Archaeology at Muncy

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Archaeology volunteers Amelia Deacon, left, and her mother, Judy, return for their fourth summer at Muncy Heritage Park’s public dig to excavate at the lock tender's house.

The public archaeology dig at Muncy Heritage Park and Nature Trail, just one more of Muncy Historical Society’s wonderful contributions to local history, has concluded.

Thousands of individuals and hundreds of families participated in the Public Archaeology Dig at Muncy Heritage Park and Nature Trail, an 11-acre recreational area along the West Branch of the Susquehanna River in Muncy. Beginning in 2005, visitors and archaeology college students volunteered to investigate history and identify and preserve the natural resources at the park owned and under development by Muncy Historical Society.

While archaeological excavations were held at the Heritage Park, Muncy Historical Society focused on developing the Nature Trail and installing colorful and informative signs along the major trail, a towpath along the West Branch Canal.

Muncy plans to begin building a parking lot with  a native flower bioswale for stormwater runoff. It also will construct a pavilion for educational workshops and meetings.

“It’s been a long journey but we are finally able to make definite plans for the park,” said Bill Poulton, president of Muncy Historical Society. “It’s been a shared vision for the past five years but now, with the comprehensive Master Plan developed by SEDA-Council of Governments and funding from public and private sources, we are hoping to move earth and create park access. Instead of parking in a soggy pasture, soon visitors to the park will have a handicap-accessible parking lot and marked trails. They’ll be able to meander through the park and learn about the local wildlife, birds and trees, as well as the history of the West Branch Canal and how a canal lock works.”


PA Canal Packet Boat

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The Pennsylvania Canal Packet Boat Project began with the salvaging of the cabin and ended with the reconstruction of an authentic 1860s packet/passenger cabin that has become the Society’s traveling educational exhibit. The project received 2004 Honorable Mention Award from PA Federation of Museums & Historical Organizations and 2004 Certificate of Commendation from the American Association of State and Local History.

Last Raft Tragedy

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The Last Raft project is a documentary about a March 20, 1938 tragedy when a lumber raft collided with a railroad bridge spanning the West Branch of the Susquehanna at Muncy. Of the 45 people who plunged into the icy river, all but seven were rescued. Although it took weeks of grappling the river and shores, all of the deceased eventually were recovered.

It’s not just a story about the crash. It’s the story about the journey. Many people don’t know that the Last Raft finished the journey.

Last RafT Documentary DVDs

The Last Raft …
A Story of Courage and Tragedy on the Susquehanna

The Last Raft captures the glory and tragedy of the March 1938 journey using archival film footage, still photos, eyewitness interviews, and new footage shot at the actual locations of the events. This one-hour documentary tells this story as never before, with a wealth of previously unshared material. $20/DVD

Produced by Karen L. Frock; Directed by JD DiAngelis; In conjunction with WVIA PBS Channel 44; Made possible in part by The Muncy Historical Society and Museum of History

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Last Raft Lapel Pins

“Last Raft” casted lapel pins ($5).

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Sponsored by the Muncy Historical Society, the components of the project are eyewitness interviews, vintage photographs and film footage of the event and its aftermath. The documentary is be an educational tool that will let viewers relive rafting days on the Susquehanna, as well as the horror of its most calamitous event.

Karen L. Frock of Creekside Creative Media is the researcher, writer and producer of “The Last Raft” documentary.

The story of the Last Raft began with brothers R. Dudley Tonkin of Tyrone and V. Ord Tonkin of Cherry Tree. A lumbering family, the Tonkins came to the town of Cherry Tree 100 years before The Last Raft. Vince Tonkin, Dudley and Ord’s father, had left timber standing with the request that the two brothers occasionally cut the trees and build a raft to float as a living history lesson. The elderly Tonkin thought that the event would help to preserve the days gone by and he wanted share that experience with new generations.

The Last Raft floats down the West Branch of the Susquehanna River

Piloted by Harry Conner of Burnside, a river raft pilot for 50 years, the 112-foot long timber raft was launched March 14, 1938 in Bell Township, Clearfield County, and was to end 200 miles away in Harrisburg.

The event garnered worldwide publicity as newspaper journalists, photographers, and radio and newsreel crews tagged along. The raft was seen by many thousands of Cambria, Indiana, Clearfield, Centre, Clinton, and Lycoming County residents as it floated the river, tying up at cities along the West Branch route.

School children – some of whom remain and remember the experience – lined up along the riverbanks, many waving American flags as the raft followed the current from Clearfield, to Renovo, then to Lock Haven and Williamsport. There, Conner turned the piloting over to another person who was, the producer said, familiar with the lower river.

Barely hours after the raft “ran the chute” in Williamsport, it collided with the Reading Railroad Bridge in Muncy. Florence Leiby Smith, then a 22-year-old student at Bloomsburg Hospital School of Nursing home for the weekend, joined friends on the bridge to watch the raft. In a later interview Leiby Smith said, “The bridge was filled with people and later newspaper accounts said there were hundreds, which is probably true. I had my box camera with me and took a picture of the raft as it approached the bridge, then walking to the other side we could see the raft was going to hit.”

People line up along a bridge to watch the Last Raft float down the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.

She took photos before, during and after, which have been included in several publications. Her memory of the event, along with many others, is part of the Last Raft documentary, which describes the heroic efforts of the people of Muncy to rescue the raftsmen.

The 38 people swept into the icy waters were saved by onlookers.The project team located several archival “Last Raft” films from 1938, three of which they have had transferred to digital video. One of those films is from the collection of the Thomas T. Taber Museum of the Lycoming County Historical Society, a film made by amateur filmmaker Charles Askey, of Williamsport. It includes a lengthy sequence shot in color, which the project team has had restored from faded blue to its original hues.

