community love for ebenezer grows

Al Terrell photo

Al Terrell photo taken October 11, 2016

Today while Al Terrell was on site at Ebenezer AME on Bacton Hill Road in Frazer, a couple of things that are so delightful occurred. People came to visit.

Not people with family buried there, but just people coming to visit Ebenezer and East Whiteland’s amazing history!

First, a  family stopped by Ebenezer to take pictures this afternoon and spoke with Al Terrell . Unbelievable. Their Girl Scout Troop wants to volunteer to help. Al is getting their information.

Then a woman and her daughter stopped by to take photos.  Al said the lady was a photographer.

Can I just say how awesome it is?

After a few years feeling like the voice in the proverbial wilderness, all these people are taking an interest.

God is good. Don’t know what else to say ❤️  My heart is so happy right now that people obviously DO care about Ebenezer.

A photographer and her daughter stop to visit Ebenezer today October 11, 2016.  Al Terrell photo

A photographer and her daughter stop to visit Ebenezer today October 11, 2016. Al Terrell photo

(For my years of writing about my journey with trying to get help and recognition about Ebenezer click here and here and here .)

Every day seems to bring good news.   The only thing I will say is to caution people to not go climbing in the church ruin itself and to be careful.  That is 184 years of history in there, and way before most of our time, the roof of Ebenezer collapsed through to the stone pier foundations.  We want to preserve that, but it is NOT safe at this point for people to do anything other than view the church ruin from the outside.

Ann Christie are you watching? Chris and I promised you we would get Ebenezer help. It is happening.  All these wonderful people are coming forward.  I wish you were here to see her emerge from her green prison of overgrowth, but I would like to think you are watching like an angel over Ebenezer.

Ann was a brilliant poet as well as a fervent champion of Ebenezer.  I think I will finish with one of her poems:

Already the Heart

The spinal cord blossoms
like bright, bruised magnolia
into the brainstem.
And already the heart
in its depth — who could assail it?
Bathed in my voice, all branching
and dreaming. The flowering
and fading — said the poet —
come to us both at once.
Here is your best self,
and the least, two sparrows
alight in the one tree
of your body.

A.V. Christie / The Housing

the fairy tales of development

Updated: AUGUST 9, 2016 — 4:34 PM EDT

by Joseph N. DiStefano, Staff Writer @PhillyJoeD

EXCERPT:

New stores and apartments are boosting tax collections, and have given Chester County’s West Whiteland Township (pop. 20,000) a rare distinction: Yesterday Moody’s Investor Service boosted its credit rating to AAA, a rare distinction shared locally with Tredyffrin, Whitpain, Upper and Lower Merion, and Whitpain townships…..”We didn’t used to be known as developer-friendly,” Soles told me. “The current board has changed that. We want to attract development. We are a retail-based township. We have to stay ahead of the curve.”

The township’s presentation to Moody’s lists more than 1,000 new apartments, including 410 units approved for Main Street Apartments, 276 for Parkview at Oaklands (where residences are replacing office/industrial zoned space), 240 at Marquis at Exton; plus 108 “new carriage homes” (rowhouses) at Glenloch (where the township fought to keep out a trailer park), plus 86 at Waterloo Gardens, and several smaller developments….”Those develoments are going to have minimal impact on the school district,” Soles promised. “The primary market that developers are going for is the millennials and the empty nesters.”

 

Mmm O.K. That is a really nice BUT regular residents don’t want townships to be so “developer friendly” – we as normal, everyday residents of Chester County are in fact looking for BALANCE and RESPECT for open space and the county’s agricultural heritage. And some historic preservation. And community preservation.

exton_1937 guernsey cow photo

Exton in 1937 courtesy of the Guernsey Cow

I learned something very amusing the other day. An executive of a large developer active in local township meetings where they live doesn’t exactly live in one of the developments that supports their salary, does he? Does he not in fact own a lovely property that is private and part of the beautiful rolling hills of Chester County? If even the developers and their employees don’t live in these cram plans, why should we want them in our communities?

