Historical Educational Events Continue at Archives

It may be a cold winter, but it hasn’t hindered those interested in learning more about The Revolutionary War to come out for Historical Educational Events held by the society.



Two programs, presented by Steve Runkle, were held at the Juniata County Library’s Community Room this January.

The first, The Revolutionary War in the Susquehanna River Basin Region, was held January 13, 2014. Runkle gave a room packed full of individuals insight on the part played by the Northern Americans during the war.  His presentation touched on many of the bloody battles and brought about the fact that many times brothers [both European settlers and Native Americans] were fighting on opposite sides during those battles.

Monday, January 27, Runkle will be giving another talk on The Philadelphia Campaign of the Revolutionary War [this event is already full]. This program will chronicle the most critical year of the American Revolutionary War, from July 1777 through June 1778 and also focus on the part Pennsylvania played in that time period of the War. Of special interest to Juniata County attenders will be the part played by Zachariah Rice, a German millwright who emigrated to the Tuscarora Valley and was once landowner of what is now known as “Church Hill” just west of Port Royal. A publication, Perrysville to Port Royal 1812-2012 A 200-Year Journey, makes reference to Rice and the beginnings of the Lutheran Church in Port Royal. The book is available at the Archives.

Other Upcoming Programs

Other upcoming programs include a Saturday, March 8 presentation which highlights a Juniata County veteran and his part in World War II. It will be based on the book, Every Soldier Has A Story, written by Lincoln T. Hokenbrough about his grandfather Clarence R. Hibbs from eastern Juniata County.

The May 12 presentation will feature local historical author Wayne Taylor whose program entitled, The Significance of the Tuscarora Valley Railroad, will introduce participants of this event to the establishment of the Tuscarora Valley Railroad [TVRR].

All programs, which begin at 1:00 p.m., are by reservation only and can be made by calling 717-436-5174.

Not a society member and want to learn more about Juniata County history?  Don’t despair, you can become one for as little as $15 a year. Call the above listed number to find out more about becoming a member which gives free access to the Archives Room, and a quarterly newsletter containing all the happenings and other historical accounts of Juniata County’s rich history.

Help Support Society Photo

Pomeroy_Academia_BridgeA photo of the Pomeroy-Academia Covered Bridge was recently submitted to the 2014 ProjectPATH Calendar by Sheila Yorks on behalf of the Juniata County Historical Society.

Contest photos were posted anonymously on the Preservation Pennsylvania Facebook page. Facebook friends are invited to vote for their favorite photo by “liking” it. We invite you to look at the page and vote for our beautiful landmark in Juniata County, which could be a winner and be placed onto the calendar. Voting ends this Friday, October at 8:00 a.m. Please note that you must “like” the Preservation PA page in order to vote.

The album link is https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151860777809172.1073741828.128268659171&type=1&l=64278718bd

Society President Asks For Member Input

AudreyAudrey Sizelove was program presenter at the Juniata County Historical Society (JCHS) fall dinner program, Sept 25 at Walker Grange, Mexico. She joined the Board of Directors in 2000 and has served as secretary, Juniata Jottings newsletter editor, Vice-President, and has been President since 2010.

She presented: “The Historical Society at a Crossroads: Our Collection, Historic Properties, and the Dilemma of the Tuscarora Academy”. This highlighted extensive research items housed at the Archives Room and reviewed the annual maintenance costs for the four properties the Society owns: Glebe Cemetery, Industrial Park Road, Mifflintown; Veterans Memorial and Patterson Monument, Mexico; Pomeroy-Academia Covered Bridge, Academia; and the Baptist Church and Cemetery, Licking Creek.

In addition, she discussed properties we do not own, but maintain. This includes the Tuscarora Academy which is owned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and sits on a small acreage plot. The JCHS operates the building as a museum to house artifacts and absorbs routine annual maintenance costs of about $3,600 for things like mowing and heating — already nearly 20% of the Society’s $20,000 annual operating budget.  The JCHS no longer receives any annual funding for the Academy from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) but the Commonwealth is still responsible for major problems. For example, a current project the Commonwealth is paying for, is the repair of windows and the belfry, almost $47,000.

