History of the Society

May 09, 2013 at 10:31 AM

History of the Society 1982-2016

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.

 



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Category: History