Historical societies present talks on area’s first settlers

Local Life November 6, 2012 0 Comments

David Contosta

The Chestnut Hill and Springfield Township Historical Societies plan a discussion called “Early Settlers” on Thursday, Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m., at the First Presbyterian Church in Springfield, 1710 Bethlehem Pike, Flourtown.

David Contosta, Ph.D., Professor of History, Chestnut Hill College will give a lecture called “Millers and Mystics” and Jefferson M. Moak, Senior Archivist with the National Archives and Records Administration, will give a lecture called “Chestnut Hill and Springfield Township: 18th Century Land Development and Architecture”.

The two historians will discuss the settlers known to have arrived in the area now known as Chestnut Hill and Springfield Township in the 18th century. They will answer questions many locals have about the earliest settlers who came to this region to pursue dreams of religious freedom and a new life.

Contosta is an expert story teller and the author of 20 books and numerous histories on the region, including “Suburb in the City: Chestnut Hill, PA,” and “Metropolitan Paradise: The Struggle in the City, Philadelphia’s Wissahickon Valley 1620-2020,” which he co-authored with Carol Franklin. His talk will focus on the different ways millers and mystics used the Wissahickon Valley.

Johannes Kelpius and his hermits – the mystics – thought the world was going to come to an end in 1700 based on their interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Contosta will discuss this group and the Dunker Monastery at Kitchen Lane. Both sought out the wilderness of the Wissahickon at the same time millers were exploiting its water power to build paper, saw grist and textile mills.

As these mills disappeared and mystics moved on, Contosta explains, the Wissahickon was embraced by 19th century romantic landscape painters and rediscovered for its spiritual values.

Moak will speak about land development at the time and the how the choices made by the early immigrants significantly impacted our communities today. Moak will discuss the types of architecture botethat century, pointing to both buildings from the period that still remain and those long one.

Admission is free reservations are not required. For more information contact Audrey at 215-247-0417.

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