Meet some of the artisans who bring the past to life at Landis Valley | Last year

The Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum may have started as a collection of tools and other crafts related to the heritage of George and Henry Landis in Pennsylvania German.

But thanks to the people who work and volunteer in the museum, it has become a place of living history.

Landis Valley is waking up again after being closed for a long time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. People who showcase historic crafts and commerce bring the site of the Canton of Mannheim to life. It allows us to understand at the visceral level what life was like in rural villages in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Some volunteers work for the site’s educational programming organization, Landis Valley Associates, while others are independent contractors.

We spoke to four people who organize demonstrations and educational programs for visitors. In it, they answered questions from thousands of visitors and continued to hydrate themselves with hundreds of glasses of water in hot weather when crosswinds were the only air conditioner in historic buildings.

You can meet them on the annual Landis Valley Harvest Day, a celebration of rural village life in the fall. Scheduled for October 9 and 10 (see) landisvalleymseum.org For more information).


Mike Secrist



Blacksmith Mike Secrist forges in the Landis Valley.



About 10 years ago Mike Seeklist from Landisville approached the Landis Valley administration and asked if he could learn how to be a blacksmith in the field.

“At first, I’m very grateful that I can come to the blacksmith and learn more together,” says Secrist.

“For me being able to tell people about the history of the forge and the history of iron ore here in Lancaster is a big part of it,” he says. “The other part is that I can show. While people are watching, I can hit things to produce, and that’s fun for me too.

After retiring from BAE Systems in York and dealing with design, drafting and engineering, Seachrist acts as an independent contractor in the historic Landis Valley Blacksmith Building, which has moved from Gettysburg to the site.

Secrist wears a leather apron, heats the charcoal forgings to 1,300-1,500 degrees Celsius and keeps them on fire all day. Using low carbon steel, which is hard to get into wrought iron as it used to be, he can make anything from nails to trivets.

“Fever is your friend,” he says. “You have to raise (the metal) to its yellow-orange color for it to bend…. Sometimes you have to get away from the forge. There are wide doors in the back and in the front, and this goes when the breeze blows. There are very hot days. This is a difficult work.

“I love to study history and read about history,” says Secrist, a graduate of Conestuga Valley High School. “But I also like blacksmithing techniques… and just for their importance during the War of Independence and Civil War, and for those who settled down. They can be made by blacksmiths. I needed what I could – tools that farmers used to cook together, chains in their buildings, different kinds of tools. “

When not a blacksmith, Seclist, 67, enjoys spending time with his wife Patty and two grown daughters, Keri and Beth, refurbishing a 1980 Jeep.

And he’s in touch with his mentor. Seclist says he goes once a week to the Brownstown Blacksmith in Rodspots, one of the former Landis Valley blacksmiths who taught him the trade.


Fat Haldeman



Fat Haldeman

Deb Haldeman will demonstrate textile art and textile art in Landis Valley.



“My grandfather loved history. Every time I walked into his home he asked me about history and time. Some kids may have stopped, but I ate it. “

About 15 years ago, Haldemann, who home-schooled three children and taught English and history in a home-schooling group, saw an advertisement for a job in Landis Valley on paper.

“I always took my kids to places like this,” says Haldemann. “It seemed like an ideal job. I love children, I love history. Everyone who works and teaches here has the same idea.

She was hired by Landis Valley Associates as a children’s workshop facilitator to teach young visitors hands-on activities, from sewing to starting a fire and learning about life in a school in unique class.

She enjoys working in different buildings every day.

About once a week, Haldeman is at Textile Barn in Landis Valley. There are a lot of spinning wheels, looms and other equipment.

It shows how the linen is threaded and sent to a local weaver for the fabric. She shows the visitor how to tap and subdue the fibers, thread them through a large metal comb, then twist and spin them into thread with a pedal-operated spinning wheel.

Young visitors needed a quarter of an acre of linen to make a garment, each person’s garment was to last a year and slept in the same clothes as during the day. She says she was shocked.

Young visitors say: “There is no idea that (in the 1700s) children worked from sundown to sundown and only had the opportunity to play with their parents’ permission the Sunday after. -midday, ”says Haldemann.