People may contribute directly to the Historical Society, P.O. Box 11, Muncy, PA 17756, or by calling 570-546-5917.

“Whereever there is lumber being harvest today, there is a story to be told. We honestly believe that the Last Raft story will be told in virtually every lumbering community in the United States and Canada. It’s a story of our heritage, but it has a wide range impact. It’s the story about what happened on the Susquehanna River. It’s the story about lumber heritage.”

William Poulton, President, Muncy Historical Society

Read more News about The Last Raft

Read excerpts from the book, The Last Raft

Stories Within Stories

There are numerous stories within the larger story of The Last Raft’s journey.

The Last Raft approaches the railroad bridge at Muncy where it crashes into a pier.

In March 1938, the raft collided with the railroad bridge near Muncy. There were 45 or 48 people on the raft at the time it crashed; all but two were swept into the water. Hundreds of people on the bridge and shoreline watched in horror.

Sea Scouts and Boy Scouts who were passengers helped save lives, pulling some people back onto the raft, throwing firewood to others. Some spectators already out on the river in small boats moved to help passengers desperately trying to stay afloat in the icy water.

A 14-year-old boy on shore, Paul Fenstermacher, went right into the river and pulled at least one man to safety. His uncles ran for the wagon barn to get their boats into the water; his grandmother and aunts ran for the farmhouse, to put the hot water on. Soon people began bringing in survivors, nearly dead, full of water, chilled to the bone.

Besides Dudley and Ord Tonkin, the raft’s sponsors, Harry C. Conner, of Burnside, the pilot for the journey until Williamsport, was among those who perished, after taking the raft through the dangers of the upper river.

Dr. Charles F. Taylor, the Burgess of Montgomery who went to Lock Haven to ask the raft sponsors to stop in his town so that people could see the raft up close, perished. Taylor joined the trip in Williamsport, but did not live to arrive in his Montgomery.

The others who died were Malcolm McFarland, Harold Beringer, W. Holley, W.C. VanScoyoc, and Thomas Proffitt, a Universal Newsreel cameraman who died in the line of duty while filming the journey. Proffitt literally went down cranking, filming up to and including the impact with the bridge. He was still shooting after he was in the water, looking up, before he and his camera disappeared. They recovered Proffitt’s camera from the river a few days later. Universal paid volunteers each $25, took the camera to a lab and dried out the film. The planned documentary contains the moment of impact frames, as well as magnificent archival footage It was nearly a month before Thomas Profitt, himself, was found.

After the initial impact with the fifth pier of the Reading Railroad Bridge, the current swung the Last Raft toward the right bank, and it “saddlebagged” against the sixth pier. All but one person were cast into the river.

Among those who survived was another medical professional, Dr. Dudley Turner, whose son, also a Williamsport osteopath, recounts his father’s ordeal for the documentary.

Helping to save lives were many people, including Frank Stevens, Boy Scout, who documented the journey in photos that will be used in the program; Ollie Helmrich, Sea Scout, of the Williamsport family that still operates Helmrich’s Sea Food; and Paul Fenstermacher, a 14-year-old boy who went right off the riverbank into the water and began to pull people to shore.

Volunteer firemen and others went out, day after day, dragging the river in boats, hanging hooks from bridges, and searching the numerous small islands that line the Susquehanna. It was a large professional search effort, too: including a Navy diver, Coast Guard boat, state police, and aircraft. Employers let their people out of work to search; kids cut school to watch. They even dynamited near the bridge, in hopes of freeing submerged bodies.
But the river gave up its dead on its own schedule. Harry Conner was found down river, almost across from Montgomery Park, at around 6 on Easter Sunday morning. Soon after, the rest were recovered. Dr. Taylor was missing the longest: a full month. The Rotary in his town put up a $100 reward for his body.

8 Square School

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8 Square One-Room Schoolhouse

Muncy Historical Society operates the “Eight Square,” a fully restored one room schoolhouse, built in 1872, on the site of Lycoming County’s first public school. This frame structure replaced the original right-sided log structure built in 1796. Volunteers conduct one-room living history programs by appointment.

The Eight-Square is a fully restored schoolhouse built on the site of Lycoming County’s first public school. Recognizing the importance of education, American Revolution veteran George Smith donated a portion of his land so that the children of Moreland Township could come together to learn. The original school, an eight-sided structure built in 1796, was replaced by the current frame building in 1872.

First- through eighth-grade classes were taught in the one room frame school until 1958. In 1999 Loretta Raup donated the 8-Square to the Muncy Historical Society.

Society and community volunteers donated over 10,000 hours to the school’s restoration and their efforts were rewarded when the project received the prestigious Community Service Award from Pennsylvania Preservation.

In addition to the annual fundraising social, the society hosts on-site living history programs during the spring through fall months, putting students through lesson plans dating to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Proceeds from the social and living history programs help to offset the costs to maintain the school property.

Muncy Historical Society’s fully restored one-room school is located in Moreland Twp. Directions: Click on the View Larger Map to use the Google Map tool and find your way to the 8-Square, One-Room Schoolhouse.

GPS LAT/LONG Coordinates: 41.187401, -76.640263

Please enjoy the slide show below; it should start automatically. If it doesn’t, just click your mouse on the black box. This is a Flash-based slide show made using Google’s web album software Picasa.


Golf Tournament

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Muncy’s Kiwanis Club, Historical Society
Announce 2012 “Muncy Cup” Winners

The Vintage Course at White Deer Public Golf Course was an ideal setting for this year’s co-sponsored 2012 Muncy Cup golf event. Muncy’s Historical Society and Kiwanis Club partner for the annual outing that helps both organizations achieve community-minded objectives: preserving local history and heritage for future generations and helping the young people of the community.

