Goodness Gracious: More Eerie Old Buildings

I’ve had to deal with some weekday errands these past few days, but now I’m finally here in front of my computer to report on another very interesting trek I had on Wednesday through some old local landmarks. After that Washington School expedition a few weeks ago, this is really getting quite interesting. Photos ahead!

First stop: The Douty Building, Sunbury Street. Erected July 1865 by John Blundin Douty–businessman, coal baron. Original history of building: Storefronts, apartments? Current status: Apartments throughout 2nd floor, sheer disrepair on 3rd.

Upper view of the Douty Building

Upper view of the Douty Building

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Library trip today

Lots of news. Haven’t been writing lately, but today I met the author of that Achievers article (see posting of July) at the local library. Asked about sources for the photographs he used; he said he didn’t have that info, but we also talked much about my research and the Kulp family. Last night, I was reading some of my research transcriptions and something occurred to me as another possible source for information–perhaps photographs.

Sarah W. Kulp’s obituary in a Shamokin newspaper, February 1931, mentions that her husband had originally established an event at Edgewood Park known as “Schoolchildren’s Day,” and the occasion was described as “an annual one for the school children and parents of the entire community extending from Kulpmont to Trevorton and at which the children were the guests of the trolley-and later the bus-corporation. Mrs. Kulp continued this annual outing and when her health permitted mingled with the kiddies as they enjoyed the pleasures and concessions of the park as the guests of the management.”

I know, I’m really reaching when it comes to leads now. But, especially since we’re talking about the 1920’s, this to me sounds like a much-photographed event. As a community occasion it was probably mentioned in the local papers, too, so if I just knew when annually it took place, I might be able to go through those reels of microfilm and see what I could find. I asked Mr. Morgan (the Achievers author) about it, and he seemed to know the event I was describing and said it would have been every year when school was out, around May or June.

Well, after I asked some additional questions and provided my contact information, I spent some extra time at the library going through the newspapers. Since I could check anything from 1923-1931 (1923 is the earliest newspaper they have after 1893, due to damage of some kind), I picked a random date and settled on 1930.

I didn’t have much time as the parking meter was lingering maliciously on the edge of my thoughts and I was running out of pocket change, so I didn’t quite get to the June papers. But, as I went slowly through the preceding months, keeping my eye out for any possible other articles which might be useful, I came upon something highly interesting. When I read it, I thought that this was so just made for genealogists and historical researchers! Not connected to my research, but a fascinating read nevertheless! Since a Show-and-Tell edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is coming up soon, I am going to put in a new blog entry in a minute about this. Stay tuned!

The search for wills and sources

For some time I have been planning to make one of those grand old trips to the Sunbury courthouse, this time on another will hunt. First, it appeared as though I wouldn’t be able to do this until around the middle of August, however, now early August may be possible. I will try to fit it in. Oh, how I long to be able just to run out tomorrow morning and hurry off to Sunbury…but then, I’d kind of like to live in the courthouse for about a week too, only we can’t have everything!! 🙂

So, my primary task at the courthouse is locating MHK’s will. Last time I was there (we’re talking, what, early May?), I did find an administration, but as I recall that’s all there was. However, I also remember that the handwriting was difficult to read and I was in a hurry…maybe I missed a page? (Horror!)

It is possible that there may be some situation as I found with his father’s will (see previous postings). But I doubt it. Frankly, I am starting to lean toward the possibility that I overlooked it, and you can imagine how impossible that seems! However, I also think there are additional probate records somewhere at the courthouse, so I am certain to find something. If there are any additional records, I must see what else I can find on Darlington Kulp’s estate. With the controversy that surrounded it, there can be no doubt some unique paperwork was involved.

By the way, from what I can tell, the will books are only in a loose chronological order, and a rather odd one at that. For example, indexes reference Will Book 14 as the location of MHK’s will, 1911; Book 20-something, I think, for his wife’s will, she died in 1931; and Book 15 for his sister’s, who also died in 1931. Now does that make any sense…?

I have another task tonight. Recently I have been working on the Thomas Photography connection again, with little luck. Called the last owner and asked him just about every question I could, and his answer was very clear: They only had family portraits in negative format, except after about 1930/1940, and all the negatives were donated to the historical society. Now, I did call the historical society some time ago and they say that they only have negatives after 1925. Nothing at all in the way of portraits prior to that date. Further, a local fellow who’s into photography whose website I saw once, he purchased a large collection of already printed photos from Thomas Photography when they were closing, and he tells me he has about fifty or so family photos from around the turn of the century. So what is up with all of this? Confusing.

