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A PICTURE OF
A RESEARCH PROJECT
The Greater Williamsport Community Arts Council
in conjunction with
The Williamsport Area School District
The Comprehensive Employee's Training Act
(CETA) Title VI 1977-78 - Lycoming County
Mark Peter Harer and Ruth Rosenberg-Naparsteck, Researchers
TABLE OF CONTENTS \
1. World War II in Lycoming County 5
2. Industry and The Williamsport Plan 15
3. Agriculture, Conservation, Lumbering 33
4. Transitions in Population and Retail Trade 43
5. Major Floods and the Dikes 51
6. Education: From One Room to Many 67
7. News Media 87
8. Transportation: Exit Railroads - Enter Highways and
9. Public Service Institutions Ill
10. Government and Politics 131
11. Trends in Religion 145
12. Sports and Little League Baseball 157
13. The Arts 163
14. Our Country's Landmarks - History in Wood and Stone . . . 185
15. The U. S. Bicentennial in Lycoming County 202
Appendix A. Indians in Prehistoric Lycoming County. . . . 210
Appendix B. Black History in Lycoming County 224
Appendix C. Flood Forecasting Network 244
Appendix D. County School Superintendents and Directors
of BLaST 248
West Branch Valley from Montgomery Pike Frontispiece
Jersey Shore from Beltway Frontispiece
Lycoming County Courthouse xi
Schneebeli Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse xii
Williamsport Sun ,- Dec. 8, 1941 4
Mayor Williamson Buying War Bond CBrown Library Collection) ... 9
People Waiting to Register for Sugar (Brown Library Collection . 9
Children at Rubber Pile 10
Armistice Day Parade 10
Industrial Park 23
Pennsylvania Ordnance Works Igloo 23
Glyco Chemical Company 27
Forge at Williamsport Training School (Brown Library) 28
Aviation Shop at Williamsport Training School (Brown Library). .28
Grower's Market (County Historical Museum) 35
Little Pine Creek Dam 35
Center City Mall 45
"Golden Strip" 46
Lycoming Mall, Halls Station, Pa 46
Agnes Flood ( Grit) 54
Agnes Flood ( Grit) 55
Fourth and Market Streets, 1946 Flood (Brown Library) 56
West Branch Valley during Agnes ( Grit) 56
"Golden Strip" during Agnes (Gilmour) 59
Stevens Evacuation Center during Agnes (Gilmour) 59
Memorial Avenue Bridge during Agnes (Gilmour) 60
Groundbreaking for Dikes (County Historical Museum) 60
The Newman School 69
Four Modern Lycoming County Schools 75
Klump Academic Center, WACC 76
Lycoming College Academic Center 76
Sun-Gazette Building 89
Grit Building 89
Switching Tracks at Newberry Yard 95
Engine at Newberry Yard 95
Construction on Montgomery Pike, 1940 (Brown Library) 96
Susquehanna Beltway 96
Dedication of Airport, 1929 (County Historical Museum) .... 105
Trinity Place Station 105
Williamsport Hospital 117
Divine Providence Hospital 117
Widmann and Teah Fire, 1945 (Brown Library) 118
Loyalsock Volunteer Fire Company 118
James V. Brown Library 125
Bookmobile at Rose Valley School (County Historical Museum). . 125
Courtroom of former County Courthouse (Brown Library) 137
Lysock View upon Completion (Brown Library) 137
Williamsport City Council in 1940's (Brown Library) 138
Lycoming County Commissioners, 1978 (Paul K. Bloom) 138
Six Contemporary Churches 147
Former St. Boniface Church (County Historical Museum) 148
Illustrations Continued) Page
Former Pine Street Church (County Historical Museum) 148
Little League Board of Directors, 1950 (County Historical
Lamade Field 159
1949 Little League World Series (County Historical Museum) . .160
Interior of Lycoming Opera House (Brown Library) 173
October Festival of the Arts (WASD Art Department) 173
Former Lycoming County Courthouse (Brown Library) 187
Former City Hall (Brown Library) 187
Former and Present Market Street Bridges (Widemire) 188
Buttonwood Covered Bridge 188
Pennsdale Meeting House 192
Park Home 192
Bicentennial Parade (Williamsport Sun-Gazette . 204
Bicentennial Wagon Train (Williamsport Sun-Gazette) 204
Bicentennial Pageant (Williamsport Sun- Gazette) 205
Freedom Train (Williamsport Sun-Gazette) 205
Chart of Prehistoric Epochs 214
Prehistoric Artifacts 215
Atlatl or Spear -Thrower 215
Map of Underground Railroad in County (Dr. E. Pierce) 226
Daniel Hughes (Mrs. Bea Clay) 227
Daniel Hughes House 227
Buthune-Douglass Center/former Emery School 230
Suffrage Parade 230
Sawdust War 231
Blacks at Sawmill (Brown Library Collection) 231
Peter Herdic Housing Project (Brown Library Collection). . . .231
Site of Peter Herdic Housing Project (Brown Library
Mary Slaughter (County Historical Museum) 237
Mary Slaughter Home (Grit) 237
West Branch Valley from Montgomery Pike
Overlooking Jersey Shore from Beltway
Lycoming County Courthouse
Herman T. Schneebeli Federal Office Building
and U. S. Courthouse
This publication is a sequel to Volume I of A Picture of
Lycoming County , produced under the Works Projects Admini-
stration during the Great Depression of the 1930' s. The
current volume is the product of a similar program — The
Comprehensive Employment Training Act, aimed at helping to
alleviate unemployment caused by the economic recession of
the mid-1970' s.
Volume II of A Picture of Lycoming County traces develop-
ments in the county since about 1940. Though the period
since 1940 is relatively short compared with the entire
course of the county's history, the changes in almost
every aspect of life have been significant. From educ-
tion to government and politics, new attitudes and prac-
tices have replaced old, which were solidly established
in the county for many decades. Far-reaching changes in
highways and transportation, technology and industry, and
population and commerce, among others, have also helped
change the physical appearance of the county.
Besides examining the history of the county's institutions-
-whether schools, churches, factories or emergency ser-
vices — this volume also includes chapters on the impact of
World War II, major floods, highways and transportation,
the arts, and other issues affecting the quality and
character of life in Lycoming County since 1940.
Two items which received little or no treatment in Volume I
are the history of black people in the county and the long
period of prehistoric Indian habitation. Sections on these
two groups have been included in the appendix of the pre-
sent volume in view of their place in the overall history
of the county.
Lycoming County has faced problems and aspirations simi-
lar to those of many other rural and semi-industrialized
counties of the state and nation. Unemployment, indus-
trial diversification, storms and floods, political con-
troversy, a decline in farming, new schools, larger hos-
pitals, shopping centers, Interstate 30, World War II,
rural development and historical preservation have all
contributed to the current picture of Lycoming County.
It is interesting to speculate as to how different this
picture of Lycoming County might be had the United Nations
accepted the invitation of the County Commissioners to
locate the U. N. headquarters here. In June, 1946, County
Commissioners Clyde H. Tallman, J. Howard Ritter and Jacob
F. Matthews wrote a letter to the chairman of the United
Nations Headquarters Commission, Sir Angus Fletcher, invi-
ting the U. N. to establish its international headquarters
in Lycoming County. The outcome of the Commissioners' soli-
citation is a matter of history, though one ' s imagination
can still only wonder about the results had the Commis-
With or without the United Nations, the history of Ly-
coming County is the history of its people. They have
made its history and are its history, and it is for them
that A Picture of Lycoming County , Volume II has been
VOTES WAR DECLARATION
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•CmtCr WORLD WAR II IN LYCOMING COUNTY
X During the 1930' s and early 1940 's the great dark cloud
that moved across Europe eventually engulfed the whole
world, including America. Facism and its offspring, World
War II, were on the march, and the United States' policy
of non- involvement changed to all-out efforts of support
during the year 1941. Though events in Europe were worri-
some to America while England struggled bravely alone to
ward off the Nazi assault, it was events in Asia and the
Pacific which finally forced the United States into the
hostilities. The clouds of war surrounded America on both
sides making military action a foregone conclusion. The
only recourse was to take up arms and fight for our de-
fense and that of our friends, knowing full-well the cost
in human life and suffering.
America's decision to enter the war came on Sunday, Decem-
ber 7, 1941, when Japanese bombers delivered a devastating
surprise attack against the huge American naval base on
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. There, Williamsport enlisted man,
Joseph L. Lockard, first spotted the approaching Japanese
planes and warned his superior officer. The attack was so
unexpected that Lockard 's superiors disregarded his warn-
ing as a false alarm. With Pearl Harbor, America's long
involvement in World War II began. Had Lockard 's advanced
warning been heeded, the 2,430 American lives might have
been saved and the loss of ships and planes kept to a mini-
mum. Besides Lockard, who received the Distinguished
Service Medal for his action, nearly 30 other county resi-
dents were present at Pearl Harbor, about ten of whom were
killed. Thus, Lycoming County played a role in the events
which affected the rest of the world. When Congress de-
clared war on Japan the day after Pearl Harbor, Lycoming
County and the entire nation, geared up for one single
purpose and goal — victory.
Just several days after war was declared on Japan, Congress
swiftly passed a declaration of war against Germany, but
Europe's war had already been waging for several years.
This was reflected in the county during those years by an
increase in applications for U. S. citizenship by people of
European and Eastern European descent. With America's dec-
laration of war, mobilization got underway. For a period
of four years life was not the same. War was foremost in
everyone's mind, and victory the aim and goal of almost
every person's actions. America's military and moral
strength were meeting yet another test, for only 25 years
before, she had been engulfed in the flames of World War I.
The primary concerns of the civilian authorities of the
county during World War II were public safety, conserva-
tion of scarce materials, and industrial production. The
County Office of Civilian Defense was organized following
instructions from the state and national offices. Local
civilian defense groups were set up in each of the county's
boroughs to oversee such things as blackouts and victory
gardens (backyard vegetable gardens which were encouraged
to conserve badly needed foodstuffs). By March, 194-2, a
total of 3,033 persons were certified as civilian defense
volunteers and air-raid wardens. An auxiliary police force
had been organized to be activated in periods of air attack
or other serious emergencies.
Another group vital to civilian defense were the 1,200 air-
plane spotters who volunteered for service throughout the
county. They operated plane spotter stations set up in
locations where enemy planes would be most visible day or
night. The stations were attended around the clock and
were equipped with telephones for immediate communication.
Many of the stations were of wooden frame construction,
and all had large windows on all sides making them diffi-
cult to heat. It was not uncommon for plane spotter volun-
teers to work all day at their jobs and then put in a shift
of plane spotting after work. The plane spotter's res-
ponsibility was to report every plane located to a central
reporting station, along with information on the plane's
direction, its type and its number of engines. All these
efforts were devised to protect the civilian population
in the event of an enemy attack upon the mainland. Fortu-
nately, however, no such attack was ever realized, and
actual civilian defense procedures never needed to be
placed into operation.
One feature which began as an ominous reminder of the war
for local residents came to be a normal occurence by the
war's end. This was the "blackout." The first blackout in
Lycoming County came in March, 1942. It lasted fifteen min-
utes and served as a practice run to familiarize citizens
with the techniques of covering windows to keep light from
escaping. In case of an attack at night, the blackout
meant the enemy could not see its targets as all lights
from streets, cars, homes and factories were turned off or
screened from the outside. One method people used during
blackouts was to keep all lights in the house off except
for one room, the windows of which were screened with
blackout material. A newspaper of the county during the
period reported that the kitchen was a favorite place to
stay in a blackout, as the "ice box" and stove were readily
During the blackouts, civilian defense volunteers such as
air-raid wardens and auxiliary police patrolled the county
searching out light leaking from houses and buildings and
warned those in violation to block the straying light.
These civilian defense volunteers wore official armbands
as identification and were required to undergo specified
training before the armbands were issued. Civilian de-
fense workers were also empowered to enforce travel re-
strictions during blackouts. No vehicles were allowed on
the roads except emergency and police vehicles, vehicles
carrying workers to their factories, and buses and trucks
carrying goods. It was required, however, that any vehi-
cles on highways during blackouts have their headlights
covered with a blackout material and a slit placed in the
middle to provide enough light for safe travel. Other
restrictions were placed on pedestrians. No one was per-
mitted to walk on streets, sidewalks or highways except in
cases of need.
After the first blackout, the majority of them lasted long-
er periods and were usually unannounced, apart from the
surprise blast of the air-raid sirens. Both blackouts and
daytime air-raid practices were carried out, the majority
of them state-wide. A total of 24 state-wide blackouts
and air-raid drills were staged during the war. Initially
the State Council of Defense was responsible for the black-
outs and air-raid practices, but for a time the Army organ-
ized them. The air-raids and blackouts were, thus, a ma-
jor element of life during World War II. The inconveni-
ence they caused local residents were worth any possible
savings of life or property that an actual enemy attack on
the county might have incurred . When at the war ' s end no
enemy attack had occurred, no one complained. Because
every possible measure had been taken to prevent such an
attack, the civilian defense measures were fortunately
In this throw-away age it is generally acceptable practice
to toss a soft drink bottle into the garbage rather than to
haul it back to the store for the deposit, but no such at-
titude prevailed during World War II. Nearly everything
salvageable or reusable was saved and turned over to in-
dustry for recycling. The newspapers, radio and movies
admonished people to conserve wherever they could. Imagine
saving the fat left over from frying a hamburger. Other
items collected included coat hangers, rubber tires,
shoes, clothes, silk and nylon stockings, license plates,
and practically any other object made from metal. Col-
lection boxes were placed throughout the county where
residents could deposit items of reusable material. To do
so was considered a patriotic gesture. Occasionally, or-
ganizations sponsored collections of paper or rubber in
much the same way as scouting or youth groups do today. In
World War II, however, these collections were not isola-
ted money-making projects; they were regular occurrences
aimed at relieving the strain on hard-pressed material re-
sources. Every pound of metal or rubber collected put the
U. S. one step closer to victory.
Not only adults but school children, too, contributed to
the war effort. For ten cents a week, school children
bought a war stamp which was pasted onto a folder; once
full, the folder was redeemed for a ten-dollar savings
bond. As with war bonds that adults bought, the money
was used by the government to finance war spending. Child-
ren were encouraged to take tin cans and other used metal
items to school where it was collected and added to the
county's scrap piles. Many teachers made up charts for
each child and recorded the amount of used material each
one brought in. The charts were then posted on the class-
room bulletin board as a way of sparking competition.
Some schools had children collect milkweed pods. Due to
the shortage of kapok used as a filler to keep life jackets
afloat, the milkweed fibers proved to be an adequate sub-
stitute for that purpose.
World War II was a time of patriotic fervor in America.
Along with the collection drives and war stamp sales, pa-
triotic projects were a regular part of school programs.
The Webster Elementary School in Williamsport, for example,
put up framed photographs in its corridors of each of the
servicemen in the war who had gone to that school. Other
schools used different methods of teaching children why
their country was at war and what they could do to help
bring victory. Thus, for children as well as for adults,
the war was not a far-away event that one heard about over
the radio; rather, the war was something that involved
every citizen and touched every member of the family.
RATIONING OF GOODS
Apart from the blackouts and conservation programs, the
greatest sacrifice that the civilian population was called
upon to make during the war was the rationing of basic
goods. Virtually everything we take for granted today as
available in unlimited quantities, was rationed or por-
tioned out according to strict regulations. For example,
anyone wishing to buy a new car was required to submit an
application to the Federal Office of Price Administration.
Those were a lucky few whose applications were approved.
New cars were scarce, and those persons fortunate enough
to buy one during the war were even more scarce. For the
Mayor Williamson Purchases War Bond
People waiting at Washington School
to register for sugar rations
Children reluctantly place rubber
items on scrap pile
Willi am sport Armistice Day Parade
August 14, 1945
three months of March, April and May, 1942, only 106 new
cars were available for sale in the whole of Lycoming
County. This was because auto factories, as well as most
others, were converted to the production of military ma-
chines and supplies.
But if cars were scarce, a man could take little comfort in
buying a new pair of trousers. The government made cuffs
on trousers illegal effective May 30, 194-2. The material
normally used for cuffs was broken down and rewoven into
material for other purposes. Women, too, were faced with
wartime inconveniences. It was not uncommon for women to
wait in lines several blocks long just to buy one pair of
rationed stockings. Thus, even clothing styles were affec-
ted by the war. It was not whim nor fancy which set the
styles; rather, it was simple wartime expediency. Not
the smallest piece of material was wasted on frivolous uses
if it could be put to some more important use.
The rationing program covered a broad range of goods and
was stringently enforced. Among other things, rationing
affected consumption of gasoline, butter, sugar, bicycles,
tires, shoes, coffee, canned goods, meat, and stoves.. It
was the responsibility of local rationing boards to dis-
tribute coupon books to every family. Many schools were
used as registration points for rationing coupons. There
were five rationing boards in the county, each composed of
three members from the respective communities where boards
were located. The rationing boards determined the amount
of rationed products each family was to receive. Some-
times board members had to turn down requests by their own
friends for commodities in scarce supply. Instead, boards
had to keep in mind the interests of the entire community
at all times.
Nearly every product subject to rationing was also subject
to price controls to prevent unprincipled merchants or
distributors from making exhorbitant profits from products
in short supply. Here again, the government acted to pro-
tect the average citizen, in this instance from unneces-
sarily high prices. The war was an extraordinary time and
extraordinary measures were necessary for both the physical
and economic welfare of the country. The people of Lycom-
ing County played their part in the war effort and made
the sacrifices necessary to insure victory at the fronts.
WAR A WAY OF LIFE
The rationing of goods, efforts in conservation, air-raid
drills and blackouts served to make war more or less a way
of life in the county. School children in Williamsport
were issued I.D. tags to wear, women were encouraged to en-
roll in free training courses in engineering, science and
management. The large number of men away at war meant
that women had to assume greater responsibility in the run-
ning of industry and commerce. It was common to see women
leave their homemaking chores to operate machines in fac-
tories or manage stores and businesses. Women also served
as plane spotters. Sportsmen and hunters agreed to help
farmers harvest crops. The shortage of farm workers neces-
sitated the use of such volunteer help to bring in impor-
tant farm products.
Most factories in Lycoming County converted their normal
operations into the production of military and wartime
goods. Products manufactured in the county for war includ-
ed shoes, army cots, glue and plane engines. The Lycom-
ing Division of Aviation Corporation, now Avco, made up to
600 engines a month and was the largest wartime employer
in the region. Other products were anti-tank mines, tor-
pedo nets, ammunition shells, radio and radar tubes, paper
products, cloth — silk, rayon, nylon and glass fiber — step
ladders, field hospital tables, life boats, cabinets and
office files, and lumber. This list is just a sampling
of the many products made in Lycoming County during the
THE ORDNANCE WORKS
Due to the county's proximity to the major parts of the
Northeast and its location in a more remote and less popu-
lated region of the state, the U. S. Government established
an ordnance works near Allenwood in the White Deer Valley.
The function of the ordnance works was the manufacture and
storage of TNT for the war. The huge complex covered
about 8,000 acres and included parts of both Lycoming and
Union counties. Nearly 165 families and their farms, as
well as several churches, were displaced. The construc-
tion of the establishment brought several thousand new
people into the county, for which the housing units at
Penn Vale were built to provide accommodation. In all,
it was a very large operation and a significant part of
Lycoming County's contribution to the war. Once victory
was achieved and munitions were no longer needed in large
quantities, the ordnance works stopped operations but was
used for a short time thereafter as storage for unused
explosives. Today the ordnance works is the site of the
Allenwood Federal Prison Camp.
Another reminder of Lycoming County's contribution to the
war were the flags and stars which families of servicemen
placed in their windows. A blue star was sewn on the flag
to represent each son or daughter in the military from
that family. One Williamsport family had a total of nine
stars representing their six sons and three sons-in-law in
the war. Whenever a family member was killed in the war,
his or her star was replaced by a gold star. In this way
other residents could tell by looking at the flags in
house windows whether that family had any sons or daugh-
ters in the war and whether any of them had lost their
THE WAR COMES TO AN END
The war in Europe came to an end on May 7, 194-5, when
the Germans surrendered and the Allied Forces brought
down the Nazis armies. In the Pacific, the Japanese
held out several months more and would surrender only after
the annihilating atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nag-
asaki. Finally, on August 14-, 1945, the Japanese, too,
recognized the futility of their effort and submitted to
the American forces. The long and costly war was finally
over, and life returned quickly to its normal pace and
usual concerns. While no one could have preferred war to
peace and killing to negotiation, the war which swept
America into its greatest national mobilization brought
a sense of unity, single-mindedness and sacrifice rarely
if ever seen in a nation so large and diverse. Lycoming
County contributed its share and more to the war with its
252 war dead, the greatest and most costly contribution of
When times are peaceful and the abundance of material goods
and political freedom are taken for granted, it is useful
to recall other times when the cost of the free and abun-
dant life was paid for in human pain and sacrifice. World
War II was such a time for Lycoming County and the rest of
the world. The war's end — even apart from the elation of
victory — brought a deep sigh of relief to all the for-
tunate survivors of one of our nation's most traumatic
periods. No doubt that relief was felt in Lycoming County
with as much gratification as anywhere else in America.
The county played its part well and helped bring about a
happy victory out of a sad war.
QUESTIONS CHAPTER 1
1. What was the impact of the Pearl Harbor attack on
2. List civilian defense and conservation activities.
3. What consumer products were affected by the war effort?
4. Why were price controls used?
5. The war caused what changes in the lives of women?
6. Why was there opposition to the establishment of the
Allenwood Ordnance Works?
Chanter industry and the williamsport plan
INDUSTRY DURING WORLD WAR II
By the late 1930' s, the county was pulling out of the de-
pression and unemployment was declining as industrial pro-
duction increased. One of the primary reasons for the in-
crease in production was the awarding of defense contracts
to local industries. England, France, and the Soviet
Union were fully engaged in war with Germany by the late
1930' s, and many vital defense products were manufactured
in Lycoming County and shipped to them. Even the United
States, which was not yet involved in war was building up
defenses in anticipation. Productive industries increased
from 199 in 19<+1 to 261 in 1951. Employment was up 14 per-
cent. Values of products leaped dramatically by 163 per-
cent, brought on in part by the scarcity of materials.
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Lycoming Manu-
facturers' Association (now the West Branch Manufacturers'
Association) pulled its forces together in what they called
the "West Branch Front . " Manufacturers were asked to pro-
duce at maximum levels for the war effort. Many manufac-
turers were cited by the Army and Navy for their efforts.
Some companies came into existence just for the duration
of the war. Numerous industries needed to purchase dif-
ferent productional equipment in order to fill a single
Thousands of men were drafted into the Army leaving vacan-
cies in industry which were often filled by their own
wives. World War II was, by no menas, a war fought "over
there." At times citizens of the county actually feared
losing the war to the Axis; and rationing and scarcity of
luxuries and some foods, as well as total involvement of
industry in the manufacture of war materials, served as a
constant reminder that America was at war.
The succeeding accounts of county manufacturers demonstrate
the all-out effort of industry to supply the Allied Armies
during World War II. They have been organized according
to type of industry in order to emphasize the contribution
of the industry.
Metal industries led production during the war period.
Some of the major manufactureres were Bethlehem Steel
Company, Avco Manufacturing Corporation, Sylvania Elec-
tric Products, Inc., E. Keeler Company, Darling Valve and
Manufacturing Company, Sprout Waldron and Company, and
Sweet's steel Company.
The Lycoming Division of Aviation Corporation (Avco) manu-
factured a special engine for the Navy's top secret bomber
0435, as well as parts for the B-29 bombers and Packard
Rolls-Royce P-51 engines. Avco also manufactured engines
for the Stinson Flying Jeep, the Spartan, Curtis, Cessna,
and Beachcraft. Six hundred engines a month were produced,
as well as engine assembly parts, propeller hubs, crank
shafts, etc. Avco was the largest private employer with
nearly 4,000 workers.
Many of the 1,500 men and women employed by Piper Air-
craft in Clinton County were Lycoming County residents.
Over the war period, 7,000 Piper Cub planes were manu-
factured. Piper Cubs performed an important wartime
service as artillery observation planes, ambulances, and
mail and supply carriers.
Bethlehem Steel Company had begun accepting defense con-
tracts before the attack on Pearl Harbor. The industry
manufactured special wire rope torpedo nets which were
used to snag enemy submarines that endangered the U. S.
merchant ships carrying supplies to the U. S. and Allied
Armies. Wire rope also was manufactured for cranes, steam
shovels, and bull dozers.
Carey-McFall of Montoursville was another industry that
shifted to production of war materials. In peacetime it
was the nation's largest manufacturer of Venetian blinds.
They developed an all-metal camouflage which simulated
grass and helped to hide U. S. machinery and artillery
from the enemy. As steel became scarce, textile strips
were mounted on chicken wire and camouflage-colored.
During the war period, 8,000 rolls of camouflage were
Darling Valve and Manufacturing Company became one of two
producers of 105 m/m high explosive shells in the Phila-
delphia Ordnance District. The Army Ordnance Depot or-
dered a quality-test 75 m/m shell in 1939. Satisfied with
the quality, orders were placed for 5,000 105 m/m high-
explosive shells, 750,000 105 m/m projectile ends, 65,000
five-inch rocket war heads (produced after the Normandy
invasion), 5,000 three-inch proof shot, 20,000 six-inch
base plugs, 7,000 fourteen-inch base plugs for Navy shells,
900,000 cartridge containers and 552 radar parts. Darling
Valve produced all the 24-inch "Big Inch Pipe" line valves
for the War Engineering Pipe Line Company. The valves
weighed 1\ tons a piece and stood 14 feet high.
High pressure boilers for steam-generating equipment were
manufactured by E. Keeler Company. Boilers ranged from
35 h.p. and from 100 to 500 pounds. Eight hundred units
were made for domestic use, the U. S. Army and Navy and
the Soviet Union. These plants could be set up and operating
in 36 hours. One of these power plants was diverted to Sai-
pan when the Americans took the island, thus enabling Ameri-
can forces to work day and night preparing runways and
fields for the bombing of Japan. U. S. Treasury officials
said this advanced the bombing of Japan by at least three
Rheem Manufacturing Company put out 700 8-inch, high-ex-
plosive shells daily, producing as many as 75,000 shells
during the war. These shells had terrific demolition power.
One shell could have destroyed the entire plant and a good
part of the surrounding area. Radiant Steel Products manu-
factured boxes for spare parts for Navy bombers, anti-tank
mines and their containers for Army Ordnance, cabinets and
mortar shell containers.
A total of 250 tons of war materials were manufactured daily
by Sweet's Steel Company. Over the war period, 250,000 tons
of light steel rolls and accessories, concrete reinforce-
ment bars, light angles and plain round bars, steel barbed
wire entanglements, camouflage work and steel mine ties
were turned out. Jersey Shore Steel Company manufactured
10,000 gross tons of round, square, and flat steel, as well
as mine ties and angles for hospital beds and Army cots.
The Spencer Heater Division of Aviation Corporation operated
a grey iron foundry, one aluminum foundry, and a boiler
plant. The grey iron foundry manufactured castings for
trucks, cargo and armored transports, aircraft and deisel
engines, valve castings for machine tools and miscella-
neous parts. The aluminum foundry produced precision cast-
ings for aircraft engines. Some top secret products were
manufactured for the U.S. Navy in the boiler plant. It
also produced feedwater heaters, open mounts, condensers,
landing barge ramps, deck houses, and bulk heads. A total
of 1,000 employees melted 100 tons of grey iron and one-
half ton of aluminum each day.
The Montoursville plant of the Sylvania Electric Products
Company, Inc. was the sole manufacturer of some of the
most sophisticated radar equipment produced during the war.
These were fire control and gun-pointing mechanisms which
defended B-29's against Japanese fighter planes. The plant
was one of the producers of tank and ship transmitting
equipment and the radar proximity fuse, which enabled U. S.
troops to determine the nearness of enemy radio trans-
missions. The Williamsport Tube Plant, part of the Syl-
vania Electric Products Company, Inc., manufactured small
transmitting tubes and related electronic devices. Seven
million tubes were manufactured over the war period.
Sprout -Waldron Company in Muncy manufactured special ma-
chinery and equipment used in other war industries such as
equipment for grinding hard rubber dust used in the manu-
facture of submarine batteries and refining apparatus for
producing fibers used in radar equipment. After the war,
the company was informed that it had been instrumental in
the A-bomb project. It had also developed a process to
recycle rubber and cellulose from discarded tires. Equip-
ment was manufactured for producers of plastics used in
high altitude super-charges, bombers, and turrets.
The Williamsport Die and Machine Company, one of the most
versatile of industries, manufactured products as large
as Army tractors, light tanks, illuminating shells, and
aircraft starting cartridges and as small as tools, dies,
shells, rockets, bombs, land mines, and fixtures for Army
and Navy footwear.
PAPER AND TEXTILES
It was sometimes necessary in the paper industry to acquire
new equipment to meet special orders. C. A. Reed Company
was among those that acquired new equipment. Since the
company usually manufactured paper napkins, 56 special ma-
chines were required to manufacture 300,000 lanterns for
observation balloons, If million shipping bags, and frag-
mentation bomb parachutes made of rayon cloth. The slow-
dropping parachutes enabled low-flying bombers to get away
before the bombs detonated. The Eureka Paper Box Company
employed 65 people to produce 90 million folding cartons for
radio tubes during the war.
The loss of silk from Japan created a critical shortage in
the U. S. The textile industry substituted synthetic nylon
and rayon. Holmes' Silk Mill manufactured 6,000 yards of
silk and rayon flare cloth and silk and nylon parachute
cloth daily. Three million yards of material were produced
by this mill during the war. Nylon parachute cloth, latex
and glass fabrics (fiber glass) were manufactured by War-
show and Sons in Montoursville . Because they were non-
flammable, they were used to insulate the gas tanks of
airplanes and the wiring of submarines.
The Weldon Manufacturing Company turned from production of
civilian sleepwear to production of military pajamas. The
350 employees produced 3,032,000 sets of pajamas during the
war. The Williamsport Textile Corporation manufactured a
total of 1,280,000 yards of flare parachute fabrics, poncho
cloth, signal panels for ship to shore signaling, tow tar-
gets, Navy neckerchiefs, and nurses' uniform material.
Lumber made a strong comeback during World War II. One of
the largest sawmills, Krimm Lumber Company, employed 1,400
persons. Much of the lumber was used locally, but lumber
was also shipped to England, France and the Soviet Union.
The majority of lumber-related industries, however, were
peacetime furniture manufacturers. Many of these indus-
tries also found it necessary to install equipment just to
fill war contracts. Keystone Housing Company was one such
company, opening in 1944 and closing at the end of the war.
It employed 29 people to make custom wood shipping contain-
ers for gun mounts which could carry unusually heavy parts
under all conditions. Some 18,000 containers were produced
during the war at a rate of 125 a day.
The Handle and Excelsior Company of Picture Rocks manufactur-
ed over a million handles for commando knives, scrapers,
shovels, motor starters, and files. The Lycoming Ladder
Company, also of Picture Rocks, worked three years to pro-
duce 2,000 ladders for the war effort.
The largest wartime employer in the lumber-related indus-
tries was the Watsontown Cabinet Company. Although it is
located in Northumberland County, many of its 1,200 employees
commuted from this county. The company erected facilities
for the production of ordnance shells and the manufacture
of cabinets and files. The company also manufactured chests
for intricate radar equipment, automatic gun sites, airplane
parts, and assemblies for Naval aircraft.
The West Branch Novelty Company in Milton established a mold-
ed plywood division which manufactured 165-gallon droppable
gasoline tanks which allowed supplies of gasoline to be
dropped from the air to ground troops. Parts for radar
controlled, pilotless torpedoes and bombing planes were made,
as well as leading edge skins for the largest plywood glider,
the YCG-13. Plywood for supporting floor and wings of the
troop-carrying glider, the CG-4A, book racks, cabinets,
chests, and wheelbarrow handles were also manufactured.
The Williamsport Furniture Company manufactured life rafts
and boats, bunk beds, cots, and an assortment of shipping
crates. In Muncy, the Modecraft Company, Inc., manufactured
106,000 field hospital tables at a rate of 3,000 a day. A
total of 30,000 life boats were produced out of canvas and
rubber-covered balsa wood during the war by its 175 employ-
ees. The Vallamont Planing Mill manufactured frames, doors,
sashes, office paneling, lockers, and crating for various
military and defense companies. The Mellen Manufacturing
Company in Muncy manufactured government filing cabinets.
LEATHER, GLUE, AND FOOD
Leather is one of the most important basic materials in war.
Over 500 items using leather as a chief component were used
by the U. S. Army. Most of the leather manufacturers turned
to production of these vital materials. Armour Leather
Company increased production from 12 to 20 percent to produce
75,000 pairs of insoles and outsoles a day. J. C. Decker,
Inc. manufactured grips and strap assemblies for trench
motors, handles, wagon pack strips, muzzle covers, and am-
munition bags. Fifty-five thousand cots and 4-3,000 cot
covers were produced during the war. J. H. Mosser Company
also manufactured strap leather, holsters, sheaths, and
Glue was necessary in the manufacture of almost every item of
war material. Keystone Tanning and Glue Company was called
upon for glue by almost every Navy yard and supply depot,
Army-Air Force installation, arsenal, or ordnance plant in
The Boy-ar-Dee plant in Milton produced 165 cans of C-rations,
employing 1,700 people. Many companies, such as 0. A. Nor-
land Company, Inc., were small but made contributions to the
war effort. Twenty employees of the company manufactured
the important foot safety devices such as ice creepers which
allowed U. S. and Allied Forces to move faster and easier
in Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. Lumber yards in Ly-
coming County also purchased them.
PRODUCTION OF EXPLOSIVES
One of the most dangerous of war industries was the Pennsyl-
vania Ordnance Works ( later named the Susquehanna Ordnance
Depot) located in White Deer Valley. The security-tight
industry manufactured TNT ( Tri-nitro-toluene ) for use in
bombs and shells. Some 200 buildings, including an on-site
emergency hospital and shelters for military personnel and
machinery were constructed in 1942. A railroad spur was
built into the Ordnance Works to facilitate safe movement
of heavy equipment and explosive materials. At peak pro-
duction, manpower was 4,000 strong. This military opera-
tion was administered by the U. S. Rubber Company.
Although one of the safest and most stable of explosives,
TNT was, nevertheless, explosive, and precautions were ne-
cessary in its handling. Further, injury and even death
could result by exposure to the fumes and dust from ma-
terials used in the manufacture of TNT. Safety required
that powder suits, powder caps, and safety shoes be worn
in the Wash and Nail houses. Employees of other depart-
ments were required to wear woolen shirts and trousers and
broad-brimmed felt hats. All departments required rubber
or leather gloves to protect workers from acid leaks and
splashes. Safety goggles were worn, and shoes were required
to be free of iron nails. One spark from a nail could cause
a devastating explosion.
Great safety precautions were taken, and penalties for non-
compliance of rules were serious. An employee found at the
Ordnance Works entrance with matches, lighter, or other such
incendiary was laid off one day without pay for a first of-
fense, a week for a second offense, and discharged after
a third offense. Within the Ordnance Works, violations were
much more serious. A first offender was laid off two weeks
without pay and discharged after a second offense. Shake-
down houses were located at the Ordnance Works entrances
where guards frisked anyone entering the Works. Photo-
graphs of plants producing munitions could have been of
value to the enemy. Employees who attempted to bring a
camera to the Ordnance Plant were discharged and liable to
federal prosecution and a fine of $5,000 and one year im-
prisonment if convicted.
The health hazards facing employees involved in the manu-
facturing of TNT were not taken lightly. Employees were
instructed in the wearing of protective gear and care was
taken by supervisors to see that the employees showered
thoroughly after each shift and left their clothes at the
plant for laundering. Vitamins were dispensed by the plant
to employees who were also required to pass a physical ex-
amination at the Ordnance Works Hospital every three weeks.
Signs of TNT poisoning were nausea, yellowing of the whites
of the eyes, rash or burning and itching skin. Moderate
exposure to fumes from acids used in the manufacture of TNT
could cause inflammation of lungs and respiratory passages.
The effects were not immediately apparent to the victim who
had to be extremely careful or risk lethal exposure. To
avoid the danger of explosion and exposure to dust, em-
ployees handled cartons of TNT with care in order to raise
as little dust as possible and to keep floors and work
areas free of dust. Though there was the risk of fire,
lanterns were used during periods of blackout when all elec-
tricity was shut off. It was vital to the U. S. defense
that production of ordnance did not cease.
Despite rationing, scarcity of products, and difficulty of
transporting conditions, maximum production levels were
maintained among baking industries, meat packers, ice manu-
facturers, job printers, dairy producers, and building
supply contractors. Following the war, industry continued
to work closely with the Williamsport Technical Institute
to train returning veterans and sharpen the skills of
workers as industry shifted its emphasis to peace-time pro-
Wil liamsport Industrial Park
Remains of igloo at
former Pennsylvania Ordnance Works
RECOVERY FROM WAR
Across the country, competition to attract new industry was
fierce. Thousands of men and women were returning from
Europe, Africa, and the Pacific, seeking employment in fac-
tories which were slowing production. Many veterans took
the opportunity offered through the GI Bill to attend col-
lege or technical school to get employment.
In order to create new jobs in the county, the Williamsport-
Lycoming Chamber of Commerce organized the Industrial Pro-
perties Corporation whose sole responsibility was to create
new jobs. The strategy was to make Lycoming County attrac-
tive to new industry and to help existing industry expand.
At the turn of the century, the economy of the county had
come dangerously close to collapse after the lumber in-
dustry exhausted its resources. In order to protect the
economy from collapse by avoiding dependence on any one in-
dustry, the Industrial Properties Corporation proposed to
diversify industries. Over the next two decades, three
capital fund drives raised $1,600,000 in gifts. The capi-
tal is used by the Industrial Properties Corporation to buy
and develop land for industrial use and to finance indus-
trial building construction. The Lycoming County Indus-
trial Development Authority financed numerous industrial
and commercial developments through loans to new and expan-
In 1955, under the direction of its first commissioner, Ro-
land H. Dunn, the Industrial Properties Corporation purchas-
ed 118 acres of land on Reach Road to develop as an industri-
al park. Building shells were erected, roads were built,
and all utilities were connected. The location provided
transportation and shipping by three commercial airlines, ten
interstate trucking companies, and four railroads. Within
two years, four industries had located in the park: Steelex
Corporation, Ille Manufacturing Company, Vidmar, Inc., and
Tetley Tea Company; Steelex Corporation and Vidmar, Inc.
have since closed. Ille Manufacturing Company is now Mar-
ket Forge, Ille Division; and Tetley Tea Company is still
operating. By 1978, the Williamsport Industrial Park had
grown to 300 acres and 25 industries employing 2,500 people.
The three largest employers in the park are Pullman-Kellogg
Company which employs 400, Cobblers Inc. which employs 2-40,
and Alcan Cable which employs 150.
In 1970 the Industrial Properties Corporation opened a
second industrial park at Muncy. The 100-acre site is oc-
cupied by its two original occupants: Boise-Cascade Cor-
poration which employs 150 people and Data Papers, Inc.
which employs 58 people. This park also has access to
Interstate 80, the airport, and ConRail.
The Jersey Shore Industrial Development Corporation re-
cently purchased 18.2 acres of land to develop as an in-
dustrial park. Woolrich Woolen Mills, which employs 250
people, has located there and Norcen Industries, which
employs 70 people, has broken ground in the park for its
The four largest industrial employers in the county are
Avco, Lycoming Division in Williamsport which employs
1,700; GTE Sylvania in Montoursville which employs 1,500;
Koppers Company, Inc. in Muncy which employs 1,000; and
GTE Sylvania, Inc. in Muncy which employs 777.
The four largest industrial employers in Williamsport are
Avco, Lycoming Division which employs 1,700; Bethlehem
Steel Corporation which employs 800; Stroehmann Bros. Com-
pany which employs 4-25; and Weldon Manufacturing Company
which employs 400. Williamsport is the largest employer
in the county. Muncy, Montoursville, and Montgomery follow
respectively. In Muncy the largest employers are Koppers
Company, Inc. which employs 1,000, and GTE Sylvania, Inc.
which employs 777. GTE Sylvania in Montoursville employs
1,500 people. Schnadig Corporation follows with 375 em-
ployees. In Montgomery, West Company-Plastic Division
employs 350 people and Grumman Allied Industries, Inc., its
second largest employer, has 200 employees.
The industrial development campaign, headed by the William-
sport Chamber of Commerce, has been successful in further
diversifying the county's industries. Nineteen major in-
dustrial classifications are now represented in the county.
The largest classifications are in primary metals, fabri-
cated metal products, non-electrical machinery, transporta-
tion equipment, lumber and wood products, furniture, food
products, apparel and related products, paper products, and
electrical and electronic machinery, equipment, and supplies.
In the last ten years, eighteen new industries have located
in the county and 48 existing industries have expanded. De-
spite the loss in the county of six industries, the Indus-
trial Properties Corporation has created 1,200 new jobs in
the county in that same period.
Several of the industries were persuaded to locate in Ly-
coming County because of the availability of skilled labor.
John McAneny, general manager of M. W. Kellogg Company (now
Pullman-Kellogg Company), reported in 1961 that it had cho-
sen Williamsport as a site for its headquarters and manu-
facturing facilities because "we have found in Williamsport
a reservoir of skilled workmen who have met the extremely
high standards required for this type of work (manufacture
of intricate piping systems ) . Many of these men have im-
proved their natural skills by taking courses at the Wil-
liamsport Technical Institute (predecessor to Williamsport
Glyco Chemical Company
Forge at Williamsport Training School
Aviation shop at Williamsport Training School
Area Community College) which has a history of turning out
graduates skilled in all the arts and crafts required by
all types of Central Pennsylvania industry. "
Other industries find the county attractive because of space
available for expansion, less congested shipping facilities,
and proximity to sources of raw materials. Williamsport has
much to offer industry. It is centrally located to the
largest retail market in the United States. Twenty percent
of the U. S. population, or over 4-0 million people, live
within a 200-mile radius of Williamsport, reaching to
Philadelphia, New York City, Albany, Syracuse, Rochester,
Buffalo, Erie, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Washington, D. C.
The Industrial Park in Williamsport offers easy access to
Interstate 80 and the Susquehanna Beltway, and the level
land, railroads, and airports make shipping of large quanti-
ties of goods possible.
