Past Calling: A factory and the boys who worked there

2 min read557 views and 21 shares Posted March 27, 2020

Past Calling: this is a phrase—not so much used anymore—to describe a former occupation that one had. It is also the name of a monthly feature brought to you jointly by LebTown and the Lebanon County Historical Society.

In each installment of this feature the Society will share a different historic photo, document, or object from its collection. We welcome you, the reader, to examine, investigate, and share anything you know or discover about the object or document in question.

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Last time on Past Calling…

A man in several layers of clothing, including a hat and boots. He is carrying an umbrella and a briefcase, standing in front of a curtain backdrop. (Full resolution)

Reverend Charles J. Morton (1863-1943) was the subject of our previous Past Calling image. In 1915, he founded St. John African Methodist Episcopal Church at 13th and Walnut Streets in the city. For $9 per month he rented the initial structure located there—a pole building—erected around 1910 for St. Francis Parish.

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In 1917, Morton and a group of St. John trustees purchased the structure on installment payments, acquiring the church furniture separately for $1. In 1923, Morton and the trustees laid a cornerstone and built basement foundation walls with masonry. Serving as pastor from 1915 until he became too ill in 1941, Morton regularly carried an umbrella—rain or shine—in which he collected funds in town for the parish and their church.

Both born in Virginia and coming to Lebanon by way of Reading, Rev. Morton and his wife Magnolia lived on South 11th Street starting in 1921. After Magnolia’s passing in 1939, he married a second time, in his own church. Such was his popularity that hundreds of guests—black and white—came to his small church for the service.

Rev. Morton is interred at Mount Lebanon Cemetery. His home is no longer extant, but his congregation has been continuously active as the county’s first and only A.M.E. church in their original location.

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St. John’s AME Church as pictured in 1970. (R. William Uhler/Lebanon County Historical Society)

This month’s artifact

A photograph taken inside a factory. Rows of workstations line either side of a wide room. Children sit at the tables with fabric and machinery before them. (Full resolution)
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In times past America was a different place, and children in Lebanon, as in many other communities, helped to earn family money. Do you know what was the calling of these children in this Lebanon factory—what were they doing and what were they making?

Previous Past Callings

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