News of Yesteryear2019-02-21T11:47:53-05:00

Welcome! News of Yesteryear & Historic Williamsport is dedicated to educating and entertaining visitors of all ages with stories and illustrations of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and its surrounding towns.

Throughout the years, many interesting stories about the people and places of Williamsport and Northcentral Pennsylvania have been published. News of Yesteryear features articles and artwork by recent and historic newspaper reporters and photographers spanning the 200-year history of journalism in Lycoming County. Some of the notable newspapers with origins in Williamsport are the Lycoming Gazette, the  Gazette and Bulletin, the Williamsport Sun, and Grit. All of these newspapers have evolved into one, the Williamsport Sun-Gazette.

Many are reprinted here, with permission from the Lycoming County Historical Society, the James V. Brown Library, Little League Baseball, Inc., the Williamsport Sun-Gazette, and various individuals. We hope you enjoy your visit.

Market Square, Williamsport, Pennsylvania

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Market Square: Postcards of Yesteryear

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This postcard gallery  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 [...]

Lycoming College: Postcards of Yesteryear

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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 [...]

Houses of Worship: Postcards of Yesteryear

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This postcard gallery  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. [...]

Lumber Boom: Postcards of Yesteryear

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This postcard 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 [...]

Revolutionary War Traitor?

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  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 [...]

Gov. William Packer

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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 [...]

Tunnison Coryell

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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 [...]

West Branch Canal

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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.

Daniel Repasz

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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 [...]

Sum of Its Parts

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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.

William Hepburn

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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 [...]

Williamsport Begins

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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.

Widow Smith’s Walk

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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. [...]

A Heroic Duo

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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 [...]

Long Reach

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Coin found at Long Reach Archaeology Dig Historic preservation is an admirable, though difficult, goal to obtain. Preservation works best in communities that have programs managed at the [...]

Rewards for Indian Scalps

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During the tumultuous years leading up to the French and Indian War, early settlers in Northcentral Pennsylvania had two choices: They could leave the fertile valleys of the Susquehanna, or take their chances with sporadic Indian raids during which farms were destroyed and entire families would be slaughtered.

Indians of Susquehanna

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Indians of Susquehanna Prehistoric Indians skillfully managed the natural bounty of the Susquehanna River region by living in accordance with the seasons. They hunted, fished, gathered nuts, berries and other wild foods, [...]

Lycoming County: Williamsport Firsts

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Scott Barn in The Narrows, Lycoming County Williamsport, Pennsylvania is a small metropolis with a dramatic history. Famous throughout the world for its impressive forest products, it once boasted more millionaires per [...]

Birthplace of ‘Grit’

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Famous in the 19th century for its lumber products, Williamsport, Pennsylvania is a small mountainous town. Situated on the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, its residents enjoyed easy access to virgin forests of hemlock [...]

‘Madame’ Montour

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New World history is filled with tales of frontier adventure, and here in the Susquehanna Valley, one of the most interesting tales is that of "Madame" Montour and the lost village of Otstonwakin. Her life is [...]

Ray Keyes

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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. [...]

History of Avery $ Drycleaners

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In 1926, Leal Raymond Avery and his brother, Harland Wesley "Bake" Avery, were given approximately $5,000 from their mother, Harriet "Hattie," to help start Avery $ Drycleaners in Williamsport, PA. The main plant (present day [...]

Daniel Hughes: Giant of Freedom Road

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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 [...]

Spooky Lycoming County

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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 [...]

Schools Through the Years

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8-Square School was the first public school in Lycoming County Multi-million dollar physical plants, computer labs, swimming pools, gymnasiums and various bits of audiovisual equipment make a modern day school in Lycoming County [...]

Allen P. Perley

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West Branch National Bank In  past ages the history of a country was the record of wars and conquests; today it is the record of commercial activity, and those whose names are [...]

Plain Talk for a Nation

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The following is a reprint from Grit: America’s Greatest Family Newspaper Plain Talk for a Nation January 7, 1945 The United States Army has suffered a major setback in Western Europe. This must be admitted, [...]

The Lycoming County Prison: Then and Now

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Throughout history, the question of how to punish criminals has been answered quite differently. Throwing the misdeed-doer in jail has not always been the solution. Corporal punishment, forced labor, and social ostracism were methods [...]

Lycoming Hangings a Spectator’s Event

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Executions weren't always such a subject of controversy. Individual counties handled the grim task themselves in many cases. Lycoming County was no exception to this but, surprisingly, the first hanging conducted under the auspices of [...]

Salladasburg and its founder

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One of the most picturesque towns in the western part of Lycoming County is Salladasburg. It also is the home of the noted Cohick's Trading Post, a Lycoming County institution.Captain Jacob Sallade founded Salladasburg in [...]

Fred Plankenhorn

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Remember the days of sock hops, school dances and DJs spinning "hot wax"? Fred Plankenhorn does. He was right in the middle of all that and is still keeping memories alive after 46 years. [...]

Early railroads in Lycoming County

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The arrival of the railroads in Lycoming County came fairly early but it was somewhat tentative.The first railroad in the Williamsport area was the Williamsport and Elmira Railroad, which was incorporated by the Pennsylvania legislature [...]

When Johnny Went Marching to War

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Civil War Soldiers' Monument in Muncy Cemetery. Lycoming County, like other areas across the North, answered President Abraham Lincoln’s call for 75,000 troops to put down the rebellion by the Confederate states [...]

Christmas of 1942

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A war was raging across the globe and there were many vacant chairs at dinner tables that Christmas of 1942. They were vacant either through the absence of a loved one serving his country in [...]

A Renovo Mystery

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The following is a reprint from Grit: America’s Greatest Family Newspaper A Renovo Mystery Dec. 15, 1882 A newsboy delivers Grit to a rural customer. RENOVO -- Patrick Shelly, a well known citizen [...]

Charles A. Rubright

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There were numerous Lycoming County soldiers held prisoner by the Confederates during the course of the Civil War. Charles A. Rubright is one of the most notable examples. Rubright was born in Prussia on [...]

Presidential visits to Williamsport

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 Williamsport has always been the most important crossroads community of Northcentral Pennsylvania. This strategic position has yielded many visits by important and distinguished personages, among these several U.S. presidents, vice presidents and presidential candidates.Before he [...]

D. Vincent Smith

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From the 1890s to the early 1950s, D. Vincent Smith was a familiar sight throughout Northcentral Pennsylvania with his box camera and heavy-duty bicycle, wearing his knickers, sneakers and scoop cap. He left behind [...]

The ‘Great Cyclone’ of 1892

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This area has had more than its share of significant weather events, the most notable being the various floods that have plagued the valley during the years. But there have been other types of [...]