Spring’s here again, and that means it’s time to be getting back in gear with the long-put-off local history research. Courthouse trips, library trips, the 2010 Heritage Festival, and a little exploration through a few more old Shamokin landmarks…all are in store for the coming weeks.
So I officially kicked off my return to research with another visit to the Heritage Museum on the second floor of the American Legion Building. If you’ve checked the censuses, vital records and more, and you need a more informal but rich source of information to dip into for leads on your Shamokinite ancestors, the Heritage Museum is the place to go. The beauty of it is that you can never be sure what you’ll find–you may just wind up stumbling onto a gold mine. It’s two good-sized rooms and a long hallway full of miscellany–everything from old photos to diplomas to a large collection of high school reviews to commemorative booklets to letters and coal company papers to trinkets to goodness knows what else. It seems the majority are from this century, but you’ll certainly find some older articles, too.
As for me, I turned up two wonderful pieces of history I hadn’t seen before. Books of Shamokin maps, from 1913 and 1922. These are the types of things that were drawn up by utility companies to mark the locations of water lines, etc., but they contain detailed, close-up maps of every part of Shamokin, showing the streets and footprints of buildings. Some, such as churches and firehouses, are named, and are color-coded to indicate a frame or brick building. The footprints are occasionally a little inaccurate, but they show bay windows, porches, and the like.
For me, this was an excellent opportunity to get a better idea of the layout of Shamokin’s famous Edgewood district in that era. I’ve only seen two other maps like this, one of which was from 1889, before any significant development of Edgewood took place. The 1913 map, however, shows Edgewood in its prime, including several park buildings.
1913: Lynn Street. East is up. The large block at the upper left is Oaklawn, the famed residence built by M.H. Kulp. An approximate footprint of the house, as well as garage and coops, are shown. The streets, it seems, have changed drastically. Park Avenue is now Kulp Avenue; Edgewood Avenue was renamed Woodlawn. Not visible in this section is the western end of Lynn Street, which now turns southwest and becomes Park Avenue. That turn, it seems, was non-existent in 1913.
At the bottom of this map, across Park Avenue from Oaklawn, is the residence of Millard F. Nagle, probably built in 1910, and still standing. __________________________
1913: “Dear old” Edgewood Park, one of M.H. Kulp’s most acclaimed projects.
Flashforward to 1922: a more familiar, and more populated, view of the Lynn Street area. The apparent development of these neighborhoods that took place in the intervening years may have influenced the changing of Oaklawn’s street address: in 1910, it seems to have been known as 1651 Arch Street¹, while by 1918² and 1920³ it had been changed to 1701 Arch. Later, it was designated as 1701 W. Lynn.
The street names, such as Park, Edgewood and Lake Avenues, must have changed relatively recently, as the map lists both their old and new names. By this time, the three diagonal streets branching off from the main ones have also been laid out. However, the street at the western side of the Nagle property does not appear to meet with Lynn Street, as it does today. Several of these 1922 maps also have names of residents penciled in, but the date of these notations is not known. Probably they are significantly more recent than the map, since some names are listed where houses are not.
The Park Hotel can be seen at the bottom right, at the end of Park Avenue.
Things have changed, but the Edgewood of old is still traceable. Many thanks to the museum for another opportunity to stroll through those streets of 1913 and 1922.
(Postcard from “Shamokin, My Hometown.”)
1. 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Coal Township, Pa., p. 91, sheet 34 A, dwelling no. 401, fam. no. 401; Monroe H. Kulp.
2. 1918 WWI draft registration card, Josiah Alexander Simpson. Place of residence and employment listed as 1701 Arch, Shamokin. Simpson was driver and later chauffeur for the Kulp family.
3. 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Coal Township, Pa., p. 85, sheet 7 A, dwelling no. 132, fam. no. 133; Sarah Kulp.