History of the Society

May 09, 2013 at 10:31 AM

History of the Society 1982-2023

The DuBois Area Historical Society Inc., traces its beginnings to Feb. 6, 1982.

On that date in 1982, Evo Facchine, president of the DuBois Chamber of Commerce, made an announcement at a Chamber event proposing the founding of a historical society

The DuBois Area Historical Society’s first contact with the public came during an inaugural banquet, Thursday, Sept. 16, 1982, at the DuBois Country Club. The banquet was held as one of the events during the third Tom Mix Festival. A committee of Dr. John Furlow, DuBois Campus of Penn State University; Dr. Louis Barsi, DuBois Campus of Penn State University; Marilyn Scherer, DuBois Mansion Society; and Facchine were the leaders of the organization drive.

A week later, an organizational meeting was held at the DuBois Chamber of Commerce office. This meeting led to the election of Furlow as president, Sam King as vice president, Lois Pegg as secretary, and Facchine as treasurer.

The Society’s constitution established its service area as the same as that of the DuBois Area School District. The new organization set its reason for existing was to “promote the study, preservation and appreciation of history, especially of the local area.”

Dues were modest. The hope was to have everyone be able to join in what would be the preserving of their own history. The membership fees continue to be affordable to continue this tradition. Businesses were also offered the opportunity to join at a separate rate.

Hampered by the lack of a building, the Society collected items, many of which were stored for several years under the swimming pool at DuBois Area High School or in member homes. Furlow and the Society’s second president, the late Dr. George Nye, started regular meetings and activities. This included an area history speaker series hosted at various sites including the DuBois Campus of Penn State, the DuBois Public Library, DuBois Area High School, and several churches including the Church of Our Savior and the Presbyterian Church.

During the three years served by the Society’s third president the late Shirley Clark, a first home was found. The Society moved into a large third floor room above Joe’s Tux Shop on West Long Avenue. Display cases were purchased and for the first time the Society could display its collection and had a place to hold meetings. The Society also started its genealogy component under the leadership of Clark.

Eventually, the rent became unaffordable and the collection was boxed again and moved to a storage room on Brady Street and the Society under presidents Tom Schott, Virginia Schott, and Mike Mowrey became vagabonds again meeting at the DuBois Public Library and DuBois High School. All of that changed under the Society’s next president, the late E.D. Reitz. At the 1993 annual dinner, Reitz announced that S & T Bank had accepted the Society’s bid to purchase the property at 30 West Long Ave. He also announced the appointing of Nye as the chair of the property committee.

With the acquisition of the property, the Society’s constitution was revised, adding additional people to the executive committee. 30 West Long Ave. was occupied in July 1994 and held an official opening in September 1994. The adjoining Lowe Building was acquired several years later.

Reitz served several terms as president, 1993-97 and 1998-99. The late Robert DuBois filled in as president in 1997-98. The completion of the DuBois Area Historical Society’s expansion came under the presidency of Audrey Lott, who served from 1999-2002. The other adjoining property, the Shively Jewelry store became available and was purchased in 1999. The building is the home to the Society’s genealogical research library. The three separate buildings became one with the cutting of doorways through the brick walls that separated them.

The Society came full cycle in 2003 with Evo Facchine, being elected president. He went on to become the longest serving president in Society history, serving through December 2011.

Facchine constructed the veterans room and the gallery area in the museum; oversaw the revision of the Society’s Constitution; encouraged the forming of committees; oversaw the completion of several books; reinstated the Society’s newsletter; initiated the “Looking Back” column that appears in The Courier-Express; and suggested the publication of a calendar as a fund raiser, a project now in its 6th year. The Spirit of DuBois Lantern Walk, now in its 5th year also started during Facchine’s multiple terms.

The Society’s 30th year opened with a new president, Ruth Gregori. The anniversary year featured some much needed electrical rewiring in all three museum buildings and replacing the museum’s awning and outside sign.

Hallstrom-Clark, Inc. of DuBois was the contractor for the first phase of the rewiring project with IBEW Local No. 5 Apprenticeship Program providing free labor as part of their community service offering. The first phase of the electrical upgrades provided by Hallstrom-Clark Electric of DuBois and the IBEW Local No.5 began on May 19, 2012 when new energy efficient lighting and new electrical wiring were installed in the downstairs areas.

2013 was a busy and successful year for the DuBois Area Historical Society, including record attendance at several events. Physically, several building improvements were completed. On Saturday June 8, the final phase of the electrical upgrades to the Society were completed. Again, Hallstrom-Clark, Inc. of DuBois was the contractor for the project with IBEW Local No. 5 Apprenticeship Program providing free labor as part of their community service offering. The 2013 projects included new energy efficient lighting installed in the garage area, the upstairs rooms and in the display windows of the George Nye Annex. Additional outside lighting was installed to ensure the safety of volunteers and visitors.

New carpeting was also installed in the front two rooms of the E. D. Reitz Museum. A major cleanout and clean up of the garage area, which features the Society’s fire equipment displays, was also completed in September.

Records were set at a number of the 2013 activities, starting in March with a record 88 members and guests attending the Society’s 2013 Spring Luncheon at the DuBois Senior Center. The crowd experienced an educational and entertaining program, “Women’s Contributions to Local History” staged in honor of Women’s History Month. The program featured live performances of women who were prominent in DuBois or Clearfield County history.

One month later, Helvetia boomed again when a record 90 plus people turned out for the DuBois Area Historical Society’s 5th Annual Spring Walk. Arriving in everything from ATVs to SUVs, they gathered at the old company store, one of the few remaining buildings from Helvetia’s days as the largest coal mine in Pennsylvania and were led on the walk by Bill Allenbaugh, a native “Helvetian,” relating stories of growing up in Helvetia in the 1950s, the operation of the mines, the differences between “uptown” and “downtown” Helvetia, and the community’s major recreational activity, baseball.

The attendance records continued to fall as the seasons changed. In October, the 6th Annual DuBois Area Historical Society Spirit of DuBois Lantern Walk became the most successful event in Society history. Thanks to outstanding support by the DuBois Fire Departments, 11 walks were completed, taking 352 people back to the Great Fire of 1888. The previous attendance mark was 175, the first year of the activity. HangHood Productions was contracted to film the event resulting in the Society’s first professional DVD.

Although not a record another 64 people attended the Society’s 31st Annual Dinner in September. Paul Sekula of Sekula Signs, DuBois, entertained and educated with a power-Point presentation “The History of Signs.” The event included the Society’s annual meeting resulting in the election of current President Ruth Gregori to a second term.

The year concluded with a sell out of the Society produced 2014 calendar featuring “Things That Aren’t There Anymore.”

 The success of the DuBois Area Historical Society’s programs continued to grow in 2014. Seven speaker/activity programs were scheduled throughout the year with 586 people attending.

The 7th Annual Spirit of DuBois Lantern Walk attracted 258 people, placing it second in attendance among the walks. The program focused on the 100th anniversary of DuBois voting to become a city and featured 10 stops, one for each of the city’s decades.

The 33rd Annual Dinner in September set an attendance record with 112 people packing the multi-purpose room at Christ Lutheran Church on Sunflower Drive. At the dinner, the Society presented its first Champion of History Award to Dr. Jeffrey Rice for extraordinary efforts in historic preservation. The Society established this award to recognize individuals, groups, or organizations who have contributed to the goals of the purpose of the DuBois Area Historical Society as described in the Society’s mission statement: “To promote the study, preservation, and appreciation of history”.

Dee Matthews was the guest speaker for the dinner. Her presentation, “Rooted and Grounded – Bridges Crossed: Unfiltered, Straight, No Chasers,” concentrated on her love of DuBois, the community where she grew up, experiencing it from the viewpoint of one of the first black families in DuBois.

Soldier was the location of the 6th Annual Spring Walk. Forty people took advantage of what was rapidly becoming a reunion event for these communities.

Eighty people turned out for the 8th Annual Spring Luncheon. Held during Women’s History Month, Karen Aravich, U. S. Air Force retired, was the main speaker. Musical entertainment and presentations about other women veterans completed the program.

The attendance at the final program of 2014 in November was large enough to force its relocation. Chris Knarr, retired United States Marine and current Stat MedEvac pilot, drew a crowd large enough to force his program from the Society’s museum to a different location. When a crowd of over 40 people arrived for Knarr’s talk, and the meeting room became a quite cramped, an offer was made to transfer the program to Abba’s Coffee House, directly across Long Ave. Both the speaker and his audience, which included many veterans, moved to that location. Knarr’s program focused on his time as a pilot on Marine 1 used to transport the President of the United States.

A successful rummage sale, coordinated by new board member Kathleen Clement, was held in July. Kohlhepp’s True Value Hardware provided tents and its parking lot to the Society for the day. The sale not only provided money for Society programs, but also helped to clean many unusable and unwanted items from the buildings, creating more storage space.

At the E. D. Reitz Museum, improvements continued to be made. With the completion of the electrical wiring project, volunteers installed a drop ceiling in one of the rooms of the George Nye Annex, and the furnace in that room was enclosed.

On June 16, WJAC-TV from Johnstown as part of the stations “Your Town” series visited DuBois. Their news program that evening featured film of the fire equipment and photos in the E. D. Reitz Museum and an interview with Society President Ruth Gregori concerning the Great Fire of 1888.