Aerial shot of Exton 1974 courtesy of The Guernsey Cow

Aerial shot of Exton 1974 courtesy of The Guernsey Cow

All of these developments have an impact on every single resident and that also means they do have an impact on the school districts.

Aerial shot of Exton off of Paramount Realty Website – not sure how old, but current times to be sure.

They can’t say in West Whiteland (or elsewhere since it is a common mantra) every single one of these units being built is going to go towards millennials and empty-nesters.  And as for that younger generation just starting out out of college they don’t necessarily want to be all the way out here – they want to be closer to an urban area because they’re single and social.  That behavior pattern extends to empty nesters and retirees too – not all of them want to be so far out. And a lot don’t want to be so far out living in cheaply constructed projects.

Areial shot from Pennsylvania Real Estate INvestment Trust

Come on, these projects are plastic city and built for the masses to do ONE thing: show a profit for the developer.  These developers shove in as many projects as possible and move on to the next area. These developers are not building for posterity, only their own prosperity. They get in, and they get out.

IMHO Steve Soles (the article calls him Rick, quite amusingly – see screen shot.) owes his constituents better. Of course given his day job as a lawyer lawyer for a hedge fund, I never would have voted for him in the first place if I lived in West Whiteland.

And so we know who is who in West Whiteland (and do not forget the Township Manager is the former Township Manager of Tredyffrin who was just going to “retire”, Mimi Gleason), here is a screen shot of the supervisors:

west whiteland officials

Now if you do a quick flash back to the most recent election, you will recall a very interesting Daily Local article:
West Whiteland supervisors race getting nasty

POSTED: 10/27/15, 10:59 AM EDT

WEST WHITELAND >> Democratic challenger Rajesh Kumbhardare is running against Republican incumbent Steven Soles for his position on the township’s board of supervisors.

Kumbhardare launched several accusations against Soles that both Soles and fellow Democratic board member Joe Denham claim are false.

West Whiteland board supervisors serve six-year terms. One member of the board is up for re-election every two years.

In a phone interview, Kumbhardare criticized the township’s financial practices, saying township funds were “running into the red.”

He also mentioned the $31.2 million price tag for the township building….

Soles said during his tenure, the township greatly increased its transparency and kept taxes low.

“We have a fiduciary duty to our residents, I think we’re on the right track,” Soles said. “We are working for the residents of West Whiteland Township.”

Really?  Seems to me that West Whiteland Township has ambitions to become another King of Prussia. (But what do I know, I am a mere mortal and a female and not a lover of malls.)

We are starting to drown in development from one end of Chester county to the other. It’s ridiculous. I also do not believe that the economy can in the end support so much development and remember there actually is an ample housing supply already. Sure there are lots of retail and minimum-wage jobs, but those people are not going to be affording these developments. This is the whole emperor’s new clothes story of the New Urbanism fairy tale of development.

My photo. Views like this will continue to disappear by the day if we do not act as Chester County residnets

My photo. Views like this will continue to disappear by the day if we do not act as Chester County residnets

There are all sorts of things that no one thinks about when salivating over ratables as an elected official.

They definitely don’t think of the impact on the schools and they don’t take that into consideration. Mostly because school districts are autonomous from local governments and they don’t play well with one and other.

Also elected officials are NOT telling you another reality of getting rid of more and more farmland: it will drive your food costs up.

27406131775_05ddcef1f4_oIt’s a snowballing effect. We have lots of housing but we simply don’t take care of it. Our elected officials just approve more and more projects.

Someone said to me yesterday “I’m not really sure if a lot of local officials have the capacity to comprehend all of this and see the future and think about ecosystems etc.”

I think that is correct.

We have the power to change this and we need to pressure state elected officials to comprehensively update the Municipalities Planning Code to PROTECT us and actually plan wisely, not just literally give away the farm to developers.

It is an election year, which means we do have the opportunity to be heard by exercising our right to vote. We need to make our open space and agricultural heritage a huge election issue in Chester county and elsewhere in Pennsylvania.

26799260573_465b0e0d29_oAnd remember Moody’s is issuer paid. Municipalities get what they pay for and given the hot mess Lower Merion Township is due to developers (and is Tredyffrin with all it’s issues and the mother of all open space killing developments Chesterbrook from time to time far behind?) I wouldn’t be so bragging that my municipality was right up there with them as AAA. But again, a municipality is getting what they pay for.  And what will it mean when developments empty out because they are older and falling apart?

