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On the cover: Debbie Pifer displays her quilts

Photo by Courtney Katherine Photography

‘Punxsutawney Hometown’ magazine © Copyright 2013 — All Rights Reserved.

Schedule Your Advertising In Our Next Edition! We reach 100% of the local and area homes and businesses! - Concentrated Circulation 8,200+ copies of Punxsutawney Hometown magazine are direct-mailed to homes in Punxsutawney and surrounding towns and areas, giving our advertisers nearly 100% coverage . . . we deliver to every home and business! (As always — our circulation is verified — mailing and printing statements available.)

We are the only Punxsutawney-owned media! Punx’y Proud — Boosting our Hometown! Publishers William C. Anderson, Mary L. Roberts Advertising Mary L. Roberts Tracey Young Contributing Writers S. Thomas Curry Shirley Sharp Art Director Melissa Salsgiver Graphic Artists Melissa Salsgiver Joanna McConnell Nicole McGee All material submitted becomes the property of Punxsutawney Hometown magazine.

Mary Roberts ................................(814) 938-0312 Bill Anderson ................................(814) 472-4110 Tracey Young ................................(814) 938-9084 Our Office......................................(814) 938-9141 Our Fax ..........................................(800) 763-4118 Our business mailing address: P.O. Box 197, Punxsutawney, PA 15767 With our office located in: Railroad Building, Suite 100 North Penn St., Punxsutawney, PA 15767 Yearly Subscriptions: $36 — First Class Mail

Three bells — displayed at different Punxsutawney and area locations — though silent today, each serve as a reminder of when bells were tolled throughout our local history. The bells are (l. to r.) a fire bell (Punxsutawney), a church bell (Walston), and a school bell (nearby Fairview).

From firefighting, to churches, to schools

Bells: a history of simpler times in Punxsutawney A

By S. Thomas Curry of Hometown magazine s we enjoy summertime in the Punxsutawney area, we are reminded — as we visit many of the popular town-wide events — that the town’s progress is remembered by historical markers and monuments, especially the bells and for whom and what they tolled.

The Bell at Central Fire Near the East End Bridge there is a bell that sits on a pedestal at the Mahoning East Civic Complex consisting of varied municipal buildings. To honor the service of firemen who protect us and aid us in disasters, it was presented to the public in 1979 by members of the fire company. Tolled through years past, it speaks of history. The bell is an early 20th century piece of Punxsutawney and was in service through the 1950s in its tower atop the old municipal building, which was constructed in 1888. The building was located on Torrence Street, between North Jefferson Street and North Findley Street. A 500-pound bell was put into service in the building’s bell tower in May 1889. In

the days of “bucket brigades,” the bell met a need when buckets of water might have sat on neighbors’ doorsteps or near downtown shops awaiting loosely organized men to answer a call for fire fighting. News reports claimed the bell could be heard from a distance of four to eight miles, “according to the state of the weather.” It served the small town of Punxsutawney until a new bell, a 1,600-pound iron bell, was hung in 1899. “You can be sure the new bell can wake many a late sleeper,” claimed the city fathers of the day. A fire bell in town would call the citizen firefighters to their fire company building. It replaced the then conventional calls, including loud shouts and — through the progress of time — a whistle from the electric power plant on North Findley Street. At one time, the bells of trains at the nearby railroad yard just beyond Pine Street beckoned firefighters. When the fire bell was rung, the volunteers would answer, clueless in most cases of the location of the fire. A signal system to designate the location of the fire was badly needed to prevent the eager firefighter from running “pell mell around all

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2 – Punxsutawney Hometown – August 2013 - Issue #154

day trying to find where the fire fiend is.” By the late 1890s a system was devised. After an initial vigorous ringing of the bell to announce the alarm, a number of taps of the bell would be made to correspond to the newly assigned fire districts around the town. In addition to sounding fire alarms, the municipal fire bell would be used to call council members together for meetings. The mounted fire bell on display at the Civic Complex site is a bell that was purchased in 1910 to replace the heavily used 1899 bell, which was described as “that old cracked hunk of metal.”

The first church bell in Punx’y In the early years of the area, one type of bell that had become a familiar sound in small towns and villages was the church bell. Considering the many denominations celebrating religion during those years, the bell was a unifying call, beckoning the people to their “houses of worship.” Typically, one of the first buildings erected in the newly formed village was the church building, where worship and community events were conducted. Before the - Continued on page 4

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It’s Fair Season! Local Quilters Display Handcrafts By Shirley Sharp for Hometown magazine t is Fair Season. Time to pause and enjoy the entertainment, the competitions, and the exhibits. The exhibits are my favorite part of the fair, in particular the handcrafts. My mother loved taking hand-crocheted afghans to the fairs. Winning a blue ribbon was one of the joys of her summer season. Debbie Pifer, of Henderson Township, enjoys going to fairs, too. Debbie’s grandmother, Anna Muth, inspired her to become involved with the local summer and early-


“Through the years, I’ve made cookies and buns in every category, then I tried all types of hand crafts,” she said. Debbie became interested in learning what she considered at that time to be the “dying arts,” crocheting, knitting, and quilting. She decided to learn as much as she could about each of them.

Myrna Trithart chose rich brown tones to create a star quilt, which she backed with blue. The stitching is cream. The quilt top is backed in blue. The quilting stitches create a complimentary star design on the reverse side of the quilt.

When she began quilting, her grandmother helped her with a pattern called Grandmother’s Fan. “I spent hours individually cutting each of the many hundreds of pieces and putting

the quilt top together,” said Debbie, “and after all that work, I still had to put it together and hand quilt the three layers together.” - Continued on page 6

A Patriotic Star quilt by Myrna Trithart features blue eight-pointed stars framed by red squares on a white background.

autumn events. Mrs. Muth served as the Superintendent for the General Exhibits at the Jefferson County Fair and the Sykesville Town and Country Fair. As a youngster, Debbie would help her grandmother with receiving and displaying items brought to exhibit at the fair. When Debbie began entering items at the fair, they were displayed in the food and sewing categories.

