Historical Society News

The Historical and Genealogical Society of Indiana County has hired a new Executive Director and staff.

See the story here.

Also, see the article in the Indiana Gazette here.

Chris Catalfamo, noted Civil War historian and devoted volunteer of the Historical Society, passed away on January 12, 2013.  (information can be found here).

A wedding was held in the Historical Society's Silas Clark House during the 2012 Christmas season. Read the story online in the Tribune Review.

Clarence Stephenson, beloved local historian, dies at age 92.

Covered Bridge Safari

On Saturday, June 26, 2010, the Indiana County Parks & Trails' "Covered bridge safari" featured the Kintersburg, Harmon, Trusal and Thomas covered bridges. The Covered Bridge Committee's caravan route at Blue Spruce Park near Ernest, covered about 25 miles and required about three hours, including tour-guide narrations at each of the four caravan stops. Mary Yanity and Herb Gleditch represented the Historical Society.











Native American Life in Indiana County

The Historical Society Program Committee sponsored a presentation by Phillip and Sarah Neusius, IUP professors, at the Historical Museum on June 22 at 7pm. The subject was "Archaeological Evidence of Early Native American Life in Indiana County." Here Miss Laney accepts a copy of Dr. Sarah Neusius' archaeology text book - a door prize at the program.


The Pennsylvania History Bill of Rights

At the June 1, 2010 board meeting, the Pennsylvania History Bill of Rights was adopted by The Historical and Genealogical Society of Indiana County.


The Passing of a Treasured Volunteer and Friend

Margaret (Peg) Ruddock died at her home in Indiana, PA, on Monday, February 1, 2010. Peg had been active with the Society since 1980. She will be missed. Please see the tribute to Peg on the Society's web page.


Chuck Spence presented with 
Frances Strong Helman Award for 2009

Charles Spence, a volunteer for the Historical Society since 2000, was presented with the Frances Strong Helman Award for 2009. This is an award given for exemplary service to the Historical Society. Chuck has worn a number of 'hats' within the Society, among them board of director positions for public relations and finance, and officer positions as treasurer and vice president. Chuck is a person who has demonstrated a dedication to the Society above and beyond that which could be expected of any volunteer or other contributor to the Society.


Coralie Hershman named as Volunteer of the Year for 2009

This year the Historical Society presented Coralie Hershman with the Volunteer of the Year Award. Coralie is a volunteer whose willing spirit and gracious manner is evident to all who come in contact with her at the Society. It is a pleasure to present her with this award. (A photo and more details soon.)


Shirley Dill named as Volunteer of the Year for 2008

Each year our Society honors a volunteer who has proven themselves worthy for a number of reasons. Shirley Dill was honored this year for her dedication to the important role as bookkeeper for the Society. In turn, the Board of Directors are honored to announce that Shirley will join our Board in 2009, as Finance Committee Chairwoman.

Shirley is a pleasure to work with and although you may not see her in our library and museum frequently, rest assured that she sees results of each and every program, of each grant writing attempt, and the generosity of each and every monetary donor. Her work involves a tremendous amount of accuracy and persistence. We are pleased to be able to honor Shirley for her volunteer spirit!


Society Announces Naming of The Frances Strong
Helman Library

In what some would say is about time, The Historical and Genealogical Society of Indiana County’s President of the Board, Herb Gleditsch, made announcement of the naming of The Frances Strong Helman Library at the Society’s seventy-first Annual Membership Meeting on October 16, 2008.

The nomination to the board came from then Library Chairman Pat Johner. The motion was seconded by Dick Cassel and passed by our Board of Directors last April. The news was kept under wraps to be announced at this year’s membership meeting by newly designated Director Emeritus Jean Williams and President Gleditsch.

As written by County Historian Clarence D. Stephenson in his article from the Indiana County Heritage, Vol. 8., No 2, entitled, Rescuing the Past: “The death on September 23, 1980, of Frances Strong Helman, one of the founders of the Historical and Genealogical Society of Indiana County, left a very large gap in the continuing work of the Society. Her shoes are indeed hard to fill, but her example is an inspiration to the many volunteers who are carrying on the work to which she was so devoted. She leaves as her permanent memorial a record of forty-two years of labor advancing the cause of the Society. Frances Strong Helman has compiled her own memorial item by item during her life and it is inscribed ‘Historical and Genealogical Society of Indiana County.’ She will be remembered as long as the Society endures.”



