Silas M. Clark

One of the most distinguished citizens of Indiana was Silas Moorhead Clark. He was born January 18, 1834 in Plum Creek Township, Armstrong County. He was the son of James and Ann Moorhead Clark and came from a long line of notable ancestors on both his parent’s sides. On his maternal side was his great grandfather, the pioneer, Fergus Moorhead. Mr. Moorhead was one of the first persons to settle near Indiana in 1772. It was in 1777 that Fergus was captured by Indians and taken to Canada during the Revolution. Not long after, Mrs. Moorhead, while alone in the wilderness, gave birth to Fergus Moorhead, Jr., Silas Clark’s grandfather. His paternal great grandfather, Captain James Clark, was among the defenders of Hannastown when it was attacked in 1782 by Indians and Canadians and burned it to the ground.

The Man behind the House: Silas Clark
Silas M. Clark

Silas and his family moved to Indiana when Silas was about a year old. His father was in business for 37 years as a tannery operator and held the offices of school director and justice of the peace. Silas only received a basic education in the public schools; at the age of 14 he began attending the Indiana Academy, which was the first institution of learning equivalent to a high school. His classmates included: Matthew S. Quay, who later became Pennsylvania’s Republic “boss,” and Harry White, later serving as judge and Congressman. Not only was Clark studying at the Academy, he also worked on his father’s farm and carried the mail for a year between Indiana and Blairsville.

Once his education was complete at the Indiana Academy, Mr. Clark entered Jefferson College at Canonsburg, Washington County (now known as Washington & Jefferson College). In 1852 at the age of 18 he graduated fifth in a class of sixty people. Following graduation, he became a teacher at the Indiana Academy, for two terms, instructing 45 young men.

It was in 1854 that Mr. Clark began the study of law at the office of William M. Stewart, an Indiana attorney who later became Solicitor for the Pennsylvania Railroad. In 1856, Clark founded, along with Joseph M. Thompson and John F. Young, a Democratic newspaper, The Democratic Messenger. After a few months, Clark sold his interest in the paper, which later became the Indiana Messenger.

In September 1857, at age 23, Clark was admitted to the Indiana County Bar and the following year he became a junior partner of attorney Stewart. The firm of Stewart & Clark was said to have had the “largest and most lucrative practice in Indiana County.” The partners are believed to have never had a written agreement and never had a disagreement. Their association continued for sixteen years until 1873 when Stewart moved to Philadelphia; Clark continued the practice alone. His office was in the Edward Nixon house, North Sixth Street, which is now the Delaney automobile lot.

Clark’s next move was into the political world, being elected to Indiana Borough Council in 1859, and he was reelected in 1861 and 1865. In 1869, he was elected a school director for the borough and continued to hold this position for many years. It was said, “To his [Clark] judgement and energy are the public schools (of Indiana) are largely indebted for their prosperity.”

His law practice quickly attained a reputation as “a strong and logical reasoner and an eloquent advocate.” His personal inclination was to shun litigation wherever possible and settle cases peaceably out of court. It is claimed that Clark never sued anyone himself nor was he sued by anyone. Much can be said about Clark as a lawyer by the following quote, “Whether arguing questions of law before a court or questions of fact before a jury, the strong points of his case were so forcibly presented that the weak ones were likely to be lost altogether.”

In his personal life, Clark married Clarissa Elizabeth Moorhead on April 26, 1859. She was not related to Silas’ mother’s line.

The Family behind the House
Clarissa Elizabeth Moorhead Clark

Clark’s political career continued, on July 4, 1862 while in Harrisburg attending a State Democratic Convention, he was elected chairman of the Indiana County Democratic Committee. Now during this time, the Civil War was raging, and many people looked upon Democrats with suspicion as “Secessionists” and “Copperheads” allied with their rebellious brethren in the South. Clark made a proposal that both Republicans and Democrats of Indiana County, who had previously announced public meetings for the same day, cancel the meetings and campaign without political meetings; Clark pointed out that “the present is indeed no time for partisan strife.” The Republican candidate for Congress, was Clark’s law partner, William M. Stewart. But Clark received no reply to his proposal, so he suggested a joint meeting of both parties, but I.M. Watt, the Republican chairman, declined to consider either idea.