27887459781_c733efdbd5_oAnd I love when local elected officials in Chester County  brag about stopping mobile home parks. I do not think anyone really gets how many of those are in Chester County, or that they are kind of one of the few sources of truly affordable housing for what defines affordable housing. They approve building of huge projects with zero truly affordable housing.   Or a developer will toss out there that they will make a few units of something affordable, only it’s never truly affordable for say the family of four or six or even larger that might actually NEED affordable housing.

2706453199_4767aac241_oNow see what I think would be a great idea is if these developers who are salivating over Chester County’s open space would actually restore some of the actual run down housing supply that exists in areas that suffered downturns when factories and manufacturing left their towns.  Think Phoenixville, Downingtown, and Coatesville and any of the number of small cross roads towns you find scattered throughout Chester County.  Heck if they did this more in Phoenixville and Downingtown they would probably see a positive result fairly quickly given how hard these two places 27334976761_071b627e2e_ohave been working to rejuvenate their towns and business districts already. But it takes talent and patience to restore older homes or do an adaptive reuse of a mill or factory, doesn’t it?  And again, these developers aren’t about communities, they want to get in and get out.

But that is another idea: if elected officials and county level planning commissions pushed for an overhaul of Municipalities Planning Code that could be made part of the approval process legally: if developers want in, then they need to contribute more than traffic signals.  Let them contribute a certain amount of rehabilitated existing housing as a condition of approval.  Come up with a formula that for every new unit they want to add, they have to restore a certain amount of existing units in areas that could use the help, thereby actually helping provide actual affordable housing.

But that’s the other thing  – Pennsylvania does not make it attractive for people to preserve anything.

 

In other states there are many more avenues of tax credits and what not when it comes to saving things for environmental concerns and saving things as historic assets.
However what local officials do you have the power to do is to try to work with developers to reduce the footprint or encourage them to donate big chunks of land where they’re developing for conservation…..And in my opinion most don’t.
 I get that PA is a private property rights state so this is really tough, but it  is like the whole tale of Crebilly Farm in Westtown possibly going Toll — does anyone believe that NO ONE in that township knew anything?

Here are the Westtown Supervisors again:

westtownAgain, of special note is the Chair, Carol R. De Wolf.  How ironic is it that she works for Natural Lands Trust as the director of the Schuylkill Highlands???? Are residents asking her some tough questions?  Has she tried to get any of the land that is Crebilly conserved?

14359111719_cb799ed180_oOk and when you are speaking of development you need to consider the Herculean efforts some put into land preservation.  I have a friend who put four years of his life into obtaining Federal land conservation. He got a  USDA Easement on his farm. The easement is a conservation easement for the preservation of a thriving bog turtle colony. It’s locked up in perpetuity  I think that is wonderful.  His name is Vince Moro, and you will now read about him in this article on ChaddsFord Live:

 

Pop-up gala joins fight to save orchard

 

Read the rest of the article, but you get the point.  Here is more on the orchard at risk:

Help The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County (TLC) save Barnard’s Orchard, a fourth generation family farm in Chester County!

