Events

Celebrating 250 Years of Muncy Farms

Join Muncy Historical Society as it celebrates 250 Years of Muncy Farms (1769 – 2019) from Noon to 6 pm, rain or shine on Saturday, September 21, 2019. 

MuncyFarms
Muncy Farms

Parking is free at Lycoming Mall – Follow signs to free trolley shuttle service

Below are events and information about the celebration, as well as the history of the Muncy Farms site.

12:15 Rededication – Fort Muncy Monument
12:30 Muncy Band & March to Wallis’ Home-stead
1:00 The Legacy — 250 Years of History, Bill Poulton
1:30 Samuel Wallis, Loyalist & Master Spy, Roger Swartz
2:30 In-House Textile Production, Joy McCracken
3:30 Boundless Energy: The Frontier Entrepreneurship of Samuel Wallis, Brett Walker
4:30 The Barlow Family, Malcolm Barlow

NOON to 6 PM
Life & Culture of Eastern Woodlands Native Americans & Encampment;
Civil War Thompson Battery “C” & 10-pounder Parrott Rifle;
“All Aboard” with Captain Mick & the Circa 1860s PA Packet Boat;
Wallis’ Homestead Tours;
Railroad-Halls Station Iron Truss Bridge;
Master Horner & Scrimshander, John Dewald; &
Antique cars
Picnic-fare foods will be available from Muncy Band Association & Boy Scout Troop #25

JOHN DEWALD, JR., MASTER HORNER AND SCRIMSHANDER

We are honored to have “one of our own” participate in the 250th Muncy Farms anniversary experience. John DeWald, Jr. will demonstrate and share his masterful artistry all during this six-hour event.

John is a native of Muncy and has been engraving and making horns since he was 12 years old. He is a self-taught artist who credits his early advancements in his work to his mentors that include his high school teacher, Nella Godbey Storm, and fellow artists, Skip Hammaker, and Dave Aucker.

After serving with the army, this veteran of the Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm returned to Muncy and entered into the Correctional Services field.

In 2009 John joined the Honorable Company of Horners (HCH), a guild dedicated to the education and preservation of horn work. Since then, he has progressed from a Freeman to Journeyman and obtained his rank of Master Horner in 2016. To be recognized as a master horner by the guild, John had to “demonstrate a superlative level of ability in carving, heating and pressing, turning, engraving, and integrating woods and metals with cow horn” and to present three horn objects for jurying, plus provide an original written and oral presentation on some aspect of horn working or its history. Recognizing his mantel of leadership, the HCH has slated John is slated to be their Guildmaster in 2020-2021.

His work has earned him numerous 1st place ribbons and accolades from his peers and professional organizations, and has been featured in Frontier, Gun, Muzzleloader, and Muzzleblast magazines, American Tradition, the Horn Book, and other national publications.

John is an avid reenactor and craftsman, working out of his basement in his 18th century home in Pennsdale while working for the Federal Bureau of Prisons for over 20 years. Following his retirement in 2021, John plans to open a shop on his property where he’ll make horns and 18th-century accouterments full time.

When asked what fuels his passion, John replies: “It is a dying art kept alive through caring hands and will be a legacy for my daughter and generations to come. Maybe, some piece I have done will inspire others to keep this ancient craft alive long after I am gone.”

 

The Eastern Woodlands Indians

Native American life and customs of the Eastern Woodlands Indians will be interpreted by Maryland-based Debbie “Turtle” Swartz, Native historian, along with her group of 18th-century reenactors.

The Eastern Woodland Indians are Native Americans that inhabited the eastern part of the United States. They lived east of the Plains Indians and extended from New England and Maryland to the Great Lakes Area and into Maine. They lived in the forests near lakes or streams, and their food, shelter, clothing, weapons and tools came from the forest.

A majority of Eastern Woodlands tribes spoke Iroquoian or Algonquian. The Iroquois speakers included the Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Seneca, and Huron. The Iroquoian tribes were primarily deer hunters, but they also grew corn, squash, and beans, they gathered nuts and berries, and they fished. The Algonquian speakers included, among others, the Delaware, Mohegans, and Pequot. The Algonquian tribes also cultivated corn, beans, and squash.

