Blog

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Erie Native Kenneth Ahrens – Christmas 1944: A Malmedy Massacre Survivor Testifies

Jeff Sherry, Museum Educator

Friday Dec 16th, 2022

On December 17, 1944, perhaps the most infamous war crime committed against American soldiers in World War II took place near the small Belgian town of Malmedy. An American artillery observation unit ran head on into a German SS Panzer unit. A brief firefight followed, and over one-hundred Americans surrendered. With their arms held high, the Germans machine-gunned the POWs and killed 84. Sergeant Kenneth Ahrens of Erie, Pennsylvania survived by playing dead for two to three hours as the enemy moved among the dead, wounded and dying and shot anyone showing signs of life. Ahrens and a handful of others managed to escape near dark and spread the word that the Germans were killing prisoners. It was the second day of the Battle of the Bulge. The Germans were not wasting time or manpower on prisoners of war, they had a schedule to keep. It was to be Hitler’s last major offensive against Allies in Western Europe. Time was of the essence.

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Erie’s Iron Ship - Part 3 - The USS Michigan in the Civil War

Jeff Sherry, Museum Educator

Friday Dec 9th, 2022

The USS Paddle Frigate Michigan, the first iron-hulled ship in the U.S. Navy. Built in parts in Pittsburgh and assembled in Erie, she was launched in 1843 and commissioned in 1845. Her role was to be America’s only armed warship on the Great Lakes. Negotiations with Britain after the War of 1812 stipulated that each country was to have just one armed ship on the lakes. While her armament changed many times at the whim of events and politics, Michigan remained a fixture in Erie and the western lakes for her entire career. Her home port was Erie, and so many sailors married Erie girls, the city took on the nickname “mother-in-law of the Navy.”

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The USS Michigan-Erie’s Iron Ship Part 2- The Fenian Raid

Jeff Sherry

Friday Dec 2nd, 2022

The iron-hulled U.S Paddle Frigate Michigan, homeport Erie, was launched in 1843 and commissioned in 1845. Michigan was the first iron-hulled ship in the U.S. Navy. The reader might be familiar with the “ironclads” of the Civil War. These ships were often just that-wooden ships clad in iron sheets to deflect enemy cannon shot. Michigan was made of iron. The 1840s was a time of experimentation in naval design. Ships had been made of wood for thousands of years, and that art had progressed to a high state development and had begun to see the introduction of steam engines to power vessels-even if most, like Michigan, were still fitted with sails. Michigan’s steam engine powered two large paddle wheels, one on each side.

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Reflecting on 70 years of the Barber National Institute’s history

Mary Cuneo

Sunday Nov 27th, 2022

When Gertrude Barber opened the first class for children with intellectual disabilities, she began a journey that would not only change their lives, but the future of thousands more children, adults, and families. Indeed, her work led to the founding of an organization that would become known across the state and the nation for its pioneering services.

The Barber National Institute, this year marking its 70th anniversary, now serves more than 6,200 children and adults in locations throughout Pennsylvania. With more than 2,000 employees, it is ranked as the tenth largest employer in Erie.

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Cookery Through Time #2

Elizabeth Sul-Celline - HHC Docent

Friday Nov 25th, 2022

I love autumn and all of the new opportunities it brings for food. We are a household that hunts and forages, and I wanted to recreate a recipe that honors those fresh ingredients while reflecting on how they were used in the past.

I’m happy to say my husband harvested an anterless deer on the first day of muzzleloader season, so I’ll have lots of venison to work with this winter. For this past Sunday I chose to re-create a venison pie recipe from James, V. E. Mother James' Key to Good Cooking: With Complete Instructions in Household Management, Designed to Meet the Requirements of Common Every-day Use in the Country and Village Homes of the Present Day, Being the Result of Forty Years' Experience in Practical Housekeeping and in Every Phase and Department of Cookery from the Humble Country Home to the City Mansion. United States: N.D. Thompson. 1892.

I know, that’s quite a title!

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Happiness & Long Life for All its Residents #103

Becky Weiser

Wednesday Nov 23rd, 2022

The harbor of Erie is considered the finest on the Great Lakes in regard to the natural protection of the Peninsula. Unfortunately, the lack of proper development of shipping infrastructure at the port has hindered the growth of the city according to John Nolen’s observations in 1913. 

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Erie’s Iron Ship, Part 1-The USS Michigan Takes on the Timber Pirates

Jeff Sherry, Museum Educator

Friday Nov 18th, 2022

Timber Pirates? On the Great Lakes? Yes, timber pirates. What was a timber pirate? In the early days of America’s westward expansion, the United States government held vast areas of timbered land on the upper (western) Great Lakes and elsewhere. Loggers who illegally cut down the trees on federal lands and sold them were known as timber pirates. They were an especially violent bunch, much like a modern drug cartel or the pirates of lore, sailing the Great Lakes instead of the Caribbean. Federal law enforcement could do little to stop them, and they were quite adept at intimidating the locals and informants. The United States Paddle Frigate Michigan would soon join the fray.

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Happiness & Long Life for All its Residents #102

Becky Weiser

Wednesday Nov 16th, 2022

One of the first things I do when I move to a new location is to find out where the nearest public transportation is. This was vitally important when I lived on Long Island, New York and did not own a car. In Erie, I own a car but still find it important on days I do not want to drive to have an alternate form of transportation available. For example, when the car is covered in snow and driving is difficult, I enjoy taking a bus. The Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority (EMTA) bus drivers are helpful and friendly which makes the otherwise difficult journey enjoyable.

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On this 103rd Commemoration of Veterans Day

Doug Squeglia

Friday Nov 11th, 2022

The day was November 19th, 1863 at the Consecration of the National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. In part of his two-minute address, President Lincoln noted, “But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men and women1, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here”.

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Happiness & Long Life for All its Residents #101

Becky Weiser

Wednesday Nov 9th, 2022

I grew up in Erie County with farms surrounding my parents’ home. Since that time, I have lived on a spread-out college campus, the dense population of the New York City area, and the high plains desert of Colorado with a lot of nothing. Now I live in the City of Erie, and I am grateful for the many outdoor benefits of living here. I feel as though I am close to everything and enjoying the greenspaces in the city is no exception. In John Nolen’s consultation in 1913, he admonished the city for its lack of parks and playgrounds.