Lycoming County Women's History Project



Williamsport Sun Gazette

Williamsport Women: New history series to focus on stories about city women
by Dana Borick.
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, December 9, 2012
In introducing the series, Dana Borick quotes Mary Sieminski as saying that “some people have told me the all my friends are 19th century friends.” Sieminski is project manager for the Lycoming County Women’s History Project, an online archive of source material on local women created cooperatively by Lycoming College Snowden Library, the James V. Brown Library, and the Lycoming County Historical Society. Borick continues, “Sieminski has a passion for the stories of Williamsport women” and had continued researching and writing about Williamsport women for the Williamsport Sun-Gazette. Her columns and those of guest writers appear on the second Sunday of each month and are linked below.

Kate Ault Fribley Snyder
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, December 9, 2012
Kate Ault was married to Civil War soldier Charles Fribley, the commander of regiment African-American soldiers. Even after he was killed at the Battle of Olustee in Florida, she continued her work on behalf of African-Americans.

Jerusha Bailey Mussina: Williamsport crusader for temperance
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, January 13, 2013
Known as “Mother Mussina,” in 1874 she led crusading groups of women to confront the owners and patrons of Williamsport’s hotels and saloons, urging them to give up the sale and use of liquor.

Julia C. Collins: Williamsport essayist, teacher, and author
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, February 10, 2013
The author of “The Curse of Caste, or the Slave Bride,” considered to be the first novel published by an African-American woman, Collins was also the teacher for the city’s African-American children in 1864.

Myrtle Miller Anderson: How a Williamsport woman came to live among the Sioux
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, March 10, 2013
The young woman from Salladasburg and her husband, noted photographer John A. Anderson, lived on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota for 40 years. Their collection of artifacts and his photographs are held by the Smithsonian Institution.

Margaret Mahammit Hagan: An entrepreneur’s path to success in 19th century Williamsport
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, April 14, 2013
Of mixed race, Margaret came to Williamsport with her husband after the Civil War. She called herself “one of the most practical and shrewd business women here.” The owner of a laundry business, she was also an electrotherapist with a 17-room spa and a large clientele.

Hattie Aderhold: An unfortunate woman and her trial for murder
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, May 12, 2013
Unmarried with a newborn daughter, refused any help from her own father or the child’s father, who had forced himself on her, Hattie tossed the child into the Susquehanna River.

Dewing Woodward: Williamsport’s bold vagabond artist
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, June 9, 2013
Born in 1856 to one of Williamsport’s first families, Woodward practiced her art in New York City, Paris, Provincetown, Woodstock, Miami and Coral Gables. Her companion in art and travel was Williamsport woman, Louise Johnson.

Sophie Reighard and Lila May Fisher: Notable Williamsport Teachers
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, July 14, 2013
Beginning her career in 1871, Reighard was one of the first female teachers and a principal in Williamsport. Hired in 1909, Fisher taught a segregated class of African-American students in Williamsport for 40 years.

Married to a Magnate: Peter Herdic’s two wives
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, August 11, 2013
Herdic’s first wife, Amanda Taylor, was a county girl. She died quite young. His second wife, Encie Maynard, was the quite sophisticated daughter of a judge. Both must have had a hard time keeping up with Peter.

Flora Herdic: A tumultuous life
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, September 8, 2013
The daughter of Amanda and Peter Herdic, Flora was born into wealth. She married well and had two children, but created a scandal by leaving town with the upholsterer who was doing work for her family.

Frances Tipton Hunter: Acclaimed artist and illustrator
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, October 13, 2013
A 1914 Williamsport High School graduate, she drew from the time she could hold a pencil. Her illustrations graced the covers of Colliers, Saturday Evening Post, and other national magazines.

Margaret Small McMunn: From Scotland to the Williamsport west end
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, November 10, 2013
The author’s great grandparents, Margaret Small and Edward McMunn, were both employees of lumber barons. Margaret was a pastry chef and maid for Frank Herdic and Edward was a sawyer.

Rena Frankeberger: Designer of the Curtin Hiawatha Murals
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, December 8, 2013.
The Supervisor of Art in Williamsport public schools, Frankeberger created the series of murals based on Longfellow’s poem. Curtin Junior High School students in the 1930s added the finishing touches. They have been restored and hang in the school.

The School on the Hill: 19th-century education for women in Williamsport
by Janet McNeil Hurlbert
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, January 12, 2014
Although there were female students at Dickinson Seminary as early as the 1830s, their education differed from the male students.