The Eastern Woodlands tribes that lived along the Atlantic Coast were the first native Americans that had contact with Europeans. Friendships were made; alliances forged; land deals struck; and treaties signed. But as settlers in increasing numbers encroached on tribal lands, conflicts arose. These conflicts were between white settlers and the Indians and between Indians and other Indians, as native inhabitants took sides in the conflicts. The Huron and some Algonquian groups allied themselves with the French. The fierce Iroquois League sided with the British. When the American colonies waged a battle for their freedom, the American Revolution divided the tribes of the Iroquois League. Excluding the Oneida, the Iroquois League, who allied themselves with the British, invaded the Susquehanna Valley during the First, or Great, and Second Runaways of 1778 and 1779.

Swartz and the other Eastern Woodlands reenactors educate about Native life and customs of the 18th century including cooking, harvesting, teaching their children, games, finger weaving, sewing, hunting, fishing, wampum (including how to weave wampum), singing, drumming and warfare.

The Woodlands’ reenactors have done programming for Fort Necessity, Fort Frederick, Fort Halifax, Fort Niagara, Fort Ligonier, Mount Vernon, Fort Pitt, Abrams Delight, and locally at Warrior Run-Fort Freeland Heritage Days. They have also participated in Muncy Historical Society bus tours focusing on sites that played an historical role during the American Revolution along the “fronti

 

Boundless Energy: The Frontier Entrepreneurship of Samuel Wallis

One of Samuel Wallis’ skills was that of surveyor and he spent countless hours exploring the lands of northcentral and western Pennsylvania. When his other business pursuits limited his time “shooting” and back-sighting, he hired other surveyors who were living on the frontier, including Captain John Brady, to establish boundary lines for his deeded lands.
Brett Walker, of Ligonier, Pennsylvania will demonstrate 18th century surveying as an interactive program and, with the assistance of the public, will have them engaged in running the chain, placing pins, “shooting” and back-sighting a line with the circumferentor, making a map, etc. For young people, this program is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)-compatible that also teaches history and relates modern things (e.g., GPS tracking) to the 18th century.
This program is particularly fitting since Samuel Wallis worked as a surveyor during the respective periods of service of John Lukens (1781-1789) and General Daniel Brodhead (1789-1809) as Surveyors General of the Commonwealth. A major portion of Wallis’ work pertains to the surveying of sizeable tracts of land throughout Pennsylvania, particularly in the northcentral region.
Brett Walker, proprietor of Bt.W & Co., is a living historian who depicts a Royal American Regiment soldier for events including Fort Ligonier Days. Fort Ligonier is a British fortification from the French and Indian War located in Ligonier, Pennsylvania. The fort served as a staging area for the Forbes Expedition of 1758. During the eight years of its existence as a garrison, Fort Ligonier was never taken by an enemy.
In addition to surveying, Walker is an experienced demonstrator in eighteenth-century shoemaking, fencing, English Country dancing, all with the highest standards of historical authenticity. Walker apprenticed at Colonial Williamsburg as an artisan/historian and in 2012 was awarded certifications as a Journeyman Boot & Shoemaker. He lectures at historic sites throughout eastern North America and is currently writing a series of meticulously-documented historical fiction books in which the primary character is an 18th century shoemaker in British North America

“Fort Muncy” aka “the fort at Wallis’” aka “Muncy Farms”

Benjamin Johnson has completed his 2019 Eagle Scout Project — just in time for its formal dedication on September 21st … for the Muncy Farm’s event opening ceremonies. Benjamin is with Muncy Troop #25 and his finished end-product is beyond expectations.

 

Please join us for the opening ceremony where the proprietors of Muncy Farms will share their appreciation of Benjamin’s leadership role in re-positioning the 1928 bronze-on-stone monument safely off Old Route 220 rights-of-way. After a vehicle accident along the highway, the monument was moved to a secure area many years ago and is now more appropriately positioned.

 

At 12:15 p.m. Bill Poulton, executive director of the Muncy Historical Society, will open the day’s ceremonies with a few comments at the dedication site. Muncy’s Marching Indians will then lead the procession over the 1843 iron bridge following the dedication. As a fundraiser, Muncy Music Association members will be set-up on the other side of this historic bridge and will have picnic fare available.

Prior to the “Big Runaway” of July 1778 the “first” Fort Muncy was in existence although no record has surface describing the type of structure – stockade or blockhouse or other. It is possible that this fort was burnt by the Indians during the Big Runaway or could it have been burnt by men in Wallis’ employ?

