News of Yesteryear and Historic Williamsport is a section of the web site by Robin Van Auken dedicated to educating and entertaining visitors of all ages with stories and illustrations of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and its surrounding towns.

Lycoming College: Postcards of Yesteryear

This postcard gallery of Dickinson Seminary / Lycoming College is from the collection of Richard and Miriam Mix, authors of “A Bicentennial Postcard History of Williamsport.” “A Bicentennial Postcard History of Williamsport” is available as a paperback book from Otto’s Bookstore in downtown Williamsport.    

By |2016-11-29T12:24:48-05:00January 10th, 2013|News of Yesteryear, Postcards|

I’m a Grit Salesman – Read the First Issue for Free!

Grit’s Happy Ambassadors: Its 30,000 Boy Salesmen February 1962 “Here’s your copy of Grit, Mrs. Jones.” Every week similar welcomed words are echoed hundreds of thousands of times from coast to coast by an army of eager, bright-faced boys. They are the happy ambassadors for America’s Greatest Family Newspaper. Actually, Grit’s distribution through the Little [...]

By |2018-07-14T17:20:34-05:00September 24th, 2012|News of Yesteryear, Sunday Grit|

Water Tower Square Once Home to C. A. Reed Paper Products

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 [...]

By |2017-06-12T16:34:17-05:00May 15th, 2012|Lou Hunsinger Jr., News of Yesteryear|

Andrew Boyd Cummings: Donor of Brandon Park

'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 [...]

By |2018-07-14T17:31:48-05:00May 15th, 2012|Lou Hunsinger Jr., News of Yesteryear|

Lycoming Remembers Muncy Abolition Riot

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 [...]

By |2018-07-14T17:50:58-05:00February 15th, 2012|Lou Hunsinger Jr., News of Yesteryear|

Gov. William Packer

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 [...]

By |2018-07-15T12:04:09-05:00March 27th, 2011|Lou Hunsinger Jr., News of Yesteryear|

Tunnison Coryell

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 [...]

By |2016-11-29T12:24:52-05:00March 27th, 2011|Lou Hunsinger Jr., News of Yesteryear|

West Branch Canal

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.

By |2018-07-15T12:01:50-05:00March 27th, 2011|Lou Hunsinger Jr., News of Yesteryear|

Daniel Repasz

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 [...]

By |2018-08-05T18:44:30-05:00March 27th, 2011|Lou Hunsinger Jr., News of Yesteryear|

Widow Smith’s Walk

While Michael Ross was settling the City of Williamsport, selling parcels of land to frontier families and immigrants, another enterprising resident of the West Branch Valley was being hoodwinked from her home and business. Widow Smith's Walk Catherine Smith, an old woman "of great business tact and energy," had erected gristmills and sawmills [...]

By |2018-08-05T18:29:04-05:00March 27th, 2011|History, Insights, News of Yesteryear, Robin Van Auken|

A Heroic Duo

Rachel Silverthorn warns the settlers (WPA mural) While Gen. George Washington's Continental Army fought the British, settlers along the Susquehanna River also considered themselves at war with the displaced Indians. Conflicts escalated daily. Rumors of a planned massacre of settlers were taken seriously. In August 1778, the Big Runaway began along the [...]

By |2018-08-05T18:24:41-05:00March 27th, 2011|History, Insights, News of Yesteryear, Robin Van Auken|

Samuel Wallis and the ‘Great Runaway’

The Bailiff House at Muncy Terraces. Samuel Wallis was among the giants of early Lycoming County history -- probably the largest landholder in the area in the last 30 years of the 18th century. According to John F. Meginness' monumental "History of Lycoming County" written in 1892, Wallis was "the most energetic, [...]

By |2019-06-19T17:21:05-05:00March 27th, 2011|Lou Hunsinger Jr., News of Yesteryear|