Project Update:
TLC is working to conserve Barnard’s Orchard and its 75 beautiful and productive acres. To date TLC has raised
$863,000 toward the $901,000 total project cost, leaving a balance of $38,000 (less than 5% of the total project cost).
Securing these funds now will successfully conclude this important land conservation project and keep  intact a 1,200+ acre corridor of vital lands.
Here’s what is at stake, and once plowed under, irreplaceable:
  1. 74.3 acres of important agricultural soils across two parcels
  2. Fourth generation family owned farm established in 1862
  3. Orchard and orchard store are a community staple with generations growing up visiting the property
  4. 32 varieties of apples
  5. Apple cider
  6. Pumpkins
  7. Snapdragons and freesia
  8. Peaches
  9. Additional fruits and veggies grown on site
  10. Produce donated to the area food cupboard when possible and collection taken at the counter
  11. Hosts school groups at no cost to educate children about the orchard
  12. Rural vista along Rt. 842 for public enjoyment with ½ mile of road frontage
  13. Protects prime agricultural soils and keeps them in active agriculture via the agricultural easement
  14. Protects portion of a first order stream and wooded, steep slopes
  15. Protects the groundwater recharge abilities of the woods
  16. Maintains the existing riparian buffer to protect the watershed
  17. Protecting the stream corridor benefits downstream neighbors-over 500,000 people depend on the Brandywine Creek watershed for public and individual water supplies
  18. Protected woodlands are part of an unbroken corridor extending north onto Cheslen Preserve
  19. Stream corridor and woods are home to multiple endangered and threatened plant species
  20. Farmland and open space benefits everyone – keeping the costs of community services under control: For $1 of tax revenue from farmland, only 2-12 cents of community services are required. Residential costs are $1.33 for every $1 of tax revenue.
tlcBe a part of the solution by helping conserve Barnard’s Orchard for future generations!
Donate online here OR send check payable to TLC to:
The Land Conservancy for
Southern Chester County
541 Chandler Mill Road
Avondale, PA 19311

TLC also accepts Gifts of Stock; for details click here or contact

610-347-0347. 
All donations are 100% tax deductible.
If you have questions about this project,  please contact TLC today.
Thank you,
Gwendolyn M. Lacy, Esq.
Executive Director
(610) 347-0347 x 107
(610) 268-5507 (c)
sad
Chester County residents it’s do or die time. What do you want where you call home to look like?
Here is another very telling image taken by a friend of mine August 1st in West Vincent:
13876680_10210107066019031_3316649862016974527_n
Do we really think anyone is cleaning up the ruins of a decrepit old gas station or whatever for historic preservation?
And speaking of West Vincent, remember Bryn Coed.  It is TWICE the size of Chesterbrook. In my opinion, it is not a question of IF the land will be developed, but WHEN.
img_1840And I am not, believe it or not, completely anti-development.  Small and thoughtful projects that demonstrate careful planning are not problematic to me, but you do NOT see that today.  Developers come in and rape and pillage. It is nothing, ever about where WE call home, only how much money they can make. They don’t care about fitting their developments in with our existing surroundings or employing human scale in infill developments in towns (think East Side Flats in Malvern. I am all about supporting the local and small businesses there but talk about not fitting the surroundings.)
After all, take “Linden Hall” on Route 30 in East Whiteland.  The actual Linden Hall is NOT yet restored and what do we see? This:
27685291670_2d629ed33d_o
Is that about our community betterment or just about lining a developer’s profits?
8534073683_85d0f86dda_oAgain, I remind everyone that development should darn well be an election issue out here. Look at your candidates and what they stand for.  We need less who are proud of being “developer friendly” and more who are willing to preserve where we call home.  From the local township, borough, and so on to the State House and State Senate vote for Chester County. If a candidate can’t go on the record about what they will actually DO or an actual PLAN for preserving Chester County, it’s open spaces, agricultural and equestrian heritage, say bye bye to them.
I think Chester County’s future is worth more than crammed in developments of front end loaded plastic houses on postage stamp sized lots where there is not even enough room to garden let alone enjoy being outside.
22015047366_ebe0e60232_o

just doing god’s work?

After the Inquirer article appeared on the ruin of Ebenzer AME in Frazer, I contacted  Rev Dr Mark Tyler via e-email with a few interested folks on the e-mail including local historians.

Three times.

Why email? Because also included was information to help them make an informed decision. I stupidly thought maybe if they could see what we’ve been looking up, and see photos of the spot over the past few years, they would be interested in working together to clean this place up. 

When not even a simple acknowledgment of what had been sent to him was received after three attempts, I took to Twitter. Why did I take to Twitter? Because I learned that they respond to Twitter. 

But the lesson I learned again is there not particularly nice about anything if you aren’t one of their “flock”.

So I will call the good pastor but I’m not expecting much. Because the continued message I received from any level of this church is they aren’t interested in preserving their history. They also aren’t interested in communicating or speaking with me. 