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In the early 1800s, as communities were formed, churches were simple log or frame worship houses. By the 1860s the church buildings would include a “bell house” to hold a bell to call people to worship, and for special events. Above is a line drawing for the 1832 church of Punxsutawney’s Methodist congregation. At right is the early church for the Reformed Church in Punxsutawney’s Elk Run, built in 1888.

Bells: a history Continued from page 2

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construction of the church, the folk worshipped in the open air under the widespreading branches of trees, in log buildings or in simple frame buildings, in homes, or perhaps in barns. There was little money available to include a bell tower in the history of the early churches. Or, if a belfry was included in the construction, it was ordered from a foundry and shipped to the wilderness area. In 1812, the early Methodist congregation in Punxsutawney began when Jacob Hoover and his wife opened their log house in Clayville to prayer meetings and services. After the congregation grew in number, the congregation constructed a frame “meeting house” in the 1830s on a lot midway between Clayville and Punx’y, where is now located the Salvation Army building. In 1853 it became necessary to build a larger, “more commodious” church building. And it was built on the same site. The construction met with financial difficulties, but was finished and dedicated in 1860. By 1862, it was decided to buy a bell for the church steeple. It was then the early years of the Civil War that made times hard, and men and money scarce. A 500-pound bell was ordered, shipped by way of Indiana and brought to Punx’y on a wagon. That bell would be the first church bell in Punxsutawney. It was hoisted into the steeple, and to satisfy the curious crowd witnessing the event it was rung. According to the church’s history, written by R. R. Evans, the sound was heard for five miles into the countryside. With regular tolling on “Sabbath mornings and at eventide” the bell cracked. A second bell was purchased. Over time it cracked and was not replaced. The introduction of a church bell in community life served its purpose: calling to worship, tolling for the dead, and sometimes it was used for fire alarms. First Baptist Church bell The church history of the First Baptist Church, now on East Union Street behind the park, includes an account of the construction of its church building that had been on North Jefferson Street for many years. From 1840 through1861, the old schoolhouse located on the north-central part of Barclay Square (known then as The Public Square) was used for worship by the congregation. Their second church building, the first one owned by the members, was erected in 1860 on property on North Jef-

ferson Street donated by a pioneer member. The site is the location of the Jefferson HiRise Building. Some members donated money, or lumber and building materials. This was a common practice among congregations of the time, as people settled more permanently in the area. For the Baptist congregation, its work was interrupted during the Civil War. But when the church building was completed, there was sufficient money remaining to purchase the bell. The bell is used occasionally today from its position in the bell tower of the church on Union Street. During the prosperous Punxsutawney years of the late 19th century and early 1900s, many new cathedral-like buildings were erected of brick and stone to replace the wood frame structures. Bells were more readily available and affordable, too, to the congregations. The practice of ringing church bells In the Punxsutawney countryside, most older frame buildings that were built in the early years included bell towers. The church buildings continue to be used by congregations, but not necessarily the bells. Church bells are seldom heard from churches today. Through the decades, church behavior and worship customs would change. The custom and practice of ringing church bells to announce the time for regular services, or weddings and funerals, has been noticeably discontinued. In the mid-1800s, it was the custom to toll the church bell at the death of one of the churchgoers. In the Punxsutawney Spirit in July 1885, one irate resident had written, “Punxsutawney is the only place in the United States where the heathenism custom of ringing the church bell to announce that a death has occurred, prevails. It is an inhuman practice, and should be stopped by local legislation.” Included in the written history of the area, there is one account of the ringing of church bells announcing the funeral of President Abraham Lincoln. “Wednesday, April 19, 1865, the funeral service of the lamented President Lincoln, was duly observed. Business was suspended; the sable emblems of mourning were visible in every part of the borough; the bells were tolled.” (Armstrong County History, 1883) When General Ulysses S. Grant died in July 1885, the then weekly Punxsutawney Spirit informed Punxsutawney readers that the 18th U. S. President had succumbed to throat cancer. The news was received in Punxsutawney on the morning of his death, July 23. William P. Hastings, editor, announced in his July 29th issue, “The news of General Grant’s death was received here - Continued on page 14

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NAME__________________________________ ADDRESS______________________________ PHONE_________________________________ Punxsutawney Hometown – August 2013 - Issue #154 – 5

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Myrna used the traditional nine-patch pattern to create this red and white quilt. The nine patch blocks seem to float in a background of red on white print. The boarder is stitched in a feather pattern giving the quilt a dramatic presentation.

Local Quilters

art of quilting. She has formed a group of quilters called the Paradise Piecers. One of the participants in her quilting group, Continued from page 3 Myrna Trithart, enjoys making quilts with star patterns. Since that first quilt, Debbie has discov“As a young woman, I had a quilt top ered the art of rotary cutting quilt patches pieced by my grandmother, that I wanted to using templates. She tried it and, after makquilt,” said Myrna. “I invited several expeing several quilts, she likes the way the rienced quilters patches go tofrom the neighgether, almost like borhood to magic. Rotary cuthelp me. We ting allows the put it together, artistic use of colthen put it in ors and textures to my grandcreate quilt designs mother’s quiltquickly. She is curing frame and rently working on quilt it. At first, seven projects. I was worried As for the “quiltthat my hand ing” part of makq u i l t i n g ing quilts, stitches were technology has too big. One of made that a snap the women rewith the use of assured me that long arm quilting as long as it and digital sewing wasn’t large machines. As with enough to every advance, catch my big there is change. The old quilting- Myrna made this quilt for her granddaughter. The quilt toe in, it was bees,where women features pastel-colored stars on a cream background OK.” Myrna spent hours visiting with a green boarder. Note the intricate heart stitching makes several quilt projects while they stitched, in the quilt boarder. each year, have become a which Linda Yohe machine quilts on her thing of the past. Now a quilt may be long arm machine. Her most recent project quilted in a day with nice even stitching. was a quilt for her granddaughter. This year Debbie has stepped into a new Participating at the fair inspired Debbie role as Judge in Department 18 at the JefPifer to create beautiful quilts. She continferson County Fair. Her early desire to ues to share her joy of quilting with others. learn the “dying arts” has enabled her to Her interest in preserving the art of handknow the skills of handcrafts including crafts has prepared her for her new role as knitting, crocheting, weaving, and quilting. a judge at the fairs. In addition to quilting on her own, Deb••• bie has made time to help others learn the

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Groundhog Inner Circle and picnic committee members Bob Roberts, Butch Philliber and Tom Uberti invite all area residents to attend the annual Groundhog Club picnic on Saturday, Sept. 7. Tickets for the day’s get-together of food, festivities, and fun are available for only $20. See details in story below and plan on attending one of the nation’s longest-running community celebrations.