During the first week of August 1778 Colonel Thomas Hartley laid out the “second” Fort Muncy on Wallis’ property. Its location was strategically important – located on the bend of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River close to the southern apex of Iroquois Indian trails. The fort was garrisoned at this point and military expeditions against the Iroquois towns began with just 200 men. Captains John Brady and Hawkins Boone fought in these skirmishes into the northern tier.

In the late spring 1779, and leaving only militia behind, Hartley’s Continental troops were removed from Fort Muncy and joined General John Sullivan’s campaign. A raiding party of 120 Iroquois and 50 British rangers entered the West Branch Valley and made their way to Fort Freeland on July 28. About this time, the second Fort Muncy was burnt.

In late March 1782, Captain Thomas Robinson sent his lieutenant, Moses Van Campen, and men from his company of Robinson’s Rangers to build the “third” Fort Muncy.

Let us remember! Fort Muncy, an alleged isolated frontier fort, was interconnected with overall British war strategy, and with colonial strategy for frontier defense which ultimately lead to the creation of the United States.

 

After Samuel Wallis: The Legacies of Robert Coleman, Charles & Elizabeth Coleman Hall, Robert Coleman Hall & Alice Gibson Brock

Robert Coleman arrived in Philadelphia from Ireland in 1764. He started his most profitable iron furnace career in 1773, making a sizeable profit by manufacturing cannonballs and shot for the American Revolution. He used these profits to purchase shares of Elizabeth, Cornwall and the Upper and Lower Hopewell Furnaces, and ownership of Speedwell Forge. Soon Coleman was able to construct Colebrook Furnace, purchase the rest of Elizabeth Furnace and acquired 80% ownership of Cornwall Furnace and the ore mines nearby. His business acquisitions and the profits turned from them enabled him to become the first millionaire in the history of Pennsylvania.

Coleman was a member of the Federalist Party; he attended the Pennsylvania State Constitutional Convention in 1776; he served in the Pennsylvania Legislature; attended the Pennsylvania convention to ratify the United States Constitution; was chosen as a Presidential elector; and held the position of Associate Judge. In 1795, Coleman achieved his lone military accomplishment when, as Captain of the Lancaster Troop of Light Horse, he led a company to Western Pennsylvania to assist in the suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion.

Coleman married Anne Old, and they were the parents of ten children. Two of his daughters, Anne Caroline and Sarah, met tragic ends. His four sons inherited his extensive estate.

Anne Caroline began dating future United States President James Buchanan in 1818 and they soon became engaged. Buchanan, at the time a lawyer in Lancaster County, had a unsavory reputation in his involvement with women and a checkered history while a student at Dickinson College. Robert Coleman encouraged his daughter to break off her engagement, and she died soon after from what might have been an intentional overdose of laudanum. Buchanan vowed never to marry and eventually became the only bachelor President in the history of the United States. [Buchanan politicked in Muncy and Williamsport in 1844 – could he have stayed at Muncy Farms?]

Sarah also committed suicide after her father disapproved of her relationship with William Muhlenberg, Episcopal clergyman and educator. Robert Coleman and Muhlenberg had a bitter dispute about evening worship services. Coleman reached beyond the grave when he granted his sons the right to approve of Sarah’s spouse. When they said “no” Sarah fled to Philadelphia and committed suicide. Like Buchanan, Muhlenberg never married.

Coleman died in Lancaster at age 76. He was one of the wealthiest and most respected men in Pennsylvania. His legacy was retained through the surviving companies of the Cornwall Iron Furnace company until the industry was replaced by steel manufacturing late in the 19th Century.

When Robert Coleman purchased the land at Muncy Farms in 1806 it was already of historical significance as the site of Fort Muncy, and the homestead of Samuel Wallis. Like Wallis, Coleman acquired 7,000 acres of land in Lycoming County, and he looked favorably on his son-in-law’s financial savvy. Coleman’s oldest daughter, Elizabeth, had married Charles Hall in 1796, and moved into Hall’s large home in Sunbury. After Charles’ death in 1821, Elizabeth moved to Muncy Farms, which had been gifted to her by her father.

Five of the Hall children never married; Harriet (Hall) Norris did not maintain a presence in Muncy; and five of their children maintained some level of relationship to the Muncy area – Robert Coleman Hall, James Coleman Hall, Margaret (Hall) Dickinson, Louisa (Hall) Rawle, Sarah (Hall) Potter. Margaret Hall’s two daughters, Elizabeth and Ann Caroline, maintained summer residences in Muncy Township – Elizabeth owned “Margaret Hall, aka the Jewett Mansion aka Wyno Farm” and Ann Carline owned “Round Top”. Louisa Hall and her husband built their substantial retirement home, now gone, in Fairfield Township. Sarah Hall and her husband maintained their summer home known as “Oaklands aka Ashhurst Manor aka Muncy Terraces aka Ashler Manor”.