The Downtown DuBois Revitalization Group honored the DuBois Area Historical Society as its Business of the Week, July 21-27. The designation sponsored by Stew’s Brews, recognizes a business important to downtown DuBois on a regular basis.

The Society’s E. D. Reitz Museum was featured on the annual Christmas ornament originating from the DuBois Chamber of Commerce.

The Society also suffered a loss, on May 13, Dr. John Furlow, 74, the Society’s first president died in Lancaster, Ohio.

A new event, large attendance, and continued improvements to the E. D. Reitz Museum highlighted 2015 for the DuBois Area Historical Society.

The new event was a children’s “Night at the Museum” held on a cold February night. The activity brought children, escorted by their parents/guardians, into the museum, where they took a tour and met some famous people from DuBois history. The program used some characters from previous Lantern Walks. Fifty-four people attend (half children, half adults) to get the year off to a good start.

The program proved so successful that the Society was asked to stage it again during the summer in conjunction with the Summer Reading Program of the DuBois Public Library. Forty-two children and 35 adults attended the summer “Night at the Museum”.

The spring luncheon held at Christ Lutheran Church featured Kristine Gasbarre, nationally known author, as the guest speaker, for a “Women in the Arts” program in recognition of Women’s History Month. An additional part of the program focused on three DuBois natives who found success in the arts – Selma (Bojalad) Ajami performed by Nikki Cherry; Ann McCrea performed by Ashley Simpson-Neiger; and Esther Hawkins performed by Sharon Folmar. Attendance was a new record 92.

2015’s 7th Annual Spring Walk was held in Luthersburg and focused on the history of the community and a walk through Luthersburg Union Cemetery. Fifty-three people attend the program featuring presentations by Gary Gilmore, John Hayes, Dave Hayes, Larry Fulton, and Emma Miller.

Clarence Krach was the guest speaker in April. Forty-one people turned out to hear his program about DuBois aviation history.

September featured the Society’s 33rd Annual Dinner, which attracted a record attendance of 114 people to Christ Lutheran Church. Society historian Todd Thompson presented the program about Tom Mix, marking the 75th anniversary of his death. Society President Ruth Gregori presented the Society’s Champion of History Award to the Paul G. and Dorothy F. Reitz Charitable Trust for is long-time financial support of the Society. Nancy Micks accepted the award on behalf of her family. Elections were held during the annual meeting in conjunction with the dinner. Elected to two-year terms were: Ruth Gregori, president; Carol Laughlin, 1st vice president; Tom Rubritz, director of building and property; Carolyn Rhoades, director of youth; Todd Thompson, director of history; Todd Shindledecker, assistant director of museum and curator; Paul Bojalad, City of DuBois representative; Galen Kilmer, Sandy Township representative; Nancy Rosman, Winslow Township representative; and Carolyn Fridley, Union Township representative.

The 8th Annual Spirit of DuBois Lantern Walk attracted its second highest attendance with 300 people taking a walk originating at Penn Highlands DuBois through Rumbarger Cemetery. They met 10 spirits, who provided historical information about themselves and DuBois history.

The speaker programs concluded in November with World War II U. S. Navy veteran Emory Miller talking about his time in the Pacific Theater. Thirty-three people attended the presentation.

The nine programs presented by the Society attracted an attendance of 764.

During the year the Society also participated in the Downtown Art Walk and the Halloween Scavenger Hunt sponsored by the DuBois YMCA.

Several improvements were made to the museum:

•Carpeting was replaced in the sports portion of the museum.

•Painting was completed inside the garage and outside the building, some of it by Penn State DuBois students during its Community Outreach Day.

•Dryvit product was installed on the upper part of the George Nye Annex of the museum to repair loose masonry.

•Paving was completed at back of the museum to provide better parking and to repair some leaks into the museum.

Mary Glenn, who willed her collection of Alaskan art, provided an interesting addition to the museum collection.

2016 was another productive and successful year for the DuBois Area Historical Society.

For a second consecutive February, the DuBois Area Historical Society’s E. D. Reitz Museum came alive, at least for one evening. The Society’s “Night at the Museum,” targeted at children from kindergarten through fifth grade, featured a walk through the museum’s many rooms where costumed characters waited to speak with them about events in DuBois’ past. The activity attracted 19 children along with an identical number of adult escorts.

The theme for 2016 Night at the Museum focused on working and work experiences throughout DuBois’ history. The program featured:  Donna Chollock as the early-20th Century French governess to the children of John E. DuBois; Tom Shade as DuBois Brewery founder Frank Hahne; Hannah Thompson as a young girl waiting to buy spaghetti from local entrepreneur Mrs. Suplizio; Nancy Rosman as a 1970s Montgomery Ward sales clerk; Jean Hayes (as her younger self Jean Richards) recalling a fire at the Scribner Avenue School; and Carolyn Rhoades as a switchboard operator.

Thirty-two people attended the 9th Annual Spring Lunch held at Christ Lutheran Church during Women’s History Month. Amy Kessler, DuBois Area High School’s all-time leading scorer in basketball, was the guest speaker. She related her experiences as the first generation of women to be influenced by Title IX requirements, leading her to a college athletic scholarship.

Thirty-two people attended a presentation in April by 88-year-old Don Bailey. Bailey related how he started driving racing cars in local jalopy races, two years after he graduated with the DuBois High School Class of 1945. By 1950, Bailey had moved on to stock-car racing participating in races twice a week. At the end of the 1951 season he was ranked among the top 100 drives and he was invited to participate in a 100-mile national championship. The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) was founded in 1948. Bailey joined the circuit and competed until 1958. He raced against the top drivers of his time period including Lee Petty, father of Richard Petty. His best season was 1952 when he finished fourth in the nation among 1,100 drivers.

Sabula residents Pam Kirk and Anju Jolly led thirty-five people on a tour of one of the most historic sites in the DuBois area, Sabula, during the 8th Annual Spring Walk in May.  The walk started at the breast of the dam on the eastern side of the continental divide, with stories about early visitors to the area, included information on Sabula Lake as the holding location for John E. DuBois’ lumbering operations, and the adjacent Pennsylvania Railroad tunnel. The tour included the residential community on the shore of the lake. Originally constructed as summer cottages in a resort setting, the simple homes have all been expanded. Highlights were given of the original owners names such as DuBois, Moore, Osborn, Hibner, and Gray to today’s occupants.

Following a long tradition, the E. D. Reitz Museum was open for the Festival of the Arts. Students from the DuBois Business College offered art instruction to visitors.

September was an eventful month opening with 68 members and guests attending the Society’s 34th Annual Dinner on September 15 at Christ Lutheran Church. Jack Green of DuBois was the guest speaker and talked about “My Life With the Peace Corps”. Green served in the Peace Corps in the Philippines from June 1962 until June 1964 spending most of that time teaching English as a second language.

A second DuBois native, Joe Vesnesky, was a special guest for the dinner. He presented a jacket from the 1951 Pennsylvania Champion VFW Teener League championship team to be displayed at the E. D. Reitz Museum. He also donated a program from a Pittsburgh Pirate-San Francisco Giants game autographed by Jim Duffalo. Duffalo was a pitcher for the 1951 championship team, who went on to a major league career with San Francisco and Cincinnati.

During the business meeting the 2017 tentative budget was approved and the following elected to two year terms:  Tom Schott, second vice president; Gene Aravich, secretary; Jerry Watson, treasurer; Barbara Emmer, director of genealogy; Nancy Rosman, Winslow Township representative; Ken Wiser, Falls Creek representative; Jean Hayes, Bloom/Brady Township representative; Robin Powers, Huston Township representative; and Mary Reilly, Treasure Lake representative.

Teams from the Fireball Run stopped at the DuBois Area Historical Society on September 25. Fireball Run is a 26 episode adventure-travel series chronicling the real journey of 40 driving teams, known as Fireballers, as they explore America’s roads less traveled in search of rare, epic and historical artifacts. The 2016 Fireball Run is an eight day road rally traveling over 2,000 miles throughout New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut and Massachusetts. When they arrive at the destination, the teams are allowed a two-hour time frame to enter. Ten different teams arrived at the Historical Society. Each was photographed with the mission specialist while holding a WWII rifle or touching the historical flag from the Invasion of Okinawa.

The Society lost another of its past presidents with the death of Evo G. Facchine, 84, on September 26. Facchine’s initial connections to the Society came during his time as president of the DuBois Area Chamber of Commerce. On Feb. 2, 1982, the executive committee of the Chamber passed a resolution to form a historical society in DuBois. Four nights later, Feb. 6, Facchine announced three new projects, one of those being a historical society at the Chamber’s annual dinner. Two days later, Feb. 8, the Chamber passed a motion to form a DuBois Area Historical Society. An inaugural banquet for the new DuBois Area Historical Society was held on Sept. 16, 1982, with Facchine as the initial speaker for the evening. Facchine joined the Society’s first executive board, serving as treasurer.    

After completing his term, Facchine moved on to other duties and other projects, while keeping an eye on the organization and participating in some activities of the Society. The fire to participate in the organization burned again in 2003 when he was elected president of the Society. He was reelected to the post several times, completing his last term in 2011, becoming the longest serving president in Society history.

