Fisher Mansion

On 220 North Sixth Street you will find the former home of Governor John S. Fisher, the only Pennsylvania governor from Indiana County. The home was built around 1902 for Mr. and Mrs. Edward Rowe.

The home is built in the Queen Anne style, and constructed of wood and shingles. An interesting feature of the home is the large chimney on the left side of the house which was used for all of the fireplaces in the house. Along with only one large chimney is the tower o the house with a rounder roof, which resembles a dome. At one time, the third floor of the tower was used as a sleeping porch and at the time contained no windows, only screens, which was designed to give the house more fresh air.

Fisher Mansion. 220 North 6th Street Indiana, PA

Governor Fisher was born May 25, 167 in South Mahoning Township. He received his diploma in 1886 from the Indiana State Normal School and taught for 7 years in the public schools. Fisher studied law and was admitted to the Indiana County Bar in 1893. In 1900, he was elected to the State Senate, followed in 1916 as a delegate to the Republican National Convention and became a Commissioner of Banking of Pennsylvania in 1919. The pivotal point of his career came in 1926 when he was elected Governor of Pennsylvania, serving in that capacity until 1931.

Governor John S. Fisher

While Governor Fisher was in office a coal strike broke out, and the governor called for the state police to “preserve order” but in fact they assisted the coal and iron police. Fisher tried to have a conference for all parties of the dispute, on March 12, 192, but no one responded. Fisher had a former close association with the Clearfield Bituminous Coal Corp, and was accused of favoring coal companies. The strike ended in July 192 and Fisher suffered a severe setback in public opinion in which he tried to retrieve in 1929 by signing the Mansfield Bill. This bill corrected some of the more gross abuses of the coal and iron police. Governor Fisher died on June 25, 1940.

Former Eclipses in Indiana County

The nation was captivated yesterday with the most recent solar eclipse. However, this was not the first eclipse visible in Indiana County, the following accounts were taken from Caldwell’s History of Indiana County from the early period of the county.

An early eclipse was visible here on June 6, 1806; at this time the population of Indiana County was very limited, there were few persons living in the county, that were able to give an account of the phenomenon. At the time it was a “thing of terror” to many people and remained a topic of discussion for many years. The eclipse of 1806 extended throughout the entire boundaries of Venango county and was total in such parts of New York, New England, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

In Pittsburgh, many people were troubled as to whether or not the end of all things had come. Many people confessed their sins for fear that this would be the end.

In Philadelphia, a total obscurity suddenly turned the day into night. The business ceased, and the joy of the crowds had ceased and all bustling stopped.

An old settler stated “I thought the day of judgment was at hand and I was scared. The chickens went to roost and everything was a still as night.” Another settler remembered, “I was working on the mountain, and all of a sudden, it became so dark that I could not see my way down the ravine. I waited and waited, it seemed to me a whole day before the sun shone again.”

It was reported that the eclipse began about 9:50 am and lasted until 12:40 pm. From eyewitness accounts this was a terrifying but also fascinating time. The stars shone in the middle day and the birds stopped singing, but the sun did reappear and things returned to normal.

Another eclipse in the early days of the county appeared on May 2,1846, from the account in Caldwell’s History of Indiana County it was said that “This remarkable phenomenon which took place on Saturday last, was not visible [in Indiana County] until it passed the middle, thirteen minutes past twelve o’clock, noon, after which it was visible, except occasionally obscured by flying clouds, until it passed off. Its duration was two hours and fifty-four minutes.”

It’s fascinating to look back at meteorological events and how our ancestors reacted to these events. As you do family research look to those primary sources to see what people thought and how they lived, remember they didn’t have all these modern conveniences to do research and understand all that was happening in the world.

Ladies Victorian Tea Fall 2017

It is once again time for one of the most popular fundraising events at the Historical Society, the Ladies Victorian Tea. This fall the tea will be held on Saturday September 23rd from 2:00 to 4:00 pm at the Clark House.

The Origin of Afternoon Tea

The origin of the afternoon tea can be traced back to Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford. She complained of “having that sinking feeling” during the late afternoon. At the time it was usual for people to take only two main meals a day, breakfast, and dinner at around 8 o’clock in the evening. The solution for the Duchess was a pot of tea and a light snack, taken privately in her boudoir during the afternoon.

Later, friends were invited to join her in her rooms at Woburn Abbey and this summer practice proved so popular that the Duchess continued it when she returned to London, sending cards to her friends asking them to join her for “tea and a walking of the fields.” Other social hostesses quickly picked up on the idea and the practices became respectable enough to move it into the drawing room. Before long all of fashionable society was sipping tea and nibbling sandwiches in the middle of the afternoon.

The Program for the Fall Tea

The Gilded Age, La Belle Epoque, the Edwardian Period; the turn of the 20th century is known by many names. Regardless of what it may be labeled, it was definitely an exciting time of change particularly for women. The styles in clothing were a distinct departure from the Victorian period, the rights of women were being questioned and fought for, even the beliefs in marriage and romantic love were evolving from that of the century before. Historian Katie Gaudreau will discuss the changing societal roles of women as seen through clothing, accessories, and other means during this time. Enjoy an exhibit of the styles of dress from 1900 to 1010 as you enjoy tea and refreshments at the Fall Victorian Ladies’ Tea.

Ticket Information

Tickets will go on sale on August 15 and will be available for $20 for non-members and $15 for members. For more information or to order tickets contact the Society at 724-463-9600 or email at ichistoricalsociety@gmail.com. Tickets are limited.