Punx’y Groundhog Picnic Set for Saturday, Sept. 7


By the Staff of Hometown magazine ne of America’s longest running traditions picks up where it left off and is ready to go in early Sep-

tember. The annual Groundhog Club Picnic and Outing will be celebrated Saturday, September 7 at Gobbler’s Knob. “The picnic is back. It’s bigger and better than ever”, stated Tom Uberti, Big Windmaker of the Punx’y Groundhog Club. This year, all patrons 21 years of age and older, are invited and encouraged to come. Tickets are $20 and include complementary food, beverages, and a lot of fun! This year, the food is being catered by IUP’s Aramark Food Services. Having the Groundhog Picnic catered is a first for the Groundhog Club. The members of the Inner Circle are looking forward to this new addition to the popular event, as it

will give them the ability to mingle and enjoy the company of the attendees. There is fun for all! The menu includes hot dogs, hamburgers, kielbasa, and corn on the cob for lunch, plus for dinner: a New York Strip Steak with redskin potatoes and all the trimmings, including dessert. Big Screen TV’s will be located in the building to watch football games, and yard games will be set up for those who wish to participate. The annual Groundhog Picnic is a part of Groundhog Club lore and Punxsutawney history. Tickets are available for purchase online at, by calling 814938-7700 Ext. 3, from any Inner Circle Member, or by visiting the Groundhog Club at 200 West Mahoning Street, Punx’y PA 15767. Get your ticket early!

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Blacksmithing was an important business when horses were required for transportation and farm work. Blacksmiths made and mended necessary metal for mills, farms, and other early industries. (Photo courtesy of the Punxsutawney Historical and Genealogical Society.)

Punxsutawney ‘As it Was’

The Demand for Blacksmiths

By PRIDE for Hometown magazine he Punxsutawney Plaindealer in their May 12, 1870 issue profiled Punxsutawney — as it was — shortly before the railroads, coalmines, coking ovens and ironworks came to the area:


OUR TOWN…. we will just say a few words in reference to what is carried on in Punxsutawney, with a population of but six hundred. Situated on the most beautiful and healthful spot in the county, it is being populated with the finest people in the world, and illustrative of our moral, educational and social standard; we need only mention four churches, three schools and six societies, comprising bible classes, lodges and a flourishing literary society. The professions are represented by five able lawyers (a host of students are pushing on, and will soon enter the legal arena),

two talented physicians, and one dentist, besides a fine array of school teachers. The arts, too, are represented and consist of a studio, where is executed some of the finest paintings — both portraits and landscapes — to be found, and a photograph gallery. The manufacturing of our town numbers one foundry, two cabinet and chair factories, five blacksmith shops, one tannery, five shoe shops, two harness manufactories, numerous carpenter shops, one tin-ware and stove establishment, one tailor shop, one watch and clock establishment and one grist mill. Our good people are furnished with every necessary and convenience of life, by no less than seventeen stores, comprising drugs, dry goods and clothing, groceries, millinery goods, etc. The traveling public are accommodated at five first class hotels, and among other conveniences, we would mention a barber-shop. We will also have a bank in our town in a week or two, which will - Continued on page 12

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ket staff, volunteers and residents of the the community, a daily lunch consisting of a hot dog, bag of chips, and a soft drink will be sold for only $2 — with all the proceeds going to the Punx’y library. This year’s event will open daily at 10 a.m. and hot dogs will be served until 6 p.m. Join the members of the community — who have volunteered to work during the five days cooking hot dogs and distributing the lunches — at County Market for food and fun to benefit the Punxsutawney Memorial Library. The event is one of the most important and popular events in our town. •••


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TODAY - TOmORROW - ALWAYS Punxsutawney Hometown – August 2013 - Issue #154 – 9

An afternoon of fun at the Hazen flea market

By William C. Anderson of Hometown magazine t was just too much fun for a summer afternoon. And it was all about the seemingly endless rows of tables, stretching as far as the eye can see, all piled high with what some might call junk. As we wended our way through a network of paths, aisles and roads lined with antiques, kitchen utensils, tools, crafts, food, and gadgets too numerous to mention, we found ourselves mesmerized by the many fascinating objects, some of those items one-of-a-kind trinkets best described as awesome, at least to us. Where were we and why? In early June, some of the family took the pleasant drive up Route 36 to Hazen and made our way to one of western Pennsylvania’s fantastic flea markets for a day of hunting, picking and searching for what could be the “newest� cool con-


versation piece in our homes, or a helpful implement to assist in our home improvement chores. But, more importantly, it was an afternoon of togetherness and good old-fashioned family fun. For one weekend each month, held on the “first Sunday weekend of the month,� the Warsaw Twp. Volunteer Fire Department sponsors the Hazen Flea market. Friends and family have been raving about the market’s many great deals for years. So, despite my recent massive effort to declutter, I, too, made the decision to again visit the outdoor sale. Upon our arrival, we found acres of ample parking in the fields surrounding the vendors. On our very first stop, we were greeted by a friendly man who had hundreds of Sears Craftsmen tools — used, new, rusted, and gleaming in the hot summer sun. It was just the night before that I stopped at Sears and purchased a screwdriver with the little detachable bits for

