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Most of my work seems to focus on local and national History topics. Here are a variety of articles of historic interest.

Heritage Downloads

My History Is America's History This free eBook, "My History Is America's History: 15 Things You Can Do to Save America's Stories," is a guidebook to help families and individuals to explore family history and discover how our own family stories connect to the history of our nation. CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE PDF (LARGE [...]

Man of Grit: Dietrick Lamade and the Williamsport Grit

Man of Grit: Dietrick Lamade and the Williamsport Grit By Robin Van Auken   A newsboy delivers Grit to a rural customer. Americans recall the Grit Sunday newspaper with nostalgia. For more than 100 years, this popular weekly delivered news, features, fiction, coupons, and comics to families across the nation. One million children [...]

The Heritage Trail

Archaeologist James Bressler visits Riverfront Heritage Park named in his honor. A stroll along the James P. Bressler Heritage Trail on Canfield Island is invigorating and educational. It's also tranquil, this quiet spot along the Susquehanna River's West Branch. The trail is part of Loyalsock Township's Riverfront Park and is dedicated to James [...]

School Days

Working with Muncy Historical Society and the students (past and present) of Muncy Jr/Sr High School, historian Robin Van Auken created a 30-minute DVD oral history project that features 35 alumni and current student interviews. Historical Society volunteers and Muncy students collaborated on this important project as one component of the 75th anniversary celebration of [...]

Pennsylvania’s Forests

Pennsylvania Route 554 Pennsylvania’s forests reflect a history of choices — from peaceful coexistence between humans and the forests to the massive harvesting of the forests in the late 1800s. Pennsylvania’s borders encompass 17 million acres of forestland, almost 4 million acres of which are publicly owned. However, more than 12 million acres [...]

Lumber Heritage

Woodhicks The Lumber Heritage Region holds a key to the rich heritage of Pennsylvania’s forests–from the struggles of the pioneers to the cut-and-run practices of the early lumber industry to the conservation efforts that led to the managed forests of today. Pennsylvania’s forests reflect a history of choices — from peaceful coexistence between [...]

Shawn Gardner

Shawn Gardner Artisan Shawn Gardner, of Fair Chase Designs, presents on prehistoric technology and Native American art. This is presentation is suitable for people of all ages, including families and school-aged children. Gardner lives in Montoursville, often presents programs to people who visit his teepee on school field trips. He also offers seminars [...]

Barbara Barnes

Barbara Barnes' art vessels reflect a keen appreciation for nature in shapes and colors. She uses interactive glazes, often firing multiple times until she gets the results that mimic the hues of earth, flora, fire and water combined. She is an avid gardener and often wanders her gardens and woods for inspiration. Barbara Barnes [...]

Joy McCracken

Joy McCracken Joy McCracken is a spinning and weaving expert. McCracken demonstrates the craft of creating fabric from animal hair to students. One of her specialties is drop spindle spinning, an early technique for making yarn without a spinning wheel. When she heard how the women of Bolivia used drop spindles as they [...]

Muncy Historical Society

Muncy Historical Society   Muncy Historical Society and Museum of History, a not-for-profit, all volunteer organization founded in 1936, focuses on preservation and conservation of the rich history and heritage of Muncy and surrounding communities – its people, businesses, education, arts, traditions and folklore – by sponsoring educational programs and activities, through research [...]

A Monument to Exodusters

  DUNLAP, Kansas -- On a lonely, country road in Dunlap, Kan., a monument soars. An engraved stainless steel plaque stretches between two pillars of limestone and marks the family farm of a freed slave. Jack Davis and his monument to Exodusters Built by Jack Davis, whose family bought the farm [...]

Widow Smith’s Walk

While Michael Ross was settling the City of Williamsport, selling parcels of land to frontier families and immigrants, another enterprising resident of the West Branch Valley was being hoodwinked from her home and business. Catherine Smith, an old woman "of great business tact and energy," had erected gristmills and sawmills on White Deer Creek. According [...]

A Heroic Duo

Rachel Silverthorn warns the settlers (WPA mural) While Gen. George Washington's Continental Army fought the British, settlers along the Susquehanna River also considered themselves at war with the displaced Indians. Conflicts escalated daily. Rumors of a planned massacre of settlers were taken seriously. In August 1778, the Big Runaway began along the West [...]

Long Reach

Coin found at Long Reach Archaeology Dig Historic preservation is an admirable, though difficult, goal to obtain. Preservation works best in communities that have programs managed at the local government level. In 2003, Williamsport's City Council considered an amendment to a zoning ordinance that would result in new historic preservation sections within the [...]

Rewards for Indian Scalps

During the tumultuous years leading up to the French and Indian War, early settlers in Northcentral Pennsylvania had two choices: They could leave the fertile valleys of the Susquehanna, or take their chances with sporadic Indian raids during which farms were destroyed and entire families would be slaughtered.

Indians of Susquehanna

Indians of Susquehanna Prehistoric Indians skillfully managed the natural bounty of the Susquehanna River region by living in accordance with the seasons. They hunted, fished, gathered nuts, berries and other wild foods, and they cultivated corn, beans and squash. According to archaeologists, Indians were successful in populating the New World for more than [...]

Lycoming County: Williamsport Firsts

Scott Barn in The Narrows, Lycoming County Williamsport, Pennsylvania is a small metropolis with a dramatic history. Famous throughout the world for its impressive forest products, it once boasted more millionaires per capita than any American city. A hale and hearty pioneer village on the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, early settlers [...]

Birthplace of ‘Grit’

Williamsport, PA (circa 1885) Famous in the 19th century for its lumber products, Williamsport, Pennsylvania is a small mountainous town. Situated on the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, its residents enjoyed easy access to virgin forests of hemlock and white pine. It once boasted more millionaires per capita than any American city. [...]

Sunday Grit: A Newspaper Legacy

Sunday Grit Make room on the shelf for another book about local history. Written by author Robin Van Auken and published by Ogden Newspapers, parent company of the Williamsport Sun-Gazette, “Sunday Grit: A Newspaper Legacy” is the fourth volume in a limited edition, commemorative series about area newspapers. Richly illustrated, the new 136-page [...]

My History Is America’s

The Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial, located at the City Dock in historic Annapolis, is the only memorial in the country that commemorates the actual name and place of arrival of an enslaved African. The sculpture group features author Alex Haley seated before a group of three children of different ethnic backgrounds. Holding a book [...]