Panel reveals the road names of Moreland Township
HUGHESVILLE – Many of the answers as to why specific names were given to the roads of Moreland Township were brought to light at a recent meeting of the East Lycoming Historical Society.
A panel of adults and students from Hughesville High School’s local History class shared research gained from oral histories, interviews, personal observations and printed facts. Presenters included Galen Houseknecht, Jane Harman Opp and Jacob Wagner.
Galen Houseknecht described the roadway and area named in honor of his father Jesse Houseknecht as located parallel to state route #442 on the south side. Ownership of the land began for this family in 1840 when 477 acres were acquired by ancestor “Squire” Henry Bitler, a longtime Justice of Peace.
Of the three Bitler daughters, Josephine, wedded Oliver Monroe Houseknecht, and owners for the following generations were Harry, then Jesse Houseknecht.
Until the 1940’s, the western half of the roads were mere wagon paths leading to the Ritter and Hill residences. Residents along the eastern half intersecting with Bill Sones Road are the James Snyder families and earlier that of Lawrence “Skip” Hilner residence.
Near the crossing midway along the road, an ice house once stood. Filled in winter with ice harvested from nearby Laurel Run Creek, it serviced the Nelson Lowe family and other neighbors.
Houseknecht said of his grandfather Harry, “During winters from 1921 to 1940, granddad butchered and huckstered meat in Muncy to fifty or sixty regular customers. I don’t know how he dealt with handling frozen meat and making deliveries in an unheated truck.” The grandfather also substituted for mail carrier, Bill Derr on the Opp R. F. D. #1 route. The speaker wondered why his ancestor was so infrequently called. “As granddad made deliveries by car and Derr by horse and buggy, it was widely known, patrons preferred granddad as they received mail sooner,” Houseknecht added.
Of the current owner it was said, “In 1955, my dad took ownership of the farm. He and my mother, the former Jean Rider, received several awards as land conservationists. Dad served on the county’s agricultural extension board. At Moreland Baptist Church, at age 91, Jesse is both the eldest and longest standing member.”
Bartlow Road named for Luther Bartlow is likely the only Moreland road named for a bachelor. Amos Bartlow first owned the land passed down to his son and daughter, Luther and Odessa, wife of Sylvania Wagner. Student speaker Jacob Wagner, Odessa’s great-grandson, heard many tales about Luther. “He had such large hands he could hold 18 eggs in one, and due to his mistrust of banks, buried his money.”
In the 1930’s and 40’s when winter’s snow covered the road’s steep incline with drifts, men cleared it with shovels. “Eight foot drifts where moved when teams of two shoveled the snow up four feet and the next man put the remaining four foot higher and over the top. Glen Wagner was one whose pay was fifty cents an hour,” Wagner said.
Joining state route #118 and running north, Harman Road joins Green Valley Road. Accompanying speaker Jane Harman Opp to the meeting were her parents Lewis and Marian (Nickles) Harman for whom the road was named.
Originally known as Wilson Road, the landscape included Robert Wilson’s cider mill. These small buildings were found in various rural communities where locals brought apples to be pressed out, and juices used for drink or when fermented became cooking vinegar.
Harman Road was shortened when state route #118 was rerouted over Warn Hill.
The Harman’s purchased their farm in 1957 and their daughter learned, “My dad was one of many farmers the township furnished with drags made of wood on top of which large stones were placed. The weighted drags were pulled over roads to smooth them.” The father said farmers furnished their tractor, time and gas, and received fifty cents a mile.
Attending in addition to the Harman’s for whom the roads were named, were Millie and Harvey “Bud” Moyer and Ruth and LaMonte Wallis.
Other roads and speaker representatives were Vandine Road by Olivia Dudek. Burgett Road by Lakeisha Burgett, and Opp Lane by Warren Fenstermacher.
Of the 45 persons attending, 22 identified themselves as either Moreland natives or current residents.