$10.49. On the tarp at the flea market, we spotted a brand new one with a price tag of only $5. It was the first of many acquisitions for the day. My love for Americana — old objects manufactured in the United States — has prompted me to change my decorating habits. Patriotism and nostalgia play a defining role when deciding upon my purchase. The fascination of history behind the items, those objects that would tell a story if they could, excite me to the point of making them mine. We met two older gentlemen, who were peddling their antique tools under a small tent. I use old, odd-shaped hammers in different sizes and shapes for bookends — should Martha Stewart permit me to do so — for my vinyl record collection. Wouldn’t you know, buried in a pile of junk on a cluttered table, I found a cast iron mallet, dated 1860 (!) with its original 10-inch, hickory handle still attached? The mallet was designed for pounding brass fittings. On the metal were forged the name of the manufacturer, patent date, and place of origin. It had the original wood inserts on each side of the barrel. But it was the slightly cracked handle, preserving a century and a half of patina that caught my eye. “How much for this old-timer, Old Timer,� I asked the gent, who was biding his time in his rocking chair by sipping on his iced tea and enjoying the lazy weather. “Well, I would say I will let that rare piece go for $6,� he responded, but not before we chatted about the origin of his collection of wares. I often wonder as to

where they find all of these items. “For the $6, I would say it is the right price,â€? I concluded. I wouldn’t have passed it up for many times that price. 160 years after its birth in a foundry, it found a new home. It was such a beautiful day to wander around the outside market looking for treasures for our homes. One of the gals, known in her circles for her delicious sugar cookies, found a bushel basket of tin cookie cutters, 50 cents each. She shopped the entire basket, examined each piece, and decided on a half dozen designs to add to her collection. At another table, she found a charming little hand-painted wooden cut out of a heart with a gingerbread man attached — resembling sugar cookies, of course — with the inscription: “Cookies ‌ 5 cents.â€? It was a must for her kitchen. It was priceless, but she was happy to pay the asking price of 50 cents. Literally, ten of thousands of items were available at great prices. Hunting for the right object to purchase added to the excitement. At one table, a hippie from the 60s displayed his necklaces, charms and medals. The conversation was pretty “cool,â€? too. “I bought this one in 1969 at a peace rally in D.C. for $12,â€? he proudly proclaimed as he showed me his lineup of rare memorabilia. There, in his case, we discovered a silver Jesus pendant/medal, the same design as the one gifted to me when I joined the Catholic church in 1979, but lost many years ago. In short order, the family made the purchasing decision for me, “Reinvest the $25 to recover a lost - Continued on page 18

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he Mahoning Hills Social Center, located at 19298 Route 119 Highway North, beside Longview Elementary School, near Punxsutawney, holds open acoustic jam sessions at least once a month. These jam sessions are held Monday mornings from 10 a.m. until noon and are open to the public. There is no admission charge to come and enjoy the music!

If you play an instrument, like to sing, enjoy music, or just want to get out of the house, then this music get-together is for you. Should you like to stay and have lunch, please call 24 hours in advance to make lunch reservations. For reservations or more information, call or stop at the Mahoning Hills Center at (724) 286-3099. •••

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The blacksmith shop at kramer Mine, the small building in the foreground, provided miners with the honing and repairing of their tools. Miners could drop off their tools when their shift ended, and pick them up before starting their next shift. Photo courtesy of the Henderson Township Municipal Authority.

Blacksmiths Continued from page 8 add to its business qualifications. With the above facts before them, who will say that Punxsutawney is not a live town, and its citizens a thriving, prosperous people.”

This was Punxsutawney before it merged with Clayville, now the west end. The town exploded as the coalmines opened, bringing thousands of workers and mules to the area. Farmers’ crops were in demand to feed the people and the mules.More hotels were built. Whole communities appeared almost overnight. The town’s blacksmiths were hard pressed to keep up with their regular customers and the demands of the mining industries. The demand for their labor brought new blacksmiths to the area to meet the metal working needs of the increased industry and population. The Punxsutawney Spirit of June 20, 1888 contained a picturesque description of a local blacksmith shop: “Messrs. Grube & Kirkpatrick’s blacksmithing and horse-shoeing shop on south Penn street presents a busy scene from morn till eve, while the sparks from the hot iron gyrate into miniature forthof-July sky-rockets and falling stars, and the merry ring of the anvil floats out on the midsummer air, telling the people where to get their horses well shod.” The local blacksmith was attracted to the mines by steady work and steadier pay. Blacksmith facilities were a priority when opening a new mine. When the Bloomington Coal Company purchase a large tract of coal lands in the Paradise settlement an item published in the November 23, issue of the Reynoldsville Star reported, “It is expected that work will commence in a few days on the Rathmel tract, on a blacksmith shop, mule barn and other buildings.” As construction began it was important to have blacksmiths on hand to repair equipment. When the mine was operating they repaired mine equipment and honed and repaired the miners’ tools. The blacksmith was compensated by an

12 – Punxsutawney Hometown – August 2013 - Issue #154

automatic deduction from the miner’s pay. This deduction became a bone of contention among the miners as was reported in the December 1, 1897 issue of the Spirit, “I don’t see how it could be worse,” said one; “the company has availed itself of every possible excuse to make deductions from our pay. A store, a doctor, a blacksmith, a hospital bill and house rent, must come out every month, and I don’t see what else they could think of.” It would take ten years of bargaining for the miners to win concessions on the deduction for blacksmithing. In the District 2, United Mine Workers Agreement, signed at Dubois in March 1907, “it was mutually agreed that employer shall not make a deduction for blacksmithing from the wages of the employes, unless he furnished a blacksmith for that purpose.” In addition to keeping the miners’ tools and the company’s equipment in working order, the blacksmith was also responsible in keeping the mine mules shod. It was common for a mule to have a shoe torn off going over the ties and rails as they pulled trips of empty coal cars into the mines and loaded ones out. In shaft mines the mules would stay for a specified time, week or month, before being brought out. In pit and slope mines they were usually brought out daily. Because the mules stayed in the mine, the blacksmith was often called upon go into the mine to replace a shoe on a mule. Joseph S. Gray, a second generation, local blacksmith was recruited to work for the Berwind-White Coal Mining Company at Horatio. Although much of his blacksmithing work was done outside, Gray described going into the mine by riding in a trip of empty mine cars pulled by five mules with Jack Phillips as the driver. He would take his mule shoeing kit with him. Since the blacksmith could not use an open flame in the mine, he would take pre-made soft metal shoes for the mules. After he finished working he would ride out of the mine on a loaded trip of coal cars. When the strike of 1894 took place, and the company asked Gray to take part in building a barracks for the strikebreakers, he left the company after four years and returned to his own blacksmithing busi- Continued on page 18

The mules would stay in the mines for a specified time, sometimes a week or month, before being brought out. In pit and slope mines they were usually brought out daily. (Photo courtesy of Mainline Newspapers, Ebensburg.)