A successful 9th Annual Spirit of DuBois Lantern Walk on October 8 concluded the activities for the year. Two hundred and ninety-four people, the third highest attendance ever, participated in the walk. It was the fourth straight year that attendance topped 250.

“Our Spirit Came by Train” was the theme for the 9th annual walk.  Ten tour groups took the walk, where they met costumed performers who related some of DuBois’ history involved with the railroad stations. Those taking the walk met with a mix of real and composite characters. They included:  Buffalo Bill (William F. Cody) played by Darius Clement; Chief Iron Tail played by Beecher Klingensmith; a young Johnny Jones Circus fan played by Hannah Thompson; radio personality Charlie Moore played by Tharran Thompson; a Juniata Railroad worker played by Tom Shade, who demonstrated the use of a logging tool known as a cant; Dr. Betty Hayes played by Nancy Rosman; U. S. Secret Service agent Floyd Boring played by Dave Clark; Pittsburgh Pirate Hall of Fame member Honus Wagner played by Levi Thompson; and Gordy the Groundhog played by Caleb Thompson.

With thirty-five years behind it, the DuBois Area Historical Society is looking forward to a bright future continuing to serve the people of the DuBois area.

The DuBois Area Historical Society’s 35th year, 2017, proved to be eventful and busy, with new programs, attended by over 400 people, the honoring of its own past, and improvements for the future.

The DuBois Area Historical Society opened its 2017 activities with its Third Annual Night at the Museum for children from kindergarten through fifth grade on Thursday, February 23. A dozen children, accompanied by eight parents or guardians enjoyed the event. The program is designed with younger people in mind to introduce them to local history.

This year’s event featured some hands-on contact with the collection in the E. D. Reitz Museum. The children and their family were introduced to the following items:  DuBois scrip (money used at the company store) presented by Barbara Emmer; a gas heated curling iron presented by Virginia Schott; legal/notary seals (used to mark official documents) by Carolyn Rhoades; ice tongs presented by Galen Kilmer; and cameras presented by Tom Schott. The uses were explained and in most cases could be handled by the children. Paul Bojalad and Todd Thompson led the groups through the museum.

Fifty-four members and guests attended the 10th Annual DuBois Area Historical Society luncheon held at Christ Lutheran Church, DuBois. Surrounded by pieces of her own artwork and a restoration she had completed, Marianne Fyda explained her attraction to and career in art as the guest speaker. One of her art skills is restoration of old and damaged paintings. A finished product was on display at the luncheon, a century old painting of city namesake John DuBois, which Fyda restored for the DuBois Area Historical Society.

Comparisons and contrasts from two historic events – the telegraph and the internet – came into focus in the power-point presentation “Victorian Internet” presented by Dick Castonguay at the April 19 meeting of the DuBois Area Historical Society. Castonguay traced how the development of the electric telegraph was as world changing as the more recent development of the Internet. The telegraph’s rapid development took place during the 1837-1901 reign of England’s Queen Victoria.

A rainy May 13 morning gave way to clearing just in time for 24 people to walk the CCC Trail at Parker Dam State Park during the DuBois Area Historical Society’s 10th Annual Spring Walk. Carey Huber and Eric Rensel from Parker Dam State Park led the walk from Tyler Road to Mud Run Road following the path members of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) used in 1934-35 during construction of parts of Parker Dam State Park.

On June 3, The DuBois Area Historical Society hosted a book-signing event by author and genealogist Sandra Kring Leonard, and hosted some local artists as part of the annual Art Walk on the Block event in DuBois.  Leonard’s latest book is “From Bavaria to Brady – The George “Philip” Swope Family.”

A highlight of the year came on August 4-5, when the DuBois Area Historical Society hosted the Buffalo & Susquehanna Railroad Symposium, at the Clarion Inn. Eighty-three people attended the symposium to remember and learn more about the B & S.

The Buffalo & Susquehanna Railroad was a regional railway incorporated in 1891. DuBois was to become a major industrial center on the B & S. In addition to the three railroad tunnels near the city, the railroad had a combined passenger and freight station, engine house, coaling trestle and repair facilities near the present day Social Security office and Martin’s Plaza. The track into Domtar on Shaffer Road is the last operating segment of what was once an enormous railroad industrial empire.

Symposium topics and presenters included:  The Goodyear Empire by Michael J. Connor; Engineering of the Southern Extension:  Hicks Run, Dents Run, Weedville, DuBois by Nick Puzak; South for Coal:  Cascade Coal & Coke Company by Richard Castonguay; Locomotive Rolling Stock and Operations by Mike Schleigh; Medix Run Lumber/Railroad by Gary Gilmore; Railroad Family History by Laura Lynn Yohe; B & S Out of DuBois by Nick Puzak; B & S/PS & N Interface by Ken Clark; Buffalo Extension by Mark Metz and Michael J. Connor; B & S Corporate Evolution by Michael J. Connor; Rise and Fall of the WAG by Mike Schleigh; B & S Disposition by Mark Metz; Goodyear Family: Second Generation by Laura Lynn Yohe; Potato Creek Railroad, Norwich Lumber Company, Great Southern Lumber Company, Bogalusa, LA Paper Company by Mark Metz.

Richard Castonguay provided introductions both days of the symposium. DuBois Area Historical Society President Ruth Gregori provided the concluding remarks.

Later that month, August 18, The DuBois Area Historical Society’s E. D. Reitz Museum was a destination on Penn State DuBois’ Community Outreach Day. Incoming freshmen along with faculty and staff group leaders participate in the event, which is a part of new student orientation. Once at the Society, they were given a brief presentation on DuBois history and its links to the Penn State DuBois campus; and a presentation on the value of volunteering in the community. After that they broke into smaller groups and provided volunteer help on a number of projects including:  painting, general cleaning both indoors and outdoors, and folding and labeling the Society’s newsletter for mailing.

September 14 marked another big event, the 35th Annual Dinner of the DuBois Area Historical Society at Christ Lutheran Church, DuBois, with 79 people in attendance.

Ruth Gregori, Society president, announced that the Society’s executive council had voted unanimously to name the veteran’s room in the E. D. Reitz Museum in honor of the late Evo Facchine. Facchine, the Society’s longest serving president, was the driving force behind establishing a section of the museum to honor veterans. A plaque will be placed in the room reading:  “Evo G. Facchine Veterans’ Room for his dedication to veterans and to the DuBois Area Historical Society.”

During the brief business meeting Gregori was elected to another two-year term as president. Also elected to two-year terms were:  Carol Laughlin, 1st vice president; Richard Castonguay, director of buildings and grounds; Carolyn Rhoades, director of youth; Todd Thompson, director of history; Walter Kosiba, assistant director of museum/curator; Paul Bojalad, area representative City of DuBois; Galen Kilmer, area representative Sandy Township; and Nancy Rosman, area representative Winslow Township.

The program was “An Evening With Melville Post.” Todd Thompson presented background information on Melville Davisson Post (1869-1930), a famous mystery writer. He was married to Ann Bloomfield Gamble, who was the sister of Willie Gamble DuBois, wife of John E. DuBois. Because of the relationship with the DuBois family, Post spent a great deal of time visiting in the DuBois Mansion. During those visits to DuBois, he wrote many of the stories for which he would become famous. Many of Post’s stories focused on the character of Uncle Abner, a lawman in the hills of ante-bellum western Virginia (modern day West Virginia).

Post’s most famous story “The Doomdorf Mystery,” first published in 1914, was read in old style radio format. In the story Uncle Abner solved a locked room crime. Performing the story were Darius Clement as Uncle Abner, Beecher Klingensmith as Squire Randolph, Carolyn Rhoades as the woman, and Tom Schott as Bronson, with Robin Powers doing the narration.

Those attending the dinner including two travelers from Wisconsin, who learned about the dinner at the Society’s website and made it a stop on a trip to visit relatives in New Jersey.

Another ideal evening greeted those who attended the DuBois Area Historical Society’s 10th Annual Spirit of DuBois Lantern Walk on October 7. Two hundred and eighty-five people took the tour exploring “Life With the DuBois Family”.

Joelle Watt was recognized as the 2,000th person to go on the Spirit of DuBois Lantern Walk during its 10 years of operation. She received a gift card from the historical society. The 285 participants were the fourth highest total in the walk’s history and marked the fifth consecutive year attendance has topped 250.  A total of 2,257 have attended the event to date.

This year they walked the original property of John DuBois, the City of DuBois’ namesake, which his descendants donated to Penn State University in 1938 to establish the local campus. The perspective came from a different group, the servants and the children who grew up there. The tour included the Symmco House, also built by the DuBois family, and their home after they donated their original property and mansion to Penn State.

Performing were:  Darius Clement as butler Florentine Boulard, Nancy Rosman as servant and seamstress Mary Lee, Carolyn Rhoades as cook Annie Maloney, Sue Stapleton as nanny Martha Frog, Beecher Klingensmith as doorman Lewis Lee, Donna Chollock as housekeeper Catherine Moor, Colin Micknis as Poncho the DuBois family dog, and Tom Shade as coachman Edwin Mix. Robin Powers had the role of Willie Gamble DuBois. The DuBois children were performed by Caleb Thompson as John Jr., Levi Thompson as Louis, Hannah Thompson as Caroline, Ella Chirico as Sarah, and Ruben and Simeon Chirico, sharing the role of David. The script was written and researched by Gene Aravich, Tom Schott, Virginia Schott, and Todd Thompson.