As Clark’s professional and political career prospered, he began the erection of his mansion in 1869. During construction, a newspaper item in October mentioned that he had been struck on the head by a failing brick and he was somewhat stunned for a few hours. The location of the home was on the site of the old academy, where Clark had attended as a boy, and had burned in 1864. The house was said to cost $12,000 and was completed in 1870. It was during this time that, without his knowledge, Clark was nominated by some friends at the State Democratic Convention for Justice for the State Supreme Court. He received forty or fifty votes, but the choice of the Convention was Cyrus L. Pershing.

This was just the beginning of Clark’s career in the judicial-political sphere. In 1871, he was unanimously chosen as the Democratic candidate for President Judge of the Tenth Judicial District – consisting of Armstrong, Indiana, and Westmoreland Counties – but Clark was defeated by James A. Logan of Greensburg. Logan was a solicitor for the Pennsylvania Railroad, and on Election Day trains were sent out along the PRR lines in the three-county area to haul voters to their polling places free of charge. Even though these tactics were employed, Logan only had a majority of some 400 votes. In the years that followed Clark declared “Judge Logan was a good, able and just judge.” By this time, Attorney Clark was considered one of the best attorneys in Indiana County.

Clark did not give up running for office, he was successfully elected on October 8, 1872 as a delegate from the 24th Senatorial District to the Convention which framed a new Pennsylvania Constitution. As a member of the Convention, he was named to a committee to make rules for governing the Convention; he also served on the Declaration of Rights Committee, Committed on Private Corporations, and the Revision and Adjustment Committee.

Again in 1874 Clark was nominated for the State Supreme Court, receiving 41 votes, but he was once again defeated with the nod going to W.J. Woodward.

Clark continued to be active in both business and politics. He was a delegate to the National Democratic Convention in St. Louis in 1876, in which Samuel J. Tilden for President. It was said “Silas M. Clark is not one of those men who avoid politics as a filthy pool in which honest men should not dabble. He holds it the right and duty of every good citizen to vote; he recognizes that good men should not shirk their share in party management.” In 1879, he was elected to serve as president of the First National Bank. He also served several terms as president of the Indiana County Agricultural Society.

In 1882, the Democratic Party of Pennsylvania, unanimously chose him as its nominee for Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Following the Election of November 7, 1882, the entire Democratic ticket has been elected. Clark was elected, and surprising had won Indiana County, breaking a rule since the days of Andrew Jackson that no Democrat could carry the county.

Once the Indiana County Court adjourned on December 23, 1882, the members of the Bar organized and passed resolutions “highly complimentary of the character and ability of Judge Silas M. Clark” who severed his long connection with the county attorney’s association. On December 28, General White entertained the members of the Bar and other guests at an evening party in honor of the Supreme Justice-elect. The following day, Clark left to take his seat on the bench of the high court, with a salary of $8,000 per year.

Clark was highly esteemed on the bench, “his opinions, always brief, were couched in the simplest and choicest language, and were as readily understood by laymen as by lawyers.” Clark was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from Lafayette College in 1886. However, there was sorrow during his term as Justice, with the death of his wife, Clara, on January 17, 1887.

Following the death of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Morrison R. Waite in 1888, many Pennsylvania newspapers pointed to Justice Clark as being qualified for his replacement. However, this was not meant to be.

Clark House
Silas M. Clark House

Late in September 1891, while holding court in Pittsburgh, he suffered from a large carbuncle on the back of his neck, but he continued to sit on the Bench until early November when he was obliged to come home. His physicians could not do much and gave up all hope of his recovery. On November 20, he lapsed into a coma and died about 9:15 p.m. at the age of 57.