Receiving Muncy Cup flags and gift certificates were the first-place winning team (gross) of Gilbert Balliet, Matt Joy, T. C. Reynolds, and Steve Goodman, and the first-place winning team (net) Tom Ward, Travis Ward, Rick Quimby, and Bill Herman. Second-place gross winners were Dave Mayer, Dan Berninger, Kate Bower, and Jason Fisher and second-place net winners were Marilu Way, George Way, Dennis Mayer and Mike Cromis. Taking third place gross were Don Hendricks, Bill Yeagle, Bill Cyphers, and Brent Myers and third-place net winners were Bill Poulton, Richard Poulton, Ed Hannan and Mal Barlow.

Bill Herman, Don Hendricks, Matt Joy, T. C. Reynolds and Steve Goodman all had in-the-hole-putts which forced a contest playoff with Goodman’s putt inching out his competition. Dan Berninger won the men’s straightest drive, Bill Herman had longest drive, and Kate Bower had ladies longest drive.

Proceeds from the event benefit both the historical society in its quest to develop a Heritage Park and Nature Trail, a multi-year plan that is transforming an 11-acre section of Port Penn into a walking trail and hands-on history lesson, and the Muncy Area Kiwanis Club.

Located along the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, the park is in an historical and environmentally region. The park will highlight Port Penn, a present-day commercial center and residential area that grew out of, and around, the bustling West Branch Canal industry of the 1800s. This year’s efforts will include a boat-building facility which will house a recently salvaged cargo boat removed by volunteers from the National Canal Museum in Easton.

The Kiwanis Club supports programs that benefit underprivileged youth, needy families and is a supporter of community-focused projects like the Heritage Park and Nature Trail. Both all-volunteer, not-for-profit organizations encourage and support a number of educational initiatives including special exhibits, living history programs, and scholarship awards for graduating seniors.

Business and individual supporters of the annual event include Alley Cat Hair Shop, Baxter Plumbing & Heating, Bennardi & Barberio Family Dentistry, Blessing Insurance, Brelsford Motors & Equipment, Charlotte Pipe & Foundry, Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland, Construction Specialties, Dunkin’ Donuts, Eck’s Garage, Economy Locker Storage, Edward Jones Investments, First United Methodist Church, Betty Fisher, Michael Friscia, MD, Gary’s Furniture, Grenoble Funeral Home, Inc., Hall’s Marine, Hull’s Landing, H&R Block, Jersey Shore State Bank, Keystone Bingo Supply, Keystone Filler & Manufacturing, Lockard Agency, Lori A. Moore, CPA, Lowe’s Great Valu Markets, Kellogg’s, Little League Baseball, Lycoming Mall, Michael’s Insurance Agency, Muncy Bank & Trust Company, Muncy Historical BOD & Trustees, Muncy Professional & Business Association, Murray Motors, Myers-Pepper Insurance Agency, Olde Barn Centre, Orlando’s, Pepsi Cola Bottling, Sones Farm and Home Museum, Stanley & Gray Printing, Peter Trevouledes, MD, Twin Hills Health Center, Weis Markets, Williams & Smay, Williamsport Crosscutters, and Woodlands Bank.

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Rummage Sale

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Community Rummage Sale
You’ll enjoy spectacular finds at our indoor, air conditioned Community Rummage Sale held at the Muncy Historical Society Museum, 40 N. Main Street, Muncy, PA.

Friday, Aug. 12, 2011,
9 a.m.–3 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 13, 2011,
9 a.m.–1 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 15, 2011,
9 a.m.–3 p.m.

Past Home & Garden Tours

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Historic Homes & Garden Tour

Muncy’s 2011 Historic Homes & Garden Tour will be held Sunday, October 16, 2011 from Noon to 4 p.m.

Civil War properties that have a story to tell will be highlighted this year. Consider spending a weekend in Historic Muncy and tour a medley of unique and notable historic properties and special exhibits. This year’s exhibits will feature Muncy-area Civil War-related memorabilia and a “presentation” exhibit from a private collection. Includes light refreshments and living history event.


Previous Tours

Muncy Historical Society
House of Many Stairs

Dating to the late 1700s, the House of Many Stairs is one of Lycoming County’s most significant historic properties and tradition includes this house as one of the stops on the Underground Railroad. Steeped in history, this “bank house” served many a weary traveler while doing business as the Bull’s Head Tavern. One can only imagine the difficulties presented by its 11 sets of stairs. Period costumed colonials, located throughout the house, will share many a tale with the tour’s guests.
Located directly across the village road, ticketholders can find parking and light fare at the First United Methodist Church.

John Adlum, recently back from visiting with Thomas Jefferson, entertains guests who stroll through his period gardens where boxwoods create the formality, while wisteria vines surround the teahouse. Perennials, which bloom through the three growing seasons, provide a relaxing atmosphere.
The first stop and main ticket center for the tour is the Muncy Historical Society, housed in one of Muncy’s earliest homes. The two and one-half story, seven-bay frame building represents the Greek Revival style. This year, the museum features a one-day-only exhibit focusing on “Women in Uniform.” Women have had varied roles during wartime that evolved from support functions, to wartime protest, to the more active role of women in the military today. War, for all its horror, actually broadened women’s lives. From more restricted roles centered on the home, war brought women out into the workforce, into support roles on the home front, to the front lines, and to anti-war protest rallies. The exhibit features military, medical and homefront attire, from both private and museum collections, spanning the years from World War I through World War II.

Before or after touring the exhibit, ticketholders are invited to sit a spell and enjoy complimentary ice cream sundaes served in the museum’s meeting room-turned-ice cream parlor.