Robert Coleman and Sarah (Watts) Hall managed Muncy Farms in Elizabeth’s absence. Their daughter, Julia Watts Hall, married John Penn Brock, an heir to his family’s wealth generated from their coal business in Schuylkill County. Their son, Robert Coleman Hall Brock and his wife, the former, Alice Gibson, became owners of Muncy Farms after his cousin, William Coleman Hall, failed to repay money borrowed, having used the Farm as collateral. Robert Coleman Hall Brock was educated in the legal profession and followed a banking career. Muncy Farms passed to Henry Gibson Brock and it remains the property of his heirs.

 

Legacy – Henry Gibson & Margaret (Burgwin) Brock

 

Henry Gibson Brock, an investment banker, was one of three children born to Colonel Robert Coleman Hall Brock and his wife, the former Alice Gibson.

This accomplished bachelor came from one of Philadelphia’s prominent and wealthy families and would have been quite a catch for any of the young women in his social circle. Still single at 37, Brock’s life’s course and his legacy of service would be determined by something more tragic and personal; a drunk driving accident.

On his way into the city from a party on the Main Line, Brock’s automobile struck three people exiting a Philadelphia trolley car, killing Leo O’Donnell, his mother Ellen O’Donnell and a family friend, Mary Murphy. The car was driven from the scene and suspicions were raised – many suspected that one of Philadelphia’s socialites been at the wheel and that Brock took the blame as a chivalrous gentleman.

Brock pled guilty to murder in the second degree. Quite possibly this was the first ever prosecuted case of vehicular manslaughter in the nation. He was sentenced to six to ten years confinement at Eastern State Penitentiary. While incarcerated, Brock recognized the importance of prisoner rehabilitation and set about developing a workplace skill set – teaching prisoners a variety of occupations so that they could succeed once released from prison.

Purchasing machinery and tools, Brock set-up two workshops at the penitentiary where prisoners created fireplace sconces, card tables, and parchment lampshades to name a few of the products produced and sold through the prison system. After serving three years two months of his prison term, the state pardon board recommended that the governor grant him a pardon.

While in prison, Brock met Margaret Burgwin, a Pittsburgh sociality who was doing prison welfare work. Shortly after his release and pardon, Brock and Burgwin married. [By 1932, the former inmate was appointed to the Eastern State Penitentiary Board of Trustees.]

The couple lived primarily at their large rural home and farm in Muncy, Pennsylvania – Muncy Farms – and many of the farm’s employees were former convicts.

During World War II, the childless couple stepped-up to take England’s children out of harm’s way as the Germans threatened invasion of Great Britain. Tragedy struck the Brock family again when Henry Brock died a few weeks before the children’s arrival.

Despite her personal loss, Margaret Brock honored the couple’s promise – four young children arrived in America, and shortly thereafter, traveled to their new home in Northcentral Pennsylvania. Margaret Cust Burgwin Brock’s legacy of service, in her own right, began!

 

 

 

Margaret (Burgwin) Brock welcomed four British children into her home – the oldest and twins, Brian and Susan, and their younger sister and brother, Sheila and Malcom Barlow. The children would affectionately call her “Aunt Peggy” and years later, she invited the children’s mother to the United States. They rest side by side on the Hall’s Cemetery property.

 

Mrs. Brock chaired Muncy Township’s emergency relief; she purchased the township’s first fire truck; belonged to the American Needlework Guild; founded Three Towns Press, keeping the long-standing Muncy Luminary in print; worked tirelessly for the Lycoming County Chapter American Red Cross, founded the Muncy Youth Center; and served in a number of community-oriented director roles, including with the Lycoming United Way, the Muncy Valley Hospital, and the Children’s Aid Society.

 

Upon Mrs. Brock’s passing, the Barlow children received her estate – Muncy Farms – the property the children had once fled to and eventually called home.

 

 

CAPTAIN THOMPSON’S BATTERY C

Thompson’s Independent Battery C is a local Civil War re-enactment group that was formed in January 1995. Battery C is a non-profit, non-political, memorial organization of volunteer Civil War re-enactment hobbyists from central and northcentral Pennsylvania. While actively participating in the hobby, the battery’s purpose is also to provide historical education and to stimulate interest in our American Civil War heritage.