They can pony up the money for fancy bicentennial celebration which must have been super expensive to put on, but they can’t clean up one small church yard and secure one small ruin?

I don’t even know where to go in my head with this. 

And what a horrible thing to think about any church. It’s so terribly sad. They all want to speak about and preach about their marvelous history, yet when their marvelous history needs saving they don’t want any parts of it?

I guess they might not want to respond in writing because then they have wiggle room for potential deniability down the road or something? 

Wow, what a take away lesson.

I do not like to think the worst of anyone, let alone a religious organization, but it’s been over three years at this point of my trying to get this place saved and it just gets more disappointing for everything of effort I expend.

The phone number is 215-925-0616.

I just phoned and I left a detailed message and who I was and why I was calling. I don’t expect a call back. I don’t expect an acknowledgment.

I really want to save this place but at this point in time I am just thoroughly disgusted.  I thought doing God’s work meant you tried to save places like Ebenezer AME. You do it for future generations, you do it for ancestors living today, do it for the history and the fact it’s a sacred place, and you do it because it’s the right thing to do.

Apparently I have been operating under a misapprehension all these years. Is no wonder that people step away from organized religion.

No I’m not disappointed in God, just the people representing him.

the song remains the same

This photo was taken the day many of us were interviewed for the Philadelphia Inquirer article. We had brought the reporter Kristin Holmes out to see the state of the site herself.

This photo was taken the day many of us were interviewed for the Philadelphia Inquirer article. We had brought the reporter Kristin Holmes out to see the state of the site herself.

Well as lots and lots of people know, The Philadelphia Inquirer covered the story of Ebenezer A.M.E. that was once located at 97 Bacton Hill Road in Frazer, East Whiteland Township, Chester County, PA.

Bacton-newsInterestingly, a  couple of fairly powerful and influential members (or so I was told) of the A.M.E. Church were interviewed : Rev. Dr. Teresa L. Fry Brown, executive director of the national denomination’s department of research and scholarship and Rev. Dr. Mark Kelly Tyler, senior pastor of Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church in Philadelphia.

I had contacted Rev. Dr. Teresa L. Fry Brown in the past and it kind of got nowhere. I have contacted the A.M.E. Church Elder Rev Charles H. Lett and that was late December, 2015. He never responded after we had a brief telephone conversation where he instructed me to write to him.

Most recently because of the Inquirer article, I contacted Rev. Dr. Mark Kelly Tyler, senior pastor of Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church in Philadelphia.  Three times. I have not even received an acknowledgement of my efforts to reach him.

So either the A.M.E. Church cares very little about honoring their history and their dead or they don’t want to hear from a woman who is not of their faith and is not related to anyone buried at Ebenezer AME in Frazer.

How sad and too bad, I am not giving up. The A.M.E. can’t just talk the talk of their history, they need to walk the walk of their history.  And if they could afford a giant bicentennial celebration in the city of their faith’s birthplace, surely they can afford one cleanup of one small old and sacred and historic place, right?

Here is the article before I tell you who I wrote to today for help:

Updated: JULY 17, 2016

Tia Manon trudged through the swampy cemetery of the old Ebenezer A.M.E. Church, looking for two names belonging to one man. (SLIDESHOW)

Perry Ringgold was a slave who escaped the South on the Underground Railroad. James Williams was the free man he became after he was harbored by a Quaker family in Exton.

According to family lore, this relative of Manon’s helped found the East Whiteland church in 1832, but none of the stone markers bore a trace of him, by either name. She did come across one name she recognized, a Reason – William Reason. Could he have been an ancestor of her late husband, George Reason?

….”It makes you feel very, very sad,” said Manon, 47, of Paoli, a student at Immaculata University.

She is among a group of neighbors and history buffs who want to clean up and preserve the two-acre tract on Bacton Hill Road. Officials of the Chester County township said that they will coordinate the effort, but that they first need permission from the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which they believe owns the property….

The 2.5 million-member A.M.E. Church, founded in Philadelphia by Bishop Richard Allen in 1816, is the oldest independent Protestant denomination established by African Americans. It currently has 7,000 congregations, but the number that sprang up over the centuries and then vanished is unknown.

