Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Eight More Days to Research in 2009

Just a reminder for all of our library patrons that there are only eight more days left to come and do research at BCHS in 2009. We will be closed on December 24 and 25 for the Christmas holiday. December 31 will be the last day that we are open this year.

From January 1 until March 31, the library will be closed. No appointments will be scheduled for research or group tours.

If you have been planning on stopping by to pick up a Bradford County history book for a Christmas gift, there are only six days left to do that.

If you wish to have us ship your purchase, and you want it before Christmas, we will need your order by the end of the business day on December 17. We will ship Priority in order to get it to you on time. Just click on "BCHS eBay Store" on our blog or visit our website at and click on "Gift Shop". You can also call 570-265-2240 and place your order using a credit card.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas Book Sale Coming December 6th

Remember to visit the Bradford County Historical Society this coming Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to get some great deals on Bradford County history books. This only happens once each year so don't miss this chance to pick up the book you have wanted! A large supply of Christmas decorations are also available at the sale for only $1 per item!

Also keep watching our eBay store for some special auctions on an entire set of Bradford County history books. These auctions are coming soon!! Just go to and click on "Gift Shop."

New Poll Question on BCHS Website

There is another new poll question today on the Bradford County Historical Society website. Check it out at Congratulations to the more than 40 people who answered the last poll question correctly. The 1950's song that was written by a Bradford County native was "Mr. Sandman."

If you're on Facebook and you haven't taken the opportunity to connect to BCHS yet, why not do it now. Over 50 people have joined the BCHS Facebook group so far. Pass the word to friends and family. It's a great way to find out what is happening! If you have a Facebook account, just search for "Bradford County Historical Society."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

BCHS Now on Facebook

Now there is another way for you to connect with the Bradford County Historical Society! We are now on Facebook!

If you have a Facebook account, simply search for "Bradford County Historical Society" and then join our Group. It's easy and it will help spread the word about BCHS. Leave a message while you're there. If you're not on Facebook, go to and start an account.

We will post information about upcoming events, such as our Laquin program, on our Facebook page and we want to hear feedback from you.

If you know of someone who is on Facebook, let them know that we are there!

Laquin Program A Huge Success

I presented the program, "Laquin: Behind the Photos" at the Rialto Theatre last Saturday, November 7th, sponsored by the Bradford County Historical Society. The photos below pretty much tell the story. The theatre was filled beyond capacity and a second show had to presented the same day to get another 40 people into the theatre. It was another great outreach event for the Historical Society.

We have been receiving calls and emails asking if we were planning to do it again. The answer is yes! I am looking at dates and locations in 2010. We will be selling tickets to these events so that everyone is guaranteed a seat. The best way to find out when the next event will be held is to keep checking the Calendar of Events on our website. We will post the new information as soon as all the details are in place.

Meanwhile check out the photos and also the news article below that appeared in the Canton Independent-Sentinel this week. If you are reading this in your email inbox click here to see the photos, etc.

The line extended down the street and around the corner.

The audience during the first show.

"Laquin: Behind The Photos"
Was Beyond Expectations
Canton Independent-Sentinel, November 12, 2009

The people kept coming and the line kept growing. The line of people outside of the Rialto Theatre went on and on and on to attend "Laquin Behind the Photos" presented by the Bradford County Historical Society (Matthew Carl, Curator) on November 7, 2009.

When the presentation began, all of the 154 seats had been filled plus chairs added and people standing.

The SRO audience totaled 175 area history loving citizens.

In the meantime, there were still about seventy-five (75) people standing outside the Rialto Theatre wanting to be inside.

The Bradford County Historical Society and the Rialto Theatre staff immediately decided to have an emergency presentation at 3:30 p.m. the same day.

At 3:30 p.m. forty-five (45) people returned for the excellent program about Laquin, a town which used to be on Barclay Mountain.

For the local citizens who missed the program, Matthew Carl (Curator) from LeRoy, said that plans for encore presentations are now in the process to have "Laquin Behind the Photos" as well as "Harry Davenport: Canton's Famous Actor" scheduled again for 2010.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Laquin Commentary - Part 3

Today, the Barclay Cemetery is in decent condition compared to what it was like when I first visited the site. We entered the cemetery and it was immediately pointed out to us that we needed to be careful and stay on the paths. The cemetery was full of large sink holes where coal mines under the cemetery had collapsed. Some of the grave stones were in the holes.

Although we were only at the cemetery briefly, it made an impression on me just the same. I wondered who these people were.

Upon arriving home, I was absolutely worn out, and my head was spinning with everything I had seen and heard over the past two days. For a kid that was only just a decade old, my brain was on overload. I started talking about Laquin and I haven't stopped since that day. I wanted to know more.

I started a scrapbook on Laquin and wrote down everything that I saw or heard during the trip. It is still amusing to read what my first impressions of Laquin were. Shortly after this I discovered that one of my ancestors was a clerk at the Laquin store.

This experience was the beginning of my interest in local history. It led me to find out more about my hometown of LeRoy and eventually start the LeRoy Heritage Museum. I would eventually lead tours of Laquin which allowed me the opportunity to become very familiar with the town.

Two years ago, while designing the Bradford County Historical Society's new Barclay Mountain history book, I spent many hours examining the photographs of Laquin that are available. I realized that people have written about the town and some have used photographs to illustrate their history, but has anyone focused on the photos themselves?

Rather than giving information and supplementing it with photos, the program, "Laquin: Behind the Photos," shows photos and supplements them with information. Many people learn more through sight rather than sound. Why not learn from the photographs?

Don't miss the program, "Laquin: Behind the Photos," on Saturday, November 7, 2009 beginning at 1 p.m. Doors open at 12:30 p.m. Admission of $6 per person will be charged at the door. The proceeds benefit the work of the Bradford County Historical Society. See you then!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Laquin Commentary - Part 2

After breakfast, my first tour of Laquin began. For a boy of 10 years old, walking through a valley of foundations, railroad beds, and holes in the ground made it seem as though we were discovering a lost city in the jungles of Central America. The adults knew some basics about the foundations but not much. That didn't matter - it was enough to make it interesting for us.

I vividly remember arriving at the foundation of the kindling wood factory and seeing what were described to us as two hearths inside of a foundation. These were, in fact the two boilers that helped to create the steam for the factory. I think the reason that I remember that part so well is because when I returned some years later, one of the arches that identified a boiler had collapsed. It was at that moment that I really understood that history can be lost and someone needs to do something about it.

Our hike through Laquin continued and only focused on the eastern part of the town. We then crossed the old railroad bridge over Carbon Run and began following the old railroad bed of the Susquehanna and New York along the Schrader Creek. By this time, we were exhausted, but started noticing metal pieces laying in the road or poking out of the black dirt. These, we learned, were pieces of the railroad - my first exposure to what we might call "artifacts."

Now I didn't come prepared to pick things up, but one of the others had brought a backpack, and so we commenced picking up every scrap of metal that we could find. I recently discovered these items, which I still have. When we finally arrived back at the cabin, the bag full of metal was dumped out and the three of us boys each took turns picking a piece that we would like to have. This was certainly a "boy thing" to do. Can you imagine three 10 year old girls excited about choosing a piece of rusty iron from a pile? I had my eyes on a perfect railroad spike and grabbed it as soon as my turn came around. Most of the other items I picked were barely recognizable chunks of iron, a bolt, etc.

As the second day of our trip to Laquin came to an end, we packed up and drove out of the valley. My only thought was, "I have got to come back here again!" As we worked our way off the mountain, this time in daylight, the adults told us that we had one more stop. We made a couple turns, drove down a dead-end road, and then got out of the van. A wooden sign told us that we had arrived at the Barclay Cemetery.

To read more, check out the blog next week...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Laquin Commentary - Part 1

Ah, yes. I remember it like it was yesterday. My first trip to Laquin.

In two weeks, the Bradford County Historical Society will present the program, "Laquin: Behind the Photos" at the Rialto Theatre in Canton, Pa. In preparation for that event I will answer some frequently asked questions pertaining to my interest in Laquin. Now on with the story.

It was either in October or November. I was 10 years old. An overnight trip was planned for our youth group at a cabin located in the valley of Laquin.

The trip began in LeRoy by loading into a utility van. I don't recall that there were any seats. It was in the evening and so the drive up the mountain and into Laquin was made in the dark. All I can remember is looking out through the front windshield and seeing the headlights hitting the trees and the dirt road. Several times we came to what appeared to be a "fork" in the road.