Funeral services were held at the Presbyterian Church Monday afternoon at 2:00 pm on November 23; this was a remarkable demonstration of respect and affection, and it is likely that Judge Clark would not have wanted all this fuss. The Courthouse was draped in black; business establishments were closed until 4:00. John Sutton Hall was also draped in black and the bell tolled during the services. The church was overflowing, every available seat upstairs and down was occupied, there were many standing in every possible space, and there were more than a hundred waiting outside. At 11:20 a.m. a special train arrived in Indiana carrying Governor Pattison and five of Clark’s fellow judges, plus attorneys, county and state officials and other judges. At the conclusion of the service, the processional to the cemetery was delayed permitting Normal School faculty and students to file by for a last farewell. Afterwards, hundreds of others who had been patiently waiting outside walked silently past. Justice Silas M. Clark’s final resting place in Oakland Cemetery is marked by a simple stone bearing the words “S.M. Clark.” This was fitting for such a humble man as Silas.

In 1893, a boy’s dormitory was built on the Normal School campus, and it was named “Clark Hall,” in Silas’ honor. After it burned in 1905, another was erected and rededicated on January 12, 1907. After an “open house,” there was a ceremony held in the chapel of John Sutton Hall where a large portrait of Justice Clark, festooned with carnations, hung on the wall above the rostrum. Attorney J. Wood Clark, a son of Clark, presided.

Members of the Clark family continued to reside in the house until 1915 when J. Wood Clark moved to Pittsburgh. The house was rented to F.M. Fritchman, General Superintendent of the R&P Coal Company, until January 19, 1917, when the surviving Clark heirs sold the house to the County Commissioners for $20,000 less $1,000 which was donated by the heirs. The intention was for the house to be a veteran’s memorial and so it was known for years as “Memorial Hall.” It served various veterans’ groups, patriotic organizations, the Red Cross during World War I and II, as civil defense headquarters, and the Historical Society; it was also used as a polling place.

The Clark House continues to serve the community as a museum for the Historical Society. It serves as a “time capsule” a look into the past to see how the Clarks would have lived. Come visit us for one of the many events held at the Clark House or set up a tour of the Clark House to learn more about this fascinating and interesting house.

Annual Christmas Open House

Last week was a busy week at the Historical Society as the holiday season is in full swing.  On Wednesday afternoon the public was invited to join the Historical Society to view recent interviews of long-time residents of Indiana County conducted by students from IUP’s history department. It was a great afternoon as we got to experience what life was like during the first half of the 20th Century through individual stories.  These stories ranged from life in the coal towns, to time at the University, and military service. We would like to thank everyone who came out and shared the afternoon with us along with the students from IUP’s History Department who completed the interviews, and of course the residents of Indiana County who shared their memories.

community choir
IUP Community Choir

Then on Friday evening the Historical Society welcomed the community to celebrate the Christmas Season.  The weather was perfect, as the rain held off for most of the evening. The community came together to tour the festively decorated Clark House while enjoying holiday refreshments and to tour the museum. There were even gifts in the gift shop for people to do some holiday shopping for family and friends.  Our guests enjoyed holiday music provided by the IUP Community Choir, afterwards guests made their way to the Clark House for a holiday sing along around the piano in the parlor. If you were lucky you got to have a conversation with some historical figures, including Harry and Anna White who were in the Clark House. Thanks to all who came out to celebrate the season with us and to the Evergreen Garden Club for decorating the Clark House for the holiday season.

The whites
Harry and Anna White

As a reminder the Historical Society will be closed from December 22, 2018 through January 1, 2019. We will reopen on January 2, 2019. We are excited to see what the new year holds in store, stay tuned for future events such as programs and fundraisers, or just come in to visit the museum or do some family research in our library. Whatever the reason for your visit we can’t wait to see you at the Society. We wish everyone a happy holiday season and a happy new year.

