Monday, September 17, 2007

Curators and Genealogists at E.O. Austin Historical Society, PA

Meet Denise and John who are curators and genealogists at the E.O. Austin Home and Historical Society on the town square in Austin, Potter Co., PA. They were very helpful and generous in providing information on the town where my Lininger and Lentz families resided since the late 1920s. Fortunately my families of interest were not living in Austin in 1911, when the Bayliss Papermill Dam broke and torrents of water inundated the town killing about 78 people. Denise has been researching and interviewing relatives and townspeople who knew of those who died in the tragedy. Behind the couple are bricks salvaged from the destroyed town. Inscribed on the bricks are those persons known to have died in the flood; but many more were probably never known or recovered. Note brick to left of Denise (click image to enlarge) which reads, "Zella Lockwood died of shock the following day [after the flood]. The disaster occurred at a time when many single, recent immigrants were in town working in the paper mills, and whose families and friends just stopped hearing from them.

For example, my grandfather's brother Julius Strike abandoned his wife and child in the early 1900s and was never heard from again. He never turned up in subsequent censuses or other documents. Did Julius also meet a similar fate as these Austin flood victims? What is known is that Julius' abandoned wife, the former Leah Lewis, re-married a Delbert Lininger and was living in Austin when she died in 1929. Leah and Delbert's daughter, Marcia Gretchen Lininger, grew up in the town and married Richard E. Lentz, Jr, in 1940. They are buried in Austin's Forest Hills Cemetery. A complete transcription of the cemetery is available at the Austin Historical Home.

By the way, as I entered town on this day, I read a sign which read, "Welcome to Austin, Judy Bolton Country". The curators told me that a town native, Rachel Beebe, wife of William Sutton, was the author of several, well-known children's mysteries. She wrote under the pen name of Margaret Sutton. The protagonist in Margaret's books was a girl named Judy Bolton and the setting of her books of course was a rural, mountainous town like Austin. The museum's collections carried several of Margaret Sutton's books. Margaret's husband, William, was an author himself and wrote the History of Potter County.

1 comment:

Bernard "Mike" Fowler said...

Came across your article mentioning John and Denise today. Thank you very much for commenting on the E.O. Austin Historical Society in Austin, PA.