The Mine Mule

‘He is a useful but Often very Aggravating Institution’ (Editor’s Note: The story is reprinted from the Punxsutawney Spirit, December 18, 1901, and provided to Hometown magazine by PRIDE, a nonprofit organization which brings together residents, business people, community leaders and civic organizations to improve the business districts in Punxsutawney.)


peaking of mules,” said a mine superintendent recently, “they are at once the most heartrending and the most satisfactory animal in the world. A good mule is a delight. A wicked mule will have much to answer for. He is the cause of more rule, lurid profanity, of the kind that is belched forth in blue smoke, with the odor of brimstone about it, than all other animals in existence combined. Some mules have no other ambition in life than to perform their duties faithfully and eat their oats in piece, while other mules are different. “Some mules are easily broken into work in the mine, while others prefer to do a little breaking themselves. They mash everything within reach of their heels. “We got a new mule the last spring that beat anything I ever saw. He came to us barefooted, and was sent to the blacksmith to be shod. No sooner had the blacksmith lifted up his hind foot than the said blacksmith found himself sprawling on the out-

side of the shop. He gathered himself up and called in four men to help hold the mule while he put the shoes on. But it was no use. You might as well have tried to put gum boots on a streak of lightning. So we concluded that it would be just as well to let the mule go barefooted for a few days until he became more subdued and civilized. “We sent the mule into the mines, and he went reasonably well, because, with the empty cars pushing him from behind and the other mule pulling in front, he really had no choice in the matter. “Then he was hitched to a loaded car and started out. Talk about cyclones! There’s no comparison. There was a ramble and roar, a rush of wind, and then a mule emerged from the pit mouth. Part of his harness still clung to him. But the coal car of which he was attached could never be identified. It was strewn all along the track for half a mile, but the mule was intact. We persevered, however, and that finally became one of our best mules. “The coal mine is a dangerous place for mules and I don’t blame them for being refractory. A great many of them are being killed and maimed every day, and it will be a good thing for the mule when he is entirely superseded by rope haulage, which is a cheaper and more satisfactory system.” •••

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Bells: a history

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a few years after Gilpin’s death in 1883, the local newspaper reported the commemoration. The story related that the attorney had said upon the initial agreement with the church, “When the people hear the bell ringing they will all say ‘This is old John Gilpin’s birthday.’”

Continued from page 4 at 8:35, just 27 minutes after he died.” In an additional note, his bias was noticeable in the words, “That ridiculous custom of ringing the church bells was indulged in when the news was received. It brought


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One-room school houses of the Punxsutawney area were closed during the 1950s and many of them have been maintained for other purposes. The one in Fairview maintains its original bell tower, a reminder to passersby of early school days.

people in from all sections, some three and four miles, who thought that Punxsutawney was on fire.” In 1888, a Punxsutawney weekly reported the ringing of church bells upon the death of Attorney John Gilpin in Armstrong County. Attorney Gilpin was the oldest son of Dr. John Gilpin, who was an early physician in Punxsutawney and a temporary resident in town at the time when he operated the Forest House in the 1850s. The Forest House was where the former National Hotel was located at the corner of West Union Street and South Gilpin Street. Gilpin Street was named for him. Prominent in the community life of Kittanning, generous in support of many activities, attorney Gilpin died at an early age. The young lawyer had provided in his will an annual contribution of $100 for the Catholic Church. The donation would continue as long as the church rang its bell for an hour on Gilpin’s birth date. The church acknowledged for many years his birth, and “liberal donation.” When the bell was rung in October 1888,


‘A harsh clang of an old-fashioned bell’ By 1895, Punxsutawney would nine have churches in or near the downtown area, and four in the Clayville community (now Punxsutawney’s west end section). The practice of ringing church bells to announce worship services was brought into question by some residents who objected to the “beautiful calm of the Sabbath day being marred and broken by the harsh clang of the old-fashioned church bell.” Thinking this practice a “relic of the past,” it was argued, “A long time ago clocks and watches were scarce, and people were a good deal scattered, so church bells were a necessity. But when there is a clock in every house, and nearly everybody has a watch, why split the ears of the citizens with the clang of the bell...?” However, some residents recognized that there might be a need for church bells to continue in the country. Pointing out that the bell of the Methodist Church had been silent for several years, one local gentleman made note, “yet the people get there on time just the same.” (The Methodist Church was then located where is now the Salvation Army building.) Regarding the ringing of bells in history, there is a side note to American history and the regular clanging of the bell for various gatherings. Reaction to the ringing of the famous Liberty Bell in the steeple of the Pennsylvania State House (Independence Hall) in historic Philadelphia was similar to the reaction among some people in Punxsutawney. - Continued on page 18

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driving by your yard sale at 5:30 a.m.? Then you know what a half-off day is like. Go early and often, and you will score some deals. See how easy it is to shop thrift stores like a pro? Give these tips a try to get great deals and have a more pleasurable experience. Good luck and happy hunting! (For more tips on saving money, go to Email •••

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Bells: a history Continued from page 14 The bell was purchased to call the Pennsylvania Assembly into session, and to announce upcoming events or news. It was tolled often for many events of historical importance in our pre-Revolutionary War history. In 1772, a petition of grievance was sent to the Pennsylvania Assembly in session. It stated that residents of the neighborhood around the State House were “incommoded and distressed” by the constant “ringing of the great Bell in the steeple.” (