Leading the tours were Paul Bojalad, Galen Kilmer, Ginny Schott, Tom Schott, and Todd Thompson. Gene Aravich, Richard Castonguay, Leah Crosley, Jeanne Hayes, and Jerry Watson accompanied the tours. Cookies made by members of the Society, donuts donated by Scotty’s Donuts, and beverages were provided at the end of the tour.

Another new program started in October under the supervision of Barb Emmer, director of genealogy. Two genealogy workshops were held, one in October and one in December, attracting nearly 20 people for each. The first program focused on beginning genealogy and Sue Shick from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was the guest speaker in December.

November and December brought both personal and physical problems. Gene Samanka was the scheduled November speaker on his career in the U. S. Army. During his presentation, became ill and could not finish.

Also in November a major leak led to damage in the main section of the E. D. Reitz Museum. An immediate replacement of the roofs of all three buildings followed at a cost of over $35,000. Due to frugal fiscal management by the Society’s past and present executive council, money was available to complete the project. The roof issue came at a time that the Society was investigated the possibility of purchasing the former Rossi Jewelry Store building as an expansion location. A special meeting determined that only the roof project could be afforded at that time.

Shortly after the roof problem, the furnace in the main area of the E. D. Reitz Museum quit. No further repairs could be made on the furnace, leaving that expense looming as 2018 approached.

Elsewhere in the continuing effort to upgrade and maintain the museum, new flooring was installed in two rooms of the George Nye Anne. The flooring was purchased using a grant from the Gray Family Foundation. Tom Rubritz, director of buildings and grounds, Todd Thompson, George Reilly and several others assisted with the project.

2018 dawned on a cold note for the DuBois Area Historical Society. Following immediately upon the need to replace roofs on all three of the museum buildings at the end of 2017, the furnace in the E. D. Reitz Museum quit. Tapping the dwindling reserves again, the executive council, found $8,000 to get the heat back on. Warmth was restored on January 23 at 5:30 a.m. The early hour was needed because a crane had to be used to remove the old unit and place the new one on the roof.

Two other improvement projects were also completed during January. A new computer system, approved and paid for prior to both the roof and furnace problems, was installed in the museum. The system modernized the outdated system and computers being used. The new setup included four new, networked computers with an external hard drive backup system, intended to prevent the loss of any records and information maintained by the Society. Later in the year the software program PastPerfect was added. PastPerfect is used to curate items on display in the collection of the Society. It is used by over 10,000 museums to manage collections and is capable of holding over one million catalog records.

Also, new shelving was added to store large books and maps. The Clearfield County Charitable Foundation awarded the Society $400 for the material to build the oak shelving. Assistant curator Walter Kosiba completed the construction.

Following the cold start to the year, the year got rolling with the 11th Annual Luncheon, held at Christ Lutheran Church. Cheryl Shenkle was the guest speaker focusing on “Monarchs 2018, What to Expect and How to Help,” part of her efforts to raise and release monarch butterflies. Fifty-four members and guests attended the luncheon.

The origins and work of long-time DuBois business PACE Precision was the topic of the Society’s April program. Clyde Ott of DuBois, founder of the company, spoke and explained the history and products produced by PACE Precision. April also saw the annual “Dining for a Cause” at Luigi’s Ristorante in DuBois. The daylong event brought the Society $350.10.

“The Hill” was the site of the 11th Annual Spring Walk in May with Ginny Schott, who grew up on “The Hill”, leading 30 participants on the walk through the neighborhood often referred to as Polish Hill.

June 2, the Society featured several styles of art during the annual Art Walk in downtown DuBois. At the museum children could create their own drawings to take home. In cooperation with Tri-County Church Downtown, the Society co-hosted a Tom Mix Film Festival featuring silent Tom Mix movies and a presentation by Liam Levinduski as Young Tom Mix.

Also in June, for the first time, the Society held a successful spaghetti benefit dinner fundraiser at Luigi’s Villa in DuBois. Other “Dining for a Cause” fundraisers were held with Ft. Worth Restaurant and Italian Oven (twice).

In July, for the first time in 36 years, the Society instituted a membership fee increase to go into effect January 1, 2019. The new rates are as follows: Life Individual, $200; Business, $100; Individual under 55, $25; Individual over 55, $15; Family, $30; Student under 18, $15; Friend Silver, $500; Friend Gold, $1,000; and Friend Platinum, $1500.

Retired Courier-Express editor Denny Bonavita was the guest speaker at the Society’s 36th Annual Dinner held at Christ Lutheran Church in September. He addressed the current topic of “fake news” drawing upon his 50-plus years of experience in the newspaper business and by tracing the relationship between United States presidents and the media.

Annual elections were held at the dinner with the following elected for two-year terms: Tom Schott, second vice president; Gene Aravich, secretary; Jerry Watson, treasurer; Barb Emmer, director of genealogy; Anne Kosiba, director of museum/curator; Robin Powers, Huston Township representative; Ken Wiser, Falls Creek representative; Jean Hayes, Bloom/Brady Townships representative; and Mary Reilly, Treasure Lake representative.

A heavy rainstorm prior to the 11th Annual Spirit of DuBois Lantern Walk failed to discourage attendance. Two hundred and seventy people eventually took one of the 12 walks leaving from the John E. DuBois Hose Company to explore the East Side. Along the way they encountered nine costumed performers, who highlighted the history of the area. They included: Beecher Klingensmith as fireman Abe Dahrouge; Tom Shade as tannery owner A. R. Van Tassel; Caleb Thompson and Levi Thompson as tannery workers; Barb Emmer as East Side resident Anna Olson, who explained the section’s Swedish heritage; Robin Powers as Aunt Mary Hamilton, first cook at the DuBois Country Club; Hannah Thompson as the Goose, representing the feathered birds from Tannery Dam; Merica Pallone as Theresa Gulvas, one of the two bank clerks present for DuBois’ first bank robbery in 1979; and Paul Sprague as banker John Q. Groves, founder of the Bucktail Council Boy Scouts of America. Several of those attending had a personal connection to the walk: Tennie Anderson and Sheila Kearney. Anderson now living in Minnesota is a granddaughter of tannery co-founder A. R. Van Tassel. Kearney is the other bank clerk present during DuBois’ first bank robbery.

The free genealogy workshops started by Barb Emmer, director of genealogy, in 2017 continued. There were four offerings: February 20, print resources in the genealogy library; April 26, local resources online presented by Barb Kopshina, librarian Penn State DuBois; June 14, online searching in old newspapers from free and fee sources presented by Emmer at the Penn State DuBois library; August 23, Linda Stahlman, retired librarian from Redbank Valley High School, presented information about her Amish/Anabaptist roots; and October 25, Ginny Schott, DuBois, presented a program about LibraryThing, a program used by the Society for cataloging, at the Penn State DuBois library.

The new year 2019 started on a good note for the DuBois Area Historical Society with the announcement that the Clearfield County Charitable Foundation had awarded the Society a $700 grant to purchase materials for new shelving for the genealogy library. In addition, David O'Donnell made a $700 matching donation toward the shelving units in honor of the Royer and O'Donnell families.

The shelves were built and were installed in December. A three-day effort completed the project. Books were removed from the old shelves, the old shelves taken out and the new units installed, concluding with the replacement of the books. Some rearranging of the room behind the library by Dick Castonguay, director of buildings and grounds, allowed for some of the old shelving units to be moved to that room and the less frequently used books of the collection moved to that location.

Another grant application did not go quite as well but resulted in outside donations that helped improve the museum. The Society applied for but was not awarded a grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission to provide heat the back rooms of the museum at 30 and 28 W. Long Ave. The Society was not selected from numerous applications, for a limited amount of money. Being sought was $7,500, requiring a local match.

A local fundraising match drive with a goal of $7,500 reached 85 percent of the total. Those generous donations allowed the smaller of the two projects in the museum at 30 W. Long Ave. to proceed as planned. Heat was installed in that portion of the building and plans were made to expand the museum into that section during 2020.

Outside the building DuBois Area Historical Society President Ruth Gregori and DuBois American Legion Montgomery Post #17 Commander Denny Knarr unveiled the new Liberty Boulevard sign in the DuBois City Park during a special ceremony on June 27.

The sign commemorates the 100th anniversary of the naming of Liberty Boulevard and honors the soldiers, sailors and marines returning from the World War of 1917-18. It also coincides with the 100th anniversary of the DuBois American Legion’s charter. The new sign was erected as a collaboration between the Society and Montgomery Post #17, who jointly financed the sign.

The sign reads: On June 6, 1919 Ordinance No. 224 was passed by DuBois City Council to rename the section of N. Brady St. from the south end of Memorial Bridge to Park Place as Liberty Boulevard in honor of the soldiers, sailors and marines who fought in the World War of 1917-1918. “Lest We Forget” Dedicated June 2019 in honor and remembrance of those who served. Sponsored by the DuBois Area Historical Society and the DuBois American Legion Post #17 Family.

A sense of attachment and admiration, tinged with emotion, touched the 63 members and guests who attended the DuBois Area Historical Society’s 12th Annual Luncheon, March 16, opening the Society’s program year. The program in honor of Women’s History Month was entitled “Letters from Grandma.” Six readers presented memories of women from the past, some of whom were early settlers.