Ticketholders will be welcome at Muncy’s historic St. James Episcopal Church, which celebrates its 150th anniversary this year. St. James is a two and one-half story stone, Gothic Revival-style church. It features a 107-foot tower topped with a hexagonal spire, double and single lancet windows in each of the four-bay southern and northern sides, and a beautiful 12-light rose window graces its Main Street façade. Located just behind, visitors will be greeted in the quaint Parish House for refreshments. Beautifully landscaped gardens surround the property and visitors are invited to sit a spell on one of the benches before walking across the street to the Murray Brown House.
In Muncy, the featured gardens offer a variety of styles and reflect the personal tastes of their owners. Some gardens have been designed to bloom throughout the growing season beginning with bulbs and irises progressing to clematis and peonies, and then to lilies and butterfly bushes. Annuals and perennials add color, fragrance and texture to the landscape and they transform the yard into an alluring place. Boxwoods and hostas add formality to some gardens; wildflowers and vines provide a more colonial feel and flavor, attracting birds, bees and butterflies to their nectar. Variety also will be seen in the way owners have defined their gardens and walkways with the use of brick, stone, wood, shrubbery and Pennsylvania bluestone along with their shade- and sun-loving plant life. Each garden is more than a group of plants; the gardens have been carefully chosen to showcase diversity, enticing ticketholders to explore and discover a feeling of privacy, richness or serenity. Shade trees and patio areas offer a cool place to appreciate the colorful surroundings and complimentary light refreshments will also be available in some of the gardens.

Advance tickets, at the discounted price of $10 for the Historic Homes and Garden Tour and Quilt Show, may be purchased from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. July 13 through July 17, or by mail at P.O. Box 11, Muncy, PA 17756. Tickets the day of the tour are $12 and may be purchased at the society or at the Muncy High School or at the House of Many Stairs.

Did you miss previous Home Tours? Well, you’re in luck. We’re providing you with a virtual tour of portions of Homes and Garden Tours. Hopefully, you’ll be able to visit us in 2010 when Muncy Historical Society hosts its annual Quilt Show and the Historic Homes and Garden Tour.

William Lowmiller House
(Muncy Homes Tour 2007)

William Lowmiller House
Muncy Homes Tour 2007

William Lowmiller House
Muncy Homes Tour 2007

This charming, simple 3-bay, 2-story I-house once housed Lycoming County’s only Jacquard coverlet weaver. William Lowmiller moved his family from Level Corners, now Linden, to Muncy in the late 1830s and it was on these grounds that he dyed his yarns and weaved the highly prized one-, two-, and three-color bedcoverings that have stood the test of time. A sampling of his work will be on display both here and at the museum.
The house, located in Muncy’s Historic District, has a front gable, a characteristic found almost exclusively in the earliest structures in Muncy. The front door, which is on the home’s south side, leads into the main foyer that opens into the front parlor. The foyer is substantial, housing the main staircase, a hallway leading to the back of the house, and the entrance to the formal parlor. The parlor, beautifully decorated with family heirlooms and portraits, is charming, with an air of formality, yet cozy and inviting. As you move through the first floor, into the comfortable family sitting room, dining room and kitchen areas, listen carefully. Can you hear the shuttle being thrown back and forth on the loom? Can you hear the cards advance as the yarns are pulled to make the coverlet designs? Can you smell the dyes that Lowmiller used to color the yarn those many years ago?
The Lowmiller House, which has been tastefully and lovingly restored and is currently on the market, is in wonderful, move-in condition.


Taggart-McBride House
(Muncy Homes Tour 2007)

Taggert-McBride House
Muncy Homes Tour 2007

Taggert-McBride House
Muncy Homes Tour 2007

Taggert-McBride House
Muncy Homes Tour 2007

Built in 1848 by Judge Thomas Taggart, his descendants lived here until 1925 when the McBride family bought the property at auction. In 1991, the home was sold and its new owners spent three years working on its ground-up restoration. The square-shaped brick home is Georgian in style, complete with its hip roof line and symmetrically placed windows. The transom and sidelights at the decorative front entrance add an air of formality to the house, while the double sun porches on its east side more typify the informality of a farmhouse.
The dentil molding at the roofline and on the portico is carried inside – similar dentil work graces the ceiling of the formal parlor. Rare for a farmhouse in central Pennsylvania is the walnut woodwork used in the formal dining room. As you walk through the kitchen notice the lack of wall space due to the original built-in cupboard, working fireplace and the room’s seven doorways. A quilt collection will be displayed throughout the second floor bedrooms. You’ll walk through the family room, a clapboard-sided addition, and out into the screened-in, newly painted porch. Light refreshments will be available here.
The recently overhauled gardens also are on the tour. Feel free to walk around the house and into the backyard. The boxwoods, assorted evergreens, and knock-out roses lend a more formal look out front, while the side and back gardens are informal with unusual trees and perennial gardens. Greg Renn, a local organic gardener, is responsible for the design and plantings selections, the installation and maintenance of the Taggart-McBride House gardens.
(The Taggart-McBride House features a shopping opportunity for Selinda Kennedy’s redware. Selinda is a nationally recognized artist whose work is an expression of her sense of color, craftsmanship and whimsy.)


Murray Brown House Bed & Breakfast
(Muncy Homes Tour 2007)

Murray Brown House B&B
Muncy Homes Tour 2007

This home was built in circa 1905 for Charles Waldron, a son of John Waldron, one of the co-founders of Sprout, Waldron & Company. Dating to the late Victorian Era, this is a rambling clapboard-sided Queen Anne eclectic-style house with a major addition made in 1928.
In 1943, Carrie R. Murray purchased the house, and her descendents live in the home to this day.
As you enter the large center hall, which opens to a front parlor on one side and a formal dining room on the other, notice both have bay windows. The dining room boasts a floor-to-ceiling, built-in china closet. The dining room table and hutch were hand crafted by Roy Egly, a highly regarded 20th century Muncy furniture maker.
As you move through the front parlor into the large living room take note of the original fireplaces. Following the turned stairway to the second floor please take note of the 3 bedrooms, bath, and master suite. When the addition was done, many of the hardwood floors were redone in the log cabin style, which can be easily seen in the upstairs hall.