After a half hour drive, we arrived in Laquin. Since we arrived in the dark, I didn't know that we were in a valley or what was in the darkness beyond the light of the cabin. The cabin is essentially one room with a loft on the second floor which was accessed by a ladder. There was a bedroom, bathroom and enclosed porch, but you had to go outside and back in another door to access that part of the building. The suggestion by the adults that a previous owner of the cabin had moved to Towanda, shot a man, and had been placed in prison where he later died was enough to scare us; especially when we later heard tapping on the windows in the night (that turned out to be those same adults).

That was my first introduction to Laquin.

When we awoke the next morning, the adults were making breakfast. The boys were in the loft. One of us looked out the loft window and noticed something behind the cabin. A huge stone tower-like structure only 50 feet or so from the cabin. Also what appeared to be foundations and large blocks of concrete. It was then that I forgot what happened the night before and the exploration instinct of a boy kicked in. After breakfast, I would discover for the first time, the ruins of a town called Laquin.

To read more, check out the blog later this week...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What's Happening at BCHS

We had a very successful annual meeting on October 11th, and several have commented on how much they enjoyed the new format that we followed that day. There was a full house for the event. Many thanks to all who participated.

The last Friday Night at the Museum program of 2009 was held on October 16th. Many positive comments have been received about the variety and quality of programs that we offered this year. The 2010 programming season will begin in May 2010.

The museum season is also coming to an end this week. We are grateful for what the local newspaper described as a "banner year" for the society.

Don't forget that the program, "Laquin: Behind the Photos" will be presented at the Rialto Theatre in Canton on November 7th at 1 p.m. Admission of $6 will be charged at the door. Doors open at 12:30 p.m. so plan to get there early to ensure a seat. Beginning next week, I will add commentary about the upcoming program to the blog. This will include information about how I became interested in the topic, experiences in Laquin, and my own family connections to the town. I will try to answer some frequently asked questions.

Also coming up is our special Christmas event which will be held November 27 and 28. The event includes a craft show and other new activities. The annual holiday book sale will be held on Sunday, December 6th, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Historical Society.

If you are planning to order books from us for Christmas, consider doing it early to make sure you receive your copy before the Christmas rush. Several of our major history books can be found and ordered through our eBay store. Simply visit our website and click on "Gift Shop" to be taken directly to the store page. Many people have done this and have been pleased with the results.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

BCHS Annual Meeting Awards Presentation Video

Check out a video of the awards presentation at our annual meeting yesterday afternoon. If you have trouble viewing it, click here.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

"Laquin: Behind the Photos" Coming to Rialto Theatre in Canton

The Bradford County Historical Society is coming to the Rialto Theatre in Canton to present the program, "Laquin: Behind the Photos," on November 7, 2009 at 1 p.m. Admission of $6.00 per person will be charged at the door. No tickets will be sold in advance. Doors will open at 12:30 p.m.

Proceeds from the event will be used to cover the cost of bringing the program to Canton and will also be used to support special projects at the Bradford County Historical Society.

"Laquin: Behind the Photos" is a unique program that takes the audience on a tour of the lumber town of Laquin, located on Barclay Mountain in Bradford County. Using over 100 images which are supplemented by maps, the program makes it possible for the audience to learn about the history of the town by actually seeing its buildings, factories, and people. Each photograph in the program is described during the presentation to allow participants to understand what they are viewing.

Many of the images were made from glass plate negatives in the Historical Society collection. In addition, the program will also feature photographs that have been received by the society since the publication of the book, "Barclay Mountain – A History," in 2007. Many of these photos have never been in a public display.

"If you have an interest in Barclay Mountain, and especially Laquin, don’t miss this event," said Matthew Carl, Managing Curator at the Bradford County Historical Society, who developed the program. Carl is very familiar with the topic, having led walking tours on Barclay Mountain for the past four years. He also designed the Barclay Mountain book, and among other contributions, chose the photographs that would be published.

Copies of the book, "Barclay Mountain – A History," that have been signed by the authors and designer will be on sale in the theatre lobby during the event. This will be an excellent time to pick up a copy for Christmas!

This program was presented in Waverly in August and was standing room only. Plan accordingly to ensure a seat at this event!

For more information about the program, visit the Bradford County Historical Society Curator’s Blog where there will be commentary about this topic during the last two weeks leading up to the event. The blog can be found online at

The Bradford County Historical Society is a recipient agency of the Bradford County United Way. More information about the society can be found online by visiting

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

News & Events - Let's get caught up!

Can you believe it's almost October? Already it seems that another year is almost over and we are looking back to see what has been done here at the Bradford County Historical Society. We have been busy changing and improving again this year. If you want to find out about all of the specifics, be sure to attend our upcoming annual meeting, which has also changed this year.


Don't miss the BCHS Annual Meeting which will be held on Sunday, October 11, from 2 to 4 p.m. This year we are trying something new, and we hope that you will participate. First, attendance at the event is open to both members and nonmembers, so come out and you will soon see why you should join in our effort. Second, the event is free. Food stations will be provided with a variety of goodies served in a casual atmosphere. We will present reports on what we have accomplished at BCHS this year, a Bradford County history quiz will be given with a $100 first place prize, and Henry Farley will be presenting the program, "Remembering Dr. Donald Guthrie". Registration is required. Call 570-265-2240 or email

If you didn't attend last year, you can still read the reports by visiting our website, clicking on "About BCHS" and then on "Annual Meeting" in the left column. Scroll to the bottom and download the reports.


While you're at the annual meeting, you can also check out the changes in our Research Library. We have heard several positive comments from patrons who are enjoying our new library layout. Our Library Clerk, Denise, has a new desk that is equipped to handle all kinds of business. There is also a more open floor plan.


There is only one more "Friday Night at the Museum" program remaining for 2009. We have had a full house at almost every program this year and had to set up extra chairs at the last two events. On October 16, Dr. Josephine Dunn will present "Alive to the Call: Women and History in Northeastern Pennsylvania". A large crowd is expected for this program. Even though the press release has not yet gone out, you are welcome to call and register for the program now. The number is 570-265-2240.


On August 4th, I spoke at the Susquehanna River Archaeological Center (SRAC) in Waverly, NY about Laquin. The program featured over 100 photographs, some of which we have received since publishing the book, "Barclay Mountain - A History". It features a history of the former lumber town told through the photographs that were taken of the community. The event in Waverly was standing room only and several had to be turned away because there was no more room.

As a result, we will be taking the program on the road to a couple towns in Bradford County over the next several months. On Saturday, November 7th, the program will be presented at the Rialto Theatre in Canton because we have received several calls from residents in that community. Admission will be charged at the door and proceeds will support the Historical Society. More information will be coming out soon, but mark your calendar now!


The museum switched to Fall hours after Labor Day. The museum will be open on Saturday's by appointment. Please call 570-265-2240, Wednesday through Friday, to let us know what time you plan on arriving. The museum will close for the season on October 24th. Remember also that the Research Library will be closed again this coming winter from January through March. You can communicate with as usual but we will offer no research hours during those months in order to save on the heat bill.


The Bradford County Historical Society will again be at the Apple & Cheese Festival in East Canton this year, October 3 & 4. Stop and see us and buy that local history book you have been wanting! Christmas is coming!


Speaking of Christmas, our Special Events committee has been busy planning a new event for the upcoming Christmas season. A craft show will be held on November 27 and 28 and other things will be happening those two days as well. Crafters are being solicited and more information can be found on our website by clicking on "Events" and then on "Holiday Craft Show" in the sidebar.


Remember that we are making changes to our website periodically. Right now there is a new local history poll question on the front of the site. Be sure to cast your vote for the right answer and when you do, you can see how others have voted and also you can find answers to previous poll questions. Visit the site at

These are only a few things that are happening at BCHS!

Friday, September 4, 2009

BCHS to Present History of the P.B. & E. Railroad

The Bradford County Historical Society will host a free program entitled "The Pittsburgh, Binghamton & Eastern: The Rise and Fall of a Bradford County Railroad" scheduled for September 18, 2009 at 6 p.m. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Although the event is free, participants are asked to register by calling 570-265-2240 or by email at

The program will be presented by Bradford County Historical Society Managing Curator, Matthew Carl.

Originally proposed as an electric trolley system, the valley of the Towanda Creek contains the remnants of a steam railroad that never ran. The Pittsburgh, Binghamton and Eastern Railroad went bankrupt before the line was completed. Was it really bankruptcy, however, that halted the P.B. & E.?

The program will be illustrated with several slides showing the railroad under construction. These photos come from both prints and glass negatives in the Historical Society collection, as well as from LeRoy Heritage Museum in LeRoy Township.

A portion of the program will feature a description of the electric trolley system that was planned to extend from Towanda to Canton in the late 1890's. The formation, work and eventual demise of the Pittsburgh, Binghamton & Eastern, a steam railroad, will also be described.