Mary Slaughter: Founder of the Home for Aged Colored Women
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, February 9, 2014
Born into slavery in Virginia, this Williamsport woman founded and managed the first home open to elderly African-American women, even travelling to the state capital to successfully secure state funding.

Jean Saylor Brown: Physician, feminist, activist
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, March 9, 2014
After Jennie Saylor graduated from Dickinson Seminary in 1862, she became a seamstress. After graduating from Woman’s Medical School, she became a surgeon. A tireless physician and educator, she took particular interest in the health and safety of Williamsport women.

Henrietta Baldy Lyon: Our own suffragist
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, April 13, 2014
Born into wealth, raised in Williamsport by an aunt, Baldy Lyon devoted much of her life to civic causes, most importantly to woman’s suffrage.

The fight for women’s suffrage in Lycoming County
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, May 11, 2014
Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton visited Williamsport and inspired our local suffragists to take up the cause with passion and hard work.

Mary Landon Russell: An uncommon woman
by Janet McNeil Hurlbert
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, June 8, 2014
To many Williamsport music lovers, “Mary Landon Russell” and “music” are synonymous. Russell taught at Lycoming College for many years and played and entertained into her 90s.

Anne Weightman: One of the wealthiest women in the world
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, July 13, 2014
While she lived in Williamsport, she helped manage her father’s extensive real estate holdings, acquired when Peter Herdic went bankrupt. Already a wealthy woman, in 1905 she inherited $60 million dollars from her father and her life was never dull.

Margaret Young Coleman: First female physician in Lycoming County
by Dr. Judith Gouldin
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, August 10, 2014
When her two brothers and a sister died of typhoid fever in the same week in 1849, schoolteacher Margaret Young vowed to go become a physician. Dr. Coleman became the first female physician to practice in north central Pennsylvania and practiced for over 40 years.

Ada Carter Remley: Williamsport business woman
by Janet McNeil Hurlbert
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, September 14, 2014
The first female trustee for Lycoming College, a civic leader and the publisher of “Leaves of Gold,” a book of inspirational prose and poetry distributed widely to funeral homes throughout the nation.

A Stitch in Time:’ the ‘mill girls’ of Lycoming County
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, October 12, 2014
From the late 19th century to the middle of the 20th century, thousands of Lycoming County women formed the core of the workforce for fabric mills and garment factories. Their stories are preserved in the website, “A Stitch in Time.”

Emma Rowley and Agnes Hermance: The women behind the millionaires
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, November 9, 2014
One woman was heavily involved in local charitable activities; the other into the active social life.

Alma Bartles: "A Woman's Sad History"
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, December 14, 2014
The story of a resident of Millionaires’’ Row, whose story involves illness, sex, betrayal, power, and a woman’s descent into madness.

Williamsport Girls: The poor, abandoned and delinquent
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, January 11, 2015
How women’s groups sought to aid poor girls by providing housing and training in the art of homemaking and the virtues of hard work.

Williamsport Music Club: Women of Note
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, February 8, 2015
Like many 20th century women’s clubs, the Music Club allowed members to realize their potential and improve society while also educating themselves in a collegial atmosphere

Rosetta M. Ulman: “Charity never faileth”
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, March 8, 2015
The daughter of early Jewish settlers in Williamsport, Rosetta Ulman was defined by the charity that she extended to the underprivileged during her lifetime and the bequests she made at the time of her death.

Williamsport Girls: The wayward, delinquent and incorrigible
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, April 12, 2015
Young women deemed incorrigible by their parents might find themselves sent by the courts to in the Philadelphia House of Refuge, a reform school.

Williamsport Women: The Merry Month of May
by Janet McNeil Hurlbert
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, May 10, 2015
May Day at Dickinson Seminary was a special occasion. The entire college community celebrated the election of the May Queen with great pomp and circumstance and wonderful costumes.

Avis Ann Rouse Cochran: Generous Benefactor
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, June 14, 2015
Married to lumber baron and State Senator, J. Henry Cochran, Avis Rouse Cochran used her gifts and her financial resources to lead and fund many charitable organizations in Williamsport.

Catholic Nuns in 19th-Century Williamsport
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, July 12, 2015
During the lumber era, two Catholic Churches built schools for their members. The Sisters of Christian Charity and the Sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary came to Williamsport as teachers.

A Woman’s Place is in the Y: The Beginning of the YWCA in Williamsport
by Janet McNeil Hurlbert
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, August 9, 2015
Established in Williamsport in 1893, the YWCA was said to have “grown out of the willingness of a few zealous women to assume the responsibility for womankind.”

