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Spring Quarterly features J.N. Weaver family history
SAYRE – The Spring issue of the Sayre Historical Society Quarterly features a cover story on the family of railroad master mechanic James N. Weaver. Included in the family history provided by Andrew Hammond is a story of legendary “Diamond Jim” Brady and his visit to Sayre.
CAPTION: James N. Weaver and family are pictured in this photograph from 1887. Weaver was a master mechanic for the railroad and Sayre’s first burgess. The photograph is from the Andrew T. Hammond Collection.
“Diamond Jim Brady paid a call on Chief Engineer Weaver one day in 1891 to look at railroad locomotives that Mr. Weaver made for the Lehigh Valley Railroad in Sayre,” according to Hammond’s account. “With James Weaver in his shop that day was his 8-year-old daughter Nellie. Diamond Jim liked her, and, as a gift, gave her a diamond pin and a gold bead necklace.”
According to Hammond the necklace remains in the Hammond family (James N. Weaver to Earl D. Hammond to George E. Hammond to Andrew T. Hammond) and is worn by a member of the family on their wedding day.
Other stories in the issue include an account on the construction of the Sayre tennis courts dating from the 1930’s, the demolition of the “landmark” Railway Express Office in 1975 and an interview with Jim Lathrop, former engineer for the Lehigh Valley Railroad. The center picture of the issue has the 1959 Sayre High School baseball team from the Francis Hunt Collection. A story provided by Jim Nobles recounts the memory of Mrs. Katherine Goodall and the so-called “Foundry Row” of houses on the 600 and 700 block of N. Lehigh Avenue. The account is illustrated by Dana Twigg.
In the cover story, Hammond recounts the interesting life of Weaver, who served as Sayre’s first burgess (or mayor).
“James served in the Union Army during the Civil War and fought Confederate forces in Virginia as a member of the 129th Regiment of the Pennsylvania Volunteers,” said Hammond. “James ran away from home at the age of 14, enlisting as a drummer boy and rose through the ranks, fighting for the duration of the war, albeit he was taken prisoner at Kelly’s Ford, Fredericksburg, Virginia at age 18, imprisoned at the infamous Libby Prison, and later released at City Point, Virginia.”
Weaver was master mechanic in the original railroad shops in the 1880’s and was Sayre’s first burgess as well as the first postmaster, according to Hammond.
Included with the story are pictures of the Weaver family in 1897 and a wedding photograph of Nellie Weaver Hammond from 1908.
The story on the tennis courts recounts the efforts of Sayre businessman Sydney Glaser to establish courts at the new Sayre High School. Funds were raised from subscribers including the Sayre Lions Club, the Evening Times newspaper, the First National Bank and the Sayre Land Company. Additional funds were raised by a dance and the sale of membership tickets. A letter from Harry C. Child thanked Glaser for his efforts and asked that the membership be transferred to his teenage daughter.
“I am returning my ticket with the request that you make it out to Catherine Child, 16, in my place, as I am a little careful about taking very violent exercise,” the letter stated.
The article said the site of the football field at the high school was formerly referred to as Mason’s Pond and the tennis courts were built on a site once known as “Frog Hollow.”
The Railway Express office had been a landmark in Sayre for many years, according to the article. Located on S. Lehigh Avenue just south of the Packer Avenue Bridge, it housed the Railway Express Agency for many years after being first constructed as the railroad’s first freight station.
The article includes two photographs taken by railroad historian Chuck Yungkurth, a mechanical engineer whose scale drawings were used by “historians, model manufacturers, model builders and publishers,” according to his 2016 obituary.
Another noted historian, Herbert Trice of Auburn, interviewed Sayre’s Jim Lathrop in 1982. The interview was provided by Richard Palmer of Syracuse.
“Jim Lathrop came to the house in the evening and we spent some time discussing his days on the railroad,” according to Trice. “At that moment, I was researching the milk business. Since the milk trains were discontinued in 1948 and Jim went on the LV in 1937, his experience covered only its latter days and its more modern aspects, i.e. the use of tank cars. However he did remember the business of handling milk cans due to his early exposure to the railroad, and gave the best account of it I have heard so far.”
The issue concludes with a photograph from the Willard Keeler Collection of six men who retired from the Lehigh Valley Railroad in 1956, a timetable for the Pennsylvania & New York Canal and Railroad Company from 1868 and a photograph by the late Robert Gauss of the bandstand in Howard Elmer Park in Sayre.
The Quarterly is a membership benefit and is delivered through the mail four times a year. The current issue and past issues of the Quarterly are available by contacting the museum at email@example.com or by calling 570-882-8221.
Gauss paintings featured in Winter Quarterly
SAYRE - The donation of art work by the late Gertrude and Robert Gauss of Sayre to the Sayre Historical Society is the featured subject of the Winter issue of the Quarterly history magazine. A variety of stories, including a look back at the 1918 Spanish Flu Epidemic, the first run of the John Wilkes express train in 1939 and Valley Record founder Joseph Murrelle, are included in the latest issue of the Quarterly.
