Thursday, July 18, 2024

The 1895 Lycoming Centennial Exposition Building Displays

1895 Exhibition building for centennial of Lycoming County.  
[Located on southeast corner of Pine and 5th Streets - today a parking lot]

"A  careful  examination  of  the  record  books  shows  that there  were  1,182  exhibitors,  and  their  exhibits  aggregated 14,823  separate  pieces."

Find a 50 page list of articles on display, organized alphabetically by town, in the centennial report, or here:


Some of the items listed as 
Special Historical Displays, included:


William Perry Brady


“Foremost among this number is the silver medal awarded by the Senate of Pennsylvania to William Perry Brady, and testimony of his patriotism and bravery in the naval action on lake Erie comma on September 10th 1813 comma at which time Commodore Perry's little fleet of American ships won a brilliant victory over the English. This metal at the exposition, was in charge of John F McGinnis; It was loaned by Mrs. Willis Taylor of this city's granddaughter of the man to whom the medal was given.”


The Trunk
Where The McBrides
Kept Their Gold

 "Gruesome though its historic interest, yet one of the things that one universal attention was a little leather covered, brass-riveted trunk. This was the treasure chest of old John McBride and his wife, who were murdered near Dougherty’s Run,  West of Williamsport, by Nelson E Wade.  The forced and broken lock of the old trunk was examined by thousands, for the knowledge that the brutal wade, after killing the helpless old couple, had torn the box open and extracted there from much of the money that he carried away with him, attached to it the morbid interest that is naturally awakened in mankind when viewing any object that may have been associated with crime. The interior of the trunk was covered with a newspaper and the trunk is in the same condition as it was when taken from the home of the Mcbrides."


Lycomings First Sewing Machine

 “The first sewing machine brought to like coming county occupied a place in the singer sewing machine company's booth. It is a crude and curious looking piece of mechanism. It was brought to Williamsport by Covert & Roothrock, pioneer merchant tailors and is now the property of Matthias stopper, who operated it about 30 years.  The contrast between the old article, and the modern machines which stood near it, was amusing.”


Governor Shulze's Chair


“On the elevated platform on the South side of the exposition was a quaint old chair that belonged to John Andrew Schulze, governor of Pennsylvania from 1823 to 1829, now the property of his descendants in Lycoming county. The antiquated article of furniture attracted much attention because of its historic associations.  It is of quite frail construction, and was doubtless considered a beauty in its day.


Ethan Allen's Table

 "A particularly interesting object in the exposition was the Ethan Allen table, now the property of m Mrs. Mary C. White Merrick…. General Ethan Allen... was a literary man, and some of his works commanded wide attention. The table which was on exhibition at the Lycoming exposition has been the property of Allen's descendants continuously, hence its authenticity is undoubted. Who knows, perhaps it was upon this very table that the famous New Englander wrote his books, for it occupied a prominent part of the furnishings of his household.”


First Post Office

There is a lot more written about the Griers and the first post office desk, in the article and in the report.

  Mr. and Mrs. Isaac M. Grier, residing at 206 race St. have in their possession a piece of furniture, which, nearly 100 years ago, served as Williamsport's first post office.  It is a solid walnut desk about 6 feet high and four feet wide. A drop leaf reveals a series of pigeonholes, and the east, for nearly 20 years, served as the letterboxes of the Williamsport post office…. Mr. Grier brought the walnut desk with him from Ireland and its exact age is not known. The present owners however calculated that it is at least 150 years old. ” [Meaning it was made about 1745]  “there are no nails used in its construction. It is “dove-tailed” together, and is a wonderful illustration of old time cabinet makers work.”

All of the above are from an article in the Williamsport Grit, which was included in the Centennial Report.

“Grit had in contemplation the compilation are they complete list of articles in the antiquarian collection, together with the name of each contributor, but a survey of the ground to be covered developed the fact that the display was such an extensive and enormous one that the space would not permit the publication of the list…. Grit presents the pictures of a number of articles, selected here and there from the great collection---things with which our associated stories of interest, and which go to make up part of the diversified history of Lycoming County, the West Branch valley and incidentally that of Pennsylvania.” – The Pennsylvania Grit

Gernerd's Indian Artifacts

A space of 23 feet was occupied by more than 1000 typical specimens from the well known collection of Indian relics belonging to Mr. J. M. M. Gernard of Muncy.  The various objects exhibited were nearly all found along the West Branch of the Susquehanna River. They were arranged in 32 separate classes, and formed to procure peculiarly instructive and attractive exhibit of the various articles of stone and baked clay that were used by the Aborigines in this part of North America.”


 Fig 1 – “ a number of small and beautifully fashioned stone hatchets, with holes drilled in them for handles, were marked “Ceremonial Weapons, and were evidently designed for the purpose that the name indicates. See Fig. 1."