“Miss Bess” and “Miss Edith” – Founders of Williamsport’s Froebel Kindergarten
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, September 13, 2015
Two sisters, Edith and Bess Gaus, devoted their working lives to preschool education. Their kindergarten, established on the German model, was established in 1895 and functioned in 1961

The State Correctional Institute at Muncy
by Greg Renn
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, October 11, 2015
The Industrial Home for Women in Muncy, PA, opened on October 28, 1920. It was the first women’s prison in Pennsylvania and was built on the Cottage Plan, with a home-like setting.

A Woman’s Place is in the Y: Building a Permanent Home
by Janet McNeil Hurlbert
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, November 8, 2015
The women of the YWCA set themselves a challenge: raise enough money to build a permanent home. They did and that building on West Fourth Street still serves Williamsport Women.

Isabella Russell Fairfax: Prominent African-American civic leader
by Mary Sieminski
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, December 13, 2015
The value of education and ethnic pride were the core values that Isabella Russell Fairfax promoted to the Williamsport community, and to the African-American population in particular.

Louise Lazelere Chatham: The first woman lawyer in Lycoming County
by Mary Sieminski
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, January 10, 2016
Fulfilling a life-long dream, Chatham was awarded her law degree when she was 51. In her younger years she was very active in women’s rights, suffrage, and school affairs.

A Woman’s place is in the Y: First years at 815 W. Fourth St.
by Janet McNeil Hulbert
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, February 14, 2016
The new YWCA building was dedicated on June 30, 1929, and was open for business the next day. In addition to housing, the Y offered a pool, gymnasium, and cafeteria.

Dr. Rita B. Church: First superintendent of the Williamsport Hospital
by Dr. Judith Gouldin
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, March 13, 2016
In 1881, with the new Williamsport Hospital floundering, a physician, Rita B. Church, was appointed superintendent.  She was successful at reorganizing and, with Dr. Jean Saylor Brown, founded the Williamsport Hospital Training School for Nurses.

Anne Higgins Perley: Mistress of Greystone
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, April 10, 2016
Anne Higgins Perley is best known in local history for her leadership of the Home for the Friendless and Christ Episcopal Church.

Williamsport Mothers
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, May 8, 2016
By Mary L. Sieminski and Janet McNeil Hurlbert
A look at women who contributed their own brand of motherhood to local history

A woman’s place is in the YWCA: The World War II years
by Janet McNeil Hurlbert
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, June 12, 2016
In the 1940s, the Young Women’s Christian Association expanded offerings for the community and created special programs to support the war effort.

Ethel May Caution: Groundbreaking poet, educator and activist
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, July 10, 2016
Born in Williamsport, the granddaughter of Julia Collins, the author of the first novel published by an African-American woman, Ethel May was a groundbreaking poet, educator, and activist

Ellen Sprout and Margaret Waldron
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, August 14, 2016
Two women, married to the founders of the Sprout-Waldron Company in Muncy, who influenced community life in Muncy and in Picture Rocks.

Elizabeth Lyman Nice: Advocate for Animal Welfare
By Janet McNeil Hurlbert
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, September 11, 2016
Her humanitarian concerns led to the establishment of the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) in Williamsport.

Florence Crittenton Home: Serving young mothers
by Mary Sieminski
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, October 10, 2016
The home provided housing and services to unmarried mothers in our area for more than 80 years.

The Williamsport Hospital Training School for Nurses
by Mary Sieminski
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, November 13, 2016
One of the earliest nursing schools in the national, the nurses trained by two eminent Williamsport female physicians provided the best hospital care possible.

Helen Hoyt reports on life for Williamsport Women at the beginning of the 20th century
by Janet McNeil Hurlbert
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, December 11, 2016
For over seven years Charlotte Burch wrote a daily column for the Williamsport Sun-Gazette’s Women’s Page, giving us a unique insight into Williamsport.

Mattie E. Clark: A Philanthropic Legacy
by Mary Sieminski
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, January 8, 2017
A woman who gave, not only of her time, but of her leadership in serving the women and girls on Williamsport, through the James V. Brown Library and YWCA and other charities.  