THE WILLIAMSPORT PLAN
Like other cities in 1930, Williamsport found itself in the
midst of the Depression and facing rising unemployment. To
add to its difficulties, the U. S. Rubber Company closed its
plant in Williamsport in 1932, putting an additional 2,500
people out of work, swelling the already overburdened relief
rolls and leaving most of the workers without marketable
skills. Faced with rising relief bills, businessmen worked
through the Chamber of Commerce to collect data to deter-
mine what type of worker was unemployed. The results showed
that 75 percent of the unemployed were unskilled, 85 percent
of whom had adequate backgrounds to become skilled or semi-
skilled workers. A shop-to-shop survey made the surprising
disclosure that while unemployment was rising, many shops
reported an increasing shortage of workers with particular
skills. Dr. George H. Parkes, director of the vocational
department of the Williamsport High School, was appointed
to design a program that would equip the unemployed with
A plan, which became known as the Williamsport Plan, was de-
signed to screen, train, and place the unemployed through
the coordinated efforts of the Williamsport Retraining
School — also directed by Dr. Parkes — the state employment
office, the YWCA, the YMCA, and numerous other agencies.
The Williamsport Retraining School was to serve also as a
training center for the WPA, PWA, NYA and CCC.
In the Williamsport High School at the corner of Third and
Susquehanna Streets, the staff of the Williamsport Retrain-
ing School set up an electrical shop in a coal bin, re-
claimed a locker room for the automotive department, and set
up a machine shop under the new school bleachers. With only
a $1000 grant from the Williamsport School District, the
Williamsport Retraining School could afford little in the
way of manpower. About $10,000 in equipment was salvaged
from area junk yards and reconditioned. Another $10,000
worth of equipment was borrowed from area industries. By
1933 Parkes decided a separate building for the Williamsport
Retraining School was needed. The Williamsport School Dist-
rict could offer no funds and did not agree that a separate
building was necessary. So the staff of the Williamsport
Retraining School chose a site on school property, designed
a blueprint of the building, and tapped the County Relief
Board for a work force. Every day a different crew of
twenty workers was sent to the school with materials bought
on credit and borrowed tools, the crew dug out a foundation
and constructed a one-story, saw-tooth building with walls
of glass to admit a maximum of natural light. By 1934 the
three-unit building at the corner of West Third and Park
Streets was ready for use.
/"When surveys projected a need for truck drivers, the staff
of the school borrowed trucks, dug a regulation-sized me-
chanics pit in the yard of the school and started one of
the first trucking schools in the country. When there was
a shortage of men skilled in the use of the acetylene
torch, the staff rounded up several second-hand and dis-
carded torches and borrowed a skilled worker as an instruc-
The single objective of the Williamsport Plan was to place
the unemployed in jobs for which they were trained. Toward
that end, eight industry-experienced coordinators were em-
ployed by the Williamsport Retraining School to determine
what skills local industries would be needing in the near
future and what student was best suited for training in
that area. Follow-up training was offered until the employee
was settled in his job.
Most employers were unable to predict their future needs,
but interviews with shop foremen and supervisors uncovered
specifically needed skills. Applicants to the program were
interviewed to determine their aptitude as well as their in-
terest. Unless an applicant showed no aptitude for a skill
needed by industry, he received this skill with the near
certainty of placement. The strength of the program rested
in the ability of Parkes and his staff to determine the
applicant ' s ability and to equip him with a marketable
skill. Coordinators kept close contact with area employers
to be certain applicants would be trained in skills that
would be needed.
Between 1930 and 1940, about 4,000 unemployed workers were
placed, each at a cost of only $100. More than half of them
had been on Williamsport relief rolls. The program was so
successful that in 1940, 3,100 people were enrolled, 600
of whom were placed in that year. Lycoming County had been
the first county in the state to initiate a program to
pay relief recipients as they trained for employment. The
staff of the Williamsport Retraining School was far superior
to any in the country in its job placement record and its
ability to predict the job market. Educators, state and
federal groups, and businessmen visited the Williamsport
Retraining School, a predecessor to the Williamsport Techni-
cal Institute and the Williamsport Area Community College,
to study its organization. The Williamsport Plan was ap-
plauded by the federal government, by numerous newpapers,
and in 1940 by Nation ' s Business , Woman ' s Day, and The
Saturday Evening Post.
QUESTIONS CHAPTER 2
1. Name the companies (and their products) whose Lycoming
County workers participated in the World War II effort.
2. What advantages are offered by the Williamsport area for
the location of industry?
3- What was the main objective of the Williamsport Plan?
A. What eventually happened to the Retraining School?
AGRICULTURE, CONSERVATION, AND LUMBERING
During World War II agriculture was a vital industry and
strict conservation methods were practiced. County farm
agents assisted farmers in obtaining needed supplies made
scarce by war and issued daily bulletins in newspapers tell-
ing them how to conserve. Farmers were urged to reuse
barbed wire and burlap bags and to substitue wood for steel
fence posts and grain storage bins. Shortages of nitrogen
needed in fertilizer developed as production of explosives
ate away supplies. Cotton thread was substituted for the
stronger silk thread in sewing burlap bags when silk was
needed for sewing parachutes and powder bags. It was neces-
sary for farmers to sign acquisition forms to obtain binder
twine after sisal and manila hemp imports from the East
Indies and East Africa were cut off by the war. Farmers
pooled their orders for wheat and feed in order to obtain
bulk prices. As fuel oil and coal became scarce for heating,
farmers were resigned to carefully manage their timber sup-
plies and to cut out only dead and mature growths. Many
farmers could not buy tractors, while those who had trac-
tors often found the gasoline to run them scarce. Teams of
horses and mules were often seen plowing fields and har-
vesting crops. There were long waiting lists for replace-
ment parts for farm machinery, and in 1943 there was not a
single pound of rubber allocated for civilian use.
Unused to the discipline of rationing, people complained and
turned to the inventor to come up with a synthetic rubber.
The rubber coordinator for the War Production Board impa-
tiently chided, "Combat tanks with steel tracks are 20 per-
cent less efficient. If you want your sons to fight in a
tank only 80 percent efficient so you can joy ride, the
rubber shortage can be solved." Although not a major prob-
lem locally, the loss of manpower to the war effort de-
veloped a farm labor shortage. The Pennsylvania Federation
of Sportsmen's Club, 660,000 strong, pledged their help in
the 1942 harvest.
Since 1940, better weed control and more modern fertiliza-
tion practices greatly reduced the number of acres needed
to produce the same yield. For example, although the total
county acreage devoted to corn decreased from 27,251 in 1944
to 14,480 in 1969, the yield increased from 40.4 bushels per
acre to 95.6 bushels in the same period. Production levels
of every product have followed the same trend. Milk pro-
duction per cow has more than doubled; wheat farmers have
increased their yield by 40 percent per acre. Increases
in production levels have increased the self-sufficiency
of the Greater Williamsport area to 70 percent of the food
distributed. In the future, environmental laws controlling
Williamsport Growers' Market
Little Pine Creek Dam
soil erosion, pesticides, animal waste, and air pollu-
tion will dictate farming methods.
Although the number of farms has decreased from 1,218 in 194-0
to 1,086 in 1969, the average size of farms has increased from
86.3 acres to 149.7 acres in the same period. The trend to-
ward larger farms began as skyrocketing prices made farming
as a livelihood forbidding to all but the commercial farmer.
Productive farmers bought up potentially good farmland from
part-time and retired farmers. Many part-time farmers found
it too costly to maintain their land as a small farm and
were forced to make a living elsewhere.
Although there is no shortage of rich farm soil in Lycoming
County much of the richest soil has been occupied by ex-
panding communities and businesses. Since the 1800' s
Jersey Shore, Williamsport, Montoursville, Muncy, and Mont-
gomery have grown up along the Susquehanna River and now
occupy much of the richest farmland in the Commonwealth.
As communities expanded, the airport, industrial park, gra-
vel quarries, and commercial building also were constructed
on this land. At the time of this construction, concern
over flooding made farming prohibitive. Soil maps have
since ranked this land as prime farming soil. Since the
Agnes flood of 1972, flood-plain zoning programs have re-
stricted building along the river and lowlands.
Agriculture in Lycoming County has become a major industry
producing nearly $13-1 million worth of products annually.
The dairy industry has always been the top income producer
with field crops and meat-animal products ranking second
and third. Agriculture-related industries are also impor-
tant to the economy of the county as an employer. Twenty-
one industries are engaged in the production of food and
kindred products. Approximately 1,150 persons are em-
ployed in these industries, and they collect more than
$7.9 million in annual payrolls.
CONSERVATION AND NATURAL RESOURCES
Lycoming County is rich in natural resources. The most
economically important resources are limestone and sand
and gravel. Bituminous coal, bluestone, slate, and tri-
poli — a limestone-slate used as paint filler and abrasive —
are also of some economic value. Stripped of its lumber
resources by the turn of the century, the land was clear
for farming and outdoor recreation. Today about 70 percent
of the county has returned to forest. Conservation is
practiced with an eye toward agriculture and outdoor re-
Hunting is one of the major recreational activities in the
county and has created a large market in sales of hunting
equipment and services such as food and lodging. Strong
emphasis has been placed on conservation of wildlife. Deer
and bear hunting are popular among county sportsmen. The
only other large game animal in the county is the Pennsyl-
vania elk which has come dangerously close to extinction.
Since 1932, the elk has been protected from hunters, and
grazing lands have been set aside to encourage the growth
of the elk herd.
Small game animals in the county include rabbits, snowshoe
hares, squirrels, raccoons, woodchucks, ringneck pheasants,
bobwhite quail, ruffed grouse, turkey, woodcocks, shore-
birds, doves, Hungarian partridges, and waterfowl. Earlier
in the century the wild turkey was hunted nearly to extinc-
tion. In 194-5, a turkey farm was established at Barbours to
raise wild turkeys for hunting. Ringneck pheasants, which
live on the new growth not found in abundance in the county's
mature woods, are raised on a game farm established at
Loyalsockville in 1934. The heavily hunted pheasants have
relieved some pressure from the disappearing quail and
Many non-hunted birds are disappearing as their habitats
are destroyed. The whooping crane, trumpeter swan, waxy-
billed woodpecker, California condor and bald eagle are all
endangered. The osprey and peregrin falcon, both waterfowl,
suffered heavily from post World War II spraying of DDT which
contaminated the water. The insecticide caused the eggs to
be thin-shelled so that few eggs survived to hatch. Now
these birds and the bald eagle, once nesters in this county,
are seen only during migration. The bobwhite quail, ring-
neck pheasant, and ruffed grouse have moved to more southern
counties in search of new growth.
The list of extinct animals that had lived in the county as
recently as 1917 is long despite the efforts of conserva-
tionists. Some of the vanished animals are the California
paroquet, the great auk, the Labrador duck, the heath hen,
the Eskimo curlew, and the passenger pigeon. The latter
was so populous in the mid-1800 's that a single net could
snare hundreds of them from the blackened sky.
Many plants and trees which are not protected have also be-
come endangered by disease and destruction of their fragile
habitat. Many wildf lowers such as lady's slipper, trailing
arbutis, and trillium require a particular habitat and
should be protected for their future value as a food source
or potential cure for disease. Foxglove, from which digi-
talis is derived, is an example of a wildflower's value as
Though efforts to combat the chestnut blight have been fu-
tile, the hardy tree has managed to attain a six-inch
diameter before succumbing to the fungus. This blight was
imported on a Japanese chestnut tree in 1904 and nearly era-
dicated the American chestnut from Pennsylvania and New Eng-
land. The Dutch elm disease, another imported blight, now
threatens the elms of the county. The historic Tiadaghton
Elm, over 500 years old, was killed by the fungus in 197-4.
CONSERVATION OF RIVERS AND STREAMS
Once a sewer for communities and mines along the river, the
West Branch of the Susquehanna River provided a poor habi-
tat for fish. Despite the Clean Streams Act of 1937, raw
sewage from Williamsport and surrounding communities was
regularly discharged into the Susquehanna River until 1953
when the primary treatment of Williamsport ' s sewage began.
Mine acid pollution ended when the mines in Clearfield,
Cambria, and other counties were sealed. Escaping mine
acids were neutralized by sewage treatment.
In 1973 the Department of Environmental Resources required
the more thorough secondary treatment of sewage. The 1970
amendment to the Clean Streams Act of 1937 brought the con-
trol of water quality under the Department of Environmental
Resources' Environmental Quality Board, whose duty it is to
issue or deny permits to discharge waste into the waters of
the county. From 1952 to 1970, the control of water quality
had been the responsibility of the Sanitary Water Board and
the quality of the waters of the county steadily improved.
At least fifteen species of fish are caught in the Lycoming
County waters today including muskie, walleye, pickerel,
large mouth bass, and panfish. There are numerous fishing
areas in the county: the 396-acre Rose Valley Lake, the 90-
acre Little Pine Dam, Upper Pine Bottom, the Susquehanna
River, and numerous feeder streams. Most of the waterways
have been improved to permit boating, water skiing, and
Lumbering made a strong comeback in the late 1930 's as
defense contracts were filled for England, France, and the
Soviet Union who were now fully engaged in war with Germany.
Even though the United States was not yet involved in war,
U. S. defense contracts were placed with many county lumber
mills in anticipation of war.
The number of mills grew until in 1954, there were an esti-
mated 50 sawmills operating in the Tiadaghton district and
several more in the Pine Creek area. The boom created
through defense contracts raised hopes that lumbering would
again become a thriving industry. There was reason for
hope. Reforestation programs of 40 to 50 years before were
now showing profits. Slow-growing hardwoods were maturing,
replacing the soft yellow pine and fir. Most mills of the
early 1950 's cut oak in large quantities as well as hemlock,
pine, poplar, and basswood.
Although the volume of lumber was down from the last cen-
tury, the quality was so high that area building
suppliers dealt almost exclusively in local lumber. Only
wood such as West Coast soft woods, Douglas fir, Ponderosa
pine, and West Virginia oak — none of which were grown in this
region — were imported. Some areas of Michigan, the South,
and Northwest United States imported lumber from Lycoming
County as their own supply became depleted.
But hope of rebuilding the lumber industry died as the orders
slowed in the late 1950' s. Defense contracts had stopped.
Coal mining, one of the larger consumers, had declined, and
lumber wholesalers suffered a severe financial loss. Rail-
roads continued to buy ties from local mills, but the vol-
ume was not high enough to sustain the industry. The Wil-
liamsport Planing Mill, the last sawmill in the city, clos-
ed in 1952.
The reduced demand for lumber was partly due to changes in
building materials and lumber substitutes. Since the 1930 's
buildings were being constructed of steel, brick, and ce-
ment. Steel office furniture became more popular than
wood. About 4,000 new uses for wood were developed. Among
them, wood was used in the production of rayon, cellophane,
wall boards, insulating materials, and artificial stone.
Today there are few reminders that Williamsport was once the
lumbering capital of the world. Millionaire's Row on Fourth
Street stands somewhat neglected and only came under the
protection of the city's Historic District Ordinance in 1975.
A few mills still run throughout the county. Skeletal re-
mains of lumbering cribs, built by James Perkins in 1846,
still lie beneath the Susquehanna River. The now broken
cribs had extended from the 14-acre island at Locust Street
to seven miles upriver. The crib had broken in April of
1972 when the river was dredged. Some of the cribs had
survived the Agnes flood of that year.
More than 80 years separates this generation from the lum-
ber era, which makes the period seem complex. To close the
gap between generations, a lumber gallery has been set up
at the Lycoming County Historical Society and Museum in
Williamsport. In the gallery, a large diorama of the Sus-
quehanna Boom on the Susquehanna River displays the lumber
canal next to the boom, the boom cribs, and sorting bins
where the Susquehanna Boom Company sorted the lumber ac-
cording to the owner's mark hammered into the log. Un-
marked logs were sold by the Susquehanna Boom Company which
netted them $50,000 to $100,000 annually. The sorted logs
were sent by lumber raft to the log pond outside of the own-
Five other dioramas in the lumber gallery display a lumber
mill, shingle making, bark stripping, a log railroad, and
a log slide. Another diorama, built by Christ Haist, the
last superintendent of the Susquehanna Boom Company, shows
the positions of the company's workmen at the mill. Numer-
ous photographs and lumbering tools are on permanent dis-
play at the Lycoming County Historical Society and Museum.
An entire life-size lumber camp has been authentically re-
created at the Pennsylvania State Lumber Museum in Potter
County near Cherry Springs State Park. A walk down the
dirt streets takes you past a work house, a mess hall, a
laundry, a country store, a smithy, and a carpenter shop.
The working camp includes water wheels, shingle mills, and
early up and down saw mills. A Shay locomotive (a heavy
duty uphill hauler) and a Barnhart steam log loader dis-
play the heavy powerful movers of lumber a century ago.
QUESTIONS CHAPTER 3
1. List the three leading types of agriculture in the
2. Describe trends in farm size and productivity. Explain
reasons for these changes.
3. What threats to agriculture have emerged in Lycoming
-4. List some of the county's mineral resources.
5. What were some of the major activities in conservation?
6. What measures have been taken to improve streams and
7. Give reasons why the lumber industry failed to be re-
vived on a large scale.
8. What kinds of trees were most common?
9. How has the Lycoming County Historical Society
commemorated the lumber era?
Chapter TRANSITIONS in population and retail trade
Although the population of the county has continued to grow
since 1930, the population of Williamsport has decreased
from its peak of 45,729 in 1930, to 37,918 in 1970. Ly-
coming County's population was 93,421 in 1930 and has grown
to 113,296. Nearly half of the county's population lived
in Williamsport in 1930. Today, Williamsport comprises only
one-third of the county's population. When the depression
of the 1930 's forced the closing of many of the city's in-
dustries, unemployed workers were compelled to move else-
where to find work. The closing of the U. S. Rubber Com-
pany in 1932, left 2,500 workers unemployed. Though the
county population increased by 0.2 percent between 1930 and
1940, Williamsport ' s dropped by 3.0 percent. The growth of
defense industries during World War II helped to increase
the population of the county but only slightly increased
Williamsport ' s population. Since the 1950' s, Williamsport
along with cities across the nation, faced a dramatic loss
While the population of the city has declined, the growth of
the county has continued. Williamsport has lost its popu-
lation to its perimeter. The Greater Williamsport area
comprises almost two-thirds of the county's 113,296 in-
habitants. The population density of Williamsport is more
than 4,100 persons per square mile. Duboistown, South
Williamsport, Montoursville, Montgomery, Muncy, Hughesville,
and Jersey Shore stand at 1,000 to 4,100 per square mile.
There are 300 to 1,000 persons per square mile in Picture
Rocks, Salladasburg, Old Lycoming, and Loyalsock townships.
There are at least 60 inhabitants per square mile in the
townships of Porter, Piatt, Susquehanna, Woodward, Lycom-
ing, Hepburn, Eldred, Upper Fairfield, Clinton, Muncy Creek,
and Wolf. Fewer than 60 persons per square mile are regis-
tered in other townships.
The trend toward suburbanization has also affected the re-
tail industry. Center-city Williamsport met with strong
competition from malls at the Golden Strip in Loyalsock and
the Lycoming Mall at Hall's Station. Once the largest
shopping center in the county, Williamsport needed to change
in order to compete with suburban shopping complexes.
In 1975, a group of downtown businessmen organized the
Downtown Design Review Committee which was to plan a down-
town Williamsport mall. Laurence A. Alexander & Company
was engaged to do a study of the downtown and to make pro-
posals for improvements which would make the downtown more
competitive with the shopping malls. A proposal was accept-
ed to close Pine Street to traffic from Fourth Street to
Church Street and to construct an outdoor mall in this area.
The Williamsport Redevelopment Authority acted as the city's
agent in the project. On June 18, 1976, construction of the
mall began. The sidewalks and street were replaced by bricks
and trees were planted. An outdoor cafe, children's play
area, and benches were placed in the mall.
Improvements were not limited to the mall area. Over the
entire downtown area, 315 trees were planted, potted plants
were set along the sidewalk, and bicycle racks were in-
stalled. The Center-City Mall was officially dedicated on
November 15, 1976. Critics of the mall had complained that
the loss of parking spaces on Pine Street would further re-
strict parking. Though there were 260 parking spaces lost
when the mall was constructed, there were still about 2,000
parking spaces in the downtown area. However, the walking
distance from some of the parking areas to the downtown
continued to be a problem.
The cost of the improvements to the downtown was $1,690,000
and was shared by downtown property owners, the Williamsport
Redevelopment Authority, the Williamsport Foundation, and
Lycoming County. The entire cost of improvements to the
mall were paid by the downtown property owners. No capital
was raised through city taxes.
A year earlier on September 1, 1975, Mayor John Coder began
planting pine trees along Pine Street for a controversial
90-day trial mall he named the Pine Park Mall. He stated
that his proposed mall was much less expensive and would
not remove the valuable on-street parking on Pine Street.
He stressed the urgency of opening a mall downtown before
the Lycoming Mall opened. Williamsport City Council held
an emergency meeting the afternoon of September 1, and won
a temporary injunction to halt the work on the mall. Mayor
Coder was later ordered by Williamsport City Council to re-
move the trees and to restore the street and sidewalk.
Over the last four decades, downtown Williamsport has
shifted westward. Market Square, once a thriving shopping
center, lost its strength to the Pine Street area. One of
the largest Market Square businesses was the Growers' Mar-
ket which closed in 1974 after four decades at the same
site. When the lease to the building was lost, venders
were scattered about the county and many closed their busi-
nesses. In the mid-1950 's as many as 200 farmers sold
their produce at the Growers' Market. The large building
was filled with smells of locally produced fruits and
vegetables as well as farm-fresh eggs and meats.
In the last ten years, the mall area has changed as some
older stores closed and others came to fill the vacancies.
Center City Mall. Williamsport
Lycoming Mall, Halls, Pa.
Prior and Sallada Company, Inc . , located on West Fourth
Street, closed in 1977. It was established in 1896 by W. R.
Prior and Wilbur Sallada. Sears, Roebuck, and Company, which
opened in downtown Williamsport in 1928, moved to the Ly-
coming Mall in 1978 after fifty years in downtown William-
sport. In 1974, Carroll House, closed leaving a large va-
cant building on the corner of Pine and Third streets. The
large department store, which had opened in 1929, operated
under the name of Lycoming Dry Goods Company until 1947.
The building was bought by Fidelity Bank and Trust Company
In 1971, W. T. Grant Company moved from its West Fourth
Street location to Loyal Plaza after forty-one years down-
town. The entire chain went bankrupt in 1975.
Several established stores have continued to operate in
downtown Williamsport. L. L. Stearns and Sons was estab-
lished by Laten Legg Stearns in 1850 in Jersey Shore. In
1865 he shipped his merchandise downriver by raft to Wil-
liamsport where railroad connections made Williamsport a
more important trading center. L. L. Stearns and Sons was
located at Market Square until 1888 when it moved to the
corner of Third and Pine streets, eventually expanding to
an adjoining building over four floors. L. L. Stearns and
Sons is the oldest family owned, family operated depart-
ment store in the United States.
D. S. Andrus and Company was founded in 1860 by D. S. Andrus,
whose partner in the late 1860's was William R. Vanderbelt.
Andrus was a prominent Williamsport citizen following the
A. B. Neyhart and Emmanuel E. Andrews, Sr. established
Neyhart's, Inc. in 1870. Soon after it opened, the store
expanded to an adjoining building where it has remained
since its opening.
The Otto Book Store was established in Market Square in
1877 by Alexander M. Dean. The store was named for H. Y.
Otto, a partner. It later moved to West Fourth Street.
Harder Sporting Goods Company was established in 1883 by
George H. Harder, a maker of custom-made guns. Soon after
opening, the store began to sell fishing equipment and other
sporting goods. In 1903, the store moved from West Fourth
Street to Pine Street.
Attracted by the established businesses, at least a dozen
stores opened or relocated in the mall area the year be-
fore it opened. Many establishments renovated their build-
ings and made improvements. L. L. Stearns and Sons and
Fidelity National Bank of Pennsylvania, which had moved into
the Carroll House building, made renovations and refaced
the buildings they occupied. Many other center-city build-
ings had been cleaned or painted to give the downtown a
fresher, newer appearance.
QUESTIONS CHAPTER 4
1. What is the population of the county? What fraction
live in the city? In "greater Williamsport"?
2. What are the population trends for the county and city?
3. Name some of the older merchandising firms in William-
4. What measures have been taken to promote retail trade
5. What other important shopping centers exist in the
Chapter MAJOR floods and the dikes
^ Lycoming County is no stranger to the capricious ways of the
weather, particularly as it relates to rain and floods. The
predominance of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River
and its five major tributaries has made the destruction of
flooding a common threat to county residents during times
of heavy rain and high water. Yet the record of major
devastating floods is limited to a relative few.
Prior to our period of concentration, the flood of March,
1936 was the most destructive on record. With a flood
stage of 15 feet at the Market Street Bridge in William-
sport, the 1936 level reached 33.6 feet. Major sections
of the county were inundated, including downtown William-
sport. Indeed, this was the flood which spurred action
toward the construction of flood dikes in Williamsport and
South Williamsport, providing inestimable protection from
future floods — and future floods there were.
THE 1946 FLOOD
Just ten years after the record breaker of 1936, the county
was again victim to another severe flood on May 29 and 30,
194-6. This was the third worst flood to strike Williamsport
to that date. Cloudbursts had occurred over the upper por-
tions of Pine and Lycoming creeks emptying large amounts of
water into the Susquehanna River, already swollen from pre-
vious heavy rains during May. The results were predictable.
The regions along Lycoming Creek experienced their worst
flooding ever. Property damages reached several hundred
thousand dollars in the area from High Street in William-
sport to Roaring Branch. Also, along the Susquehanna River
from Jersey Shore to Muncy extensive flooding routed resi-
dents for the second time in ten years. The Red Cross
came through with aid to victims of the flood providing
some relief and comfort to those most in need.
The final river reading in Williamsport for the 194-6 flood
was 29.6 feet, about four feet under the 1936 record.
Nevertheless, downtown Williamsport endured the ravages of
flooding again. There were no Memorial Day celebrations
in 1946 as businessmen and residents were busy moving mer-
chandise and belongings to higher ground. At first the
Flood Forecasting Service predicted there would be no
flooding in Williamsport but when reports of the heavy
rains in northern parts of the county became known, the
first emergency forecast was issued. Downtown Williamsport
stores, offices and churches all were swept by the flood
waters of May, 1946, which while not a record-breaking
flood, was to be distinguished as the last flood to invade
downtown Williamsport. Thirty percent of the city was hit.
THE "AGNES" FLOOD
After 1946, floods of minor and varied severity afflicted
unprotected towns along the river and creeks, usually in
the spring when ice jams, melting snow and falling rain
provide ideal flooding conditions. Yet the worst flood
ever to strike Lycoming County was not attributed to ice
jams and melting snow but to a ferocious hurricane known
as "Agnes" which had strayed inland over Pennsylvania. It
seemed that widespread destructive floods had become a
thing of the past, and it was common for young people to
hear their parents and grandparents refer to the "36 flood"
as a kind of historical benchmark — that is until the advent
of hurricane Agnes in June, 1972.
The Agnes flood equals no other in sheer volume of water or
destructive force. With the exception of Williamsport and
South Williamsport where the dikes saved both communities
from overwhelming disaster, most towns and rural areas in
the county experienced unparalleled damage to roads and
bridges, homes, stores, fields and barns. In some places,
houses, bridges and other normally secure objects were
swept away by raging water like so many pebbles in a stream.
Roads were washed away and closed for days, some for months.
The Agnes flood is without peer and provided Lycoming
County with its worst natural disaster in history.
This record-breaking flood was the consequence of the re-
cord rainfall Agnes emptied on the region. She emptied a
total of 13-52 inches of rain on Lycoming County — more than
any other storm in history. The storm also set a record
for the greatest 24- -hour rainfall with 8.66 inches on June
22. And the highest total rainfall recorded for any month
was set in June, 1972 with 16.8 inches. For a period of
four solid days rain cascaded on Lycoming County and most
of Pennsylvania without subsiding or slackening.
No event before or since hurricane Agnes has caused more
hardship and destruction to more people in Lycoming County.
Had there been no dikes in Williamsport, or had they not
held, the damage and devastation would have been difficult
if not impossible to calculate. Instead, Williamsport
served as the major distribution point for the county and
communities in several other counties for many basic ne-
cessities, such as food, electrical equipment, clothing
and home furnishings. All over the county, people along
streams, creeks and the Susquehanna River were forced to
take refuge in evacuation centers in schools and church
halls. Many others more fortunate were forced to contend
Fourth and Market Streets during 1946 flood
West Branch Valley from Montgomery Pike
during Agnes flood
with water in cellars without electricity to operate pumps.
The drama of hurricane Agnes intensified on Thursday, June
22 when 9.5 inches of rain fell in little over 2-4 hours,
bringing the river depth to 14 feet and rising at the Mar-
ket Street Bridge, after a two-foot reading on Tuesday,
June 20. In Williamsport, Mayor John R. Coder declared a
state of emergency and set up evacuation centers at the
Salvation Army headquarters and the Roosevelt and Stevens
Junior High Schools. In South Williamsport a number of
residents on Hastings and Main streets were instructed to
evacuate their homes, and the rear portion of the First
Ward Fire Company building fell into the teaming Hager-
THE COUNTY PARALYZED
By late Thursday night and early Friday morning, June 23,
flood conditions had reached their peak, and the county
was effectively paralyzed with major sections isolated.
By Friday morning Montoursville was virtually cut off due
to the flooding along Loyalsock Creek which blocked travel
on Routes 87 and 220. Large areas of Jersey Shore were
submerged in water, which reached as far up Allegheny Street
as Wylie Street, and to Pfouts Run on Locust Street.
The other two boroughs along the flood plain of the river
which had extensive flooding were Muncy and Montgomery.
Virtually the entire eastern half of Muncy was innundated,
with the heart of the flooding centered along Water Street.
The flood waters on Main Street nearly reached the Common-
wealth Bank; on Washington Street the water went several
yards beyond the intersection with Bruner Street. Flooding
in Montgomery was similarly extensive with most of the
borough south of Montgomery Street under water. Portions
of Montgomery between North Main Street and Kinsey Street
were also affected.
DESTRUCTION ALONG RIVER TRIBUTARIES
Some of the greatest damage attributed to Agnes occurred
along the river's tributaries, especially Pine and Loyal-
sock creeks. Describing the devastation along Pine Creek,
the Williamsport Sun-Gazette reported: "Only those struc-
tures on high ground or those with good foundations remain.
It looks like a large battering ram went through the valley
taking everything out in its path."
Indeed, the destruction along Pine Creek was astounding.
Of the 2-4 houses at the little village of Ramsey south of
Waterville, only five remained. All the rest were swept
off their foundations or disappeared completely. House
trailers were wrapped around trees. Parts of houses,
cottages, cars and other debris were scattered throughout
the valley turning it into a virtual rubbish heap.
Even wildlife was disrupted by the extraordinary weather
and flooding, as some residents along Pine Creek saw young
bear cubs come out of the woods seeking food dumped onto
porches from water-soaked refrigerators and cupboards.
The flooding at Waterville and south, according to an ob-
server, seemed to occur in minutes after water finally
went over the spillway at Little Pine Dam. One very sad
casualty of flooding along Pine Creek was the suspension
foot-bridge at Camp Kline, one of Pennsylvania's most in-
teresting bridges and a source of fun and fear to many a
Similar tales to those of Pine Creek can be told, in turn,
of Larry's Creek, Lycoming, Loyalsock and the Muncy creeks.
The heavy rains had turned these usually mild-mannered
fishing streams into raging torrents, destroying everything
in their path. State roads were especially vulnerable.
There was nothing left of Route 87 below Shore Acres after
the Loyalsock had washed out a 3,000-foot section down to
creek-bed level. Numerous bridges, too, were washed out or
The Agnes flood was highly disruptive of utilities in the
county. Montoursville residents were required to boil
their drinking water or add prescribed amounts of iodine or
chlorine bleach for nearly three days to kill any germs
which may have contaminated the water. This was a result
of the landslide from Skyline Drive lookout into the borough
reservoir in Gibsons Hollow.
Many regions lost electricity for as long as 18 to 24 hours,
and thousands of phone customers lost service for extended
periods, hampering communications.
DAMAGE IN THE MILLIONS
By Saturday, June 24, the rain had stopped and the worst of
the flooding was over. The crest at Williamsport came at
10:30 P.M. Friday, June 23. After some controversy and
disagreement between county and National Weather Service
officials, the official crest at Williamsport was set at
34.75 feet, just two and one-quarter feet below the top of
the dikes. Williamsport narrowly escaped a major disaster
owing to the flood control dams along the West Branch
watershed which lower the river level by three feet. Had
the dams not existed, water would have gone over the dikes
with three-quarters of a foot to spare.
'Golden Strip" during Agnes flood
IE , fULU
Evacuation center at Williamsport 's
Stevens Junior High School during
Memorial Avenue Bridge, Williamsport,
during Agnes flood
Groundbreaking ceremony for dikes
November 26, 1940
L to R: John C. Youngman, Sr. , John Murray
II. T. Allison, E. S. Frymire, J. F. Collier,
C. E. Noyes and S. R. II i
As soon as water receded to manageable levels, the total
extent of the damage in the county became visible and clean-
up operations got underway. In some places looting of
flooded stores led to the imposition of curfews, as in
Loyalsock Township at the Loyal Plaza Shopping Center. The
total damage estimate to commercial, industrial and agri-
cultural plants and goods in Lycoming County was set at
$10 million by the Williamsport Chamber of Commerce. This,
however, did not include losses to personal property which
raised the total much higher.
One of the first organizations to set up relief operations
was the American Red Cross. Opening their disaster relief
headquarters at the Army Reserve Center on Four Mile Drive
on Tuesday, June 27, the Red Cross served persons in need
of many essential articles, including money for rent, minor
house repairs or down payments on appliances. When Presi-
dent Nixon declared Pennsylvania a disaster area on June
30, federal aid for housing and other services became
available. The U. S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development purchased apartments and mobile homes to house
persons whose homes were destroyed.
The ^1970 Federal Disaster Relief Act made available Small
Business Administration low interest loans for repairing
homes and businesses. Also, loans of up to $10,000 were
available for replacing household goods . Unemployment
benefits were available for persons put out of work by the
flood, in the amount of Pennsylvania's own compensation
program of $81 a week for up to 30 weeks. Area farmers
were eligible for loans from the Farmers Home Administration
in an effort to recover from damages to crops, livestock
and equipment. Some of the smaller loans were forgiven,
depending upon the individual's financial situation.
MONTHS OF CLEANUP
While assistance from both the federal and state govern-
ments helped many people recover more quickly from the
flood than would otherwise have been possible, it still
took many weeks and months before complete recuperation
was achieved. Some businesses and communities, in fact,
never fully recovered.
State contractors worked many weeks rebuilding roads and
securing bridges. Homes had to be rebuilt, and many hours
of hosing mud from stores, homes, garages and barns were
required. Even though the cleanup operations and major
repairs have long since been accomplished, Agnes remains
a name which commands fear and awe from Lycoming County
residents. In the annals of our county's history, Agnes
became the greatest history maker of all.
A CAMPAIGN FOR DIKES
Though Williamsport residents can hardly imagine living
without flood protection, for years the building of dikes
was a controversial and disquieting issue for the community.
The history of the dikes is something of a story in itself.
Williamsport and South Williamsport suffered periodic flood-
ing all through their histories, but it took nearly 75
years to arouse sufficient public support and concern to
bring the dikes into being.
As far back as the late 1800' s, Williamsport merchants
agitated to do something about the recurrent flooding which
imperiled the city; however, building effective and secure
dikes was no easy or inexpensive proposition. The ob-
stacles to dike construction in Williamsport prevented
serious movement towards them for many years.
Then, after the devastating 1936 flood which took the lives
of three county residents, the tide was turned in favor of
the dikes. It became obvious to civic, commercial and
government leaders that flood control for Williamsport was
vital to the city's economic health. Most leaders of the
community recognized that the economic benefits of dikes
would far outweigh the cost of building and maintaining
them. The organization most responsible for promoting
this message was the Community Trade Association, the fore-
runner to the Williamsport Chamber of Commerce. Due to its
untiring efforts, the dikes finally became a reality.
MONEY A STUMBLINGBLOCK
By 194-0 the pro-dike element in Williamsport had in its
favor a commitment by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers to
meet all design and construction costs of the dike project
from federal government flood control appropriations. This
left only land damage, easement and right-of-way costs to
be met by the local municipalities. Williamsport ' s ex-
penses were estimated at between $300,000 and $350,000.
Immediately, local opponents of the project objected to
the price. As always, money became the stumblingblock.
Then in January, 1940, the issue of dikes came to a head
when President Franklin D. Roosevelt announced that no
new federal projects would be started after July 1st of
that year. Williamsport and South Williamsport thus had
only a few short months to decide whether they wanted the
flood control project to start in 1940, or not at all.
Indirectly, then, it was the President of the United States
who forced the hand of local leaders on the issue of the
flood control project by threatening to withdraw construc-
STRONG SUPPORT FOR DIKES
As soon as local officials were informed of the President's
proposed austerity measures, the Community Trade Association
and other commercial and civic groups intensified their
campaign in support of the dikes construction. Williamsport
attorney John C. Youngman Sr. was named chairman of the
Community Trade Association's Flood Control Committee back
in March, 1935, prior to the 1936 flood. Mr. Youngman 's
efforts proved essential to the success of the flood control
Various other groups, such as labor and fraternal organi-
zations, also ran newspaper advertisements urging action.
Even church congregations — which stood to benefit from
dikes — went on record in support of dike construction. The
Community Trade Association sponsored a flood control slo-
gan contest in March, 19-40. Prizes of $25, $15 and $10
were offered. Town meetings and flood control forums were
held to inform residents of the benefits and importance
of dikes. For a period of several months, the flood con-
trol project dominated Williamsport ' s front pages, official
meetings, and informal discussions.
DIKES REFERENDA APPROVED
In the end, however, just as it was taxpayers who objected
most strongly to the flood control expenditures, it was
the taxpayers who approved the bond issues to build the
dikes. In special referenda held in April, 194-0, the
voters in both Williamsport and South Williamsport voted
overwhelmingly in favor of the dikes.
No doubt the extensive public relations effort had a major
effect on the outcome of the referenda. Other contributing
factors were the state ' s agreement to pay half the cost of
land damages and rights-of-way, while the county agreed to
pay $100,000. This lowered the city's share to $175,000,
which seemed worth the expenditure. South Williamsport
voters approved the $35,000 bond issue for that borough.
Despite the long publicity campaign, the most persuasive
factor in favor of the dikes proved to be the work of
Providence. Just one day before the Williamsport referen-
dum, a flood warning very nearly caused its postponement.
After several days of rain and excessive snow melt, the
river at Market Street reached a depth of 22. 1L, feet. Had
the river crested any higher, downtown Williamsport would
have been swimming in water. There was little question in
the minds of many community leaders at the time that the
threat of another flood so close to the referendum spoke
louder in favor of flood control than all the words uttered
during the campaign. This incident was followed by another
ironic fact: Williamsport did not finally need to issue
bonds, as the city found enough money from other sources
to meet its obligations for the dikes.
Bids were advertised in October, 194-0, for construction of
the first unit of dikes, which included the area from the
High Street Bridge along the eastern bank of Lycoming
Creek, and then eastward along the river bank to Maynard
Street. Ground breaking ceremonies were held on November
26, 1940, which despite the cold weather, several hundred
people attended to watch Mayor Leo C. Williamson turn the
first shovel of dirt. The ceremony took place between
Fourth Street and the ball park along Lycoming Creek, the
location of the first section to be built.
WORLD WAR II HINDERS DIKES CONSTRUCTION
Even with the groundbreaking, however, the delays in the
dike construction were far from over. Before construction
ever got off the ground, World War II intervened. The
Army Engineers diverted money and men to projects directly
connected to defense work. The dikes were placed on the
back burner for the duration of the war. But by the middle
of 194-6 the war was over and dike construction finally got
underway in earnest.
THE DIKES COMPLETED
Final completion of the dikes was to take nine years. In
August, 1955, the work was finished and Williamsport, South
Williamsport and Newberry had flood protection for the
first time. The final cost of the project was put at
$15,250,000. The dikes consist of approximately 134 miles
of dike walls and levees, along with ten pumping stations.
The entire system got its greatest test during Hurricane
Agnes in 1972 and passed with flying colors. The city
sighed with great relief when the dikes held firm, despite
rumors to the contrary. Williamsporters were truly thank-
ful that nothing more than some flooded basements and a
few impassable streets had occurred. The alternative was
too awful to imagine. Not even Agnes was strong enough
to penetrate the flood fortificaitons which surround
Williamsport like a mother's arms, serving as a tribute to
those who sought their erection.
QUESTIONS CHAPTER 5
1. Construct a time line showing the history of floods in
Lycoming County beginning in 1936. Indicate the
severity of each major flood.
2. Describe how each of the following locations was affect-
ed by the "Agnes" flood of 1972:
B. South Williamsport
C . Montoursville
D. Jersey Shore
F . Montgomery
G. Pine Creek
3. How was Williamsport spared from a major disaster in
4-. Why was the building of dikes at Williamsport a con-
troversial subject for Lycoming County?
Qvanttr EDUCATION: from one room to many
71 Only since about 1940 has education in Lycoming County en-
** tered the modern age. Even in that year there were still
close to 100 one-room schoolhouses within the county. These
were where rural and village children had their first en-
counter with reading, writing and arithmetic. It was not
until 1967 that the last two one-room schools closed for
good in Lycoming County. By today's standards, the one-
room schools were anything hut modern. The introduction of
electric lights was about the only amenity most of these
schools ever acquired; only rarely did they possess run-
ning water or indoor toilets. Usually these schools were
heated by large pot-bellied stoves fired by coal, or in
recent years, a coal oil fired stove conveniently located
at the side of the room. The desks resembled church pews
with a board for writing attached to the seat in front. One
seat was often long enough to hold three pupils, and the
seat itself was on hinges so that it could be folded up,
making it easier to sweep the floors.
Pupils spent most of the school day doing arithmetic pro-
blems, practicing writing or memorizing spelling words.
The older students sometimes had to memorize the names of
the presidents or the states and their capitals. Quite
often there were up to eight grades in a single one-room
school, which limited the amount of time the teacher could
devote to each grade per day, even if some grades had only
two or three students. The older pupils, too, helped with
teaching the younger children. Recess was a time for play-
ing "hide-and-seek" in nearby woods or touch tag in the
school yard. When recess was over the teacher sent a pupil
out with a handbell to announce time-up. Lunches were
carried in a bag or lunch box, and a thermos of milk was
needed, as none was provided. The meal was eaten at the
desk where the pupils sat all day, and the teacher kept a
watchful eye to make sure that no one left an untidy desk.