Wood Family Homestead
(Muncy Homes Tour 2007)

Wood Family B&B
Muncy Homes Tour 2007

Wood Family B&B
Muncy Homes Tour 2007

A new generation, with immediate plans to turn this brick farmhouse into a bed and breakfast, has been renovating and redesigning this circa 1866 family homestead. As you walk the driveway to the front of the house, notice that the family has revitalized the tennis court, which was built in the 1940s, using the property’s soil as its clay surface.
Enter by way of the front porch and move through the entrance hall directly into the front parlor, newly renovated with Victorian period wallpaper, carpet and handcrafted crown molding. Then, you’ll move into the relocated dining area and you’ll exit the house through one of the home’s two kitchens. Take a moment to contrast the 1950s-style kitchen to the more modern version that will soon service the household. Here, at the back of the house, notice the beautifully carved mantelpiece recently added in the breakfast nook area.
Exiting, move to your right and onto one of the gardens several flagstone patios. Almost immediately, you’ll see a massive trumpet vine, which meanders its way high across the yard and then creeps almost to the top of the nearby tree. Don’t miss the small pond that is flanked by flagstone and impressive greenery and imagine sipping your morning coffee in the quiet that this area affords.
Feel free to move off the walkways as you make your way to the rear of the property. Notice as you go, the fireplace from the early summer kitchen that is long gone, and examine the patio’s beams, which were salvaged from the property’s original barn and recycled as its roof supports.


John Beeber Homestead
(Muncy Homes Tour 2007)

John Beeber house
Muncy Homes Tour 2007

Hurricane Crazy Quilt
(in John Beeber house)

The John Beeber House is a Federal-style brick home. Born in 1761, Beeber was a young man when he joined a Berks County militia unit as a substitute, first, for his brother Nicholas, and a year later, for his brother, Adam. His militia unit marched up the West Branch of the Susquehanna River to Shoemaker Mills and then on to Fort Muncy. Following the war, the three brothers moved to the Muncy area, with John Beeber settled in familiar territory along Muncy Creek. From 1792 to 1816, he received warrants for 754 acres and, on this land, he and his wife built their home.
Sidelights and a wide transom surround the impressive Beeber homestead doorway, which leads to a commanding entrance hall with plenty of doors. The woodwork is substantial and the beautifully turned stairrail makes its way to the third floor. The Beeber’s, both of German descent, had at least eight children and a copy of their eldest child’s fraktur, or birth certificate, will be on display.
The front parlor and dining room still have the original built-in cupboards next to the two first-floor fireplaces. The homeowners will have a special quilt, titled “Hurricanes Make Me Crazy,” on display on the stairway landing, visible from the front entrance hall.
Animals have returned to the Beeber property so visit the impressive 19th Century Pennsylvania bank barn across the street from the homestead. There, visitors will find sheep and goats, chickens and turkeys, and perhaps a cat or two. From the barn hill or just inside, Rich Nornhold will share the art of coopering, a skill that takes many years to learn and perfect. Coopering means to do the work of a cooper, a tradesman who makes or repairs casks. While the art of coopering dates back centuries, the basic trade has remained unchanged. The coopers will demonstrate “white coopering,” which is the earliest form of coopering and involved making buckets, churns, and other items associated with vessels that held both water and milk. It also was the first branch of coopering to die out because of the tinsmith. The other branches were “wet” (barrels) and “dry” coopering (nail kegs and flour barrels).
Beeber was involved in the establishment of the Immanuel Lutheran Church and served as one of the first trustees. It has been recounted that, “The Muncy Beebers walked to church and crossed the creek near where the Wyalusing Path crossed, the women and children taking off their shoes and stockings and walking over the smooth, flat stones at the fording place.”


Immanuel Lutheran Church
(Muncy Homes Tour 2007)

Immanuel Lutheran Church
Muncy Homes Tour 2007

This first Lutheran Church in Lycoming County was built in 1791 and made available to other denominations, some occasionally, and others regularly. While Immanuel’s doors have been closed to regular worship for many years, they are opened for special services and they will be open for the 2007 Homes Tour. (Only a mile or so from the Beeber homestead, fording the creek is not the recommended travel mode on tour day. As you make your way across Muncy Creek, notice the gristmill stones that commemorate the site of Shoemaker Mills where John Beeber was initially stationed some 225+ years ago.) Historic memorabilia will be on display in the sanctuary and feel free to sit a spell in the straight-back pews.
The Reverend Jacob Miller, an itinerant minister from the 19th Century, will be in the church or out in the historic graveyard where John and Margaret Beeber are buried. Reverend Miller was born in 1811, and he began his life as a Lutheran here — first preaching the Methodist Episcopal doctrine, then the Methodist Protestant doctrine as he traveled the countryside, preferring not to hold a regular church charge. Miller never forgot his religious roots. He attended the centennial celebration of the Immanuel Church in 1891 where one of the guest speakers described him as an “apostle … who preached more sermons, traveled on foot more miles to do so and received less pay, in proportion to his labor, then any other minister who ever labored in Lycoming County…”


John Adlum House & Gardens
(Muncy Homes Tour 2007)

John Adlum House
Muncy Homes Tour 2007

John Adlum built this substantial limestone house which showcases some of the finest woodwork north of Harrisburg. Adlum, who held officer ranks in both the Provisional Army of the Revolution and the Pennsylvania Militia, was a highly regarded land surveyor. These 18th century frontier lands beckoned him and it was here that he perfected the growing of the Catawba grape for his winemaking.
The home, in high style Philadelphia fashion, has twelve over twelve windows, four fireplaces and a central chimney. In the dining room the hand-blocked wallpaper, a reproduction wall covering used by Thomas Jefferson, one of Adlum’s good winemaking friends, in his Monticello home. In the center hall, the “Magnolias:” wallpaper, a reproduction used in Washington’s Mount Vernon, was chosen to complement the magnolia trees found on the property. And, although John Adlum is away on business, he has left several bottles of chardonnay, named in his honor by a Virginia winery, for his guests to sample.
In the period gardens, boxwoods create the formality, while wisteria vines surround the teahouse. Perennials, which bloom through the three growing seasons, provide a relaxing atmosphere for unwinding at the end of a busy day.


