Garden club seeks ‘a time to remember’
HUGHESVILLE – This season the Hughesville Garden Club has been taking a step back into time.
Since its inception in 1948 many current members do not remember what Hughesville was like before World War II, whereas some recall their time living there as young adults.
On Monday, September 14, local historian, Robert Webster, will present a program, “Old Time Saturday Nights in Hughesville.”
According to club president, Georgine Johnson, and also a former classmate of Webster’s, Hughesville was a popular spot on weekends prior to the war. “That was 75 years ago,” exclaimed Johnson. A delightful storyteller, Webster seems to have captured many highlights of the area, weaving back to a time that takes the listener almost there.
Webster was also a guest speaker in May for the garden club when he talked about “Hall Station” and the former Samuel Wallis mansion. He had spent his summers at the estate painting the various buildings and had teamed up with Jim Montague, another Hughesville native to help maintain the outside grounds of the oldest property in Lycoming County, and according to Webster, is 246 years old. It was a time when Pennsylvania was one of 13 original colonies, Webster told his audience. Known as Muncy Farms, it was established in 1769 and included 7,000 acres on the this side of the county. Today there are 800 acres remaining.
Over the years the home has increased with size since its founder, Samuel Wallis, a wealthy Quaker land surveyor for the William Penn family, made it his homestead. “The West Branch Valley was very attractive to him,” said Webster.
Muncy Township was also established three years later, thus making Muncy Township the oldest in Lycoming County. “It is the mother townhsip,” Webster said noting that it took place four years before the American Revolution.
Webster also spoke of the two huge Indian raids that took place in 1778 and 1779. “The mighty Iriquois nation sided with the English, not the Americans,” spoke Webster. Many of the log buildings here were destroyed but the Wallis home withstood the attacks. Two forts were built in Muncy, Fort Muncy and Fort Brady, but both were destroyed.
Wallis acquired “an excess of one half million acres” and in 1795 Lycoming County was formed. The Quaker Meeting house in Pennsdale was also built then. Wallis died of yellow fever in the early 1800’s and was bankrupt at the time according to Webster. Muncy Manor Farms went up for sheriff’s sale. “The land had to be sold to to satisfy debts.”
The estate was purchased by Robert Coleman, a rich banker from Philadelphia who gave the mansion as a gift to his daughters. One of the daughters married Charles Hall who owned several iron mines. Later farming and lumbering became the trades and two major additions have been added to the home. There are 800 acres left today, and it is privately owned by the Barlow family.
Webster concluded his program with some tales of his experiences and some of the locals who helped maintain the property during his summer months between school and college.
He was readily welcomed and asked to come back in September to talk more about the history of Hughesville. The program will be open to the public who is encouraged to attend, and will begin at 7 p.m. The Hughesville Garden club meets the second Monday of the month, except for January and February at the Trinity Lutheran Church on Main Street in Hughesville.
Beverly Walters serves as vice-president, Carol Farina as secretary, Patrice Luncy as Treasurer and Connie Brague as assistant secretary and treasurer.