Schools in the boroughs of the county and in Williamsport
were much advanced over the little country schools. The
town schools themselves were, perhaps, not as comfortable
as today's, but the classes were smaller than in the
country schools, and children were placed in classes of a
single grade. This meant fewer distractions and more time
for individual instruction between teacher and pupil. Also,
the borough and city schools provided kindergarten to in-
troduce small children to the life and program of school —
though even kindergarten was only an innovation of the
early 1950 's in the town schools. The rural schools, on
the other hand, could not offer kindergarten.
At the secondary level, most of the high schools in the
1940' s operated on the same basis as today. Students mo-
ved from class to class, receiving instruction from teachers
who specialized in a single subject. Students joined clubs,
played on the football team or sang in the school chorus.
Unlike today, however, students were offered a set cur-
riculum with only a few electives or course choices avail-
able, with some exceptions (the Williamsport High School,
for example, offered a course in journalism as far back as
1924). Today, on the other hand, the curricula offered are
broader in scope. Such courses as creative writing, astro-
nomy, photography, and economics are commonly offered in
high schools. Furthermore, many high schools formerly
did not have libraries, and such facilities as plane-
tariums, dark rooms, and swimming pools were unheard of in
Lycoming County schools.
The organization of the schools in Lycoming County has
changed beyond recognition since 1940. At that time the
county school system was fragmented into separate school
boards in each of the boroughs and townships. These in-
dependent boards provided education for the children of
their own municipalities. They saw that school buildings
were maintained, books were bought and teachers were hired.
Usually the township school boards operated within sharply
limited budgets and could do little to abandon the one-
room school concept which was a left-over from the 19th
Fortunately, the township school boards were not left to
wander aimlessly on their own. As early as 1854- the
Pennsylvania legislature created the office of county
school superintendent , despite a great deal of opposition
at the time. The superintendent's job was to provide pro-
fessional supervision over the many scattered school dis-
tricts in the county. The superintendent also saw to it
that regulations mandated by the state were carried out
by the local school boards. In 1854 these regulations in-
cluded a minimum school term of four months and instruction
in orthography, reading, writing, grammar, geography and
arithmetic. Just since 1940 developments have swept away
this picture of education in the county. The office of
county superintendent of schools has been abolished and
all the borough and township school boards have been conso-
lidated into a total of eight within the county.
FORMATION OF JOINTURES
Most of the changes in the educational system were mandated
by the Pennsylvania legislature. For example, in 194V, the
legislature passed a law requiring all county school boards
Newman School near Hughesville
in the state to draw up plans for the consolidation of the
small borough and township schools into jointures. This
meant, for example, that the Jersey Shore borough schools
and those of surrounding townships were required to form a
combined administrative unit. The same was true for the
other larger boroughs of the county and their surrounding
townships. Predictably, the 194V Act was not a popular one.
Many communities believed it violated the principle of lo-
cal control of schools, denying them their democratic right
to educate their children as they saw fit.
Yet the reasons for forming jointures were sound. Most
townships and small villages already sent their high school
students to the nearest borough high school. Thus, Fair-
field Township sent its students to Montoursville High
School, and Brady Township sent its students to Montgomery.
The same pattern was true for the rest of the county, each
township paying tuition to the borough where its students
were sent. Prior to jointures, whenever a borough was
forced to expand its high school or to build a new one due
to overcrowding or dilapidation, it was financially hard
pressed to carry out construction without the assistance
of the neighboring townships, who likewise benefited from
a new school. Another reason for creating jointures was
the intolerable condition of many of the one-room schools.
The formation of jointures meant that not only high schools,
but elementary schools, as well, would come under the ad-
ministration of the larger school jointures. The jointures,
therefore, improved the standards and condition of the
county's schools and made building new schools economically
feasible. Thus, many one-room schools were phased out and
larger, better schools were built.
The seven school jointures created in the county after the
1947 ruling were: (l) East Lycoming Area, (2) Muncy Area,
(3) Montgomery Area, (A) Montoursville Area, (5) South
Williamsport Area, (6) Williamsport Area (including Loyal-
sock Township), and (7) Jersey Shore Area. The William-
sport schools had always been independent of the county
school board, and this remained so under the jointure setup.
When jointures were formed, each township and borough
school board chose one member to serve on the jointure
board. The county school board and superintendent con-
tinued to exercise their various functions. These in-
cluded approving annual financial reports from each of the
jointures; giving help and direction in the procedures for
erecting new buildings; visiting every one-room school in
the county each year; holding "teachers' institutes" to
present and to discuss the newest teaching ideas and meth-
ods; holding monthly "round-table" meetings for principals
and supervising principals to voice issues of mutual con-
cern; helping to estimate subsidy amounts from the State
Education Department to the jointures; approving bus trans-
portation contracts of the jointures; and finally, the rat-
ing of new teachers in their first and second years.
SCHOOL DISTRICT REORGANIZATION
Yet, the creation of jointures was just a first step in the
unification process. Final and complete consolidation, as
we know it today, followed from the 1961 School District
Reorganization Act. The Act held that school jointures
should unify into single school districts under one board
and district superintendent. It gave school districts au-
thority to levy taxes and construct their own buildings.
As a result of this reorganization, still more new schools
were built and smaller one-room and two-room schools were
The two one-room schools to share the distinction of being
the last closed in the county were the Rose Valley and Beech
Valley schools of the Montoursville Area School District.
Both these schools ceased to exist in 1967; with their
passing an era in Lycoming County education passed, too.
Except for some neighborhood schools in Williamsport and
the boroughs, most children today in Lycoming County are
bused to school; few children live close enough to walk,
and some must ride distances of up to forty miles on the
school bus. Many people may lament the passing of the
former era in education, others may resent the centralized
control of schools which the new era has brought, but like
other institutions, the schools have had to move with the
times to meet the needs of a modern world.
The 1961 School District Reorganization Act resulted in the
present eight school districts in Lycoming County. They are
roughly equivalent to the earlier jointures as listed above,
except that the Loyalsock Township School District was
formed out of the Williamsport Area School District. The
Jersey Shore District — largest in geographical area in the
county — also encompasses two townships from Clinton County.
Five Lycoming County townships are part of school districts
in other counties: Pine Township in the Wellsboro School
District, Cogan House and Jackson TownshLjps in the Southern
Tioga School District, and Mclntyre and McMett Townships in
the Canton Area School District.
Another consequence of the 1961 School District Reorganiza-
tion Act was the disbanding of the Lycoming County Board of
Education in July, 1971. The school districts were large
enough by then to perform most of the functions of the
county board. The county school board and the county su-
perintendent's office were replaced by a new school advi-
sory unit for Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan and Tioga coun-
ties, known by the acronym BLaST. The unit is officially
called Intermediate Unit 17, and is under the state Depart-
ment of Education. It comprises 19 school districts and
3,950 square miles of territory.
Intermediate Unit 17 has no regulatory control over school
districts. Rather, its assigned function is to provide
services and advice in special education and vocational
training. The Williamsport School District provides its
own facilities in the area of vocational training and does
not require the assistance of BLaST. BLaST also offers
services in several broad areas. For example, it offers
films and filmstrips from its audio-visual library; it has
available the latest resources in teaching materials, and
will assist school districts in curriculum development.
School districts can receive management advice from BLaST,
and also liaison between them and state and federal agencies
which may have available special funds unknown to the school
districts. Thus, the basic function of BLaST is to provide
expertise in helping school districts make learning a happy
and successful experience for children.
SOCIAL CHANGE AND THE SCHOOLS
Despite the radical effects of the consolidation of school
districts in the size and sophistication of school buildings,
other more subtle changes have occurred as a result of social
rather than legislative developments. The schools have as-
sumed a greater degree of responsibility for teaching sub-
jects formerly confined to the home and family— like
cooking, sewing, physical hygiene, and sex education. Prior
to school district reorganization, many smaller districts
had neither the resources nor the staff to offer such
courses; these were matters taught in the home, or not at
all. But the increasing mobility of American life — the
fact that less time is spent as families— and the growing
phenomenon of both parents working has placed the teaching
of social, moral and physical matters into the hands of the
schools. The schools have assumed this responsibility par-
tially because of government mandates and also as a response
to the growing need.
Another consequence of school consolidation and altered so-
cial conditions is the nature of the triangular parent/
student/teacher relationship. With less parent/child inter-
action, and larger schools, parents are no longer as wil-
ling to defer to teachers in disciplinary matters. Disci-
pline has, thus, become another area in which education has
changed. One illustration of this is the liberalization of
dress codes in the local schools. Up until about 1970,
girls were required to wear skirts to school; for boys
there were restrictions on the length of hair and sideburns.
All this changed with the 1970' s, and exemplifies the
attitudes of modern society regarding student appearance
NEW TEACHING METHODS AND CURRICULA
As national trends in education began to change in the 1960's,
the schools in Lycoming County sought to keep pace with the
new teaching methods and curricula. A major watermark in
this process was the year 1957 when the Soviet Union suc-
cessfully launched a satellite named Sputnik into outer
space. This event demonstrated to America that our edu-
cational program in the sciences had to be stepped up if
we wanted to keep ahead of the Soviets in technology.
Schools throughout the country expanded science curricula.
Larger more sophisticated labs were built, and mathematics
became a core subject for all students aspiring to college
admission. Today, the importance of science in the schools
is exemplified not only by laboratories, but by plane-
tariums, such as the one in the new Williamsport Area High
School. The limit of science education in the public
schools has, thus, literally become the stars.
Besides expanded curricula in the sciences and other sub-
jects, the public schools have experimented with a new
method of teaching known as the "open school" method. Ori-
ginally begun in England and now widespread there, the
open school method substitutes an informal, non-structured
teaching method for the more traditional structured one.
Even the classroom arrangement in an open school is in-
formal, with students seated at large tables or in cell-
groups rather than at individual desks arranged in rows
and aisles. This method has nearly always been used in
kindergarten classes, which began in the Williamsport School
District about 1952, but the open school plan was an innova-
tion when first used in the higher grades during the late
Most school districts in the county experimented with open
education during its early years. In the Williamsport
Area School District the Lycoming Valley Junior High School
was built to an open school plan, and the new high school
was designed to accommodate such innovations as large group
instruction and independent study. Yet, despite a strong
move in the open school direction during the early and mid-
1970' s, its impact has waned and the traditional structured
method remains very much alive throughout the county.
The "team teaching" idea is another instructional method
which gained credence in the 1960's. This technique, un-
like the open school technique, was utilized primarily in
the secondary schools. The idea is for two or three teach-
ers to combine their classes so that each one can concen-
trate on a specific portion of a subject rather than to
have to teach the entire subject. Team teaching works
Modern Schools in
Locust Street Elementary
Williamsport Area High School
Klump Academic Center
Williamsport Area Community College
Lycoming College Academic Center
particularly well in the humanities, such as history and
government, and is quite conducive to the use of audio-
FEDERAL FUNDING FOR SCHOOLS
Though school districts receive their funding through local
property taxes and subsidies from the state Department of
Education, since the late 1950 's and early 1960's federally
funded programs have enabled school districts to finance
innovative projects by submitting competitive applications
in such areas as open education, the arts, and citizenship.
The Williamsport Area School District, for example, funded
the creation of a teachers' "Skills Shop" in 1972 through
the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Title III.
Other federal programs provide non-competitive funds for
basic adult education for adults without a high school
diploma, funds for vocational education, and Impact Aid to
school districts with children in low rent housing, in lieu
of property taxes. All of these federal programs — both com-
petitive and non-competitive — allow school districts to
expand educational opportunities in innovative directions
beyond the capacity of their normal budgets. Grants by the
federal government to school districts is another change in
education which has further affected the picture of public
education in Lycoming County.
HIGHLY SKILLED TEACHERS
The days are gone when the school board of a country town-
ship sat down to interview a teacher for their children or
grandchildren. Gone, too, are the days when teachers were
not required to have a college degree. In the late 1930' s
the state teacher's colleges changed their course of study
from two to four years. At about the same time, the Teacher
Tenure Law made a four-year college degree mandatory for all
Pennsylvania teachers. But another impetus to the increase
in the academic qualifications of teachers was the intro-
duction in the 1950 's of teachers' salary schedules which
prescribed higher salaries for teachers with a master's de-
gree or other advanced degrees. This encouraged teachers
to seek higher levels of education in order to reach higher
levels of pay. The consequence of all these factors was to
raise the teaching vocation to that of a highly skilled pro-
fession requiring many years of academic and practical train-
In the face of so many new and far reaching developments in
Lycoming County's schools, many things have not changed and
seem perennially the same. Getting homework done on time,
being accepted by a college, asking someone to the school
dance, preparing for a band concert or football game, or
choosing the right career — these things have not changed
even if many others have. The public schools have been for
a long time the backbone of education in Lycoming County.
Much has been done here since the 1940 's by all eight
school districts to insure the best and fullest education
possible for all children in the county in the years to
While the education provided by the public schools is free
and available to all children, some parents prefer to send
their children to parochial or private schools. The oldest
non-public schools in the county are the Roman Catholic
schools at the Immaculate Conception Church in Bastress and
at St. Boniface and Annunciation churches in Williamsport.
All of these schools were founded in the 19th century. A
fourth Catholic elementary school opened at St. Ann's
Church in Loyalsock beginning with the 1968 school year.
Up to the mid-1960' s, Williamsport also had two Roman Catho-
lic high schools — St. Mary's on Penn Street, belonging to
St. Boniface Church, and St. Joseph's at Annunciation
Church on Fourth Street. These high schools were closed
and replaced by Bishop Neumann High School, which opened
in 1969. Built on the same site as St. Mary's School
(formerly the site of the public school, William Penn),
Bishop Neumann was originally intended to be the new St.
Boniface elementary school. The Bishop of Scranton, how-
ever, wanted it for Bishop Neumann, the regional Catholic
high school, and thus, bought the building from St. Boni-
face Church. St. Boniface then built a new elementary school
on Franklin Street, which opened in 1970.
The Roman Catholic Church is no longer the only religious
group in the county to run its own schools. In 1955 the
Seventh Day Adventist Church in South Williamsport opened
a parochial school which provides education through the
eighth grade. And still a more recent occurrence in the
county has been the establishment of so-called "Christian
schools." These schools operate on the same rationale as
the much older Roman Catholic and Seventh Day Adventist
schools — to provide an education consistent with the reli-
gious beliefs and moral teachings of the sponsoring church
or religious group.
The first Christian school in the county opened in 1971 at
Emmanuel Baptist Church on Four Mile Drive in Loyalsock.
Today the school offers the full-range of grades from pre-
school to twelfth grade. Three more Christian schools have
opened since then: The Faith Tabernacle Christian Academy
(also pre-school through twelfth grade), and in 1976, the
Walnut Street Baptist School in Jersey Shore, with kinder-
garten through eleventh grade, and the Wesleyan Academy in
Muncy with grades kindergarten through twelve.
The impetus toward the founding of Christian schools stems
back to the 1962 U.S. Supreme Court ruling banning Bible
reading and prayer from the public schools. This action,
along with things like sex education in the public schools,
caused some parents to organize church-run schools where the
curriculum is based strictly on the Bible. Like the Roman
Catholic schools, the Christian schools derive much of their
operating funds from tuition charges; the remainder is ob-
tained through contributions from sympathetic individuals
AN "ALTERNATIVE" SCHOOL
The only non-religious private school in Lycoming County is
the West Branch School located on Moore Avenue in William-
sport. It was established in 1971 by a group of local
parents who wished to educate their childgen in the context
of an alternative or "open school." The teaching methods
are much the same as the open class method used in the
public schools except that the West Branch School is com-
pletely non-structured. There are no grade levels. Instead,
children from the equivalents of first to sixth grades in-
teract and learn from each other in "learning centers" de-
voted to particular subjects. This format is intended to
encourage children to investigate subjects on their own.
The West Branch School has averaged about 50 students per
year since its inception.
THE SCHOOL OF HOPE
In 1954 a unique educational institution, known as the
School of Hope, got its start in Williamsport . The School
of Hope was conceived and founded by the Lycoming County
Society for Retarded Children for the purpose of providing
day-school facilities for school age children who are
"either not manageable enough for public school classes or
are too handicapped physically to get into public school
buildings." The School of Hope also provided sheltered
workshop facilities for occupational training to develop
the intellectual and coordinative abilities of retarded
persons past school age, a kindergarten program for mental-
ly handicapped pre-school children, and a custodial care
program and other consultative and recreational programs
for retarded children and their parents.
In 1974 the Lycoming County Society for Retarded Children
merged with Enterprises for the Handicapped, another local
service organization, to form Hope Enterprises. The School
of Hope then became one of a larger number of rehabilitation
and educational services for retarded and handicapped per-
sons in Lycoming County. Today, besides the School of Hope
on Catherine Street, Williamsport, Hope Enterprises operates
a rehabilitation workshop in Williamsport ' s Industrial Park
for persons with vocational disabilities; the workshop trains
such persons how to function in the competitive job market.
If a trainee is not deemed prepared for an outside job after
completing the program, a sheltered employment position is
provided in the Hope Enterprises production workshop in the
Industrial Park. Many local industries contract with the
production workshop for light industry jobs, from packaging
-to soldering. In this way, both handicapped persons and lo-
cal businesses benefit from the program.
Residential Services is another of Hope Enterprises pro-
grams and is aimed at teaching handicapped individuals
how to live independently. Participants in residential
services live in one of three situations: a foster home,
a group home, or an apartment alone. In each case, the
teaching of skills for successful social life is the
goal. Thus, Hope Enterprises satisfies a valuable educa-
tional service for people with special needs which the
public schools are not equipped to provide. For this
reason many of Hope Enterprises' programs are utilized by
social service arms of state and local government.
For a county of its size, Lycoming County is well blessed
with institutions of higher learning. Both Lycoming Col-
lege and the Williamsport Area Community College contri-
bute handsomely to the academic, cultural and economic
attributes of the county. Together, the two colleges pro-
vide Williamsport and Lycoming County with well-rounded op-
tions for either the academically minded or vocationally
minded student. Lycoming College is a four-year liberal
arts college offering majors in most subjects from the arts
and sciences. It is a private school associated with the
United Methodist Church (formerly Methodist) since 1848.
Prior to 1947 Lycoming College was a two-year preparatory
college operating under the name of Dickinson Junior
College. The president of the college then was Dr. John
W. Long, who held office more than a quarter century, from
1921 to 1955. Had it not been for his drive and foresight,
Lycoming College might never have become a reality.
Before Dickinson Junior College was to advance to a four-
year status, it had a role to play in World War II. After
the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Junior College established
an army education unit. In 1942 there were 110 young men
enrolled in the Civil Pilot Training Cadet course at the
college. By 1943 all available dormitory space at the
college was occupied by 349 army aviation cadets and of-
ficers. By 1944 the college had trained a detachment of 910
air crew students and 59 students in the United States
Cadet Nurse Corps. The nursing program was offered in con-
junction with the Williamsport Hospital Nursing School.
With the end of World War II, Dickinson Junior College ap-
plied for status as a four -year college; it received approval
from the Pennsylvania State Council of Education in May,
1947. In anticipation of this event, the college initiated
a fund raising campaign in January, 1947, which a year later
had raised $435,633 from the local community. The name of
the new college was a source cf some debate by the board of
directors, but in October, 1947, the board finally settled
on "Lycoming College" after rejecting such names as The
University of Williamsport and Northern Methodist University.
By 1950 Lycoming College had achieved accreditation status
from the University Senate of the Methodist Church and from
the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary
Schools; accreditation was given in view of the college's
plans to construct a new library and to hire more faculty
members with doctorates.
Upon achieving four -year status, the college embarked upon
a building and expansion program which was to last nearly
twenty years. In November of 1948 a new women's dormitory
was dedicated, followed by the new library in 1951. Then
between 1955 and 1968 seven new dormitories were built,
crowned by the Academic Center, completed in 1966. This
impressive complex includes a well-equipped library, class-
rooms, faculty offices, the Arena Theater, a planetarium,
psychology labs, a computer center, several student lounges,
and an auditorium.
After about 1955 Lycoming College drew more of its students
from outside the county than from inside it. Geographically,
Lycoming College benefits from a location accessible to all
sections of the Northeastern United States. The college
has long played a major role in educating ministers for the
United Methodist Church, and in 1952, was certified to
train teachers in secondary education; soon thereafter,
training in elementary education was added. Today, with a
student body numbering 1200, Lycoming College offers a wide
variety of courses, many of them in preparation for profes-
sional schools. The location, physical plant, and academic
offerings of the college make it an attractive choice for
many college-bound students.
THE WILLIAMSPORT AREA COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Lycoming County's other college is the Williamsport Area
Community College, a two-year institution offering associ-
ate degrees and certificates primarily in vocational tech-
nical fields. The history of the Community College, or
WACC as it is known, is really the history of several
schools, beginning as far back as 1914 when the William-
sport High School opened a small industrial arts shop.
After World War I a full-time adult day school was opened
by WHS to provide retraining for veterans — many of them dis-
abled — in industrial skills. The program also included an
evening industrial school for non-veterans. Other adult
education programs carried on in the 1920 's by the high
school were a program to train foremen for local industry
and a work-study program in industrial subjects for students
THE "WILLIAMSPORT PLAN"
During the Great Depression, the high school, local indus-
tries and commercial groups sponsored a program called
"The Williamsport Plan" (see chapter 2). The purpose of
the Williamsport Plan was to retrain workers left jobless by
the economic crisis. At the time, Lycoming County experi-
enced an unemployment rate of twenty-five percent. The
Williamsport Plan was so successful at retraining workers
for the skilled positions opening up in area plants, that
it won national recognition. It was praised as a creative
and responsible way for a community to deal with the prob-
lems of unemployment on its own initiative. The high
school adult training program provided the necessary in-
struction from 6 PM to 10 PM so that trainees could pursue
whatever employment they could find during the day.
The Williamsport Plan eventually made training available to
other persons at the technical school through federal govern-
ment programs, such as the Civilian Conservation Corps and
the National Youth Administration. The NYA brought high
school age boys to Williamsport from throughout Pennsylva-
nia for technical training at the high school shops on
Susquehanna Street. Each boy stayed in the program for a
year, which consisted of eighty hours of training alter-
nating with eighty hours of work. While at work the boys
repaired and reconditioned machines for the government and
military. The Center was able to train 100 boys at a time
and helped many get a start in life when they needed it
In 194-0, with America's involvement in World War II just
around the corner, the Williamsport School Board established
a special Emergency Training Commission to undertake the
training of men and women for defense work. The William-
sport vocational operation at the high school became one of
the first in the country to begin a defense training pro-
gram. The school operated on a twenty-four hour a day
THE WILLIAMSPORT TECHNICAL INSTITUTE
By 1941 the technical wing of the high school had become so
large and diverse that the School District voted to turn it
into a technical institute separate from the high school.
The Williamsport Technical Institute, or "Tech," remained
under the control of the city school board but had its own
director and educational program. The Tech continued to
provide vocational training to both adults and secondary
students. The first director of WTI was Dr. George Parkes,
who became superintendent of Williamsport Schools in 1952.
At the close of World War II, the Tech trained returning
veterans under the G. I. Bill. One Tech program of which
many G. I.'s took advantage was the new agricultural pro-
gram set up on the Brock Farm near Muncy.
In 1945 the so-called "Watsontown Plan" was implemented
which, for the first time, brought high school students to
Tech from a school district other than Williamsport. The
Watsontown Plan served, in effect, as the forerunner to
other technical schools which have spread throughout Penn-
sylvania. In 1950 the state legislature enacted a law pro-
viding transportation for high school students to vocational
training centers. The WTI served as the training center
for Lycoming County and vicinity. The Williamsport Area
Community College continues to serve this function for area
schools. In just a little over ten years the Technical
Institute had achieved such prestige that official approval
was granted the institute to train foreign students, and a
group of educators from Panama came to the Tech for instruc-
tion in how to develop similar schools in their own country.
The passage in the state legislature of the 1963 Community
College Act spelled bigger and better things for the Tech.
After a feasibility study concluded that a community college
in Williamsport was both desirable and possible, five area
school districts cooperated to create WACC out of the
Technical Institute. On February 11, 1965, the Pennsylvania
Board of Education approved formation of the college; its
doors opened for classes September 7, 1965, under the same
roof as the former Tech. WACC now has a total of twenty
sponsoring school districts from nine counties. Students
in college courses from these twenty districts receive a
two-thirds tuition subsidy — one-third from their own school
district and one-third from the state.
Besides offering full-time college-level courses in both vo-
cational technical fields and the liberal arts, WACC offers
continuing education courses for adults in areas from car-
pentry to cake decorating. The adult evening courses are a
very popular aspect of WACC ' s offerings as attested by the
current enrollment of A, 000 persons. In its full-time
college section WACC has a total of 3,250 students. While
ninety-five percent of WACC ' s college students are enrolled
in vocational technical fields, it is not uncommon for a
WACC graduate to continue on to a four-year college to
finish a bachelor's degree. Eighty-six percent of WACC's
students who do not go on for higher degrees are placed in
jobs upon graduation.
WACC's service to the community extends beyond its doors.
Recently, programs have been introduced in such areas as
dental technology, food services management, computer pro-
gramming, and general studies for inmates at the Lewisburg
Federal Penitentiary. The college also has engaged in re-
training members of the government ' s Manpower Training
and Comprehensive Employment Training Act programs; has
provided apprenticeship training for a number of local la-
bor unions; and has made available in-plant training in
such industries as Hammermill, Piper Aircraft, Tetley Tea,
Sprout-Waldron/Koppers, and GTE Sylvania. Industries often
reciprocate by providing WACC with grants and equipment.
The control of WACC passed at its founding from the William-
sport Area School Board to a fifteen-member board of trust-
ees. The board is responsible for electing the college
president, the first of whom was Dr. Kenneth Carl, who was
also the last director of WTI. The board of trustees is
elected by an executive council which consists of one
member chosen by each of the school boards of the sponsoring
districts. The sponsoring districts must, in turn, support
the college financially, the amount of which is determined
by a formula based upon the total value of real estate in
each school district. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania also
provides one-half of the capital costs for running WACC.
Besides providing low-cost education, WACC enhances the in-
dustrial and economic capacity of Lycoming County by making
available a skilled body of trained workers for industries
located here. Thus, what Lycoming College is to the liberal
arts, the Williamsport Area Community College is to the vo-
cational arts. Lycoming County covets both colleges as
major contributors to its cultural and economic well-being.
QUESTIONS CHAPTER 6
1. What new courses and facilities have been included in the
secondary schools since 1940?
2. How has the administration of the schools changed?
3. What were the advantages of the 1947 Act? Why were
there many objections?
4. What changes did the 1961 reorganization make in Ly-
5. Explain the work of Intermediate Unit 17 (BLaST).
6. What alternatives to public education have developed in
7. What changes have taken place in Lycoming County re-
garding education beyond high school since the 1930' s?
8. Describe the "Williamsport Plan"?
THE NEWS MEDIA
NEWSPAPERS, RADIO, AND TELEVISION
Incoming County is currently informed by one daily news-
paper, the Williamsport Sun-Gazette , and three weeklies-
Grit^ Citizen Press , and the Muncy Luminary. The William-
sport Sun - Gazette became the fifth oldest newspaper in the
state as a result of a 1955 consolidation of the William-
sport Gazette and Bulletin and the fifth oldest paper, the
Williamsport Sun. By 1977 the Sun-Gazette ' s daily circu-
lation had reached 35,100 copies.
Grit , America's oldest independent family newspaper, is a
Sunday weekly which circulated 39,837 copies locally and
over one million copies nationally in 1977. In that same
year, the Muncy Luminary circulated over 2,400 copies
weekly, and the four -year-old Citizen Press had reached
9,000 weekly copies. Citizen Press is the first news-
paper started in Williamsport since 1955 when the now-
folded Williamsport Examiner began publication. The Ex-
aminer lasted only one year.
In 1961 the weekly Montoursville Monitor ceased publication
after six years. The Hughesville Mail Weekly ceased pub-
lication in 1945. In I960, the Jersey Shore Herald became
the Evening News and was bought by the Lock Haven Express
in 1961. The Greater Williamsport Shopper's Guide~j
though supported totally by advertisements, was a widely
read newspaper which often printed in-depth news reports
untouched by other area newspapers. The paper was published
from 1922 to 1956, changing its name to the Lycoming
Shopper ' s Guide in 1953 when it changed ownership.
Five radio stations broadcast in Lycoming County. WRAK, an
NBC affiliate, began broadcasting in 1934. It was followed
by WJVPA (CBS) in 1949, WLYC-AM in 1950 and WMPT AM-FM (ABC)
in 1958. WILQ (UPI audio) co-owned with WLYC, began broad-
casting in 1973. Only one television station has origina-
ted from Williamsport. Since 1963, WDW-TV has telecast lo-
cal programs periodically to subscribers of the Citizen's
Cable Company, its owner.
IMPROVED METHODS OF PRINTING
In the last decade, printing methods have changed dramati-
cally from manual production to the use of electronic equip-
ment. The Sun-Gazette switched its printing method from hot
type to cold type in 1968 when the method was revolutionary.
Grit followed in 1975. Under the hot type method, a re-
porter typed a story on paper and sent it to an editor who
made corrections in pencil and wrote type-setting instruc-
tions on the paper. It was then sent to the composing room
Williamsport Sun-Gazette Building
where it was again typed, set by linotype, and printed by a
hot-lead letter press on flat-bed sheets weighing 53 pounds.
Under the modern cold type method, a reporter types on a
special paper called optical scanner paper, which when fed
into the optical character reader, enables the reporter to
edit, rewrite, and set instructions electronically as he
views the copy on a screen. The copy is stored in a com-
puter until the editor "calls it up" on a video display
terminal ( VDT) which also displays the story on a screen.
The editor makes corrections and gives type-set instructions
by typing on the VDT and then sends the finished story
electronically to typesetters in the composing room where it
is set at a rate of 1,000 lines per minute. Ready for the
presses, the story never needs to be typed a second time.
Many steps are eliminated under the cold type system, thus
freeing manpower to do more in-depth coverage of the news.
Having done away with the 53-pound letter press used in the
hot type system, the cold type method employs the camera to
photograph pages which are reproduced onto aluminum sheets
weighing only twelve ounces. The pliable aluminum sheets
are wound around a rotary press which enables twice as many
sheets to be laid out simultaneously and run off at twice
the speed. The cold type method has enabled the presses to
double the number of sheets run off to as many as 60,000
Under the hot type method the camera was used only to copy
photographs. The cold type method employs the camera to
photograph not only pictures but also sheets of print.
The more sophisticated camera also permits improved quality
of spot and color reproduction.
The Sun - Gazette printing plant adjoining the offices is on
West Fourth Street. Grit's newspaper press facilities are
on Maynard Street. Grit also has a complete commercial
printing facility at the West Third Street plant.
QUESTIONS CHAPTER 7
1. List newspapers and radio stations that have served the
CHotptCTT TRANSPORTATION: EXIT RAILROADS— ENTER HIGHWAYS AND AIRPLANES
Alternative transportation has taken a tremendous toll on
the railroads in the county, forcing a cutback of manpower
and services. At one time the railroad roundhouse at Wal-
nut Street along Erie Avenue was the site of a large turn-
table on which engines were pivoted to reverse their direc-
tion. Engines stopped there to be stoked and the whining
and whistles of the trains was constant. The only reminder
of the roundhouse today is the name still attached to the
site and the dogleg that it created in Erie Avenue as it
made its way around the yard. Trinity Place, the once
bustling passenger station, now stands idle along the tracks.
At Newberry Junction, passengers once rushed to board trains
and men on loading docks loaded merchandise to be shipped.
Newberry Junction was once the most active railroad center
in the county. In the 1940' s the name of Newberry Junction
was more familiar to railroaders than Williamsport . It was
the site of engine houses which monthly repaired 1,800 en-
gines and up to 3,000 freight cars. There were pens with
cowboys, a refrigeration station, an ice house, passenger
stations and freight transfers. As many as 200,000 freight
cars interchanged on more than 4-0 miles of track at New-
berry Junction. Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of
merchandise were handled daily, much of it in raw materials
or finished products bound for Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chi-
cago, Detroit, St. Louis, Louisville, or the West.
Four railroads operated out of Williamsport in 1940: the
Pennsylvania Railroad, the Reading Company, the New York
Central Railroad, and the Susquehanna and New York. Erie
Railroad also had a connection here. Passengers could
board the Pennsylvania Railroad trains at Trinity and Nichols
Places, and at Pine Street. Reading trains could be boarded
at Front Street where the Susquehanna and New York Railroad
also maintained a station. By 1970, only the Penn Central
Station at Trinity and Nichols Places boarded passengers and
Newberry Junction handled only half its volume of 600 cars
THE RAILROADS DECLINE
In 1940, railroad officials predicted that railroad traffic
was not likely to diminish as long as manufacturers and
businesses shipped by rail; however, improved highway net-
works as well as bus and truck competition reduced passenger
and freight traffic by 1945. In that year two passenger
trains were ordered discontinued in order to accommodate
troops returning to the eastern seaboard. Two more trains
were discontinued in 1950, ending passenger service from
Shamokin to Williamsport. Battles were waged in the 50 's
and 60' s between communities and railroads concerning
passenger service. Railroads claimed a gradual decline in
the use of passenger services since the 1930' s.
Battles raged during the 50' s after the Pennsylvania Rail-
road petitioned the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to
allow it to discontinue the three Susquehannocks which pro-
vided seven-day-a-week connections between Williamsport,
Philadelphia, and New York. The trains were expensive,
equipped with sleeping cars, air conditioned reclining seat
coaches, and parlor-dinner-lounge cars. In I960, the trains
were discontinued after lengthy battles between railroads
and communities and numerous hearings between the railroads,
the PUC and the ICC (interstate Commerce Commission).
In 1967, the southbound Baltimore Day Express and the north-
bound Buffalo Day Express were dropped by the Pennsylvania
Railroad. In 1969, in order to increase use, the ICC al-
lowed the now merged Penn Central (Pennsylvania Railroad
and New York Central) to change night runs to daytime runs
and to alternate services northbound one day and southbound
the next. Passenger use out of Williamsport averaged only
The railroads argued that prior to 1958, freight service
revenues had helped to support passenger services; however,
after the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Robert
Moses Hydroelectric Plant, revenues lost to the seaway in
coal and grain shipping cut deeply into profits. Further
losses of revenues resulted when Eastern steel mills shifted
their source of iron from the Great Lakes and did not need
to ship by rail through Williamsport. The combined losses
in freight revenues no longer supported declining passenger
END OF RAIL PASSENGER SERVICE
In 1971, the controversy that spanned decades ended when
Penn Central joined RailPax (National Railroad Passenger
Corporation — now Amtrak), the national, quasi-governmental
agency established by Congress. Railpax sought to combine
passenger services into a nationwide network connecting all
major points. Since Williamsport was not on the Railpax
schedule, passenger service here was dropped. On April 30,
1971, the last passenger train left Williamsport amid hun-
dreds of sorrowful romanticists. Today only freight is
shipped in the county by Conrail (Consolidated Rail Corpora-
When it comes to travel, the car is king, as anyone who
Switching tracks at Newberry Yard
Engine at Newberry Yard
Construction on Montgomery Pike, 1940
Susquehanna Beltway at U. S. Route 15
observes one of Incoming County's major roads can attest.
The increase in gasoline prices and the reality of the energy
crisis has not greatly affected the popularity of the ear.
The automobile probably ranks with television and the tele-
phone as the most significant influence upon American cul-
ture in the last 50 years. One need only to study the
development of highways and car use in Lycoming County to
determine how the rest of the country has been affected by
Lycoming County is criss-crossed by roads and expressways
which were not even thought of in 1940. In those days
travel between places within the county could take several
hours. There were no four-lane highways. Most of the major
routes passed through towns like Jersey Shore, Montoursville
or Muncy, which today are by-passed altogether. Until the
1960's Route 220 was two lanes of often slow-moving traffic.
Today it is freeway much of its length. The same is true for
Route 15. These changes, in themselves, are witness to the
important growth of the gasoline engine as the primary means
of transportation today. One very important highway which
had its beginning in Lycoming County and contributes to the
economic well being of the region does not even pass through
the county. It is Interstate 80, known as the Keystone
Shortway in its earlier days.
INFLUENCE OF CARS AND TRUCKS
The influence of the car and truck upon our county has
proved both good and bad. They have made our population
more mobile than ever before. People travel distances by
car today they would not have attempted in the 1940' s or
1950 's as a casual drive. The improved highways have made
our county more accessible to other areas of the state and
country. This is an attraction to industries wishing to
situate in an area centrally located to most major urban
areas in the northeastern United States. Further, the
new roads have greatly improved local travel. A trip from
Jersey Shore to downtown Williamsport is reduced from 45
minutes to 20 minutes. And seemingly endless lines of traf-
fic by-pass many towns in the county. Soon, Williamsport
will be spared roaring trucks and congested traffic with
the completion of the Susquehanna Beltway project.
But, the effect of the new roads has not been one-sided.
Places such as Jersey Shore, Hughe sville, and Muncy were, in
former times, rather active centers of shopping and trade.
The new roads have given rise to large discount department
stores and shopping plazas where parking is both free and
easy. The result has been a decline in commerce and trade
in most of the county's boroughs, and to a degree, down-
town Williamsport. The so called "Golden Strip" has grown
up along Route 220 in Loyalsock Township and owes its
existence to the car and improved highways.
For a period of nearly a year between 1977 and 1978, down-
town Williamsport was without a movie theater, the three of
them having been replaced by a movie theater complex on the
Golden Strip. The Rialto Theater on Pine Street reopened
in the Spring of 1978, while the State Theater on Third
Street was demolished that summer. The Capitol Theater on
Fourth Street was purchased by a local person for use as a
performance hall for touring entertainers. Ultimately, the
car is to be either blamed or thanked, depending upon how
one views this modern mode of transportation.
Williamsport can no longer be regarded as the only important
shopping area of the county. The Loyal Plaza on the Golden
Strip and the opening in 1978 of the Lycoming Mall at Halls
have helped to expand the commercial center of the county
eastward. Another casualty of car and truck travel was
passenger rail service to Lycoming County which ended in 1971,
Now the available means of public transportation from the
county is by bus or airline. Growth of these two methods of
travel, however, has been held back as well by the populari-
ty of the car, even despite recent efforts to conserve
GROWTH OF RURAL AREAS
Finally, another result or cause of increased car travel has
been the movement of people from the towns and city to rural
and suburban areas. This trend is normally associated with
large urban areas like New York City or Philadelphia, but it
is also evident in Lycoming County as well. Between 1950 and
I960, Williamsport lost over 3,000 residents, but the county
in the same period gained 8,000. Between I960 and 1970 the
populations decreased in Williamsport, Montgomery, Jersey
Shore, Picture Rocks and Salladasburg, while large increases
were recorded in most of the townships and in Montoursville —
particularly in Susquehanna, Fairfield, Wolf, Eldred, Piatt,
Cummings, and McHenry Townships. No doubt the creation of
mobile home parks has contributed to much of this growth,
but even they symbolize the impact of American mobility since
1940' s. The building of new roads has been necessary to
carry these rural and suburban residents to work. Also,
as families grow up, more cars per family are needed to pro-
vide adequate transportation. Thus a cause and effect situa-
tion is set up when cars and highways encourage mobility, and
mobility generates the need for more cars and highways.
The car is king. From its throne it has decreed major
changes in our way of life. Shopping centers and fast-food
restaurants have replaced the weekly Saturday night shopping
trips to Williamsport or lunch at the Home Dairy Cafeteria
on Pine Street — the nearest thing to a fast-food restaurant
the 1940' s had to offer. The car seems unlikely to yield
its preeminent role in travel for a long time to come, if
THE KEYSTONE SHORTWAY
Of all the highways built through or near our region, the
story of Interstate 80, or the Keystone Shortway, had its
origin with a Lycoming County resident, Charles E. Noyes.
Mr. Noyes came to Williamsport from Michigan in 1938 to
serve as manager of the Williamsport Community Trade Asso-
ciation, now known as the Greater Williamsport Chamber of
Commerce. Mr. Noyes, seizing upon the opportunity of the
1939 New York World's Fair, devised a short route from
Cleveland through Williamsport to New York City and the
World's Fair. This Noyes' route was 75 miles shorter than
any other route across Pennsylvania and proved to be very
popular with travelers. A committee had been organized to
publicize the Short Route and the results were heartening
with a large amount of new traffic and business passing
through Williamsport. After the World's Fair, plans were
laid to continue promoting the Short Route, but World War II
intervened, rendering the project impractical.
In 1952 an outgrowth of the Short Route idea was taken up
by the Williamsport Chamber of Commerce, still headed by
Mr. Noyes. The Chamber set up the North Pennsylvania
Turnpike Committee, with the building of a toll road
through northern Pennsylvania as its goal. The committee
believed that such a toll road would benefit northern
Pennsylvania the same way the southern part of the state
had benefited from the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The committee,
however, struggled unsuccessfully for several years to gain
a foothold for the toll road idea. Then in 1954 a William-
sport businessman, Z. H. Confair, later to become Pennsyl-
vania State Senator from Williamsport, was appointed chair-
man of the toll road committee.
In October, 1954, the toll road organization was expanded
to involve a larger geographical portion of the state. Mr.
Confair remained as chairman. It was in the same month that
the editor of the Grit , Kenneth D. Rhone, coined the name
"Shortway" which was linked to the word "keystone." Finally,
in December, 1954, the Keystone Shortway Association was
officially formed. Mr. Confair served as president of the
Association, with Mr. Noyes named executive director. It
was both coincidence and good fortune that at the same
time the Williamsport based group was at work, a similar
group in Mercer County was trying to get the Pennsylvania
Turnpike extended into that region. These two groups were
later to join forces creating what was to become the success
story of the Keystone Shortway.
THE SHORTWAY BECOMES INTERSTATE 80
The cause of the Shortway began to gather steam in 1954,
thanks to the election that year. Both political parties
went on record favoring the highway. George M. Leader,
elected governor that year, pledged his support. By June
10, 1955, the State Assembly had passed and Governor Leader
signed into law Senate Bill 288 which authorized construction
of the Shortway from Sharon in the west to Stroudsburg in the
east. After preliminary study of the proposed route, it was
determined by state authorities that the Shortway would serve
more people and provide a shorter distance across the state
than a federally-sponsored Interstate route planned along
Route 6. Governor Leader thus recommended to the federal
government that the Shortway be designated part of the Inter-
state System and that the planned highway along Route 6 be
abandoned. Thus, the Shortway was changed from a toll road
to an Interstate highway. Ninety percent of the cost of the
Shortway was then borne by the federal government.
The Shortway could not be approved as an Interstate high-
way until hearings were held by the U. S. Bureau of Public
Roads (now the U. S. Department of Transportation). After
hearings in Washington and Williamsport, the Federal
Highway Administrator, Bertram D. Tallamy, approved the
Shortway as part of Interstate 80. Today Interstate 80 is
a major transcontinental highway.
