PHILADELPHIA REFLECTIONS
Musings of a Philadelphia Physician who has served the community for six decades

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Central Pennsylvania
"Alabama in-between," snickered James Carville, "Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Alabama in-between."

Right Angle Club 2012
This ends the ninetieth year for the club operating under the name of the Right Angle Club of Philadelphia. Before that, and for an unknown period, it was known as the Philadelphia Chapter of the Exchange Club. www.philadelphia-reflections.com/topic/175.htm

...Ratification, Bill of Rights and Other Amendments
The 1787 Constitution lacked a Bill of Rights. Few except Madison himself were opposed to adding one, but many other delegates would have failed election without promising it. Negotiations at the Convention had proved so excitingly innovative that time ran out before the Convention had to adjourn with only a promise of a Bill of Rights, first thing. Almost immediately, political America was thrown into a year of state ratification conventions. Massachusetts initiated the concept of ratifying the Constitution, attached with eight or nine amendment proposals for the Bill of Rights. When the First Congress finally convened, it faced almost two hundred proposed amendments, and Madison made sure he was chairman of a committee to deal with them. Practically alone he pared them down to a succinct twelve which survived as the first order of business of the new Congress. Almost unnoticed, he made a deal with Oliver Ellsworth the leader of the Senate, to pass the Bill of Rights in exchange for passing the Senate's Judiciary Act in the House of Representatives. Out of this combined beginning, the power and scope of the Judiciary Branch was born. But while that is a subject for later chapters, Madison never achieved a more skillful moment in his political life, than this pivotal one.

Boalsburg

{Bolasburg}
Boalsburg

FIVE miles East of State College is Boalsburg, which is by far the most interesting place in Central Pennsylvania. First of all, the town itself is laid out around the most perfect surviving example of a Scotch-Irish diamond. The Scots in Northern Ireland were much resented by their Roman Catholic neighbors to the south of them, and gladly accepted James Logan's offer to come to William Penn's haven of religious freedom, in return for their settling near the Indians. This was Logan's solution to the problem of keeping peace between the pacifist Quakers in Philadelphia, and the sensitivities of the Indians about settlers on their ancient lands. The Quakers wanted to avoid conflict with the Indians, wouldn't sell them either liquor or gunpowder, while Logan was under orders from Penn's descendants to sell the land. So, being Scotch-Irish himself, he felt confident his relatives would find ways of coping with the problem. Much of the turmoil of Pontiac's War and the French and Indian Wars, the marauding Paxtang Boys and King George's War, grew out of the resulting conflicts between the two notoriously combative groups. In any event, this decision explains why Scotch-Irish settled the frontier early, and surprisingly far west of the centers of Pennsylvania Dutch settlement. The Scotch Irish had a tradition of favoring the cross-roads of two main highways. Their habit was to cut off the four corners of an intersection, leaving a diamond-shaped park in the middle. Traditionally, the enlarged intersection would have a flagpole in the middle.

{Boalsburg Diamond}
Boalsburg Diamond

Naturally, the diamond was a good place to put a post office, a general store, or a tavern. A man named Boal put up an early tavern, and this diamond became Boalsburg. Boal is the name of a type of Madeira wine, which may have some relevance here, having to do with old stories of some Portugese debts which were paid off in the land of Center County. In any event, there is a log cabin near the diamond, with a dozen Boal tombstones in front of it. Quite a large and elegant restaurant is now more directly on the square. This town is a photographer's dream, and well worth anyone's drive around the main streets.

At some time, the Boal family moved out of the center of town to a mansion about half a mile away. From the looks of it, five or six additions were made to house family and servants, and it almost looks like five houses joined together. The carriage house has a couple of ancient carriages, one with and one without, leaf springs. The walls are hung with dozens of sabers and swords from many different wars, each with its story. There are muskets and rifles, dating back to the Revolutionary War.

The main house is modest for a mansion, but immoderate for a farm house. It has definitely been lived in, and it's built for comfort. The walls are covered with trophies and mementos, with five signatures of US Presidents identifiable. Lots of Boals seem to have married lots of European nobility, perhaps in one of these rooms. One old rake is quoted as saying he inherited three fortunes -- and spent 'em all. Over and over again the theme emerges: the Boals were a military family, often raising their own regiments. Across the road in what seems surely to have once been Boal property, is the Military Museum, with real battleship cannons at the gate. Memorial Day was started here after the Civil War, and it is the headquarters of the local National Guard Division; it's by far the most popular tourist attraction in town.

{The Columbus Family Chapel}
The Columbus Family Chapel

But off in one corner of the side yard of the mansion is a little stone house, perhaps two stories high. It is a replica of the Columbus family chapel in Spain, copied stone for stone. The stories vary somewhat between guides, but apparently two or more relatives were descended from Christopher Columbus, and while one Boal was Ambassador to Bolivia, he married a lady in waiting to the Queen who was also descended. Possibly the Spanish Civil War had something to do with it, but in any event the personal belongings of the Columbus family were judged to be the property of the Boals, so they were moved here to the chapel replica. A decade or so ago, the chapel was broken into by thieves, and since that time security is considerably enhanced. Two pieces of wood are still shown as pieces of the True Cross of Jesus, with authentication going back to the 5th Century, and numerous hand written journals are there. The Goya paintings and tapestries, and a solid gold crucifix are among the pieces which are now somewhere else. The matter is one of considerable embarrassment. Most of the many pieces which remain, are seemingly of the nature of things which would be enormously valuable if you knew what they were, but just about worthless if you don't. In a sense, the best protection is the ignorance which surrounds them. The guide last month remembers one day when 27 visitors came to the Mansion, and many days when no one came. As he spoke, you could see at least five hundred cars parked in the Military Museum across the road. There may have been five cars parked in the diamond in the center of Boalsburg. It's sort of a shame that this would be true, just as it makes you grit your teeth to imagine the indifference the whole place would receive if you moved it to Times Square. But, let's face it, the main protection for these invaluable pieces of history lies in that general lack of interest in them.

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