The readings were personal and sometimes emotional for the presenters, four of whom related true stories about their own ancestors. The stories were filled with descriptions of immigration and settlement in a new land; the joys of marriage and large families; and the tragedies of life fortified with the gift of faith. Polish, Swedish, and Italian immigrants to the DuBois area were highlighted. No less moving were two additional readings relating the stories of a midwife of the 1870’s and a suffragette from the early 20th Century.

Program readers included:  Ginny Schott, sisters Jerry Watson and Margie Leonard, Dick Castonguay, Ruth Gregori, Robin Powers, and Carolyn Rhoades.

The 11th Annual Spring Walk, appropriately on May 11, featured a new/old activity. Late in 2018 board members Gene Aravich and Carolyn Rhoades undertook the task of revising the downtown DuBois self-guided walking tour brochure designed in 2011 by Anne Young and students from the DuBois Area High School Pupil Enrichment Program in collaboration with the DuBois Area Historical Society. Despite downtown DuBois’ lack of structural changes thanks to the city ordinance passed after the Great Fire of 1888, building uses had changed in the last eight years. The resulting new brochure provided an opportunity to reexamine the downtown area.

Twenty-seven people were the first to complete the newly revised walking tour featuring 21 stops at buildings or locations, where the history or significance of the stops were explained. All of the information is included in the walking tour brochure prepared by the DuBois Area Historical Society and printed with the assistance of a grant from the Clearfield County Recreation and Tourism Authority.

Art Walk on the block on June 8 was a busy day at the E. D. Reitz Museum. Many people visited the museum. Nate Horner performed outside the museum. Local artist, Cheryl Husted displayed her watercolors inside the museum. Aaron DeWyer, local artist, displayed his work and held a sketching for kids program. Viviana Forrest, local artist, also joined in the activities at the museum.

The E. D. Reitz Museum was a destination on Penn State DuBois’ Community Outreach Day on August 23. Incoming freshmen along with faculty and staff group leaders participate in the event, which is a part of new student orientation. Once at the Society, they were given a brief presentation on DuBois history and its links to the Penn State DuBois campus; and a presentation on the value of volunteering in the community. After that they broke into smaller groups and provided volunteer help on a number of projects including:  inventory of genealogy library items, moving some items from the museum into storage, and general cleaning.

The largest crowd in several years, 85 members and guests, attended the DuBois Area Historical Society’s 37thAnnual Dinner to learn new facts about Pennsylvania history and honor a distinguished member of the organization.

Society President Ruth Gregori announced that long-time member Ken Wiser had been presented with the Society’s Champion of History Award. This award is established to recognize individuals, groups, or organizations who have contributed to the goals of the purpose of the DuBois Area Historical Society as described in the Society’s mission statement:  “To promote the study, preservation, and appreciation of history. The area normally served is that area within the boundaries of the DuBois Area School District.”

The mission statement is inherent in this recognition. Wiser has been a long-time member of the Society and a member of its executive council since 2002. During this time Wiser, now a resident at Christ the King Manor, represented Falls Creek/Smithtown/ Singing Hills areas. He faithfully attended the Falls Creek School Reunions, sharing memorabilia with that group and bringing donated items by them to the society for permanent inclusion.  During Clearfield County’s bicentennial celebration, he researched and wrote historical articles for submission to The Courier Express newspaper’s special edition. These articles chronicled the area’s past to appreciate the heritage of our community. Additionally, Wiser was one of the researchers for the Society’s publication, Tom Mix: DuBois’ Nickelodeon Cowboy. His most sustaining effort has been with the weekly column entitled “Looking Back,” where for 17 continuous years Wiser pored over the microfilmed copies of 100-year-old DuBois newspapers to document important events of our past.

This the third time the Champion of History Award was presented. Previous recipients were Dr. Jeffrey Rice and the Paul G. and Dorothy F. Reitz Charitable Trust.

Al Holliday, publisher of Pennsylvania Magazine, was the guest speaker for the dinner. His topic was “25 Odd, Improbable and Fun Facts About Pennsylvania”. The questions ranged from:  what honor did William and Hannah Penn receive in 1983? Answer, honorary U. S. citizenship; to which of the Three Stooges was from Pennsylvania? Answer, Larry Fine.

During a brief business meeting the following were elected to two-year terms:  Ruth Gregori, president; Carol Laughlin, first vice president; Dick Castonguay, director of building and grounds; Carolyn Rhoades, director of youth; Todd Thompson, director of history; Paul Bojalad, City of DuBois representative; Galen Kilmer, Sandy Township representative; and Nancy Rosman, Winslow Township representative. The proposed 2020 budget was also approved.

For a 7th consecutive year the DuBois Area Historical Society’s Spirit of DuBois Lantern Walk attracted over 200 participants. The final total on a cool, fall evening of October 12 was 207.  

The walk feature three events marking a 100th anniversary in 2019:  the donation of land from John E. DuBois that became the City Park, the renaming of N. Brady Street to Liberty Boulevard, and the chartering of Montgomery Post 17 of the American Legion.

The walk featured seven characters, who were veterans of the U. S. armed forces, adding an extra layer to the American Legion anniversary and the naming of Liberty Boulevard to honor veterans who served in World War I.

Performing were:  Darius Clement as DuBois Mayor Mark Vrahas (Korean War veteran); Tom Shade as Harry “Gitch” Hoskavich (World War II), founder of DuBois Teener League Baseball; Robin Powers as nurse Elizabeth “Lizzie” McNerney, who died of the flu while in service during World War I and the namesake of the DuBois Veterans of Foreign Wars auxiliary; Sue Stapleton as nurse Lucy Osler (World War I), the first woman to be buried in the Soldiers Circle at Morningside Cemetery; Caleb Thompson as Elton J. Mansell (World War I), longtime DuBois High School principal; Levi Thompson as George Montgomery, the first officer from DuBois to die in World War I; and Paul Sprague as John Jacob Pentz (World War I), the first commander of Montgomery Post 17 of the American Legion. Completing the cast were Hannah Thompson and Ella Cherico as Friskey and Frosty, two deer housed in the City Park for many years by V. T. Smith Dairy.

Genealogy director Barb Emmer continued free genealogy programs throughout the year. Barb Kopshina, noted  area genealogist, presented a workshop on April 18. Mayflower member and expert genealogist Kathy Myers presented a program about the Mayflower Society on June 20.  Faith Jack, librarian from the Shaler Area School District and a member of both the North Hills Genealogists and the Armstrong County Historical Museum and Genealogical Society Inc., presented “What I Learned from My Mother’s Roller Skate Case” on August 15.

During the latter part of the year, the emphasis shifted to generating an interest among young people by offering introductory sessions. With the help of Society volunteers Boy Scouts in the area have been earning Genealogy badges and seniors at DuBois Central Catholic have been concentrating on family heritage.

Several restaurants aided the Society throughout the year by sponsoring “Dining for a Cause” day. Participating were Luigi’s Ristorante and Italian Oven. A spaghetti dinner fundraiser was also held.

2019 didn’t end on a bright note. Just hours after several members of the Society’s board distributed treats to children during the City of DuBois Halloween activities, an unexpected trick was played.

The high winds that struck the area caught the awning covering the front of two of the Society’s three buildings. Tearing the awning and its support framework from the building, the wind then deposited the awning on the roof of the Society’s main entrance building at 30 W. Long Ave.

On the roof, the awning became tangled with the on-roof furnace for the building ripping it from the roof, leaving a nearly five-foot long opening. The furnace was forced downward punching another hole in the roof. The gas line to the furnace was dislodged resulting in a visit from the fire department. The damage left the 30 W. Long Ave. building without heat for a day.

The furnace was only 21-months old, being installed on January 23, 2018, at a cost of $8,000. The awning was installed on the building in 2011; it’s estimated replacement cost is $11,000. There was also damage to the roof. The roofs on all three buildings were replaced in late 2017 at a cost of $35,000. Insurance is expected to cover some of the repair costs, once deductibles are paid.

Luckily, heat was able to be restored quickly along with repair to the roof, limiting any further damage. That enabled the Society to be a part of the “Elf on the Shelf” activity for young people before the end of the year.

2020 was not a highlight year for any organization, the DuBois Area Historical Society included. The COVID-19 pandemic played havoc with almost all of the scheduled activities – forcing the cancelation of the luncheon, dinner, and lantern walk.

But, lack of in person activities did not stop other things from happening for the Society. Good news arrived early in the year; insurance would cover all of the wind damage to the E. D. Reitz Museum. A check for $19,725.08 covered the expenses of all the damage including replacing the awning.

The genealogical library received a new look with the installation of new shelving. The units were constructed by Shane Frantz and financed with a donation received in memory of the Royer and O’Donnell families, and grants received from the Clearfield County Charitable Foundation and the Gray Family Foundation of DuBois. The new units extended the shelf capacity for the ever-expanding library of local history and genealogy.

Removing the books from the previous shelving, removing the old shelving, installing the new shelving, and re-shelving the materials was completed over a four-day period by:  Chuck Allen, Dick Castonguay, Barb Emmer, Linda Lupro, Tom and Ginny Schott, and Mary Joan Yargar.