Gernerd House Gardens
(Muncy Homes Tour 2007)

House Gardens
Muncy Homes Tour 2007

To access this home’s gardens, walk through the carport and past the wishing well. For the superstitious at heart, feel free to make a wish and throw a coin or two! And then, move through the iron gate to the well-manicured yard and garden area. A laid-up stone wall separates the gardens, which fall away from the rear of this clapboard-sided home. The flagstone and stone pathway beckons you into the yard. The garden’s greenery, lush and rich with shrubbery and evergreen beds and borders, dominate this backyard landscape. A wonderful wisteria vine ambles along the south side fence while garden statuary add an air of whimsy and interest on the property’s north side.


Russell Glass’ Carriage House
(Muncy Homes Tour 2007)

Russell Glass owned the Muncy Lumber Company and he had lumbering operations in Lycoming, Fayette and Somerset counties. A successful businessman, his interests included cement and paint products and storage facilities. In 1909, Glass purchased this corner property and we might presume that he wished to make some kind of statement to his fellow townspeople. First, he removed the much-smaller house that stood on this corner of Main and Penn streets and replaced it with the massive brick home. For this year’s tour, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the 2-story brick and clapboard-sided carriage house at the rear of the property.
While not attending to the horses, a young groom stands guard at the entrance to the carriage house, which has been carefully restored, adapted and converted into living quarters for people. The bay, where once the family’s carriage was stored, now serves as the main living room, with the ½ cast iron bars and wooden stall doors preserved, serving as room dividers for the kitchen and dining room areas. Notice the hay shoot — the vessel that supplied feed to the horses from the second-floor hayloft.
For the sure-footed, watch the first short step and ascend to the second floor where you’ll find another large sitting area, hallway master bedroom and bath. Notice the stained beadboard panels of varying widths, which, when first introduced in this country, were mostly used in less-formal dwellings such as cottages and carriage houses. And, for the really sure-footed, ascend the steep stairway to the loft, which seems so much steeper on the descent, and you’ll find yourself closer to the stained glass cupola area.


Gardener-McKee Gardens
(Muncy Homes Tour 2007)

The beautiful gardens surrounding this family home whisper comfort, hospitality and respite. The gardens have been designed to bloom throughout the growing season beginning with bulbs and irises progressing to clematis and peonies, and then to lilies and butterfly bushes. Perennials add color, fragrance and texture to the landscape and they transform the yard into an alluring place. The gardens are more than a group of plants – it’s the room the owners have made to enjoy the show! From the front yard, along the side yard and into the back yard, perennial beds and borders abound, adding loads of personality and charm as they bloom throughout the season. Look carefully – you don’t want to miss the ornaments and lighting tucked into the garden foliage.
Birds are invited to share a meal at any one of the many feeders and the large wooden bird house provides a welcome shelter to many of the garden’s fine feathered friends. The patio offers a cool place to appreciate the colorful surroundings and light refreshments will be available; sit a spell or move out into the yard and rest awhile on one of the yard benches.


Rose Hill
(Muncy Homes Tour 2006)

Joshua Alder was educated as a chemist and practiced his trade at his father-in-law’s company, Lewis Glass Works, in Eagles Mere. While the Glass Works flourished for several years, its owners soon found themselves in dire financial straits when their fragile product continued to shatter and break on the way off the mountain. When Alder left his position in 1817 he took up residence in Muncy and, in 1822, built the original brick section of this Federal-style home. Antique furnishings accessorize the updated kitchen and the backlighting complements the owner’s collection of yellow ware and early kitchen utensils and tools. Before moving into the large formal dining room, take a peek into the pantry which boasts of floor-to-ceiling built-in cupboards. The federal period furniture plays host to some of Alder’s glass, including a wonderful piece of bulls-eye and different colored chunks. (Dr. Musser married into the family and Mussers Lane is named for him.) As you move along, pay particular attention to the wood – heavily used in the built-in cupboards, for the crown moldings, on the fireplace mantels and surrounds, and around the windows.
The formal front and back parlors greet you next (and look for the coffin door built under the window) and then on into the grand hallway. On the deacon bench you’ll find a 1917 wedding signature quilt, an 1852 jacquard coverlet, a monogrammed carriage blanket, and framed needlework, all family heirlooms.
At the first landing, you’ll bear right and move through the guest bath and into the first bedroom. An heirloom canopy spotlights the 1930s high–posted bed. Along the wall, you’ll see the unusual hooded cradle and a standing Victorian-era medicine chest. The original pine floors beckoned you along into the sitting room with its built-ins and another of the home’s five fireplaces. Two of the other bedrooms can be glimpsed before making your way down the narrow, back stairway.
You’ll exit onto the slate and marble patio. Members of the Garden Club will be available to highlight the garden plantings and features. Feel free to walk all around the grounds and enjoy its special features, the monogrammed swing seat, Elizabeth and Joshua Alder’s foot stones, the lightning rod and fountain to name a few.


