Shamokin-CT Heritage Museum – Wealth of information (including Shuman discoveries and more)

It was reported some time ago in the papers that after last week’s American Legion Building flood, the Shamokin-Coal Township Heritage Museum, did not, in fact, lose any items to water damage, due to the quick response of firefighters and police. The museum also opened its doors last evening at six to the general public, an opportunity which I quickly took, needless to say. And I’m glad I did.

I’ve never actually been in this part of the American Legion Building before. Aside from the library entrance, there are two entrances at either end of the facade, and it’s the one at the left that leads to the Heritage Museum. It opens, first, into a small vestibule, which, though old, by its construction probably isn’t original. The vestibule, however, then opens onto a large, empty, high-ceilinged room with superb stone walls and a long staircase under an archway. Along the ceiling, a carved inscription dedicated to the memory of the soldiers of the World War (that would be the first, as the building was erected in 1922), follows the perimeter of the room.

Upon arriving, I proceeded up the stairwell to a door marked with the name of the museum. Turning right as I entered, I came upon a long narrow hallway with several tables lining one wall, containing mostly school group portraits from the 1920-1950 period, though a few from earlier dates were there as well. Some old documents and miscellaneous items, including a case of rulers with the names of local businesses, could also be found.

Here I met Mr. Carr, who had collected most of the items at the museum. He was quite helpful, and showed me into the next two rooms, which contained a bounty of old documents and photos. I spent an hour and a half going through them, and still had not time to see everything. School memorabilia, yearbooks and reviews, made up a good portion of the collection, but there were also a number of portraits (most unidentified, unfortunately), church records and booklets, and several family diplomas, baptismal and marriage certificates. Most of these last were from the Mulliner family, but there were a few Henninger, Neugard, and Fetterman names as well, among others. I saw dates as early as 1901, but most of the diplomas and certificates were from the 20s. The portraits varied in time period from the 1890s/1900s, or perhaps earlier, to the 1940s and 50s. There were also binders containing old miscellaneous paperwork such as invitations, business letters, etc. Newspaper clippings, most of them recent, from the Centennial (1964) or later, were also to be found. Just before I left I came upon quite a few old directories, most fairly recent–within the past fifty years or so–but some appeared to be a little older. It was getting late, however, and I had to leave, so I did not get a chance to go through them until this morning.

Naturally, I did turn up some interesting finds. A 1924 high school yearbook included a photograph of Dorothy Shuman, daughter of Harry W. Shuman, who was a nephew of M. H. Kulp. According to the 1920 census, Dorothy was at that time living with Kulp’s widow, Sarah, at her Edgewood residence. Apparently, she lived with her for a number of years, as the yearbook lists Dorothy’s address as 126 N. Shamokin Street, to which Sarah Kulp relocated after the sale of Oaklawn in 1923. In the yearbook, the remarks by “Dot’s” portrait read:

Just gaze upon this charming bit of feminine beauty. Really, dear readers, we just don’t know what to say about her. She is a good sport, a fine pal, and all around good fellow. If it were not for all this, perhaps, we could say something, but we know when we are beaten. We wish every success.

So beautiful and refined
I hope she doesn’t mind,
If I tell you this time,
She’s got an awful line.

A 1932 yearbook mentioned Monroe Shuman, Dorothy’s brother. Born in 1914, he was named after his great-uncle.

“Sunny”

This little boy we call the “Coach,”
He’s razzed and teased the limit.
But when his “Mamma” calls,
He’ll be there in a minute.

pre-1929_metal-box_compliments-of-kulp-lumber-co_2I also located a few photos of (I believe) Harry Shuman, Jr., brother of Monroe and Dorothy, and better known as H. Wilt Shuman. And, on one shelf in the museum, I found a fairly large, black tin lockbox, empty, with the inscription “Compliments of Kulp Lumber Co., G. Gilbert Kulp, Prop.” With Gilbert as the proprietor, this box must date from before 1929.

