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Reunions keep Newman family connected

By Carol Sones Shelter - | Sep 10, 2021

CAROL SHETLER/The Luminary Newman family descendants gathered at the Montour Preserve near Washingtonville on Sunday, Aug. 1, for their annual reunion. Among attendees were Saundra (Newman) Schmidt, eldest, with youngest Amelia Robbins and her sister Lyla, all of Muncy. Traveling the greatest distance were Bill Newman of Cogan Station, at left, and his brother, Jeff Newman of Danville.

MUNCY – With Lake Chillisquaque in view from the Cove picnic area at Montour Preserve, descendants of the John and Kathryn Newman family gathered for their annual reunion Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021.

In charge with keeping the record, Debbie (Newman) Robbins of Moreland Township, along with eldest present, Saundra (Newman) Schmidt of Muncy, referred to the minute book finding the earliest recorded family gathering. Held in 1949, descendants met at the home of Frank and Alma (Newman) Sheets along Route 220, north of Sonestown. “As I was born before 1949, I think reunions were held in earlier years, what we have now may be the first written record,” said Saundra adding, “back then, the families took turns going from one home to another.”

Reunions are a good time to exchange stories, such as settling the question plaguing many as to the correct spelling of the name, Neuman or Newman. Saundra said, “I was told the ‘u’ was replaced by the ‘w.’

This branch of the family had resided in both Sullivan and the eastern part of Lycoming counties recalling the dad working in the coal industry, at the Guy Belcher saw mill and lastly, the H&E Ladder Factory in Picture Rocks.

For a deeper dive into history, we were referred to Sam Newman of Muncy, lauded as the family’s genealogy guru. Having done much research taking him into the basement catacombs of the Sunbury Courthouse, he located the will of Thomas Newman, son of Joseph Newman, first to this area when Lycoming was still Northumberland County.

According to Sam, the homestead is along Crystal Lake Road north of Tivoli and was a large land holding bordered by Loyalsock Creek and Rock Run. The area includes the Newman Cemetery which also holds other early settlers.

The use and reuse of given names George, Thomas and Joseph causes research to be difficult.

Tidbits of information coming to light included: some early family members fell prey to the Indians and afterward Thomas Newman married a sister of the valley’s heroine, Rachael Silverthorne. George Edward Newman went off to the War of 1812, but before his arrival, the war ended. Unfortunate however was the fate of his sons, three went to the Civil War with only one returning. Joseph Newman’s son, Joseph and his wife, Mary owned the General Store in Sonestown with a son being the railroad agent there. In Nordmont, the railroad agent was Jospeh S. Newman. In Tivoli, the hotel was owned by George Newman, who was said to be instrumental in erecting the Methodist Church built soon after the Civil War.

As the eldest attendee on reunion day, Saundra hopes reunions continue saying, “This is the only time I see some family members.”