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Muncy Hisorical Society connects with “The Great Gatsby”

By Staff | Apr 12, 2016

Old photo of Henry Brock, a socially prominent 36-year-old investment banker

MUNCY — Is there a Lycoming County connection to “The Great Gatsby?” Curator Jonathan Schau believes it exists, and will present a program on the topic at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, April 17, at the Muncy Historical Society.

Schau’s presentation, “Show Me a Hero: The Effects of a Vehicular Homicide on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” kicks off the 2016 season at Muncy’s 40 N. Main Street location.

Schau will present the results of extensive research in which he has identified no less than 46 similarities between a widely publicized vehicular homicide that occurred in Philadelphia in March 1923 and Fitzgerald’s narrative.

In addition to the possible literary implications, Schau’s presentation will revisit a real-life tragedy in which the primary character — Henry Gibson Brock — turned a catastrophe into an opportunity to help others.

Brock, a socially prominent 36-year-old investment banker, was the grandson of Henry Gibson, one of the richest men in Philadelphia and an influential art collector who possessed possibly the greatest private art collection in the United States during the 19th century. Gibson’s wealth came from ownership in the largest manufacturing operation of rye whiskey of his time. Brock, who would have been a Gibson heir, was also a Brock family heir, inheriting Muncy Farms, the former home of Samuel Wallis.

Muncy Farms in Muncy Township

Muncy Farms played an integral part in securing the frontier prior to and following the American Revolution. Wallis, owner of Muncy Farms, invited the Colonials to build Fort Muncy on his property — a ploy it turns out because Wallis may have been a spy for the British. What better way to keep an eye on the Patriots than to have them on his own property?

As a special treat, on Saturday, April 16, beginning promptly at 6:30 p.m., Muncy Historical Society will offer an opportunity for interested Gatsby fans to reacquaint themselves with Fitzgerald’s plot. The colonial kitchen area will serve as the museum’s concession stand with popcorn, candy and soda available.

The society’s meetings and events are always open to the public. Please call 570-546-5917 or email MuncyHistorical@aol.com with questions or for additional details.