Bradford County Historical Society holds Annual Meeting

Bradford County Historical Society Manager/Curator Matthew T. Carl is shown during his presentation at the annual meeting of the society.

On Monday October 5, the Bradford County Historical Society held its annual meeting.

When opening the meeting, which was the 150th annual meeting of the society, President Henry G. Farley stated that this was a far cry from what we had planned to do this evening to commemorate the finale of our 150th year.

Those present for the meeting were the trustees of the society: Rita Carey, Camptown, Joyce M. Marr, Wysox Township, O. B. Crockett ,Athens Township, Henry G. Farley, Sayre, J. Kelsey Jones, Wells Township, Janet R. Ordway, Troy Raul Azpiazu, Spring Hill, Sue Roy, Wysox, Wm. Alan Shaw, Towanda, and Mary Skillings, Wyalusing. Also present for the socially distanced meeting were the 2020 awards recipients.

The 2020 Clement F. Heverly Outstanding Service Award was presented to Randy and Nancy Williams owners of Dandy Mini Mart, Inc, The Dandy Mini Mart corporation was recognized for their part in historic preservation in the county.

The 2020 Leo E. Wilt Historian of the Year Award was presented to David Lenington for his amazing work planning and executing programs for the society and his efforts creating historic exhibits for organizations in the county.

President Farley thanked the board and recognized the following society volunteers for their service, Cindy Brown, Elaine Engisch, Lois Ball Martin, Diane Pelton, Sue Roy and our faithful groundskeepers and painters Tom and Ann Carl. Diane Pelton and Cindy Brown have both completed 50 or more hours of service.

In the report of the Manager/Curator Matthew T. Carl reported on the projects that he and Denise Golden completed while working at home during the COVID-19 shutdown and the processes now in place in the museum to comply with the guidelines set forth by the Commonwealth. Matt further stated that 120 boxes of court records have been transferred over into acid free storage containers the records date from 1812 to 1930 and are much more user friendly than when we first received them. The remainder of our textile collection is now in 40 acid-free boxes. Our newspaper storage room was reorganized, and all single-issue papers placed in archival boxes by topic.

One of the major highlights of the year was the discovery of photos in an Overton family album that showed the churches in the old coal mining town of Barclay on Barclay Mountain. This was an important discovery as no other photos of this nature had ever been found. We thank the McKean family for preserving the album that led to the discovery. The photos were featured in an issue of THE SETTLER.

During the shutdown, Matt worked on organizing a digital database for our collection from 1903 to 2002. This inventory fills in the gaps in our computer inventory (Past Perfect) and now makes it possible to digitally search 120 years of records of information on items in our collection. Also, during the shutdown, the long process of transferring the Jim Smith audio collection to computer files was finished and the audio (interviews with past residents of Barclay Mountain) is now preserved. Denise was able to index a list of scrapbooks in our collection making them more useful to our researchers.

All of our programing and community outreach for 2020 was canceled and we hope to use the same schedule we had created for the 2021 season. Matt Carl moved the Museum programming season online and set up a You Tube channel for BCHS to post videos once each month on the third Friday from May through October. This gave Carl the opportunity to put presentations created by him over the past 13 years into video form.

The online programs have been well received and many have commented, written thank you notes, or made donations because they enjoyed what BCHS offered online. When the pandemic first started, Matt also turned his program on the Influenza Pandemic of 1918 into a video and it was shared hundreds of times on Facebook given the similarity to current events.

C&N Bank when vacating the building on the corner of Main and Bridge Streets in Towanda donated 11 filing cabinets to the society, the new owners Trehab donated more filing cabinets and office furniture left behind in the building. These items made it possible for us to make changes in our research center to provide more storage for files and extra shelving for books.

The Endless Mountains Heritage Region awarded the Bradford County Historical Society a $10,000 grant for improvements and repairs to our building. The 50/50 matching grant is for additional heating and cooling improvements and tile repair.

The Bradford County Historical Society has appeared in newspapers 163 times and magazines 4 times over the past year. Our website has been used by 5,700 people over the past year. We added a new form of online payment to our website so that customers are not required to use a PayPal account for online purchases. Our Facebook has 1,791 followers, up 468 since the last annual meeting. Our Twitter page has 90 followers, up 15 since the last annual meeting. Out You Tube channel has 46 subscribers.

One of the contributions to the museum collection this year was a large wooden wheel salvaged from the former Dandi Mini Mart store in Burlington. Over 100 years ago, this wheel was used in the store to lift bags of grain to the second floor. Thanks to Bishop Brothers Construction for their help in disassembling the large piece, hauling it down from the attic and loading it for its trip to Towanda.

Another exciting addition to the collection was a 33’x6’ mural of Towanda painted from an 1867 George Wood photo of the town taken from East Towanda. The mural was removed from the wall of the former Citizens National Bank building in Towanda, given to the society buy the new owner of the building Trehab.

The mural was painted by renowned artist Augustin Pall in 1950 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Citizens Bank in 1951. We are currently working with the Northern Ter Career Center construction program to have a frame made to stretch the canvas on so that it can be displayed in the Great Room of the museum.

Matt Carl and Henry Farley were given permission to go to the tower attic of the former C&N bank building in Towanda where they located several historic treasures. Approximately 250 glass plate negatives from the Ott and Hay photographic studio which were lowered down from the attic with a rope and bucket. They also located a sign from the Ott & Hay studio, a metal sign “D.A. Overton, J. C. Ingham, Attorneys at Law” that had been on the corner of the building along with several pieces of Ott .&Hay’s studio equipment.

Denise Golden in the Library Clerk’s Report noted that there were 215 registered library patrons from October 2019 until the shut down in March from the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, New Hampshire, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Vermont.

There were 189 volunteer hours logged of the year. Volunteer projects completed: 23 surname searches, archival and photograph organization, filing, indexing, mailings, transcribing diaries, yard work and painting.

Sue Roy a member of the nominating committee presented the names of trustees to be re-elected to a three-year term ending in 2023. Raul Azpiazu, Spring Hill, Rita Carey, Camptown, Henry G. Farley, Sayre and J. Kelsey Jones, Wells Township. The vote to retain these individuals was unanimous.

Sue Roy presented the name of Henry G. Farley for Editor of THE SETTLER. The vote to retain Farley was unanimous 2021 will be his 19th year in this role.

Joyce M. Marr a member of the nominating committee presented the slate of officers for the society for 2021, President Henry G. Farley, Vice President J. Kelsey Jones, Secretary Rita Carey, Treasurer Buddy Crockett and Corresponding Secretary Sue Roy, There was a call for nominations from the floor there being none the slate was unanimously approved.

The Society hopes to open for the 2021 season with the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Awareness Coalition display 67 Women 67 Counties in May of 2021.

Henry Farley reported that the annual campaign is still in process and that people have been very generous this year.

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