The Gortner House
(Muncy Homes Tour 2006)

Colors and charm abound in this home – from the stained glass transom over the front door to the ceramic tile-adorned fireplace in the front parlor, you’ll find this home comfortable and inviting. Watch your head and your step as you move throughout the first floor – the door clearances are quite low in places and the original portion of this home had additions built all around it. Notice the original plank door as you take a peek up the back staircase – imagine this as your only way to the second floor when this section was built in the 1830s! In every room, you’ll find an artist’s special touches and family heirlooms abound. Built on the site of one of Muncy’s community wells, imagine the gossip that was whispered when people came here to fill their buckets.
Step outside to enjoy the colonial bed gardens, created as a bird- and bee-sanctuary. The artist’s creativity is everywhere you look – flowers blooming on the garden shed, the placement of the statuary, the use of recycled street pavers to create patio areas, and the restful lull of the wall fountain. Take time to visit the artist’s studio before moving on to your next stop.
Oh yes, perhaps, Lizzie, from an earlier time, will make an appearance – her presence has been felt in the house and she’s been known to walk this property from time to time.


The McCarty House
(Muncy Homes Tour 2006)

Hundreds of perennials and plantings surround the property right next door. To fully enjoy the gardens, you’ll have to stray from the sidewalks and meander all around the property. Green- and brown-colored preying mantis help rid this garden of pesky insects and handmade inscribed bricks identify the plantings. From the herb garden, enjoy a glass of fresh mint tea!


The Douglas House
(Muncy Homes Tour 2006)

When you step inside these fenced-in gardens, you’ll immediately forget that you are still on Muncy’s Main Street. The shrubbery and plantings have been carefully selected to create an air of privacy, richness and serenity. Imagine enjoying your morning coffee on one of the 1st- or 2nd-floor porches or sharing a cup of tea with friends in the courtyard. Notice how the garden is more than a group of plants – it invites you to explore the space.


St. James Episcopal Church
(Muncy Homes Tour 2006)

One of Muncy’s finest buildings, the church was built under the direction of Sarah Hall, a wealthy parishioner, and was designed by the well-known architect, Richard Upjohn. Upjohn’s career spanned the middle years of the 19th century and New York’s Trinity Church and Boston’s Central Congregational Church are among his creations.
St. James is a 2 ½ story stone, Gothic Revival style church. The stone was brought from the Montgomery hills and was hauled across the frozen Susquehanna River on sleds. The church features a 107-foot tower topped with a hexagonal spire, double and single lancet windows in each of the four-bay southern and northern sides, and a beautiful twelve-light rose window graces its Main Street façade.

Before leaving the church property, visit its quaint Parish House for refreshments. The original Episcopal Church, built in 1832, was dismantled to make room for this larger structure and its bricks were recycled here. Beautifully landscaped gardens surround the property and feel free to sit a spell on one of the inviting benches.


The Bodine House
(Muncy Homes Tour 2006)These gardens have provided a suburban hideaway to visitors since the bed and breakfast open its doors to guests in 1983. It is a maintenance-free, primarily perennial garden with a wonderful patio area that allows the garden visitor to sit a spell and to enjoy the colors and textures playing within the garden areas.
The Bailiff House
(Muncy Homes Tour 2006)

The fieldstone Bailiff House on Muncy Farms was built in 1788 by Samuel Wallis. The middle brick section was added in 1840 and the western section was completed in 1926. The bailiff would have been Samuel Wallis farm manager. At that time the 5-square mile farm was called “Longreach” reflecting the location stretching between Muncy and Montoursville along the Susquehanna River.
The Bailiff House has been totally renovated keeping much of the colonial style intact. The original eastern section has an enormous cooking fireplace


The Riebsam House
(Muncy Homes Tour 2005)This year’s tour includes Muncy Borough’s oldest brick dwelling, the Riebsam House.
Before entering, pay attention to the Colonial-Federal architecture: some of its unusual features are a fan-light doorway with eight panels, a Palladian window on the third floor of the north side of the house and several finely windowed roof dormers on its Main Street side. This home must be painted to preserve its soft brick exterior.
Although Johan Sebastian Riebsam and five of his sons came to Muncy in the 1790s, the original section of this home was not built until 1810. As their fortunes and family grew, the Riebsams added the front section some 10 years later. Just inside the front door, you’ll be able to see some of the early deeds for this property along with the Riebsam family German Bible. You’ll be welcome to ascend the front stairwell which turns you back toward the front of the house so you’ll be able to peer into the guest bedrooms and bath. Hold on to that handrail as you make your way back to the first floor, moving on through the front parlors to the rear section, make sure you notice the fine woodwork and prayer book mantel. Today, the kitchen and dining room are part of the oldest section – notice the change in ceiling height, the exposed rafters and built-in cupboards. You’ll depart this home by way of its newest addition, circa 1910.
Muncy Historical Society & Museum
(Muncy Homes Tour 2005)