Now, I am drawn again to an article about M.H. Kulp, printed in the News-Item back in February 2006 as the first installment in the Achievers series. (The series went on for about two years; they now have a book published containing all the articles.) As you probably know, 2006 was a bit before my interest in Shamokin history got started, so I didn’t hear about it until sometime last year. However, going over it again, I am noticing that there were two portraits printed with the article. One was that very charismatic portrait from the Centennial publication; there is a copy on this site’s “Why This One Point in Time?” page. Another was the one taken in Edgewood, and which I originally found in June 2007 in a book about the electric railway company. The author of the article did not list his sources, but the latter photo was captioned with a quote that the author claimed was the original caption. Now, I have never seen this original caption anywhere before, so I am inclined to think that his source was more direct; i.e., a family member or…the photography studio? You’d think.

I am thinking that wherever he found one such photo, there may be more; so, today I attempted to contact the author about his sources. However, he was not around. It is evening now, so I am off to call again. I must also ask about some other things he mentioned in the article, so this may be an important call. Will write soon.

A glimpse of Shamokin at the end of the day

Just been out and about Shamokin, taking some photos of area landmarks and random scenes. Excuse the blurry photos; don’t know if it’s me or the camera or both, perhaps I should get a new one!

126 N. Shamokin

126 N. Shamokin Street: In 1930, this was the home of Sarah W. Kulp.

1609 W. Arch Street

1609 W. Arch Street: A fine old Edgewood home, this was the residence of Harry W. Shuman, nephew of Monroe Kulp.

The Douty Building

The Douty Building, Sunbury Street.

Upper view of the Douty Building

Upper view of the Douty Building

313 E. Sunbury

The brick, tree-shaded double, 313 and 315 E. Sunbury Street. According to the 1900 census, 313 (at left) was then the home of Monroe and Sarah W. Kulp.

The tracks along Shamokin Creek, from Water Street

The tracks along Shamokin Creek, from Water Street

A sunset view of Independence St., south from Washington St. Rear of post office is in foreground; far right, the American Legion building, which houses the library. The brick building is the Llwellyn Building--after David Llwellyn, I presume.

A sunset view of Independence St., south from Washington St. Rear of post office is in foreground; far right, the American Legion building, which houses the library. The brick building is the Llwellyn Building--after David Llwellyn, I presume.

This building, built October 1906, was once the carbarn for the Shamokin & Edgewood Electric Railway Company, and later the bus line's garage.

Arch Street: This building, built October 1906, was once the carbarn for the Shamokin & Edgewood Electric Railway Company, and later the bus line's garage.

Looking north from Walnut Street; built 1898 on land donated by Monroe H. Kulp.

Maine Fire & Hose Company: Looking north from Walnut Street; built 1898 on land donated by Monroe H. Kulp.

Val, the Historical Researcher…and Activist?

Well, no, but today I did do my part for the genealogy and research community of Pennsylvania, by writing to the governor and two area legislators, regarding the system in place in the state’s vital records department.

Most genealogists probably know all of the rigamarole which must be put up with in order to get one’s hands on a simple vital record in Pennsylvania, such as a death certificate. The vital records division requires that you provide them with so much information just for them to do the search, that a lot of researchers realize: “Why, if I knew that, I wouldn’t be looking for this record!” Further, you have to be a direct relation to be “eligible” to request the record in the first place. As regular readers of this blog may know, I am not related to any of the families I’m researching–I simply have a profound interest in their past. They were well-known, influential and respected in this area, back in the day, and I am committed to understanding the truth of their story. Simple, right? Yet, the vital records regulations (which are there in the interest of privacy, supposedly), keep such records as death certificates, post-1906, off-limits to me and many another researcher like myself. But consider this: What is the harm, when we are talking about records nearly and over a hundred years old? No information about living individuals there, most likely. The vital records division simply designed their regulations with no consideration at all of historians, genealogists, researchers, and the like. It’s inefficient, to say the least.

So, today I sent out copies of my letter to Pennsylvania politicians, stating my reasons for disagreement with the system. There is a Pennsylvania General Assembly bill which will be voted on soon to change the regulations of the vital records division. To learn more about the issue, visit this site on the subject.

Back from the festival

I have just returned from the festival, after arriving at about 9:45 as planned, heading home for a brief break, and returning for church tours. The cemetery tour, which lasted about an hour and a half, was first on my list, but, unfortunately, I forgot my camera so no photos were taken. In addition to brief mentions of various historical figures buried in the cemetery, a few of them were portrayed by reenactors. Those portrayed included Kimber Cleaver, Henry Reese, J.J. John, Alexander Caldwell, and Sarah W. Kulp. The reenactors, in their roles as prominent Shamokin citizens of the past, spoke in the first person in a conversational, and, I imagine, a partially ad-lib manner, about their lives, careers, and achievements.

Later, I paid a visit to the Trinity Episcopal Church on Lincoln Street, which was open for self-guided tours. The interior was exceedingly beautiful; the vestibule walls were of stone, and large doors led into the nave, which included a vaulted ceiling of magnificent dark wood. The walls, of a pale ivory color, were lined with stained glass windows, dedicated in memory of various prominent members of the parish.