Fig 2 – “to some visitors the most interesting part of this exhibit seemed to be the fine array of tobacco pipes. They were made of soapstone, claystone and baked clay. A unique and delicate specimen was the soapstone “Moccasin pipe”, of which figure 2 is a full size representation”


 Fig 3 – “the singular double -face baked clay pipe shown in profile in full size, by Fig 3, and the moccasin pipe, were found many years ago by Mr. Gernerd on the Indian town site between the location of the “Ancient fortification” and the mouth of Muncy Creek.



Fig 4. Represents a curious art delineation of a combination of the head and jaws of some reptile (perhaps an alligator) And the head and face of a human being, as will be seen if the cut is held in different positions. This pipe was found near Jersey Shore, and the material is soapstone.”



Fig 5 – “One of the most valued and finely wrought in the Gernerd exhibit, and one on which the maker evidently spent many patient hours in its ornamentation, is the baked clay pipe shown full size by Fig. 5.”



Fig. 6 – “an assortment of rusty and formidable looking iron Tomahawks, a various patterns and of a later historical era- Fig. 6 represents one - two we noted were labeled “From the battlefield of the Muncie hills, 1763” - recalled to mind the distressing scenes when the revengeful savages came back to the West Branch valley to plunder, tomahawk and scalp the mostly unprotected settlers, when so many of the able-bodied men were away with the army under Washington.”


 Fig 7-10 – “there were also fragments of nearly 100 single specimens of pottery, to which we must yet give a passing notice. They are of special interest, because they especially show that while the primitive artists -- who in this line of art were the women - were conspicuously imitative and but little inventive in one respect, they were nevertheless rather original and clever in another sense. The forms of the decorations are but few and simple, being nothing more than straight, parallel, and zigzag lines, notches, incisions, dots, and now and then small preparations near the rim. Mr Gernerd Says, however, that he has never found pieces of two vessels that were embellished exactly alike, which fact shows that the decorators displayed some degree of taste and originality in their work period we have borrowed 4 cuts from Now And Then  - Figs 7 to 10 - which give a good general idea of the style and latitude of ornamentation, indicated by the many fragments collected.”


"The exposition building is right in the center of the city within sight of the beautiful City Hall and the magnificent Soldiers and Sailors monument Which was dedicated last fall with imposing ceremonies by the grand army posts of Lycoming County. There are many places of interest in and around the city, and the visitor can spend a few days there and enjoy himself greatly." -The Canton Independent

The Daily Gazette & Bulletin, June 1895 reported that:
"The front of the centennial building presents a very handsome appearance. The lettering and figure work appears as follows:
Exhibition Building

" And  there  was  something  singularly  appropriate  as  well  as  beautiful in  the  fact  that  on  this  anniversary  day  a  lady  should  come  forth  and offer  to  erect  a  building  for  the  antiquarian  display,  and  therefore assure  the  success  of  the  exposition. " - The Centennial Report.  Mrs. Harriet Metzger signed a contract for the erection of a 200x67 feet building for the use of the  Lycoming Centennial Association, from June 15th 1895 to March 1896.  

I have not yet been able to find what happened to the building, which today is a parking lot.  But in the Daily Gazette And Bulletin Nov 30, 1895, we find that it was a skating rink, transformed into "a first class place of amusement, with excellent toilet, smoking , and skate rooms, and restaurant."



Although the Celebration was held July 2nd -4th, the Hall was kept open through July 15th.

On July 12th 1895, the Daily Gazette and Bulletin reported that
"It looked like moving day on Pine Street between Fourth and Fifth yesterday, owing to many parties taking their exhibits from the centennial building."

As for what was on display in the building, several local papers gave the following report:

"The antiquarian display in the beautiful exposition building, will be replete with relics and heirlooms - historical and otherwise- relating to the early men and times of this country.

 Rare and valuable articles of use and ornament from our own and foreign lands, 

  • works of art, 
  • portraits,
  •  paintings, 
  • photographs, 
  • engravings, 
  • sketches etcetera. 
  • Ancient and rare historical documents, books, papers, bibles,
  •  rare old China, porcelain, glass, dishes,
  •  faces, bric brac, 
  • antique furniture and furnishings, 
  • linens, laces, 
  • watches, clocks, jewelry,
  •  spinning wheels,
  •  revolutionary war relics, old guns, swords, powder horns, coins, metals, badges

 and hundreds of other articles so varied in their nature that the exhibition will appeal to all. There will be a limited number of contrast to displays of ancient and modern goods of like class by leading merchants and manufacturers comma so that the visitor can compare the past with the present and note the improvements in the Arts and Sciences.