She presented to members and attendees the dilemma of the TuscaroraAcademy.  The JCHS has been told by PHMC that the Society may be asked to assume ownership of the building this fiscal year. “That the Academy is an important part of JuniataCounty’s history and deserves to be preserved is not in question,” Sizelove said. “The question is, can the funds be raised in order to do so?” Considerations to take into account include potential future costs of replacing an asbestos roof, moisture problems, vintage heaters, possible handicap access requirements, as well as access and parking issues because of the small plot size and fenced bordering properties. Assuming ownership of the building and the potential future costs of up to $500,000, could put the Society under significant financial strain and jeopardize other services offered and the maintenance of properties already owned.

Suggestions on the Academy were given by attendees: selling other properties to reduce costs; spending money to buy a larger building with an accessible location where Archives Room records and TuscaroraAcademyMuseum contents could be combined; or making the Academy a historical property, but without indoor access.

In addition, Sizelove, who will leave the President position in April 2014, asked the membership,“What is the future of the Society to be as we conclude our 82nd year? Should our mission stay the same or change?”  And she asked, how would potential ownership of the Academy affect this?

Sizelove stressed that her presentation was the first of many meetings planned to discuss possible options on the TuscaroraAcademy. “Technically, the state hasn’t offered the building to us yet, but we want to be prepared should that happen.” The Society wants input from members and the community.

There is a meeting October 22 between the JCHS and PHMC. Therefore, there will be a community meeting about the Academy, at 3 p.m., Oct 27, at the Lower Presbyterian Church in Academia. For more information, contact the Society at 436-5152 or jchs1931@juniatacountyhistoricalsociety.org. The Archives Room is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Midway Drive-in Has a Long History!

midwayThe Drive-In is still alive, but unfortunately some of them may no longer be operating since at the end of this year, the majority of them will face closure with the movie industry’s switch from 35 mm film to digital. Upgrading to digital projection costs will be extremely high.

This summer the Midway Drive-In entertained guests in the great outdoors. Many evenings cars would be lined up along William Penn Highway waiting to get to the entrance of Juniata County’s only drive-in, outside of Mifflintown.

The Midway was built in 1950 and showed the first flick on May 17 of that year. The Berney’s, Irvin and Doris, were the first proprietors and showed the film “When My Baby Smiles at Me,” in Technicolor that first night. It starred Betty Grable, Jack Oaki, and Dan Dailey.

The area where the Midway Drive-In is located was formerly a junkyard that was turned into an open-air theater by Volpe Construction Company.

Many may recall when the concession stand was a spot where Midway had posted license plate numbers to help entice movie patrons to buy refreshments at the snack bar. Each night the ticket taker would randomly choose a car, write down the license number and take it to the concession stand where it would be displayed. Then at intermission between movies, the announcer would alert all movie-goers that they should come to the snack bar and check to see if they’d won a free pass to use on their next trip to the drive-in.

Also at intermission, commercials made their way across the big outdoor screen. Some of the more memorable ones were the dancing hot dog, which was shown on the screen in the movie “Grease,” along with marching ice cream and of course Jolly popcorn.

“Spotty” was a favorite intermission game played and recalled by nearly all outdoor movie-goers. “Spotty” was a bug on the film strip that would move all over the screen and had car owners trying to catch the bug with their mounted spotlights’ light beams.

Some may also remember when the cost of a ticket to the outdoor entertainment center was $1.00 a carload [1950s].

Movie patrons have been parking in the Midway Drive-In’s field for more than a half a century now.

Have a favorite memory from the Midway Drive-in?  Feel free to share it right here!

Civil War Event This Weekend!

mtuscarora_academy_todayA Civil War Event will be held at the Academy Saturday and Sunday, August 24 and 25. Union and Confederate re-enactors will be set up at the Tuscarora Academy Museum in Academia. They will give presentations and demonstrations of the Civil War soldier’s way of life throughout the weekend. The Academy Museum will be open Saturday and Sunday from 1:30 to 4:00 p.m. There’s no fee to visit so feel free to stop by that weekend. This will be the last weekend the museum will be open.