Stephanie Hoover

May 2017
History-Tainment Monthly

© Stephanie Hoover

Clingman's Dome, Tennessee
When you live in Pennsylvania you become a bit "snobbish" where natural beauty is concerned. The abundant mountains, lakes, rivers and wide-open farm fields tend to spoil you. And that's why it's important to travel a bit. See other vistas. Find new appreciation of the world outside your door.

Recently I was able to do just that. We took our annual family vacation in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. If you're not familiar with the area, it's not only the hometown of Dolly Parton - it's also smack dab in the middle of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While there, we took the drive up to Clingman's Dome (see my picture of the view, above). At 6,643 feet it is the highest elevation in the state. The sights from that vantage point are breathtaking and it was a vacation we will never forget. Yet, like all travel, it also helped us remember why we love coming home.

For those of you planning trips this summer, give some thought to Philadelphia's Center for Art in Wood. It's not only a niche research facility, it's also a wonderful place to see sculptures, carvings and other wood creations. More details below.

Jacob Eichholtz, a portrait painter whose works are included in the collections of the Smithsonian Institute, was a prolific Lancaster County artist. He created portraits of many of Lancaster and Philadelphia's citizens. Below you will find a bit more information on Eichholtz, and a link to a list of his portrait subjects.

This issue marks the debut of a new feature. It's called Who Do You Think I Am? and it's a bit of a challenge. We tell the story of an historical figure. Can you guess who he or she is...?

Thanks for reading. Please do let me know what you think of the newsletter. If you have any suggestions for stories, I'd love those too. And, if you travel throughout Pennsylvania this summer, share your pictures and tales. You can reach me at: stefhoover AT gmail DOT com.

Author, Folklorist, Researcher
Member: The Authors Guild ~ Sisters in Crime ~ American Crime Writers League

Jacob Eichholtz:
Pennsylvania's Famed Portrait Painter

Did he paint your ancestor?

Jacob Eichholtz was a self-taught painter born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in 1776 during the American Revolutionary War. He died in 1842 leaving behind a vast catalog of both well- and little-known paintings, many of which are on display in venues ranging from the Smithsonian Institute to the walls of private collectors.

Eichholtz painted the portraits of many Lancaster and Philadelphia families including politicians, lawyers, judges, doctors, and men and women of various stations in life.

Think your ancestor may have been painted by Eichholtz? To view a list of his portrait subjects, visit this page of

Do You Know Who I Am?

Lewis PowellWith my brooding good looks and boy-band like hairstyle, I could be a 21st century heartthrob. But I was actually born in 1844.

My place in history was sealed on the evening of April 14, 1865. I met John Wilkes Booth two months earlier. He bought me lunch at Barnum's Hotel in Baltimore and told me of his plan to kidnap President Abraham Lincoln. I believed in Booth's cause so strongly I quickly became one of his most trusted co-conspirators.

The kidnapping was a dangerous plan, not the least because it was to be carried out during a daytime matinee at Ford's Theatre. I was supposed to catch Lincoln as Booth lowered him to the stage from the Lincoln's usual box seat. But what was the rest of the audience going to do while that was happening?

Turns out we'd never find out. Booth decided he wasn't going to snatch the president, he was going to kill him. I was given the job of killing Secretary of State William H. Seward. Another of our group would assassinate Vice President Andrew Johnson.

I knew I could find Seward at home. He'd been in a carriage accident a few days earlier and the newspapers said that's where he was recuperating. When I got to his house, I made it past the butler pretty easily. Seward's son, Frederick, was a different matter entirely. He put up a fight. I tried to shoot him but my gun misfired, so I pistol-whipped him. While all that was happening, the butler made it outside and started yelling, "Murder!" I knew I had to act fast.

I pulled my knife and ran into Seward's bedroom. I stabbed him several times in the face and throat. There was so much blood, I was sure he was dead. Turns out, the metal splint the doctor put on his jaw after the carriage accident prevented any lethal injuries.

I hightailed it out of there and eventually made my way to Surratt's boarding house. But there was no safe place for me to hide.

Four days later, Seward's butler identified me. I went on trial May 9th. On July 6th, the verdict was announced: guilty of conspiracy and attempted murder.

My name is Lewis Powell and I was hanged on July 7, 1865 for my part in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

History Happening Now

Hugh Jackman plays showman and promoter P.T. Barnum in The Greatest Showman, arriving in theaters on Christmas day, 2017. The movie is described as a "biography/drama/musical" and co-stars Zac Efron.

The Favourite travels back to the 17th century to tell the story of Anne, Queen of Great Britain. Although pregnant 17 times, there were no surviving children at her death making Anne the last Stuart monarch. The film stars Emma Stone, Rachel Weiscz and Olivia Coleman.

Featured Pennsylvania Repository:
The Center for Art in Wood

The wonderful thing about conducting research in Pennsylvania is that there seems to be a repository for every subject, no matter how specialized. That's certainly the case with Philadelphia's Center for Art in Wood. Established in 1986 as the Wood Turning Center, this facility's mission is to advance and promote artists using wood - alone or with other materials - in their work.

The museum houses more than 1,000 wooden items, while the research library curates over 25,000 artists' files and 1,800 books. The Center is a repository for archival collections from wood artists and researchers studying wood art.

Whether you're looking for an ancestor who turned or crafted wood items, or you simply have a personal interest in woodcarving or sculpture, the Center for Art in Wood is a beautiful and interesting addition to your Pennsylvania "to see" list.

RESEARCH TIP: Looking for other Pennsylvania genealogical and historical societies? The largest, most accurate, free directory of Pennsylvania societies on the web can be found on this page of

Want to Research Your Pennsylvania Ancestors Like a Pro?

Cover of Your Guide to Pennsylvania Genealogy Research
Stephanie Hoover is sharing her nearly 30 years of professional Pennsylvania research experience in her latest book Your Guide to Pennsylvania Genealogy Research (tentatively scheduled for Summer 2017 release.) To receive publication updates, use this easy form. Your email address will never be shared or sold.

Circle that Date!

Are you a WWII buff? Lover of old aircraft? Or maybe a fan of "big band" style music? If you answered "yes" to any of these, check out the 27th annual World War II Weekend at the Mid Atlantic Air Museum in Reading, Pennsylvania. This year's event runs Friday, June 2nd, through Sunday, June 4th, and includes an air show, military vehicle show, battle recreations and a militaria flea market. For complete details, visit

Join the Community

Are you a social media user? If so, one of my Pennsylvania Genealogy & History groups might be right down your digital alley:

Facebook - currently 350+ members

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Enjoy the Whole History-Tainment Network

Looking for something entertaining and historical to read? Give the whole Hoover's History-Tainment Network a try! It includes:

• Hauntingly USA - Legends, Folklore & True Crime from around the United States
• Hauntingly PENNSYLVANIA™ - Where History & Hauntings Meet
• Mysteries at Sea - Sea Legends, Ghost Stories & Mythical Monsters
• Prose ‘n Cons™ Mystery & True Crime News

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