Two new faces and one returnee joined the executive committee:  Emma Miller, Denise Katchmarchi, and Caitlin Kalgren. Miller had served previously on the Society's executive committee. She represents Bloom and Brady Township and replaced long-time member Jean Hayes. Katchmarchi represents Falls Creek and is also replacing another long-time member Ken Wiser. Kalgren will serve as director of museum and curator. She replaced Anne Kosiba, who chose not to seek another term in the position. All three were elected to two-year terms.

There was also a loss for the Society when Audrey Lott, 90, ninth president of the DuBois Area Historical Society, died on July 11, 2020, in Punxsutawney. Lott served as president from 1999-2002. During her presidency the Society reached its current configuration with the purchase of the former Shively Jewelry store in 1999. That purchase completed the museum complex of three buildings, that were later linked by installing internal doors between them.

The newest physical addition to the Society became the genealogical library much to the delight of Lott, who was a passionate genealogist. She initially joined the Society's executive council in 1998 as the representative for Sykesville/Big Soldier/Springville. Upon leaving the president's position she was elected as the Society's director of genealogy.

 Lott attended her last DuBois Area Historical Society Executive Council meeting on December 10, 2012. Lott decided not to run for another term as Director of Genealogy, completing 15-years of volunteer service for the Society. Lott was recognized as Woman of the Year by the Society in 2001.

One in person program was completed when Dick Castonguay presented a Polish genealogical workshop as part of the Society's free genealogy workshop series. The program was held August 13 at Christ Lutheran Church, DuBois. The venue was changed so social distancing could be practiced. Twenty-two people pre-registered to attend and wore masks during the presentation.

Castonguay, the Society's director of buildings and grounds, presented genealogy techniques for researching relatives from the Galicia area of Poland. Galicia is the Polish partition of the Austria-Hungarian Empire that includes German, Russian, and Polish elements in southeast Poland. Castonguay helped to decipher the language barriers inherent in reading documents like birth and baptismal certificates, marriage records, and more. He zeroed in on useful books, websites, maps, and gazetteers.

President Ruth Gregori and Castonguay obtained a grant from the Pennsylvania Lumber Heritage Region. The grant was used to commemorate the John DuBois lumber operation with a sign designed by Tom Schott. The sign was printed and received in late 2020 and will be installed in the DuBois City Park in 2021.

The museum was open during the Downtown DuBois "Ocktoberfest" on October 3. The museum attracted many visitors and a cookie sale helped raise money for the museum. The Society also participated in the "Elf on the Shelf" activities by placing the elf figure in the display window.

The Society also published the biography, "Major:  The Life of Israel McCreight" written Tom Schott, following a number of years of research. The book was 160 pages, indexed, and included 57 black and white photographs and maps. It was sold for $22.50.

Major Israel McCreight (1865-1958), born at the end of the Civil War in Reynoldsville, had an amazing life. Spending his formative years in what was then wilderness, he sought a business education in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.  He later went to the West looking for adventure, finding it in abundance in Dakota Territory, along with a lifelong friendship with Native Americans.

McCreight ultimately became one of the developers of DuBois through his banking career with Deposit Bank and numerous community interests. His concern for conservation led him to help in preserving the last remaining virgin timber standing in Cook Forest. His DuBois home, "The Wigwam", became a destination for famous visitors from his time period, including Indians.  But he always felt his greatest achievement was becoming a chief of the Sioux Indians.

Schott held a book signing at the E. D. Reitz Museum on Small Business Saturday, November 28.

The Society also published a calendar for the 14th consecutive year. The 2021 theme was 
"Things That Are Gone".

Much like 2020, 2021 started with the shadow of the COVIC-19 pandemic still looming over activities.

During the previous year's COVID-19 closures and cancellations, the DuBois Area Historical Society with the assistance of Josiah Jones, Executive Director of the Clearfield County Recreation and Tourist Agency (CCRTA) Open Records Office produced a virtual tour of the Society's E. D. Reitz Museum. Jones visited the museum and recorded each of the rooms of the museum. Society. Each room is available to be viewed in 360-degree rotation. President Ruth Gregori and board members Todd Thompson and Tom Schott developed captioning for the tour.

April 5 marked the Society's first official activity of the new year, the unveiling of the what was planned to a series of interpretive panel commemorating the history of DuBois. The panel located near Heindl Field in the DuBois City Park commemorates the Big Mill and lumberyards owned by John DuBois and later John E. DuBois. Society President Ruth Gregori and Holly Komonczi, executive director of the Lumber Heritage Region pulled the cover from the panel with DuBois City Manager John "Herm" Suplizio and Lumber Heritage board member Mark Humbert looked on at the unveiling. The panel was made possible from a mini-grant obtained from the Pennsylvania Lumber Heritage Region obtained by Society board member Dick Castonguay. Society board member Tom Schott designed the panel.

Programs did not start until an outdoor event, the Spring Walk, could be held on May 8. Society board member Galen Kilmer led 22 people on a tour of Camp Mountain Run Boy Scout Camp on a dry but chilly morning.

Eighty-two people attended the Society's 38th dinner in September, the first since 2019. DuBois born and raised outdoors communicator Ken Hunter was the guest speaker, choosing the topic "Little Did I Know". Hunter traced his career from his time at DuBois High School through successful times as an artist and TV celebrity, that even earned him a trip to the White House. Hunter donated a drawing "Final Farewell" to members of the Marine Corps League –289 HCL Sgt. William L. Dixon Detachment of DuBois to be used as a raffle item for the organization's annual Toys For Tots drive.

The Spirit of DuBois Lantern Walk also returned in October after a one-year absence. The 13th Lantern Walk attracted 184 people for a tour that centered around downtown DuBois and back to school activities in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s.

Performing were:  Evan Shields as the Chuck, the student crossing guard; Sue Stapleton as Katherine Thunberg, friend and seamstress for Helen Keller; Caitlyn Kalgren as Inez Crandle, DuBois' first librarian; Carolyn Rhoades as Janie Bader, long-time Brown's Boot Shop employee; Tom Shade as Ponziano "Ponzi" Ferraraccio, owner of Ponzi's Restaurant; Simeon Cherico as the Teenage Moviegoer; Hannah Thompson and Ella Cherico as Gwendolyn and Cecily Pigeon, continuing a walk tradition of having an animal speak to the delight of the young in attendance; Robin Powers as the Sears salesperson; and Caleb Thompson as Tommy the Teenager, purchasing records from Lowe's Music Store.

Gene Aravich researched and wrote all of the parts with the exception of Inez Crandle, researched and written by Ginny Schott. Aravich and Tom Schott researched and wrote the narration. Leading the tours were Gene Aravich, Galen Kilmer, Ginny Schott, Tom Schott, Jackson Sturrock, and Todd Thompson. Accompanying the tours were Jim August, Pam August, Ginny Brown, Donna Tangren, and Jerry Watson.

Handling various tasks that help make the walk successful were:  Dick Castonguay, Olga Chiodo, Betty Lou Cook, Barb Emmer, Ruth Gregori, Denise Katchmarchi, Beecher Klingensmith, Linda Lupro, and Cherie Shannon.

Several items of interest were added to the E. D. Reitz Museum during the year. Another painting by Luthersburg artist Richard Burfoot was added to collection, a portrait of Ruben Haines Moore (1831-1918). Moore was important as a merchant and financier in DuBois. Also returning to DuBois were a pair of 133-year-old vases, which survived the Great Fire of 1888, were donated to the museum by Debbie Finochio.

The Society hosted a book signing for DuBois author Kathy Myers' (shown at right autographing her book) publication "Historical Tales of the Pennsylvania Wilds," published by Arcadia Publishing.

In another activity members of the Lowe family scheduled a special tour of the E. D. Reitz Museum on September 4, while they were in town to celebrate the 100th birthday of Bill Lowe. The building that was formerly Lowe's Music Store is now part of the Society's museum.

2022 was a special year for the DuBois Area Historical Society, observing its 40th anniversary while also celebrating the City of DuBois’ 150th anniversary. The activities for the year centered around these two events.

February’s opening program focused on looking back at the City’s 125th anniversary with the showing of a 40-minute DVD of the 1997 celebration including activities that were held outside on Long Avenue, brief interviews with people who set up historical exhibits at the First United Methodist Church, and a portion of the anniversary celebration program held at the same church. Highlights include a look at downtown in 1997 and hearing presentations from some prominent DuBois residents of that time.

The story of a woman doctor, who inspired a successful coal miner strike, attracted a record attendance for the DuBois Area Historical Society's 13th spring luncheon on March 19. New York city based journalist and mystery novelist turned biographer Marcia Biederman was the guest speaker concerning her latest book "A Might Force:  Dr. Elizabeth Hayes and her War for Public Health". It was the Society's first luncheon since 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and brought a record 145 people to the event at Christ Lutheran Church in DuBois. Those in attendance at the luncheon included some of Dr. Betty's relatives, including several who traveled from Maine to hear Biederman speak.

A hearty group of sixteen people braved continuous rains to participate in the DuBois Area Historical Society's 13thSpring Walk at Morningside Cemetery on May 7. 

Morningside Cemetery's history dates to August 17, 1796, when George Shaffer purchased 364 acres on Sandy Lick (site of Morningside Cemetery). Town namesake John DuBois later acquired this property from the Shaffer family. In 1924, John E. and Willie Gamble DuBois donated 62.7 acres of land to Morningside Cemetery. The Veterans Circle, where people who have served in the armed forces are honored, was dedicated on May 3, 1926, and on May 30, 1926, the DuBois American Legion conducted its first Morningside Cemetery Memorial Day Service. 