CAPTION: A painting by Gertrude Gauss of the Rev. Albert Greene, former pastor of the Redeemer Episcopal Church, is among several paintings recently donated by the Gauss family to the Sayre Historical Society. A story on Mrs. Gauss and her husband, Robert, is the subject of a cover story in the Quarterly history magazine.
The local history magazine is mailed to all members as part of their membership benefits four times a year. Individual copies are available by calling the museum at (570) 882-8221 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rev. Albert Greene was rector of the Redeemer Episcopal Church in Sayre for 23 years. He was one of the officiating clergymen at the funeral of Dr. Donald Guthrie. A winter scene showing a snow-covered barn and creek done by the late Mrs. Gauss is also included in the article. Mr. Gauss, who passed away in 2005, was also an accomplished artist. One of his paintings titled “Clowns” is reproduced in the Quarterly.
According to the June 2, 1954 Sayre Evening Times, the Sayre couple had collaborated on their art work for several years.
“Mrs. Gauss started first, having had both a mother and grandmother with artistic bents, and an oil set of her own when only eight or nine years old,” stated the article. “Mr. Gauss began with pencil sketching and was gradually drawn into painting with oils about three years ago.”
An exhibit of selected paintings by Mr. and Mrs. Gauss is planned for the spring of 2021 in the museum.
Another article in the Winter Quarterly was done in 1995 by the late Beryl Cleary, former staff nurse and nursing instructor at the Robert Packer Hospital. She outlines the history of the infamous Spanish Flu Epidemic which came in three waves over a period of twelve month in 1918-19.
“The State Health Department warned that should the disease became unduly prevalent in the community all places where person congregate in numbers should be closed,” stated Mrs. Cleary. “The Towanda Board of Health closed all public places of amusement, all churches, public and private schools, and Sunday schools. Also closed were theaters, picture shows, saloons, pool rooms and dance hall until further notice. Sayre did the same.”
On Sunday, May 28, 1939, the newly christened John Wilkes Express Train, streamlined in the Sayre Shops with all the latest in travel comforts, was opened for inspection in Sayre.
“Through the eight remodeled cars, sparkling with the latest in decorating ideas from thistle paint to air conditioning, a steady stream of Valley residents filed, and a platform had been constructed so those who wished could get a close-up view of the engineer’s cab in the snub-nosed locomotive that rivals the most modern streamlined engines on the rails today,” stated the May 29, 1939 Sayre Evening Times. Two photographs of the historic occasion from the Joseph Mullen Collection are included with the article.
Another of the articles looks back at the life of a Sayre man who served as Bradford County treasurer in the 1930’s and was a veteran newspaper man for many years. Joseph H. Murrelle was born in Georgia but moved to Pennsylvania when he was 11. He was founder of the Valley Record newspaper which was published between 1905 and 1907. The Murrelle family had previously donated several bound volumes of the newspaper to the Sayre Historical Society and the museum association, under volunteer James Nobles, is in the process of digitizing the volumes to share with the public.
The final story details efforts in the early 1900’s to drain two ponds in Sayre outlined in a letter from Valley surveyor Nathaniel F. Walker. In the 1904 letter to William T. Goodnow, president of the Sayre Land Company, Walker explains how the ponds might be drained. Two historic photographs in the Quarterly show views of the “Packer Pond.”
The Sayre Historical Society is a non-profit historic preservation organization staffed entirely by volunteers. The membership-supported organization receives funding from the United Way of Bradford County and the Bradford County Tourism Promotion Agency.
Sayre museum announces 2021 event schedule
SAYRE – The Sayre Historical Society has a full season of activities planned for 2021 including two new rotating exhibits and the return of several popular events.
CAPTION: A rotating exhibit on businesses in Sayre, including Stein’s Men’s Store on Desmond Street shown above in 1965, will be featured in 2021 at the Sayre Historical Society. Pictured from left are: Fred Baglini, Sam Stein and Bernard Pietro. (Ruth Schwartz collection)
The museum will re-open for the new season on Saturday, May 1st with a display in the Rotating Exhibit Room on “Downtown: A History of Sayre’s Business Community.” The exhibit will feature an overview of some of the many businesses that have called Sayre home including Jump’s Pharmacy, Bolich Hardware, Paluzzi’s Toggery, the Market Basket and the Victorian Dandy Mini-Mart. The exhibit will run until September.
On Saturday, August 7th, the museum will welcome back Antique Appraisal Day along with Trunk Auction. Last year’s inaugural effort was well-received with Barbara Kotasek of the Owego Emporium providing unofficial appraisals and tips on preserving antiques.
In June, the museum will host Railroad Heritage Day on June 26th. A guest speaker and special exhibits will be featured at this event.
History Under the Stars will return in September with a new date scheduled for September 11th and an evening of entertainment being planned.
