Friends of Northeast Philadelphia History and Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce are teaming up to bring this year’s festival to Cannstatter Volkfest-Verein next Saturday.
The fair, which has been happening on a semi-biennial basis since 2009, will be the biggest yet, featuring tables from approximately 32 different organizations.
“History is really the one thing that keeps us all together,” said Fred Moore, Friends of Northeast Philadelphia History treasurer. “This is an opportunity to get together without all other baggage to study common local history, learn about it and talk about it.”
For the first time, the festival will feature a new book presented by the Friends of Northeast Philadelphia History and researched, transcribed and written by Charles McCloskey. Descriptive Inventory and Transcription of Gordon, Saltar, Wharton Family Papers, 1723-1858 is an examination of old documents from several generations of three prominent local families that were recovered in 2017.
“The book is a collection of 102 letters and 294 other pages including wills, bills, receipts and legal papers from the belated families,” McCloskey said. The book examines the personal and business dealings of the Gordon, Saltar and Wharton families, providing a glimpse into what life was like for the families living in Tacony in the early 18th to mid-19th century.
McCloskey spent almost a year working on the book, and said letters written by Frances Saltar (1790-1880), often referred to as ‘Fanny,’ surprised him. A descendant of the family had published some of Fanny’s letters in 1916, but new information found in the letters gives greater detail and involves former President Thomas Jefferson, McCloskey said.
The documents also establish an importance for Tacony during the Revolutionary War, McCloskey said.
“People don’t think of Tacony when they think of the American Revolution, but this now establishes a connection in the letter,” he said.
The book will be available for sale at the festival and available online at a later date.
Fair-goers also have the option of attending free presentations about topics like the Byberry prison farm, the Lewis and Clark expedition and the Gordon, Saltar and Wharton family papers. The presentations will run from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., noon to 1 p.m. and 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.
“This is the one time where all local historical organizations come together, where you can find in one place the most comprehensive history in the Northeast Philly area,” said Jack McCarthy, Friends of Northeast Philadelphia History president.
The festival had previously been held at Holy Family University and featured approximately 20 tables. Attendance had improved each festival, Moore said, hoping the trend would continue this year with more attractions than ever.
The festival runs 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 30. Cannstatter is located at 9130 Academy Road. Admission is free. Books, prints, photographs and other historical items will be available. For more information, email NEPhillyHistory@gmail.com or visit the organization’s Facebook page at facebook.com/Northeast-Philadelphia-History-Network-145815925488829/