homepage logo

The Significance of Muncy Farms

By Staff | Sep 4, 2019

In each issue this month, The Luminary will highlight specific articles provided by the Muncy Historical Society regarding the 250th anniversary of Muncy Farms.

This once-in-a-lifetime event is scheduled rain or shine on Saturday, Sept. 21, noon to 6 p.m. The public is encouraged to follow the signs and park at Lycoming Mall where free trolley shuttle service will be provided to and from the property. There is a small cost for admission.

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

French and Indian, Pre-Revolutionary War-Wallis’ Legacy? It was the home of Samuel Wallis, one of the largest landowners/land speculators in colonial Pennsylvania with 8,000+ acres credited to his name;? Wallis was instrumental in developing the frontier as a land speculator and surveyor.

Revolutionary War-Wallis’ Legacy It is the oldest standing homestead in Lycoming Company, having survived both the Great Runaway (1778) and the Second Runaway (1779);? It was the home of Samuel Wallis, a master spy for the British during the American Revolution with ties to Great Britain’s Major John Andre and Benedict Arnold;? On its property once stood Fort Muncy, a colonial fort that was twice destroyed and rebuilt a third time in 1779;? The Muncy Farms property contains the oldest all-iron railroad bridge (1846), still in service, though only for vehicular traffic, not rail;? The Muncy Farms property has a significant portion of the Pennsylvania Canal running through its current acreage.

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

World War II-Brock-Barlow Legacy? When World War II had begun in Europe and the threat of German invasion of England seemed very real, Henry and Margaret Brock answered an appeal to host European children whose parents wanted them out of harm’s way. In 1940, the Brocks volunteered to host up to five children in their large Muncy home. Before the young British evacuees arrived, Mr. Brock died.

Mrs. Brock honored the couple’s promise and she welcomed the children on November 3, 1940. She had them with her for six years before adopting them in 1946-Brian and Sue, now both deceased, and Sheila and Malcolm Barlow. During that time, Mrs. Brock also purchased the Luminary.

Upon Mrs. Brock’s passing, the children received her estate, and the lovely rural Muncy home and 800-acre farm they had once fled to and eventually called home, the oldest home in Lycoming County.