All about school bells In an area surrounded by farms and small towns, a schoolhouse was the center of focus for thousands of citizens reared in Punx’y’s rural environment. The location of a one-, or two-room room school was important. Farmers and residents in the rural school districts strived to place the schoolhouse in a central location in an effort that no child had to walk more than two miles to school. The school bell, if the district could afford it, became a means of communication. Early schools did not have bell towers, but history reveals that they were added to buildings in the late 19th century. In those “good old days,” as boys helped with field work and girls tended to household chores, the ringing of the bell announced the time when parents would send their children down the paths and roads to the school house. The cast-iron bell might have been in a cupola atop the schoolhouse, if provided, or mounted on the outside. Most bells were 18 inches across and 31 inches high. A “warning” bell rang early in the morning hours with a series of gongs. The starting bell would follow later. It was also rung when it was time for the students to return to school following lunch. On the farms, bells might have been used to call workers and family from the field for lunch, to end the day’s work, or a variety of other situations. For whom or what the bell tolls, or has tolled. It is a history of simpler times in the Punx’y area as compared to the sirens, bings, buzzes and electronic vibrations of our modern life. •••

Hazen flea market Continued from page 10 part of your life.” Pulling the cash out of my pocket, it was a happy moment for everyone, including the vendor, family members and me. Every few steps brought new wares to shop. There were old railroad signs, 19th-century case pieces and Depression glass, farm utensils, Amish carpets, and even crates full of tube socks, which were sold in bulk. One could outfit an entire kitchen from what was available in one open-sided tent. All the items were reasonably priced, but, at times, we just had to haggle. It is part of the acquisition process — as seen each week on the popular TV show American Pickers. But, despite the wheeling and dealing, we never left a spot that had an item we wanted empty

Blacksmiths Continued from page 12

ness. Shoeing the mules that came out of the mine was done at the shop where there was a forge and the blacksmith could custom make shoes for the animal. Young boys who would bring the mules to and from the barn often assisted him. In February 1899, Robert Rankins, a ten-year-old, was employed as a blacksmith helper. The boy was riding a mule from the blacksmith shop, where new shoes had just been put on the animal, when he fell off the mule and it stepped on him in the region of the pelvis. The report of the incident stated that if inflammation didn’t set in, the doctor felt the boy would live. Although it is rare to read of a blacksmith being killed in the mine, his work was dangerous. The most dangerous part was the mule. (See accompanying story on page 13). As mining technology moved forward, machines replaced the tools — which required honing and repair by the blacksmith — and eventually replaced many of the miners. Machine shops replaced the blacksmith. Machines also emancipated the mine mule; relieved of its weary burden by electric haulage systems. Today, farriers tend to the needs of horses and mules. And, Punxsutawney has become a smaller town. (Editor’s Note: The resources used in the preparation of this article are available the Punxsutawney Memorial Library, The Punxsutawney Spirit at, The Heritage Newspaper Collection of the Library of Congress, the Reynoldsville Public Library and the Punxsutawney Area Historical and Genealogical Society. Pictures are as attributed. This article has been prepared by PRIDE – Punxsutawney Revitalization: Investing, Developing, Enhancing. PRIDE is a nonprofit organization, which brings together residents, business people, community leaders, and civic organizations, to improve the business districts in Punxsutawney. Contributions to support the develop a Coal Memorial for the Punxsutawney Area may be made to PRIDE, P.O. Box 298, Punxsutawney, PA 15767) •••

handed, snagging precious, but useful, additions to our kitchens or dens throughout the day. A vendor had a long tent in which he displayed every item imaginable to accessorize cell phones. One member of the family needed a charger for her new iPhone. “New — in the box — $12,” he proclaimed as he handed it to us, knowing his sale was already made. It sure beat the $19.95 they wanted for it in the mall. The flea market closed at 6 p.m., and before we knew it, we discovered we had the best five-and-one half hours of enjoyment imaginable. As we lined up our newly found treasures on the patio table at home for a photo, I proclaimed that I am now officially addicted to flea market shopping, for it was a good day. Best of all, along with all the other “stuff” we brought home, the memories were free. •••

Why going to college should be cheap By John M. Crisp of SHNS for Hometown magazine ere are a couple of horror stories: Recently, National Public Radio interviewed two recent baccalaureate graduates from American universities. One owes $150,000 for student loans. The other, unemployed, owes a staggering $300,000. Fortunately, few cases are as seemingly


main cause of tuition growth has been huge state funding cuts.” When they’re squeezed for revenue, state legislators see funding for colleges and universities as “discretionary spending.” As they cut off funds, educational institutions have little choice but to pass some of the deficit on to students. It would be challenging to find a place where the slashing of state funding has been more dramatic than in Texas. Today, tuition and fees for a semester’s work at U.T. are around $5,000. Thirty years ago, a semester’s graduate enrollment cost me a couple of hundred bucks. This trend is wrong-headed. College

should be cheap for a number of good reasons, some of which are obvious. Few factors support a strong culture and a dynamic economy more than a well-educated citizenry. It’s a cliche, but clearly it’s still better that 20-year-olds are in college instead of prison. But the sharp rise in college tuition and fees is connected to an unhealthy psychological shift, as well, a change in how we view ourselves as a society. When state legislators begin to think of education as a “private good,” rather than a “public good” — that is, if you’re benefiting from it, you should pay for it — they undermine the beneficial and democratic leveling effect that easy ac-

cess to education of all kinds has played in our society. Of course, the ones pushing higher college costs onto students can, in general, afford to send their own children to college, even at today’s outrageous rates. But the average student should be asking herself, “Can I and should I undertake college work?” She shouldn’t have to ask, “Can I afford it?” (John M. Crisp teaches in the English Department at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi, Texas. John M. Crisp teaches in the English Department at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi, Texas. Email him at •••

