Skip to main content
Harrisburg: The City Beautiful

Letters and Correspondence

mcfarland letter.jpg

Letter from J. Horace McFarland to Mira Lloyd Dock, discussing the response to her very recent City Beautiful speech.

December 22, '00

Dear Miss Dock: - 

Your packages are received, and very heartily appreciated, I assure you.

I guess I am responsible for the Telegraph notice. I find that the Board of Trade contains a good many people who promise but do not perform, and it seemed  too bad to leave this important affair go by unnoticed in the newspapers, which would not miss, if they could help it, a dog fight somewhere else! 

I do not propose to listen to the swan's song forming the back of your letter. That was written the day after the affair, or the night after Christmas, as a result of reaction.

Yours with very best wishes for happy Christmas to yourself and to all in your household.

J. Horace McFarland

P.S. Did I tell you that one man, whom I have always known to be extraordinarily tight with his moey, stopped in and told me he was willing to be one of 50 men to give $200 each, provided the city would put up the other $10,000 to take up the work for Harrisburg you had in mind in the way of parks and playgrounds? That is the most practical evidence of the force of your presentation. 


Letter from J. Horace McFarland to Mira Dock, discussing the response of contributors to an improvement report. Improvement reports were a common occurrence during and after the City Beautiful Movement.

November 22, 1901

Dear Miss Dock:

I am glad to have your note of the 20th.

Mr. Beckley will take care of all the things you mention.

The Meeting of the contributers was held last night, and the final reports presented. The meeting was large and enthusiastic. Mr. Fuertes was there, but not Mr. Manning. I believe the next few weeks will determine the course of the work, and if some people with wheels in their heads can be kept from losing time, I have an idea that the whole thing can be put through. One gentleman, noted for talking a very great deal while he is saying a very little, took up over a half hour last night endeavoring to postpone vital and important action. He did not mean to obstruct at all, but simply talked in his unusual aimless fashion. I am more than every convinced of the tactfulness and good leadership of Vance McCormick, and I believe that if this whole thing is pulled through, to the lasting good of Harrisburg, it will be due, first place, to your enthusiasm and suggestion, and, second place, to his disinterested work.

Yours truly,

J. Horace McFarland


Letter from Warren Manning to Mira Dock, discussing an inquiry from Dock about helping with Harrisburg Parks. Warren Manning played a great role in the asthetic improvement of Harrisburg during the City Beautiful Movement.

December 11, 1902.

Dear Miss Dock: --

Thank you very much for your kind letter of December 8th. Of course we are interested in the Harrisburg Parks, and want to carry out the work. We believe we can do it better than anyone else because we are familiar with the conditions and requirements, and have a very large amount of data bearing upon this problem which could only be secured by other parties at a very considerable cost.

We of course are not in a position to take any action toward inducing the Commission to accept us as their advisers. If we hear from the Commission, we shall offer terms which we believe they will regard as favorable, and shall, of course, use our very best efforts to promote the interests of Harrisburg in the execution of this park system.

Very truly yours,

Warren H. Manning


A letter from John M. Macfarlane to Mira Lloyd dock, thanking her for botanical specimens. This is an example of how Dock, a botanist, applied her expertise beyond the City Beautiful Movement.

May 13th, 1903.

Dear Miss Dock:

Many thanks for the specimens of dwarf Iris, which came in good condition. I am surprised to find that it grows in such a position and at such an elevation. The pink Dogwood is also interesting, though from what you say your specimen does not seem to be quite so brilliant as the one the late Mr. Meehan sent out. We will be very pleased to receive specimens of these or any other plants from you at any time.

I enclose a program of our coming Botanical Assembly, and I trust that you may be able to place some of the tickets for us.

Very truly yours,

John M. Macfarlane


Letter from J. Horace McFarland to Mira Lloyd Dock, discussing a strategy to be used to gain support for an improvement plan. Improvement plans were a common occurrence during and after the City Beautiful Movement.


May 2, 1905

Dear Miss Dock:

I am glad to know that you do like “Country Calendar”, and I believe you will ontinue to like it; for it has the breath of life in it.