Chester County is filled with the ghosts of churches past. Like Ebenezer, they grew in concert with pre-Civil War black communities in locations such as Uwchlan and Downingtown, said Renee Carey, a Chester County history enthusiast and South Coatesville borough councilwoman who has researched black churches and cemeteries.

 

I have only included an excerpt of the article, please read it in it’s entirety.  I worked for close to a year alone to get that article placed, and I am grateful to Tia for agreeing to be part of it.

EBeneSo anyway, today I decided to read a biography from the Mother Bethel website of this senior pastor  Rev. Dr. Mark Kelly Tyler. I got the bio off a Google cache truthfully because the Mother Bethel website is down more than it is up. I noticed he had been interviewed by a gentleman I believe to be the foremost authority today on African American history, Dr. Henry Louis “Skip” Gates of Harvard University. A lot of you would recognize him as the brains behind the PBS Series Finding Your Roots.

So I decided to e-mail Dr. Gates, it can’t hurt. Here is part of what I said:

Dr. Gates,

You don’t know me but I am a huge fan of your work. I watch your shows on PBS.  I live in Chester County, PA, and I am desperately trying along with others including the people on this e-mail to get the A.M.E. Church to save a 184 year old church ruin and cemetery.

The Church is named Ebenezer AME and land was deeded by a Quaker named Malin around 1831 and the church was completed in 1832. It was one of the earlier black churches out here and there is a graveyard too. In the graveyard there are USCT Civil War soldiers and freed slaves.  It is because of one of the Civil War soldiers I became interested in the first place. His name was Joshua Johnson. Ebenezer A.M.E. is still located even as a ruin on 97 Bacton Hill Road, Frazer, PA (East Whiteland Township, Chester County, PA)

I am a blogger and a native Philadelphian who moved to Chester County, PA a few years ago.  I have been trying for a few years now to get help.

All records indicate the AME Church still owns the land.  We just really want to get this place saved.  And I am hoping the reason I am ignored by the AME church doesn’t have to do with the fact it’s not my church and these aren’t my ancestors. To you, I respectfully submit these ARE the ancestors of people in the area, and there are more in addition to Tia who was in the article I placed with Kristin Holmes recently in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

I think you might be surprised by the people who wish to help get Ebenezer cleaned up before it is too late.  The A.M.E. Church needs to spearhead the initial clean-up as we all believe land is STILL owned by the AME Church and merely not owned by a church congregation that no longer exists. But there are people interested in helping the church after that as in volunteering their time.  The boy scouts always want service projects, in addition. And there is a history with local scouts and this place.

The A.M.E. Church just finished hosting their bicentennial in Philadelphia.  This is part of the history they celebrate this year.

I have been routinely ignored by the A.M.E. Church for three years now.

I am not the only one.

I am a realist, and not every sacred and/or historical place can be saved. But this place is special, truly special.

I also promised the poet A.V. (Ann) Christie before she died this spring of breast cancer I would keep working with others to save this.  I want to keep my word.

Most recently I contacted someone you interviewed not so long ago, Rev. Dr. Mark Kelly Tyler of Mother Bethel in Philadelphia. He was interviewed in the Inquirer article.  I alone have now sent him 3 emails with information to try to get Ebenezer saved. He has not even acknowledged receipt of the e-mails.  I can’t tell you how discouraging it all is.

I know you are so incredibly important a person and busy, but I thought maybe if someone like you expressed an interest, the A.M.E. church would actually respond to us.  We just want them to help us get it cleaned up.  It is so badly overgrown, we can’t just go onto their property and clean it up. We need their permission, and we need them frankly to pay for the initial clean-up.  After that we feel we can get volunteers organized and with the permission of the A.M.E. church hopefully keep it cleaned up going forward.

But we are at a critical juncture, and we need to get the A.M.E. Church moving now before all is lost forever.

I am not asking you for any sort of financial input, but I am asking you to help us because of your unique academic and celebrity position.   You are the one who teaches us how to find our roots and the importance of our personal histories.  You are also the foremost authority on African American History in this country today.  The people buried at Ebenezer are part of that history. Plus there  are local residents and not so local residents interested in honoring their ancestors buried here.