This program is part of the 2009 "Friday Night at the Museum" programming series that will be held the third Friday of each month from May until October. Each event is held in the Great Room at the Bradford County Historical Society, located at 109 Pine Street, Towanda, PA. Free refreshments are provided at each program.

The Bradford County Historical Society is a recipient agency of the Bradford County United Way. For more information about the society visit the new society website at or the Curator's Blog at

Friday, July 10, 2009

Seats Going Fast for "Towanda Queen" Program

We have had many good responses and compliments about our redesigned website. Many people have already used our new PDF forms to submit membership dues, research requests, etc. If you have a question about the Bradford County Historical Society, you will most likely find an answer on the site.

Next week, July 17th, is our next "Friday Night at the Museum" event here at 109 Pine Street, Towanda. Several visitors have commented on the wide range of topics that are being covered in this year's programming. This month, we will be showing the movie, "Towanda's Queen", on the 75th anniversary year of it's debut. This movie was made in Towanda in January 1934 and is believed to be the first "talking" movie made in Bradford County. We had the movie transferred from film to DVD this year. Prior to the movie, I'll be talking about the history of the film using newspaper reports that appeared at the time. We already have 34 people registered for the program and seats are going fast. Call the Bradford County Historical Society at 570-265-2240 and leave a voice message if there is no answer.

Coming up on Tuesday, August 4th, I will be presenting the program, "Laquin - Behind the Photos" at the Susquehanna River Archeaological Center in Waverly, NY. This program features over 100 photographs that will enable you to step back in time and tour the streets of this lumber town on Barclay Mountain. This program was presented at the BCHS Annual Meeting in 2006 but it has been updated to include newly found photographs and updated information. The SRAC press release says, "The doors will open at 6 pm, with the program running from 6:30 – 7:30 pm. Admission is $4 Adults, $3 for SRAC members and students. The public is advised that the SRAC gift shop and exhibit hall will also be open during this time as well and to please consider arriving early to browse these areas before the program."

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Bradford County Historical Society to Show 1934 Movie Made in Towanda

The Bradford County Historical Society will host a free program entitled "Towanda's Queen" scheduled for July 17, 2009 at 6 p.m. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Although the event is free, participants are asked to register by calling 570-265-2240 or by email at A large attendance is expected so register early.

The program will feature a black and white movie made in Towanda in January 1934 entitled, "Towanda's Queen". The movie features several local residents including the Bradford County Sheriff, Howard L. Bailey; Jean MacLaren; Lang Dayton; Towanda's Justice of Peace, Harry N. White; Mrs. Anne M. Parsons; Mrs. Ernest Sluyter; Richard Wilt; Joanna Gaylord; William Glenn; Hulett M. Turner, Publisher of the Daily Review; Staley Clarke, Daily Review City Editor; and Ashton Merrill, Daily Review Assistant City Editor.

Some of the scenes in the movie feature the Towanda American Legion Drum and Bugle Corps marching on Main Street in front of the courthouse; the Towanda Musical Society; the interior of the Keystone Theatre; the composing room and printing press of The Daily Review; and exterior shots of a couple houses on York Avenue.

The movie was described as a "modern two-reel comedy with talking, singing and musical sequences." It was also announced that this was the "first all-talking movie made in Bradford County." Any movies made prior to this were silent films.

It was reported that "the story centers around a country boy who decides to leave the farm and become an interior decorator. He meets the girl of his dreams, has some difficulties courting her, but at last gets both a job and the girl. The show has a most unusual ending that everyone will enjoy."

The film includes short interviews between Director Don O. Newland and local residents who had shown up to watch the spectacle of a "talkie" being filmed.

A history of the movie and how it was made will be discussed by BCHS Curator, Matthew Carl, prior to it being shown. This year is the 75th anniversary of the making of this film.

This program is part of the 2009 "Friday Night at the Museum" programming series that is held the third Friday of each month from May until October. Each event is held in the Great Room at the Bradford County Historical Society, located at 109 Pine Street, Towanda, PA. Free refreshments are provided at each program.

The Bradford County Historical Society is a recipient agency of the Bradford County United Way. For more information about the society visit the newly redesigned and updated website at

Thursday, June 25, 2009

BCHS Presents New Website

New features, more information, and a variety of photos are only some of the improvements that have been made to the Bradford County Historical Society website. Found at, the site also features a brand new design.

The BCHS Board of Trustees decided earlier this year to pursue the creation of a new website in order to increase the amount of information and the number of resources available online.

Several months ago, Matthew Carl, BCHS Managing Curator, began working with InCommand Technologies of Corning, NY, who created a new design that would be appealing for all ages. Once the design process was complete, Carl began adding new content to the site. This phase took over a month to complete.

The new website includes many new features, such as an interactive event calendar that lists all special events, group tours, programs, and holiday closings for the year. A photo album features photos of events at the Society.

Clear and concise information is now available about every facet of the Bradford County Historical Society. Downloadable forms accompany several of the pages in order to make interaction with the Society easy.

An expanded list of research material is updated on a regular basis and a searchable index of The Settler magazine from 1952 to 2009 is available.

There are directions for teachers wishing to schedule student tours, or for others who wish to schedule group tours. Additionally, information is available for those who are interested in renting the Society’s Great Room for special events.

An extensive history of the Society’s facility, the former Bradford County Jail, is featured and includes stories about jail escapes and other fascinating events. A Student Resource section is continually growing and offers material for school students and teachers.

The Society Journal, a quarterly newsletter that is sent to members, can be downloaded from the site one month after members receive their issue.

Other sections include information on how to request a local history program for your community group, how to include BCHS in your estate plans, and how to apply for Century Farm, Home or Building status can also be found.

It is now easy to become a member, renew your membership, or find out how to become a volunteer.

Planning a visit to BCHS? The site now features driving directions, parking information, an index of all county historical markers organized by town, and links to all of the museums in Bradford County.

Direct links to the Society’s eBay Store and Curator’s Blog makes it easy to find all of our online resources.

Another section includes tips on how to preserve your family documents.

Many more additions to the site are planned for the future. Visit the Society’s new website at to explore all of these opportunities and several more.

The Bradford County Historical Society is responsible for preserving the history of all areas of the county and is a recipient agency of the Bradford County United Way and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Website Ready to Go Online

Our new website will be going online very soon. I spent a month adding content to the site and additional content is being prepared on a daily basis by our new summer tour guide, Heather Godshall. You will find a tremendous amount of information when you first see the site, but we plan to have much more available by the end of the summer. One interesting feature that is currently being developed is a section that will give newspaper accounts of life at the jail (now our museum and research library) over the years. If you are planning a visit to our facility, you will want to read that section first, especially the collection of stories about jail escapes. We are waiting for a few technical details to be worked out with the site and then it will go live. A notice will be sent out at that time.

We recently hosted the last school tour for the 2008-09 school year. Over 400 students of all ages from various schools have toured the museum in the last few months.

Remember our Friday Night at the Museum program next Friday, June 19th, entitled "Spinning and Weaving in Bradford County and the Endless Mountains." The Home Textile Tool Museum of Rome will be here to present an interesting program and we will have historic coverlets on display. Register by calling 570-265-2240 (leave a message if there is no answer) or by email at

Thursday, June 4, 2009

BCHS to Host Spinning and Weaving Program, June 19

The Bradford County Historical Society will host a free program entitled "Spinning and Weaving in Bradford County and the Endless Mountains: A Historical Presentation by the Home Textile Tool Museum" scheduled for June 19, 2009 at 6 p.m. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Although the event is free, participants are asked to register by calling 570-265-2240 or by email at

The program will be presented by Victor Hilts, an HTTM volunteer. Other volunteers will demonstrate equipment used by our ancestors, including the spinning wheel.

The Bradford County Historical Society will also display examples of coverlets produced in the county. This display will supplement the coverlets and other textiles in the museum's permanent exhibits.

The Home Textile Tool Museum of Orwell is celebrating it's 10th anniversary this year. More information about HTTM can be viewed at their website,

This program is part of the 2009 "Friday Night at the Museum" programming series that is held the third Friday of each month from May until October. Each event is held in the Great Room at the Bradford County Historical Society, located at 109 Pine Street, Towanda, PA. Free refreshments are provided at each program.

The Bradford County Historical Society is a recipient agency of the Bradford County United Way. For more information about the society visit or the Curator's Blog at

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Website Progress; Friday Programs Begin this Week

First, let's talk about the website. The design of the Bradford County Historical Society's new website was finished last week and now I am doing the remainder of the work. The basic layout of the pages has been finished and now I am filling in information and adding new features.