Community First! Serving West Central Pennsylvania Since 1893. hopeless as these are outliers. According to an analysis on the website of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the average student-loan debt after four years of college was more than $23,000 in 2012. But 10 percent of borrowers owed more than $54,000, and about 167,000 former students owed more than $200,000. According to several sources, total student debt is closing in on a trillion dollars, a figure that, according to, has quadrupled in the last decade and now exceeds total credit card and auto loan debt. Many students are having a hard time paying this money back. All this debt is connected to the fact that the cost of college has risen much faster than the Consumer Price Index and many other indices. This can be illustrated with numbers. In March 2012, The New York Times’ Catherine Rampell noted that tuition and fees at state colleges have risen 559 percent since 1985. Other studies with different parameters show percentages of increase in the quadruple digits. The high cost of college can be illustrated anecdotally, as well. Someone asked me recently if my parents had paid for my college education, reminding me how much things have changed in the last four decades. My parents helped out in many ways, but, no, they didn’t give me a free ride through college. My dad was a high school educated mail carrier and my mom was a junior high school math teacher. They maintained a modest grip on the middle class, but money wasn’t abundant, and they had three more children to think about, as well. Nevertheless, by means of a combination of summer employment, part-time employment during the semester, the G.I. Bill, and a few Pell grants, I managed to leave the University of Texas at Austin with a graduate degree and absolutely no debt. Zero. The cost of college just wasn’t that big a deal in those days. Things have changed dramatically for various reasons, but Rampell argues that “the

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Punxsutawney Hometown – August 2013 - Issue #154 – 19

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Punxsutawney Hometown – August 2013 - Issue #154 – 21

Adult tricycles could be the next boom years ago because of a sore back, said the market is already growing as the population ages and people with physical limitations look for new ways to exercise. Many trike sales are not counted

in the national data because manufacturers don’t publicize numbers. Trike customers are often distinctive. O’Brien keeps a photo scrapbook of trik- Continued on page 26

Need insurance? We can help. Call or e-mail us. Jack Orlove prepares to ride his recumbent tricycle with a group along the American River trail. (SHNS photo by Randall Benton / The Sacramento Bee)

By Bizjak of Sacramento Bee for Hometown magazine


ricycles are for tots, right? California businessman Mickey O’Brien is betting that’s not the case. If you’re a baby boomer with health issues, O’Brien predicts that your three-wheeling days may soon return. O’Brien opened Laid Back Cycles in Fair Oaks, Calif., a year and a half ago to catch a ride on what he sees as an upcoming trend: more boomers buying recumbent tricycles when their backs,

shoulders or wrists can no longer handle the stress or balancing requirements of upright road bikes. Priced from $1,000 to $5,000, the tricked-out trikes — with attachments for mirrors, smartphones and cameras — are a niche product in a market dominated by mountain bikes, road bikes and urban cruisers. Two- and three-wheel recumbents account for only about 2 percent of national bike sales, according to National Bicycle Dealers Association data. But O’Brien, who started triking three


Supporting Local and Area Fairs 22 – Punxsutawney Hometown – August 2013 - Issue #154

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Punxsutawney and area newspapers.) July 17, 1901 — If the man who surveyed the road that runs up McCracken Hill, between Punxsutawney and Big Run, when it could just as easily have been made to avoid it, can see from his abode among the stars all the tired horses that climb that wretched piece of thoroughfare, and feel their fatigue, his punishment will be sufficient to atone for the sins of the entire community. (Punxsutawney Spirit) (Editor’s Note: McCracken Hill is that portion of U. S. 119 between Riker Road and Bells Mill/Cloe Road.) (Editor’s Note: ‘From Our Past,’ researched by S. Thomas Curry, features items of interest from past editions of

July 17, 1895 — Cyclists who hump their backs too much over a wheel are in danger of “cyclists’ paralysis.” It is the latest thing discovered by physicians in the

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July 25, 1900 — The Fair Association has engaged Harry Kramer and wife, bicycle experts of Washington, D. C., to give exhibitions on the grounds during fair week. Kramer gave some exhibitions on the street here recently. He is a great trick rider and his wife is said to be fully as good. (Punxsutawney Spirit)

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Trash, Treasure, and Trying to kick the yard Sale Habit

By Justin Eger for Hometown magazine p until a few weeks ago, I hadn’t been to a yard sale in years. Short of taking a quick trip through the local communities to pick up some pictures of the community yard sale


days, I hadn’t made an actual stop to browse someone’s junk in quite a long time. I don’t really know why I hadn’t, either. When I was a kid, I remember taking a trip to the Sunday morning flea market down the mountain from our house al-

most every week, and stopping by a few yard sales either on the way to, or on the way back from, the flea market. Wisely, there were always people setting up some tables out along the main roads, offering all sorts of weird little wares. Whether they were cleaning out their attics, sprucing up their basements, or just hoping to transition the stuff they were selling from someone else’s yard sale to the one we’d be having the next summer, I’ll never know, but it was always neat to stop and see what they had for sale. I’ll admit, though, that my need to bring home more junk has probably been tempered in recent years by the sheer amount of stuff I’ve accumulated in my lifetime. Despite having gone through a massive purge both when I moved out of my parents’ home and when I got mar-

ried, I still have way too much stuff, and adding more to the house isn’t really the wisest course of action if I still want to have a place to sleep at night. I’ll admit, though, there were some temptations along the way. “Well, dang, that looks like a really nice hat rack,” I’d mutter to myself as I drove by one sale, followed up by, “Do they have books in that box back there?” as I passed another. It’s like an addiction, though — if you can admit your problem, you’re halfway there. The second step is removing yourself from the temptation. “But look at the carving on that nightstand! That would look awesome somewhere in your house!” says my subconscious. - Continued on page 26