The display of mementos of the greatest war, the rebellion, will be as important feature of the exposition; one that will be worthy of the patriotic occasion that brought it forth, and that will fittingly represent the prominent part taken by our people in those stirring days. Let all who can make it a point to be there; The railroads entering the city over their town and leased lines will give reduced rates of fare and increased facilities for safe transporting the masses. " 

"The  work  of  preparation  was  arduous  and  perplexing. After  an  organization  had  been  effected  by  the committee,  and  the  ladies  got  fairly  to  work,  exhibits poured  in  from  every  direction,  and  the  number  offered became  so  great  that  had  the  building  been  twice  its size  it  could  have  been  filled,  so  eager  were  the  people to  exhibit  their  relics,  heirlooms  and  precious  memorials of  their  ancestors.  On  account  of  a  lack  of  space, therefore,  all  the  articles  offered  could  not  be  displayed as  the  chairman  desired,  and  he  was  forced  to  refuse many  interesting  exhibits  on  account  of  the  avalanche that  was  hurled  upon  him.  Hundreds  of  fine  specimens were  not  unpacked  because  there  was  no  room to  display  them.

 As  it  was,  no  larger  or  finer  exhibit  was  ever  made."

Mentions From The Planning Meetings
At  the  meeting  of  the  general  committee,  December 29,  1894,  the  committee  on  organization  submitted, through  its  chairman,  Mr.  Quigley, a report of the plans for the celebration.  Included in the report was a section regarding the  Antiquarian  Display.
 "The  Board  of  Management  shall  appoint  a committee  to  look  after  the  antiquarian  display;  secure  suitable  rooms In  the  central  part  of  the  city  for  the  exhibit,  that  said  rooms  be  open for  exhibition  for  six  days,  from  Monday  until  Saturday,  and  from  8 o'clock  A.  M.  until  6  o'clock  P.  M.  of  each  day;  that  the  services  of  a suitable  person  be  secured  by  the  committee  on  antiquary,  to  take charge  of  all  articles  presented  for  exhibition,  classify  and  number  the 'same  and  see  that  they  are  properly  cared  for,  and  at  the  close  of  the exhibit  see  that  they  are  returned  to  their  several  owners,  and  that  we would  recommend  the  following  committee:  J.  H.  MoMinn,  Dudley  A.
 Martin,  W.  C.  Hall,  C.  H.  Eldon,  J.  M.  M.  Gernerd,  A.  Meyer,  August Koch  and  A.  H.  Heilman. "
 "A  feature  of  much  interest  will  be  found  in  that  part  of  the  work  relating to  the  antiquarian  display,  which,  while  not  so  full  or  complete  as  it was  the  desire  of  the  editor  and  the  chairman  of  that  committee  to  have  had it,  yet  it  is  the  best  that  possibly  could  be  made  under  the  circumstances.
 The  work  of  collecting  and  receipting  for  exhibits  had  necessarily  been deputed  to  others,  and  upon  examination  of  the  stubs  of  the  record  books but  meagre  information  regarding  the  various  exhibits  could  be  obtained.
 From  these  imperfect  records,  personal  knowledge  and  such  further  information as  the  limited  time  offered  for  gathering  facts,  were  the  long  lists collected.  The  labor  involved  was  very  great.  It  was  deemed  fitting  to  include in  the  antiquarian  department  the  daily  programs  as  carried  out  in the  exposition  building,  together  with  the  closing  addresses  as  far  as  they could  be  obtained. " Preface of The Official Report "PLANS  SOLICITED  FOR  A  BUILDING.
 There  being  no  quorum  present  for  the  regular  meeting of  the  Board  of  Managers  for  March  9th,  an  informal meeting  was  organized  by  electing  J.  F.  Davis  chairman and  H.  S.  Lucas*  secretary  pro  tern.,  for  the  purpose of  receiving  plans  for  a  temporary  building  for antiquarian  exhibits,  and  allowing  architects  to  explain the  same.
 Drafts  were  submitted  by  E.  Culver  &  Son,  Wagner &  Reitmeyer  and  Milton  It.  Hudson,  who  explained  in detail  the  merits  of  their  respective  plans  and  what  the same  would  cost. "
 "Colonel  Wilson,  on  behalf  of  the  committee  on  location of  the  antiquarian  structure,  submitted  a  contract signed  by  Mrs.  Harriet  Metzger  for  the  erection  of  a building  200x67  feet  for  use  by  the  Lycoming  County Centennial  Association,  from  June  15th,  1895,  to  March "
 "The  century  could  not  have  been  closed  in  a  more  impressive  manner.
 And  there  was  something  singularly  appropriate  as  well  as  beautiful in  the  fact  that  on  this  anniversary  day  a  lady  should  come  forth  and offer  to  erect  a  building  for  the  antiquarian  display,  and  therefore assure  the  success  of  the  exposition. "
 "Resolved,  That  the  advisory  committee  and  the  chairman  of  the antiquarian  committee  be  authorized  to  receive  the  necessary  amount of  insurance  to  properly  protect  the  display;  and  also  that  they  secure the  necessary  watchmen  and  help  to  properly  arrange  and  conduct  the display. "
 "On  motion  of  Mr.  Siess,  amended  by  Mr.  Howard,  the price  for  single  admission  to  the  antiquarian  display was  fixed  at  25  cents  for  adults,  and  10  cents  for  children under  twelve  years. "
 At the June 8th committee meeting: "Chairman  Champion,  of  the  antiquarian  committee, reported  that  the  work  of  preparation  in  the  antiquarian hall  was  practically  completed;  that  on  Monday next  the  arrangement  of  exhibits  would  commence.  It is  expected  that  exhibitors  will  commence  shipping their  goods  at  once.  It  is  especially  desirable  that persons  anticipating  making  a  display  do  so  immediately, while  space  can  be  allotted.  There  are  people employed  at  the  hall  to  receive  and  receipt  for  articles, and  night  watchmen  to  provide  for  the  safety  of  exhibits. The  hall  will  be  opened  on  Monday  evening, July  1st,  1895,  under  the  auspices  of  the  Ladies'  Auxiliary Society. "
 Antiquarian  exhibition  open  from  7  A.  M.  until  10  P.  M.