In a previous post I mentioned one of these new features. Another one will be the addition of several new downloadable forms for nearly everything. Whether you are becoming a member, renewing your membership, applying to volunteer, requesting research, ordering photo reprints, renting our facility, applying for Century Farm/Home/Building status, or any number of other things, there will now be a form available to help improve your ability to communicate with us.

Also a reminder that our "Friday Night at the Museum" programming begins this week. See my previous post on this blog for the press release. We hope to see you at this program. Don't forget to register by calling 570-265-2240.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

2009 Friday Night at the Museum Programming to Begin May 15 - Ellis Island to be Discussed

The Bradford County Historical Society will host a free program about Ellis Island scheduled for May 15, 2009 at 6 p.m. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Although the event is free, participants are asked to register by calling 570-265-2240 or by email at

The program will be presented by Wilton S. Tifft, an award-winning photojournalist and Bradford County resident.

All immigrants who came to Bradford County between 1892 and 1924 passed through Ellis Island, which functioned as an immigrant processing center. Today it is the site of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. Come and experience a program about Mr. Tifft's book of Ellis Island photography and the years that he spent documenting this historic landmark.

Samples of Mr. Tifft's photography, including Ellis Island as well as locations around the world, can be viewed at his website,

This program is part of the 2009 "Friday Night at the Museum" programming series that will be held the third Friday of each month from May until October. Each event is held in the Great Room at the Bradford County Historical Society, located at 109 Pine Street, Towanda, PA. Free
refreshments are provided at each program.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Website, Programming, Tours, and a Job Opening

As I look at my calendar, I notice that it seems to be one solid mass of writing. That can only mean one thing - Summer is on the way.

As I wrote previously, progress continues to be made with our new website. The design phase is complete and at this time content is being added to the site. The new site will have some surprises, but one that I will let you know about is the collection of rotating photographs on the front page. Everytime you visit, the photo will change to a different historic Bradford County scene. We hope to go live with the new website by the end of Spring and then it will have additional material added to it on a regular basis.

Our schedule for this year's "Friday Night at the Museum" programming is complete. Mark your calendar to visit BCHS on the third Friday evening of each month at 6 p.m. (museum open from 5:30 to 6:00). On May 15th, award-winning photojournalist and Bradford County resident, Wilton S. Tifft will talk about Ellis Island and the time he spent photographing this historic landmark. All immigrants who came to Bradford County between 1892 and 1924 passed through Ellis Island, which functioned as an immigrant processing center. Refreshments will be provided and registration for the free program is requested to help us plan for you. Visit to see Mr. Tifft's Ellis Island photography. If you would like a schedule of 2009 programs, stop by the the museum lobby or the research library and pick one up. If you would like one emailed to you, simply send your request to

School and scout tours are well underway with over 300 students scheduled to visit the museum over the next month and a half.

Finally, speaking of tours, we are currently accepting applications for a part-time summer tour guide position here at BCHS. High school seniors and college students are encouraged to apply. Stop by the Bradford County Historical Society research library at 109 Pine Street, Towanda and pick up an application or request one by emailing

Friday, April 3, 2009

Kids Touch History at BCHS

The season of group tours is now upon us - school tours and scout tours specifically. Five have been scheduled so far this year. Usually, if the group is small, I will conduct the tour myself.

This week, we had an evening tour for a Cub Scout group and their parents. I often try to highlight specific topics throughout the tour that I think will capture the interest of the age group I'm talking to. They are only going to remember specific items anyway, so it's important to focus on making those specific items memorable. Once kids are interested in local history, they will learn the deeper facts in time. There is no need to throw an entire Craft's history at a ten year old and expect them to be interested.

I speak from experience because it was at age 10 that I became interested in local history. The "moment" in which it happened though was not sitting in a classroom listening to a lecture. Certainly there is a time for that style of teaching, but with local history, a different method is required. At age 10, I saw the "ruins" of Laquin for the first time and it was the visual aspect of the moment that created the interest. Immediately following that was the chance to touch something that someone had created so many years ago.

A hands-on approach is always good and I have been working more of this in at different points thoughout the museum tour. Just any old item won't do the job though. It has to be something memorable. One of these hands-on objects is used in the Military History exhibit room. After announcing that, if everyone listens closely, they will have the chance to hold the item I am showing them, an immediate silence falls over the room. We then talk about some of the important items on display and some Bradford County soldiers. Then I pull a Civil War era sword out of its scabbard and announce that this sword was actually used by a Bradford County soldier.

As eyes begin to widen, the rules for handling the object are reviewed, and with the assistance of myself and their chaparones, each child has the opportunity to hold the sword. One young child in this weeks tour was in fact shorter than the sword was long. The parents on the tour reminded them that not everyone has the opportunity to hold a Civil War sword. No doubt, they will remember this for some time.

When you are a member of the Bradford County Historical Society, you are directly supporting these opportunities for children all across the county. Even if you don't live in Bradford County, you are making it possible for these children to learn about the history of your ancestors. A hands-on approach to local history cannot be gained online. If you are not a member of BCHS, visit and find out how to become one today. You will not only receive benefits for yourself, but you will benefit Bradford County children for years to come.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Research Library Hours Resume Today

Well, everything is back to normal at the BCHS Research Library. Regular hours resume today and continue throughout 2009. Although it may have been a temporary inconvenience, closing down for a few months literally cut the gas bill in half. Thankfully, warmer weather is here!

Last week we had a good meeting of all Bradford County museums here at our facility in Towanda. This group is comprised of representatives from the 10 Bradford County museums, as well as representatives from local tourist and heritage agencies. Our county is really quite unique in that there is so much interest in preserving our history that 10 different organizations with 10 different boards have sprung to life over the years. It might seem like a lot of duplication but our county is the third largest in the state, making it quite challenging for one group to cover every area. The Bradford County Historical Society is designated as the "official" county historical society and we reach out to all areas of the county. All other local museums in the county focus on major towns, areas, or topics. Anyway, this group of people are currently discussing ways in which we can partner to further enhance our efforts. The main project happening right now is a brochure that will include contact information, a description and photos of each museum in the county.

Our new website is progressing and we are currently in the design phase. The initial design ideas have been discussed with the web developer and a "first draft" of the main page is done. It is very different from our current site, and I know it will be much more appealing for all ages.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Where has the Curator gone?

A wise pundit once said, "Time is fun when you're having flies." Maybe it's the other way around...

Anyway, I have been out of the office or away from the desk over the past couple of weeks doing things that I only have time to do in March and April. Since I am an organizational maniac, you can bet that the past couple of weeks included a lot of Spring cleaning. The Boy Scouts came the other day to help move several boxes into storage.

I am also happy to report that the BCHS board of trustees decided to move forward with a new website. The project is already underway and currently in the design phase. You can expect a fresh new look, more resources, more information, photos, an event calendar, downloadable forms, etc. The new website will be managed inhouse, meaning that you will see changes and updates on a regular basis. As the new website comes together, I'll keep you updated on what to expect.

In order to make the website an ongoing success, we need your help. You can sponsor our website for $40 per month. When you do this, we will place a "thank you" in our printed newsletter and on the new website that will include your name and the number of months that you have sponsored. You may also request to be listed as an anonymous donor. You can make a donation by check or by credit card (Visa or Mastercard). There is also a Donation button on this blog that allows you to make a donation securely using PayPal. Send your website contribution to BCHS, 109 Pine Street, Towanda, PA 18848 or call the Research Library at 570-265-2240.

I am also currently scheduling speaking engagements and group tours for dates beginning in April. If you are interested in a local history program for your Bradford County group or a tour of the museum for your club, organization or school, give me a call. Both are free. My office number is 570-265-7652.

The Research Library will reopen with regular hours on Wednesday, April 1. Hours are Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and the first Saturday of each month, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Museum will reopen the last full week in May.

Monday, March 2, 2009

It's March Already!

Spring is two and a half weeks away! Although it seems unbelievable that March is here already, I am pleased to say that we have made some pretty good accomplishments already in 2009.

The audience waits for the Harry Davenport program
to begin on February 28th. Soon after this photo was
taken, several of the
seats in the front few rows were filled.

First, we had a great community outreach event last Saturday at the Rialto Theatre in Canton. There was a full house and many positive comments were heard at the conclusion of the event. This was a very fitting place to hold this program, as a film directed by Harry Davenport and filmed in Canton was premiered in 1917 in this theater. I would like to thank all those who attended and supported the Bradford County Historical Society. We will be doing more community outreach in the future to other locations in the county. This week, I will be headed back to Canton to speak at the Lions Club about the making of the program, "Harry Davenport - Canton's Famous Actor," and how I became interested in this topic.