The walk stopped at a dozen grave sites. Those visited included:  Major Israel McCreight, George Shaffer, the DuBois family plot where John E. and Willie Gamble DuBois and three generations of the family are buried, with special recognition for Robert DuBois, the DuBois Area Historical Society's eighth president, A. P. Way, Albert T. Sprankle, Frank Hahne, Edwin and Elizabeth Mix, Lucy May Osler Porter, and Evo G. Facchine and Dr. George Nye, both past presidents of the Society.

June 3 and 4 marked the official celebration of DuBois’ 150th. Elected officials from the federal, state, county, and local level, along with a citizen from the DuBois area gathered at the Edward Cherry Amphitheater in the DuBois City Park, Friday, June 3, opening the two-day celebration.

Kathleen Clement from the Sesquicentennial Committee served as mistress of ceremony for the kick-off celebration. She provided a brief history of DuBois’ earliest pioneers:  George Shaffer, John Rumbarger, and John DuBois. The DuBois Honor Guard presented the colors and DuBois High School student Charlie Nixon sang the “National Anthem”. It was noted that the 16-year-old Nixon would be available to perform again at the city’s 200th anniversary in 2072.

Speakers include Sandy Township Supervisor Sam Mollica, DuBois Mayor Ed Walsh, Clearfield County Commissioners John Sobol and Dave Glass, DuBois resident and State Representative Mark Armanini, and State Senator Chris Dush. A street dance in front of the Cherry Amphitheater with music provided by “Mad Maxx” followed the opening ceremonies.

On Saturday, June 4, Long Avenue was closed off to host a gathering of vendors and old-time automobiles during a Wheels of Yesteryear Cruise In. ATA also had a bus on hand for visitors to inspect and learn about. “Freedom” performed in front of the E. D. Reitz Museum, which was open attracting numerous visitors. The Society also moved the recently restored John DuBois carriages outdoors so they could be viewed by more people.

The Society sold t-shirts and hats featuring the 150th anniversary logo designed by Izen Lingenfelter of Blue Moon Marketing. It also sold legal-size first day cover envelopes commemorating DuBois' 150th Anniversary.

The Society took its mission of preservation to a new level when restoration was completed on John DuBois’ carriage, hunting cart, and sleigh, three of the most historical items in the Society’s collection. All date back to at least the 1880s and were used by City of DuBois namesake John DuBois. They have resided in the E. D. Reitz Museum, with the permission of the DuBois family, since the mid 1990s. However, they had begun to show their age, particularly the carriage that was shedding large pieces of leather. 

Society board member Todd Thompson contacted some acquaintances in the Amish community near DuBois. Andrew Miller of Miller Buggy Repair of Punxsutawney came to look at the carriages and sleigh and confirmed that the work could be completed.

The carriages were returned bright and shiny, like the day they were originally completed in time for them to be displayed outdoors during the anniversary celebration and later were on a float in the annual fireman’s parade.

The DuBois Area Historical Society celebrated its 40th anniversary at its dinner held at Christ Lutheran Church, DuBois. Speaker Tom Schott, who was attending his 39th annual dinner (one was cancelled by COVID), continued the year-long theme of commemorating the Society’s 40th anniversary and the 150th for the City of DuBois. His topic “150 Years Ago:  Three Towns Become One” focused on the “big three” of the city’s early years, George Shaffer, John Rumbarger, and John DuBois. Schott based his program on an article written by the late Sam King for the 100thanniversary of the City of DuBois.

Among the 80 members and guests in attendance were two descendants of George Shaffer, Clair Kriner and Linda Walborn. Their ancestor George Shaffer and his family were the first settlers in the DuBois area, arriving in 1812.

The Society’s anniversary was remembered through a brief reflection of the deceased past presidents:  Dr. John Furlow, Dr. George Nye, Shirley Clark, E. D. Reitz, Bob DuBois, Audrey Lott, and Evo Facchine. Three of the four living presidents of the Society, current president Ruth Gregori Tom Schott and Virginia Schott, were in attendance. Past president Mike Mowrey was unable to attend.

All present and past members of the Society’s board along with volunteers were invited to stand and given a round of applause.

President Ruth Gregori made opening remarks and offered the invocation prior to the meal catered by Catering by Paulette.

During a brief business meeting, the 2023 budget was approved and the following were elected to two-year terms: Tom Schott, second vice president; Gene Aravich, secretary; Allen Minns, treasurer; Dick Castonguay, director of genealogy; Caitlin Kalgren, director of museum and curator; Robin Powers, Huston Township representative; Denise Katchmarchi, Falls Creek representative; Emma Miller, Bloom/Brady Township representative; and Betty Lou Cook, Treasure Lake representative.

The 14th Spirit of DuBois Lantern Walk was capped off by the drawings for two anticipated prizes along with the basket raffle and 50/50 winners completed the year’s activities.

Mike Federici’s number was pulled for the Golden Boy 150th anniversary gun raffle, while Mike Bertsel won the Big Boy. The DuBois Area Historical Society in partnership with a Colorado-based firearms business Rocky Mountain Firearms offered chances on these DuBois Sesquicentennial commemorative rifles. The .22-caliber Henry Golden Boy has a brass finished receiver and octagon barrel. Only 15 of this model were available, selling for $995. The Henry Big Boy is a large-bore rifle with an octagon barrel available in 357, 44, or 45-caliber. It sells for $1,595. Each of the rifles had local engravings of:  B & S Shaft #1 mine, BR&P Depot, DuBois Brewery, Sesquicentennial logo, DuBois Mansion, banner of the Great Fire of 1888, Van Tassel Tannery, and DuBois Area Historical Society logo.

The quilt raffle winners were Katie Kelley, block print quilt measuring 84” by 96”; and Mary Siemucha, fall leaves quilt measuring 85” by 102”.

The walk took place on a beautiful fall evening with 183 people attending. Performers portrayed famous people from DuBois’ past and composite characters related to the city’s growth and development.

On the historic side of the evening Darius Clement performed as John Rumbarger, Jackson Sturrock as John DuBois, and Gene Aravich as Mayor Adam Haag.

Speaking for the early industries were Beecher Klingensmith as the Lumberman and Leah Crosley as the Miner’s Wife. Presenting about economic and community growth were Carolyn Rhoades as the Downtown Shopper, Caitlyn Kalgren as the Train Passenger, Tyler Clark as the Fireman, Liam Webster as the B-Line Worker, and Robin Powers as the Helicopter Trauma Nurse

Continuing a tradition from its first year, Darla Brunnquell was the Church Mouse speaking about the food served at various DuBois churches. The animal in the script yearly delights the young people who attend.

Wrapping up the tour was Rocco Shahayda as Dr. John Furlow. Furlow was the first president of the DuBois Area Historical Society and spoke about the Society’s founding and growth.

Leading tours were Paul Bojalad, Galen Kilmer, Tom Rubritz, Ginny Schott, and Tom Schott. They were accompanied on the tours by Jim August, Ginny Brown, Chuck Meier, and Jerry Watson.

Keeping things operating at the E. D. Reitz Museum, launching point for the walks, were Dick Castonguay, Kathleen Clement, Olga Chiodo, Betty Lou Cook, Ruth Gregori, Denise Katchmarchi, Linda Lupro, Chris Meier, Katie Shahayda, Cheri Shannon, Susan Thompson and Todd Thompson.

The character script was written and researched by Gene Aravich and the tour leader narration by Gene Aravich and Tom Schott.

The DuBois Area Historical Society also published “Spirited Citizens of the DuBois Area” featuring 25 chapters profiling some prominent and not so prominent citizens of the DuBois area, born during the first 50 years of DuBois’ existence.

Profiles include:  George Shaffer (1757-1817), John Rumbarger (1810-1889), John DuBois (1809-1886), Sydney Fuller (1820-1889), Philip Paul Bliss (1838-1876), George Minns Sr. (1845-1922), Albert Sprankle (1855-1921), John E. DuBois (1861-1934), Willie Gamble DuBois (1870-1935), A. R. Van Tassel (1854-1921), Phebe Tyler (1843-1931), Major Israel McCreight (1865-1959), Frank Hahne (1856-1932), Elias "Woody" Kelly (1864-1919), Herbert Moore (1869-1951), Sister M. Carmelita (1869-1964), Tom Mix (1880-1940), George Rosenkrans (1881-1955), Inez Crandle (1886-1975), and Dr. Elizabeth Hayes (1912-1984). Five additional sections feature:  They Were Here First, Three Towns Become One, DuBois Firsts, The Great Fire of 1888, and DuBois Family Land Donations.

The cover of the book featured the DuBois Family Coat of Armes as it appeared in a booklet prepared for the family's Bi-Centenary Reunion of the Descendants of Louis and Jacques DuBois held in 1875 at New Paltz, New York.

Contributing writers included:  Gene Aravich, Dick Castonguay, Donna Cholllock, Betty Lou Cook, Barb Emmer, Ruth Gregori, Denise Katchmarchi, Kathy Myers, Carolyn Rhoades, Tom Schott, Virginia Schott, Todd Thompson, and the late Sam King.