THE KEYSTONE SHORTWAY ASSOCIATION
To keep up momentum on the project, the Shortway Association,
headquartered in Williamsport, reorganized as a state-wide
non-profit corporation in 1958. The Association assisted
supporters of the Shortway at public hearings before each
segment of the highway could be built. The first hearing
was held on May 21, 1958, at Tannersville . On Memorial Day
the same month, Governor Leader turned the first shovel of
dirt for the Shortway in East Stroudsburg. The last major
roadblock to the highway came in 1959 when state money ran
out. A two-cent per gallon gasoline tax was proposed but
was not approved in the legislature until Senator Confair
broke with his party to vote in favor of the tax in early
I960. Confair was joined by his colleague, Senator Harold
Flack. The new tax helped pave the way for completion of
the Shortway which was to take ten more years.
Finally, in 1970, the last mile of concrete was laid and the
final Interstate 80 sign post in Pennsylvania was put in
place. The 313-mile Keystone Shortway became an important
link in the 3,000 mile non-stop highway stretching from the
George Washington Bridge in New York, to the Golden Gate
Bridge in San Francisco. Lycoming County played a central
role in bringing the Shortway into being, even without a
single mile of the road passing within its borders.
Still, due to the Shortway, access to and from Lycoming
County is easy. New York City and Philadelphia are only four
hours away. Interstate 80 has become a major artery for
commercial traffic. Large trucks and tractors take full ad-
vantage of its direct route across the state. What began as
the Short Route to the 1939 New York World's Fair is today
a source of economic strength to much of northeastern Penn-
sylvania, and it all began in the fertile mind of a Ly-
coming County resident interested in the well-being of his
THE SUSQUEHANNA BELTWAY
Though the Shortway does not pass through Lycoming County,
the Susquehanna Beltway project, begun in the early 1970 's,
will eventually link the West Branch Valley to Route 80 at
Lock Haven in the west and Milton in the east, crossing
through Lycoming County at Jersey Shore and Muncy. The
Beltway will put much of Lycoming County only minutes away
from the Shortway in either direction. This will lessen
further the time required to travel to New York, Philadel-
phia, Pittsburgh and Ohio. The Susquehanna Beltway will
also connect with the new four-lane section of U. S. Route
15 north of Williamsport . As late as 1970, residents of
Lycoming County were unaccustomed to such convenient
highway facilities. Not only do the new roads make travel
more pleasurable and quicker, but they also lessen gasoline
consumption, aiding the effort to conserve energy.
A NATIONAL INSTITUTION
Of course, along with highway improvements and the increase
in car use have come higher costs and other disadvantages.
In 1940, the average cost of a new Ford or Chevrolet was
about $800; a gallon of gasoline sold for about 19 cents.
In an age of 70-cents per gallon gasoline and average car
prices of over $5,000, the advance in highways is not all
that strikes one as dramatic. The growth of vehicular travel
and its effects have changed not only the appearance of our
county but its way of life.
Cars and trucks have become a national institution, along
with fast-food restaurants and shopping malls. These fast-
food chains and large shopping complexes are a highway
phenomenon. When the highways come, the motels, truck stops
and fast-food restaurants spring up like marigolds along a
sidewalk. Highways are equivalent to a blood stream
carrying nourishment to the body, keeping it alive. Lycom-
ing County lives because of its highways. Cars and trucks
are both a blessing and a curse. Lycoming County has not
escaped them. For better or worse, they are here to stay.
CITY AND INTER-CITY BUSES
Another highway phenomenon is commercial bus travel. By
1940 commercial bus transportation between Williamsport and
other cities was well established, thanks to the Edward's
Motor Transit Company. Founded in 1918 by J. Wesley Ed-
wards, the company operated commercial bus routes between
Cleveland and New York City, Buffalo and Pittsburgh, and
ELmira and Washington, D. C. Williamsport served as the
headquarters of the company which operated under the name of
Edward's Lakes-to-Sea System. The first bus route to New
York City from Williamsport was inaugurated by Edwards in
1930. By 1955 the company operated fifty-three buses and
employed a total of sixty-eight drivers.
The Edward's Lakes-to-Sea System remained locally owned Until
1967 when the Dallas, Texas based company, Continental Trail-
ways, purchased the bus company from the Edwards family.
Since then, owing to the Interstate highway system, Con-
tinental Trailways has introduced express bus service be-
tween New York City and Los Angeles and San Francisco,
California, using Williamsport as the initial westbound
stop. The entire cross-country trip can now be accomplished
in about thirty-six hours.
Since the 1930 's the Lakes-to-Sea System terminal was lo-
cated at East Third and Mulberry streets. The old terminal
burned down in January, 1975. Continental Trailways re-
placed the burned-out structure with a modern bus terminal
CITY BUS SERVICE
The Williamsport city bus service has seen many turns since
its beginning. For many years horse drawn and electric
trolley cars were the only means of public transportation
within the city of Williamsport. Then in 1933, the trolley
company, known as the Williamsport Passenger Railways Com-
pany, went bankrupt. On June 10th of that year, the William-
sport Transportation Company began to operate buses within
the city to replace the trolleys. During the mid-1930 's
federally sponsored public works programs were used to re-
move the fifteen miles of abandoned trolley tracks from the
The Williamsport Transportation Company, owned jointly by
Congressman Alvin R. Bush and John G. Snowdon, sold out in
1955 to a newly formed company called the Williamsport Bus
Company, owned by the same Edwards family that owned the
Edward's Lakes-to-Sea System. In I960, the Williamsport
Bus Company expanded its service to Montoursville when it
acquired the assests and routes of the Lycoming Auto
Transit Company, which operated a bus service in the
By 1968, the Williamsport Bus Company was experiencing such
deep financial losses that any restoration of profitability
to the bus service appeared unlikely. The company threat-
ened to end all bus service in the city but responded to an
appeal by Mayor Richard Carey to maintain service until the
city was in a position to assume control of it. In 1969,
the City of Williamsport acquired the Williamsport Bus
Company and kept the city buses running with the help of
subsidies from the city and state governments. Also, the
city is reimbursed for bus service to nearby communities,
including South Williamsport, Duboistown, Old Lycoming
Township, Loyalsock Township and Montoursville.
Since the city acquired the bus service, now operated by
the Williamsport Bureau of Transportation, a new bus
garage was built in Elm Park on West Third Street. In 1973,
the senior citizens of the area were offered free travel on
city buses as a result of funds made available through the
state lottery. This free service has quite naturally proved
popular with residents over sixty-five. Many new buses
have been added so as to improve the quality of service to
city bus travelers.
THE WILLIAMSPORT/LYCOMING COUNTY AIRPORT
At the same time that automobiles were winning their place
as the major form of transportation in America, air travel
was coming into its own as the single most important method
of high-speed travel. The growth of air travel in and out
of Williamsport has depended partially on the growth of the
airport which came into being before 1940; however, only
since 194-5 has air travel to our county made any significant
impact. Compared with the achievements of the aerospace
industry, such as manned flights to the moon, supersonic
commercial flights between New York and London, and the
thousands of daily airline flights in the U. S. alone,
developments over the years at the Williamsport/Lycoming
County Airport seem relatively modest. Yet, on its own
scale the airport at Montoursville has steadily improved and
expanded its facilities so that today it is a first-rate
airport for its size.
The Williamsport/Lycoming County Airport offers 2<4-hour
flight service, which includes night lighting, control-
tower assistance, a weather station, and instrument landing
equipment, all for the use of both commercial and private
aircraft. Commercial airline service to the airport includes
many daily flights on Allegheny Airlines to Pittsburgh and
Philadelphia, and several commuter flights to Newark, N. J.,
on an Allegheny subsidiary, Pocono Airlines. The airport
also serves several airplane charter companies.
THE WILLIAMSPORT AIRPORT COMPANY
The origins of the Williamsport/Lycoming County Airport
reach back to a time when air travel had only just estab-
lished itself as a viable means of high speed commercial
travel. It was in July of the same year that Charles Lind-
berg made his celebrated solo flight across the Atlantic
that the Williamsport Chamber of Commerce (which merged
with the Williamsport Community Trade Association in 193?)
announced the appointment of a committee to study the
feasibility of an airport for Williamsport. The year was
1927. In November of that year the airport committee re-
commended that an airport be built on the site where it now
stands. As a result, the Board of Directors of the Chamber
of Commerce and the airport committee organized the
"Williamsport Airport Company." The Airport Company pur-
chased a 161 1 acre tract of land in Montoursville . The
original purchase was farm land formerly known as the "Tomb
Farm." Over the years additional purchases and extensions
have brought the airport to its current size of 735 acres.
The first president of the Airport Company was John H. Mc-
Cormick, a local manufacturer. In 1928, the Lycoming Avia-
tion Corporation (now Avco) built the first airplane hangar
at the airport. Avco used the site for testing aircraft
engines. The airport was formally dedicated July 20, 1929,
in a ceremony which involved 79 aircraft. Among the
35,000 people who attended the event was the famous woman
pilot Amelia Earhart.
A new chapter began for the airport in the 1930' s when it
was sold to the city of Williamsport and Lycoming County by
the Airport Company for only 4-0 percent of the original
investment. The sale was negotiated because the state and
federal governments were making available construction aid
through the Works Projects Administration. In order for it
to benefit from WPA funds, however, the airport had to be
publicly owned. The WPA built the original Municipal
Hangar in 1937. The hangar, located at the west end of the
Field, housed offices, the Weather Bureau and the Federal
It was also in 1937, that Williamsport 's Postmaster, Fred
Plankenhorn, placed the first sack of airmail on an airplane
for delivery outside the county. Then in 1938, another
hangar was erected on the north edge of the airfield by the
Williamsport School District which pioneered public school
training in aviation technology. This hangar was the first
public school airport building anywhere in the country.
Today the program is offered by the Williamsport Area Com-
Dedication of Williamsport/Lycoming Count)
July 20, 1929
Trinity Place Station
FIRST COMMERCIAL FLIGHTS
The first commercial passenger flights from the airport were
initiated in 1938 by Penn Central Airlines, later Capital
Airlines, which became United Airlines. The first flights
were round trip between Buffalo and Washington, and made
stops in Williamsport, Harrisburg and Baltimore. The plane
used was a Boeing 247-D, which carried ten passengers.
Passenger service to Williamsport lasted only two years be-
cause Penn Central switched to DC-3 aircraft which were too
large to land on Williamsport ' s runways. It was not until
1945 that this service was restored after the runways were
lengthened through governmental aided programs. At that
time United Airlines came back into Williamsport accompanied
by TWA, which started flights to Pittsburgh and west, and
north to Albany and Boston.
It was still not until 1949 that the first passenger service
to New York City began. All American Airlines, now known
as Allegheny, operated the first service to New York and
has continued to do so ever since. Aboard the first flight
in June, 1949, to Newark Airport, were Williamsport ' s
Mayor Leo C. Williamson, Airport Authority chairman William
Waldeisen and other local leaders. The return trip took the
group an unprecedented two and one-half hours to travel from
42nd Street in New York City to the airport in Montoursville .
In those days driving to New York by car took eight to ten
hours. The new air service was a welcome arrival, putting
Williamsport many hours closer to the nation's largest
city. The first night flights to operate from the airport
had begun some months earlier in 1948 when TWA initiated
them. As an indication of just how much closer the growth
of air service brought Williamsport to the rest of the
world, TWA delivered several thousand shammrocks directly
from Ireland for Williamsport ' s Irish residents in March,
FORMATION OF THE AIRPORT AUTHORITY
The year 194V was an eventful year in so far as administra-
tion of the airport was concerned. In that year the William-
sport Municipal Airport Authority was formed by the city and
county governments. The new Authority, which came into
being January 21, 194V, was vested with the responsibility
of operating and developing the airport. The City of
Williamsport deeded the airport to the Authority for just
$1.00. Three members of the Authority were appointed by the
city and three by the county, and the Authority itself ap-
pointed a seventh. The first Authority meeting was headed
by Dr. George Parkes, then director of the Williamsport
Technical Institute. At that meeting Mr. William Waldeisen
was elected chairman of the Authority — a post he held until
196A. The airport Authority was shared by city and county
members until March, 1973, when the city relinquished its
role. The name of the airport has remained the same since
1955: The Williamsport/Lycoming County Airport.
The first major project undertaken by the airport Authority
was ".he planning and construction of a badly needed airport
terminal building. Bids for the new building were let in
October, 1947; in November the contract was awarded to a
Harrisburg construction firm for $300,000. Fortunately the
state and federal governments provided most of the funds so
that local governments had to assume only a small portion of
the cost. The new terminal was opened in January, 1949.
In 1957, improvements were made to the runways, and in 1959,
an airport tower was erected. The tower greatly enhanced
the flight control procedures, making overall operation
much safer and more efficient. In 1957, other improvements
to the runway were made which made possible the landing of
jet aircraft of commercial size. Allegheny Airlines intro-
duced jet flights in August, 1974, but discontinued them in
March, 1976, due to economic considerations.
Eventually, most of the airlines serving Williamsport dis-
continued their services. Recent air traffic here has not
warranted the operation of more than one or two airlines.
Yet air traffic from the Williamsport/Lycoming County Air-
port is unlikely to decrease from its current levels. The
extent of traffic growth, on the other hand, will determine
airport growth. Lycoming County has good reason to be
proud of its excellent airport. The airport is equipped
with the resources for expanded air service whenever they
QUESTIONS CHAPTER 8
1. Where were the locations of passenger stations and
2. What was the importance of Newberry in railroad
3. List the names of railroad lines of Lycoming County in
the early 1%0' s.
4. Show the relationship between freight and passenger
revenues and their effect on service to Lycoming
5. Identify the main roads in the county by locations .and
6. How did the idea of a Keystone Shortway originate?
What part did Lycoming County play in the promotion
of the highway?
7. How have modern highways affected the county?
8. What companies have taken the lead in interstate bus
transportation for Lycoming County?
9. How was local bus service maintained in the Williamsport
area in the face of financial losses?
10. What organizations and firms led in the establishment
of an airport?
11. Why was the airport taken over by the city and county?
12. How was the Williamsport School District involved with
13. What airlines have provided service at the airport?
Describe the present situation.
CHOlpttr PUBLIC SERVICE INSTITUTIONS
At the close of World War II, changes in living gathered mo-
mentum. New and far reaching advances in transportation,
communications, and technology began to affect the American
way of life. Lycoming County, of course, shared in these
developments. Better highways and more cars, cable tele-
vision and dial telephones, automatic washing machines and
other electrical appliances — all affected the style and
character of daily life in Lycoming County. The impact of
these changes is still being felt, even as new changes
occur month by month. But along with the improvements in
those things which daily touch personal lives have come
significant advances in the institutions and organizations
which serve the wider community — the hospitals, emergency
services such as the fire companies, the libraries, and
In 1940, the Williamsport Hospital, with 192 beds, was the
only hospital in the city of Williamsport. The two other
hospitals in Lycoming County, at Jersey Shore and Muncy,
both occupied old mansions hardly suited to the needs of
busy community hospitals. The three hospitals together
provided only 250 beds for the entire county. Contributing
to the shortage of hospital beds in those days was the
longer average stay per patient.
Today's medical attitudes and procedures make it possible
to discharge patients much sooner than was believed advis-
able in the past. Furthermore, the hospitals in this county
were not capable of many forms of diagnosis and treatment.
Instead, patients with serious conditions were often trans-
ferred to larger hospitals in other counties. Yet, Lycom-
ing County's hospitals rated no better nor worse than their
equivalents in other parts of the state. They provided
medical care considered routine for the time. The changes
and achievements in our county's hospitals since then have
been phenomenal. No amount of guess work or speculation
could have foreseen the medical advances which were to occur
in the 1960's and 1970 's in Lycoming County. But, the medi-
cal advances in our county were only an offshoot of the
wider medical revolution taking place throughout the entire
The Williamsport Hospital was the medical heart of the county
in 1940. The year 1978 marks the one-hundredth year since
the hospital opened for business. Today the services of the
Williamsport Hospital extend beyond its own walls, and be-
yond even Lycoming County to the community owned regional
health centers in Blossburg, Elkland, Mansfield and Picture
Rocks. The hospital continues to provide guidance and
expertise to these centers. The centers offer routine medi-
cal care to rural areas once deficient in doctors, often
requiring many miles of travel for rural residents needing
The Jersey Shore and Muncy Valley Hospitals, in the 1940 's,
were only faint shadows of the modern facilities they are
today. There is virtually no comparison of these two
modern hospitals to their former selves, hut, the one county
hospital which defies any comparison to the past is William-
sport's Divine Providence Hospital. It has sprung, almost
as it were, out of the earth itself. As the youngest hos-
pital in Lycoming County, it is nonetheless a primary contri-
butor to the medical care of Lycoming County and many neigh-
boring counties. Today, the Williamsport and Divine Provi-
dence hospitals share in providing most of the major medical
and rehabilitation programs available in any of the impor-
tant hospitals in the state.
Along with the developments in short-term hospital care, the
county has made significant progress in the long-term care
of elderly patients. Among the new geriatric and nursing
care facilities which have opened are the new Williamsport
Home, Sycamore Manor, the Leader Nursing homes in William-
sport and Jersey Shore, and the new geriatric unit at the
Muncy Valley Hospital. These facilities have helped to
lessen the chronic shortage of nursing care beds in the
county. Still more beds for geriatric patients are required,
however, if future needs are to be met.
THE WILLIAMSPORT HOSPITAL
An important impetus to the growth of hospital facilities
across the country was the introduction of pre-paid health
insurance in the early 1940' s. As a result, most hospitals
experienced an increase in patient loads. The facilities
at the Williamsport Hospital were stretched to capacity. In
1952, a new V-shaped addition was made to the main hospital
building, which had been constructed in 1926. The new addi-
tion provided extra space for a number of key services and
departments. Since then, numerous other expansion projects
have enabled the hospital to keep pace with the most recent
developments in medical treatment and technology.
The hospital has also constructed a new building to house
the School of Nursing. In 1969, a three-story Rehabilitation
Center was dedicated. This has made possible a highly ef-
fective program in all facets of physical therapy. Then,
in 1972, the hospital opened a Medical Center nearby. This
building houses numerous doctors' offices and hospital de-
partments, including the Family Practice Group, part of the
hospital's Family Practice Residency Program, through which
graduate doctors carry a patient case load, providing the
community with much-needed family care and young doctors
with, clinical contact. Currently, twenty-one physicians
participate in the three-year Residency Program. Finally,
in 1974 the Core Services Building was dedicated, housing
new operating rooms, an X-ray department, emergency rooms,
and extensive laboratory facilities.
Deserving of much credit for the growth and expansion of
the Williamsport Hospital are Daniel W. Hartman, Harry R.
Gibson and Clive R. Waxman. As administrator of the hospi-
tal from 1943 to 1959, and huilding fund coordinator from
1959 to 197-4, Mr. Hartman participated in many of the hos-
pital's expansion programs. Mr. Hartman was succeeded as
administrator by Mr. Waxman in 196-4. During Mr. Waxman ' s
tenure most of the expansion at the hospital has occurred,
including construction of the Rehabilitation Center, the
Medical Center and the Core Services Building. Local
attorney Harry R. Gibson became a member of the hospital's
board in 1951, and served as its chairman from 1958 to 1976.
He is still a member of the board and has contributed greatly
to the hospital's development.
In 1971 the title of hospital administrator was changed to
president; reorganization of the hospital's corporate struc-
ture followed in 1973. Both the Board of Managers (consis-
ting of medical and lay representatives) and the administra-
tion of the hospital have provided the vision and energy
necessary to make it a quality medical facility for Lycoming
By 1977, the Williamsport Hospital had achieved a total
capacity of 370 beds and 30 bassinets — 120 more beds than the
entire county had in 1940. Apart from the Rehabilitation
Center, the hospital has installed a Cardiopulmonary Center
for the treatment of patients suffering from heart and lung
ailments. A heart catheterization laboratory makes possible
the latest techniques in the detection and treatment of
heart disease. The Williamsport Hospital is the recognized
neurological and neuro-surgical referral center for north-
The hospital owns a Computerized Axial Tomography Unit worth
nearly one-half million dollars. This machine has revolu-
tionized the procedure for diagnosing most forms of brain
disease and diseases of body organs. The hospital also
operates a Sonography Unit which can analyze anatomical
structures of the body without the use of harmful radiation.
The hospital plans to acquire still more equipment for use
in the field of neurology and the treatment of brain and
nervous system disorders.
EMERGENCY ROOM AND CLINICS
Around the clock emergency room service was initiated at the
Williamsport Hospital in 1970. Medical staff for the Emer-
gency Room is provided by the Emergency Care Physicians
Association which was organized specifically for this pur-
pose. Another service of the hospital is made available
through the Family Planning Clinic, opened in 1971. The
clinic offers information to couples who want help in plan-
ning the size of their families, and in spacing the arrival
of children. Other clinics at the hospital provide ser-
vices in gynecology, surgery, pre-natal, post-partum, stroke,
cardiac, dermatology, seizure, dental, amputee, muscular
dystrophy, crippled children, scoliosis and orthopedics.
Educational programs at the hospital include the oldest func-
tioning nursing school in Pennsylvania. Along with this are
programs in medical technology and medical transcription.
The Nursing School and Lycoming College have had a recipro-
cal arrangement since the 194-0' s enabling the nursing stu-
dents to take courses in the basic sciences at the college,
as well as English, the social sciences and the humanities.
The hospital has clinical affiliations with colleges and
universities throughout the East and South; students come to
the hospital to participate in clinical work in numerous
medical disciplines, including physical and occupational
DIVINE PROVIDENCE HOSPITAL
The Divine Providence Hospital also has had an impressive
history so that the stories of both hospitals merge into a
medical boon for Lycoming County. At the end of World War II
Divine Providence Hospital was still only a dream in the
mind of a Roman Catholic sister who grew up in Williamsport.
Mary Hills, who became Mother Theresilla of the Sisters of
Christian Charity, had wanted to open a nursing home for
the elderly in Williamsport, but circumstances never per-
mitted. Then in 1944, with the aid and advice of Father
Leo J. Post, pastor of St. Boniface Roman Catholic Church,
the Sisters of Christian Charity purchased a tract of land
along Grampian Boulevard from the Faxon Land Company for the
sum of $17,500. In 1945, a massive fund raising campaign
was undertaken with a goal of $700,000. In just five
months the drive surpassed its target when a total of
$732,000 had been collected, mainly from sources within
A charter was granted for the hospital on February 24, 1947,
and construction was begun in June, 1948. But soon infla-
tion had bloated construction costs to the point where yet
another $600,000 was necessary to put the new hospital under
roof. A second fund drive was launched, and in just one
month the essential money was in hand. Construction work
was allowed to continue unhindered. Divine Providence
Hospital was on its way to becoming a reality. The plans
called for a 185-bed, fully equipped hospital for medical,
surgical and obstetrical cases. Mother Theresilla's dream
had come true and Lycoming County became the home of a fourth
hospital when Divine Providence opened its doors June 1,
1951. Little perhaps did Mother Theresilla realize the
future expansion of Divine Providence Hospital into such an
important medical complex.
DIVINE PROVIDENCE EXPANDS
The mortar had barely dried before extensions were necessary
to Divine Providence Hospital. Between 1951 and 1967, a
chapel, auditorium, convent, and a school of X-ray techno-
logy were added. In 1959, a new west wing was dedicated.
In the late 1960's new expansion became essential when the
Lycoming-Clinton County Mental Health/Mental Retardation
Office designated Divine Providence as the location for the
Community Mental Health Center. In order to make room for
the mental health service, the hospital built a health
services building in 1972. The new building also houses
the basic services program which offers routine medical
care to persons without a personal physician.
Finally, in 1975, Divine Providence added an east wing to
its main building. The East Wing contains the inpatient
unit of the Mental Health Center, a new 24-hour emergency
room service, the kidney Hemodialysis Center, the Cancer
Treatment Center and the Intensive Care/Cardiac Care Unit.
Also housed in the new wing are the latest in X-ray and
nuclear medicine devices for the detection of internal
bodily disorders. Today, the Divine Providence Hospital
has a total of 250 beds, bringing the combined capacity of
it and the Williamsport Hospital to 620 beds.
The medical field has come a great distance since 1940, and
Williamsport ' s two hospitals have progressed with it. In
that year the diagnosis of cancer in a patient was a dreaded
and distressing occurrence. But though no certain cure for
cancer has yet been discovered, with early diagnosis nearly
half of all cancer can be eliminated through a combination
of treatments, including drugs and radiation therapy. The
Divine Providence Hospital possesses a linear accelerator
for the treatment of cancer. This machine, which cost
nearly $400,000, applies high concentrations of radiation
to affected body tissue by means of a laser gun. The laser
beams often are successful at destroying cancer cells.
Divine Providence Hospital is also the hemodialysis or
kidney machine center for nine counties. Here kidney pa-
tients undergo two or three times weekly the six-hour
"blood-washing" process to remove accumulations of poisons
from the blood. Finally, the hospital, originating the
"Meals-on-Wheels" in Lycoming County in 1970, has operated
the program continuously since that date under the auspices
of the Lycoming-Clinton Bi County Office for the Aging. This
program provides one or two nutritious or therapeutic meals
a day to many elderly citizens of the county who otherwise
could not cook for themselves. Besides delivering meals to
many individual homes, meals-on-wheels serves community
meals several times a week at six locations in Lycoming
County and two in Clinton County. The meals are prepared for
distribution at Divine Providence Hospital and Ascension
Roman Catholic Church in Williamsport.
In opposite directions from Williamsport are the Jersey
Shore and Muncy Valley hospitals. Both were founded by
groups of physicians early in this century. Large mansions
were used in each case as hospital buildings. Eventually
larger, modern buildings became necessary. The poor roads
of the time and lack of adequate transportation made it
difficult for persons in these areas to get to Williamsport
for hospital care. Further, a shortage of graduate nurses
meant that families and neighbors themselves had to tend to
the seriously ill in their homes. The quality of this care
was understandably limited and often unsatisfactory. Hence,
there was the need for hospitals in the smaller communities.
By 1951, both Jersey Shore and Muncy had new hospital
buildings to help overcome the deficiencies of the older
"mansion hospitals," that had fulfilled a need in their day.
JERSEY SHORE HOSPITAL
In 1937, the three proprietor doctors and the family of the
fourth gave the Jersey Shore Hospital to the borough.
Founded in 1911, the hospital was located in the former L. D.
Herritt house on Thompson Street. Its 21 beds and eight
bassinets seem insignificant by today's standards. By 1958,
another wing had been added, providing 63 beds. The largest
single expansion project at the hospital occurred in 1969.
The old Herritt house was razed and a new three-story build-
ing erected in its place. New physical therapy rooms, de-
livery rooms, a nursery and other facilities were part of
Finally, a five-bed Coronary Care Unit was added in 1970.
This raised the total bed capacity of the hospital to its
current 91. Recent new services provided by the hospital
include a Nuclear Medicine Department opened in 1976. This
enables the hospital to undertake scans for diagnostic
purposes. Also an out-patient department was instituted in
1977. The very latest expansion project was the four suite
Medical Office Building opened in 1978. The hospital anti-
cipates the expansion of its X-ray Department in the future.
Divine Providence Hospital
Widmann and Teah Fire, 1945
Third and Pine Streets
Loyalsock Volunteer Fire Company
MUNCY VALLEY HOSPITAL
In like manner to the Jersey Shore Hospital, Muncy Valley
Hospital was founded in 1922, by a group of concerned
doctors. The hospital first opened in the Noble family
house on East Water Street in Muncy. Originally, the hos-
pital was controlled by doctors, but in 1940, lay members
were admitted to the board. In 1951, the hospital moved
into a new building on East Water Street; the old Noble
house was renovated for use as a geriatric unit. Geriatric
care has remained a major part of the hospital's program
ever since. In 1957, a new east wing was attached to the
hospital; eleven years later a second-story was added.
In that same year, 1968, a new and improved geriatric ward
was opened, but the crowning 60 bed geriatric ward was
opened in 1972. Money for this unit was funded partially
by the county commissioners who use 30 of the 60 beds to
ease the load at Iysock View, the county home. Projects
remaining to be concluded at the Muncy Valley Hospital are
the opening of a new emergency and operating room complex.
The hospital currently has a capacity for 68 patients and
60 long term geriatric patients. As at the Jersey Shore
Hospital, progress has steadily moved the Muncy Valley
The fire companies of Iycoming County provide another im-
portant service to county residents, a service which has
grown considerably since 1940. Williamsport has the only
full-time professional fire department in the county. Over
60 professional firemen are employed at four fire stations
around the city. The Williamsport Bureau of Fire celebrat-
ed its 100th year of service in 1974. Fire protection in
the remainder of Lycoming County is provided by volunteer
fire companies, many of which have organized since 1940.
Until the 1950" s and early 1960's, vast regions of the
county were dependent upon a few scattered volunteer com-
panies. The situation today is much improved though the
Trout Run and Pine Creek Volunteer Fire companies still
must serve very large territories.
VOLUNTEER FIRE COMPANIES FORMED
The formation of volunteer fire companies was spurred by the
steady increase in property values and growing population of
rural areas. Both factors helped demonstrate the glaring
need for improved fire protection in many regions of the
county. Consequently, numerous community-minded individuals
banded together to provide volunteer fire protection. This
makes the volunteer fire company a truly grass roots phenom-
enon. Men and women devote many hours to raising money and
maintaining fire company equipment without pay or personal
gain. The volunteers receive a different sort of compensa-
tion. The fellowship and cooperation among the volunteers
helps to create a sense of community pride and concern.
Usually their work together is more like pleasure than a
tolerable burden, but their greatest compensation is the
satisfaction of knowing that through their efforts, property
and possibly lives are more secure.
Among the 32 volunteer fire companies in Lycoming County,
there are 1,000 active fire fighting volunteers. Another
1,300 volunteers provide back-up support of various kinds.
Besides fighting fires, the volunteer companies render
assistance in rescue and disaster operations. In floods,
at accidents or other disasters, the fire companies are
available to help with rescue and/or medical procedures.
A total of 14 fire companies throughout the county operate
ambulance services. In 1976, there were 23 ambulances on
call, including three operated by the American Legion Post
617. These ambulance facilities contribute greatly to the
well-being and peace of mind of all county residents.
Among the oldest volunteer fire companies in the county is
the Independent Hose Company of Jersey Shore, formed in the
1890' s. The newest one is the Allenwood Prison Fire Com-
pany. While all the companies are worthy of recognition,
the Loyalsock Township Volunteer Fire Company gained con-
siderable notoriety through an article about its operations
in the March 11, 1950 Saturday Evening Post . The maga-
zine portrayed the Loyalsock company as a fine example of
an efficient, well-run volunteer fire company.
THE WEST BRANCH FIREMEN'S ASSOCIATION
In 1932, a new chapter in the history of the county's
volunteer fire companies was written when the West Branch
Firemen's Association, Inc. was formed. The original
members of the Association were the Hughesville, Montgomery,
Montoursville and Muncy Volunteer Fire Companies. Today
all 33 of the fire companies in the county belong. The
function of the Association is "to protect life and property
and to minimize fire damage caused by enemy attack or natural
The Association provides a means of coordinating the efforts
of all 33 fire companies in the event of such a disaster.
Another important function of the Association is its annual
fire-training school in cooperation with the Pennsylvania
Department of Public Instruction. Two days each year
county firemen are offered instruction in the latest fire-
fighting and rescue techniques.
The West Branch Firemen's Association was instrumental in
establishing the Lycoming County Emergency Communications
Network. In 1974, the Association petitioned the county
commissioners to organize a central communications net-
work for the county. No immediate action was taken, but
the seed was planted. Then in March, 1975, the county de-
partments of communications, emergency medical services and
Civil Defense were combined into one, under the supervision
of a newly appointed County Civil Defense Director.
By March, 1976, a county communications system was installed
in the Civil Defense office in the Courthouse basement. A
used communications console was purchased for $9,500.
Eleven fire companies and four ambulance services partici-
pated initially in the program. It is anticipated that by
the end of 1978, all emergency services in the county will
belong to the communications network.
The county communications system will eventually provide a
central receiving and dispatching center for all emergency
calls in the county. Once an emergency call is received by
the dispatcher, the appropriate fire company, ambulance ser-
vice or police agency is notified immediately by radio.
The dispatcher can also activate the fire sirens at each
fire station. In the event of a fire, all volunteer fire-
men will receive the report simultaneously, assuming they
have their radio receivers turned on. This is an enormous
advance over the days when firemen had to spread word of a
fire by means of a telephone roster.
Another advantage of the communication system is its use-
fulness in coordinating emergency operations in case of a
countywide crisis or disaster. Through this system the
County Civil Defense Director is able to have immediate and
total contact with all areas of the county in supervising
relief efforts. A new, more versatile communications con-
sole was installed at the center in 1978. This will greatly
enhance the reliability of the system and serve its needs
for sometime to come. Lycoming County's emergency communi-
cations have entered the 20th century, thanks in part to the
efforts of the West Branch Firemen's Association.
There remains an aspect of the volunteer fire company which
harks back to a by-gone age, and that is the source of in-
come. The firemen's carnival continues to provide the ma-
jor source of funding for many volunteer fire companies in
the county, all of which are financially self-supporting.
Cotton candy, french fries, Ferris wheels and merry-go-
rounds transcend the passing of time. Smaller fire com-
panies also capitalize on the entertainment business. The
firemen's festivals and chicken barbeques provide occasions
not only for the fire fighters and their families to raise
operating funds, but also for communities to join in some
fun and to spend some money in a good cause.
Saturday night bingo is still another fund raising technique
which doubles as a social event. It is not so much the
prizes that attract the avid bingo player as it is the
chance of the game and the opportunity for social activity.
All these methods, along with direct public solicitation,
have made it possible for the volunteer fire companies to
organize, to build new fire houses and to purchase new
equipment. They also show that the volunteer fire companies
depend as much upon the general public for their success as
upon the charter members.
An important service to any community is the public library
where citizens can go to relax and to read any number of
magazines and newspapers or sign out books and records to
be enjoyed at home. Larger libraries offer other services
such as film rental and story hours for children, art ex-
hibits and "talking books" for the blind and the seeing im-
paired. These and other services are available to citizens
of Lycoming County from its library, the James V. Brown
Library in Williamsport . Residents of outlying regions can
go to the nearest borough library where services from the
Brown Library are available to them. Hughesville, Montgomery,
Muncy, Montoursville and Jersey Shore all have libraries
which are associated with the Brown Library in Williamsport.
The oldest of the borough libraries is the Montgomery Public
Library, opened in 1906, one year before the Brown Library
itself. The newest and largest of the borough libraries is
the Jersey Shore Library, opened in 1950, which shares its
facilities with the Jersey Shore Area High School. This is
not Jersey Shore's first public library, for as far back as
the 1890' s one was in existence there. The Dr. W. B. Konkle
Memorial Library in Montoursville was founded in 19-43,
through a bequest given by Dr. Konkle. The James V. Brown
Library branch at the Montoursville High School closed in
1957 when it was obvious the Konkle Library was adequately
serving the needs of that community.
The libraries in Muncy and Hughesville opened in 1937 and
194-1 respectively. All the public libraries in the county
are supported by state, county and local funds, though in
recent years moves to establish groups of Library Friends
have increased the prospect of private contributions.
THE FIRST COUNTY LIBRARY
Until 19-46, the James V. Brown Library served only William-
sport and environs. It was not until 1939, that the Lycoming
County commissioners authorized money for a free county
library. The first county library was not a building with
shelves of books and librarians working behind counters.
Instead, it was the original bookmobile to be used in Lycom-
ing County. The person most responsible for its inception
was Clarence H. McConnel, then Assistant County Superinten-
dent of schools, later to become Superintendent in 194V.
Mr. McConnel was acutely aware of the deficiency of reading
materials in rural schools. He believed a mobile library
was the key to the solution. After several unsuccessful
attempts at persuading the county commissioners to fund the
project, he finally got them to agree to include it in the
1939 county budget. The county appropriated $3,000 and the
state contributed $1,500, along with the loan of 2,000 books
from the state library.
The bookmobile, or county library as it was called, was
placed under the supervision of the James V. Brown Library
Board, headed by Dr. 0. R. Howard Thomson. The board pur-
chased the bookmobile and hired a staff to operate it. The
directors of the school districts in the county served by
the library also contributed annually toward the operation of
the library. There were 47 distribution stations through-
out the county the first year that the bookmobile was in
operation. All these stations were necessarily in remote
areas of the county due to the limited funds available. For
the first time, places such as English Center, Bodines and
Elimsport, had a library service on a regular basis.
The name of the bookmobile, "Aladdin's Lamp," was submitted
during a countywide contest by two pupils in the Eight-
square School in Moreland Township. Ever since that first
year, the bookmobile has served the needs of students and
adults in the county's remoter regions.
It was in 1946 that the mobile county library and the James
y. Brown Library merged into one. From then on the Brown
Library has been the center of the county library system.
A new Bookmobile was purchased at the time of the merger to
accomodate a larger, more diverse number of books to help
satisfy an ever increasing demand.
In 1962, the first bookmobile provided by the state was put
into service. Over the years the state government has con-
tributed an increasing amount of support to the county li-
brary, so that today nearly 43 percent of the library bud-
get comes from state funds. A total of 43 percent is still
provided by appropriations from the county and the city of
James V . Brown Library
Bookmobile at Rose Valley School
THE JAMES V. BROWN LIBRARY
Ever since its founding, the James V. Brown Library has ex-
panded its range of services to benefit more and more people.
While most of the money comes from the government, the
Friends of the Library also help in promoting the library and
raising funds. The Friends were largely instrumental in
raising $300,000 in 1972, the first fund drive ever held for
the library. With the money raised, renovations were made
and badly needed expansion was undertaken.
In 1961, the state legislature created the Pennsylvania
Library Code which established library districts throughout
the state, effective in 1969. This meant that smaller li-
braries could now draw upon the resources of larger ones.
The James V. Brown Library was designated the headquarters
of the eleven-county northcentral Pennsylvania district.
All other libraries in the district now look to Brown for
technical and material assistance. Brown, in turn, looks
to the state library in Harrisburg for assistance. Thus,
what may seem like a relatively simple and straightforward
operation is really quite complex with much diverse work
going on behind the scenes.
The James V. Brown Library is more than just a place to
take out books. It also has a well-stocked reference room
with a full-time staff to answer questions and to offer
assistance in matters of research. Recently the tracing of
genealogical roots has become a popular hobby for many
people. The Brown Library has built a collection of many
resources, census records and other materials essential to
Many other services mentioned earlier are a routine part of
Brown's program, all for the convenience and free use of the
public. Like the hospitals and volunteer fire companies,
the libraries of Lycoming County have grown from limited,
sometimes non-existent entities since 1940. The general
public has desired such facilities and the government has
responded in the case of the libraries. In turn, the li-
braries have helped create a more enlightened and informed
public, which is the primary function of any library.
When the wealthy lumberman James V. Brown left his generous
bequest for the founding of a library back in 1907, he could
not have imagined the future extent and influence of that
library within the county and beyond to eleven neighboring
counties. Indeed, if he were to see the results of his
gift today, his surprise would be mixed with much pride.
Another important service to county residents is provided by
the water companies, which since the late 1800' s, have pro-
vided a convenient, safe and constant supply of water to
many regions of the county. The major development among
them since 1940 has heen the move toward public ownership .
Today the Jersey Shore Water Company is the only one in the
county which is still privately owned. Its owners, however,
did make overtures in 1978 to the Jersey Shore borough
council, offering the water company for sale. Studies by the
borough on the matter are currently underway. The Jersey
Shore Water Company serves Jersey Shore, parts of several
neighboring townships, and Salladasburg .
All other water systems in the county are municipally owned.
The Montoursville water system, in operation since the late
1800 's, is the only one in the county to have been publicly
owned from its beginning.
The Williamsport water system, founded in 1856, was the first
privately owned system in the county to be purchased by a
municipality. It supplies water to more people than any
other system in Lycoming County, serving customers in
Williamsport, South Williamsport, Duboistown, Loyalsock
Township and Old Lycoming Township.
THE WILLIAMSPORT WATER COMPANY
The purchase of the Williamsport Water Company by the city
resulted from a suggestion made in the early 1940 's by a
Williamsport businessman, Thomas Rider, that the Community
Trade Association (Chamber of Commerce) appoint a committee
to study the idea. This was done, and on December 20, 1944,
the CTA committee recommended that the city purchase the
water company. The committee suggested that city ownership
of the company would save water patrons thousands of dollars
in water bills because municipal facilities are not subject
to income tax.
In 1946 the water company was purchased by the city for
over $5,500,000 from its owner, John H. Ware, Jr. Bonds
to purchase the company were issued carrying interest rates
from 1 5/8 percent to two percent for a forty year period.
At the same time, the Williamsport Municipal Water Authority
was created to operate the water company.
Water services to western areas of Williamsport and Old
Lycoming Township were installed in 1967 when approximately
five miles of sixteen and twelve inch pipe were laid to these
regions. Among the largest of Williamsport 's reservoirs are
the Mosquito Creek Reservoir, built between 1950 and 1951,
and the Frank E. Heller Impoundment, constructed between
1972 and 1975. Each are 530,000,000 gallon impoundments
of earth embankment construction, and are located in valleys
on a wholly controlled 10,000 acre water shed situated
between North. White Deer Ridge and Bald Eagle Mountain in
OTHER WATER COMPANIES
The other privately owned water companies to be purchased by
municipalities were those in Muncy in 1966, and Hughesville
and Montgomery in 1968. All of these facilities have been
in existence since the late 1800 's and early 1900' s. A
portion of Picture Rocks had been served by a private co-
operatively owned water system up to 1977 but it was so
badly damaged that year by the harsh winter that repairs
to it proved too expensive and it was abandoned.
QUESTIONS CHAPTER 9
1. List hospitals located in Lycoming County.
2. Contrast the county's hospital facilities in 19-40 with
3. How has the need for rural fire protection been met?
4. Describe the accomplishments of the West Branch Fire-
5. Locate the oldest public library in the county.
6. List other public libraries in the county.
7. How does the James V. Brown Library serve areas outside
8. What major development has affected most of the water
companies of the county since the 1940' s?
9. The Williamsport Water System serves what communities?
ttr GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Wherever there is government, there is politics. One does
not exist without the other. The difference between them is
that government ideally operates on law, cooperation and jus-
tice, whereas politics operates on competition, opinion and
persuasion. Both government and politics have played an
important part in Lycoming County's history, and many in-
dividuals have distinguished themselves through them.
