  • 1 - The Invention of Lancaster County 11
  • 2 - Education, Literacy, and the Little Red Schoolhouse 37
  • 3 - The Amish and Tourism 67
  • 4 - Food and Farming 101
  • 5 - Urbanization and Planning 137
  • 6 - Development and Farm Preservation 171
  • Epilogue - The Harvest 209
  • Appendix - Farms and Population of Lancaster County, 1900–2000 219
  • Notes 223
  • Index 253
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