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Adult tricycles

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Continued from page 22

ers he says inspire him: One has polio, another cerebral palsy. One suffers from obstructive lung disease. One is recovering from a stroke. Another has her entire spine fused. One, whose leg is so damaged he has trouble standing, told O’Brien his trike helps him pedal his depression away. “We are giving people their freedom back,” O’Brien said. Trike riders say they love the feel of gliding along without having to worry about balancing or holding their neck in an awkward position. Matt Morbeck, 32, of Sacramento rides a trike since a car crash left him with a herniated disc in his neck and nerve damage in his shoulder. “It is like being a kid all over again,” he said. “I get all happy and excited.” Bruce Thompson, 67, of Citrus Heights, a longtime road bike rider, recently made the switch, buying a $2,600 trike after a knee replacement surgery persuaded him his upright, two-wheeling days are over. “My physician said if you (crash) on an upright bike with an artificial knee, it can be pretty serious,” Thompson said. Some cycling industry experts say they are skeptical that trikes or other recumbents will ever rise beyond niche standing. Marc Sani, publisher of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, said his gut feeling is that most boomers who have been riding upright bikes will stick to their two-wheelers to the “bitter end.” Sani’s brother rides a recumbent and a friend took to triking after a stroke, but Sani points out that trikes are expensive enough to make people think before buying. Some cyclists say they aren’t attracted to recumbents because they aren’t as cool looking as road bikes or cruisers. And some riders express concerns about the potential safety risk of trikes’ low profile on the street among cars. Bike industry consultant Jay Townley is more positive about the sales growth potential. Trikes could get a boost, he said, from what he calls “latent” riders, older people who haven’t ridden a bike since they were kids, but who are looking for a comfortable way to get out and exercise. He noted that trike manufacturers design their adjustable seats similar to lawn chairs. “How did they arrive at that? People who haven’t ridden before are looking for comfort,” he said. “A lawn chair is what they are used to.” Jeff Yonker, head of marketing for the TerraTrike brand, said his company doesn’t focus marketing on existing cyclists. Instead, it pitches its product to a larger audience as a healthy lifestyle purchase. “Our customers would not be caught dead in spandex,” Yonder said. O’Brien said his recent move into trike sales stems from a lifelong enjoyment of cycling. As a kid, he painted “The Bike Shop” on the family’s backyard shed, where he took bikes apart and put them back together. Later, he ran a bike shop in Folsom. A few weeks ago, he tried out an upright bike again after lending out his trike. Nope, he decided. “Once you ride a trike,” he said, “you’ll


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Trash, Treasure Continued from page 24

So it’s better to just stay away. That’s not to say that I don’t have a few enablers around me, either. As I visited my at-the-time soon-to-be in-laws one Saturday afternoon, my wife’s mom came out of the house with a big ol’ bag of books, pressing them into my hands as I came up on the porch. “Look what the neighbors were selling at their yard sale!” she declared, showing me a near-complete collection of Clive Cussler paperbacks. “They were, like, 10 cents apiece!” Enablers, I tell you, because not 10 minutes later, I was seeing what else the neighbors had for sale. Sure, sure, we all talk about how much fun a yard sale is, that it’s a community event, but let’s face it — we’re just going to see what everyone has for sale, even if it’s people you already know. Heck, especially if it’s people you already know, because who among us hasn’t spied some possession in a friend’s house with envy, thinking how nice it would look in the car, going home with you? It’s okay. I do it too. And then, a few weeks ago, I stopped by a yard sale my mom and my aunt were hosting out of my aunt’s garage one hot Sunday afternoon. Mostly, I just stopped by to say “hi” and to see what was new in the neighborhood, but I couldn’t help but look around, too. Books, some clothes, a few pieces of furniture — most of it I’d either already seen before and would never have a need for, but I still couldn’t help but envision what I might do with it. “That would be a nice set of shelves for the garage,” my subconscious whispered. Years of restraint, all but gone in a flash, and right now, all I want to do is get up early Saturday morning and drive around town, just to see what everyone is trying to sell. (Justin Eger is an editor, columnist, reporter and feature writer with Mainline Newspapers in upper Cambria County.) ••• 26 – Punxsutawney Hometown – August 2013 - Issue #154


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©2013 - This placemat produced by “Hometown Publications,” Punxsutawney 938-0312 •



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Member FDiC

Fireworks by Starfire Corporation

• 12:00 a.m. Midnight, Release of Livestock & Horse exhibits

stoP By ouR loCatioN at 50 JR Resources Dr., Ringgold, Pa

Electronics, LLC

saturday, auGust 17 turner dairy day & BradiGan’s inc. day • 9 a.m., Equine Fun Show – horse arena • 9 a.m., AG Olympics (formerly Family Day Events) – livestock arena Sketching Contest – report to fair office for materials • 4 p.m., Hog Calling Contest – free stage • 8 p.m., Randy Houser - grandstand FIREWORKS TO FOLLOW CONCERT

LumbeR comPaNy

50 0 5 41-OS.COM 3 800W.ZORK


Friday, auGust 16 marion center BanK day • 9 a.m., Judging Light Horse Youth Show – horse arena • 10 a.m., Premier Showman Contest – livestock arena • 1-3 p.m., 4-H AND VOCATIONAL AG CONTEST – swine arena • 2 p.m., Animal Dress Up Contest – livestock arena • 6 p.m., Freestyle Performance to Music – horse arena • 7:30 p.m., DEMOLOTION DERBY – grandstand



143 North Main Street ELDERTON

• 9 a.m., Judging Light Horses – Performance Classes – horse arena • Noon, HARNESS RACING – grandstand • 6:30 p.m., Junior Livestock Auction – livestock arena • 7 p.m., 4X4 MUD BOG – grandstand

selling tractors, parts, implements & attachments


Concrete Foundation & Retaining Walls, Silage, Bunkers, Manure Pits, Floors, Driveways, Commercial & Residential 2002 Rt. 536, Mayport Joe Hemm (814) 365-5528 PA#006679

Punxsutawney Hometown – August 2013 - Issue #154 – 27

28 – Punxsutawney Hometown – August 2013 - Issue #154

#154 August 2013  

• It’s Fair Season for local Quilters • Bells: from firefighting, to churches, to schools • Groundhog Picnic and “Hotdog Days” in Punxsutawn...