As reenactors, Battery C members portray the Civil War-era Thompson’s Battery and the families and civilians associated with it. The original Battery C was a Pennsylvania artillery battery that was sworn into the United States (Union) Volunteer Service in 1861. It served with distinction throughout the Civil War and has a monument at Gettysburg.

The Battery owns or has access to various pieces of muzzle-loading Civil War-era field artillery (they fire blanks) including cannons, howitzers and mortars. For the 250th anniversary event, they will be bringing their 10-pounder Parrott Rifle on its limber for display and will fire it periodically throughout the afternoon hours.

While manned from outside Lycoming County, the Volunteer Light Artillery soldiers saw action at some of the Civil War’s major battlefields — Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Brandy Station, Mine Run. Winchester, Cedar Mountain, Thoroughfare Gap, Second Bull Run, Antietam, and Gettysburg. Many of the Muncy area soldiers fought on these same battlefields, and by the end of the war, we would count our losses – 200 young men would be killed in action, die of wounds or disease, or not recover from their prisoner-of-war incarcerations.

The members of Thompson’s have presented or participated in educational programs for organizations such as the U.S. Park Service, public schools, nursing homes, scout troops, fraternal groups, veteran’s organizations, volunteer fire companies, and the American Association of Retired Persons. The Battery has the honor of having fired memorial salutes by invitation at Arlington National Cemetery. Battery C regularly assists local municipalities with parades, memorial programs, monument dedications and other community events. 

SUMMARY OF MUNCY FARMS

The significance of this property and its ownership established its place in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, and American history and its impact on the growth of the colonial-era frontier and America.

French & Indian, Pre-Revolutionary War-Wallis’ Legacy

  • It was the home of Samuel Wallis, one of the largest landowners/land speculators in colonial Pennsylvania with 8,000+ acres credited to his name;
  • Wallis was instrumental in developing the frontier as a land speculator and surveyor.

 

Revolutionary War-Wallis’ Legacy It is the oldest standing homestead in Lycoming Company, having survived both the Great Runaway (1778) and the Second Runaway (1779);

  • It was the home of Samuel Wallis, a master spy for the British during the American Revolution with ties to Great Britain’s Major John Andre and Benedict Arnold;
  • On its property once stood Fort Muncy, a colonial fort that was twice destroyed and rebuilt a third time in 1779;
  • The Muncy Farms property contains the oldest all-iron railroad bridge (1846), still in service, though only for vehicular traffic, not rail;
  • The Muncy Farms property has a significant portion of the Pennsylvania Canal running through its current acreage.

 

Coleman-Hall-Brock Legacy

  • Robert Coleman purchased the Farm, c. 1806, and passed it on to his daughter, Elizabeth, who married Charles Hall, a successful attorney practicing in Sunbury. Robert Coleman, an Irish immigrant, became the first millionaire in Pennsylvania history due to his business success in the iron furnace industry. When she inherited the property there were 7,000 acres and Charles Hall had another 4,000 acres of land in Lycoming and Sullivan counties.
  • The property passed next to Elizabeth and Charles Hall’s granddaughter, Julia, wife of John Penn Brock and Robert Coleman Hall’s daughter – bringing us to Henry Gibson Brock.
  • In March 1923 three persons were killed in a hit-run car accident in Philadelphia, and Henry Gibson Brock was arrested as the driver; vehicular manslaughter charges were levied, reportedly, for the first time in an automobile death in the United States. Found guilty, Brock was sentenced to Eastern Penitentiary for up to six years.
  • While institutionalized, Brock effected prison reform – he purchased machinery and tools to set up two workshops at the penitentiary where men could work on creating various products such as fireplace sconces, card tables and parchment lampshades. At his own expense, he set up a system in Philadelphia for the products to be sold. Seeing the fruit of his investment in sales, gained skills and improved attitudes, he vowed to be a lifetime supporter of prison welfare. Brock was granted an official pardon in 1926, and in 1932, he was appointed to the Eastern Penitentiary Board of Trustees.
  • Parallels have also been researched between Henry Gibson Brock’s life and Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby character—some 80+ similarities have been established lending credence to the possibility that Fitzgerald’s leading character was, in fact, based on Brock’s Philadelphia Main Line life and subsequent vehicular accident.