In Lycoming County there are two levels of government:
county and municipal. The three types of municipal govern-
ment are city, borough and township. Williamsport is the
only city in the county. There are nine boroughs and 42
townships. The county government is primarily concerned
with the administration of the courts, the assessment of
property for local taxes, the registration of voters and
conduct of elections, the operation of the county home,
and the administration of numerous welfare and service
The municipal governments are primarily concerned with
providing necessary local services and the maintenance
of order and safety in each community. Thus, depending
on their size, municipal governments may provide street
lighting, police protection (and in Williamsport, fire
protection) and maintenance of municipal streets and roads.
And while the non-elected government employees see to the
day-to-day operation of government, it is the elected
office holders who as representatives of the people, set
the policies and establish the directions of government. In
some instances, as with most county offices, the elected
positions are paid full-time jobs. In other instances, as
with most township offices, elected positions are usually
part-time and at commensurate pay. But regardless of
whether they are full or part-time positions, it is through
these elected offices, and hence through politics, that
citizens and taxpayers can and do regularly influence the
policies and operations of government.
POLITICS ARE NOT STATIC
Because the problems facing county and municipal govern-
ments are ever changing, the political issues of local
communities change also. This means that at various times
taxes, streets and roads, sewage treatment, crime, housing
and other issues may enter the political sphere. This also
means that the work of government is never finished and that
the political pressures upon elected officials are constant.
Yet it is due to such political pressures that changes in
government are initiated and government is kept responsive
to the needs of the people. This is a vital factor in our
democratic system at all levels of government.
Political pressures and changes have been as real and ne-
cessary in Incoming County as anywhere else, and there have
been many since 1940. The role of county government has ex-
panded greatly since then. Responsibilities have been added
in many new areas. Even though some offices, such as that
of county school superintendent, have been abolished, many
others have come into being. In municipal government during
this period, Williamsport voters approved a change in the
city's form of government, and in party politics, the senti-
ment and affiliation of Lycoming County voters have taken
on some new and interesting trends.
Traditionally, Lycoming County has been a Republican strong-
hold. Republican registrations have consistently outnumbered
Democratic registrations by the thousands. In 194-0, there
were 5,500 more Republicans than Democrats in the county.
By 1952 this gap had widened to 12,000. The political com-
lexion of the county, however, has taken a new turn since
then. The Republican registrations have steadily diminished
to a lead over the Democrats of under 2,000 in 1977. And in
Williamsport the Democrats actually captured the lead from
the Republicans in 1977 by 300 registrations. Whether this
trend is the result of a nation-wide movement toward the
Democratic party or just a temporary readjustment, political
affiliation in the county has certainly become more balanced.
Nevertheless, Republican strength over the years is undeni-
able as seen in the results of presidential elections. Only
twice since 1936 has Lycoming County given a majority to the
Democratic presidential candidate. Franklin D. Roosevelt
beat out Alfred M. Landon in 1936 and Lyndon B. Johnson de-
feated Barry M. Goldwater in 1964. But of the six other
times since 1936 that Democrats have won presidential elec-
tions nationally, Lycoming County voters favored the Re-
publican candidate each time.
The same Republican strength has been exhibited in local
elections. Republican candidates have stood a better
chance at being elected than their Democratic opponents just
by virtue of Republican strength. On the other hand,
Lycoming County voters do not just tow the party line. They
can and do exhibit a great deal of independence in choosing
their elected officials. Even in a strongly Republican
county such as this one, many Democrats have won elections
to political office.
At the very peak of Republican strength during the early
1950' s, the Democrats swept the county in the election of
1954. The Democratic candidate for Governor, George M.
Leader, won in Lycoming County. Also, the Democrat and
former Jersey Shore Burgess, Miles R. Derk, unseated his
Republican opponent for the State Senate, John G. Snowden,
who had served four terms and was seeking his fifth. Also,
both seats from the county in the State Assembly were won by
Democrats — former prothonotary, Perry M. Paulhamus, and the
former principal of the Sheridan School, Lawrence Swartz.
This Democratic landslide though was short lived. Four
years later, in 1958, the Republicans recaptured all these
posts except for the Williamsport seat in the State
Assembly held by Mr. Swartz. Dr. Derk was defeated for
his reelection to the State Senate by Williamsport business-
man, Z. H. Confair.
Lycoming County has known a host of other important politi-
cal figures. Though not a resident of the county, Robert F.
Rich of Woolrich served eight terms in Congress from this
district and had a significant impact on Republican poli-
tics in the county. After Mr. Rich, all U. S. Congressmen
for this district have been from Lycoming County. Rich's
immediate successor was Alvin R. Bush of Money who died in
office, having served four terms. Then Herman T. Schneebeli
of Williamsport served eight terms. In 1976, the first
Democrat to win this congressional seat since 1940 was for-
mer District Attorney Allen Ertel. Other important politi-
cal figures in the county during this period included
Charles S. Williams, a Republican, who became Judge in 1943
after serving as District Attorney. Judge Williams was re-
elected in 1953, but lost a third term in 1963 to Democrat
Thomas Wood of Money. The current President Judge, Charles
Greevey, also a Democrat, is now in his third ten-year term,
having succeeded Judge Donald Larrabee in 1952.
CHANGES IN THE REELECTION OF JUDGES
The method for reelecting county judges was greatly altered
under the revised Pennsylvania Constitution of 1968. Prior
to that, Common Pleas judges stood for reelection against
an opponent every ten years. The revised constitution al-
tered this by establishing a voting procedure for retention
or revocation of the judge seeking reelection. Thus, the
judge does not run against an opposing candidate. This
procedure was designed to keep as much politics as possible
out of the choosing of judges. On the other hand, if a
judge does not choose to seek reelection, the regular pro-
cedure for elections is followed.
In 1973, Judge Thomas Wood lost his retention vote under the
new procedure. Judge Wood was supported by the County Law
Association and Bar Association, but was victim to a great
deal of strong opposition from such local citizens' groups
as Victims of Crime and Citizens for Democracy. Both
groups represented strong views on issues such as the
treatment of juvenile offenders, pornographic book stores
and fluoridation of drinking water. As a result of Judge
Wood's defeat, Governor Milton Shapp appointed Democrat
Thomas Raup to Judge Wood's chair in 1974. Judge Raup was
then elected to a full term in 1975.
A significant development in Williamsport politics was the
reelection in 1947 of Mayor Leo C. Williamson, a Republican
and local restaurant owner, to an unprecedented third term.
The popular Mr. Williamson served from 1940 to 1952, longer
than any other mayor in Williamsport ' s history. Mayor
Williamson was succeeded by Republican Clifford L. Harman
in 1952. Since then, Williamsport has alternated between
Democratic and Republican mayors. The only mayor to win
two terms after Mayor Williamson was Thomas H. Levering, the
first Democrat ever to succeed himself in that office.
Mayor Levering served from 1956 to 1964. After Mayor Lever-
ing, Williamsport has had a succession of one term mayors.
They were Republican Raymond Knaur from 1964 to 1968; Demo-
crat Richard Carey, 1968 to 1972; and Republican John R.
Coder, 1972 to 1976. The current mayor is Democrat Daniel
All third class cities in Pennsylvania were restricted by
state law to the Commission form of government from 1913 to
1957. As a third class city, Williamsport adopted the Com-
mission form in 1914. Then in July, 1957, the Pennsylvania
legislature enacted the "Optional Third Class City Charter
Law. " This law gave all third-class cities the right to
adopt the Council-Manager Plan, the Mayor-Council Plan or
to retain the Commission Plan of government.
At the 1963 November election, Williamsport ' s voters approv-
ed the creation of a charter commission to study the advisa-
bility of the city adopting a new governmental structure.
Known as the Williamsport Charter Commission, the group con-
sisted of nine elected members from the city. At its first
meeting Williamsport attorney John C. Youngman, Sr. was
chosen as chairman of the commission. After a year of study,
the commission recommended the Council-Manager Plan to the
voters. The voters, however, turned down the proposal in a
referendum on November 3, 1964.
Six years later in May, 1970, city voters approved the re-
commendation of a new study commission to adopt the Strong-
Mayor form. The change became effective January 1, 1972,
and for the first time in many years, the mayor acquired
significant hew powers. Under the Commission form, the
city council and mayor share administrative and law-making
responsibilities. The mayor is, in effect, the head council-
man, as it is his function to preside at council meetings.
Under the new Strong-Mayor form, however, the mayor acts as
chief administrative officer and supervises the work of all
department heads; he cannot vote at meetings of city council.
The mayor is responsible for preparing the annual city bud-
get and approving all ordinances and resolutions passed by
council. The seven-member city council, on the other hand,
must approve the mayor's annual budget and can override the
mayor's veto of ordinances and resolutions. Thus, unlike
the Commission form, the Strong-Mayor form separates the
executive and legislative functions of city government in
much the same way as in the state and federal governments.
Prior to implementation of the Strong-Mayor form, a transi-
tion committee recommended an organizational structure for
the new government . The heart of the committee ' s recom-
mendation, later adopted by council, was the organization
of the city government into the three departments of Ad-
ministration, Public Services and Public Saftey, each one
headed by a director appointed by the mayor. The Admin-
istration Department includes the services of personnel
and budget preparation; the Public Services Department in-
cludes the operation and maintenance of city facilities
such as sewers, streets, dikes, parks and the landfill; the
Public Safety Department includes the police and fire bureaus.
W. CLYDE HARER
One of the most active individuals in both Williamsport and
Lycoming County politics was W. Clyde Harer, who served in
as many elective offices as perhaps any other man in the
county's history. Mr. Harer served as a Williamsport
school director not long after his graduation from high
school in 1905. Later he served as a member of the William-
sport City Council. During the 1930 's Mr. Harer went to
Harrisburg as the State Assemblyman from Williamsport,
serving there several terms. Eventually Mr. Harer was to be
elected to three different county offices. These included
the offices of Register and Recorder, Treasurer, and
County Commissioner. In 1968, at the age of 82, Mr. Harer
retired from political life and county service after a
career that spanned from the presidencies of Theodore Roose-
velt to Lyndon B. Johnson. It seems ironic that at virtually
the same time as Mr. Harer 's retirement from county govern-
ment, the old Lycoming County Courthouse was razed to
make way for the new courthouse. Both events symbolized the
passing of an era in the history of Lycoming County, its
government and politics.
Although both state and federal office holders have been
victims of scandal and impropriety in recent years, Lycoming
County has suffered relatively little from such difficulties.
Yet the slate in the county has not heen completely clean.
Two cases of minor proportions came to light involving
Sheriff Charles E. Green in 196-4 and Mayor John R. Coder of
Williamsport in 1974. During his second term Sheriff Green
was forced to resign his office and was replaced by L.
Eugene Pauling who has remained in that capacity to the pres-
The case involving Mayor Coder came under the scrutiny of
then District Attorney Allen Ertel in 1973 after allega-
tions were made by individuals on the City Council that
phone conversations from City Hall were tapped and that the
Mayor and Public Safety Director John Samony were responsi-
ble. A battle ensued which resulted in complicated and
lengthy legal proceedings. The District Attorney's in-
vestigation revealed that wiretapping equipment had been
installed in City Hall . The mayor ' s argument was that
threats were made on his life and the tap was a necessary
precaution. The mayor had notified the FBI of information
recovered from the tap. As a result of the investigations,
Mayor Coder was indicted for wiretapping, false swearing,
obstruction of justice, misconduct in office and criminal
conspiracy. The Director of Public Safety, John M. Samony,
was believed to have collaborated with the mayor and was
indicted on the same charges, except misconduct in office.
In view of the considerable publicity Mayor Coder's case
received and the mayor's belief that the atmosphere in the
county was prejudicial to him, his request for a change of
venue for the trail was granted by visiting Judge Robert M.
Kemp of Tioga County. The State Supreme Court then relo-
cated the Coder trail to the town of Mercer in Western
Pennsylvania. The jury there convicted Coder of three
charges: wiretapping, conspiracy, and false swearing. The
judge threw out the false swearing conviction, ruling that
it had not been established beyond reasonable doubt. Public
Safety Director Samony had previously pleaded quilty to the
wiretapping charges and was sentenced to a fine.
On February 7, 1975, almost two years after the initial
charges were brought against Coder, the Mercer County judge
sentenced him for the two remaining convictions — intercep-
tion of telephone communications and conspiracy. The mayor
received a fine and a suspended prison sentence. He was
not, however, required to resign his office and served his
full four-year term. He was defeated for reelection in
1975 by Daniel Kirby, the Democratic candidate.
CHANGES IN COUNTY GOVERNMENT
Apart from the adoption of the Strong-Mayor form of
Main courtroom of former Lycoming County
Lysock View upon completion
Williamsport City Council in 1940's
L to R: Samuel Wendle, Raymond Rail,
S. J. Webster, Assessor
Mayor Leo C. Williamson, A. L. Reimer.
Assistant Assessor, Eugene Shaffer
and Frank Henninger
miing County Commissioners, 1978
L to R: Paul K. Bloom, Robert W. Beiter
government in Williamsport , the major governmental changes
in the county occurred at the county level, particularly in
the size of county government and in the reorganization of
the local judicial system. A very minor change in borough
government was the adoption of the title "mayor" for the
chief borough official instead of the traditional title
"burgess." This change was promulgated by state law in
The developments in modern county government first began to
evolve as a result of the Institution District Act of 1937.
This state law abolished the local township and borough poor
districts and replaced them with county poor districts, making
the county commissioners responsible for providing care to
indigent persons and needy children. Prior to this law,
boroughs, townships and cities provided their own care to
such needy individuals, often in a haphazard and unsatis-
The Institution District Act empowered commissioners to
levy taxes for expenses incurred by the county in aid of
the needy and to issue bonds for funding the building of
new facilities. The law made county commissioners custo-
dians of those children and adults who, for whatever finan-
cial or family reason, were unable to care for themselves.
Thus, along with the prior constitutional responsibilities
of the county government, this new responsibility has over
the years come to consume a significant amount of the
county's resources and jurisdiction. In recent years the
state has added further responsibilities to county govern-
ment, including care services to the aged, such as home-
help; mental health/mental retardation programs; and job
training and employment programs.
The structure of the Lycoming County government is nearly
as it was in 1940, except for the substitution in 1947 of
a county controller for auditors. Along with the expansion
of county government has come the creation of several county
authorities or boards which oversee the construction and
operation of county facilities. These include the Airport
Authority and the Recreation Authority. The Recreation
Authority operates the White Deer Golf Course and is a
joint Authority of the county and City of Williamsport.
With the passage of the 1937 Institution District Act, the
county built its own poor home in Loyalsock Township, aided
by WPA workers. The home opened in March, 1937, and was
located on a farm where some of the home's food was produced.
The home was named "Lysock View" and is today, as a result
of expansion, the residence of several hundred patients,
mostly elderly and physically disabled. The emphasis at
Lysock View has changed from a work center to medical and
nursing care for the needy.
Whereas in 1937, Lysock View was the largest part of the
county's welfare program, today it is a relatively small
part of all the social and health services provided by county
government. Most of these programs are funded or initiated
by state or federal legislation for which the county serves
as the dispensing agent. There are very few individuals or
families that do not today benefit in one way or another
from these county programs.
The judicial and criminal investigative functions of county
government are still among its most important. Along with
changing the method of retaining incumbent common pleas
judges, however, the revised Pennsylvania Constitution also
significantly reorganized the local judicial system. The
justices of the peace were eliminated and in their place
were established larger magisterial districts according to
population. Each district elects a single justice of the
peace or district magistrate who serves as the judicial
officer of the state with jurisdiction over all civil and
criminal cases of a minor nature originating within his
district. The magistrates are elected for a six-year term
and must undergo a specified course of training in legal
and judicial matters. There are five magisterial districts
in Lycoming County — two in Williamsport and three in re-
maining areas of the county.
The first of the new district magistrates were elected in
November, 1969, and took office January 1, 1970. Another
judicial reform was the abolition of the grand jury in
Lycoming County. As of January 1, 1976, a prosecutor can
take a case to trial after the judge at the preliminary
hearing has granted permission. The advantage of this
reform is the time and money it saves, in that a grand
jury is not needed to bring an indictment. Instead, the
judge or magistrate at the preliminary hearing merely de-
cides whether the evidence against the accused is sufficient
to warrant a trial.
MAJOR POLITICAL CONTROVERSIES
Williamsport and Lycoming County have not been without
their major political controversies. Two of the more
heated ones occurred within the City of Williamsport and
arose over voter displeasure with the activities of various
arms of government. A major battle ensued in 1967 when the
Williamsport Area School Board unveiled plans for a new
high school estimated to cost $10 million. At about the
same time the School Board was forced to propose an in-
crease in the personal tax to finance a deficit in the
school district budget of over $200,000. Not long there-
after, the cost estimate for the new high school was
increased to $14 million, setting off a wave of citizen
protest in the Williamsport area and within the Williamsport
Meanwhile groundbreaking for the new high school took place
on July 14, 1967. On July 20, 1967, the Williamsport City
Council voted unanimously for a resolution asking the state
legislature to pass a bill limiting school district spending
on capital projects not authorized by public vote. Following
this action, a citizens' group was formed calling itself
"Citizens Responsibility Committee." The committee circu-
lated a petition collecting 5,682 names opposed to the cost
of the high school; the group filed suit in the County Court
to enjoin the School Board from proceeding with its plan.
COMPLAINTS ABOUT THE NEW HIGH SCHOOL
The citizens ' group complaint to the court stated that the
School Board was preparing to issue bonds worth $29 million,
not including interest. This amount was to go toward con-
struction of the high school, the purchase of 60 school
buses, salaries for bus drivers, and the purchase of large
amounts of land for the high school (148.09 acres alto-
gether). The group also complained that the bond issue
would be the largest for any school district in the state
and that as a result, taxes would rise beyond the ability of
many people to pay them.
In its reply the school board and authority stated that the
citizens' group had not accurately stated the case. The
real cost of the high school, including interest, was set
at $16.3 million, not $29 million. The School Board also
said that it planned to buy 22 new buses, not 60. In so
far as the land purchases were concerned, the School Board
replied that only enough land was condemned to provide
adequately for the high school facilities, including parking
facilities and athletic areas. Objections to the land
acquisitions were complicated by the fact that the property
of one of the leaders of the citizens' group had been con-
demned for access to Fourth Street from the high school
Finally, in December, 1967, Judge Thomas Wood ruled in
favor of the school district on both parts of the tax-
payers' suit. In the Judge's opinion, the citizens' group
had not demonstrated that the School Board and Authority
had abused their discretion in either the cost of the pro-
posed high school or in the acquisition of land. Despite
the Judge's ruling, however, the construction of the high
school was delayed still longer due to appeals by the
citizens' group to the State Supreme Court and an attempt
at appeal before the U. S. Supreme Court. Both attempts
Due to the long delays in getting construction underway, the
cost of the high school building increased from $14 million
to $15 million. It was not until January 3, 1972, that the
new high school was finally occupied by teachers and students.
Williamsport High School alumnus John Huffman designed this
unique building, which consists of separate self-contained
"little school" units for each of the three grades. These
are connected to a central hub which then leads to separate
facilities for physical and health education, the library,
science laboratories, homemaking, special education, business
education, the industrial and fine arts, and a 1,600-seat
Finally, after many obstacles and road blocks, including
the taxpayers ' lawsuits and a strike by construction
workers, the new Williamsport High School was dedicated in
May, 1972, replacing a badly crowded and obsolete building,
which was then sold to the Williamsport Area Community
College for refurbishing as an academic center.
THE FLUORIDATION CONTROVERSY
At about the same time as the high school dispute, another
controversy preoccupied Williamsport — the fluoridation of
the municipal water supply. Fluoridation was initiated in
1966, by order of the Williamsport City Council and the
Williamsport Municipal Water Authority because of its
proven benefits to children's teeth. This action sparked
considerable resistance in the wider community and on the
City Council, itself. Many citizens objected to fluorida-
tion on the grounds that it violated freedom of choice.
By 1970, the anti-fluoridation group on the Water Authority
had gained the upper hand and during a sudden vote on the
matter, the Authority rescinded fluoridation by a majority of
one vote. Many pro-fluoridation residents of Williamsport
and other municipalities served by the city's water system
were greatly upset by the Authority's action. Because the
action violated the procedures of the Pennsylvania Depart-
ment of Health which should have granted permission for the
termination of fluoridation, it, too, objected.
In consequence, both the State Health Department and a group
of seven local citizens sought a court injunction to prevent
the Authority from ending fluoridation. Judge Thomas Wood
ruled in favor of the Department of Health stating that it
and not the Water Authority had ultimate jurisdiction over
matters of community health, and that the Authority, there-
by, had no legal right to end fluoridation unilaterally.
The Judge thus permanently enjoined the Water Authority from
removing fluoride from the drinking water, and the fluorida-
tion of Williamsport ' s water supply continues to this day.
The controversies over the high school and fluoridation,
while eventually settled in the courts, were issues for
voters long after the court had ruled on them. The failure
of Judge Thomas Wood to gain retention is attributed partial-
ly to his decisions in these two cases — decisions which many
voters disliked and cast their ballots against in 1973. This
is one example of how politics affects government. While
the courts are believed to be above politics, the rulings of
judges very often have highly political consequences with-
out ever intending to do so. Thus, government and politics
are part of the same democratic process whether it takes
place at the national, state or local level. The history of
Lycoming County has in recent years offered ample illustra-
tions of this democratic process at work.
QUESTIONS CHAPTER 10
1. Describe membership trends in the major political
parties of Lycoming County.
2. List state and national lawmakers that have represented
Lycoming County since the early 1950 ' s .
3. Name judges that have served the county since the early
4. What changes were brought about in Williamsport city
government by adoption of the Strong-mayor form of
5. What new responsibilities were added to county govern-
ment by the Institution District Act of 193V?
6. In what other ways has county government been expanded?
7. List some of the county's political controversies and
TRENDS IN RELIGION
As in most areas of the country, religion in Lycoming County
is a diverse phenomenon reflecting various cultural, ethnic
and social backgrounds. The religious mark of the original
Anglo-Saxon and Western European settlers of the county is
still reflected in the Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran,
Baptist, Episcopalian and Roman Catholic denominations.
These were the first religious bodies established in Lycom-
ing County, some dating well back into the 18th century.
Another religious group stemming from European roots and
established early in the county is the Salvation Army, long
highly regarded for its work among the destitute.
Today, these same denominations remain at the heart of re-
ligious belief and practice in Lycoming County, despite the
growth of newer peculiarly American religious groups, such
as the Assemblies of God, the Christian and Missionary
Alliance Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day
Saints, the Christian Scientists, the Church of the Nazarene,
the Disciples of Christ, the Jehovah's Witnesses, and
others ( including a number of independent fundamentalist
Lycoming County also has several Eastern Orthodox congrega-
tions. The Greek Orthodox have long held services at
Christ Church in Williamsport . Recently the Orthodox Church
in America began holding weekly services in the city. Though
the county's Orthodox population is small, a number of local
converts have helped to increase their numbers. The Jewish
faith is represented in Lycoming County by two synagogues
in Williamsport: the Congregation Ohev Sholom — part of the
Conservative branch of Judaism — and the Temple Beth Ha
Sholom — a member of Judaism's Reformed branch.
EVENTFUL YEARS FOR THE CHURCHES
The years since 1940 have been eventful ones for the
churches of Lycoming County. Along with several denomina-
tional mergers, a few churches have closed, a few congrega-
tions have merged, and a number of completely new congrega-
tions have come to life.
Among those churches which merged were the Mulberry Street
and Market Street Methodist churches in 1963; the formation
of the Wesley Methodist Church resulted. The old Mulberry
Street building was sold to Faith Tabernacle which occupied
it until it burned in 1973. The new Methodist congregation
worshiped in the old Market Street building until a new
church building was erected several years later. Another
merger brought into being the Church of The Savior on
Grier Street in Williamsport. This congregation is composed
of the former Salem and St. John's Evangelical Lutheran
churches. The St. John's church building was retained for
the new congregation; the Salem building is now occupied by
the Salem Assembly of God Church. Then in 1976, Williamsport
saw the merger of the churches of St. John's United Church
of Christ and the Immanuel United Church of Christ. The
new congregation is named New Covenant United Church of Christ
and is located in the former Immanuel church building on
East Third Street . The former St . John ' s building was
sold to the American Rescue Workers as the location of their
Williamsport headquarters .
The largest churches in the county to close since 1940 were
the St. John's Episcopal Church in South Williamsport in
1952, and Bethany Presbyterian Church on Green Street,
Williamsport, in about I960. Both of these congregations
had experienced a steady decrease in membership up to the
dates of their closing.
The one denominational merger with the greatest impact in
Lycoming County was that of the former Evangelical United
Brethren Church and the Methodist Church in 1968. The new
denomination was named the United Methodist Church, and is
the largest Protestant denomination in Lycoming County. In
some instances where former Methodist and E.U.B. churches
existed within a few yards of each other (as for example in
Salladasburg ) , the two congregations merged. In other
instances yoked parishes were formed under a single pastor,
as in Jersey Shore with the former Epworth Methodist and
Trinity E.U.B. churches. Because the E.U.B. and Methodist
churches were nearly identical in doctrine, polity and wor-
ship, the merger was a relatively smooth one, despite the
realignment of many rural charges within the county.
Perhaps the greatest development in religion in Lycoming
County since 1940 has been the formation of entirely new
congregations. The Methodist and Presbyterian churches
each opened a new church in the Faxon/Loyal sock Township
region. The Faxon-Kenmar United Methodist Church on Sheri-
dan Street and Clayton Avenue was organized in the mid-1940' s
and broke ground for its new church building in 1948.
The Northway United Presbyterian Church on Northway Road
was organized in 1959 and broke ground soon afterwards.
Both churches today are flourishing congregations. The
other major denomination to start new congregations in the
county is the Roman Catholic Church. Our Lady of Lourdes
Church in Montoursville was originally a mission of the
Church of The Resurrection in Muncy. The first service
of Our Lady of Lourdes was held in 1941 in a house on
St. Luke Lutheran, Williarasport;
Our Lady of Lourdes R.C., Montoursville;
Northway U . Presbyterian, Loyalsock;
St. Mark's Lutheran, Williamsport ;
Trinity Gospel , Williamsport
St. Boniface R.C., Williamsport.
Former Saint Boniface Church
Former Pine Street Church
Fairview Drive. The new church building on Walnut Street
was dedicated in 1966, and is an interesting example of
modern church architecture. Begun as a mission of Our
Lady of Lourdes Church was St. Ann's Roman Catholic Church
in Faxon on Northway Road, organized in 1942. Its new
building was dedicated ten years later in 1952.
Apart from these few examples, many of the new congregations
established in the county belong to denominations not exist-
ing here prior to 1940. For example, the first Assembly of
God Church in the county was originally a Pentecostal
Church on Moore Avenue, Williamsport . It joined that de-
nomination in 1947. Today there are three Assembly of God
churches in the county. The first Church of the Nazarene
to open in the county did so in 1950 in Williamsport; a
second opened about 1956 in Jersey Shore. In 1955 the
first Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or
Mormons, established a permanent congregation in the county;
today there are two — one in Williamsport, another in Hep-
•Another phenomenon has been the growth of independent congre-
gations not affiliated with any of the major Christian de-
nominations. The Emmanuel Baptist Church on Four Mile
Drive, Tabernacle Baptist Church on West Third Street,
Trinity Gospel Church on Elmira Street, the Church of Sal-
vation on West Fourth Street, and Maranatha Bible Church
near Linden are examples. Faith Tabernacle in Williamsport
was founded before 1940 but has grown considerably since
then; it purchased the former Elks Club building on West
Fourth Street in 1971 to house its expanding ministry. The
ministry of all these new churches is intensely evangelis-
tic, with a great stress placed upon Sunday School, as
attested by the buses many of them use for transporting
DIVERSIFICATION IN RELIGION
The single most predominant characteristic of religion in
Lycoming County since 1940 has been its diversification.
There are more varieties and types of religious groups
existing here today than there were then, and this despite
the moves by major denominations toward unity and common
action. The historical roots of this trend toward diversi-
fication lay in the American character but are not for
analysis here. Rather, Lycoming County, like all other
regions of the country, has been touched by the growing
pluralism of religious groups and the enthusiastic pro-
selytizing which marks so many of them. Accompanying this
quality has been the individualism and suspicion of hier-
archical structures notable especially among the indepen-
Since Lycoming County is primarily rural in character, rural
churches continue to play an important part in its religious
life. Many of the rural churches established in pioneer days
still survive as witnesses to the religious faith of the
early settlers. These include churches of most all of the
major denominations. Innumberable wooden frame and brick
houses of worship dot the countryside, standing valiantly
against all the perils and dangers threatening their exist-
ence. Though many of them have fallen victim to declining
membership and financial stress, others continue to survive,
usually as part of a larger "charge" or "circuit" which the
minister visits each Sunday, holding services in two or
three churches successively. This, too, is a reminder of
the days when the pioneer circuit riding preachers traveled
many miles each Sunday to proclaim God's message. Thus,
while today most worshipers go to the preacher, there re-
main outposts of the church where the preacher still goes
to the worshipers.
Despite the religious diversity of Lycoming County, some
efforts are being made to de-emphasize differences between
denominations and to foster cooperation and understanding
between them. "Ecumenism" is the word which describes such
efforts. For many years Protestant pastors of various
denominations have organized into cooperative groups or
"ministeriums." Such organizations exist in many boroughs
of the county, as for example, Hughesville and Jersey Shore.
These associations give ministers the opportunity to work
together on matters of common interest. In some towns, Ro-
man Catholic priests have joined the ministerium, providing
an even broader ecumenical outlook.
THE UNITED CHURCHES OF LYCOMING COUNTY
In January, 1946, the Williamsport Council of Churches was
formed. Originally involving only Protestant churches in
Williamsport, the organization grew in membership over suc-
ceeding years and the name was changed to the United Churches
of Lycoming County. Currently, the United Churches has a
membership of forty-five congregations throughout the county,
including one Roman Catholic parish.
The United Churches was not formed as a mechanism for creat-
ing one large church, but rather "to promote the cooperation
of the churches, foster Christian movements and community
betterment, and to advance the Kingdom of God throughout the
world . "
Functions of the United Churches of Lycoming County have
included providing worship services and counseling for local
nursing homes and the county prison; a radio ministry over
two local radio stations; a ministry to migrant workers in
the county; money raising projects for Church World Service
which funds famine and disaster relief in stricken parts of
the world. The United Churches also sponsors "Trick-or-
Treat for UNICEF" at Halloween. Thus, the United Churches
of Lycoming County makes it possible for churches coopera-
tively to provide services and programs they would be unable
to provide alone.
The work of the United Churches of Lycoming County is extend-
ed through its auxiliary group known as Church Women United
in Lycoming County. This group is composed of a committee
of women, each of whom represents one of the major Christian
denominations in the county. The primary function of
Church Women United is charitable rather than social. Three
times a year — in March, May and November — Church Women United
- holds special county-wide events when women from many church-
es participate in such projects as filling Christmas stock-
ings for residents of the institutions and nursing homes in
the county or in raising money for local and world-wide
human relief efforts. Another charitable religious group is
B'nai B'rith, a Jewish organization which has a local chap-
ter. This group is devoted to raising money for charitable
causes of a local and world-wide concern.
OTHER ECUMENICAL GROUPS
Other ecumenical groups in the county include the local
chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews,
an organization which seeks to foster understanding between
these two major religious bodies in our country. Then
there is the local Christian Women's Club, founded in 1968
and affliated with a larger national organization. The
club meets for a luncheon in Williamsport once a month to
hear a religious speaker, and for entertainment. The group
is open to all women interested in Christian fellowship.
The primary mission project of the national organization,
which the local group supports, is to provide funds to
keep village churches open in remote regions of the country.
One of the oldest ecumenical groups of lay people in the
county is the Friday Night Club which has met at the Young
Men's Christian Association in Williamsport since 1926. In
that year the Billy Sunday revival in Williamsport resulted
in many conversions to the Christian faith. The Friday
Night Club was founded at the YMCA after the revival to
provide a time for Christian men to study the previous
week's Sunday School lesson. After about a year, the club
added a dinner and guest speaker following the Sunday School
lesson. During the Depression the meal was so cheap and
well prepared that the regular attendance climbed to over
200. The club continues to meet two Friday nights a month
from October through April, using the same traditional pro-
Perhaps the most unusual ecumenical organization in Lycom-
ing County today is the Yokefellows, an affliate of Yoke-
fellows International. The Yokefellow Center for Pennsyl-
vania was opened at the First Church of Christ (Disciples
of Christ) on Almond Street in Williamsport in 1972. The
Rev. John Mostoller is its director. The Yokefellows is a
loosely organized group of Christians of many denominations
who personally commit themselves to some form of Christian
discipline, witness, ministry and fellowship. The Yoke-
fellows have no regular meetings or membership rolls, though
the Yokefellow Center does provide retreats, counseling,
a book store and other social and spiritual resources orient-
ed towards personal growth for use by individuals and or-
One increasingly important aspect of the Yokefellows work
has been the establishment of Yokefellow Spiritual Growth
Groups ,in prisons and correctional institutions, with em-
phasis on the personal renewal and spiritual development of
prison inmates through a "redemptive fellowship." Such
Yokefellow groups have been established in Lycoming County
at the Muncy State Correctional Institution and the Allen-
wood Federal Prison Camp. Local Yokefellow participants
have volunteered their time to work with these prison
The Yokefellow prison ministry is concerned not only with
prisoners while they are inmates but also with their suc-
cessful return to society upon completion of incarceration.
Halfway houses for such individuals are being set up
throughout the country to aid prisoners in their transition
back into society. The Yokefellows have also become in-
volved in penal system reform and the improvement of cor-
CHURCHES FACE DISASTER
The churches of Lycoming County have faced their share of
tragedy and disaster. At various times floods have ravaged
church buildings, inflicting heavy losses on hard pressed
congregations. The 1946 and 1972 floods were especially
cruel to many churches in the county. Even more destructive
than the floods have been the church fires. Two devastating
fires ruined major and beloved Williamsport churches in
1972 and 1977.
Early on the morning of December 5, 1972, St. Boniface Ro-
man Catholic Church on Washington Boulevard, a large red
Brick structure, was gutted by fire. All that remained was
a charred, hollow shell. The fire, attributed to internal
causes, was discovered in the early morning hours by
several Lycoming College students, but too late for the
building to be saved. Immediately after the fire, activity
got underway for construction of a new church on the same
site. In 1975, just 100 years after the destroyed building
was dedicated, the new St. Boniface Church was given its
blessing. The architecture of the new church, with its
modern design and sweeping lines, was a radical departure
from the traditional cruciform style of the former building.
A second major church fire struck Williamsport early
Sunday morning, February 13, 1977, when the Pine Street
United Methodist Church across from the old City Hall on
Pine Street, burned to the ground. Hundreds of people
attempted a close look at the fire and had to be kept back
by police to protect them from flying debris when the enor-
mous church steeple and cross collapsed into a formless
pile of rubble.
The same morning another fire was discovered and contained
in a chapel at Trinity Episcopal Church on West Fourth
Street; damage there was minor. Both church fires were
attributed to arson. The famous grey, stone pseudo-gothic
Pine Street Church was utterly destroyed and the adjoining
parsonage was damaged beyond repair. Despite this extra-
ordinary loss, the congregation of the Pine Street Church
voted in September, 1977, to continue its ministry and to
build a new church on the same site.
CHURCHES SUBJECT TO EVENTS
Like all other institutions, the church is subject to the
vicissitudes of events. During World War II, for example,
attendance in Sunday Schools in the county declined notice-
ably as hundreds of young men left the county for wartime
activities. More subtle social changes also affect reli-
gious institutions. From 1926 to 1949 — a period of de-
pression and war — church membership in the United States
increased 51.5 percent, while the nation's population rose
only 30 percent, according to statistics of the National
Council of Churches. By the late 1950' s and early 1960's,
this trend reversed and church membership in the major
The prosperity of the 1950 's and 1960's gave rise to leisure
activities which diverted people from the churches. Also,
a loosening of social habits and attitudes, especially among
the young, has created a disaffection in many people for or-
ganized religion. On the other hand, the same social
trends have caused other people to seek refuge in the security
of fundamentalist churches whose theological and moral
positions reject modern attitudes.
The economic downturn of the 1970 's has been felt by the
churches. Inflation has eaten heavily into church budgets,
while giving has not managed to keep pace. Thus, the
church and religious bodies of whatever persuasion face
many challenges today, and those in Lycoming County are
■not exempt from these trends. Even though these changes
in the social, moral and economic conditions of our modern
world affect the status and strength of the church, its
position as a continuing part of life in Lycoming County is
in little doubt.
QUESTIONS CHAPTER 11
1. Describe religious trends that have taken place in Ly-
coming County since the 1930' s.
2. What evidence of "Ecumenism" exists in Lycoming County?
3. Tell how disaster has struck some churches.
SPORTS AND LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL
Williamsport played minor league baseball in the Eastern
League from 1940 to 1976 with the exception of 1943, 1957,
and 1969 through 1975. Being the smallest city in AA Base-
ball, it was a distinction to be a member of the Eastern
League, the top of the minor leagues. From 1938 to 1970
the headquarters of the Eastern League was in Williamsport,
making it the hub of the league. From 1968 to 1972, William-
sport dropped to a lower classification league, the New
York Perm League.
Williamsport was a farm team for the former Philadelphia
Athletics, the former Washington Senators, the Detroit
Tigers, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Philadelphia Phillies,
the New York Mets, and the Cleveland Indians. From 1968
to 1972, the New York Perm League sponsored the farm teams
of the Houston Astros and the Boston Red Sox. The teams
were brought to Williamsport through the Baseball Corpora-
tion of Major League Baseball. Bowman Field makes
Williamsport one of the few cities in the United States
with a baseball park designed exclusively for baseball.
The only professional basketball team to play in Williamsport
was the Williamsport Billies that played Eastern League pro-
fessional basketball in Williamsport for 18 seasons (two
years constitutes a season) from 1947-48 to 1963-64. Games
were played at Curtin and Roosevelt Junior High Schools and
the Williamsport Area Community College's Bardo Gym. Pro-
fessional basketball was brought to Williamsport by Paul
Green who owned the team until 1955 when it was sold to
William Pickelner. After the 1964 season the team was dis-
banded due to dwindling interest in the games. William
Pickelner still owns the franchise for the team.
LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL
In midsummer of 1938, Carl E. Stotz was playing baseball with
his two nephews James and Harold (Major) Gehron in the yard
of his half -double house on Isabella Street in Williamsport.
As Stotz attempted to field a ball, he tripped on a newly-
cut lilac bush, hurting his ankle. Resting on the steps
of the half -double house, Stotz asked his nephews if they
would like to play with real bats and balls and uniforms.
The boys were enthusiastic and the idea for Little League
Baseball was formed. Several evenings later Stotz and a
group of neighborhood boys went to Memorial Park which is
now known as "the birthplace of Little League Baseball — and
began to scale-down the dimensions of a baseball diamond to
a boy's size.
Stotz walked the streets of Williamsport, approaching 56 lo-
cal businessmen before Floyd Mutchler of the Lycoming Dairy
finally contributed $30 to sponsor a team. Lundy Lumber
Company and Jumbo Pretzel Company then also contributed.
Stotz bought playsuits at Kresge's for $1.29 each and a
dozen balls for $2.00. Over the first year Little League
had exceeded its income of $131 by eleven dollars. Stotz
made up the difference. The first official game was played
between Lycoming Dairy and Lundy Lumber Company on June 6,
On March 7, 194-0, the first constitution of Little League
Baseball was signed by Carl Stotz and three other managers
and co-founders: Bert Bebble, George Bebble, and John
Lindemuth. The wives — Grayce Stotz, Eloise Bebble, Anna Belle
Bebble, and Margaret Lindemuth — also signed.
By 1946, there were 28 teams in seven leagues in Pennsylvania.
The following year Stotz organized a tournament among teams
from Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The Little League was
growing too fast for Stotz and volunteers to manage so he
approached the U. S. Rubber Company to sponsor the teams.
In 1948, the U. S. Rubber Company contributed more than
$5000 and backed a larger tournament. Nationwide publicity
through newsreel and national magazines shot the number of
teams to more than 500 in 22 states. By 1953, there were
11,496 teams in 46 states. Hundreds of magazine articles
appeared quoting experts about the merits and demerits of
Little League Baseball.
The organization was growing fast. In 1950, Stotz was made
the first paid commissioner of Little League Baseball. He
traveled over the entire nation organizing Little League
teams. In that year, Little League Baseball became a cor-
poration. Around this time, very deep philosophical dif-
ferences developed between Carl Stotz and Little League, Inc.
Differences festered until in 1955, Stotz filed a writ of
foreign attachment against Little League Baseball, Inc. to
prevent the New York-based business from leaving the state.
Stotz also filed a $300,000 law suit against the business
charging breech of contract. In the face of a countersuit,
Stotz dropped his suit against Little League, Inc. and ended
his affiliation with the organization.
In 1959, the 10,000 seat Lamade Field in South Williamsport
was opened. During Little League World Series, another
15,000 to 20,000 people sit on the banks surrounding the
In 1974, girls across the country petitioned in courts to
be admitted to Little League teams. Little League, Inc.
First Little League Baseball
Board of Directors, 1950
Seated L to R: Charles Durban, Paul Kerr,
Carl Stotz, Ford Frick, Tommy Richardson;
Standing L to R: John Lindemuth, Bernie
O'Rouke, Howard Lamade, Ted Husing, and
Final game — 1949 Little League World Series
refused to admit girls saying it was in violation of the
federal charter which allowed boys to play. After much pe-
titioning and court action, the girls were finally admitted
to the League under an amended charter in 1974. The same
year softball teams were organized which siphoned off the
girls from hard ball teams. The softball leagues were
99 percent female in 1977 while the hardball teams were
one percent female.
Stotz ' s earlier fear that the World Series would become
political began to materialize in 1964 when Little League
Baseball, Inc. was granted a federal charter giving tax-
exempt status. In return, the organization was to act as a
goodwill ambassador from America promoting good relations
among nations. At the 197-4 World Series violence erupted
between American and Nationalist Taiwanese from China.
Little League Baseball, Inc. banned Taiwan from playing in
the World Series in 1974 in an effort to calm international-
ism but a public outcry followed, charging that the ban was
aimed at ending Taiwan's four -year winning streak. The ban
was rescinded in 1975.
Little League Baseball now has 11,000 leagues in 31 countries,
another 5,000 leagues for older boys, and a growing number
of softball teams, totaling 1,500 in 1977.
In May of 1974, the Little League diamond at Memorial Park
was renamed the Carl E. Stotz Field. The following year
Stotz was inducted into the West Branch Chapter of the Sports
Hall of Fame and the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame for
founding Little League Baseball.