By the way, if your organization or club (within Bradford County) is looking for a speaker for your next program, consider a local history program from the Bradford County Historical Society! Send me an email at to find out more information.

I mentioned earlier in the month that we were improving our phone system. Those improvements are now complete and you will hear the difference the next time that you leave us a voice message.

Finally, I'm pleased to announce that this blog has had 1,000 hits as of this week. It started two months ago, and interest continues to grow as we continually look for ways to connect to those interested in Bradford County. We also now have 100 email subscribers to this blog and we thank everyone for their support. Please continue to pass the word to friends and family so that everyone can stay informed about the latest news from BCHS.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Final Thoughts on Harry Davenport - Last Day to Purchase Tickets

The Bradford County Historical Society will be in Canton tomorrow. Will you? Today is the last day to get your tickets for the program, "Harry Davenport - Canton's Famous Actor," although there are few tickets remaining.

I have heard from several regular followers of this blog during February who have enjoyed learning about this topic through weekly movie clips. Unlike many historical figures in our county history, we can actually see Harry Davenport's expressions, and hear him talk through these old films. Perhaps that is what makes this so interesting. There is added depth to the person that isn't normally available.

I've also received requests from those who are interested in this being the topic of a future book. If you would be interested in seeing this Bradford County story developed into a book, email me at and let me know so that we can guage how much interest there would be in such a publication.

As March begins, we will get back to some other news and topics of interest around the historical society. Meanwhile, we are ready for a great event tomorrow. For those of you who can't be there, we hope to post some photos of the event right here on the blog.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Why Should I be Interested in Harry Davenport?

This Saturday, February 28th, the Bradford County Historical Society will present a program at the Rialto Theatre in Canton, PA entitled "Harry Davenport - Canton's Famous Actor". As many have discovered, this topic is not just of interest to Canton residents, but to all of northeastern Pennsylvania and classic movie lovers across America.

We will tell a story, illustrated by over 100 professional and personal photographs of the Davenport family, two movie clips, and quotes and stories as only Harry Davenport could tell them. This is perhaps one of the most fascinating, but least told stories in Bradford County history. Various members of the Davenport family had a constant presence in Bradford County
for approximately 80 years.

They travelled from Canton to Mansfield to Towanda to Troy and many other towns to stage performances for the benefit of the community during the 1920's and 30's.

Harry brought actors, actresses and a film crew to Canton to film the exterior scenes of three silent films.

And just when he thought his acting career had come to an end, Hollywood made him one of the most in-demand character actors of the 1930's and 40's.

If you enjoy classic films, you have no doubt seen him in a variety of rolls. He was Dr. Meade in "Gone With the Wind," Judge Thaddeus Turner in "The Batchelor and Bobby Soxer," Grandpa in "Meet Me in St. Louis," and appeared in an almost endless list of other Hollywood movies.

This year marks 60 years since Harry's death and there is no better time to learn about this piece of Bradford County history than now.

Harry Davenport's grandson, an actor/director/producer/writer in California, has sent a special message for all those who attend the program.

Call the Bradford County Historical Society at 570-265-2240, Wednesday through Friday, to get your tickets; or call and leave a message today. First come, first served, as they are going fast! You may also stop at the Canton Independent-Sentinel and purchase them there.

This is a "once in a lifetime" event. See you this Saturday!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Feature #4 - The Hunchback of Notre Dame ~ Harry Davenport Program this Saturday in Canton

We present Feature #4 in our series of movies in which Harry Davenport, former resident of Canton, Pa., is an important character actor. This is the final week to get your tickets for our special event, "Harry Davenport - Canton's Famous Actor."

It will be presented on February 28th at 1 p.m. at the Rialto Theatre in Canton. Tickets are $6 each and are available at the Canton Independent-Sentinel or by calling the Bradford County Historical Society at 570-265-2240. If you would like the tickets mailed to you, add $1.00. No tickets will be available at the door.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: A member of the Davenport family, and cast member of the movie, "Gone With the Wind" is sending a special message for the people of Canton. Don't miss this event!

EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS: To watch the movie clip below, go to the blog by clicking here.

~ The Hunchback of Notre Dame ~

Released: December 29, 1939
Character: King Louis XI
Notes: This movie was released the same year as Gone With the Wind, in which Harry also appeared. It was certainly a busy year for him as these are two of the most well known movies in which he was a character actor. This movie was made only four years after Harry left Canton, Pa.

Movie Synopsis:
Ignorance, cruelty and superstition pervade France of the fifteenth century. Frollo, the King's high justice, exploits these evils, persecuting the gypsies and opposing any mode of progress.

When the lovely gypsy dancer Esmeralda is threatened by the King's men, she seeks refuge in a church, Notre Dame, where she meets the grotesque hunchback Quasimodo. Frollo, who is Quasimodo's guardian, orders the hunchback to take the girl captive, and Esmeralda, terrified, escapes to the underworld of Clopin and his beggars. There, she saves the life of the poet Gringoire by consenting to take him as her husband, although she truly loves the soldier Phoebus.

Frollo lusts after Esmeralda, however, and, unable to tolerate her love for Phoebus, kills his rival. Esmeralda is arrested for the crime, and Frollo, claiming that the girl had bewitched him with the power of Satan, demands her life.

As Esmeralda is marched to die on the gallows, Quasimodo leaps from the building above and carries her to the sanctuary of the church. Not to be denied Esmeralda's life, Frollo incites the nobles to deny sanctuary, and the beggars, concerned for the girl's safety, storm the church.

Amid the chaos, Frollo enters the church. Justice is finally served as Quasimodo hurls Frollo to his death from the bell tower.

Turner Classic Movies

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Feature #3 - Harry Davenport Plays a College Professor

We present Feature #3 in our series of movies in which Harry Davenport, former resident of Canton, Pa., is an important character actor. Our program, "Harry Davenport - Canton's Famous Actor" will be presented on February 28th at 1 p.m. at the Rialto Theatre in Canton. Tickets are now on sale at $6 each and are available at the Canton Independent-Sentinel or by calling the Bradford County Historical Society at 570-265-2240. If you would like the tickets mailed to you, add $1.00.

EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS: To watch the movie clip below, go to the blog by clicking here.

~ Jack London ~

Released: December 24, 1943
Character: Professor Hilliard (University of California at Berkeley)
Notes: This clip features a discussion between Professor Hilliard (Harry Davenport) and Jack London (Michael O'Shea). A professor is somewhat different from the roles that Harry usually played. This movie was produced by Samuel Bronston Pictures, Inc.

Movie Synopsis:
In Oakland, California, in 1890, Jack London, who dreams of becoming a writer, quits his cannery job after a female employee's hands are crushed in a machinery accident. Mammy Jenny, Jack's maid and surrogate mother, lends him her savings so that he can buy a boat and earn his living hauling oysters from the San Francisco Bay.

After he buys the boat from French Frank, who gets a cut of all his business, Jack discovers oyster pirate Mamie stowed aboard, and agrees to a partnership with her. They are later joined by a third partner, Scratch Nelson. Early one morning, the boat pulls into dock after a night's work of stealing from other traps and is fired at from the dock by the police. Scratch is killed, and although Mamie has fallen in love with him, Jack decides that oyster piracy is too dangerous a business and quits.

Later, Jack signs on as an able-bodied seaman for a seven-month sealing trip. When his shipmates tease him about his reading habits, weathered sailor Old Tom comes to his defense, and the two become fast friends. One day Jack turns the tables on Red John, a rough practical joker who has harrassed him since his first day aboard ship, and proves his manhood once and for all in a fistfight with the sailor. That night, Jack writes about the sailor, calling him "the sea wolf," and is encouraged in his literary efforts by Old Tom.

After his ocean adventures, self-educated Jack enrolls at the University of California at Berkeley. When a teacher selects one of his stories as an example of an overactive imagination, Jack defends his work, stating that having witnessed the vagaries of life, he only writes about cruelty with the hope of alleviating it.

Realizing that formal training will not give him the education he craves, Jack leaves school and goes to Dawson City, Alaska, intending to capitalize on the gold strikes in the Yukon. One night in a saloon, Jack meets Greek singer Freda Maloof, and is delighted by her knowledge of Lord Byron's poetry. Although Freda falls in love with Jack, he leaves as soon as news spreads of a major gold strike eighty miles away, determined to earn enough money so that he can spend his time writing instead of working.

Eventually Jack ensconces himself in a remote cabin in the wilderness with his German shepherd, Buck, and writes a novel about the dog titled Call of the Wild. Publisher George Brett pays Jack for his manuscript, and when Jack meets his secretary, Charmian Kittredge, he learns that she has already become smitten with him through his writing. Jack soon falls in love with Charmian, and on New Year's Eve, a newspaper publisher asks Jack to cover the Boer War for him. In keeping with her promise that she will never entrap Jack, Charmian encourages him to go. Jack returns, older and wiser, bearing many gifts for Charmian, who still wants to marry him.

