The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

The Valley

June 19, 2014

Rake-making Demo at Rural Heritage Day

— LEWISBURG — On July 12 during Rural Heritage Day at the Dale/Engle/Walker property, David Witmer, a student at Warrior Run High School, will be working on the steps required to make rakes, just as our ancestors did.  

Our founding fathers and mothers were hard working people. Their ability to fend for themselves in Penn’s Woods 250-300 years ago is nearly unimaginable to those of us living in the comforts and convenience of the 21st century. Our fore-parents were resourceful, creative, and could recognize a natural resource when they saw one. To them, Penn’s Woods was full of resources, and was a land of vast opportunity. What they needed to survive was up to them to create: shelter, a cleared field for planting, mills for grinding grain into flour for bread. Harvesting a field of grain required a sickle or scythe and a rake. There was likely an oak or ash and a hickory tree among those cut to clear the field, providing just the material needed to make a sturdy and serviceable rake. What could be more satisfying than harvesting the grain you planted with the rake you made yourself? It will serve for many years. Light weight and strong, easy to repair if needed.

Witmer became interested in this nearly-forgotten skill by watching an older friend make rakes for the Fort Freeland Heritage Days in Warrior Run. When the friend moved on, David decided to step in and fill his shoes. He can be considered an apprentice at this craft, but David is studying and practicing mostly on his own; there is no Master Rake Maker at Fort Freeland to guide him, although Rich Nornhold, of Watsontown, has been assisting Witmer in his pursuit of this craft.

Find Witmer making a rake near the porch at the “Dale” House on July 12. He will be among more that 40 other demonstrators at work during the day long (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) Rural Heritage Day at the Dale/Engle/Walker House, 1471 Strawbridge Road, Lewisburg.

For more information on Rural Heritage Day, contact the Union County Historical Society at (570) 524-8666 or, and visit the website


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