Located in the heart of the historic Locus Grove area, on what was part of the over 440-acre land warrant given by the William Penn Family to John Galbraith Jr., the Haldeman Mansion stands as a window into the 18th and 19th century life in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Completed in 1811, the Haldeman Mansion was the childhood home of Samuel S. Haldeman, a renowned scientist and professor whose work is said to have influenced Charles Darwin. Nowadays, the Haldeman Mansion carries the proud role of being the the first historic structure in the Bainbridge-Conoy Township areas. The Haldeman Mansion Preservation Society aims to restore and preserve the existing buildings and grounds of the Mansion. Thus, the mansion prevails for public access and it serves as a museum house, a community landmark, and a meeting place.
Backstory and Context
Samuel Steman Haldeman
It is important to note that Samuel S. Haldeman never owned the house, and the mansion is solely regarded as being the birthplace and childhood home of the famed naturalist, philologist, and linguist. Samuel Steman Haldeman, born at the mansion in Bainbridge on August 12, 1812, was the oldest of seven children of Henry Haldeman (1787-1849) and his wife Frances Steman (1794-1826). His father, who appreciated culture, endeavored to foster a love of learning in his children. His mother, an accomplished musician, died when Samuel was fourteen years of age. As a child Haldeman had a penchant for collecting specimens from nature and Native American stone implements found on and near the mansion site, keeping them in his own museum. His collection included skeletons of rabbits, opossums, muskrats, and field mice, which he prepared by boiling the carcasses. It also included fresh-water shells from both banks of the Susquehanna River and its islands. A letter from Samuel to a friend, dated 1844, says, "I collected shells on the banks of the Susquehanna long before I knew the meaning of genus and species." Haldeman’s work is still recognized throughout the scientific community for his prize-winning essays and articles on philology, natural history, phonography, and archaeology. The Mansion, however, is also regarded as the birthplace of his interest in discovery and natural history.1
Significance of the Mansion
Little did Samuel know at the time that the land surrounding the mansion straddled a 15th century Native American village where fur traders, French and Italian soldiers, Revolutionary and Civil War soldiers, and others passed through. Thus, the Mansion encompasses several facets of history, from U.S. scientific heritages to the stories of early colonists.2
Rumors of Paranormal Activity
On the other hand, the location of the mansion has led to rumors of it being haunted, and the Haldeman Mansion Preservation Society will sometimes allow ghost investigators to book the mansion. Also, the mansion often hosts paranormal-based conferences as well as documentary filmmakers investigating haunted claims. Tours take visitors through the historic building, and focus on everything from the architecture significance of the structure and the history of Samuel S. Haldeman to its haunted history.3