The next day Maxwell sends Jack to cover the burgeoning war between Japan and Russia, and Charmian again agrees to wait for him. Jack is one of many correspondents in Japan, most of whom believe that Russia will soon make peace with Japan. Jack, however, is suspicious of Japanese intentions, knowing that they are sending troops into Korea. When the Japanese refuse to allow correspondents to travel into Korea, Jack makes a bet with reporter Dick Davis, who is sure that Jack cannot cross the Korean border. Jack disguises himself as a Chinese worker, and gets passage on a "sampan" which crosses the Yellow Sea. Once there, he witnesses Japan's invasion of Korea firsthand.

In Korea, Jack is befriended by Oxford-educated Captain Tanaka, who treats him as a guest and outlines for him Japan's plot to take over all of Asia, and ultimately, the world. Jack scoops all of the other papers and sends his report about the Japanese invasion of Korea.

After some time, Jack is arrested as a Russian spy, and is thrown into prison with the Russian prisoners. Jack is horrified by the brutal treatment of the prisoners, who are denied water. When the dehydrated prisoners break free of their cell to slake their thirst at a well, the Japanese guards laugh as they gun them down. Davis learns of Jack's arrest and alerts the American government in Washington, D.C. President Theodore Roosevelt demands from the Japanese government Jack's immediate release, but upon his return home, he finds that no one believes his story of the Japanese plan to overtake the world, and is disappointed when Maxwell refuses to print his articles. As Jack and Charmian leave the publisher's office, Charmian reaffirms her love for Jack, and celebrates him for his courage and honesty.

Courtesy of Turner Classic Movies.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

ATTENTION PENNSYLVANIA RESIDENTS: Please contact your state representatives and senators this week!


This is an urgent notice for all Pennsylvania residents who value local county historical societies. Governor Ed Rendell recently announced his proposed budget for FY2009-10. As a part of this budget proposal, he has deleted the Museum Assistance line item and has also proposed never funding it again. This line item is the only source for this essential grant program that has provided much-needed dollars for museums and historical organizations since 1985. Each official county historical society, including Bradford County, relies on general operating support funding from this program to be able to survive. If this line item is not restored to the budget, the cut will have devastating effects across Pennsylvania, including the elimination of preservation and education services in each county.

While the Governor cut the Pennsylvania History and Museum Grant Program to $0, he retained the grants for the nine “non-preferred” museums with a suggested reduction of ten percent. Art museums obtain their general operating support funding from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and should anticipate an eight-to-nine percent cut. This is grossly unfair to all the history museums, historical societies, science museums and technology centers, nature centers and arboreta, zoos, children’s museums, maritime museums, transportation museums and others that have received and depended upon Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission (PHMC) grant funding in the past.

Our state senators and state representatives can return the funds to the Pennsylvania History and Museum Grant Program. However, it is up to you to tell your elected legislators now about how the elimination of museum funding will affect your county historical society and your community. Write letters to your state senator and state representative or even better visit their district offices. Contact information for our representatives and our senator in Bradford County can be found below. This affects every county, so even if you don't live in Bradford County, please contact your own legislators. Contact information can be found at

On Monday, February 23rd, the State House Appropriations Committee will hold budget hearings on the PHMC’s budget. It is crucial to contact your legislators by Friday, February 20th. We know that the most powerful incentive for legislative action is constituent response. For your convenience, a sample letter can be found below. When you contact your legislators, please also send a copy (email or letter) to the Bradford County Historical Society so that we can report how much of a response we were able to provide. Email me at or mail to BCHS, 109 Pine Street, Towanda, PA 18848.

Thank you very much for your valuable help!

Matthew E. Baker

115 Ryan Office Building
PO Box 202068
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2068

(717) 772-5371
Fax: (717) 705-1850

Tina Pickett

211 Ryan Office Building
PO Box 202110
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2110

(717) 783-8238
Fax: (717) 260-6536


Senate District 23 Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan, Susquehanna (part) and Union (part) Counties.

Gene Yaw

Senate Box 203023
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3023

(717) 787-3280


Note: If you would like to receive this letter as a Word document, email me at and I'll send it out ASAP.


[Legislator Name]

Dear Senator or Representative:

Please support returning the Museum Assistance line item to the FY2009-2010 budget for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. As you are aware, Governor Edward G. Rendell has proposed $0 for this line item that funds the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s (PHMC) grant program that has provided invaluable assistance to Bradford County Historical Society for several years. Not only has the Governor recommended $0 for this budget year, he also wants to eliminate the program in future years. Every year, this grant program has supplied vital support for hundreds of worthwhile community institutions across the Commonwealth.

PHMC grant funding is integral to the programs and operations of my organization. If the PHMC’s grant program disappears, my historical society will suffer with cuts in educational programming in Bradford County, the reduction of valuable services to the community such as school tours and the preservation of objects and archival material that are important to the county and state.

In addition, the Bradford County Historical Society and other museums and historical organizations are not only important cultural assets to the people in this District; they are also economic assets that help to keep Bradford County healthy. I would like to provide you with information regarding the economic and community impact of my institution. It employs individuals who contribute to the economic base of our community, both by their purchasing of goods and services and paying taxes. The Bradford County Historical Society serves over 1,000 visitors each year, including school children, seniors, and visitors from 16 states and three other countries.

As you know, museums derive their funding from a variety of sources, all being influenced by the current economic downturn. Public support is critical to our survival. I recognize the difficulty of impending choices when crafting a state budget, but urge you to consider the important contribution that institutions like the Bradford County Historical Society provide to the economic and cultural health of our community.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bonus Feature - Alice Davenport and Charlie Chaplin

This is a bonus feature for our upcoming program "Harry Davenport - Canton's Famous Actor." Harry's first wife was Alice Davenport. Later in life she appeared in several silent films with Charlie Chaplin. Below is a portion of the movie, Making a Living, in which Alice appears. Be sure to get your tickets to our February 28th program at the Canton Independent-Sentinel or by calling the Historical Society at 570-265-2240.

EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS: To watch the movie clip below, go to the blog by clicking here.

~ Making A Living ~

Released: February 2, 1914
Character: Mother
Notes: The woman wearing the stole is Alice Davenport. The movie, Making a Living, was Charlie's first film.

Movie Synopsis:
An out-of-work swindler takes a job as a reporter. After witnessing a car go over cliff, he grabs a rival reporter's camera and races to the newspaper office to enter the photo as his own. His rival is delayed when he gets caught in a woman's bedroom by her jealous husband. The swindler follows the distribution of the paper containing his 'scoop' around town where he is once again chased by the rival reporter. Both end up on the cow-catcher of a streetcar.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Research Library Closed Until Spring...and Other News from BCHS

The BCHS Board of Trustees met last Saturday for an exceptionally busy meeting. With the organization growing and changing all the time, these busy meetings help us review the progress we are making toward accomplishing our goals. Here are some updates on some things that are happening right now.


First, if you are signed up for our email list, you have received a message announcing that our Research Library is closed, effective this week until early April. As I'm sure you can appreciate, the cost to heat our facility to a comfortable working temperature is quite expensive. Very cold temperatures this winter have caused our furnaces to work overtime to heat our library. Much of the funding budgeted for this year's heating season has already been used. As a result, we now find it necessary to close for the remainder of the winter months. Our museum is always closed during the winter and our Research Library is the only historical facility in the county, besides Tioga Point Museum, that has remained open year round.

The historical society staff will continue to operate as usual, except that Denise, our Library Clerk, will operate from a smaller room so that we can lower the heat in the library. You can still contact us for any business either by phone or email. We just won't have library hours until April.

Thank you for your ongoing support!


This is a special opportunity for all those interested in sponsoring the educational programming of the Bradford County Historical Society. If you follow my blog, you know that we are gearing up for the program, "Harry Davenport - Canton's Famous Actor" at the Rialto Theatre in Canton on February 28th.

We are offering five different levels of support. Under Level 1, if you will donate a gift of $25.00 to BCHS in sponsorship of this program, your name will be listed on the back of the program that will be distributed to all event participants. Do you want the community to know that you believe local history programs are important in Bradford County? If so, consider contributing and let us know what name you would like on the program. There are also four other levels, each with increasing gifts such as free tickets in honor of your donation. Email me at to find out more about Levels 2-5.

