One of the most thriving commercial office and warehousing locations in the Williamsport area is the Water Tower Square at 1000 Commerce Drive, near the foot of Chestnut Street in Williamsport. It occupies the site of the former C.A. Reed Paper Products Company. C.A. Reed Paper Products Company was a flourishing part of Williamsport’s commercial landscape for more than 75 years. John Nittinger uses a machine to [...]
'A Noble and Generous Act' For many years thousands of people in the area have enjoyed the peace and beauty of Brandon Park. One man made this possible. A man whose name is now virtually forgotten—Andrew Boyd Cummings. Cummings was born in Williamsport in 1807, the last son of James Cummings, one of Williamsport’s earliest prominent men. James Cumming ran one of the city’s earliest [...]
Arrival of Europeans in Africa, by Nicolas Colibert (1750 - 1806). Engraving after a drawing by Amédée Fréret, Paris, 1795 made to celebrate the first abolition of slavery on 4 February 1794 . By Lou Hunsinger Jr. Williamsport Sun-Gazette The issue of the abolition of slavery excited great passions throughout the United States during the pre-Civil War period. Lycoming County was no exception. This was amply demonstrated in [...]
Fort Muncy The Revolutionary War era was a bloody and trying one for the early settlers of Lycoming County. One of the most important men of this period was Samuel Wallis, regarded as a hero by many, but also an anti-hero. Wallis was one of early Lycoming County’s largest landholder, owning thousands of acres of land including some of the land that would later become the city [...]
Williamsport and Lycoming County have contributed many outstanding men and women to the field of public service during the years at the local, state and federal levels. One of the most distinguished of these was William Fisher Packer, who served as the 14th governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Packer is the only Lycoming County resident ever to serve in that high office according to an article by Eugene Bertin [...]
The life of Tunnison Coryell, one of Lycoming County's and Williamsport's most notable men of accomplishment and finance in the 19th century, spans the period of Williamsport evolving from a sleepy frontier village to a city of diverse great industries. John F. Meginness writes in his "History of Lycoming County," "Tunnison Coryell was closely associated with the progress and development of Lycoming County for more than half a century." Coryell [...]
The transportation of goods, services and people was a rough and inefficient undertaking in the Susquehanna Valley in the early 1800s. This would change with the advent of the West Branch Canal in the 1830s. Colonial and later state officials envisioned the idea of canals as far back as the mid-18th century.
America's oldest band in continuous existence bears his name, but Daniel Repasz didn't join the group until nine years after it was formed. Historian Mary Russell researches Repasz in a Lycoming County Historical Society Journal article, "Williamsport's Musical Heritage," and so does Jeffrey Dugan in his master's thesis, "The Bands of Williamsport." Dugan was director of the Imperial Teteques Band, and cites from the Repasz Band's 100th Anniversary Program [...]
In addition to Williamsport, Lycoming County consists of a number of important municipalities. A brief history of each, accompanied by historical photos, follows in the first of two parts. The second installment will be published May 22.
If Michael Ross is noted as the founder of Williamsport, William Hepburn can be regarded as the "Father of Lycoming County." He is as firmly a part of the genesis of the county as Ross is of the city. In fact, Ross and Hepburn's lives would become intertwined. Hepburn was born in Donegal, Ireland, in 1753 and came to this country in 1773 or 1774. He lived for a [...]
American history is filled with rags-to-riches stories of great achievers and great personages, and local history is no exception. Michael Ross, the reputed founder of the City of Williamsport, is one of those stories.
Lycoming Presbyterian Church The year was 1792, George Washington was unanimously re-elected President of the United States, Thomas Mifflin was serving as the first Governor of Pennsylvania, both the U.S. Post Office and the U.S. Mint were established, there were 15 states in the Union, the most recent being Kentucky, and "The Farmers’ Almanac" was published for the first time. Internationally, France was in the throes of revolution, [...]
Ray Keyes The man who dominated the sports scene in Northcentral Pennsylvania for more than 50 years was neither an athlete nor a sports executive but a sportswriter. That man was Ray Keyes. Although his name was inextricably linked with Williamsport and its environs for more than 50 years, Keyes was actually born in Canandagiua, N.Y. on Nov. 16, 1916. He moved to the Williamsport area with his [...]
Joe Lockard One of the radar operators who vainly tried to warn about the approach of Japanese aircraft during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, died recently at the age of 85. George Elliot of Port Charlotte, Fla., died there Dec. 20. Elliot, along with Williamsport native Joseph Lockard, operated a mobile radar unit at Opana on the northern tip of Oahu on the day [...]
Williamsport Trolley The most enduring and perhaps best remembered form of mass transit in Williamsport were the trolleys. Their 70-year run is still commemorated today with the running of the Herdic, Weightman and Stotz trolleys. The era of intra-city transportation began with the trolleys or streetcars in the late 1850s and early 1860s. The "Lumber Boom" that started to take off during that time gave rise to wealthy [...]
Peter Herdic If you wrapped Donald Trump, John D. Rockefeller, H.L. Hunt and Benjamin Franklin all into one man, you’d have Peter Herdic. He looms over Williamsport’s “Lumber Boom Era” like a colossus. Herdic arguably has left a greater imprint on the posterity of Williamsport and Lycoming County than any other man. Born in Fort Plains, New York, on December 14, 1824, he became fatherless twice. In 1837, [...]
One of the most durable community institutions in the Williamsport area is The Center, formally known as the Bethune-Douglass Community Center at 600 Campbell St. The Bethune-Douglass Community Center was founded on April 7, 1918. It first operated as a branch of the YWCA in a frame house at 429 Walnut St. It was named for two giants of African-American history, Mary McCleod Bethune and Frederick Douglass. By [...]
America in the 1870s was rife with labor strife and turbulence. The lumber camps and sawmills of the Williamsport area were no exception. In 1872, Williamsport’s “lumber boom” was in full flower and great fortunes were being made by a select few. Unfortunately, the great wealth did not make its way to the working men who helped to bring this great moneymaking resource to market. The lumber workers [...]
Daniel Hughes The story of the Underground Railroad in Lycoming County contains many heroic and courageous persons but none towers over the story so literally and figuratively, as does Daniel Hughes. The Underground Railroad ran from the American South through the northeastern states to Canada from the 1790s until the Civil War. Lycoming County, because of its strategic location, was one of the most important stops on the [...]
Almost every area has its own ghostly and haunted tales. Lycoming County is no exception. Many of these spooky tales are steeped in local Native American legend and superstition. Even the area of the valley of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River has otherworldly aspects to it. The area once was known as Otzniachson, or area of the "people of the Demon's Den." Count Nikolaus Ludwig Zinzendorf, an [...]