In October, the historical society will host the second History Trivia Event on Sunday, October 10th.
Model Train Day returns on Saturday, November 27th. This popular event centering on model trains this past year featured a Lionel train exhibit, railroadiana vendors and a special display.
The museum will close for the 2021 season on Wednesday, December 23.
The Sayre Historical Society is a member-supported non-profit supported entirely by volunteers. It receives funding from the Bradford County United Way and the Bradford County Tourism Promotion Agency.
Volunteer opportunities are available ranging from event preparation, groundskeeping, tours, research and collections. Contact the museum at email@example.com for more information.
Early Recollections of the Church of the Redeemer
Volume 1, Number 1
By Louise Bishop Kennedy
When I first went to Sunday School, we did not have a beautiful church building like this, but we did have a lovely little frame chapel which stood where the Town Hall is now located. Mr. Robert Packer, the superintendent of the Lehigh Valley Railroad, was the founder of Sayre, and built his fine home, now known as the old part of the hospital. The next thing he built was the chapel, which though small was complete, and fitted with a suitable altar, lectern, font, etc. There were not many families in Sayre in those early days, so it was large enough for all, and as it was the only place of worship for a number of years, people of different denominations attended service.
The first organist was Mrs. Holly Thomas, whose fine old farm house was on the east side of the track. Mrs. Packer and my mother sand in the choir and Mrs. Percy Lang was one of the quartette. I don’t remember the fourth member.
Now I want to tell you about some of the good times we used to have in Sunday School. Mr. Packer was a devoted churchman, and he was also very fond of children and at Christmas time always planned a treat for the children. For two weeks before Christmas, we children would go to the chapel after school and rehearse the Christmas carols. Our rector then, Mr. Morrow, was a fine musician, as is our present rector, Mr. Walter, so were well drilled on the carols.
During the evenings of those weeks before Christmas, my father and mother, and other older people of the congregation gathered together to wind evergreens to decorate the chapel. Mr. Packer would have loads of ground pine and other evergreens sent to work on, and we children thought it great fun to help by bunching the evergreens and handing to them, and playing around during the evenings. Then on Christmas Eve there was always the big tree beautifully decorated and every child was given a bag of candy, an orange and a gift.
One year, I remember, the Christmas Eve celebration was different. It was in 1881 and the present railroad station had just been completed, so that year the tree was set up on the second floor of the new depot. We gathered at the chapel and marched to the depot and upstairs there was the tree twinkling with candles and gifts. We sang carols and had our service, and then a good play time.
It was not only at Christmas that Mr. Packer thought of the children. For the Fourth of July, he would order a big supply of fireworks, and children and their parents would be invited to gather on the sloping lawn in front of the Packer residence, now the hospital. Then two or three of them, of whom my father was always one, would set off the rockets, red lights, etc.
After a number of years, the congregation grew, with the growth of the town. The building became crowded and they enlarged the chapel by cutting it in two in the middle – moving back the part with the latter and then building a new part in the center.
Another thought that comes to me was about the bell. After the chapel was enlarged, it was decided that we must have a bell for the belfry of the chapel. So the Sunday School children all helped earn money to buy one. I was treasurer of the fund, and was so happy when at last we had enough to buy the bell, and the money was handed over to the church treasurer. Bishop Howe was our dear old Bishop at that time, and for a few years he came for confirmation service, but he became too feeble to travel and had an assistant, Bishop Rulison, who confirmed me. To honor Bishop Howe, a tree was planted in the park, and I hope some time it will be marked so all may know for whom it was planted.
Later, Rev. Dr. Leighton Coleman, and his wife, who was a DuPont of Wilmington, Del., came to Sayre at the request of Mrs. Cummings, formerly Miss Mary Packer, to erect a more suitable church building. Dr. Coleman took a great part in civic affairs, as well as creating great interest in the church. He was elected a school director and offered prizes for excellence in certain subjects. He at once began the work the work of getting the new church building started and consulted with architects and Mrs. Cummings, and was here when the cornerstone was laid. He was then called to the Bishopric of Delaware and had to leave at once. So the Rev. Mr. Carr was called to our parish, and was rector just 50 years ago when the church was consecrated, but Bishop Coleman came back to preach the sermon. My mother played the organ part of the time in the chapel, and was organist when we moved to the new church. Later I was organist for six years. After we moved to the new church, the chapel was used as a parish house, and many entertainments, plays, etc. were given there.
When the services were first held in the little chapel, there were few houses as yet in Sayre. There were fields all around. The Heister Piollet house was one of the first and it was here that Bishop Coleman lived while in Sayre. The park was planned but not laid out; it was nothing but a field and there were paths around it. From my father’s house on the corner of Park Place, there were no buildings in view in the direction of the church until one reached the Hayden property, except the small shanties located where the superintendent of shops now resides. The men who occupied these small houses worked in the brick yard which was located on what is now the far end of the Coleman Memorial Field.