 

World War II-Brock-Barlow Legacy

  • When World War II had begun in Europe and the threat of German invasion of England seemed very real, Henry and Margaret Brock answered an appeal to host European children whose parents wanted them out of harm’s way. In 1940, the Brocks volunteered to host up to five children in their large Muncy home. Before the young British evacuees arrived, Mr. Brock died. Mrs. Brock honored the couple’s promise and she welcomed the children on November 3, 1940. She had them with her for six years before adopting them in 1946 – Brian and Sue, now both deceased, and Sheila and Malcolm Barlow. Upon Mrs. Brock’s passing, the children received her estate, and the lovely rural Muncy home and 800-acre farm they had once fled to and eventually called home, the oldest home in Lycoming County.

HOUSEHOLD ECONOMIES & TEXTILE PRODUCTION

In the late colonial era prominent land grant holders such as the Samuel Wallis family of Muncy Farms, no doubt imported the finest European fabrics and engaged fashionable seamstresses, tailors, and drapers from Philadelphia. Due to financial restraints resulting from native uprisings and the looming revolution, typical large frontier enterprises found that household economies required some measure of in-house textile production in order to meet the needs of numerous farmworkers and house servants.

After Wallis’ death, an inventory was taken to value his vast estate — 500 panes of bull’s eye glass, bees and hives, sheep, hogs, shoats, sows, heifers, calves and yearlings and other assorted animals, tools, and furniture. His inventory also tallied bushels of flax seed, pounds of stocking yarn, chocolate and sugar, and yards of Irish linen, warp, sheeting, linen, rag carpeting and linsey.

Local textile historian, Joy McCracken, will display and demonstrate early textile tools and invite audience hands-on participation.

 

Hop Aboard – Captain Mick and the “John Waldron” to Depart at any Time!

Canals played an important part in Lycoming County’s past. By visiting the Muncy Farms’ property you’ll have the opportunity to view the “ditch” – one of the best examples of the “Pennsylvania Canal” that ran through the Muncy area as it paralleled the Susquehanna River. The canal was dug by hand by men whose only tools were picks, shovels and wheelbarrows—forty feet wide at the top, twenty-eight feet at the bottom. The work was hard, the living conditions were poor, and disease took its toll on the canal workforce made up primarily of Irish immigrants.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania authorized the building of the canal in 1825 and it was not completed until 1830 in the Muncy area. This was an important new mode of transportation for commodities and people. Canal, or cargo, boats brought merchandise for area stores and returned south with whiskey—the first commodity to be shipped out of the area in large quantities. Pennsylvania’s West Branch Canal had a tremendous impact on Muncy, socially, economically, and culturally.

The packet, or passenger, canal boats made travel much smoother and faster—it only took eight days for a trip to Philadelphia! Packet boats traveled the West Branch Canal for 30 years, bringing to the region thousands of immigrants who settled in the area and started new lives in the back country of northcentral Pennsylvania. It also brought many travelers with political ambitions— James Buchanan (15th President of the United States and Pennsylvania’s only president)—and travelers who entertained or brought culture to the area—Ole Bull (one of the greatest violinists of all times), and Tom Thumb (born Charles Stratton, a little person who stood under 3 feet tall)  with P.T. Barnum’s Grand Colossal Museum and Menagerie.

Captain Mick joins the Muncy Farms’ activities on September 21st – he’ll be aboard the “John Waldron” – the Muncy Historical Society’s reconstructed circa 1860s “packet” or passenger canal boat. In 2000 the Society recovered the main cabin of a packet boat that had been encased in a house. Working from sunup to dark, volunteers removed the boat from its site on the banks of the North Branch of the Susquehanna River. Totally dismantled, the boat, in hundreds of pieces, was transported to Muncy and stored for its subsequent reconstruction.

Captain Mick has been talking about local canals since the 1990’s. He is an historian and avid canaler who has collected a substantial collection from this bygone era. Michael McWilliams, aka Captain Mick, serves on the board and as an officer with the Northumberland County Historical Society and the William Maclay Sons of the American Revolution. He co-chairs Pinenotters Day, NCHS’ History Day, and guides tours at the NCHS and Priestly House.

In 1853 the Philadelphia and Erie Railroad was built along the west side of the Susquehanna River. This gave Muncy its first rail connection with the outside world. As the railroad proved more versatile for general freight, the canal’s use became more and more dependent upon coal and lumber, and the 1889 flood canal transportation was pretty much a thing of the past!

 

Advertisements