I hope you can help us.

 

So we will see if that helps, or if Dr. Gates responds. He is kind of famous, so maybe he won’t. But I hope he does.

Here are some e-mail addresses for any of you out there interested in getting Ebenezer saved:

The pastor at Mother Bethel interviewed in the Inquirer is Mark Kelly Tyler.  Markkellytyler@gmail.com

Rev Dr. Calvin H. Sydnor III, The 20th Editor,
The Christian Recorder — Since 1852
“The Official Newspaper of the African Methodist Episcopal Church”

www.the-christian-recorder.org
Office: 615. 714-0986
chsydnor@bellsouth.net

Other emails I found to add to emails:

Dr. Richard Lewis Richlew1@aol.com

journeyministry@aol.com

cio@ame-church.com

info@stpaulsamecmalvern.org – Unfortunately note that the Malvern folks have never replied to anything. Ditto for Info@MotherBethel.com

Rev. Dr. Teresa L. Fry Brown teresa.brown@emory.edu or AMECHistoryintheMaking@yahoo.com

Bishop Ingram  BishopIngram@firstdistrictame.org and alternate e-mail for First District AME is Clinton@FirstDistrictAME.org

Click HERE for a Google Cache of organizers of the A.M.E’s bicentennial.

Be polite but please consider writing to these folks to get them to help save the ruins and graveyard of Ebenezer AME Church on Bacton Hill Road in Frazer, East Whiteland, Chester County.

If you are a member of an AME congregation please tell them and the location of your church. If you have ancestors or think you have ancestors buried at Ebenezer, tell them that as well. I would also suggest including a link to the Inquirer article.

Seriously, just because they don’t respond to me it doesn’t mean they won’t respond to you- the MORE emails they get the more likely they will pay attention.

In closing, yes the song remains the same, but we can hope the more people talk about Ebenezer, the better our chances to save it and what remains of the graves.

#ThisPlaceMatters

The only photo I have ever seen from a book by Chester County Historian Catherine Quillman (History of the Conestoga Turkpike)

The only photo I have ever seen from a book by Chester County Historian Catherine Quillman (History of the Conestoga Turkpike)

tomorrow begins the bicentennial of the a.m.e. church in philadelphia, but they still don’t honor their dead in chester county, pa

13533075_900144076760594_3309194531261614814_nRichard Allen (February 14, 1760  to March 26, 1831 was a minister, educator, writer and one of this country’s original, most active, and influential black leaders.  In 1794 he founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia. This was the first black denomination and independent church in the US.  The first actual church opened in richardallenautobio_halfPhiladelphia in 1794.

Richard Allen was born into slavery on one of the properties of Benjamin Chew as another piece of property because he was a slave.  He bought his freedom around 1780 at the age of 20 from a subsequent master named Stokeley Sturgis.

In 1816 the AME church was founded more formally and Allen was elected the first Bishop. He had bee a minister for years prior to this and Mother Bethel in Philadelphia actually first opened her doors to worship around 1794.  Bishop Allen organized this religious denomination where freed blacks could worship without racial oppression and where slaves could find dignity and a welcoming place. He worked to literally lift up the black community, also organizing  schools to teach literacy arichard allen muralnd promoting national organizations to develop political strategies. Bishop Allen died the year Ebenezer A.M.E. at 97 Bacton Hill Road in Frazer, PA Chester County opened.

Tomorrow July 6, 2016, leaders and members of the A.M.E. Church descend on Philadelphia to celebrate their Bicentennial in the city where it all began.

Festivities over the past few days in advance include the unveiling of a beautiful bronze statue of Richard Allen and a mural too.  Some very kind people thought enough to send me photos.

They are all a twitter (literally) over this magnanimous and festive and historic occasion. They are tweeting, Facebooking and Instagramming. It’s all about the bicentennial. You can sign up to watch it stream, attend galas, pay $5 to have your photo taken in front of a special paparazzi walk banner.  ‪#‎IamAME‬‪#‎a200mecgc2016‬ are their hashtags of choice

They have ALL sorts of money to spruce up Mother Bethel, throw parties, rent a giant big city convention center and yet….wait for it…. those of us who have been contacting the A.M.E. Church nationally and regionally for YEARS still want to know when they will honor their dead on Bacton Hill Road.