Donating is simple. Either send a check to BCHS, 109 Pine Street, Towanda, PA 18848 and write "Davenport" in the memo; or click the "Donate" button on my blog and you can make a safe and secure donation using a credit card through Paypal. You don't have to create a Paypal account to be able to donate.


We are currently in the process of changing our phone system in order to provide better service to you. The change should take place this week and includes new voicemail for the library and also the Curator's office, new business phones, and other features that will make it easier for staff to help you when you call.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Feature #2 - The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer

We present Feature #2 in our series of movies in which Harry Davenport, former resident of Canton, Pa., is an important character actor. Our program, "Harry Davenport - Canton's Famous Actor" will be presented on February 28th at 1 p.m. at the Rialto Theatre in Canton. Tickets are now on sale at $6 each and are available at the Canton Independent-Sentinel or by calling the Bradford County Historical Society at 570-265-2240. If you would like the tickets mailed to you, add $1.00.

This event benefits the Bradford County Historical Society. It includes a presentation featuring over 100 rare photographs and movie clips depicting the life of Harry Davenport, beginning as a young boy in Bradford County and ending in Hollywood as the oldest actor in the nation. The program opens with an arrangement of music from two of the most popular movies in which Harry appeared.

If you like the classic movies of the 1930's and 40's, you don't want to miss this event! Refreshments are included in the ticket price!

EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS: To watch the movie clip below, go to the blog by clicking here.

~ The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer ~

Released: September 1, 1947
Character: Judge Thaddeus Turner
Notes: Harry is featured as a cantankerous old judge in this movie and his interactions with Cary Grant are amusing. Also included in this movie are Myrna Loy and a 17 year old Shirley Temple. This movie was produced and distributed by RKO Radio Pictures.

Movie Synopsis:
After Margaret Turner, an attractive, single judge, hears a case involving Dickie Nugent, a playboy artist on trial with three acquaintances for brawling in a Los Angeles nightclub, she issues a warning and dismisses the defendants.

Later that day, Dickie delivers a lecture on art at a local high school, and Margaret's teenage sister and ward Susan, who is in attendance, becomes infatuated with him. Inspired by a vision she has of Dickie as a knight in shining armor, Susan insists on interviewing him for the school paper. To satisfy Susan's over-eager curiosity, Dickie invents a lurid past for himself and agrees offhandedly to use her as a model for one of his "Americana" paintings.

That night, Susan reveals her infatuation to a disapproving Margaret and, after sneaking away from home, wangles her way into Dickie's empty apartment. Susan falls asleep while waiting for Dickie, causing Margaret and her boyfriend, Assistant District Attorney Tommy Chamberlain, to panic with worry. Just as Margaret deduces where Susan has gone, Dickie returns home and finds the teenager half-asleep on his couch. Margaret and Tommy burst in on the couple, and by the next morning, Dickie is in jail, having been arrested for, among other things, slugging Tommy.

While in his cell, Dickie is visited by court psychiatrist Dr. Matt Beemish, who is also Margaret and Susan's uncle. Sensing Dickie's innocence, Matt convinces Margaret, Tommy and the judge who is hearing Dickie's case to drop all charges on condition that Dickie agree to "date" Susan as a way of curing her of her infatuation. As mandated, Dickie escorts Susan to a high school basketball game, where her boyfriend, player Jerry White, becomes distracted with jealousy. Although Dickie tries to push Jerry back into Susan's arms by inviting them for a post-game soda, Jerry declares that he is resigned to losing Susan and offers to be her friend. After a frustrated Dickie says goodnight to Susan, he attempts a sincere flirtation with the serious-minded Margaret, but is awkwardly rebuffed by her.

That weekend, Dickie accompanies Susan, Margaret, Tommy, Matt and Susan's other uncle, Judge Thaddeus Turner, on a neighborhood picnic. At Susan's urging, Dickie participates in several races, but loses them all in humiliating fashion to the smug Tommy. Desperate to prove his manhood, Dickie enters the big obstacle race, and because Jerry and Susan have bribed their teenage friends to perform badly and sabotage other entrants in the competition, Dickie beats Tommy and wins. As Dickie accepts his trophy, the now smitten Margaret envisions him as a knight in shining armor, just as her sister had before, and calls him that night for a date. Though exhausted, Dickie eagerly agrees to meet her at the Tick Tock Club, then to confuse Tommy, who has come to confront him, "confesses" that he is madly in love with Susan.

Margaret and Dickie's romantic evening at the Tick Tock is shortlived, however, as Susan, Tommy, Jerry and Joey and Agnes Prescott, two of the co-defendants from Dickie's court appearance, join them at their table. While Susan denounces Margaret for "stealing" Dickie, Jerry becomes angry at Susan for not caring about his recent draft notification. A jealous Tommy then accuses Dickie of immoral conduct, and as the rest of group argues noisily, Agnes screams that Dickie has ruined her birthday.

After Susan and Margaret storm home, Matt uses his psychological skills to convince the younger sister that she is not in love with Dickie. Susan apologizes to Margaret, who then is persuaded by Matt to fly away for a short vacation to "forget" Dickie. Unknown to Margaret, however, Matt has spoken to an equally depressed Dickie and knows that he is planning to fly out the next day. At the airport, Matt tricks the police into preventing Tommy from arresting Dickie by telling them that Tommy is a mental patient who believes he is the district attorney, and brings the reluctant lovers together at last.

Courtesy of Turner Classic Movies.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Harry Davenport Press Release

The Bradford County Historical Society is coming to the Rialto Theatre in Canton for a second presentation of the program, "Harry Davenport – Canton’s Famous Actor."

Originally presented last September in Towanda, the program has created so much interest in the topic that the historical society has decided to offer it again.

The program will be presented on February 28, 2009 at 1 p.m. Tickets are now on sale for this event and must be purchased in advance. No tickets will be sold at the door. Proceeds from the event will be used to cover the cost of bringing the program to Canton and will also be used to support the preservation work of the Bradford County Historical Society.

The "Davenport Era" in Canton was a fascinating time for both the community and the county. The story begins with Harry Davenport’s father, E.L. Davenport. The September 2008 issue of the society publication, "The Settler," featured a history of the life of E.L. Davenport, and program participants are encouraged to read this story to understand the background of this family. Limited copies will be on sale at the event or may be purchased in advance by calling the historical society.

As an actor in such movies as "Gone with the Wind," "Meet Me in St. Louis," and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," Harry Davenport was much loved by his hometown in Bradford County, and his friends across the United States. This program will feature information and over 100 photos that will highlight the life of Davenport, who was the oldest actor in the nation at the time of his death. Movie clips of Davenport will also be included.

The program has been updated since last September and several new photos have been added or exchanged. As a result, those who attended the September presentation will be guaranteed a new experience, such as photos of Harry inside his Hollywood home.

The use of the Rialto Theatre for this event is important to the story of the Davenport family. A silent movie filmed in Canton and directed by Harry Davenport will be discussed as part of the program. The 1917 premier of this movie was shown in the Crawford Theatre, now known as the Rialto Theatre. Participants in this program will sit in the very room where this premier took place.

The program will be presented by Matthew Carl, Managing Curator at the Bradford County Historical Society. Refreshments are included as part of the ticket price. A selection of local history books will also be on sale.

To see movie clips of Harry Davenport, visit the BCHS Curator's Blog each week in February to see him in four different roles. There will also be commentary about this topic on the blog leading up to the event. The blog can found online at

Tickets are $6.00 and may be purchased at the Canton Independent-Sentinel or the Bradford County Historical Society, 109 Pine Street, Towanda. Tickets may be purchased by credit card by calling the historical society at 570-265-2240. If you would like to have the tickets mailed to you, please include $1.00 extra.

The Bradford County Historical Society is a recipient agency of the Bradford County United Way and the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission. More information about the society can be found online by visiting

Monday, February 2, 2009

Attention Email Subscribers

If you subscribe to this blog by email, be sure to click on the blue headline at the top of the email to go directly to the blog and see the Harry Davenport movie clips that are referenced in my comments. You will not see the video screen appear in your email. If you have any problems, just go to directly.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Feature #1 - Harry Davenport Program Coming to Rialto Theatre

The Bradford County Historical Society is pleased to announce the program "Harry Davenport - Canton's Famous Actor" to be presented at the Rialto Theatre, Canton, PA on February 28, 2009 at 1 p.m. Harry Davenport grew up in Canton and spent much of his life here in Bradford County before going to Hollywood where he subsequently appeared as a character actor in over 100 movies. Tickets are now on sale at the Canton Independent-Sentinel, Main Street, Canton; the Bradford County Historical Society, Pine Street, Towanda; or by calling the historical society research library at 570-265-2240.