Clark House2018
Clark House

Frances Strong Helman: The Society’s Founder

It started in 1928, when Frances Strong Helman traced her ancestry to Indiana County pioneer John Lydick. Ten years later, in 1938, in her living room, Helman and five others founded the Historical and Genealogical Society of Indiana County. She loved finding and telling stories – ranging from genealogical to historical to folklore – and she gave generously of her time and talent to the Society’s needs.

The Indiana Evening Gazette reported on April 1, 1939 that the Society had been formed with twenty-six members. The request to move their materials to the Indiana Free Library had been granted. The holdings by the Society included: fourteen books, pamphlets, and tombstone inscriptions from local cemeteries.

By 1940, members reached one hundred thirty-four members and the Society was officially incorporated. The Society was invited to Wilson Hall, on the IUP campus, by Dr. Leroy King, where they shared a room on the first floor and the newspaper files were stored in the basement.

Fast forward a decade to the winter of 1951, when the Society moved into the Clark House, known at the time as Memorial Hall. The story behind the move from Wilson Hall to the Clark House is an interesting one. AS it was the winter, the books from the library were piled onto a sled and then pulled to a parking lot and loaded into a car. This process was repeated once they arrived to the Clark House. At the time, the library collection did not fill the bookshelves in the study of Justice Silas M. Clark. As time went on, the name of the home changed to the History House and then to the Clark House; along with the name change the library also grew, holding over two thousand surname files by the 1960s.

Mrs. Helman was instrumental in the growth of the Society. She used her storytelling ability to add to the library. This began between 1939 and 1941, when she wrote several articles for The Indiana Countian along with serving as genealogical editor. From 1948-66, she published Your Family Tree, which was a quarterly genealogical magazine. Mrs. Helman also traveled across the country doing research and as a professional genealogist. She was a member of the National Genealogical Society as well as serving as the president of the Pennsylvania Historical and Genealogical Association.

Frances Helman.jpg

There were many articles written about the history of Indiana County, many of which were published but many more that were typed and deposited to the collection in the library. In 1953, Indiana County celebrated its sesquicentennial and Helman wrote a noteworthy article, “History of Indiana County.”

The Society was one of her main activities; she served five terms as president and became an honorary life member in 1955, but she also was active in many other historical activities as well. She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and held office in that organization, and she helped organize and held office in the James Letort Chapter, Daughters of the American Colonists (DAC) and the Ann Letort Chapter, Children of the American Colonists. As general chairman of a five-county committee, she helped plan the 1956 bicentennial of the Armstrong Expedition and the Armstrong Kittanning Trail Society. She also helped organize the Indiana County Tourist Bureau.

On January 1, 1976, Frances Helman was officially honored by the County Commissioners by naming her Indiana County Historian. Also that year the Society did its first reprint, it was of the 1880 History of Indiana County by Caldwell. A reprint of the 1871 Beers Atlas of Indiana County and then a publication came with Clarence Stephenson’s Indiana County – 175th Anniversary History.

Mrs. Helman loved folklore, sometimes to the point of embellishment. Sometimes these embellishments, like those oral stories passed from generation to generation, came to life; however, these embellishments made the truth more difficult to decipher.

Mrs. Helman passed away in 1980, but she did not forget the Society, as she donated her entire collection of historical and genealogical material. In 1982, Attorney and Mrs. Don Miller donated their extensive collection. These materials were combined with the materials already in the Society’s collections, formed the foundation of the current library.

The library outgrew the Clark House. The Society bought the Armory Building and began renovations, and by the early 2000s it was time once again for the Society to move. Thankfully this time, the material only had to move across the parking lot, but it was still a major undertaking. Shelving units, hundreds of volumes, dozens of filing cabinets full of surname and subject folders, and the Helman Collection were rolled across the parking on flat carts and dollies.