QUESTIONS CHAPTER 12
1. What professional sports teams have played for William-
2. Who founded Little League Baseball and in what year?
When one thinks of Lycoming County and its resources for
leisure and pleasure, one most normally associates it with
hunting, fishing and other outdoor sports and recreations.
But the arts, including music, theater, the visual arts,
and literature have contributed to the quality of life in
the county virtually since its founding. Among its artis-
tic heritage, the county claims credit for several well
known musicians and artists who were either born here or
who lived and worked here over the years.
The hymnals of our churches, for example, have been greatly
enriched by the works of James M. Black, who wrote such
favorites as "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder" and "When
the Saints Go Marching In." Mr. Black moved to Williamsport
in 1881 from New York state and lived here until his death
in 1938. Another hymn writer who lived in Williamsport
was The Rev. Dr. John Henry Hopkins, rector of Christ Epis-
copal Church from 1876 to 1887. He wrote the world famous
Epiphany hymn, "We Three Kings of Orient Are."
WILLIAM CLIFFORD HERMAN
A more recent composer and native of Lycoming County was
William Clifford Heilman, son of Abraham and Catherine
Heilman who owned the Heilman Furniture Company in Montours-
ville, and for many years, a retail furniture store at
West Third and Pine Streets in Williamsport. William
Clifford Heilman was born in Williamsport in 1877 and died
in 1946. He was well known as a professor of music compo-
sition at Harvard University from 1905 to 1930. Among his
students were Walter Piston, Arthur Mendel, Randall Thomp-
son and Virgil Thompson, all famous composers. Mr. Heilman
composed music for piano, voice, chamber instruments and
orchestra. As part of Williamsport ' s Bicentennial celebra-
tions, a group of local artists performed a concert devoted
entirely to Mr. Heilman 's compositions. Works for chorus,
piano, violin and violoncello were performed in several
OTHER WILLIAMSPORT COMPOSERS
Williamsport has been the home of two modern composers of
church music. Frederick Snell, a native of Lebanon, Penn-
sylvania, served for many years as director of music at
St. Mark's Lutheran Church. Mr. Snell published works for
choir, organ, and piano, and wrote numerous articles on
church music for a number of musical journals. A native
of Williamsport, Dixie WilheLm, has published many sacred
choral pieces and has served numerous churches in William-
sport as organist and choral director.
Besides church and classical music, Williamsport has pro-
duced a composer of popular music and songs in Richard Wolf,
a graduate of Williamsport High School and Lycoming College.
Mr. Wolf has had a varied career as a song writer, producer
of records, band leader, author and performer. Among Mr.
Wolf's hit songs are "Go Buy the Ring" and "After School."
Many of Mr. Wolf's songs have been recorded. He was a top
song writer for Nat King Cole and worked with Arthur God-
frey, Mary Martin, the Kingston Trio, and Danny Kaye, among
others. Today Mr. Wolf is a free-lance song writer, per-
former and author, and lives at Point Pleasant, Pennsylvania.
THE REPASZ-ELKS BAND
Much of the musical history of Lycoming County is centered in
Williamsport which is the birthplace of the Repasz-Elks Band,
the oldest continuously existing band in the United States.
Founded in 1831, the band is referred to as the "Grand-daddy
of American Bands . " Originally named the "Williamsport
Band," it was renamed the "Repasz Band" in 1859 as a tribute
to its revered leader from Muncy, Daniel Repasz. The band
was distinguished in its early history when it played for
the Whig convention at Baltimore in 18-41 at which Henry Clay
was nominated for president. During the Civil War the band
enlisted as a group in the Union Army. During much of the
war, the Repasz Band was part of the Eleventh Regiment In-
fantry. The band was at Appomattox when Robert E. Lee sur-
rendered to General Grant.
From 1903 to 1912, the band was the official band of the
Pennsylvania National Guard. In this capacity it played at
the presidential inaugurations of Theodore Roosevelt and
William Howard Taft. In 1917, the band went to France with
the Pennsylvania Cavalry Regiment. Among the significant
directors of the band was the nationally known cornetist,
John Hazel, who took over that post in 1910. He played
for a time in John Philip Sousa's Band.
In 1936 the Repasz Band merged with the Williamsport Elks
Band. Renamed the "Elks-Repasz Band," it performed for all
Elks functions along with other community events. In about
I960 the Elks Club was forced to end financial support for
the band, though the band continues to perform at Elks'
functions. Upon termination of Elks Club support for the
band, it was renamed the "Repasz-Elks Band" and has re-
tained this name to the present.
The national fame of the band was due partially to the
"Repasz Band March," composed in 1896 by one of its members,
Charles C. Sweeley. Upon the 100th anniversary of the band
in 1931, the "Repasz Band March" was performed over the
radio by the United States Marine Corps Band. The Repasz-
Elks Band remains active to this day and performs for many
public functions throughout the region.
The band currently has about 60 members under the direction
of George Calapa and Albert J. Nacinovieh. A few years ago
the band voted to admit women players, which added consider-
ably to its membership. One of the band's most recent pro-
jects was initiated in 1962 by its business manager, Earl
Williams. Area high school band members were invited to
attend a Repasz-Elks Band rehearsal for an evening of fun.
From this developed an annual "Youth Concert" held in the
Brandon Park bandshell on the second Tuesday of June. Band
students from schools and colleges from throughout the re-
gion participated as players, and these concerts lasted
THE IMPERIAL TETEQUES BAND
Another local band active over the last 20 years is the
Williamsport Consistory Band, begun in 1957 under the direc-
tion of J. H. Campbell. In 1962 Donald C. Berninger be-
came director. The band was formed to provide entertain-
ment for Consistory members, though today, its 6-4 members
include non-Masons. In 1963, the band took the name of the
old "Imperial Teteques" Band of the late 1800' s and early
1900 's. The Williamsport Imperial Teteques were the orig-
inal all-Masonic music organization in the U. S. and were
known throughout the country. By World War II, the only
function of the original Teteques was to escort each train-
load of draftees to the Park Hotel Station. In 194-4 it dis-
From its first public performance in the early 1960's, the
new Masonic band performed to consistently large audiences
in the Roosevelt Junior High School auditorium. In 1967
the new Scottish Rite Auditorium was completed, providing
1,200 seats. Since then, the Consistory band, along with
numerous other local and outside groups, has used the Scot-
tish Rite Auditorium to great advantage.
WILLIAMSPORT DANCE BANDS
In the 1920' s, Williamsport spawned one of the top three
dance bands of the period: The Dave Harman Orchestra,
which ranked in importance with the Paul Whiteman and Fred
Waring bands. Dave Harman 's band originally got started in
1920 when it played at the Danso Dance Hall above the Key-
stone Theater (later the State Theater) on Third Street.
In 1924, the group went to New York City where it played for
two years at the Cinderella Ballroom. After that, it tour-
ed leading hotels around the country under the management
of the Orchestra Corporation of America. The Dave Harman
Orchestra was one of the first bands to broadcast — initially
over station KDKA in Pittsburgh. The band also made
numerous recordings with Edison, Columbia, and Gennett
(Victor subsidiary) recording companies. Symbolic of the
band's stature were the gold instruments it purchased, the
only band to do so except for Fred Waring 's.
The Dave Harman band was a forerunner of several other dance
bands that got their start in Williamsport. Joe Vannucci of
the city played for Dave Harman from 1923 to 1926. Later
he formed his own band which came to be a big favorite on
college campuses around the state. Many of Joe Vanucci's
pieces and arrangements were published and recorded. He
died a premature death at the age of 34.
Other local dance bands of the period included the George
Lewis Dance Orchestra, which played at the Sunset Park
Pavilion many times during the mid-1930' s. Sunset Park was
an amusement park situated just north of the city along
Lycoming Creek. Then there were the Capitolians which
played regularly at the Capitol Theater and for local dances.
During the 1940' s several men, including Gerry Kehler, Bill
Seitzer and Roy Griess formed a band which played at the
Teen Canteen, later renamed Handy Haven, located in the
former Blackstone Garage at the corner of Hepburn and Ly-
coming streets. Though this group played for many high
school and college dances around the region, none of the
band members made a living at it . In the 1950 ' s the Johnny
Nicolosi Band was popular throughout the area. This band
had a trailer and traveled a two-hundred-mile radius in
Pennsylvania and New York, playing at colleges, country
clubs and private parties.
THE WILLIAMSPORT SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
From time to time efforts were undertaken in Williamsport to
establish a symphony orchestra for the performance of clas-
sical music. The first such orchestra was organized in 1915,
and performed its first concert on May 20th of that year.
The conductor of the orchestra was E. Hart Bugbee, who for
many years owned a violin shop in Market Square and gave
violin lessons. The symphony orchestra was active about ten
years and gave regular concerts annually. Over the years,
Mr. Bugbee also conducted the regional Works Projects
Administration orchestra during the Depression, and revived
the Williamsport Symphony Orchestra in the late 1930' s,
which then survived until 1945. Mr. Bugbee also directed
the Elks Chorus for 16 years and later, the Elks Club Band.
Finally, he directed the third Williamsport Symphony Or-
chestra for a short time after the death of its conductor,
Osborne House 1.
After 1945, interest in a local symphony orchestra remained
strong. In 194? the music department of the Williamsport
Area School District conducted a survey in the city and
discovered enough public support to launch a third orchestra.
In response, the school district sponsored the project as an
adult education program and provided all the equipment. The
first rehearsal was held February 20, 19-47, with Osborne
Housel, the high school band leader, serving as conductor.
Later, Frank Ziegler and Mr. Housel sought to rally greater
community support for the orchestra by forming the William-
sport Symphony Society to secure patrons for concerts and to
provide other types of assistance. The orchestra's first
concert was held November 30, 1948, when it performed Hay-
den's "Surprise Symphony," just as the first Williamsport
Symphony Orchestra had done at its initial concert 33 years
During its ten years or so, the orchestra performed four or
five regular concerts each season. It brought many well-
known guest artists to Williamsport and provided a chance
for local soloists to gain experience. As services to the
community, the orchestra held regular Sunday afternoon
young peoples' concerts, provided scholarships for orchestra
members for further training, and offered free summer
concerts in the Brandon Park Bandshell. Except for the
brief period under the baton of E. Hart Bugbee, the short
but auspicious life of the orchestra came to an end soon
after the death of Mr. Housel in 1957.
OTHER INSTRUMENTAL GROUPS
Several smaller instrumental groups specializing in classical
music have existed in Williamsport, the oldest one being the
Brahms Trio, begun in the 1920' s. Since then, the personnel
has changed, along with the instruments used. The cause of
instrumental music in Williamsport gained much from the
Williamsport High School Orchestra and Band, in which many
local musicians got their start.
In 1914 the supervisor of music in the Williamsport schools,
Mrs. Lillian M. Reider, founded the Williamsport High
School Orchestra. Then in 1925 Mrs. Reider organized the
high school band, which continues in existence to the pre-
sent. When these groups first started rehearsing, there
were such complaints by high school teachers about the
noise, that the band and orchestra were forced to rehearse
in the Parish House at Trinity Episcopal Church. With the
death of Osborne Housel in 1957, the high school orchestra
In 1977, the Williamsport Area School District under its
music supervisor, Dr. Kenneth Raessler, launched a return
of the student orchestra to the high school. An ensemble
of fifteen "string players was formed. As these students and
others progress, it is hoped that a full orchestra will come
The Lycoming College Band, having had numerous predecessors
in the junior college days, was formed in 194-8 by James W.
Shaeffer who still teaches at the college. The band current-
ly is directed by Dr. Glen E. Morgan and makes an annual
tour outside the state.
Though Williamsport no longer has its own symphony orches-
tra, a regional orchestra, known as the Susquehanna Valley
Orchestra, was formed in 1966 by several residents of the
Lewisburg/Selinsgrove area. Membership in the orchestra is
open to all residents of the Susquehanna Valley, regardless
of age or occupation. Currently, fall and spring concerts
are held in Williamsport and Lewisburg, along with regular
Though instrumental music may have occupied a larger share of
the spotlight in the county, choral music has always been
popular in the area. Numerous public and institutional
choruses have existed throughout the county over the years,
from the Oratorio Society in the 1890 's to the Civic Chorus
of the present. This is in addition to the numerous church
choirs which have contributed much to the high standard of
choral music in the county.
The oldest choral group in the county today is the Harmonia
Gaesang which was founded in 1892 by John Fischer, as an
offshoot of the Turn Verein. Originally, the Turn Verein
was an acrobatic group within the German community of
Williamsport. It later changed to a male chorus and sang
only German songs. In I960, the Turn Verein finally came
to an end.
Both the Turn Verein and Harmonia Gaesang started doing non-
German pieces in the early 1900' s when the- younger members
no longer spoke German. At its beginning, membership in the
Harmonia Gaesang was restricted to members of St. Boniface
Church. This regulation was eventually dropped. Today the
Harmonia Gaesang has a large non-singing membership, along
with its 30-member male chorus and a separate female chorus.
Occasionally, the two choruses combine as a mixed chorus
when participating in the annual state-wide Sangerfests.
Their current director is Thomas H. Shellenberger, under
whose leadership the groups have won many competitions.
Of considerable importance to choral music in Williamsport
since 1944, has been the Civic Choir, whose name was changed
in 1977 to the Civic Chorus. The Choir was founded by
Walter G. Mclver, who along with his wife Beulah, came to
Williamsport in 1941 bo hold a summer choir school at the
invitation of Dr. Frederick Christian, then pastor of
Covenant-Central Presbyterian Church. In 1942, the Mclvers
returned to Covenant-Central as ministers of music. They
continued the summer choral school which lasted for about
ten years and was so popular that a year-round Civic Choir
Two of the most memorable concerts of the Civic Choir were
when the choral group joined with the Lycoming College Choir
and the Williamsport Symphony Orchestra to perform Handel's
The Messiah at Christmastide in 1948 and 1949. The orches-
tra and 250 voices performed to an audience of nearly 3,000
in the Capitol Theater the first year and to a capacity
audience in the Williamsport High School gymnasium the
Musicals and operettas sparked programs of the Civic Choir
in the 1950' s and 1960's. Gilbert and Sullivan's "The
Mikado" and "Iolantha" and the Broadway shows of "Finian's
Rainbow" and "Brigadoon" were well-attended. Mr. Mclver
and his successors, Jay Stenger and Paul Ziegler, served as
musical directors of these. Drama director was Mrs. Miriam
Hunter. Playing to sold-out houses in December 1952 and 1953
was the Civic Choir's production of "Amahl and The Night
Visitors" by Menotti that featured William Mclver, boy
soprano and son of Walter and Beulah Mclver, in the title
role, with his own mother playing the role of Amahl 's
mother. Today, under the direction of Thomas Gallup, the
Civic Chorus continues to maintain a strong choral tradition
As well as initiating the Civic Choir, Walter Mclver,. after
joining the Lycoming College faculty in 1946, brought into
being the Lycoming College Choir. Under Mr. Mclver 's tute-
lage, the college choir gained a reputation for excellence
which was demonstrated in many parts of the country during
the choir's annual tours, begun in 1947. The choir toured
the British Isles as well in 1957 and 1974. Upon Mr.
Mclver 's retirement in 1976, Dr. Fred Thayer became the
director of the Lycoming College Choir.
THE "SINGING MAYOR"
In 1940 Williamsport elected a new mayor, Leo C. Williamson,
who quickly gained a reputation as the "singing mayor."
During his first year in office, Mayor Williamson initiated
a community sing program in Brandon Park, which then became
a popular annual tradition and lasted into the 1960's. Each
summer, the mayor led thousands of people in singing old
favorites. Many who participated derived a great deal of
pleasure and looked forward to the annual event.
Mayor Williamson also initiated annual music citations which
he gave to three or four individuals each year who contribut-
ed to the enrichment of music in Williamsport . The citations
were primarily the mayor's own doing. They were discontinued
after Mayor Williamson left office in 1951, hut were renewed
for several years when Mayor Thomas Levering came to office
in 1956. After leaving office in 1951, Mayor Williamson
remained active in musical circles until his death in 1957.
His fame spread, and in 1953, he led the singing for a birth-
day party in honor of President Dwight Eisenhower at the
While the Williamsport High School most always had a choral
program of one sort or another, its modern choral program
began in the early 1920' s under the hand of Miss Emma Kiess.
Then from 1925 to 1956, Miss Kathryn Riggle was director of
the high school's choral department. Upon her retirement,
Miss Louise Stryker became choral director. Miss Stryker re-
tired in 1978 after teaching music in the Williamsport
schools for over 40 years.
Among some of Williamsport High School's better known musi-
cal products was Elaine Shaffer, perhaps the world's most
highly regarded flautist until her death in 1973. Her
last concert in Williamsport was given in 1971 at the Scot-
tish Rite Auditorium. She was accompanied by pianist
Hepzibah Menuhin, the sister of the famed violinist Yehudi
Another Williamsporter achieved notoriety at the early age
of ten when he performed Amahl in the National Broadcasting
Company's television production of "Amahl and The Night
Visitors" by Menotti, sponsored by Hallmark. Boy soprano
William Mclver performed the title role in this Christmas
production for four consecutive years, from 1951 to 1954.
Today, William Mclver is a professor of music at the Uni-
versity of North Carolina.
A graduate of Williamsport High School and Lycoming College,
Marianna Ciraulo has gone on in the musical world to become
a singer with the New York City Opera, among other accomplish-
The cultural and artistic life of Lycoming County and
Williamsport has benefited greatly over the last fifty years
from the annual Community Concert Series, founded in 1928.
Williamsport was one of the first cities in the country to
adopt the community concert idea for bringing noted per-
formers and musical ensembles into the city for concerts.
A subscription drive is held annually in March when sub-
scriptions for the coming season's programs are sold. Past
Community Concert programs have included such performers as
Yehudi Menuhin, pianist Rudolph Serkin, the Trapp Family-
Singers, the Boston Pops Orchestra, and the Cleveland
The Williamsport Music Club is another organization which
has advanced the cause of music in Williamsport since 1937.
Its members offer performances and/or discussions each month
of different musical pieces. Each Christmastide the Music
Club sponsors a community candlelight service in a local
church. This event that features the Juvenile and the Junior
Music Clubs, as well as the Senior Ensemble and soloists,
has become an annual tradition which is anticipated by the
THEATER IN LYCOMING COUNTY
Besides music, another branch of the performing arts is
theater, to which are closely linked ballet and opera.
Theater in Lycoming County has a long history. In the late
1800 's, not only Williamsport, but several of the county's
boroughs had opera houses, including Muncy and Montgomery.
Traveling opera companies performed in them, providing some
of the only professional entertainment available in those
days to small towns and rural areas.
Williamsport has had a series of opera houses and musical
theaters since 1868 when the Ulman Opera House opened in
Market Square. Traveling opera companies and musical
groups performed there regularly, with the Irish tenor,
Fritz Emmet, among the most popular performers. The Ulman
Opera House closed in 187-4 and was overshadowed for several
years before that by the Academy of Music, which opened in
1870 in the Elliott block at the corner of Fourth and
Pine streets. The Academy, too, was a center for traveling
musical groups of varying reputations and ability.
Then in 1892 the Lycoming Opera House opened on Third
Street east of Laurel Street. The performers there were
also traveling professionals, though occasionally extra
parts were available to members of the community. Both
musical and dramatic groups performed there, offering a
diversity of entertainment. In 1903 Fred M. Lamade pur-
chased the Opera House and remodeled it to return it to its
John Philip Sousa's band performed frequently at the Lycoming
Opera House until it burned in 1915. The Repasz Band used
the Opera House to store its equipment and lost it all in the
tragic fire. It was upon the same site that the Keystone
Movie House (later the State Theater) "was built. This was
finally torn down in 1978 to make way for a parking lot.
In 1907 Mr. Lamade built another theater, The Family Theater,
Interior of Lycoming Opera House
Octoberfest, Williamsport Area High School
on Pine Street. In 1917 the name was changed to the Majes-
tic Theater, then to the Karlton in 193V. The Majestic
showed the first silent movies in the area. Occasionally,
vaudeville productions were offered. Towards the end of
the theater's life, the Community Concert Series held its
subscription concerts there. In 1952 the Karlton was razed
to make room for a parking lot — one of the first in
Williamsport — because the theater had become a losing fi-
Throughout the years, the junior and senior classes of area
high schools have presented dramas and musicals that have
provided not only a vehicle for young talent but also en-
tertainment for the community. At the Williamsport High
School Mrs. Edith Mann directed the plays of the 1930 's and
4-0' s with Miriam Lesher Hunter, Eugene McCramer, and Paul
Jones directing in the late 1940' s through the 70' s. All
except Mrs. Mann, who was a private elocution teacher of the
community, were or are teachers of the English department
of the school. Until the impact of television was felt in
the 60' s, full houses attended the plays.
John Ulmer, an alumnus of the high school, has been an
actor, teacher, writer and director in many areas of the
country. For six years he served as a director of Stage
West in Springfield, Massachusetts. He also was a tele-
vision actor and founded the Carnegie-Mellon Theater Com-
pany while teaching at Carnegie-Mellon University. Mr.
Ulmer currently lives in New York City and directs plays in
regional theaters throughout the country.
The dramatic arts in Williamsport have more recently de-
pended upon the talents of community amateurs. With the
demise of the theaters which catered to the touring musical
and dramatic groups, amateurs took to the stage. The ex-
ception today is the Capitol Theater which now offers its
facilities for touring artists. In the early 1930 's, prob-
ably the first amateur theater group in Williamsport,
called the Williamsport Community Players, was formed. The
group performed in the Memorial Park playhouse until the
mid-1930 's when it disbanded. After World War II, another
amateur group, the Lycoming County Playhouse, presented
plays in the old South Williamsport Junior-Senior High
School on West Central Avenue. This group offered produc-
tions during the summers of 1946 and 1947.
In 1948 radio station WRAK initiated Williamsport ' s first
locally produced dramatic radio broadcasts. The broadcasts,
known as Studio Playhouse, were produced one or two times a
month for two years. After the disbanding of this group,
several of its members created another dramatic group known
as the Thespians. This group, too, lasted for only a
Today, Williamsport is the home of three theatrical groups
and a theatrical workshop. The current Williamsport Players
was organized in 1958 and incorporated in 1959. Originally,
the group had 22 memhers. It gave its first production in
May, I960, in Courtroom No. 1 of the old Lycoming County
Courthouse. The first play was entitled "The Night of
January 16," which called for a courtroom setting. The
drama organization has performed three productions per
season ever since, and added a summer production in 1978.
In 1962 Lycoming College became the home of the Summer
Arena Theater, which drew its performers both from the col-
lege and from the community. It was also Williamsport ' s
first theater-in-the-round . The name of the group was
changed to "The Arena Theater" in 1965. By 1966 the new
Academic Center at the college had been completed, including
the new theater and stage which are designed for theater-in-
the-round productions. Charles W. Raison, a dramatics in-
structor at the college, was instrumental in the develop-
ment of the Arena Theater. In 1970 Dr. Robert Falk succeed-
ed Mr. Raison.
Today the Arena Theater performs four major plays per season,
along with several student productions and one-man shows.
Three to five plays are performed in the summer season, in-
cluding musicals, comedies and dramas. As in the past, the
Arena Theater continues to draw upon talent from the larger
community to enhance its productions and dramatic capabili-
In 1969 James Symmons founded the Drama Workshop, which he
still directs. Funded through the National Endowment for
the Arts, the Drama Workshop is an educational theater
program and offers training to high school students, college
students and adults in all facets of theater production,
from acting to lighting. This aspect of the program is
held in the summer months, when up to five performances are
given. These performances include dramas, comedies and
musicals. A junior high program in theater was initiated
in the summer of 1978, which also concludes with a perform-
ance. In the fall and winter the Drama Workshop takes its
training program to the Muncy Correctional Institution and
the Allenwood Federal Prison Camp.
The Community Theater League is the newest of Williamsport ' s
theatrical groups. Organized in 1976, it aims to provide
educational and performance experience through its theater
workshops and four seasonal performances. The League per-
forms in-the-round as a way of promoting audience partici-
pation. The most unusual performance its first year was
called "Christmas Madrigal" which recreated the setting of
an actual Middle Ages dinner using the music, food and
dance of the period. This was held at the Genetti-Lycoming
Hotel in December, 1977.
An unusual theater program for children ages eight to fifteen
was sponsored by the Junior League of Williamsport from the
early 1960's through the mid-1970' s. Mrs. Miriam Hunter,
now speech and drama teacher at the Williamsport High School,
served as director of the program. Each summer about fifty
children participated in the program which had both an edu-
cational and recreational goal. After several weeks of
classes at Pine Street United Methodist Church, the children
put on a main performance for the community at Lycoming
College. From the summer group of children, a cast was
chosen to present productions during the school year to
schools in Williamsport and neighboring districts. Many
children and teenagers received a satisfying introduction
to theater and the arts through this program.
A Williamsport native and former student of Mrs. Hunter,
Rudy Caringi, has gone on to gain distinction in the world
of theater as an actor, playwright, and director. Mr. Carin-
gi has had his shows produced off Broadway and has won a
Cannes Festival award for a short drama. Occasionally Mr.
Caringi returns to Williamsport to help with local thea-
The art of ballet has come to Williamsport and Lycoming
County with the establishment of the Williamsport Civic
Ballet Company in 1962 by Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Enterline.
The intention of the company is to promote an understanding
of ballet in the region and to provide the serious dancer
with a professional atmosphere in which to study, work and
perform. The Ballet Company offers two programs: a senior
ballet for ages 14- and up and a junior ballet for elementary
school children. The company performs 12 to 20 times a
year, doing both classical works and many one-act original
ballets. Students in both the senior and junior ballets
are employed in the performances, at which outside guest
dancers occasionally make appearances.
THE "SUMMER CULTURAL SERIES"
Apart from the organized performing arts groups in the coun-
ty, numerous special arts and recreational programs are
available to area residents during the summer months. The
Williamsport Summer Cultural Series, sponsored by the Wil-
liamsport Recreation Commission — a joint venture of the
city and the Williamsport School District — was an out-
growth of the Community Sings begun by Mayor Leo C. Wil-
liamson in the 1940' s. In 1961 the Community Sing format
was altered to a concert program, with performances in
Brandon Park by the Consistory Choir and the Elks-Repasz
Band, among others. In following years the program grew to
include a series of summer-long activities based in Brandon
Park. There were dramatic productions, displays of arts
and crafts, organ recitals, and local talent shows. In
1968 the cultural series took on an ethnic flavor with the
presentation of the first six-weeks ethnic festivals. Each
Wednesday for six weeks a different ethnic group took the
spotlight in Brandon Park. The food, dress and cultural
heritage of each group was highlighted. The idea of the
ethnic festivals came from Dr. Robert Byington, then a
professor at Lycoming College. He coordinated the ethnic
series for several years until leaving the region in 19*71.
The Williamsport Recreation Commission and the Williamsport
Foundation each contributed half the cost of the series.
From 1971 to 1977, Miss Doris Heller served as coordinator
of the Summer Cultural Series. A decision was made to
depart from the ethnic program in view of the difficulty of
securing presentations of ethnic groups not associated with
Lycoming County. There was also a desire to generate more
local involvement in the cultural series. To this end the
"Our Town" series was launched, with stress on local parti-
cipation and talent. Brandon Park was used, along with the
downtown area of the city and Memorial Park. The first
"Our Town" series in 1971 featured a local adaptation and
presentation of Thorton Wilder ' s famous play of the same
title, "Our Town."
Since then, each Summer Cultural Series has offered a vari-
ety of programs for the entire community. Home Talent Days
were begun in 1973 and have proven popular ever since.
Area residents are encouraged to perform, whatever their
talent — whether singing, banjo playing, or even spoon play-
ing. Ho-Made Day was initiated in 1974. so that residents
can display and offer for sale all sorts of home made items,
from cakes to cribs. There have been various arts shows
and competitions from year to year. In 1977 an opera work-
shop was held with area residents participating in both
training sessions and performances of excerpts from four
different operas. The Summer Cultural Series remains a
part of Williamsport ' s effort to provide cultural enrich-
ment and recreation to its residents. Other boroughs of
the county offer similar programs, including Loyalsock
Township, South Williamsport, Jersey Shore, Muncy and
THE GREATER WILLIAMSPORT COMMUNITY ARTS COUNCIL
The 1960's saw the creation of an important organization
concerned with the development of the arts, and in turn,
the quality of life and commerce in Williamsport and Ly-
coming County. It is the Greater Williamsport Community
Arts Council. The idea of an arts council was first con-
ceived by the Williamsport Chamber of Commerce. Similar
groups had gained acceptance in many parts of the country
as a means to promoting industrial and commercial develop-
ment through improving the image of the community.
The person most responsible for the successful creation of
Williamsport ' s arts council was Barnard Taylor, at the time
a local graphics designer. Mr. Taylor began in I960 by
seeking the support of prominent local businessmen, lawyers,
bankers, teachers, doctors and others. These people formed
into a committee to advance the arts in Williamsport. The
committee approached the Junior League of Williamsport for
$3,000 to hold the first arts festival. Once this was
achieved a sub-committee or "round-table," of various
artists and arts groups was formed to begin planning for
the festival. The first festival in I960 was organized by
Lee Taylor, Mr. Taylor's wife.
The I960 Festival of the Arts was centered around an ex-
hibit of works in the Lycoming College gym by both local
and outside artists. Along with the exhibit, several well-
known artists from large cities were brought in to give
lectures on the arts and present exhibits of their own
works. An orchestra was formed; workshops in the arts were
held; dance, musical comedies, plays and concerts were per-
formed by local groups. The New York Times even gave the
festival coverage, and a popular film was made of the festi-
val by several local individuals. The first Festival of the
Arts proved a huge success in view of the long hours of
work and effort that many groups and individuals put into
The arts festival became an annual event. Different formats
have been used since, including the first month-long arts
festival in 1971 in cooperation with the Pennsylvania
Council of the Arts. In 1973 the first October Festival of
the Arts was held on the grounds of the Williamsport Area
High School. This event was co-sponsored by the Arts
Council and the Art Department of the Williamsport Area
School District, whose supervisor, Dr. June E. Baskin, has
annually coordinated the event. The October Festival, or
October Fest as it is called, has included the display of
arts, crafts and photography, as well as performances of
dance, music and drama, with added features for children.
Along with the various arts festivals, the Greater William-
sport Community Arts Council has sponsored or co-sponsored
numerous concerts, recitals, exhibits and special lectures
over the years, including the performance of mime by the
masterful Marcelle Marceau; a performance by the Pennsyl-
vania Ballet; and the last Williamsport appearance by Elaine
Shaffer. Artists who have lectured here under the Arts
Council's auspices include Scottish ballerina Moria Shearer,
and former Williamsport resident Yvonne Young Tarr, who is
the author of, among other things, cookbooks, plays and
Financial support for the Arts Council comes from various
sources, including private contributions and grants from
the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts and the National En-
dowment for the Arts. The council remains active in vari-
ous cultural endeavors in the region, such as the October
Festival and the current project of historical research.
OTHER ARTS ORGANIZATIONS
Since about 1940, the artistic value and importance of hand-
crafts has come to be widely recognized. This is apparent
in the growing interest in such skills and in the increasing
incidence of crafts shows. Another indication is the grow-
ing membership in arts and crafts organizations.
One of the first such groups in the county was the Sketch
Club in Williamsport which organized about 1930 when several
people got together to do sketches and paintings and criti-
cize each other's work. In 1931 Mr. George Eddinger joined
the group as an instructor. He taught the group at a vari-
ety of locations, ending up at his studio on Trinity Place.
In 1967 Mr. Eddinger gave up classes to move to Florida.
The Sketch Club then incorporated as the West Branch Art
Guild, continuing to lease the Trinity Place studio from
the Pennsylvania Railroad. Mr. Eddinger returned to the
area after several years and resumed instructing the group
in the basement of Trinity Church where they had moved in
Another local artists' guild, devoted primarily to hand-
crafts such as weaving and pottery, was founded in 1949
through the efforts of Mrs. Marie Winton, a local weaver.
This group is the Williamsport Chapter of the Pennsylvania
Guild of Craftsmen. The state-wide guild was founded in
the early 1940 's to advance the cause of the arts and
crafts and to provide educational and economic opportun-
ities for its members.
In 1946 the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen held the first
State Craft Fair at Millersville State College. The Wil-
liamsport Chapter, which includes people from all over the
northcentral region of Pennsylvania, has sponsored an an-
nual Christmas Crafts Bazaar where its members can display
and sell their goods; it also sponsors crafts shows at
various places in the area, such as the Center City Mall.
At the Guild's monthly meetings, presentations and demon-
strations of various crafts, as well as workshops in crafts
techniques, are part of the agenda.
One of the most recently organized and active arts associ-
ations in the county is the Bald Eagle Art League. In
1972 a group of individuals founded the League to promote
"...the growth and enjoyment of the visual arts within the
area, including but not limited to interests in painting,
drawing, sculpture, graphics, and crafts." As its first
president, the League elected Horace Hand, a local artist
who gained notoriety from his illustrations of county chur-
ches which appeared on the cover of the Williamsport Sun-
Gazette's Christmas Eve issue for 22 successive years.
Mr. Hand died suddenly in 1977, just several days after his
twenty-second church illustration appeared on the Sun-
The Bald Eagle Art League after six years has a membership
of about 200 persons from as far away as York, State Col-
lege and Hazelton, Pennsylvania. Regular monthly meetings
are held September through June when artists and craftsmen
demonstrate their skills. Occasionally, color slides are
used to illustrate major points. One goal of the League is
to support existing arts programs in the area rather than
set up competing ones. The League held its first Regional
Art Exhibition in 1976. Public service projects of the
League have included donating books to the art book collec-
tion of the James V. Brown Library and hanging the works of
League members in patients ' rooms at the Williamsport Hos-
FAMOUS LYCOMING COUNTY ARTISTS AND WRITERS
Williamsport and Lycoming County have contributed their
share of artists to the artistic world in the last one hun-
dred years, beginning in the 19th century with Severin Roe-
sen, one of the world's greatest still life painters, to the
present renowned Unityville artist David Armstrong, who
specializes in pictorial realism and rustic settings.
Though neither of these men was born in Lycoming County,
both chose to settle here.
Between Roesen and Armstrong, the most prominent artists of
Lycoming County have been the realist painter John Wesley
Little (1867-1923), who had his home and studio in Picture
Rocks; Williamsport-born George Luks (1867-1933), also a
realist, who won fame for his paintings of people, such as
one entitled "The Miner," now in the National Gallery of
Art in Washington, D. C.j and the painter and illustrator
of children's books, Frances Tipton Hunter (1896-1957), who
also designed covers for many magazines, including Red Book ,
Cosmopolitan , and The Saturday Evening Post .
In 1959 the Williamsport Creative Writers Forum was organi-
zed, giving the county its only organized writers' group.
Eight individuals responded to a Sun-Gazette advertisement
placed by Raymond C. Young, with the purpose of establishing
such a group for aspiring writers. Today, the group consists
of about 40 writers, who meet monthly to write and discuss
one another's work. The group also holds an annual luncheon
meeting at which guest speakers are invited to offer their
views and advice on issues pertaining to writing.
One of the most widely known members of the Williamsport
Creative Writers Forum was H. Beam Piper (190-4-1964), writer
of science fiction books and stories. His work was publish-
ed in all the science fiction magazines in the U. S., as
well as general interest periodicals, and in anthologies of
science fiction in several countries. Born in Altoona, Pa.,
Mr. Piper settled in Williamsport in 1957. Several of his
published stories were set in Lycoming County. Mr Piper was
one in a succession of local writers of notoriety. As far
back as the 19th century, Mahlon Fisher (1810-1874) wrote
and published sonnets. His own publication "The Sonnet,"
was the only periodical in the country devoted to this type
Williamsport and Lycoming County were also home to the fam-
ous writer of books on hunting and fishing, John Alden
Knight (1891-1966). As one of the first persons inducted
into the Hunting and Fishing Hall of Fame, Mr. Knight
wrote more than 12 books and 500 magazine articles, as well
as a syndicated weekly newspaper column for hunters and
Mr. Knight's most important contribution to the sport of
fishing was his development and publication of the Solunar
Tables, which indicate at a glance the best hour to go
fishing on any particular day of the year. The Tables are
based on the effects of the movement and phases of heavenly
bodies, especially the moon, upon fish.
After Mr. Knight's death, his son Richard published the
tables up to the time of his own death. Richard Knight's
wife Jacqueline, who lives near Montoursville, continues to
publish the Solunar Tables, and is, in the Knight family
tradition, the writer of a syndicated column of fishing,
hunting and conservation. She is probably best known for
her cookbooks, which include a "Cook's Fish Guide" and the
"Hunter's Game Cookbook."
Political writer and humorist James C. Humes is a native of
Williamsport; he served as its representative in the Penn-
sylvania General Assembly from 1962 to 1964. In 1969 he
became a speech writer for President Richard M. Nixon, and
later for President Gerald R. Ford. Mr Humes authored a
history of Williamsport for its sesquecentennial in 1966,
entitled "Sweet Dreams." His most recent book is "How to
Get Invited to the White House (and over One Hundred
Impressive Gambits, Foxy Face-Savers and Clever Maneuvers)."
FILM-MAKING IN LYCOMING COUNTY
Lycoming County has never been the setting of a major motion
picture. During World War II, however, Williamsport native
Hugh MacMullen directed the filming of a Navy training film
here. The film was entitled "Combat Fatigue: Irritability
Syndrome," and dealt with the psychiatric problems of men
in combat. Gene Kelley starred in the film, and in one
scene, was thrown out of the Old Corner Hotel at Willow and
Court streets for striking the bartender. Unaware that this
was only a staged incident, some people spread the rumor
that the actor had actually taken part in a barroom brawl.
After a career in teaching, film-making and directing in
California, Mr. MacMullen returned to Williamsport and was
the first chairman of the English department at the William-
sport Area Community College. Mr. MacMullen has made
several documentary films in the Williamsport area, includ-
ing one for the Lycoming County Crippled Children's Associ-
ation, entitled "Report to the Charitable"; it won the Hark-
ness Award for the best public service film in 1959. Mr.
MacMullen also made a film about the first Williamsport
Festival of the Arts.
The "arts" cover a wide spectrum of creative skills and
activities, from violin playing to film-making to cooking.
Lycoming County, despite its justified reputation as a
sportsman's paradise, is also a place where in the past and
present, the arts prosper, owing to the concern, dedication
and talent of local natives and residents. Though several
renowned artistic personalities have chosen Lycoming County
as their place of residence, the flow of talent has not
occurred on a one-way street.
Many county natives — products of its schools — have made
significant contributions to the artistic life of the nation
and world. And on a smaller scale, the amateur and semi-
professional artists of Lycoming County are the mainstay
of its continuing cultural vitality. For a region of some
distance from large metropolitan areas, Lycoming County is
blessed with many cultural advantages — much of it home-
QUESTIONS CHAPTER 13
1. List composers from the county and the type of music
2. List the various concert bands that have been important
in the county. Name persons associated with some of
3. What dance bands have been outstanding?
4. List some of the classical performing groups.
5. Identify choral music groups of the county.
6. Who was the "Singing Mayor"?
7. What organizations have promoted music in the county?
8. What have been some of the landmarks in music history?
9. Name theatrical groups or persons producing dramatic
10. Describe the work of the Williamsport Recreation Com-
mission toward the arts.
11. What other organizations and persons have promoted the
12. List the county's painters.
13. List writers.
OUR COUNTY'S LANDMARKS— HISTORY IN WOOD AND STONE
Williamsport and Incoming County are well endowed with
splendid historical and architectural landmarks which serve
to remind us of our cultural past — a past that is richer
and more varied than many counties can boast and than many
residents of the county realize.
The so called "Millionaires Row" on Fourth Street in Wil-
liamsport is a legacy of the days when lumber and its
wealth brought forth an architectural oasis in the midst of
the mountains of central Pennsylvania. Numerous churches
stand as witnesses to the county's religious past — the
Quaker Meeting House at Pennsdale, Christ and Trinity Epis-
copal Churches in Williamsport, and the First Presbyterian
Church in Jersey Shore are among many examples. The muni-
cipal buildings of the past were designed not only to serve
practical needs but also to provide a chance for architects
and the community to create something of lasting artistic
value and dignity. The Williamsport City Hall on Pine
Street and the former Post Office, soon to become the
City Hall, are examples of municipal buildings designed to
symbolize the functions they served. But apart from the
houses, churches and buildings which belong to the county's
past, there are three covered bridges and even the site of
an old tree to remind county residents of their heritage.
THE LYCOMING COUNTY COURTHOUSE
Since 1804, anyone who has spoken of the Lycoming County
Courthouse has meant one of three different buildings
which has occupied the same site over the years. The pre-
sent glass and brick structure is the third in a series of
county courthouses. Each of the courthouses has been sig-
nificantly different from the previous ones in architectural
style. The present Courthouse, with its modern functional
design is in striking contrast to its predecessor, a tower-
ed Victorian edifice of great dignity and strength.
Though the "new Courthouse" (as it is still referred to by
many local residents) was opened in 1971, stirrings for its
construction were heard as far back as the 1930' s. About
1940, the county commissioners appointed a five-member Ly-
coming County Authority to arrange financing for a new
Courthouse. However, World War II brought a halt to the
movement which never got off the ground again until the
1960's. Different sets of plans for a new Courthouse were
drawn up in 1948 and at various times in the 1950 's; none
While the stalling and hesitating went on, the old Court-
house was inadequately maintained so that considerable de-
terioration resulted. The delapidated condition of the
building later added weight to the argument that renovation
of the old Courthouse would prove too costly. Then by the
1%0's the growth of county government had produced a cri-
tical shortage of office space; something had to be done.
Possible actions included renovating the existing Courthouse
and acquiring additional space in adjacent buildings; reno-
vating and enlarging the Courthouse; or replacing the Court-
house with a completely new building.
In July, 1966, the county commissioners retained architect-
ural consultants from New York City to study the above op-
tions. Eleven months later in June, 1967, the Lycoming
County Authority endorsed the recommendation of the consult-
ing firm to build a new courthouse. In August, 1967, the
county commissioners also agreed to the recommendation,
and the Williamsport architectural firm of Wagner and Hart-
man Associates was engaged to design the new building. A
$3,500,000 bond issue was floated by the county to finance
the construction, and the old Courthouse was abandonded.
The old building finally succumbed to the demolition team
in May, 1969, over 30 years after the idea of a new Court-
house was first raised.