This week we feature the movie entitled, "The Amazing Mrs. Holliday." The video clip below shows Harry in this interesting movie. More details about the movie plot can be found below. Come back next Monday as we feature Harry Davenport in another Hollywood classic.

~ The Amazing Mrs. Holliday ~

Released: February 19, 1943
Character: Commodore Thomas Spencer Holliday
Notes: This is a great clip as it shows Harry Davenport in a variety of scenes. His interactions with children and his threat to those who want to "make something of it" are memorable. This movie was produced and distributed by Universal Pictures Company, Inc.

Movie Synopsis:
Young schoolteacher Ruth Kirke is transporting a group of war orphans from South China to San Francisco when their cargo ship is torpedoed and sunk in the mid-Pacific. Along with sailor Timothy Blake, they are the only known survivors of the enemy attack.

Upon arriving in San Francisco, Ruth is told by immigration officials that the undocumented children will be held unless someone posts a $500 bond for each child, guaranteeing that they will "not become public charges." Ruth and Timothy go to the home of Commodore Thomas Holliday, the wealthy owner of their sunken ship, to ask for his family's help. When they refuse, Timothy states that Ruth and the commodore were married aboard ship. For the good of the children, Ruth goes along with the deception, and she, Timothy and the war orphans move into the Holliday estate. They are later joined by the commodore's grandson, Thomas Spencer Holliday III.

Ruth tells Tom how her father's mission was destroyed in a Japanese bombing raid, and she was sent south on the Burma Road with the European children. Along the way, they found a dying Chinese woman, and Ruth agreed to take care of her child as well.

After Ruth learns that she is to inherit the commodore's vast shipping fortune, she and the children try to sneak out of the mansion in the middle of the night, but they are caught by Tom. She then confesses all, telling Tom that she smuggled the children aboard the commodore's ship, thinking that it was going to Calcutta. Once at sea, the commodore then promised to help her get the children into the United States, even if it meant adopting them. After their ship was torpedoed, Ruth and Timothy put the children into a lifeboat, but once they were away from the sinking ship, they discovered that one child, Pepe, had been left behind.

The angry Tom insists that Ruth stay and continue the charade until the publicity about her "marriage" dies down, but agrees to care for the orphans at the Holliday estate once she leaves.

Later, the children's immigration papers arrive, and Ruth, as promised, prepares to leave for her hometown of Philadelphia, despite the fact that she has fallen in love with Tom. As she waits for her train, Timothy tells Tom that Ruth is engaged to the man sitting next to her. The two are then forced to leave the train station when the innocent man, Jeff Adams, accuses them of a marriage "shake down."

Later, a China relief ball is held at the Holliday estate, at which Ruth and Tom finally admit their true feelings for each other. The commodore and Pepe are also at the ball, having been rescued themselves, and knowing of the children's plight, the commodore continues the ruse. He then tells Ruth that he plans to marry her for real and raise the orphans as his own children. The commodore's plans are dashed when his brother Edgar, his sister Louise and his sister-in-law Karen tell him about the romance between Ruth and Tom. The commodore then announces that he and Ruth were never really married, but she is about to become Mrs. Holliday, as she and Tom are to be married in the Holliday estate in a few days.

Courtesy of Turner Classic Movies.

Friday, January 30, 2009

First Community Outreach Program Coming in February

February will be an interesting month at BCHS. This time of year is generally quiet for us - a time to plan for the coming year and to catch up on projects that are not yet completed.
One of my goals for this year is to go "on the road" with some of our programming. This means that one or two educational events during the year would be held at other places within Bradford County rather than just at our facility in Towanda. The purpose is to reinforce the fact that we cover all of Bradford County. Aside from that, there are just a lot of great historic places to go in our county.
February marks the first of these events and you will learn more about what is going on starting next week. What I hope you will enjoy though is the opportunity to have a front row seat to what is happening even if you can't physically attend the program.
Over the next month, leading up to the event, you will find video clips and commentary right here on my blog pertaining to the upcoming program topic. If you do live close enough to be able to attend, I hope that this will spark your interest and encourage you to come and participate.
Yes, I am being vague about just what this topic is going to be. Come back Monday for all the information. In the meantime, tell someone about this blog and get them to subscribe. It's quick and easy, and there is no better way to stay up to date with all of the features coming this month. We've had over 700 hits and 80 subscribers added since the blog began just over a month ago.
See you Monday!

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Importance of BCHS in an Electronic Age

Why should I become a member of the Bradford County Historical Society, or any historical society for that matter, if I can use online resources for my research?
It's interesting how this topic has become a part of our daily lives here in the 21st century. The answer to a question like that would have been obvious 10 or 15 years ago. In fact, the question wouldn't have been asked. Online resources were not as plentiful as they are today.
Sometime when boredom strikes, visit The Way Back Machine website and type in "" to see what that now popular site looked like in 1996. The site we all know today wasn't much of anything back then.
Today it's different though and it's not just that made it that way. Look at Google Book Search for example. Google has digitized thousands of rare books and made them available online free of charge or through limited access. I have used this resource a lot myself recently and have found references to Bradford County in hundreds of books.
Google has a special arrangement with the nations foremost libraries to make this material available. These libraries, however, face the same issues that the Bradford County Historical Society research library faces. There has to be a place where historical records are preserved for future generations. If all material is made available for free online, there is little reason to use research libraries. If no one used research libraries, then the revenue that is used to maintain a safe storage environment for these original records would not exist.
We are committed to improving the options available for records access in our research library, whether for walk-in visitors or researchers across the nation. We are currently discussing the possibilities here at BCHS with a goal of starting to implement some of these improvements before the end of the year. Send an email to and tell me what improvements you would like to see for researchers.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Your Piece of the Puzzle

This past Christmas I wanted to give something a little out of the ordinary for a gift. A few 1,000 piece puzzles seemed to fit the bill, especially because they are good ways to relax during the holidays.

While participating in the assembly of one of these puzzles, it occured to me how similar they were to the task entrusted to the Bradford County Historical Society.

When the society was founded in 1870, its members had the equivalent of a puzzle box with a few pieces inside. Interpreting the history of a community is like a puzzle box that is blank on the outside. What makes the puzzle a little less challenging is the fact that you can look at the completed picture on the box to use as a guide. When preserving local history, it is not often that you know the final picture from the beginning. Many times you have to collect the puzzle pieces, and at random you will discover that a few of the pieces fit together. You may even discover that the overall puzzle is much larger than you thought.

Two goals of the historical society are preservation and education. This is where the puzzle pieces become important.

BCHS has the job of searching out the puzzle pieces that are scattered everywhere from Main Street in Towanda to the far reaches of the United States. The mystery is that we are not always sure what the pieces look like.

The question is, who has these pieces to Bradford County's historical puzzle? We have often found that most everyone has at least one puzzle piece to offer. Others have more. They are all an important part of creating the final picture. The historical society's mission is to gather these pieces and then fit them together when possible. This is preservation.

As the picture grows, it is then our duty to interpret what we see. This is education.

So what is your piece of the puzzle? Have you added it (whether information, photos, or artifacts) to the society collection? Remember - to see the overall picture of our history, we need your piece of the puzzle.
A version of this article was written by Matt Carl in 2006 and has been adapted for use here.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What Will Happen to Your Family History?

Do you collect family history? Have you compiled your family genealogy? Do you have photographs passed down to you by your parents? Do you collect items that would help tell the story of Bradford County?
Consider what will happen to your collection when you are gone. Is there a family member who will properly care for these important items?
All too often these days it seems that local family and community collections appear in estate auctions where they are separated and sold to the highest bidder. Many times items are purchased by dealers and then individually sold in other markets at a higher price.
What if your precious family history, photographs and keepsakes were dispersed to the highest bidder, or even worse, sent to the landfill? If you don’t have a will or haven’t designated in your will where these items will go, the scenario described above could happen to you.
The Bradford County Historical Society actively collects archival material and objects that directly relate to Bradford County history. This includes items made or used within the county, material written about Bradford County residents or topics, and photographs of people and places within the county.
If you are searching for a place to donate these types of items, consider the Bradford County Historical Society. Not only have we been caring for local historical items for well over 100 years; we also offer a safe and secure repository that will protect your family history for years to come. Our facility is even used by Bradford County to store and make available original county records.
Consult your attorney about how to include the Bradford County Historical Society in your will. You may wish to preserve the legacy of your family by leaving individual objects, collections, entire estates, or financial funding to the society.
If we will all make sure our history is protected for the future, then the story of our people will be preserved for generations to come.
This article was published in the November 2008 quarterly newsletter of the Bradford County Historical Society. You can receive this newsletter as well as our quarterly magazine, The Settler, by becoming a member of the society. Visit the Membership page on our website for more information!