Outside of the Landis Valley, Haldemann enjoys reading, reading and reading Scherenschnitte (creating art with intricate paper cutouts) learned in the Landis Valley in the garden.

Haldemann, 63, grew up in Mannheim and still lives with her husband, Larry. Her three children, Sherry, Andy and Dan, grew up camping in Landis Valley, and now Haldeman’s grandson.


Kathy resin ski



Kathy resin ski

Kathy Resinsky is a bakery in the Landis Valley.



During his life as a Girl Scout, he volunteered to bring Kathy Resinski to Landis Valley about five years ago.

It now features historic baked goods in a 1700s Landis Valley farmer’s Lister oven and hearth baking in the museum tavern building.

“My experience with campfire cooking was a Girl Scout,” says Ledzinski. She has been in charge of Girl Scouts for 25 years.

She has volunteered for many years at the early 19th century Foxfire House at Girl Scouts Camp Furness Hills, Lancaster County.

“Foxfire House has a life history program for Pennsylvania German girls,” says Ledzinski. She also worked at Landis Valley and said she continued to meet other leaders who encouraged her to volunteer at the museum.

“When I came here, I said ‘Yes I can cook on a fire, no I have never baked in the oven, no I have cooked historic dishes No, but I can make a fire’, said Ledzinski.

Ledzinski always cooks soup on fire in the huge foyer of a tavern, bakes peach pies and bakes bread and bishop’s cakes in the Lister oven (the oven where the fireplace wraps around the dome) . It’s possible. A tail-shaped oven – and explain everything to your visitors.

Ledzinski, 69, of Nef’sville, retired from Pequea Valley High School, a math teacher. She enjoys reading and knitting and makes blankets and scarves that organizations distribute to those in need.

Growing up in Delaware County, Ledzinski worked as a costumed tour guide at the former historic Man Full of Trouble Tavern in Philadelphia while in high school and college. She came to Millersville University to get a bachelor’s degree and never left the area.

Ledzinski says he is more interested in colonial lifestyles and cultures than in wars and battles. “What did they wear, what did they eat and how did they live their lives? “

“I always thought it would be fun to do this,” says Ledzinski of volunteering at Landis Valley. “When we go to Williamsburg, my husband (Wolt) has a hard time getting me out of the palace kitchen and other kitchens. Now I’m really one of the women I always love to watch, I really do. “


Marc Benoit



Marc Benoit

Mark Benedict is a leather goods maker in the Landis valley.



Mark Benedict started working with leather almost 50 years ago. It took him a few more years to start making custom, handmade historic shoes, and his government job was shut down in the winter.

“It’s the next 200th anniversary of the American Revolutionary War, and all these people wanted cartridges, belts, bayonet scabbards and all the other leather knick knacks. I said I can. “I thought,” says Benedict from Maryland. ..

Around 1972, “I was literally a little apprentice with a man who wanted to graduate from college for his leatherwork,” says Benedict. “He was very open to his diagrams, his sources, his knowledge. The shoes did not arrive until around 1985…. I was a public servant at the time, and the governor had an emergency during the winter break. Declared. I’m stuck for someone I’ve known for a few days (at home). Now is the best time to make shoes. “

For 15 years, Benedict has been demonstrating his leather goods, mainly footwear, several days a month as an independent contractor in the construction of a leather goods store in Landis Valley.

While working in leather as a hobby, Benedict, now 70, was also trained to be a museum interpreter. He was one of the first groups of rangers to be formed when Valley Forge became a national park. (He lived there for some time at the old station). He also visited hundreds of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall and other buildings.

He also demonstrated at the Pennsylvania German Goschen Hoppenfolk Festival and the Efrata Cloister in Montgomery County.

Recently, he has been semi-retired, makes custom shoes and explains his profession at the museum.

He says he’s not interested in making a lot of shoes in different sizes for sale at craft fairs. When someone learns their skills through word of mouth, they make one pair of shoes at a time, perhaps with laces and buckles, while waiting for some historic handmade shoes.

“If I was advertising I would be very overwhelmed,” he says. “It’s just making pocket money with my hobbies.”

Meet some of the artisans who bring the past to life at Landis Valley | Last year

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