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The Morning Call: All dolled up: Party recalls beloved Bethlehem woman who inspired rag doll in her name

February 16th, 2016 |

February 14, 2016 | In The News

Written by The Morning Call

BETHLEHEM — Polly Heckewelder wasn’t able to attend the tea party held Sunday afternoon in her honor, but the beloved figure from Bethlehem’s past was there in spirit — and in doll form.

Johanna Maria Heckewelder, later known as Polly, founded what became the Ladies’ Sewing Society in Bethlehem in 1861 and has had dolls made in her memory since 1876.

Historic Bethlehem Museums and Sites hosted the event in the Saal at the Gemeinhaus, the Moravian community house since 1741 and the oldest building in Bethlehem.

The historic setting added to the flavor of the event, which included original Moravian anniversary china with a red and white pattern, and many Polly Heckewelder dolls of all ages.

The doll is the oldest continually made rag doll in the United States, according to Mary Brown, president of the Ladies’ Sewing Society. Proceeds from the sale of the doll go to fund various church causes.

The real Polly was born in 1781 in Ohio to Moravian missionaries. To honor her birth, Native Americans in the area in which her family lived and worked made her a doll, which today is held in the Moravian Archives.

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