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Luminary’s 180th anniversary; The first 94 years, a Painter family legacy

By Carol Sones Shelter - | Mar 31, 2021

photo provided William Painter, co-owner of The Muncy Luminary from 1841-1846, withdrew from the partnership with his brother George Painter who continued the business.

MUNCY – Brothers, who 180 years ago founded The Muncy Luminary, were an integral part of the growth and development of the West Branch area at Muncy. They were however, not Muncy natives but born in Sunbury, Northumberland County.

The brother’s great-grandfather had emigrated from Germany with the family’s entrance into the newspaper business occurring in 1827. That year, the brother’s father, Thomas Painter, purchased the Columbia County Register, the family moved to Bloomsburg conducting the paper some twenty years, or until 1843.

Brothers William, born 1818, and George were but two of sixteen siblings, seven surviving to adulthood. At age 13, William left school to enter his father’s printing office learning the art of type-setting. He remained at the ‘Register’ in Bloomsburg about five years until age eighteen.

For two years, William followed his trade in Pottsville before joining his brother George in the publication of the Mauch Chunk Courier at Mauch Chunk, PA. Then in March 1841, the brothers came to Muncy and established The Muncy Luminary. The partnership ended five years later when William sold his share to his brother George.

William did however remain in Muncy where for 45 years he conducted a drug store turning it over to his sons in July 1891 prior to his death in 1895. The father of the brothers and a widower, Thomas Painter, also died in Muncy in the year 1845.

photo provided Thomas B. Painter, continued his family’s 94-year legacy in publishing until his death in 1935. At the time, The Muncy Luminary was considered the oldest family owned business in town.

The remaining brother, George Painter stayed at The Muncy Luminary begun as The Muncy Telegraph in 1833 by initial owner J. Potter Patterson and in 1835 sold to J. Kidd Shoemaker, is said to be the earliest publication in town. The Painter brothers changed the name to The Muncy Luminary, which in both French and Latin describes light.

The Painters adopted the motto, “The will of the people is the legitimate source, and the happiness of the people, the true end of government.” In connection with newspaper and job print, George conducted a book store and supplied all school books used in Muncy in the early years. On the premises, wallpaper and jewelry was also offered for sale.

George brought his two sons into the business, Thomas B. and William P. Painter operating it together until 1887 when William entered the Episcopal Divinity School at Philadelphia. Thomas Bridgens Painter, continued publication until his death in April 1935. He was within seven months of his Golden Wedding Anniversary with Miss Susan Lloyd Petrekin who survived. The couple had one daughter, Marian, wife of Paul B. Van Dyne of Van Nuys, CA.

Among accomplishments listed in the deceased’s obituary was that; “In 1928, President Calvin Coolidge appointed T. B. Painter Muncy’s Post Master and was reappointed in 1928 and 1932. At the time of his death, The Muncy Luminary was deemed as the longest continuous family business in Muncy.

News snips from The Muncy Luminary’s first issue

dated April 10, 1841

David Edward and John Flack petitioned to dissolve their partnership in the tailoring business with Flack continuing.

The Estate of the deceased David McClintock of Davidson Township, Lycoming County, (currently Sullivan) was put into Orphans Court.

The Democratic Whig Party announced Judge John Banks as their candidate for Governor.

The ‘freshet’ injured the canal with hopes it’s opening will not be delayed more than a week to 10 days.

The following owners of local taverns and lodging houses petitioned for licenses to continue business:

IN MUNCY – John Shaffer, The Franklin Hotel; John P. Schuyler, The American House; Ann Stratton, Waterman’s Inn, Muncy Creek Township near the Towing-Path leading from the Outlook Locks to Muncy Dam.


Samuel Van Buskirk, The Union Hall; Gabriel Flick, The Hughesville Hotel; Alexander M. Smith, The Perry House.