As I dug through the multitude of dusty treasures, a cd player in the other room played recordings of the former WISL station, on which host Tom Kutza used to discuss his memories of old Shamokin. Between commentary, Big Band tunes played, along with a rendition of “Dear Old Edgewood Park,” and the locally famous 1940s “Moke from Shamokin.”

After an hour and a half, I had to get going, but returned again this morning shortly after eleven. The oldest of the directories, it appears, was 1928-29, and though there was a gap between those years and around 1950 or so, there were several directories from post-1950. In the back of the room, I found a diary from around 1934-37, written by someone named Betty. I did not see any surname for the author in my perusal of the diary, but there were frequent references early on to a “Grandma Shott.”1933_five-year-diary_cover1

1933_five-year-diary_inside-cover

1933_five-year-diary_january

In a “Labor Day Handbook” from 1916, I also came upon a portrait I had never seen before of William C. McConnell, who was running for office (State Senate) at the time. On the subject of photos again, I really must say there were more portraits at the museum than I could tell you. Some were from Thomas Photography, others Lippiatt, Swank, and more, and some were school pictures. Many more were in books. 1930_school-day_edgewood-park_ticket1Unfortunately, the majority had no identification, but I’m sure there must be plenty of genealogists and locals out there who might be able to recognize someone. I tell you, this place can be quite the gold mine for anyone interested in Shamokin history, genealogical or otherwise. There was a lot of interesting miscellany, too, like souvenirs from local businesses. Quite honestly, I saw a little bit of everything.

The museum, however, doesn’t seem to be getting a lot of attention. Last night, I was the only visitor there the whole evening, except for someone who stopped in briefly, mostly asking about the flood damage to other areas of the building. When I signed the guestbook again the next morning, there were no other names after mine. So I’d like to say that if you’re at all interested in Shamokin area history, or your ancestors from the area, be sure to visit the Heritage Museum. I think it’s an invaluable resource and a fascinating glimpse into the town’s past. According to the News-Item, the museum will be open from noon to 3 pm tomorrow.

An Imperfect Politician – The Election and Career of a Pa. Legislator and How Things Haven’t Changed From 1894-2008

Politics and Our Ancestors: Finally, it’s a COG topic I really know. After all, the man at the center of my non-genealogical historical research was a politician–specifically a United States Representative–from turn-of-the-century slightly rural Pennsylvania. Though he was primarily a private businessman, his two-term Washington career ultimately became his best-known and most-hyped accomplishment. However, being a persistent researcher such as I am, I soon discovered there was a lot to his Congressional doings that the mainstream local histories and county biographies, well–just forgot to mention. And, at the same time, I found that I was uncovering an interestingly familiar story, one that in this turbulent political season may just prove that some things don’t entirely change with time.

Continue reading

The Congressional Record…

…has finally arrived on microfilm at my local library!

There are NINE separate reels! Whew! They included the latter part of the 53rd Congress (I didn’t actually ask for this, but it may be useful), the 54th, and the early part of the 55th. For some reason, the remainder of the 55th was not included, but that is all right for now.

So. Where to start? Well, I began by looking for the first session of the 54th. Apparently, it’s arranged very conveniently with an index to both members of the House and Senate, and to specific bills and resolutions, included at the beginning of the reel. One thing I find confusing: Apparently the session began in December of 1895, over a year after the election in November 1894. I was under the impression that it began in March 1894; in fact I’m absolutely sure that this was when he officially became a member, as opposed to a member-elect. So, is there something I don’t know here? Feel free to enlighten!

Anyway, I of course checked the index first, and there was a lot of info. The complete entry is as follows:

Kulp, Monroe H. (a Representative from Pennsylvania)

Attended 2.
Appointed on committees 284.
Leave of absence granted to 91, 271, 285, 287, 1352, 2389, 2907.