Thanks to her love of genealogy, and hard work, the Society has the library and resources to serve the people researching the history of their family who trace their roots to Indiana County, PA. In honor of this marvelous lady the library is known as the FRances Strong Helman Library. We hope to see you at the library to do your research…who knows what neat and interesting stories you may discover.

“The clues you need are somewhere, just waiting to be found.”

The Eloquent J.P. Carter Home

Many people are familiar with the point in Indiana, the intersection of School Street, Sixth Street, and Wayne Avenue, as there are so many historic homes in this area. Two of the main homes are the Silas M. Clark House and the J.P. Carter Home (known as the Heritage Inn Suites). The history behind the J.P. Carter Mansion is an interesting one, and his story intertwines with our very own Silas Clark. The home was built in 1870, at the same time as Mr. Clark built his home. Carter had the single-family dwelling built at a cost of $30,000 (a little over $500,000 today). The house was built on a tract of 3 and a half acres of what was considered at the time as “the most desirable location in Indiana.” Mr. Clark began construction on his home, at the point, in 1869 and completed in 1870; Mr. Clark had obtained the architect whom Carter had desired, so he deliberately built a larger home than his neighbor. Not only was it larger in size, but it was also taller at the time.

Clark House
Silas M. Clark House

There is not much information regarding J.P. Carter, except that he married Nancy Ralston and he was involved in banking. The Indiana Progress reported on August 4, 1870 that the “large and costly residence of Mr. James P. Carter” was just about finished and would be ready for occupancy that coming winter.  The paper called the home “one of the finest private residences in the Western part of the state.”  By 1872, both Silas Clark and James Carter had pavements laid around their elegant homes. In 1874, it was sadly reported in the Indiana Messenger that the home would be put up for sale as Mr. Carter fell on hard times financially and his health was declining. Following is the description that was reported:

The cellar is nine feet high in the clear and divided into five compartments. The first floor consists of five rooms, parlor, library, bed chamber, large dining room, with kitchen, and wash house attached, one and a half stories high, with large cellar under the whole of it. Elegant range in the kitchen, and bake-oven in the wash house. The main hall is wide and spacious, the side hall on the north side is also wide, and in it is the main stair way. There is also a hall entering from the south side; also store room and china closet adjoining the kitchen and dining room. There is also bath room and water closets. Nearly the whole of the first floor is finished in walnut, the entire stairway, railing and steps are walnut. The second floor is component of five large bed chambers, bath rooms and water closet, hot and cold water, gas and every other convenience. The third story constructed with a mansard roof, forms five bed chambers on which also the water tank is located. [. . .] The mantles in the house are all of the finest marble, with marble stationary wash stands, hot and cold water in every room.”

James P. Carter died on August 5, 1874 after a battle with consumption. It was reported that Mr. Carter was an “energetic, reliable and industrious business man” and was held in high esteem.

J.P. Carter Home
J.P. Carter Home (now Heritage House Suites)

The next owner of this marvelous home in Indiana was Thomas Sutton, who purchased the house in 1879, and moved in with his new wife Ella Hildebrand. He was the son of John Sutton, one of the founders of the Indiana Normal School (now IUP). Sutton was a lawyer and went to Princeton at the age of 16, and was a prominent businessman and community leader. Thomas was also involved with the Indiana Foundry and the Strawboard Company (later known as the Indiana Paper Mill Company). He also served as Treasurer and Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the Indiana Normal School, and was President of the Board for 39. Thomas Sutton had such a profound impact that when an addition was built on to John Sutton Hall it was known as Thomas Sutton Hall.

After Thomas Sutton died in 1942, the home was sold to Mr. Musser, who divided it into apartments. The home now features suites that can be rented, and the history of the home comes alive on warm summer days when going past you notice that there is a wedding ceremony occurring. This is one of the most unique and grandeur homes in Indiana. Although today, you will notice one prominent piece of the home missing and that is the tower above the third floor; it was removed sometime in the 1970s due to disrepair. As you stroll down Sixth Street, you will have a better understanding of one of the unique homes located on this historic street.

