Road names reviewed at Historical Society meeting
MONTGOMERY – Travelers traversing township roads may question reasons behind the decisions for names used in signage. “For posterity’s sake, the who, what, when and why roads were so named should be documented,” said Carol Shetler, speaker at the Oct. 20 meeting of the Montgomery Area Historical Society (MAHS).
The speaker shared that “Re-addressing the names of roads in the mid 1980’s was to more easily locate homes by 911 emergency personnel.
“When choosing names, township residents were invited to give input, albeit supervisors had the last say,” the speaker said.
So as to inspire the society to take on such a recording project, the speaker shared a partial research of roads in Clinton, Brady and Washington Townships.
For example, in Clinton Township, Bastian Road identifies William Bastian who was one of several examples of families forced to relocate due to the government’s take over in the former Alvira area in the mid 1940’s.
According to Richard Barto, current supervisor and resident of 80 years plus, “Bastian didn’t even leave the manure behind. They hauled the animal waste to their new farm here. At purchase, the land was considered so poor, crops wouldn’t grow. Bastian was teased that crows would need to carry their food in knapsacks when flying overhead.”
Heilman Circle, named for John Heilman Senior, developed his lands into residential sites in the mid 1950’s. As their name is listed on an 1873 Atlas map, the Heilman family has remained in that area for at least 142 years.
Meeting attendee Chuck Stryker of McNett Road, claims two roads were named for his families. In Clinton Township, Stryker Avenue, and four names from the Staggert family in Brady Township.
Chuck tracks his linage of Strykers back through Elmer, Jr, or “Jim,” Elmer Sr, or “Chuck,” Harry then James, his second-great-grandfather. “When I worked in Williamsport, people often asked if I were related to Strykers’ there. I had heard my family moved to this side of the mountain to get away from family feuding.” Chuck also said the earlier James was overseer of the poor and Treasurer of Fairview Cemetery.
In Brady Township, the Staggert family for whom Franklin Drive, Edna Lane, Polly Lane and James Road are identified, note the family of Frank and wife Polly (Ranck) Staggert. The grandfather was in the butcher business and with a team of horses and a market wagon, hauled meats to the Williamsport Growers Market House. Gervase, was the eldest of eight children. The last of that generation, Babe Lawton of Montgomery, recently observed a 100th birthday.
Also in Brady Township, Shaffer Path Road and Extension, is named for Samuel P. Shaffer, a founder of Maple Hill. Forging a path over the mountain enabling him to sell produce in Williamsport, it was the main traveled road until the building of Route 15. During the Revolutionary War, Shaffer had been an aide to General George Washington. Through the patriot’s granddaughter Marie (Bower) Gulliver, George Showers is a current descendant.
According to Brady Township Secretary, Linda Bower, “Due to the government’s confiscation of land, the township services only 7 miles of roadway.”
In Washington Township, Secretary Bonnie Taylor said of two of its 20 roads, “Circle J Road is named for a hunting club. Leisure Acres Road, formerly having sites for summer residences and recreation vehicles, currently has year-round homes,” she said.
Others at the society meeting with input was Nancy Simon Gruver and Ralph Baker. Gruver said the family intended to mass an effort to have the Lane named Gruver. Before they could do so, a baby was born to a family there and they were successful in petitioning for ‘Kari Lane’. “Charles, the first Gruver on Kari Lane, had three sons in WWII – Allen, Gene and Dean,” she said.
Ralph Baker said of Baker Road, “The part of my parent’s farmland on the east side of Route 15 was not taken. Baker Road was cut off by the Ordnance Works,” he said.