The A.M.E. Church elders are veritable slum lords to their dead and I find that disgraceful. 

On June 25th their First District tweeted at me:

June 25

Let’s see how do I say this? Straight out? THEY HAVE DONE NOTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Their history, their dead, our country’s history – it is all in this ruin of a church and a cemetery of folks of a local A.M.E. Church founded only 30 some odd years AFTER the entire religious organization was founded and they opened their doors the year Bishop Richard Allen died.

EBeneWHY DON’T THEY CARE ABOUT THEIR HISTORY? Is it all about the money they make today saying they value their history at their bicentennial? If they can pay for the bicentennial in Philadelphia are you telling me that these religious hypocrites can’t pay to clean up Ebenezer’s ruins on Bacton Hill Road? People from Tredyffrin, Malvern, East Whiteland, West Chester, and West Vincent just to name a few local municipalities (and this doesn’t take into consideration the people from other areas of the east coast and country who probably do not even realize they have ancestors there.

Ebenenezer A.M.E. is so badly overgrown at this point that NO ONE can pay their respects to the dead. There are (again) freed slaves there and black civil war soldiers. Surely their lives mean SOMETHING to the A.M.E. Church? I am appalled that as of tomorrow they will be preaching the word of God and talking about their 200 years of history and an hour outside Philadelphia and about 20 minutes from Valley Forge, they have just blown off their responsibility on a land parcel the NATIONAL A.M.E. Church STILL OWNS!  

The A.M.E. Church elders are veritable slum lords to their dead and I find that disgraceful. 

Someone wrote to me recently:

I am afraid you will get NO cooperation or interest from anyone there. Shame is the only press they understand—maybe  a local news station could bring attention to it.
 
I feel bad for local families with graves in the cemetery who cannot pay their respects.
Yeah so media, how about it? How about a little field trip? This is what you will see:
ame frazer
If the A.M.E. took care of their history and honored their dead it could look like these photos from a clean up OTHER people did in 2011:
ebenezer 2011 1 ebenezer 2011
You can check the archives of this place, I have written about this for multiple years at this point if you are interested.  Here is the link to the boy scout report of many moons ago – if you look through it you will see names of the dead buried here that people know of:

 

And yes, there is now also a social media movement to save Ebenezer A.M.E. on Bacton Hill Road:

save ebe

Feel free to LIKE and SHARE.

#thisplacematters

A.M.E. Church can you hear us now? Do you care about your history and your dead? Or are you just all about the party and bicentennial media hype?

What would Bishop Richard Allen do?  What would Bishop Richard Allen say? I think he would be sorely disappointed in the stewards of the church and religious movement he founded.

bishop-richard-allen-stamp-1

The A.M.E. Church elders are veritable slum lords to their dead and I find that disgraceful. 

loch aerie in the 1950s

 

I found a copy of the 1950s publication by Time Life that featured a picture, a glorious picture of Loch Aerie in the 1950s and bought it.

The photo is taken from the rear one there were still the water features out in the backyard and swans. 

There were even once roses the climbed up the back porch.

Look how stunning!

#thisplacematters

Praying the right preservation buyer steps up for the auction April 21st.

if you have this book you have an illustration of loch aerie

 
If you have this Little Golden Book – A Child’s Garden of Verses illustrated by Eloise Wilken then you have an illustration of Loch Aerie from the rear that was done originally around 1957! The book is still in print today and you can buy it on Amazon for your children or grandchildren.

That is the cool thing about this old mansion which had its last open house before the April 21 auction today – the more I write about it the more people contact me to tell me about things where the mansion is pictured or featured in.

I can find almost nothing about the Lockwood family but I keep discovering things about the mansion.

Loch Aerie apparently has inspired artists, photographers, and illustrators since she was built.

Praying for a conservation/preservation minded buyer.  This old gal deserves more then a haphazard developer who won’t care.  There is enough of that going around these days already.

#thisplacematters