50 Pages Of Antiquities, 1895 In Lycoming County


A listing of all of the items on loan for the display, along with their owners, began on page 216 of the Centennial Report.  The list is 50 pages long, concluding on page 268.  I've included an OCR version, which enables it to be searchable, but because it is OCR, there may be many errors - I simply cannot take the time to transcribe 50 pages on my own at this time.  

Shorter articles, about some of the displays were also included, with limited illustrations, and a bit more about the building, can all be found here:

Tip - for the list below, when on a computer, hold down the CNTRL and The F at the same time.  A search box will pop up, enabling you to search the text.  

"Out  of  the  forty-two  townships  in  the  county  exhibits  were  received  from  the  following,  which  are  given  in alphabetical  order:


The Historic Warrior Run Church

The Historic Brick Warrior Run Church is the 3rd Warrior Run Church.

Monday, July 15, 2024

Dr. Hammil M. Alexander, Lewisburg Pa

"A Delightful Trip", Taken by D. Hammill Alexander To The Susquehanna Valley, 1897

I love these old trip diaries, often sent to local newspapers to be published. In this one, H. M. Alexander of Marietta was traveling through Harrisburg & Sunbury on his way to Watsontown and the Warrior Run area, before going on to visit Lewisburg. Alexander was from Union County, owning two farms in Lewisburg and graduating from Bucknell before starting his vaccine farm in Marietta Pa.

In the letter about his trip, he mentions the Wilkes Barre and Western "weak and weary" train, "The Banner Farm Of the West Branch Valley"- unnamed, but located near the Warrior Run Church, Paradise Church, & in much detail, Bucknell. He also mentions the home of Dr. Geo G. Groff, professor at Bucknell. Dr. Alexander said that from the veranda on Groff's residence, seven counties could be seen" Union, Northumberland, Snyder, Lycoming, Montour, Columbia and Sullivan.

For more on Dr. Alexander and his vaccine farm, I have included quite a bit at the bottom of this page, under "read more".

Sunday, July 14, 2024

The Tourist Camps

Tourist Camps & Cottages

As the trolley tracks were removed, and automobiles rose in popularity, "Tourist Camps" popped up in many of our local towns. These camps were small villages, with a variety of very small dwellings where tourists could spend the night.  

The Melish-Whiteside Maps - First County Maps Of Pennsylvania

The First County Maps Of Pennsylvania

"Based upon actual county surveys, the Melish-Whiteside maps were the first official set of county maps produced for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Township lines, municipality names, and roads and distances are examples of the details present on each survey. In addition, structures such as post offices, factories, mills, mines, furnaces, forges, houses, churches, academies, and taverns are noted, as are the names of property owners for certain taverns, dwellings, furnaces, and mills.

Friday, July 12, 2024

Parks - And The Summer Park Programs

Parks Past & Present
& The Summer Parks Programs

Throughout our local towns, from approximately 1940 to 1980, a "Summer Parks" program was held, with staff and organized activities, ranging from swimming lessons and weight lifting, to arts and crafts, and chess. Frequently, at the end of year there would be a "championship", where the children could compete in games they had played that summer - everything from croquet and table tennis, to hopscotch and chess. In Mifflinburg the first program was held in 1940, and at the Oppenheimer play ground in Sunbury, organized programs appear to have begun in the early 1930s. In later years, Northumberland County had a "Funmobile" that traveled to each of the summer programs throughout the county, providing additional activities.