This early clapboard building is home to Muncy’s Museum of History. Take your time to appreciate the charm of one of Muncy’s earliest clapboard homes which still features the original beehive oven in the colonial kitchen, dating to 1812. This year Society volunteers have decorated the Museum using heirloom quilts and coverlets and a collection of Byers’ Carolers – both collections are on loan to the Society especially for the weekend festivities.
Listen carefully for the creaking of the pegged circa 1800 barn loom as our weaver pulls the beater bar toward her. Nearby find the “jacquard attachment” – one of only six known to still exist worldwide – which was used by Lycoming County’s only known jacquard weaver, William Lowmiller. The attachment revolutionized the weaver’s world, allowing him to produce a wide variety of designs using cardboard patterns. In addition to Muncy-made Lowmiller coverlets, you’ll also find examples of jacquard-produced bed coverings by other Pennsylvania weavers, including Netzly and Wunderlich of Lancaster County, Angstadt of Union County, Kaufman and Musselman of Bucks County, Dornbach of Luzerne County, and Kaley of Lebanon County.
In addition to the coverlet and quilt makers, there are other artists featured at 40 N. Main Street. Lining the front stairway wall is the Jean Mohr Collection which includes examples of his work in pencil, charcoal, watercolor, and oil. These works are very different than the wall murals featured in the restaurant section of the Fort Brady.
There are two worthy oil paintings in the front parlors (second floor) – over the fireplace hangs Miss Calder’s rendering of Muncy as it looked to her in 1856 and, above the tiger maple bureau, look for the still life painted by Jennie Noble Wood. As you stroll into the newer exhibit area, the Society’s pair of Severin Roesen oil paintings might just captivate your fancy.
On loan from both museum and private collections, the quilts illustrate hand- and machine piecing, appliqué and a variety of quilting techniques. Displayed on racks, in room settings, and on canvas, the bed coverings represent all categories – antique, traditional, grassroots and contemporary compositions. Many of the quilts and coverlets will be 150+ years old while some have just begun their life and will someday be family and community heirlooms. All are recognized and valued as art works. You will be entertained by a variety of color, design patterns and texture, with each piece depicting a personal art form that represents the artisan’s craft coupled with creativity.
“It was not a woman’s desire…to be forgotten. And in one simple, unpretentious way, she created a medium that would outlive even many of her husband’s houses, barns, and fences; she signed her name in friendship onto cloth and, in her own way, cried out, Remember me.” Linda Otto Lipsett

Fort Brady Hotel
(Muncy Homes Tour 2005)

This circa 1810 large, three and one-half story, eight bay frame hotel and tavern has decided Victorian overtones. Six different additions give the present structure a rambling air which includes double bracketed eaves and thick window heads. The building has housed a tavern-hotel business since its initial construction by Robert Risk, a local landholder and merchant, and later owned by two of his sons, William and James. Step up to the impressive lobby desk and ‘register’ for the free door prize drawing.
Your room won’t be ready so pass the time with artist Jean Mohr who is madly working on the hotel’s wall murals. Step into the dining room – but stay away from the walls so you don’t get paint on your clothes! Jean has quite the story to tell and, if he likes you, perhaps he’ll spin you a yarn and will tip a ‘pint or so’ with you, too. Perhaps, he’ll share some stories about the family’s 13-room mansion or perhaps you can get him to describe his “Gibson Girl.”
This relatively unknown, but prolific, artist studied under Howard Pyle, a well-known teacher at Drexel Institute who developed quality illustrators, including Maxwell Parrish and N.C. Wyeth – persons who could tell a story with pictures and incorporate the most sophisticated artistic techniques into their work. He also studied portraiture under Cecelia Beau and several of his portraits will be on display as well.

The Wood-Rankin House
(Muncy Homes Tour 2005)

In 1872, Jeremiah Gernerd, author of the Society’s publication, Now and Then, had this to say about the Wood-Rankin Home: “… contributing to the general advancement of a correct taste for architectural embellishment, and promoting sensible ideas of domestic enjoyment, [is] the new home of Adam Rankin.”

Purchasing the property from the Wood estate, Rankin proceeded to turn the existing house around and move it further back on the lot. For the tour, you’ll enter the 2-and-1/2-story Victorian style brick by way of its front door which served the family as the main entrance to their private residence. Throughout the day, there will be music coming from the front parlor/library and you’ll be captivated by the charm of the dining- and sitting rooms.
Next, you’ll find the original portion of this home is the rear 1-and-1/2-story section built in the style of Greek Revival. At one time, facing in the opposite direction and just off the sidewalk, this portion served as the medical office for one of Muncy’s earliest physicians, Dr. Thomas Wood. You’ll find some of the Wood Family’s 19th century medical instruments on display here – perhaps you might want volunteer to be “bleed” or sit still for a quick, but most likely, painful tonsillectomy! Make sure you go outside and look back to view the pedimented gable and columned porch.

If you’re up to the challenge, ascend to the second floor by way of the back narrow stairway – turning you first in one direction and then the other. You’ll exit by way of the front stairs.


St. Andrews Evangelical Lutheran Church
(Muncy Homes Tour 2005)

This large stone church features a square three-story bell tower topped with battlements, a symmetrical floor plan interrupted by a number of small side bays, and Tudor arches enhancing the various entrances. Its first pipe organ was installed in 1914 and it was partially paid for by Andrew Carnegie, of Pittsburgh. The church was designed by M. I. Kast and constructed by J. A. Miller and Company using stone from the West Branch Canal aqueduct which traversed Muncy Creek at its confluence with the West Branch of the Susquehanna River. Built in 1905, this is St. Andrews’ centennial year.


Shuttle Hill Ranch
(Muncy Homes Tour 2005)

This home, which sits on lot’s 1 through 4, was built in the 1960s in what is known as Muncy’s Shuttle Hill development section. Entering through the front door, you’ll make the turn into the kitchen which features the owner’s springerle cookie mold collection and a 1840s Swedish-made sampler. In the garage-converted-to-family room notice the family heirloom trunk and tea cart, the hand-crafted coffee table and the Fenton House stemware collection. Windows span two sides of the home’s dining/living room area which has been decorated for the Christmas season.
Keeping with this year’s ‘quilt’ theme be sure you check out the hand-painted and numbered quilt-scene prints hanging in the guest bedroom.
In this house that seems to go on forever, also take time to descend to the basement which features an entertainment and guest suite, with its own mini-kitchen and bath.


Christmas Reading

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For the children in all of us, the ever-popular reading of Clement Clarke Moore’s holiday story is held at the Muncy Historical Society Museum, 40 N. Main St., Muncy. Santa Claus is known to attend and hot chocolate and cookies are served after the reading. The society’s Museum Shop will be open for holiday shopping ideas.

This holiday’s reading is slated for Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011, 10 a.m.


The Night Before Christmas


The Night Before Christmas


‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,

Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!

On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,

With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes — how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly,

That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”