Old Aunt Jane Ross: A former slave’s story
by Mary Sieminski
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, February 12, 2017

Williamsport Women: The Clio Club, early years
by Janet McNeil Hurlbert
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, March 12, 2017

The artist’s wife: Or, who was Mrs. J. Wesley Little
by Mary Sieminski
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, April 9, 2017

Sarah Elizabeth Fulton Heiney: Second mother to hundreds of young women
by Janet McNeil Hurlbert
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, May 14, 2017

Martha LeVan Mussina: A glimpse at the life of an artist
by Andrea Campbell
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, June 11, 2017

Margaret Megahan: The best friend a dog ever had
by Janet McNeil Hurlbert
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, July 9, 2017

Ida Hays McCormick: Noted community servant
by Mary Sieminski
Williamsport Sun-Gazette August  13, 2017

Edith DeWitt: Groundbreaker in state government and politics
by Mary Sieminski
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, September 10, 2017

Louise Holmes Stryker: A musical life
by Janet McNeil Hurlbert
Williamsport Sun-Gazette, October 8, 2017

Drs. Nina and Dott:  Two sisters two stories
by Mary Sieminski
Williamsport Sun-Gazette November 12, 2017

A Community of Women Celebrate Christmas 1900-1925
by Janet McNeil Hurlbert
Williamsport Sun-Gazette December 10, 2017

Margaret Montgomery: A life in Paradise
by Mary Sieminski
Williamsport Sun-Gazette January 14, 2018

Women with a Mission:  Serving their faith at home and abroad
by Janet McNeil Hurlbert
Williamsport Sun-Gazette February 11, 2018

Dr. Caroline Gould Marr: the fourth woman to join the Lycoming County Medical Society
by Judith Gouldin, M.D.
Williamsport Sun-Gazette March 11, 2018

Sylvia Bowman Hays: Sociality, genealogist, and librarian
by Mary Sieminski
Williamsport Sun-Gazette April 8, 2018

Laura Mae Andress: ‘Memories of My Mother’
by Janet McNeil Hurlbert
Williamsport Sun-Gazette May 13, 2018

Williamsport Schools for Young Ladies
by Mary Sieminski
Williamsport Sun-Gazette June 10, 2018

A Life in Letters: Martha Heim
by Janet McNeil Hurlbert
Williamsport Sun-Gazette July 8, 2018

Muncy Female Seminary and its famous teacher, Rose Elizabeth Cleveland
by Mary Sieminski
Williamsport Sun-Gazette August 12, 2018

Lillian May Westfall Reider: A Noted Educator
by Janet McNeil Hurlbert
Williamsport Sun-Gazette September 9, 2018

Sophia Charlotte Ulmer Bidelspacher: A Rose Valley Story
by Mary L. Sieminski
Williamsport Sun-Gazette October 14, 2018

Lucille Sturgis Gramley Goyne
by Janet McNeil Hurlbert
Williamsport Sun-Gazette November 18, 2018

Remember, Christmas Is Still Christmas
by Janet McNeil Hurlbert
Williamsport Sun-Gazette December 9, 2018

Lycoming Daughters of the American Revolution: Preserving History and making it widely available
By Mary Sieminski
Williamsport Sun-Gazette January 13, 2019

Early African American activist Catherine Gilchrist Thompson
by Mary Sieminski
Williamsport Sun-Gazette February 10, 2019

Martha Shank, a Williamsport Woman of firsts
by Janet McNeil Hurlbert
Williamsport Sun-Gazette March 3, 2019

The State Industrial Home for Women at Muncy: Reforming Pennsylvanian women in the early 1900s
By Kerry Richmond, Ph.D.
Williamsport Sun-Gazette April 14, 2019

Girl Reserves and the Williamsport YWCA: Find and give the best
by Janet McNeil Hurlbert
Williamsport Sun-Gazette May 12, 2019

Miss Jennie Sweley and Mrs. Jennie Ball:  One woman, two diaries
by Mary Sieminski
Williamsport Sun-Gazette June 9, 2019

The ladies of Mulberry Street Church
by Janet McNeil Hurlbert
Williamsport Sun-Gazette July 21, 2019

Carile Cone Higgins Brown inspires Williamsport’s public library
by Mary Sieminski
Williamsport Sun-Gazette August 11, 2019

Education of a nurse in Williamsport at the turn of the 20th century: from application to graduation
by Janet McNeil Hurlbert
Williamsport Sun-Gazette September 8, 2019

Alma Heflin McCormick: Trailblazer in aviation
by Mary Sieminski
Williamsport Sun-Gazette October 13, 2019

Frances ‘Minnie” Gray: the art of weaving human hair wreaths
by Janet McNeil Hurlbert
Williamsport Sun-Gazette November 10, 2019

Women of Williamsport cooking in the 19th century
by Janet McNeil Hurlbert
Williamsport Sun-Gazette December 8, 2019

Louise McCarty Plankenhorn: the woman who lived in a castle
by Mary L. Sieminski
Williamsport Sun-Gazette January 12, 2020