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Actor-Historian to Play Inventor-Businessman in New Landis Valley Museum Tour | Entertainment




William Chester Ruth was an African-American blacksmith, inventor, minister, and business owner who lived and worked among the Plains communities and other Pennsylvania Germans in the early 20th century.

His life and work will be honored during a day of historical tours that will feature a new interpretive program at the Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum, 2451 Kissel Hill Road in Manheim Township.

Actor and historian Keith Henley will play Ruth during the first-person interpretive tours, which will take place on Saturday, May 21. Landis Valley Museum educator Timothy Essig will play Henry Landis, one of the brothers whose collection of antique farming tools and equipment formed the foundation of the Landis Valley Museum.

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Historian and actor Keith Henley, right, will play early 20th-century blacksmith, businessman and inventor William Chester Ruth in a return visit to the Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum. Landis Valley Museum educator Timothy Essig, left, portrays Henry Landis.

Ruth, whose father was born into slavery, grew up in a large family on a farm in Chester County, where he showed a childhood interest in dismantling farm equipment and figuring out how it worked, according to reports on the Landis Valleys website.

Ruth began inventing and adapting farm equipment as a child, eventually working at Lukens Steel, running his own forge in Gap, then turning his business into a machine shop so he could invent, design and patent equipment to facilitate agricultural work. , according to the Landis Valley website.

For decades from her early thirties, Ruth also oversaw the Church of Christ in Ercildoun, East Fallowfield Township, which her father had founded.

Ruth has been the subject of past programs and exhibitions at Landis Valley.

Tickets for the tours are $28 for adults and $15 for children ages 3-10. There are three visiting hours on May 21: 9:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. Seating is limited and reservations are required.

Order your tickets online at or call 717-569-0401, ext. 276.

For more information about Ruth on the Landis Valley website, visit




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