Jean Williams Honored by Director Emeritus Status

Likewise honored at this year’s Annual Meeting, Jean Williams joined Clarence Stephenson as the only two to ever sit on the Society’s Board with the honored title of Director Emeritus. The status is not only an honorarium to what might be retiring board members but it is of benefit to the Society in that we are able to make way for newer directors while keeping the connectivity to older directors.

Jean Williams joined the Society in 1982 and within a year was serving on the Finance Committee. She has planned many of the Society’s events including the well received Home and Garden tours, antique shows, and her own very special Christmas programs. Jean has served on and chaired most of the Society’s committees, including serving as an Officer in her role as Secretary and then Treasurer. She’s introduced fund raising events, membership drives and as Coralie Hershman so aptly put it during the program, her handwriting is everywhere! Jean has cataloged our photograph collection, our textiles, and artifacts; often making needed repairs and always cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. Jean has been known for always leaving an article in better shape than when she found it. And she’s never been hesitant to enlist whatever help she deems necessary to complete a task. And what tasks she’s taken on - including the Clark House Cookbook, the Angel Tree, many and various raffles, flower gardens, brick walkways, and card parties. You name it and Jean’s tried it! And not only the Society, but many volunteers as well have benefited from Jean’s examples of leadership and her work ethic.

On October of 1998, Jean was presented with the Society’s greatest honor, the Frances Strong Helman Award, by then President Jim Shertzer. Congratulations again to this amazing Indiana County woman for her enthusiasm and energy which are matched only by her love of the Society.


Society Burns Mortgage Papers in Museum

A very exciting part of the Annual Meeting Agenda came when Finance Chairwoman Jan Parker, with help from President Gleditsch, Director Emeritus Jean Williams and Program Chairwoman JoAnne McQuilkin, set fire to the paid up Clark House mortgage. Permissible only by the absence of our Museum Chairwoman, the event recognized the significance of the occasion and as President Gleditsch most aptly put it, “There is no crisis of confidence in this Society. We are going into the years ahead with confidence that we can make it work.”  (Left to right: Jan Parker, Herb Gleditsch, Jean Williams, JoAnne McQuilkin)


Chuck Spence named as Volunteer of the Year for 2007

The Board of Directors of the Historical and Genealogical Society of Indiana County was pleased to present Chuck Spence as its Volunteer of the Year for 2007 at the Annual Meeting on Thursday, October 25, 2007.

Chuck has been one of our stalwart volunteers for many years and has been involved in most aspects of the Society. He has served on the Board of Directors for eight years, first as Vice President and then as Treasurer. He was also involved in the planning of our Veteran’s area, was instrumental in the organizing the Medal of Honor exhibit, and has been the primary researcher for genealogical requests.

A veteran of the Armed Services and a retired Chief Engineer of Penelec, Chuck has put his many talents to use for the benefit of the Society. He and his wife, Mary Jo, have five daughters and enjoy spending time traveling and visiting with them. They are all accomplished individuals and their father is very proud of a chemist, a nurse, a social scientist, a lawyer and a microbiologist…….. all in the family!

It was a pleasure and a ’no-brainer’ to single out Chuck for this award. Our Society has many great volunteers and Chuck is one of the best. With honor, we call him our “Volunteer of the Year.”


Arnold Wolfe of the Rainbow Diamond Club with glass made in Indiana, PA.

Arnold Wolfe was the guest speaker at the Historical and Genealogical Society of Indiana County Annual Meeting on Thursday, October 25th, 2007, in the Historical Museum.






Historical Marker Dedicated in Clymer, October 16, 2007:

Dr. Robert Mitchell

Marker Text:

Outspoken opponent of slavery, Mitchell was widely known as an abolitionist. In September 1845, he harbored five fugitives from slavery on his property here. Following a raid by bounty hunters, two men escaped; three were returned to slavery. Mitchell was tried and convicted for violating the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, and suffered heavy financial losses. The incident contributed to the more restrictive Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.

The marker commemorates Dr. Robert Mitchell of Indiana, a leader of the Underground Railroad, and five fugitive slaves who were sleeping in a log cabin owned by Mitchell in what is now Clymer, then Green Township. Clarence Stephenson, renowned county historian, conducted the research and applied for the marker on behalf of the Historical Society. The public was invited to attend the dedication ceremony, which took place on Tuesday, October 16, 2007 at 4:00 p.m. on Rt. 286, Highway East in Clymer.


Directions to the Robert Mitchell Historic Marker

Start at Indiana courthouse.

Head east on 286 (Philadelphia Street). After 1.1 miles take Clymer exit (still 286 E).

Continue 8.5 miles on 286 East.

Continue straight at the stop light in Clymer on 286 E. Marker is on the other side of the bridge heading out of town.