Bills and joint resolutions introduced by


Berwick, Pa: donating cannon to Grand Army post at
Berwick, Pa: donating cannon to high school at
Bloomsburg, Pa: donating cannon and muskets to
Bloomsburg (Pa.) Monumental Association: donating cannon to
Brewster, John T: for relief
Campbell, William D: for relief
Catawissa (Pa.) Monumental Association: donating cannon to
Downing, Eugene: to remove charge of desertion
Heinze, Christen: to remove charge of desertion
Kline, Marian J: to pension
Kline, Marvin J: to pension
Kobel, Isaac: to pension
Koons, Eliza: to pension
Milton, Pa: donating cannon to Grand Army post at
O’Brien, Michael: to pension
Ogden, William: to pension
Salzman, Frederick: for relief
Schrout, Philip: to remove charge of desertion
Shamokin, Pa: to erect public building at
Shamokin, Pa: donating cannon to Grand Army post at
Shuman, Henry W: for relief
Swan and Lewis and Butler–canal boats: fo relief of owners
Tate, McCurdy: for relief
Towers, Alfred George: to remove charge of desertion
Watsontown, Pa: donating cannon to Grand Army post at
Williams, M.A.: for relief

Petitions and papers presented by, from

Berwick, Pa: Patriotic Order Sons of America: against Marquette statue
Danville, Pa., Grand Army of Republic: for service pension bill
Pennsylvania, citizens of: for Stone immigration bill
—against sectarian aid
—for amendment to Constitution
—citizens of Columbia County: relative to unclaimed pension money
—farmers of Columbia County and others: for protection of agricultural staples
—citizens of Limestoneville: for protection of agricultural staples
—citizens of Milton: for protection of agricultural staples
Pennsylvania Millers’ State Association and others: to secure better market for agricultural products
Pennsylvania Patriotic Order Sons of America: for Stone immigration bill
Pennsylvania Patrons of Husbandry: for protection of agricultural staples
Philadelphia (Pa.) Grand Army post: to revive grade of Lieutenant-General
Puckett, Greenville: for relief
Shamokin (Pa.) city council: for recognition of Cuban belligerents
Shamokin, Pa., Daughters of Liberty: for Stone immigration bill
Shamokin (Pa.) Lincoln Post: upholding President’s Venezuelan message
Shunk, Pa., Patriotic Order Sons of America: for Stone immigration bill

Reports made by, from

Committee on the Public Lands
Fort Assinniboine Military Reservation

Except for the first few entries, I have left out the page numbers and references, but this provides an excellent overview of basically what he was doing in Congress from December 1895 to February 1896 (yes, many more indexes to go through!). I followed up on a few of the references that seemed most intriguing, but couldn’t find any additional information–both the Record itself and the index to bills and resolutions were basically a repetition of what the index said.

So, what was most intriguing? First of all, the mention of a public building in Shamokin. In the Record this bill was described as: “A bill…to appropriate the sum of $60,000 to purchase a site and erect a public building at Shamokin, Pa.–to the Committee on Public Buildings and Grounds.” No additional specifications anywhere, I’m afraid, as far as I can tell anyway. I’ve been trying to think of a specific local public building that was built around that time, but with no luck. The city hall came to mind but that was in 1894.

Also, Henry W. Shuman was a relative of his–his brother-in-law’s father. More specifically, the father of Edwin Shuman ( 1848-1888 ) who was married to MHK’s sister Joanna. I was unable to check the Record for information about this, as it was on another reel and I was pressed for time, but I did check the index to bills and it listed the following description: “To reimburse Mrs. Henry W. Shuman, widow of the late Henry W. Shuman, of Pennsylvania. Introduced by Mr. Kulp and referred to the Committee on War Claims.”

Back to the index: A very interesting read. A lot of superfluous bills, I noticed, for example the cannon in Berwick. But from what I can tell, at least he apparently did what he said he would–his campaign was mostly based on the promise that he would support the farmer and soldier, and there are quite a few references to pensions and agriculturalists. And, of course, this is only late 1895 to early 1896! I wonder if I can read everything by the time it’s due back on August 22…yes, I believe so! 🙂

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.