The main window behind the altar, also of stained glass, is dedicated to the memory of Monroe H. and Sarah W. Kulp. Their names, as well as the dates that they were born and died, can be read on the lower panels of the window.

I brought my camera this time, and took three photos, featured below.

Left: A view of the church pews – Center: Toward altar – Right: Stained glass window in memory of M.H. and Sarah Kulp. (Due to the height of the window, I was unable to get close enough for a clear photo.)

Festival Schedule & Family Tree Updates

Updates have been made to the Kulp/McConnell family tree database on WorldConnect. The tree now includes 759 individuals, not counting alternate names which WorldConnect counts as a separate individual.

The Anthracite Heritage Festival is tomorrow. The weather is fairly good this morning; chill but clear and sunny. Hopefully this will hold out for tomorrow. The festival parade is scheduled for this evening, but I think I’ll stay home and relax, as I’ll be going out early tomorrow. Today’s local newspaper features the schedule for the Anthracite Festival:


4 to 6 p.m. — Brush Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce chicken barbecue, Sixth and Arch streets.

6 p.m. — Festival parade begins at Rock and Independence streets. Travels west on Independence to Market, ends at Arch.

7 p.m. — Veterans salute, Price for Freedom monument, Lincoln Street.

Approximately 7:30 p.m. — Shama Lama at bandstand, Market and Arch.

9:30 p.m. — Luminaria service along Lincoln Street; performance by opera soloist Shannon Mercer.

10 p.m. — Fireworks display by Robert “Chopper” Deitz.


8:50 a.m. — Church bells ring to call people to the festival.

9 a.m. — Cameron Colliery whistle blows to signal start of festival, followed by singing of national anthem by Zack Sickora.

9 a.m. — Last minute sign-ups for “The Amazing Coal Cracker Race” at Market and Spruce.

9:05 a.m. — Ecumenical service at festival stage, followed by singing of “God Bless America” by Sickora.

9:45 a.m. — Carriage tours begin at Market and Arch.

10 a.m. — “The Amazing Coal Cracker Race” begins at Postage Plus, Market and Spruce; trolley tours of Coal Township begin; first cemetery tour starts; career and arts center exhibits open.

10 a.m. — Marionette show in the fourth park lot, Market and Pine; Sadie Green Sales Jug Band at festival stage.

10:30 a.m. — Moyer School of Dance, festival stage.

11:30 a.m. — Sadie Green Sales Jug Band, festival stage.

Noon — Magic and illusion show, festival stage, SCRA tour from display booth No. 2; American Legion building displays open.

12:30 p.m. — Show and shine car show, Independence Street, Rite Aid and FNB Bank parking lots.

1 p.m. — Talent show, festival stage.

2 p.m. — SCRA tour leaving from booth No. 2, second cemetery tour kicks off.

2:30 p.m. — “Hats off to Pennsylvania” performance by Ray Owens.

3:30 p.m. — DJ performance at festival stage.

4 p.m. — Festival ends.

Heritage Festival Friday & Saturday

May 23/24 are the days of the local Anthracite Heritage Festival here in Shamokin. This event, a kind of historical/reminiscence/nostalgic type of thing, has been an annual attraction since 2006, at which time I had a minimal interest in Shamokin history so I didn’t attend–in fact I didn’t even know it was going on, I suppose because I was in the middle of relocating at the time. Last year, however, I did hear about it and attended, but thought it was rather a bore. The fact is there was no official schedule and I had to go puttering through week-old newspapers at the library to find out what was going on, and inevitably I missed a lot. Basically, what I saw was an infestation of vendors camped out on the median of Market Street, selling crafts and novelties, and a very noisy bandstand–by the firehouse, was it?–playing rather forgettable music most of the time. At CareerLink (courthouse, career center combination), which used to be an old high school, ancient film reels from the Diamond Jubilee parade of 1939 were playing in the former auditorium. Rather dull. I heard there was a cemetery tour going on, but I thought, why trek morbidly through a cemetery, I know who’s buried there.

I was not aware that there was also a tour going on of the church in which a couple I was researching were married 110 years before. Had I known that, you can be sure I would have hastened myself there directly, and I would have been much more pleased with the outcome of the festival overall. But…I did not learn this until several months later while browsing an online archive of recent local newspapers. If they had put out a more complete and easy to find schedule (which it is becoming apparent they are not doing this year either), I would have been much more appreciative. Anyway, enough of my complaints.

There are tours of local churches this year as well, and the cemetery tour will feature the usual reenacters–area thespians portraying prominent Shamokinites of the past, another thing I was unaware of last year. I intend to be at both events, now with my convenient camera phone should a need for it arise.

The weather here is deplorable for May; rain and clouds for most of the last few weeks, I haven’t been counting exactly. With any luck there will be sun soon or the festival could get derailed somewhat; hope not.