For many county residents the demise of the old Courthouse
was a sad event, which even got coverage in a New York
Times article by Ada Louise Huxtable, the Times architect-
The demolition of the old Courthouse marked the severing of
a visible link with the past. Such links are valuable
sources of stability and serve more than mere sentimentality
in an age fraught with change and upheaval. To others, the
old Courthouse, while not an architectural masterpiece,
nevertheless represented a classic specimen of mid-19th
century American architecture. It possessed a quiet beauty
which invited the eye to examine its hidden qualities more
The Victorian design was the work of Philadelphian, Samuel
Sloan, most celebrated of America's mid-19th century archi-
tects. The building was 100 years old in I960. When plans
for replacing the old Courthouse were in the works, citizens'
groups, including the Williamsport Community Arts Council,
petitioned the Lycoming County Authority to retain the old
Courthouse as a landmark. All efforts to save the Court-
house eventually failed and the building's end was assured.
The conflict between progress and preservation is always
difficult to resolve. Both concerns may appear equally
valid to the disinterested bystander. Those espousing
practical considerations in the Courthouse issue prevailed
over those espousing aesthetic and historical considerations.
The result was the construction of a not unpleasant edifice,
Former Lycoming County Courthouse
Former Williamsport City Hall
Former and present Market Street Bridges
Covered bridge at Buttonwood
but one designed primarily to satisfy functional needs.
Indeed, the design of the new Courthouse makes fullest
possible use of the space available on the site. The five-
floor structure provides ample space for all the county
offices along with extra rooms for some state governmental
THE LYCOMING COUNTY JAIL
Williamsport and Lycoming County are privileged to possess
several other fine public buildings whose very stones be-
speak the region's past. The very austere, almost fearsome,
appearance of the county jail is enough to encourage would-
be offenders to respect the law. The rear portion of the
jail at Third and William streets in Williamsport dates
from 1799, the year of George Washington's death and just
four years after Lycoming County was created. The front
portion, resembling a European castle, was rebuilt by Ed-
ward Havilland of York after a fire in 1868.
The future of the jail is very much in doubt. Public
officials are reluctant to employ public funds to renovate
or maintain such an old building; private concerns usually
are unwilling to risk large amounts of money in restoring
such structures for use in commercial purposes — exceptions
to this rule among others are the Squire Hayes Homestead on
Lycoming Creek Road which is now a bank, and the large grey
stone house designed by Eber Culver at 835 West Fourth
Street, Williamsport, which houses a law' firm. The county
jail has had a long and even legendary history. What ver-
dict it finally receives must await the return of the jury
THE WILLIAMSPORT CITY HALL
Also of uncertain future is the old Williamsport City Hall
on Pine Street. Soon to be abandoned by the city government,
this late Victorian structure is listed on the Federal
Registry of Historic Buildings. The 1966 National Historic
Preservation Act prohibits the use of federal funds to raze
or destroy any building so listed. This, however, does not
prohibit the use of private money for such purposes.
City Hall was the last of numerous architectural works by
Eber Culver, the most prolific of Williamsport ' s 19th
century architects. Culver's imprint is stamped throughout
the city in buildings such as the former Park Hotel, now
the Park Home; the Peter Herdic house at 407 W. Fourth
Street; Trinity Episcopal Church tower and the Weightman
Block at West Fourth and Campbell streets, to mention a
Culver's architectural style was eclectic, much in the manner
of other American Victorian architects. Several different
styles of design are visible; for example, the old City Hall
building on Pine Street includes neo-Gothic and Romanesque
features. Eber Culver was brought to Williamsport by lumber
magnate Peter Herdic to serve as his personal architect. In
the long run, Culver's influence on Williamsport was nearly
as great as his auspicious patron who died penniless.
Built in 1893, City Hall is located on a patch of land given
the city in the early 1800 's by its founder, Michael Ross.
The plot was originally used as a cemetery, though most of
the graves had been moved to the Wildwood Cemetery by 1850.
In moving the graveyard, many of the bones were placed in
a wheelbarrow and transferred to Wildwood where they were
buried in a single grave. After the graveyard disappeared,
the site was variously used as a park and then a rubbish
dump, until the city chose it as the site for City Hall.
In February, 1975, two old headstones, along with two
grave markers and unmarked slabs were found beneath the
City Hall lawn. One of the headstones bore the inscription:
"In memory of Amariah Rathmell, who Departed this life on
July 14, AD 1838, aged 77 years, four months and 11 days."
This would have placed his birth in 1761. It is known that
Amariah Rathmell was a pioneer of Loyalsock Township. How
his headstone got left under the lawn of City Hall is not
altogether clear, but its discovery did remind local re-
sidents of a long forgotten period in the county's history.
OTHER IMPORTANT PUBLIC LANDMARKS
The list of important public landmarks must also include the
former Williamsport Post Office Building. Like City Hall,
the Post Office is listed on the Federal Registry. In
1970, when it was threatened with possible removal for
construction of the new Federal Office Building, a campaign
to save the Post Office was organized by the Lycoming County
Historical Society. Over 6,000 signatures were collected
on a petition, and the threat was routed. Today the Post
Office is being converted into the Williamsport City Hall.
The old Post Office, built in 1888, was designed by W. A.
Farret. The building contains many fine interior features,
including a grand staircase.
Yet another county landmark of similar importance is the
James V. Brown Library building which was built in 1904 of
local marble. This imposing white structure was the work
of Philadelphia architect, Edgar V. Seeler. The French
Renaissance style is Classical in character and adds an
aura of learning and wisdom to the library's atmosphere.
Pennsdale Meeting House
THREE COVERED BRIDGES
Though they may predominate, buildings are not the only
structures of architectural or historical value in the
county. The county still claims three covered bridges
which point to the charms of a former though difficult era.
Larry's Creek, Blockhouse Creek and Little Muncy Creek each
are spanned by one of these picturesque flashbacks to rural
19th century Lycoming County.
The oldest of them is the Larry's Creek bridge near White
Pine. Ninety-two feet long, it was built in 1877, after a
petition was sent to the county commissioners requesting
that such a bridge be provided. The farmers, lumberworkers
and other inhabitants of the region believed that a bridge
would greatly ease the transportation of goods across that
busy section of Larry's Creek.
Similar circumstances played a part in bridges being built
at Buttonwood and Lairdsville. The Buttonwood bridge is
69 feet long. According to one source it was erected in
1878 or 1879. The longest of the remaining covered bridges
is near Lairdsville. It is 98 feet long and was erected in
1898. All three covered bridges are in useable condition
and are under the care and protection of the county com-
missioners. Their rustic beauty is a definite historical
asset to the county and well worth preserving.
THE MARKET STREET BRIDGE
Another bridge has figured significantly in the region's
history — the Market Street bridge. Prior to 184-9, the
river crossing at Market Street consisted of flatboats. In
184-9, the first bridge opened there and was a wooden covered
bridge of spring arch construction. A toll was charged to
help maintain the structure, which was owned by a private
The fate of several Market Street bridges was presaged when
the first one was washed away in the St. Patrick's Day
Flood of 1865. A wire suspension bridge was built as a re-
placement; it opened December 1, 1865. This bridge was
dismantled in 1886 and replaced by a new iron bridge, later
a victim of the 1889 flood. After the 1889 flood the iron
bridge was replaced in 1890 by an iron bridge erected atop
the piers of the unfortunate former bridge.
Until 1891 the Market Street bridge was operated by the
Williamsport Bridge Company which charged a toll in order
to turn a profit. Then in that year the county commissioners
purchased the bridge and the toll was removed. In 1894, the
third Market Street bridge to be claimed by flood waters
was washed away. Once again the intrepid bridge builders
erected a replacement — this time a two-lane, five-span truss
type bridge. Finally, a bridge of sufficient strength and
durability had been constructed on that spot, as the new
bridge stood the test of time for 57 years, eventually to
die of natural causes in 1951.
Many county residents still fondly recall this interesting
bridge with a slight crook in its middle. But though two
lanes were the newest thing in 1894- , by the 1940 's the traf-
fic congestion got to be too much for the old bridge to
handle. The present four-lane deck plate girder bridge
was built as a replacement in 1950. In 1951, the old
Market Street bridge was disassembled and for the most part
THE PLAN FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION
In 1977, the Planning Commission of Lycoming County adopted
a Comprehensive Plan for future development which includes
a section on historic preservation. Nearly 350 buildings,
sites and landmarks are listed in the Historic Preservation
report. Any site so listed is deemed of sufficient his-
toric value that utilities and public authorities are re-
quired to notify the Planning Commission before tampering
with them. All the above mentioned structures — except
the Market Street bridge — are listed on the report.
The only landmark listed on the report which does not even
exist within the boundries of Lycoming County is the Tia-
daghton Elm. Unfortunately, this long revered symbol of
American independence expired after an onslought of Dutch
Elm disease in 1974.
Famous as the site where the Fair Play Men signed their
own Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, the
Jersey Shore Rotary Club has for many years sponsored a
July Fourth ceremony there. The stately old elm, said to
have been 500 years old at its death, was actually located
in Clinton County at the mouth of Pine Creek. An old
story, however, suggests that the roots of the tree stretch-
ed into Lycoming County. In 1976, a Bicentennial impression
of the tree was placed on the stamp of the first-class en-
velope sold by the U. S. Postal Service. At the site of
the tree, a stone monument was erected after the tree was
removed in 1975.
THE "HOUSE OF MANY STAIRS" AND "LOCKABAR"
The Historic Preservation survey of the County Planning
Commission compiled a list of 31 county sites recommended
for the Federal Registry. Among these are two very old and
significant nouses: The House of Many Stairs and Lockabar.
Of late 18th century stone construction, The House of Many-
Stairs was built into a hill at Pennsdale. The name of the
house is derived from the layout with each room on a dif-
ferent level. During the early 19th century the house was
used as a tavern; later still it was recognized as a stop
on the Underground Railroad of the Civil War period. The
architectural value of the house is rated very high.
The house known as "Lockabar" in Limestone Township is the
second oldest building in the county. It is a fortified
stone dwelling and was built in 1769. Besides Lockabar, it
is also known as Forester's Fort. The interior woodwork of
the house is of chestnut and walnut. In the 19th century
a Col. Sanderson discovered a secret room in the house
which yielded a most remarkable find— the skeletal remains
of a Hessian soldier who fought for the British during
the Revolutionary War. The soldier was still dressed in
his British-made uniform with his sword lying at his side.
No doubt between them, Lockabar and The House of Many
Stairs could tell some enthralling tales, if their stones
could but speak.
The ^efforts of the County Planning Commission and the His-
torical societies of the county have helped to inform coun-
ty residents of the wealth of architectural and historical
delights available here. Further efforts not only to pre-
serve but, whenever possible, to restore' and expose these
delights are the goal of the historical district idea. The
Planning Commission survey revealed seven areas in the coun-
ty of concentrated historical sites worthy of incorporation
into historical districts. These include the Brock-Barlow
Estate near Muncy; Pennsdale; South Main Street, Muncy;
sections of Picture Rocks; the old Williamsport Post Office
to Fifth Avenue on Third and Fourth streets; South Main
Street, Jersey Shore; and Cedar Run Village, Brown Township.
To date only the Williamsport historical district has been
The rationale for historical districts rests in the control
they establish over historic areas. Once instituted by
township supervisors, or borough or city councils, an his-
toric review board is set up to make recommendations to the
governing body concerning the proposed use of or alterations
to property within the district.
The Williamsport Historical District Ordinance passed in
November, 1975. A nine-member review board screens all
applications for exterior alterations, and additions, as
well as all erections and demolitions. The City Council
then normally accepts the recommendations of the board.
The board is appointed by City Council and must consist of
at least three residents of the district, a registered
architect, a licensed real estate broker, the city building
inspector, and a member of the Williamsport Planning Com-
Prior to enactment of the Williamsport Historical District
Ordinance, a number of property owners in the proposed dis-
trict objected strongly to the plan, claiming it would in-
fringe upon their constitutional rights. Despite these
protests, however, other property owners predicted property
values would increase. The Historic District Ordinance
passed the City Council unanimously and was upheld despite
a veto by Mayor John R. Coder. The Historic District plan
has generally worked well since its inception.
THE U. S. COURTHOUSE AND FEDERAL OFFICE BUILDING
As past generations have bequeathed the works of their hands
to us, so we shall have our own contributions to pass on.
Besides the new Lycoming County Courthouse, there is the re-
cently opened U. S. Courthouse and Federal Office Building
at 240 West Third Street. Dedicated on April 28, 1978, the
new building is named in honor of former Congressman Herman
Not without its trials and tribulations, the new building
was plagued by cost overruns and construction delays. Work
on the building began in 1975 and was not completed until
1977. At one point several steel beams in the new structure
began to crumble and had to be replaced. Later it was dis-
covered that the ceiling in the Federal Courtroom was too
low and had to be raised. Eventually the snags were worked
out, and the building was ready for use. It is an imposing
addition to the Third Street row of public buildings.
The preservation of historical landmarks, artifacts, memora-
bilia and documents is one of the functions of the Lycoming
County Historical Society, founded in 1907. The Society's
museum is located on West Fourth Street in Williamsport.
The museum is a repository for the many gifts and bequests
of historical interest made to the Society. Many of these
items are on permanent display in the museum; other special
displays are periodically arranged relating to some aspect
of life in the county's past. Mr. Andrew Grugan is the cur-
rent director of the museum.
In December, I960, the first county historical museum build-
ing on the same site as the present one was badly damaged
by fire. The building was the old J. Roman Way mansion
which the Historical Society purchased in 1939 and conver-
ted for museum use. The present museum was erected in 1967
after funds for construction were made available through
state appropriations and private contributions.
Along with operating the museum, the County Historical
Society has published spring and fall issues of its Journal
since 1955. The Society also holds regular meetings in the
museum at which presentations are made regarding topics of
Lycoming County also has several local historical societies,
of which the Muncy Historical Society is the oldest, having
been founded in the 1930' s. It operates a museum and pub-
lishes the well-known historical magazine "Now and Then"
which was first published in 1868 by J. M. M. Gernerd.
Published until about 1900, the magazine was revived by
Dr. T. K. Wood of Muncy in the early 1900' s and has been
published ever since. The last editor of "Now and Then"
was Eugene P. Bertin of Muncy, who served in that capacity
from 1963 to 1977. Today, "Now and Then" has a circulation
of 800 subscribers.
More recently, the Jersey Shore Historical Society was for-
med. It purchased the old federal style Samuel Moss house
on South Main Street, Jersey Shore. Eventually the house
will be used by the society as a museum. Other historical
groups exist in Montgomery and Ralston.
In 1978, the Bloomingrove Historical Society was formed for
the purpose of maintaining and operating as a museum the
old Dunkard Meeting House near Balls Mills. The Meeting
House was the place of worship of the old pietist Baptists
from Germany, or Duhkards.
History is written not only in books but also in the build-
ings and landmarks of the past which gain in historical
value with each succeeding generation. Fortunately for us,
those landmarks that remain were both well-built and pleas-
ing to look at. The condition in which they are preserved
for future generations depends on the manner in which we
treat them now. If we show the past little honor, future
generations will have little reason to honor us. But if
we strive to preserve the legacies of the past, they will,
themselves, be one of our legacies to the future.
To treat the landmarks and architectural heritage of the
past as mere relics, worthy of preservation so long as they
do not interfere with future plans demonstrates a disturbing
lack of values and imagination; it is an unfortunately com-
mon attitude in our country today and has contributed to
the blighting of much of our nation's* landscape. Fortunate-
ly, Lycoming County, at official levels, has recognized the
desirability of preserving the treasures of the past so as
to enhance the quality of life in the future. This goal
will take money as well as commitment, but it is a goal
worthy of all the effort an enlightened and concerned
citizenry can muster.
QUESTIONS CHAPTER 14
1. List some of the architectural landmarks of the county.
2. Name and locate outstanding historical sites in the
3. Explain the purpose of the Historical District Ordin-
4. Name historical societies within the county.
OtptdfTHE U. S. BICENTENNIAL CELEBRATION IN LYCOMING COUNTY
If" In 1976, bicentennial celebrations in the county exploded
O with fireworks displays, block parties, parades, and ex-
hibits. Having been designated a bicentennial community in
1975 by the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration,
Williamsport adopted the state theme, "So Your Children Can
Tell Their Children." Robert E. Ruffaner served as general
chairman. Committee chairpersons were Doris T. Heller,
Festival USA; Mrs. Harold D. Hershberger, Jr., Heritage '76;
John A. Felix, Horizon's '76; and John Powell, Parade '76.
The bicentennial celebration in Lycoming County was held at
a cost of $50,000. Thirty thousand dollars was raised be-
tween the city of Williamsport and the Williamsport Founda-
tion. The Bicentennial Commission of Pennsylvania granted
$4-, 700 to the Williamsport Bicentennial Commission. With
funds received through sales and donations, the actual cost
of the celebration, shared by the three sponsors, was
Celebrations began in March when the Hemlock Girl Scout
Council, in conjunction with National Girl Scout Week,
held a fair at the Woodward Township Fire Hall. Hundreds
of people attended the fair marking the beginning of cele-
brations of the nation's 200th anniversary. Twenty-five
Girl Scout troops consisting of about five hundred girls
manned booths displaying a general store, a country kitchen,
a quilting bee, a pottery display, Indian crafts, a log ca-
bin, corn husk dolls, the Boston Tea Party, and Betsy Ross
making an American flag.
The musical comedy 1776 by Sherman Edwards was performed at
the Williamsport Consistory on April 2nd and 3rd under the
direction of Dr. Robert Falk.
On May 8th, children from schools, churches, and scout
troops, paraded tissue paper floats that portrayed the na-
tion's past in the Young Americans Parade. Betsy Ross,
Molly Pitcher, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, Martha Wash-
ington, and colonial children were represented in the floats.
More than 1,000 children participated in marching bands,
dancing groups, and colorful floats.
Colonial crafts were displayed by local craftsmen at the
YWCA from May 2nd to May 25th. Many visitors saw for the
first time such colonial crafts as candle and broom-making
and the hand crafting of dulcimers. A puppet show enter-
tained visitors with plays of local historical events.
In June, 50,000 people crowded the city streets to see the
Greater Williamsport Bicentennial Parade. Children and
adults sat on curbs in front of lawn chairs lined six rows
deep. Spectators watched from rooftops, balconies, and
apartment and office windows. As the parade moved along
West Third Street, prisoners in the Lycoming County Prison
hugged the iron bars of their cell windows to get a look at
the celebration. Twenty-seven units made up of 150 floats,
several marching bands, military units, and costumed per-
formers, formed the largest parade people could remember in
recent history. Spectators were excited by volleys fired
by the U. S. Coast Guard riflemen and from a cannon mounted
on the 4-0 et 8 locomotive. Many people wore folded news-
paper caps on their heads to protect themselves from the
hot sun. Helium balloons exploded in children's hands in
the 80-degree heat as flags stirred gently in what little
breeze there was.
The Susquehanna Council, Boy Scouts of America reenacted
the Great Runaway of 1778. Traveling by canoe, the scouts
left Lock Haven on June 5th and traveled down the Susque-
hanna River to Williamsport arriving the next day. On
June 7th the scouts arrived at Sunbury to find security from
the Indians at Fort Augusta.
A bicentennial wagon train consisting of more than 20 cover-
ed wagons and 200 travelers excited residents as it made its
way along old Route 220 en route to Valley Forge. The
covered wagons rolled along the rain-soaked road, making
camp at Jersey Shore on June 23rd. The next day the wagon
train, one of two in America, rolled through Williamsport
on its way to Nicely Field in Montoursville where it again
made camp. On June 25th the wagon train camped at the Ly-
coming County Fair grounds in Hughesville. At every stop
weary travelers were greeted by jubilant crowds and brass
Pony Express riders and outriders contributed to the excite-
ment and realism of the area's first wagon train in over
one hundred years. Thousands of people were guests of the
travelers at an old-fashioned wagon show at the Jersey
Shore Area High School football stadium. The travelers
sang folk songs and played guitars after which the crowd
joined them in singing "This Land Is Your Land."
Five thousand people celebrated the nation's bicentennial
anniversary at a block party on Pine Street on June 25th.
People ate hot dogs, reviewed exhibits, and danced to
music performed by the rock band, "Reunion." The chorus
of the Pageant "Susquehanna" performed under the direction
of Robert Sheffer. Prizes were awarded for period costumes.
On July 4th, Williamsport displayed its largest fireworks
display in its history. Several fireworks displays were
held around the county.
The Freedom Train displayed many of the nation's important
Bicentennial wagon train
documents while stopped in Williamsport on July 14-th and
15th. Twelve of the 26 cars in the steam-driven Reading
train displayed memorabilia. As the train chugged down
the Perm Central tracks, people laid coins on the tracks
to be flattened as souvenirs. Thousands of people waited
in lines that stretched down Little League Boulevard from
Walnut Street to Hepburn Street and back. Thirty-six
thousand people toured the train. Williamsport was the
only stop made by the train in North Central Pennsylvania.
A golden spike was driven into the tracks to memorialize the
The height of the planned celebrations was marked by the
pageant "Susquehanna!" which was performed before an esti-
mated 9,000 people over July 20th and 22nd at Bowman Field.
The three-act pageant, directed by Miriam Lesher Hunter,
was locally researched, written, and staged. A cast of 87,
supported in some scenes by up to 160 people, depicted the
early history of the West Branch Valley. Hundreds of volun-
teers made costumes, designed sets, and made promotions. A
chorus of 96 was featured, complemented by ten instrumental-
ists and six dancers. Live oxen and wagon horses were used.
The pageant encompassed such events as the first meeting in
this area between Indians and white men, the Fair Play Men,
and the growth of Williamsport through Michael Ross. A
special film of the pageant was made depicting the eleven
Many souvenirs were available. A bicentennial medal of
antiqued bronze was designed by the late local artist
Horace Hand from a painting by another local artist, George
Eddinger. The coin depicts the county's history through a
lumber man and a Revolutionary soldier. A bicentennial cal-
endar displayed the selected works by local artists. A
memorial recording of the Music of William Clifford Heilman
C1877-1946) was also produced. The local composer's music
was performed June 13th in concert at the Covenant-Central
Presbyterian Church by Irene Veley, pianist; Donald Freed,
violinist; Ellen Royer, cellist; and the Williamsport
Junior Music Club Chorus, under the direction of Doris
The works of six local artists, whose paintings captured
local scenes, were chosen to hang in the Courthouse and
City Hall. The following were chosen: "Buttonwood Covered
Bridge" by Robert Day; "Springtime at Ways Gardens" by
Marr Heilhecker; "Williamsport City Hall" by Judy Reid;
"Winter on Loyalsock Creek" by Richard Griess; "Pennsdale
Friend's Meeting House" by Horace Hand; and "Old Stone
Barn" by Timothy Hampton.
Youths from- the Montoursville Area High School built a
replica of the exterior of a frontier stockade. The
interior was used for displays, exhibits, and presentations.
As a lasting memorial, a bicentennial garden was planted at
Brandon Park and forty shade trees were planted in the Pine
Street area of downtown Williamsport. The celebration of
the nation's 200th birthday was memorialized by the time
capsule placed in the Herman T. Schneebeli Federal Office
Building. The capsule, containing memorabilia of the cele-
bration, will be opened April 1, 2076. A film produced by
local cinematographer, Steve Smith, captured all the major
events and projects during the celebration in a 45-minute
QUESTIONS CHAPTER 15
1. List outstanding events that were part of the Bicenten-
nial observance in Lycoming County.
2. What Bicentennial event was written, produced and per-
formed by local citizens?
3. What famous people were portrayed in the pageant
"Susquehanna ! " ?
AfFENDIX INDIANS IN PREHISTORIC LYCOMING COUNTY
Volume I of A Picture of Lycoming County gives us some in-
teresting information on the Indians, the earliest inhabi-
tants of Lycoming County. But since publication of that
first volume, scholars have come to recognize that the
early history of the county is, indeed, much earlier than
the writers of Volume I could have supposed. Quoting from
Volume I, page 3, we read: "The first known inhabitants
of Lycoming County were members of an Iroquoian tribe called
Andastes, a name given by the French to the "Susquehannocks"
who lived on the upper reaches of the Susquehanna River.
The name Andastes distinguished the West Branch Valley
Indians from those living on the river to the South."
NEW KNOWLEDGE OF THE INDIANS
From the vantage point of the writers of the first volume,
this statement seems accurate enough, for they wrote with-
out the advantage of much recent scholarly work and scienti-
fic investigation. Forty years later, however, we have a
much better grasp of the actual facts. Primary among them
is that, far from being the first inhabitants of Lycoming
County, the people called "Andastes" in Volume I probably
did not live in our county at all and were among the last
Indians to inhabit Pennsylvania. Prior to the "Andastes,"
prehistoric Indians had lived in Pennsylvania for centuries.
In view of recent studies, we are aware of other inaccura-
cies in Volume I. For example, the "Andastes" were not
members of an Iroquoian tribe, rather, they were an early
offshoot of the Iroquois before the formation of the Iro-
quoian Confederacy. "Andastes" was the French name given
the Indians who lived in the southern part of Pennsylvania
in what is roughly now Lancaster County. These same In-
dians were called "Minquas" by the Dutch and "Susquehan-
nocks" by the English settlers of the region. These names
did not denote places or areas of residence.
The Susquehannocks (as they are commonly called today)
were the predominant tribe of the lower Susquehanna River
Valley during the early colonial period. Eventually they
were to become major trading middlemen between the white
settlers and the Indians who did trapping to the north and
There were few Susquehannock settlements in the West Branch
Valley. From archaeological finds we^know that the Susque-
hannocks had a village settlement near the present village
of Pine in €linton County, and a small encampment across
Pine Creek from Jersey Shore. Nothing comparable, however,
has been uncovered in Lycoming County. On the other hand,
early records left by Jesuit priests among the Huron in
New York State and Canada indicate that the final Iroquois'
defeat of the Susquehannocks in 1675 occurred at Jersey
Shore. There is, however, no physical proof of this so far,
and any such evidence must await discovery by archaeologists.
So neither the Iroquois nor the Susquehannocks can as yet
be claimed as actual residents of our county, even though
both passed through on occasion and recognized the county's
militarily strategic location.
HISTORY AND PREHISTORY
Recent developments in the academic science of archaeology
have benefited greatly our understanding and knowledge of
the prehistoric inhabitants of North America and Lycoming
County. Prehistory is that time before the earliest writ-
ten records from a particular group of human beings were
written down. The historical period, then, embraces the
time since written documents have been available concerning
any given group or culture. In light of this, it is quite
obvious that the prehistoric period of Indian life in Ly-
coming County was of a much greater time span than the very
short period which is designated historical.
Because the Indians had no written language as far as we
are aware, it was only with the white settlers' arrival in
America that written information on the Indians became
available. It was the Jesuit priests among the Huron that
gave us some of the earliest accounts of aboriginal activ-
ity in the West Branch Valley.
When no written documents of a people have been left behind,
the only way to study their history is to examine the physi-
cal remains of their settlements and villages. This study
is called archaeology, which is the systematic digging of
human artifacts from the ground in order to study their
age, use, origin and significance.
Of great importance to archaeologists are the actual skele-
tal remains of prehistoric people which reveal the method
of burial and give clues to religious belief and practices.
Sometimes graves offer added benefit when burial goods
are interred with the corpse.
Archaeology has yielded most of what we know about the pre-
historic Indians of Lycoming County. The methods of archae-
ology are varied, but they are meticulous and precise. A
careful record is kept of every flint or potsherd, their
location on the site and the level from which taken. This
allows for analysis and reconstruction of the site to take
place in the laboratory once the excavation is complete.
From the artifacts and remains found, such things as the
period the people lived on the site, their food and how
they subsisted, their dwellings, their means of travel, the
crops they grew and the kinds of pots they used can all be
determined. Today, archaeological activity is common in
the county with many digs sponsored by colleges, univer-
sities, archaeological societies, and even private indi-
viduals. When attempting a dig, however, it is best that
a professional archaeologist be involved so that nothing
important is overlooked or misinterpreted.
What in general have the archaeologists determined regard-
ing the prehistory of Indians in Lycoming County? Some of
the oldest archaeological evidence of prehistoric Indians
are spearpoints, by virtue of their strength and durability.
Spearpoints and other stone tools are useful to archaeolo-
gists in dating sites because the styles of implements
changed with time as well as from place to place.
Usually spearpoints are given the name of the first place
where that type was systematically studied, and are refer-
red to by that name thereafter. The Indians associated
with that spearpoint are given the same name. This does
not mean that the place where the spearpoints were first
studied is the place where they were first made, as they
could have been transported there.
The oldest spearpoint found in Lycoming County is the Clovis
Point, dating from about 9,000 B.C. Archaeologists call the
people who made Clovis Points the "Paleo" Indians or Old
Indians. The Paleo Era is the first of the prehistoric eras
and covers roughly the years between 11,500 B.C. and
7,000 B.C. As the chronological chart shows, the second era
runs from 7,000 B.C. to 2,000 B.C. and is known as the
Archaic Era. The third prehistoric era is the Woodland and
ranges from 1,000 B.C. to about 1,600 A.D., with the coming
of white settlers and the beginning of the historic period.
Between the Archaic and Woodland eras there was a short
1,000 year period or less which has been designated a transi-
THE PALEO ERA
The Indians of the Paleo Era are believed to be descendents
of the first people to cross the Bering Strait from Asia
to Alaska beginning possibly around 30,000 B.C. Like their
ancestors, the Paleo Indians were nomads who traveled in
small bands, usually on the heels of the large game animals
which they hunted for food. These animals, long since
extinct, included the mammoth, the mastodon and the cari-
bou, all of which lived in the region of Lycoming County.
The climate was frigid even though post ice-age, and the
soil was tundra-like with conifer trees the predominant
form of vegetation. The Paleo Indians who tracked the
large game into Lycoming County had no other means of sur-
vival besides hunting. They traveled on foot and probably
lived very short periods in any one place. Their appear-
ance and way of life was more akin to our usual picture of
cavemen than Indians.
Skeletal remains of Paleo Indians suggest that they were
an average height of 5 feet 54 inches tall, with thin bones
and a muscular physique. One scholar has described them as
"wiry, stong, and extremely tough," and, no doubt, they had
to be. They were susceptible to many dangers and dis-
eases. Few of them lived past the age of 35 and many died
of diseases affecting the teeth. Others died due to ex-
posure, hunger or accidents. The tools they used were
delicately chipped flints, never battered or ground stone
tools as in later periods.
The Paleo Indians seem, then, to have been as far removed
from the historic Indians in their way of life as the his-
toric Indians are from us. The Paleo Indians did not lead
an easy existence; it consisted of what to us are less
than the bare essentials. But they survived, however pre-
cariously, and managed to propagate the Indian race up to
the coming of the white man, probably the greatest threat
of all to the Indians' existence.
THE ARCHAIC ERA
By around 5,000 or 4,000 B.C. a strong warming trend oc-
curred in the county and the climatic and other environ-
mental conditions changed dramatically. The- tundra and
conifers gave way to hardwood forests comprised mostly of
trees known today, such as oak, hickory, and chestnut.
The large land-roving animals disappeared, and smaller
herbivores took their place. Deer, bear, and elk became
new hunting targets for the people of this second era, the
The Archaic Indians began the practice of collecting nuts
and berries for eating, items not available to their ances-
tors of a colder and wilder age. To aid them in hunting,
the Archaic Indians invented a spear thrower called the
atlatl, which was a wooden rod with a hook at one end. A
notch at the end of the spear fitted into the hook, thereby
affording the person throwing more thrust and greater
maneuverability in landing game.
(from Man , Land and Time , p. 225
Atlatl or spear thrower
A RCH A»C
^-=*==== :::::::: rATepA L£ O
Pa le o
\ 7 SOO
Chart of prehistoric epochs
(from Man, Land and Time, p. 19)
Other tools invented by the Archaic Indians were notched and
grooved axes, adzes for woodworking, bone awls or needles,
flint drills, and a wide variety of delicately chipped stone
spearpoints. And the very latest Archaic Indians developed
the use of river resources for the first time by collecting
shell fish and making nets for fishing from the fibers of
Indian hemp plants.
It is interesting that from 75 to 80 percent of all stone
tools found in Lycoming County are from the Late Archaic
period ( 4- , 000-2 , 000 B.C.). This indicates significant use
of the county by Archaic Indians for hunting, fishing and
collecting. There are no finds of pots or cooking vessels
from this era because Archaic Indians still roasted all
their food over an open fire. The Archaic Era saw steady
progress in the life and conditions of Indian existence in
the county, though much of this was effected by dramatic
change in climate and environment from the Paleo Era. As we
shall see, greater changes were still to come in Indian
THE "TRANSITIONAL PHASE"
The next important period of Indian prehistory is known as
the "Transitional Phase." "Transitional" refers to the
period from 2,000 B.C. to 1,000 B.C. Three major changes
took place : 1 ) the use of the river as a highway for dug-
out canoes and hollowed logs; 2) the use of stone bowls;
and 3) the beginning of farming along river flats. These
three changes altered radically the living pattern and life-
style of prehistoric Indians. They meant a more sedentary
life which, in turn, meant larger communities of people
living in one place.
The stone used in bowls was quarried in other places and
transported by the Indians in dugout canoes. The dugout
canoes were made with newly invented tools such as stone
gouges. Other new tools included quarry picks for digging
stone, and hoe blades for farming. Net sinkers were made
by chipping notches into small river pebbles. These were
attached to the bottoms of nets to hold them against the
current while floats on top held the net upright. Modern
gill nets serve a similar purpose.
The use of stone bowls was a revolutionary development.
Prior to their invention, the Indians cooked either by
roasting their food or by placing hot stones in bark ves-
sels to boil up a kind of soup. The stone bowls were made
by simply carving them out of a block of soapstone. Some
of the very earliest clay pottery was made during the
Transitional Phase, some finds of which have been made at
Bull Run in Lycoming County. The first clay pottery was
shaped in identical fashion to the stoneware. Though
highly primitive compared with later clay pottery, these ini-
tial clay vessels made by the Indians were a milestone in
the advancement of Indian culture.
Another milestone was the utilization of farming. The very
first crop of the Indians was the sunflower which was in-
digenous to North America. Sunflower seeds were ground into
flour along with acorns, hickory nuts and walnuts, and from
this they made their first bread. In view of the advent
of farming, the Indians were required to stay in one place
for greater periods. This encouraged the growth of popula-
tions, and made villages possible for the first time. We
can see, then, how important water travel, the use of stone
and clay bowls, agriculture, and village life were to the
transition from the Archaic to the fourth and final pre-
historic period, the Woodland Era.
THE WOODLAND ERA
The Woodland Era lasted roughly 2,000 years from about
1,000 B.C. to the coming of the white settlers in the 1600' s
A.D. The primary characteristics of the Woodland included
farming, village life, and especially, clay pottery. By
this time all Indians in Lycoming County made and used
clay pottery. The Woodland Era is itself divided into three
periods: the Early Woodland (1000-500 B.C.), the Middle
Woodland (500 B.C. - 1000 A.D.) and the Late Woodland
It is significant that by Early Woodland times, there is
evidence of the "cult of the dead." This shows that the
Indians had developed a religious sense which pointed be-
yond themselves. At the Bull Run archaeological site in
Lycoming County, six graves were found doused with red
ochre. Apparently the Indians believed that the red sub-
stance would provide the deceased with blood for the next
The red pigment was made by grinding hematite into dust. It
was also a practice of the Indians by Early Woodland times
to place burial goods in graves with the dead. This, too,
indicates a religious sentiment. As with the Egyptian
mummies, the Indians provided burial goods for the use of
the dead person in the after-life.
One contribution of Middle Woodland times which was to
benefit the Indians of future periods was the bow and arrow.
This weapon aided them in hunting game and made available
more leisure to do other things, such as the making of or-
naments and more decorative clothing.
The Middle Woodland period was a time when agriculture and
village life became well established. A deterrant
to the development of large Indian settlements, however,
was the lack of firewood. There were plenty of trees, out
Indian technology had not yet advanced to the point that
heavy axes could be made. Rather, the Indians had to de-
pend on smaller tree limbs and branches which were quickly
depleted. Thus, even in Woodland times, Indian settlements
could not be permanent due to a very ancient form of
The Indians made fires by means of the "strike-a-light,"
a flint against which a piece of iron pyrite was struck to
produce a spark. Another fire-building method employed the
"fire-drill." This was a vertical stick of wood with a
point at the bottom which fitted into a small hole in a
wooden block. Fine bits of wood shavings or dried weeds
were placed around the bottom of the shaft. Friction was
created by looping a string and bow around the stick so
that the stick could be turned quickly back and forth to
induce heat, thereby igniting the tinder material at the
bottom. Once lit, fires were kept going for long periods.
In the Middle Woodland period corn was grown for the first
time in the Northeast, having been brought in from the
southwestern United States. The corn and other crops
were tended by the women, as were the children. The men
continued to roam, hunting for animals to be brought back
and added to the larder.
Other types of crops gradually introduced included beans
and squash. The diet of the Indians became more varied as
new and improved crops came along. Diet was also better
served by the larger and improved pottery vessels which
were being made, thus enhancing cooking methods. Soups and
stews were popular, as was corn bread made from ground corn-
The first clay pots were of thin construction and were wrap-
ped with cords to support their sides. Eventually, larger
and stronger vessels were made, and the Indian potters be-
gan to experiment with new shapes and sizes.
As village life expanded and less time was expended on the
bare necessities of hunting, farming and cooking, many In-
dians spent their leisure time making ornaments, such as
beads and pendants. The first use of tobacco is attributed
to the Woodland Era. The Indians discovered that tobacco
smoked well in a stone tube, and later realized the ad-
vantages of an elbow pipe. Many carved stone pipes have
been found from the Woodland Era, some of them in the shape
of animal heads.
While Lycoming County can boast few archaeological finds
from the Woodland Era, one interesting Late Woodland
feature was the Brock Mound near Muncy. This was a large
burial mound wherein were found thirty Indian burials in
twenty-eight graves. This was the only such burial mound
found in the West Branch Valley. Burial mounds were an
ancient form of cemetery in which the graves were mounded
up rather than placed flat as in a modern cemetery. Un-
fortunately, few artifacts were associated with the Brock
Mound apart from several clay pipes, a chipped slate blade,
a slab mortar, several netsinkers, and a few smaller items.
Many of the other archaeological sites in Lycoming County
are associated with the Lycoming Creek region where there
was a major Indian trail dating back to the very earliest
Paleo times. This trail, known as the Sheshequin Trail,
was a primary route from New York and the North and was
used extensively up to the disappearance of the Indians
from Pennsylvania. There may still be many unknown Indian
sites in that region which have yet to be discovered and
investigated by archaeologists, unlocking still more
knowledge about our county's original citizens. So far,
archaeologists have mapped over 200 Indian sites in the
THE "BULL RUN" EXCAVATION
The archaeological site in Lycoming County yielding the
most important discoveries to date is the Bull Run site in
Loyalsock Township. The Bull Run excavation — along with
the current Canfield Island excavation nearby — was co-spon-
sored by the North Central Chapter, No. 8 of the Society for
Pennsylvania Archaeology, and the Lycoming County Historical
Society. Local archaeologist James P. Bressler served as
director of the dig.
It is believed that Indians inhabited the Bull Run site as
far back as 7000 B.C. Some of the residents of this site
were probably descendents of the Clemsons Island people,
who were among the earliest Indians to live in Lycoming
County. Other inhabitants of the Bull Run site were the
so-called "Orient people" who made the earliest pottery
known in Lycoming County dating back to 1220 B.C. It was
also the Orient people who utilized red ochre in their cult
of the dead.
The latest and most significant inhabitants of the Bull Run
site were the "Shenks Ferry people" who lived there over a
period of several hundred years and were probably driven
out by the Cayuga Indians at the opening of the colonial
period. Though Lycoming County was probably their homeland,
the Shenks Ferry people were named after Shenks Ferry, Lan-
caster County, where they were first studied around 1930.
The Shenks Ferry people were farmers who maintained a nearly-
permanent settlement at Bull Run. Their houses were of post-
and-lintel construction and were covered with bark. Their
settlement was surrounded by a fort dating from 1230 A.D.
The fort was oval-shaped and measured roughly 250 feet in
length and 150 feet in width. Recent studies of seeds found
at Bull Run indicate that common weeds were used as part of
the diet. Unfortunately, next to nothing is known of the
Shenks Ferry people after their defeat by the Cayugas.
Further, with the disappearance of the Shenks Ferry people,
permanent Indian habitation of Lycoming County ceased for-
ever. From then on, Indians lived in Lycoming County only
intermittently and for relatively short periods.
THE COLONIAL PERIOD
We leave behind the prehistoric period at the appearance of
the first white colonizers in Pennsylvania. By this time
Indian society in North America had evolved into groupings
known as tribes. Different tribes often spoke different
languages and maintained different forms of social organi-
zation. Quite often intense rivalries developed between
tribes, and wars were an all too common feature of life.
During the colonial period Lycoming County was used as a
corridor for travel, and in very latest times, served as
a buffer between the Iroquois tribes to the North and the
white settlers to the South. The most prominent of Penn-
sylvania's tribes in this period were the Susquehannocks .
It is possible that the Susquehannocks had originally be-
longed to the Iroquois group and separated sometime around
1400 A.D., settling first along the North Branch of the
Susquehanna River. They made a gradual migration south-
ward coming to rest in southern Pennsylvania near what is
The Susquehannocks apparently made excursions into the West
Branch Valley, as some of their artifacts have been found
here, mainly in Clinton County near Lock Haven and across
Pine Creek from Jersey Shore. The Susquehannocks were an
advanced people and lived in large fortified villages.
Many of the hostilities between the Susquehannocks and the
Iroquois were so violent that the Susquehannocks surrounded
their villages with strong palisades as a means of defense.
THE INFLUENCE OF THE WHITE SETTLERS
The coming of white settlers to North America spelled doom
for Indian life as it had been known. The first peril to
the Indians which the white men brought were European dis-
eases to which they had no immunity. Typhoid, diptheria,
influenza, measles, chicken pox, whooping cough, tuberculosis,
yellow and scarlet fevers, and smallpox swept through Indian
communities, often mercilessly wiping them out completely.
These epidemics contributed significantly to the demise of
the Susquehannocks .
Another diminishing factor upon Indian life was the effect
of the white men themselves. The earliest Swedish and
Dutch settlers along the East coast deprived such tribes as
the Algonquins, Delawares, and Shawnees of their lands,
forcing them to move westward. Occasionally, the Indians
benefited from the white man's presence in terms of economy
and trade. The Susquehannocks, for example, assumed the
role of major middlemen in the fur trade between the white
men and Indians to the west and the north; but trading
rivalry between the Susquehannocks and Iroquois developed
and sparked bloody conflicts between them.