Three more historical interpretive panels were added at various sites around DuBois during the summer months as part of a continuing program by the DuBois Area Historical Society to present the history of DuBois to the public.

The three new panels feature the Great Fire of 1888, the Flood of 1972, and From Theater to Senior Housing. These join a panel concerning John DuBois’ lumber mill erected in the DuBois City Park in 2021.

The City of DuBois is handling the installation, while various groups are sponsoring the panel production.

At the last board meeting of 2022 in November, two new board members were approved. Sarah Zwick was named first vice president and Brian Leech was added as assistant curator.

The year 2023 proved to be one of loss and change for the DuBois Area Historical Society.

The first event of the new year was the 14th Spring Luncheon. Held at Christ Lutheran Church on March 18, the luncheon attracted 77 members and guests. The Sandy Lick Mountain Dulcimer Players provided the program. The group included Ginny Schott of DuBois, Sue Stapleton of Reynoldsville, Leah Crosley of Sabula, Nancy Hills of Treasure Lake, Lillian Neff of Curwensville and Melissa Neff of Curwensville. They played a variety of musical pieces from folk songs to the Beatles, and included some Celtic music for the recently passed St. Patrick’s Day while involving the audience in some sing-alongs. The program also included video highlights from previous Sandy Lick Mountain Dulcimer Players performances and included one of DuBois native Butch Ross, considered one of the finest mountain dulcimer players in the United States, performing.

A brief four days later the Society suffered a major loss when President Ruth Gregori died. She had served as the Society’s president for 11 years, more than any of the others to hold the office over the Society’s 40-year existence.

Her leadership helped the Society to grow and prosper, capped in 2022 when she was the lead planner for the 150th anniversary of the founding of the City of DuBois. Gregori, served on the Society’s board of directors for several years before being elected president in 2012, the Society’s 30th anniversary year. During her decade plus service to the Society attendance records were set at the Society’s annual dinner, luncheon and Spirit of DuBois Lantern Walk.

Those were only part of the achievements that helped spread the Society’s message to the community. In cooperation with DuBois American Legion Montgomery Post #17, a new sign was installed in the DuBois City Park commemorating the naming of Liberty Boulevard. An ongoing historic panel project was also started with four interpretative panels already installed, three more ready to be installed and several more in the planning stages.

In 2017, under Ruth’s direction, the Society hosted the two-day Buffalo & Susquehanna Railroad Symposium which attracted 83 railroad enthusiasts from the state and beyond to DuBois. Reaching out even further, she arranged for the Clearfield County Recreation and Tourist Agency (CCRTA) Open Records Office to produce a virtual tour of the Society's E. D. Reitz Museum.

Under her direction many upgrades and maintenance projects were completed at the Society’s E. D. Reitz Museum. She wrote several chapters in the Society’s most recently published book Spirited Citizens of the DuBois Area and material for the historic panel project. She also authored a column “Mementoes of Valley Life” for the Bennett’s Valley News.

The Society’s 14th Spring Walk was held May 13 in Falls Creek during the community’s 175th anniversary. New board member Brian Leech, a lifetime Falls Creek resident led the one-hour walk past still existing historic structures and former places now lost to history. He related the history of the borough starting with the arrival of farmers in 1824, through Sydney Fuller purchasing 150 plots of land in the area for $600, to Joseph Taylor (1843-1918), Fuller’s brother-in-law, who set up the plots and is considered the “Father of Falls Creek”. Fourteen members and guests attended the tour.
Tours returned to the E. D. Reitz Museum with 30 members of the DuBois Area Middle School History Club led by its advisor Robert Anderson visiting in April. It was the first large group visit to the Society since the start of Covid three years ago.

Four more historical interpretive panels were added at various sites around DuBois during the summer as part of a continuing program by the DuBois Area Historical Society to present the history of DuBois to the public.

The four new panels feature the DuBois Area Historical Society, located outside the E. D. Reitz Museum at 30 West Long Ave., and sponsored by the DuBois Area Historical Society; the “Founders of DuBois” located at the parking lot (old Pershing Hotel location) near Luigi’s Ristorante and sponsored by Downtown DuBois Inc., Clearfield County Charitable Foundation and Visit Clearfield County; the story of the Gray Foundation Apartments, in front of the Gray Foundation Apartments, sponsored by the Gray Family Foundation and the DuBois Area Historical Society; and the Van Tassel Tannery history, near Juniata Lake and sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Communication and Natural Resources and the Lumber Heritage Region.

Two authors were hosted for book signings at the museum during the summer months: local author Kathy Myers and Maine-based author Sara Lambert Bloom for presentations and book signings during the summer months.

Myers, an Elk County native and current Beechwoods resident, specializes in writing about the history of the Pennsylvania Wilds. Her latest work was The Pennsylvania Wilds and the Civil War. Bloom is the author of ISELIN: The Rich History of a Western Pennsylvania Coal Town in Appalachia; The Inspiring Story of Unrelenting Citizen Advocates for Social Justice.

Following some water damage to the carpeting and floor in the museum’s library, which involved an insurance claim, several of the Society’s board members determined to take on the project themselves.

Obtaining new flooring, the furniture in the room was moved out and the old carpeting removed. With the room wide open, the walls were painted before the flooring was installed. Working on the project, over several weeks, were Dick Castonguay, Tom Rubritz and Brian Leech. Assisting during the process were volunteers from My Works Program, who were volunteering throughout DuBois. They also assisted in moving many unneeded items from the second floor of the museum’s George Nye Annex.

Returning to help the Society in August were students from Penn State DuBois. Due to COVID restrictions, students were not able to help throughout DuBois as part of the campus’ Community Outreach Day. Incoming freshmen along with faculty and staff group leaders participated in the event, which is a part of new student orientation.

Sixty-five members and guests attended the DuBois Area Historical Society’s 40th dinner held at Christ Lutheran Church, DuBois. David Stern, CEO of Paris Companies was the guest speaker and presented the over 100-year history of the company. Stern, a 1969 DuBois Central Catholic graduate, has spent 50 years with Paris Companies, expanding its reach and influence.

During the business portion of the evening, the Society’s 2024 budget was approved along with the election of officers and board members for 2024-25 which included: Kathleen Clement, president; Sara Zwick, 1st vice president; Brian Leech, assistant curator; Tom Rubritz, director of building and grounds; Carolyn Rhoades, director of youth; Paul Bojalad, representative City of DuBois; Galen Kilmer, representative Sandy Township; and Darla Brunnquell, representative Union Township.

At the dinner, Dick Castonguay announced the Society’s new capital campaign with a goal of $38,500 for improvements to the E. D. Reitz Museum. Estimates for ground floor renovations of the buildings at 28 and 30 West Long Avenue had a possible cost of $25,000. Technology and furniture upgrades to the education room are estimated at $11,300. Improving the Society’s website will cost $2,000. These improvements are intended to enable the Society to better serve the community.

The campaign, to that point, had already raised $8,400 from its board and lifetime members. The drive was extended to the membership and then the community later in the year. At the close of 2023, the Society’s board of directors and the life members had responded with a generous $12,050.

A second tragedy struck the Society shortly after the annual dinner, when newly elected first vice president Sarah Zwick died unexpectedly on September 19. She had served on the board since November 2022.

The final major event of 2023 was the 15th Spirit of DuBois Lantern Walk with a theme of “People You Should Know”. Recovering from the COVID issues that had cut into attendance, 205 people participated in the walk. This marked the eighth time in fifteen years that attendance exceeded 200 people.

Performing were: Sue Stapleton as DuBois High School theater director Esther Hawkins, part researched and written by Barb Emmer; Darius Clement as painter Richard Burfoot, and Grace Prontock as his patron, part researched and written by Ginny Schott; Leah Crosley as pioneer settler Aunt Katy Shaffer Reasinger, part researched and written by Ginny Schott; Tom Shade as Elias “Woody” Kelly, DuBois’ first game warden, part researched and written by Tom Schott; Donna Chollock as Native American outdoorswoman Anna Johnson, part researched and written by Tom Schott; Steve Way as theater developer A. P. Way, part researched and written by Tom Schott; Rocco Shahayda as newspaperman Jason Gray, Sr., part written by Jason Gray Jr.; Brian Leech as McCrory’s store founder John McCrory, part researched and written by Tom Schott; and in the annual animal role, that appeals so much to the young who attend, Darla Brunnquell as Bella the Bat, part researched and written by Gene Aravich.

Steve Way was the first person in Lantern Walk history to perform as one of his ancestors, great-uncle A. P. Way, while Jason Gray Jr. was the first to write part about an ancestor, in this case his father, Jason Gray Sr.

Leading the tours were: Galen Kilmer, Carolyn Rhoades, Tom Rubritz, Ginny Schott, and Tom Schott. Accompanying the tours were: Gene Aravich, Ginny Brown, Kathleen Clement, Jerry Watson and Wendy Way.

The committee, which started planning this event in January, were: Gene Aravich, Paul Bojalad, Darla Brunnquell, Donna Chollock, Darius Clement, Barb Emmer, Galen Kilmer, Carolyn Rhoades, Tom Rubritz, Ginny Schott, Sue Stapleton, and Tom Schott.

The Society’s 2024 calendar with theme theme of “You Won’t See This Again” and features photos of places, events, and activities that will not be repeated in this time period, went on sale late in the year.


Category: History