Swartwood Cemetery

It’s a pretty ease process to add something to Google Maps but it can be rather difficult to demonstrate some random spot in the woods is a place of some significance. It is with some sense of pride and accomplishment that I have added Swartwood Cemetery back on the map. This cemetery had long been off the map, its graves had long been left untended. Using the details available and with some lingering photographs, I had an idea of what to look for as I ventured out into the hills across Route 209 from the Valley View campground. Using the AllTrails app I recorded my trail and I marked my GPS coordinates upon arrival.

I place that has been long forgotten and/or overlooked has been reclaimed through research, tracking, sharing knowledge and a little bit of activism. How can you reclaim a place? Research. Identification. And education.

My Egypt Mills Project

My interest in the abandoned village of Egypt Mills began when family history research led me to look for the Valley View, or Swartwood, Cemetery not far down the road on Route 209 in Bushkill, Lehman Township, Pike County, Pennsylvania. According to information provided by the National Park Service, the land was settled in the late 18th century, with a 1776 land purchase by William Nyce; their leaflet makes reference to the Nyce family farm and a postcard from a once well-known Hunting Club but the village was small, prosperous and filled with lively cast of characters who would call this place home.

My project began out of curiosity; following the Tom’s Creek trail out towards Landis lake and wanting to know more about the remains of what I discovered, and the surrounding area between Little Egypt and Big Egypt Roads — remains of stone foundations and wools, mill runs, and steel tools. I began to photograph my surroundings and mark the GPS coordinates of each location. Then I pinpointed every location on Google Earth and added an overlay of old 1872 map of Lehman Township to identify what these structures may have been and to whom they belonged.

Continue to follow as explore each structure, the remains of the village, its current natural beauty and its lively history.

In the Room Where It Happens: The Legacy of the Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.[1]

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“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” 📜
John Trumbull’s proud and bold image had been inspired by the recollections and  musings of Thomas Jefferson, of which Trumbull wrote, succinctly enough, “I began the composition of the Declaration of Independence, with the assistance of [Jefferson’s] information and advice.” Such a strong display would stand in stark contrast to Adams’ later reflections of this event. 📜
In a letter to William Plumer dated 28 March 1813, John Adams wrote, “They who were then members, all signed it, and, as I could not see their hearts, it would be hard for me to say that they did not approve it; but, as far as I could penetrate the intricate, internal foldings of their souls, I then believed, and have not since altered my opinion, that there were several who signed with regret, and several others, with many doubts and much lukewarmness.” John Adams recalls a moment of sober trepidation, and stepping into an unknown—a new frontier. 📜
Of this political and social frontier, Dr. Benjamin Rush argued in January 1787, “The American war is over: but this is far from being the case with the American revolution. On the contrary, nothing but the first act of the great drama is closed. It remains yet to establish and perfect our new forms of government; and to prepare the principles, morals, and manners of our citizens, for these forms of government, after they are established and brought to perfection.” 📜
All the great work.  All the hard yoga—the flexing, strengthening and breathing—of building a new nation that lives in harmony with its democratic and revolutionary principles would come after the war, and still in progress. 📜 Slightly more on my blog, click on my Linktr.ee then my Linkin.bio 📜 #sonoftheamericanrevolution #happyfourthofjuly #independenceday #independenceday2020 #declarationofindependence #johntrumbull #thomasjefferson #benjaminrush #johnadams #americanhistory #americanstudies #iteachhistory #teachersofinstagram #writersofinstagram #artoftheday

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John Trumbull’s proud and bold image had been inspired by the recollections and  musings of Thomas Jefferson, of which Trumbull wrote, succinctly enough, “I began the composition of the Declaration of Independence, with the assistance of [Jefferson’s] information and advice.”[2]  Such a strong display would stand in stark contrast to Adams’ later reflections of this event.

In a letter to William Plumer dated 28 March 1813, John Adams wrote, “They who were then members, all signed it, and, as I could not see their hearts, it would be hard for me to say that they did not approve it; but, as far as I could penetrate the intricate, internal foldings of their souls, I then believed, and have not since altered my opinion, that there were several who signed with regret, and several others, with many doubts and much lukewarmness.”[3]  John Adams recalls a moment of sober trepidation, and stepping into an unknown—a new frontier.

Of this political and social frontier, Dr. Benjamin Rush argued in January 1787, “The American war is over: but this is far from being the case with the American revolution. On the contrary, nothing but the first act of the great drama is closed. It remains yet to establish and perfect our new forms of government; and to prepare the principles, morals, and manners of our citizens, for these forms of government, after they are established and brought to perfection.”[4]

All the great work.  All the hard yoga—the flexing, strengthening and breathing—of building a new nation that lives in harmony with its democratic and revolutionary principles would come after the war, and still in progress.

Ancestry.com recreated Trumbull’s painting with a 2017 advertisement “Declaration Descendants” with an intentional multicultural and diverse cast that also included women, amongst whom was the Rev W. Douglas Banks, the 5th-great-grandson of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings.  Of his participation and connection to Jefferson, Banks writes, “I do not celebrate Thomas Jefferson or Sally Hemings. I celebrate opportunities where I can overcome the flaws in my family tree and embrace the greatness of my inheritance.”[5]

I closed my school year and lesson with the ninth grade with these exact thoughts and quotations with the final challenge, reflect on Benjamin Rush and Rev. Banks and consider this: “We can celebrate those opportunities where we can overcome the flaws of our country’s history and embrace the greatness of its promise.”

[1] “The Declaration of Independence,” National Archives, October 30, 2015, https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration.

[2] John Trumbull, The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776, Oil on canvas, 20 7/8 x 31 in., Yale University Art Gallery, accessed June 18, 2020, https://artgallery.yale.edu/collections/objects/69.

[3] John Adams, The Political Writings of John Adams (Regnery Publishing, 2001), 680.

[4] Benjamin Rush, “Address to the People of the United States,” https://archive.csac.history.wisc.edu/Benjamin_Rush.pdf.

[5] Rev W. Douglas Banks, “We Are All In The Room,” Huffington Post (blog), July 11, 2017, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/we-are-all-in-the-room_us_5964fdc5e4b005b0fdc8a8c0.