The Indians also suffered from adopting white ways and
practices without fully adapting themselves to a white
life style. Such items as metal axes and pots improved the
Indians' daily existence, but rifles and liquor were not
always treated with the caution and respect they deserved.
The stability of the Indian civilization was weakened inter-
nally by the warring between tribes and nations, and exter-
nally by the aggressive onslaught of the technologically and
socially more complex white culture.
The Susquehannocks were the primary Indian tribe in Pennsyl-
vania at the time of the white man's coming. They control-
led the central Susquehanna region and probably dominated
the West Branch Valley, even if they had no standing settle-
ments here. By the early eighteenth century the Susquehan-
nocks were gone from Pennsylvania, except for a small group
near Conestoga in the Southeast.
The vacuum was filled by smaller tribes of Delaware Indians
who were allowed to move into the Susquehanna region by the
Iroquois, who claimed ownership of the area. Once the Iro-
quois had defeated the Susquehannocks in 1675, the West
Branch Valley shifted to their control and served as a
buffer zone between themselves and the white men.
LAST INDIAN SETTLEMENTS
The most important Indian settlement in our area at this
time was known as Ostuagy, or Madame Montour's village,
situated at the mouth of Loyalsock Creek. Its residents
were mainly of mixed Delaware Indian and white blood. It
apparently lasted eight or nine years and was a prominent
stop-over for Moravian travelers who frequented the area.
Other sites of Indian habitation in this period were known
to exist at Muncy, at the mouth of Lycoming Creek, and on
Big Island near Jersey Shore. Archaeological excavations
at these sites have revealed a number of artifacts, both
Indian and European in origin, suggesting a mixed culture.
The Indian presence in our county lasted well into the
eighteenth century, though after 1755 no Indian settlement
existed here. The Iroquois had sold the land out from under
the Delaware to the white men in the Walking Purchase of
1737. The Delaware, joined by the Shawnee, then moved
west to the Ohio region and returned here briefly during the
French and Indian War (1755-62) as raiders for the French,
and in retaliation for the earlier white encroachment. The
French and Indian War marked the end to Indian presence in
Some Indian intrusions into the county were recorded in the
several massacres of white settlers which occurred, such as
the "Plum Thicket Massacre" of June 10, 1778, at the present
corner of West Fourth and Cemetery streets in Williamsport .
Also, during the Revolutionary War the British led Seneca
raids on the county. But apart from these few instances,
the Indians had left Lycoming County forever. Still, the
white man will have to reside another 11,000 years in Ly-
coming County before he can claim to have lived here longer
than the Indians.
QUESTIONS INDIANS IN PREHISTORIC LYCOMING COUNTY
1. Describe the methods of an archaeologist.
2. Construct a time-line showing the various peoples to
inhabit Lycoming County before the coming of white
3. Describe climatic changes in the prehistoric period
of Lycoming County and explain the effect upon living
4. What do you think were some of the most important de-
velopments in the story of prehistoric inhabitants of
5. Locate and describe the importance of some of the im-
portant archaeological sites in Lycoming County.
6. How did the coming of white settlers to Lycoming County
affect the Indians?
7 . With what Indian group( s ) did the white man come into
contact in Lycoming County?
8. Where were some of the localities where these Indians
BLACK HISTORY IN LYCOMING COUNTY
THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD AND THE CIVIL WAR
Slavery never became widespread in Lycoming County because,
like the rest of the North, the need for skilled and semi-
skilled workers made the slave work force impractical and
uneconomical. As in the rest of the North, slaves in Ly-
coming County were used almost exclusively as domestic
Because the economy of the North did not depend on slave
labor as it did in the South, abolitionists were able to
stand on widespread anti-slavery sentiments to push through
legislation ending slavery in Pennsylvania as early as 1780.
The Act of 1780, a seeming abolitionist victory, was a vic-
tory in principle only, for the last slave was not freed
until 68 years later in 1848. The Act of 1780 provided
that all slaves 28 years of age or older were to be freed
on July 4, 1827, and the rest as they reached their 28th
birthday. In 1820, there were only three slaves in Ly-
coming County so their freedom created hardly a ripple
The effect of the law on the county, however, was more far-
reaching than first realized. Slaves in the bordering
states soon learned that if they reached the free soil of
Pennsylvania they too would be free. Slave holders in
these states, either cringing under the heat of abolition-
ist wrath or finding slavery uneconomical, set their slaves
free in Pennsylvania.
As the immigration continued, people in the county became
fearful that they would be outnumbered by blacks. In
1827, the Lycoming Gazette expressed that fear and verbally
thrashed slaveholders who found Pennsylvania a "Liberia,
where they could, with less expense than to Africa, co-
lonize their redundant colored population. ... .At no distant
day the colored would not only vastly outnumber, but to-
tally supplant the white population."
Hundreds of slaves passed through the county on their way
to Canada but many made their home in the county, taking
jobs as laborers, tanners, hackmen, laundresses, and seam-
stresses. Many fugitive blacks remained in Lycoming
County until the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850
required law men to return fugitives to their owners.
Slave owners and slave catchers seeking rewards forced fugi-
tives to move further North into Canada for freedom.
During the turbulent decades before the Civil War, aboli-
tionists conspired to smuggle fugitive slaves from house
to house over a network that came to be called the
Underground Railroad. The network ran from the deep South
through Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania and on to Canada
where Queen Victoria had declared the slaves free. Hun-
dreds of slaves risked their lives to escape along the
Underground Railroad while others were executed in the
South following aborted attempts to escape.
Over the half century prior to the Civil War, more than a
thousand slaves passed through Lycoming County. Before
the development of the Underground Railroad, slaves escaped
along the Allegheny Mountains with nothing but the North
Star to guide them. Free blacks living at Kaiser's Springs
(Duboistown) regularly scanned the old Indian paths leading
out of the mountains and hid the fugitive slaves in their
homes. Under cover of night the fugitives were brought
across the Susquehanna River to Nigger Hollow (Freedom
Road since 1935), another settlement of free blacks a mile
north of Market Square. This settlement was protected by
200-foot ravines and dense underbrush. The only access to
the area was by old Indian trails and one narrow dirt road.
Rumors of slave catchers who disappeared at the hands of
abolitionists hidden in the dense underbrush frightened
slave catchers who seldom ventured to the area alone.
Many slaves were hidden there in the homes of David and
Philip Roderick. Daniel Hughes, whose home still stands
near the Freedom Road Cemetery, hid many slaves in his
home. When slave catchers made the home unsafe for fugi-
tives, Hughes hid the runaways in one of the three iron
ore mines, or superficial caves, that he had dug on his pro-
perty. Sometimes Hughes picked up runaways on his lumber
raft on the Susquehanna River as he returned from Sparrow's
At night one of the free blacks guided the runaways to
Horseheads, N. Y., or Trout Run where they were hidden in
the baggage compartment of the Williamsport-Elmira train
by Robert Faries, president of the railroad, and Reason But-
ler, a fugitive slave. Sometimes the runaways were led
along old Indian trails that led up Miller's Run and across
hills to Lycoming Creek then to Trout Run. Many times it
was necessary for them to walk midstream up Grafius Run to
avoid making tracks. Many slaves arrived by canal boat
from Columbia at the Exchange Hotel at the foot of Market
Street in Williamsport. There they were met by abolition-
ists who hid them in the Updegraff barn in Black Horse
Alley and then smuggled them north to Nigger Hollow.
Montoursville was so heavily populated by abloitionists
that runaways felt safe to sleep in open fields. Numerous
runaways arrived by canal boat at Hall ' s Landing ( Hall ' s
Station) and were hidden by abolitionist Quakers. Some
slaves were hidden at the Friend's Meeting House at
hes house, Freedor
Pennsdale. Others were hidden at the Bull's Head Tavern,
now the House of Many Stairs, and the Wolf Run House. The
McCarty-Wertman house in Muncy also shielded many slaves.
In the decade preceding the Civil War, the slave issue be-
came so intense, particularly in Nigger Hollow, that many
free blacks and abolitionists were forced to abandon their
properties and flee to Canada. The local routes of the
Underground Railroad became such common knowledge that
throughout the Civil War they remained tourist spots. Le-
gends were told of hand hewn furniture in caves on the
Daniel Hughes property and mysterious disappearances of
When Fort Sumter was fired upon on April 12, 1861, the
people of the county were excited at the prospect of war.
However, the war was clearly being fought to preserve the
Union so that blacks viewed it as an interruption in their
battle to end slavery.
Blacks were not permitted to enlist in the Union Army until
President Lincoln reversed that decision after two years of
petitioning by blacks and abolitionists who wished to
strike a direct blow at slavery. The reversal came through
the Emancipation Proclamation which freed slaves living in
seceded states and permitted the enlistment of blacks into
a segregated army. Approximately 180,000 blacks from
across the country joined the Union forces, effectively
siphoning the power of the Confederate Army and spreading
confusion throughout the South. At least fifteen blacks
from Lycoming County joined the 8th United States Colored
Troops organized from a five-county area. A few more from
the county joined forces in other states.
THE VOTE— A STEP TOWARD EQUALITY
When the Pennsylvania State Constitution was amended in
1837-38, disenfranchising the black male, blacks in Ly-
coming County were frustrated. Though they had not been
eligible to vote, eligibility was determined by local au-
thorities, and blacks in at least seven other counties had
been exercising the vote. From I838 to 1870, blacks in
Pennsylvania labored to reclaim the right that they had
exercised in some counties for 4-7 years.
There was fear in the county that if blacks won the right
to vote, they could at some time hold the balance of power.
In the midst of increasing migration of blacks from the
South, the fear that blacks might gain political control
became very real. After all, the case which had prompted
the amendment to the constitution in I838 was an election
in Bucks County in which the black vote determined the
outcome. Democrats, wishing to win the election over the
Whigs, petitioned the State Supreme Court to void the black
vote. Before a decision was reached the amendment was
Frederick Douglass, fighting tirelessly for black equality
and suffrage, campaigned in Williamsport in 1867. On No-
vember 1-4, Douglass spoke at Doebler Hall on the corner of
West Fourth and Pine streets. In his first speech he out-
lined his "simple plan for elevating the Negro." He asked
that blacks be let alone to forge their own position in
society, that they be given a fair chance. Douglass asked
"If you see him going to school, let him alone. If you see
hini going into a mechanic shop to learn a trade, let him
alone. If you see him going into a railroad car, let him
alone. If you see him going to the ballot box, let him
alone. Give him a chance and let him work out his own
To blacks Douglass said, "Steady persevering work is the
only road to greatness.... Nature does the most for them
that use the best means." In a speech the following day,
Douglass condemned the federal government for dragging its
feet in suffrage legislation. He said "A man's rights
rest in three boxes. The ballot box, the jury box, and the
cartridge box. Let no man be kept from the ballot box be-
cause of his color. Let no woman be kept from the ballot
box because of her sex."
After thirty- two years of protest and campaigning, blacks
finally won the right to vote when on March 31, 1870, the
Fifteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution was
ratified. Blacks across the state organized celebrations
to be held on April 26, the official day of celebration de-
clared by the Pennsylvania State Equal Rights League. In
Williamsport hundreds of people lined the city streets to
watch a procession of forty-one carriages and buggies,
people carrying banners, and costumed marchers. The pro-
cession was led by the Boyer's Coronet Band, hired from
Baltimore after Milt B. Repasz refused to lead the William-
sport Repasz Band in the parade under any circumstances.
One carriage carried speakers — E. W. Capron, editor and
publisher of the Daily and Weekly Bulletin and the West
Branch Bulletin , and Abraham Updegraff , president of the
First National Bank of Williamsport and former Underground
Railroad conductor. J. B. G. Kinsloe, a fellow editor and
publisher with Capron, and Cornelius Gilchrist, a mulatto
laborer rode with them. A carriage followed carrying
aging suffragists — Simon Gilchrist, an 82 -year-old mulatto
laborer; George Roach, a 72-year-old black man who ran a
boarding house; William Butler, a 76-year-old black
laborer; and* Henry and George Snyder, founders of
Sawdust war in 1872
Blacks on sawmill crew
Bethune-Douglass Community Center
(former Emery School)
Suffrage parade in 1872
Snyder Brothers foundry.
In another wagon, little girls sitting around the Goddess
of Liberty waved flags bearing the names of states that had
ratified the Fifteenth Amendment. Pairs of men and women
carried banners which read "Equal Rights!" "Free Suggrage!"
and "Virtue, Liberty, and Independence!" When the procession
ended, three and one half hours later, speeches were given
by E. W. Capron and Abraham Updegraff .
Capron stated, "We are here to celebrate a day when the
Negro, freed and enfranchised, can hold up his head and
say 'I am no longer a slave. I am a man. I can take the
ballot in my hand and march to the polls, and there count
as much as the president, or as any man in the world'."
Updegraff followed: "Fellow citizens. . .remember my dear
friends the price with which this boon has been purchased."
Following the speeches, a ball was held in Holden's Hall
in Williamsport .
In many areas of the country, the vote gave blacks the
balance of power, making them pawns in a political game to
win their vote. Republicans and Democrats reminded blacks
of the civil rights which they had been instrumental in
gaining and demanded their support in return. Blacks in
Lycoming County were aware that the promises of civil
rights were only token concessions offered to win the black
vote. In reality, the strength of de facto segregation in
the latter part of the century actually set back the civil
rights of blacks.
Angered by political manipulation and feeling powerless to
determine their direction nine black men from Williamsport
banded together as publishers of the Informant , a weekly
newspaper aimed at informing blacks about issues concern-
ing them. In its first issue on November 9, 1889, the
Informant vowed that blacks would never again be a mere
"anatomized body to stuff ballot boxes .If a Negro de-
sires to be looked upon as a citizen, not as a mere voter,
he must begin to think and act for himself . "
The publishers were enraged when Republican politicians in
Williamsport blamed their defeat in the November 1889 elec-
tion on "the 'd niggers' of the city who did not vote as
they wished them to." They resented the liberal and pa-
tronizing use of the word "our" when referring to blacks.
Though the number of issues published can not be determined,
a single issue is evidence of the blacks' stand against
The publishers were: W. C. Henderson, Thomas Thornton,
and William Thomas, all laborers; James Payne and Morton
Puller, teamsters; George Thornton, coachman; William East,
an engineer at the Park Hotel; Jackson Tyler, a butler;
and John Straughter, whose occupation could not be deter-
BLACKS AND FORMAL EDUCATION
In 1819, Henrietta Graham and Sarah Hepburn opened the Union
Sunday School, an integrated, co-educational school spon-
sored by the Methodist and Presbyterian churches in William-
sport. Most of the fewer than two hundred blacks lived out-
side of Williamsport but walked several miles to attend the
school in the old Academy at the corner of West and West
Third streets. Many children walked through fields and
along little-used dirt roads from as far away as Blooming
Grove in order to attend the school.
When the enrollment grew too large for the two women to
handle alone, some men were persuaded to open a separate
boy's school, but after only six months the school failed
because the male teachers had lost interest in the school.
The boys were so often without teachers that the women
teachers at the Union School were obliged to take them
back under their care. Daniel Grafius, the school treasurer,
was so furious when he arrived one morning and found no
teachers, that he called the boys outside and hurled the
treasure box over their heads sending them scrambling after
the scattered coins.
Wilson Finley, a black student who attended the boys'
school around 1824, was later elected senator in Liberia,
an African colony to many of the black Americans emigrating
during the "back to Africa" movement of the early 1800's.
After seven years, sectarian rivalry split the Union Sunday
School in separate Methodist and Presbyterian schools,
leaving the black students without a school. To continue
their education, Sarah Hepburn, Lucy Putnam, and Martha
Grier taught them in the homes of various black families.
In 1834, Pennsylvania passed the Free School Act which pro-
vided a tuition-free education to all students. Under the
Free School Act of 1834, black students were to be accepted
at any school at which they presented themselves; however,
with mounting pressure from voters opposing the school tax,
legislators hesitated to force integration lest they de-
stroy the fragile school system. Rather than integrate the
schools, black students were taught in rented rooms by
teachers who sometimes knew little more than the students.
In 1850, blacks in Williamsport petitioned the school
board to admit black students into the school system. The
school board responded by hiring a teacher and granting
twenty-one dollars for the rental of a school room. The
teacher was required to accept all black students and to
contract for the room, fuel, stove, and everything except
benches. Although male teachers were paid twenty-five
dollars a term, C. S. Gilchrist, a mulatto male, was paid
the lower eighteen-dollar salary provided for female teach-
ers. In 1869, Anne M. Watson taught a class of black stu-
dents on Mill Street.
With the voters' opposition to the school tax increasing,
the survival of the school system was uncertain. In order
to ease the tension, the Free School Act of 1854 was passed
which provided for separate schools for blacks and whites
whenever possible. When fewer than twenty black students
were enrolled in the schools, they were to be admitted to
By 1873, there was a sufficient number of black students
in Williamsport to justify the construction of a black
school. In that year, the Hepburn Street School was built
between Canal and West Third streets. It operated until
1881 when a law was passed eliminating segregation in the
schools of Pennsylvania. Several petitions had been sent
to the Pennsylvania Senate from Williamsport urging the
passage of the Act of 1881 and asking for the abolition of
"all distinctions of race or color in the common schools
of the state."
Following the desegregation of Williamsport Schools, black
students attended schools within their district. The
black community fell primarily within the borders of the
Curtin, Stevens, and Emery School Districts. In later
years, the Emery School was unofficially called the "colored
school . "
Though the students within the district were integrated,
black teachers were generally not permitted to teach white
students. In 1909, Lila M. Fisher began teaching black
students at Transeau School in grades one through four. A
room was set aside in the Emery School building for the
black students and their teacher. In 1938, when Emery
School closed due to declining enrollment, Miss Fisher was
transferred to Transeau School where she continued to
teach segregated classes one through four until her retire-
ment in 1948-49. Segregation in the schools of Lycoming
County ended with her retirement.
Following the Civil War the hundreds of blacks who had
emigrated to Lycoming County began to settle in Williamsport
in search of employment, housing, and security. The per-
centage of Lycoming County blacks living in Williamsport
rose sharply in the last half of the nineteenth century.
In 1850, only 61 of the 364 blacks in the county lived in
Williamsport . By 1880, 762 of the 897 blacks in the county
lived in Williamsport.
Forced by segregation and economics, blacks settled along
the Susquehanna River in older houses amid the saw mills
and railroad yards. The settlement was not ideal in its
location, but it did permit easy access to employment in
mills, shops, homes, and city services. Blacks lived pri-
marily on Mill, Filbert, Gilmore, Wilson, and East Jeffer-
son streets. A few pockets of black families lived at
Kaiser's Springs in what is now Duboistown and on Freedom
Road, a mile north of Market Square.
On June 5, 1889, the flood which brought an end to the
great lumbering era, also destroyed the black settlement.
More than 150 million feet of lumber, set loose from the
boom at Lock Haven, crashed into homes at the lower end
of the city turning them upside down, ripping them from
their foundations, and crushing many of them to kindling.
Many people were stranded on rooftops and in trees. One
black man from Newberry rowed in a boat for two days res-
cuing stranded people in Williamsport. The devastation
brought by the flood pushed the black settlement north
of the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks at Erie Avenue.
Stymied by the strength of de facto segregation, the black
community has remained solidly entrenched in the same area.
A half century later, the increasing delapidation of the
homes in the black community brought public concern. Homes
on Cherry Street and Erie Avenue were particularly delapi-
dated, many more than one hundred years old. Trains
stopping to be stoked in the adjacent railroad yard spewed
a thick blanket of smoke over the entire neighborhood. In
1951, houses on Cherry Street and Erie Avenue between
Hepburn and Walnut streets were razed to make room for the
Peter Herdic Housing Project, a thirty- six. unit complex.
Although it provided badly needed housing, its location on
the same site rather than in a white neighborhood, per-
petuated segregation of the black community.
In 1971, in order to end the perpetuation of segregated
housing, blacks protested the location of the Roundhouse
Housing Project on Erie Avenue and Walnut streets. Blacks
filed a complaint through the Pennsylvania Human Relations
Commission, which charged that the city of Williamsport,
the Planning Commission, the Redevelopment Authority, and
the Housing Authority had "committed and continue to com-
mit unlawful discriminatory practices with respect to
planning, designing, approval, and construction" of the
Roundhouse Project and the West End Project (Kennedy-King
Manor) on Foresman Street. It was charged that the
Mary Slaughter Home for Aged Colored Women
Peter Herdic Housing Project
Site of Peter Herdic Housing Project
Housing Authority knew the location of the projects would
result in segregated housing yet proceeded with the
construction. Blacks protested that the Roundhouse in the
black community would perpetuate segregation while the West
End Project would be occupied by all whites. Questions were
raised concerning the quality of materials and the density
of population as compared with the West End Project. The
Housing Authority was also charged with permitting the
Peter Herdic Housing Project, located in the black community,
to be occupied solely by blacks. The Authority argued that
white tenants refused housing assignments to projects in
or near the black community.
After numerous delays and public meetings, it was finally
agreed that the number of units in the Roundhouse would be
reduced and the racial balance between the Roundhouse and
the West End Project would be maintained. Projects under
the Lycoming County Housing Authority, including Peter
Herdic, Michael Ross, and Perm Vale were also integrated by
assigning a tenant to a project rather than allowing the
tenant a choice.
THE BLACK COMMUNITY
In 1870, E. W. Capron, editor and publisher of the Daily
and Weekly West Branch Bulletin and the Daily Evening Bul-
letin , captured the attitudes of whites towards blacks~in a
speech celebrating the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment
which granted blacks the right to vote. He said, "Ten
years ago the colored men were all practically slaves. If
those in the North did not feel the galling chain, they
felt the weight of the distant links. It was not the color
which made the degradation of the colored race in the
North, it was the contemptible spirit of caste which held
the race in degradation, because a portion of them were
slaves . . . . "
In Lycoming County, this contemptible spirit of caste kept
blacks locked into segregated neighborhoods along the
Susquehanna River. Denied the services outside of the
black community, black restaurants, barber shops, and even
dentists and doctors offered services exclusively within
the black community. Blacks had formed five churches by
1880 and numerous social clubs such as Masons, Knights
of Pythias, and Elks. Until 1944, these social clubs were
listed as "colored" in the Williamsport City Directory.
In the decades surrounding the turn of the century, blacks
were hopeful of gaining new civil rights. The idealism of
the Progressive Era soon became tainted by white backlash.
Many whites were afraid that blacks would gain too many
rights, become equal, or even gain political or social
control in some communities. In Williamsport, blacks kept
a low profile and in several incidents, they were beaten.
In 1872, a ten-year-old black boy was beaten by white
youths in front of the Ulman's Opera House. His eye was
cut by a blow from a lead-tipped cane. In another inci-
dent, blacks attacked a white couple at a festival. A
slanted newpaper article in the Sun on October 31, 1872, re-
ported that blacks "showed their agility with a razor." In
1906, Thomas Hughes, a black Williamsport policeman was
attacked by a group of youths as he arrested one of their
number for disorderly conduct outside of the Lycoming
Opera House. As he made the arrest, the youths knocked
him to the ground and kicked him. Before he could be res-
cued by fellow officers, he had sustained serious internal
injuries which resulted in his death nine days later. The
youths were charged with disorderly conduct and ordered to
pay fines. There was no further prosecution following the
death of Thomas Hughes.
Lynching of blacks at the turn of the century, according
to one source, had almost become a white sport in Ohio,
and in 1894, the Pennsylvania National Guard was mobilized
to prevent lynchings in this state. At a time when blacks
were expecting to gain rights in the tide of Progressivism,
the backlash actually brought a more deeply entrenched se-
In many parts of Williamsport, blacks could not enter a
restaurant to buy a sandwich. Many theaters isolated
blacks to one side of the theater. At least one theater
in Williamsport prominently displayed a sign that read:
"This theater does not cater to black patrons." Blacks
continued to be kept at the most menial jobs except in
professions which were catering specifically to the black
The violent backlash against blacks was closely followed by
sympathy for blacks and an attempt by some to integrate
them into society. Observing the gradual integration in
1923, Mary Slaughter cautioned, blacks "must move carefully.
There is a line of color between the races and this cannot
The YWCA extended its membership to blacks in 1918 through
the Walnut Street Branch, located next to the Shiloh
Baptist Church. Though the membership was offered at a
branch, the offer to blacks of membership in a white
institution was unprecedented at this time in Lycoming
County. Nearly every black social club met either at the
Walnut Street Branch YWCA, the remodeled livery stable
next to it, or the Temple Association next door.
In 1930, in -the midst of the Great Depression, the main
YWCA cut the Walnut Street Branch from its budget causing
it to founder for several years. It reorganized into the
Bethune-Douglass Community Center. The YWCA continued a
struggle within its membership to admit blacks. In 1946,
an interracial charter was adopted at the National YWCA
convention. In 1973 the convention adopted an imperative
for action "toward the elimination of racism." Bethune-
Douglass continued as an interracial community center, and
in 1978, it constructed a new center on Campbell Street with
a $715,000 federal public works grant.
THE SAWDUST WAR
In mid- July of 1872, unrest among lumber men spread
throughout the Williamsport mills. Grievances over long
working hours had been lodged aginst the saw mill opera-
tors who claimed the twelve-hour working days were neces-
sary in the summer in order to cut all the logs before the
river froze. A state law existed establishing the eight-
hour working day, but it carried no penalty for noncom-
pliance. In order to force a compromise, workers went on
On the night of July 22, 1872, striking workers attacked
mill workers and tried to force the closing of the mills.
At 5 A.M. a mob of strikers marched en masse down the rail-
road tracks leading into the mills, harrassed the workers,
and ordered them to leave the mills. By the time the mob
reached Filbert and Otto Mill, guards had been dispatched
to stop them. Seeing the mill in full operation, strikers
rushed the armed guards, pelting them with rocks, clubs,
and crowbars. The strikers overran the mill scattering
the workers among the stacks of boards.
Having stopped work at the Filbert and Otto Mill, the mob
moved down the tracks to Brown and Early Mill where the
powerless guards hardly resisted their entrance up the
elevated railroad tracks. The Reading, Fisher, and Com-
pany Mill offered no resistance either so the strikers
broke up into smaller groups and scattered themselves
among various smaller mills. Numerous injuries were in-
flicted on workers at Tinsman's Mill, Starkweather and
Munson ' s Mill , and Dodge Mill .
Rioting was so widespread, local authorities requested
that Governor Geary dispatch the militia. Ten companies
of soldiers, including Williamsport ' s all-black Taylor
Guard, were stationed at the mills around the city. Five
carloads of soldiers had arrived in the city during the
night giving the city the appearance of being occupied.
Camps were set up on the Courthouse lawn and at Herdic
Grove, the present site of the Williamsport Hospital. Not
since the Civil War had the marching of soldiers and the
beating of drums echoed through the city's streets.
In the morning there were sporadic outbreaks of violence
across the city. A mob of rioters moved up Pine Street
then west on Fourth Street, followed closely by the Taylor
Guard. In front of the Singer Sewing Rooms on West Fourth
Street, two strikers were beating a compromising "llj hour
man" who had drawn a revolver. One shot was fired into the
air before a fourth man was able to seize him from behind.
In the excitement, several of the Guards fired their rifles
into the air. The show of force by the militia soon dis-
banded the rioters and ended the violence without a single
The uncoordinated mobilization of the independently com-
manded militias emphasized such ineptitude during the
riot that Governor Geary moved to organize them all under
a single command, thus organizing the Pennsylvania National
Guard. In 1874, the Taylor Guard was designated Company D,
Twelfth Regiment of the Pennsylvania National Guard.
Mary Slaughter was born a slave on February 27, 1835, in
Martinsburg, W. Va. When she was freed in 1865 at the age
of thirty, she settled in Williamsport with her husband
William, a blacksmith. They worked together as caretakers
of various churches until her husband died. Having al-
ready lost their three sons, Mary Slaughter poured her
energies into caring for the children of sick mothers and
working for temperance.
In 1897, she began to take elderly black women into her
four-room home on Walnut Street. Two years later the
Aged Colored Women's Home (unofficially called the Mary
Slaughter Home ) moved to larger quarters at 124 Brandon
Place. The home was supported by donations until more
room was needed, then the home was mortgaged. Needing
steadier support, Mary Slaughter traveled to Harrisburg
and pleaded before a Senate Legislative Committee for funds.
The senate appropriated funds and paid the mortgage on
the home which operated soundly until 1962 when state
support to all non-profit homes ceased.
The home was closed in 1973, when it failed to meet state
standards for nursing homes. In 1975, the home was de-
molished and a low-income housing project for the elderly
was constructed on the same site and named in honor of
Mary Slaughter, who died in 1934.
QUESTIONS BLACK HISTORY IN LYCOMING COUNTY
The Underground Railroad and the Civil War
1. Explain why slavery did not become widespread in Ly-
2. How did Pennsylvania's Act of 1780 affect the county?
3. What sites in the county were part of the Underground
A. What part did blacks from the county play in the Civil
The Vote--A Step Toward Equality
5. Why did many county residents welcome the 1938 amend-
ment to the Pennsylvania Constitution?
6. What were some of the words of advice given by Freder-
ick Douglass to Williamsporters in 1867?
7. Why was Williamsport ' s 1889 weekly, The Informant ,
important to blacks?
Blacks and Formal Education
8. Identify Wilson Finley, Sarah Hepburn, and Lila Fisher.
9. What complaints did blacks make to the Housing Author-
ity? What were the results of these complaints?
The Black Community
10. How did the Bethune-Douglass Community Center originate?
The Sawdust War
11. What part did the Taylor Guard play in the Sawdust War?
12. How might this incident be considered as the beginning
of the Pennsylvania National Guard?
13- What contributions did Mary Slaughter make toward
social welfare in Williamsport?
P E N D IV FLOOD FORECASTING NETWORK
^, The methods used in flood forecasting today are highly so-
phisticated and utilize computers and other technology to
compile and analyze data collected from reporting stations
along streams and rivers. But the forecasts provided from
the River Forecast Center of the National Oceanic and At-
mospheric Administration in Harrisburg suffer from the dis-
advantage of remoteness. The many variables and ever chang-
ing factors involved in flood forecasting make it an onerous
Yet in recent years another system has been devised in Ly-
coming County for forecasting river and stream levels in
the county which complements the government's own methods.
This system is the backbone of the Lycoming County Flash
Flood Network initiated in the summer of 1977. The first
and current Coordinator of the Network is William Bird of
Muncy who devised the forecasting methods involved.
The County Flash Flood Network is associated with the County
Civil Defense Office in the Courthouse. The whole system
can be activated by the Flash Flood Coordinator, the County
Civil Defense Director, the head of the County Planning
Commission, the Meterorologist at the U. S. Weather Service
in Montour svi lie, or a rainfall or stream guage observer.
Whenever heavy rains, severe snow melt or an ice jam occurs,
conditions are such that a warning may be necessary and ra-
dio stations and the media notified.
The objective of the Flash Flood Network is "to provide
maximum practical lead time warning of eminent flooding to
all residents and businesses located in the flood plains
of any or all six major streams effecting Lycoming County."
Whenever such a warning is effected, the Flash Flood Co-
ordinator is responsible for determining the degree of
danger and anticipated stream levels. How 'is this done?
From the flood forecasting office in the Koppers Co. plant
in Muncy, the coordinator collects data by phone on stream
conditions, rainfall amounts, snow melt, soil saturation,
and temperatures at the major reporting stations in the
5,400 square mile watershed above Williamsport. So as to
make calculations concerning the Susquehanna River, the
watershed has been divided into five parts. They are (l)
the Clearfield/DuBois area with three reporting stations;
(2) the Sinnemahoning/Germania area, also with three re-
porting stations; (3) the Cedar Run/Wellsboro region with
three major stations; (4) the Williamsport area with the
airport as the major station; and (5) the Eagles Mere to
Muncy area with seven major stations. Areas 3, 4 and 5
have a total of sixty reporting stations including the
eleven major ones. The use of a larger number of reporting
stations offers greater accuracy in flood forecasting.
During the years he has been engaged in flood forecasting,
Mr. Bird has demonstrated the reliability of a forecasting
formula first developed by his father. The formula is ap-
plicable to river depths from Williamsport to Muncy. It
states that "one inch of rain falling in less than 24 hours
in the watershed and on saturated, frozen or dried hard
ground produces five feet of runoff..." (i.e. a rise in the
river level of five feet from Williamsport to Muncy). Run-
off is the crucial factor in this formula.
Within thirty minutes of receiving data from the watershed
above Muncy, it is possible to predict the amount of run-
off to expect. Thus one inch of rain in 24 hours over the
entire watershed above Muncy will create five feet of run-
off and a subsequent rise of five feet in the river at
Williamsport and Muncy if the above soil conditions prevail.
This formula, however, is for conditions which rarely occur.
Instead, lulls in rainfall, changes in temperature, altera-
tions between rain and snow and other weather variations
can occur. When caluclating the data in each of the report-
ing areas, these varying conditions must be factored in.
A further modification to the above formula is necessary due
to the four federal and two state dams in the West Branch
watershed. The dams hold back about fifteen percent of the
runoff from areas 1 and 2 where they are located. Hence
fifteen percent is subtracted from the runoff figures for
the first two areas of the watershed.
When the dams were full during the 1972 Agnes flood, it is
estimated that the river stage at Williamsport was lowered
by 5£ feet thus preventing the water from going over the
dikes by two feet. Those two feet proved critical to the
safety of Williamsport.
A considerably useful new aid to the efficiency of the
Flash Flood Network is the "final index" for streams com-
puted by the National Weather Service at Harrisburg. The
final index is obtained from mechanical devices which
assess the bearing of runoff on the various streams. This
data is then fed into a computer to determine the amount of
rainfall necessary to cause a stream to overflow.
The final index is utilized by the County Flash Flood Net-
work to help the coordinator determine the probability and
degree of flooding along any major stream after he has
determined the average amount of rainfall for the watershed
in question. -A new final index is available daily for
every stream. This greatly enhances the speed and reliability
of flood forecasts.
It is obvious, then, how scientific flood forecasting has
become. In Incoming County the Flood Forecasting Network
is effective not only due to advances in computers and scien-
tific forecasting methods, but also due to the many years
of trial and error put into perfecting the methods by
The Lycoming County Flash Flood Network, first organized in
the summer of 1977, is worthy of the emulation of other
counties. Finally, forecasters have come to be especially
sensitive to heavy rainfalls on Wednesdays and Thursdays, as
over the years most major floods have come on Thursday
nights. Though it may be pure coincidence, Thursday
nights still stir trepidation in the hearts of flood fore-
QUESTIONS FLOOD FORECASTING NETWORK
1. What is the function of the Lycoming County Flash
2. List the five main areas of the West Branch watershed
where reporting stations are located.
3. State the forecasting formula employed to determine
flood levels on the river from Williamsport to Muncy.
4. How do the dams in the West Branch watershed affect
5. Why do Thursday nights frighten flood forecasters?
COUNTY SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS
Jesse W. Barrett 1854-1856
Elisha B. Parker 1856-1857
Hugh Castles 1857-1863
John Thomas Reed 1863-1872
T. F. Gahan 1872-1881
Charles S. Riddell 1881-1885
Charles Lose 1885-1891
J. George Becht 1893-1902
G. Bruce Milnor 1902-1922
Sylvester B. Dunlap 1922-1936
Frank H. Painter 1936-1947
Clarence H. McConnel 1947-1962
Ralph C. Smith 1962-1971
EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS OF INTERMEDIATE UNIT 17 (BLaST)
Carl Driscoll 1971-1978
Dr. Robert M. Mitstifer 1978-
Books and Monographs
History of Lycoming County , Pa. , Illustrated. Philadelphia, Pa.:
J. B. Lippencott 5 Co. 1873.
Lloyd, Col. Thomas W. History of Lycoming County . Topeka and
Indianapolis: Historical Publishing Co. 1929
Meginness, J. F. History of Lycoming County , Pa. Chicago: Runk
and Company. 1892 .
Meginness, J. F. Lycoming County , It's Reorganization and Con-
densed History for 100 Years, 1795-1895 . Williamsport, Pa.:
Gazette and Bulletin Printing House. 1895.
Nichols, Beach. Atlas and History of Lycoming County, Pa. from
Actual Surveys . Philadelphia: Pomeroy, Co. 1873 and 1876
Palmer, Timothy. Susquehanna Waterway : The West Branch in Lycoming
County . Williamsport, Pa.: Lycoming County Planning Commission.
Pennsylvania Department of Community Affairs. A Guide to Pennsyl-
vania Local Government , 2nd edition. Harrisburg, 1975.
The Story of the Keystone Shortway . Williamsport, Pa. : Keystone
Shortway Association. 1970.
Turnbaugh, W. Man, Land and Time . Evansville: Unigraphic, Inc.,
Updegraff, Abraham. Sketch of the Life of the Late Thomas Upde-
graff. Williamsport, Pa.: Banner Book and Job Printing House,
Wallace, P. A. W. Indians in Pennsylvania . Harrisburg: The Pennsyl-
vania Historical and Museum Commission. 1961.
Witthoft, J. Indian Prehistory in Pennsylvania . Harrisburg: The
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. 1965.
Witthoft, J. and Kinsey, W. Fred III, eds. Susquehanna Miscellany
Harrisburg: The Pennsylvania Historical § Museum Commission, 1959.
Bertin, Eugene P. "The Muncy Valley Medical Society and the Muncy
Valley Hospital." Now and Then , XVIII (January, 1975). 57-64
Landis, Milton W. "Covered Bridges in Lycoming County." Now and
Then , XV (January, 1966) . 76-81
Lester, Ralph. "Freedom Road". Journal of the Lycoming County
Historical Society. (June, 1959).
Nation's Business. "Williamsport Plan". March, 1940.
Pennsylvania Game Commission. Pennsylvania Game News. April, May,
1940; July, 1955; May, November, 1976.
Salisbury, Ruth. Pennsylvania Newspapers: A Bibliography and
Union List . Pittsburgh: Pennsylvania Library Association, 1969.
Citizen Press , Williamsport, Pa.
The Democrat . James V. Brown Library files. Williamsport, Pa.
Gazette and Bulletin . James V. Brown Library files. Williamsport,
Grit . James V. Brown Library files. Williamsport, Pa.
Lycoming Gazette . James V. Brown Library files. Williamsport,
Muncy Luminary . James V. Brown Library files. Williamsport, Pa.
Philadelphia Inquirer. Philadelphia, Pa.
Sun . James V. Brown Library files. Williamsport, Pa.
Sun-Gazette . James V. Brown Library files. Williamsport, Pa.
West Branch Bulletin . James V. Brown Library files.
"Central Lycoming Area Regional Planning Commission Comparative
Data for 1960". James V. Brown Library files, Williamsport, Pa.
Government Documents (continued)
Central Lycoming Area Regional Planning Commission. Report on the
Comprehensive Plan. Lycoming County, Pa. June, 1961.
Lycoming County Planning Commission. Economics Study Update . June,
Lycoming County Planning Commission. Lycoming County Historica l
Preservation Plan . September, 1974.
Pennsylvania Department of Commerce, Bureau of Statistics, Re-
search and Planning. Pennsylvania Statistical Abstracts . 1974,
Pennsylvania Department of Internal Affairs Bulletin . July, 1936;
Stichell, James E. Housing: Policies, Plans and Proposals. Wil-
liamsport: Lycoming County Planning Commission, October, 1973.
U. S. Bureau of Census. Department of Agriculture Reports, 1940-
U. S. Bureau of Census. Department of Commerce Bulletin, 1940-1970;
Unpublished Theses and Pamphlets
Blakesley, Alfred M. West Branch Front. Williamsport, Pa.: West
Branch Manufacturers' Association, 1945.
Bressler, J. and Turnbaugh, W. Indians in Lycoming County, pam-
phlet. Lycoming County Historical Society.
Community Trade Association Clippings. Williamsport Plan , pamphlet.
Dugan, Jeffrey W. "The Bands of Williamsport, Pa." Unpublished
Master's thesis, Pennsylvania State University, 1975.
Gallagher, James and Lechtman, James. Williamsport 's YWCA ,
Williamsport YWCA files. April 4, 1975.
Hall, C. B. TNT , Employees Handbook Pennsylvania Ordnance Works .
Williamsport, Pa.: U. S. Rubber Company. July 1, 1943.
Pierce, Edward Larue, "Lycoming County in the Civil War". Unpub-
lished Ph.D. thesis, Pennsylvania State College, June, 1934.
Price, Edward, Jr. "Let the Law Be Just: The Quest for Racial E-
quality in Pennsylvania, 1780-1915", Unpublished Ph. D. thesis,
Pennsylvania State University, 1973.
Unpublished Thesis and Pamphlets (continued)
Russell, Mary Landon. "A History of Music of Williamsport, Pa.'
Unpublished Masters thesis, Pennsylvania State University, 1957.
McMinn, J. H. "Miscellaneous Sketches". James V. Brown Library
files. Williamsport, Pa.
Williamsport Area School District. "Minutes" of School Board Meet-
ings, April, July 1850.
YWCA. File notes, 1932.
YWCA. Local History of YWCA , 1927.
Greater Williamsport Community Arts Council, William H. Ealer,
President (1976-1978), and members of the board - especially
Samuel J. Dornsife, Mrs. Robert J. B. Maples, Treasurer, and
Mrs. David B. Stone, Secretary.
Williamsport Area School District, Dr. Oscar W. Knade, Jr.,
Superintendent; Dr. June E. Baskin, Supervisor of Art, advisor
to the project; George C. Deffenbaugh, Supervisor of Social
Studies, and Miss Jean T. Heller, Supervisor of English; for
editorial and technical assistance; Jan Fitzwater, CETA Visual
Literacy team, and Frederick T. Gilmour, Multi-Media Specialist,
for photographic assistance; Mrs. Calvin S. Myers, secretary to
the Art Department, for typing manuscripts; Ruth Rosenburg-
Naparsteck, CETA researcher, for line drawings contained in book;
Miss Gladys E. Wideraire, photo instructor, Skills Shop, for
photographic assistance; the Williamsport Area High School
Graphics Arts, James D. Wither, Chairman for printing half-tones;
and Thomas Bishop for photo-platemaking; Williamsport Area School
District, Charles E. Hughes, offset- lithographer. Williamsport
Area High School, James F. Pegg, Chairman, Business Department for
providing typing facilities.
Andrew K. Grugan, director of the Lycoming County Historical
Society Museum, and staff, for assistance with research
materials and photographs.
Mrs. Evelyn Miller, Librarian at Grit Publishing Company, for
Grit Publishing Company for use of Agnes flood photographs.
James V. Brown Library Reference Department staff, for research
assistance and photographs.
Lycoming County Commissioners, Robert W. Beiter, Paul K. Bloom
and Henry F. Frey.
| JULY- SEPT 1998 I