I am to “blow off” on Tuesday night of next week, May 9th, at the Board of Trade, of the parks of Harrisburg, and arrangements are being made to try to throw a scare into some of the citizens at that time. I want to make sure that the people realize that the Park Commission cannot clean up their own dirt, give them good fronts for their houses, make up for the dreary waste in Market Square, or do the other things that the citizens must do. I think you have some slides of busy places in Paris showing trees planted, and if I could borrow one r two such things to contrast with Market Square as it stands, I would greatly like it. The State street grass plots are now developing so that they are giving a beauty lesson.

Sometime when you come to Harrisburg, please let me know and I will be very glad to arrange to drive you about and show you just what the park Commission is doing. You ought to know, for you are certainly “muchly” responsible for it all.

Yours truly,

J. Horace McFarland

The ladies seemed to have a fine time today in the [?]!


A letter from J. Horace McFarland to Mira Lloyd Dock, discussing a gift of pine trees to the Park Commission, a new part of Reservoir Park, and a coming lecture.

September 26, 1905

Dear Miss Dock:

I wish you were going to Cleveland, for I know you would enjoy it, and we would be benefitted by having you there.

The envelope you sent with the marked items I have not yet received, but it will come along in a later mail and I will look it over.

I do not see why I should not say that the Park Commission would be delighted to have the little pine forest you want to start for us, and I will say right now that the Commission will be more than willing; though I will also say, privately, just in your ear, not to be mentioned, entre nous, that some of the members of our Commission do not know a pine from a pumpkin, and do not enthuse over the delightfully sentimental relation that would come about in the doing of this excellent thing. These people, however, give me almost a free hand, and the way in which I am meddling in most everything these days would make your hair stand on end if it was as short as mine!

Before you write the letter to me or to Mr. Disbrow about this, let us look over the neighborhood and pick out the place, so that we can make the proposition in a concrete one and get it on our minutes just as it ought to be.

I do not know whether you have been over Reservoir Park since the new part has been opened. I hope so, at least. I want your judgment on names for the three summits which make it notable all about this neighborhood. The easternmost hill has been Cherry Hill, I believe, for a long time. The middle one I have heard a rumor of as Birch Hill, but diligent search fails to disclose even a suspicion of a birch, while it has on it some excellent white and chestnut oaks. I suggest that we call it Oak Knob.

The hill nearest the reservoir seems to take its character from the grand old double chestnut tree which is now in the field a little west of it. I do not know why we should not call it Chestnut Head. What do you think of all this?

The parkway is in a blooming, fine state, except for the Rutherfordishness of Parke Rutherford!  This morning I spent over an hour trying to convince this gentleman, whom I do not like, of the value of the parkway to his property at Paxtang, where he holds the key to the situation and can check the whole scheme with his 500 feet of poorly managed property. I can tell you that it is right hard to keep good tempered with such a proposition.

But I ought not to be thinking out loud about these things.

Mr. Beckley got come [sic] delightful pictures, and I envy him the chance he had.

Mr. Wirt has gotten me to promise to speak to the Forestry School on “Common Trees and their Uncommon Flowers”, October 20. Is it going to be so that I can have a little visit with Graeffenburg when this happens? I do not know just the physical connections between the two places. Perhaps you will tell me.

Yours truly,

J. Horace McFarland.


Letter from Dock to the McFarlands, acting as an example of the care Dock still had for nature even in her old age.

March 15, 1936

My very dear McFarlands,
If you could know the many times I wish I would see you, you might be surprised, but this time I really must inflict my 82 year old writing on the Chief of the Clan. Is this prospect as terrible as it reads? Don't they know that Flickers must have dead trees, or dead branches? We keep a regular fright of a tree for our Flickers. As I never go any where any more, not since 1932, perhaps I exaggerate the destructive effect of these projects. Hoping you are all well I am. Yours with affection.
Mira Lloyd Dock


A letter from Dock to McFarland, demonstrating her sadness that she can no longer aid in improvement or conservation affairs.

February 12, 1942

Dear Dr. McFarland - Thank you very much for your informing letter of the 6th about the Municipal League Staff [?]. By this mail I am sending my check - a small one - to Mr. Schmidt, and as to State affairs about Rickett's Glen, the Cook Forest, and the Priestley House at Northumberland. - Well I am just downhearted, and am too old, and too poor since 1933 to do anything but "take it." There is one thing that I am going to do for myself, and that is to ask for two dozen of cards like the enclosed, when convenient. I would so love to see you and Mrs. McFarland Helen, and perhaps some day even meet. With best wishes to yourself, from
Mira L Dock