2017 Society Summary

It is time once again for us to ring in a new year, and what a year it has been for the Indiana County Historical Society. We have done so much this past year and we take this time to reflect on what we have accomplished. We held a number of programs and workshops that we hope to continue in 2018, so be on the lookout for dates of those events. This year was a year of fundraisers and cooperation with many different organizations in the area.

eeefa-clark2bhouse2bchristmas

The Historical Society once again worked with the Indiana Art Association, sponsoring the Open Arts Show, that is exhibited at the Society from November to early January. We have also worked closely with IUP to bring interns to our Museum. Internships help students learn about how a museum operates and it also enables the Society to use young talent to expand our outreach. Thanks to the Evergreen Garden Club, the Silas Clark House is always beautifully decorated for the Christmas season. Along with decorating the Clark House at Christmas time the club also creates and maintains the garden at the point of South Sixth Street and Wayne Avenue during the Spring/Summer season.

This past year also bring with it new partnerships, including one with the Young Professional Organization (YPO). The YPO is a subgroup of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce comprised of individuals from 18-40 years old with the purpose of promoting networking between local businesses. This past October they sponsored the Haunted School Spirits program that brought approximately 75 people into the museum, along with funds paid by attendees. Also, this past September/October the Society worked with the Paranormal Society of IUP who investigated the Museum, Clark House and grounds for possible spirit entities that may still be roaming the buildings. The activities ended with a reveal of the investigations.

In addition to these big events, the Society also works with the Rainbow Diamond Glass Club, the Horace Mann Elementary School, and showcasing exhibits at the annual Air Show at the Jimmy Stewart Airport. Further, Board members and volunteers have given presentations at the Indiana Free Library and the Blairsville Historical Society. It is important for organizations to work together to expand our horizons; if you know of an organization that would like to work with the Historical Society please contact us at ichistoricalsociety@gmail.com or by phone at 724-463-9600.

A few closing notes about our 2018; we have many fun programs, events, and fundraisers planned so stay tuned to our various social media accounts, or consider becoming a member to learn about member exclusive events. Also, we have the following closings for 2018: March 30-31; July 3-4; November 20-24; and December 22-31.

We want to wish all our readers, followers, and members a happy holiday season and a prosperous new year. We hope to see you at the museum in 2018, either to visit the museum, attend one of our programs, fundraisers, or other events, or to volunteer. We will be closed until January 2, 2018 to give all our staff and volunteers a much-needed vacation.

A Victorian Christmas

Christmas is a festive time of year, here in Indiana we have It’s a Wonderful Life Christmas celebration which kicked off last month on November 17 with a parade, and there are festivities happening all month long.  Coming up on December 8, 2017 at 6:00 is the Historical Society’s Annual Christmas Open House, which the Clark House has been beautifully decorated by the Evergreen Garden Club. Refreshments will be served in the Clark House and at 7:00pm and 7:30pm there will be music played by two local groups in the Armory. This is a great chance to get into the holiday spirit.

The Clark House was built in 1869-1870, and that started a thought: What would have Christmas been like for the Clark family as they lived in the house? Technology was not advanced like it is today, there was not electric Christmas lights nor was there instant Christmas carols over the internet. A Victorian Era Christmas would have been much different than we experience it today.  One of the staple decorations in most people’s homes this time of year is the Christmas tree, although many of us have artificial trees, in the late 1800s these trees would have been real trees filling the home with the evergreen smell. Not only were the trees real, but they were elaborated decorated , this included fruit, garland, pine cones, and candles.

eeefa-clark2bhouse2bchristmas
Clark House Christmas 2016

Many people pride themselves with their Christmas decorating, from elaborate outside light displays and unique indoor decorating; however in the Victorian Era, decorating was much more simple. People of all economic groups decorated for Christmas, but those decorations were limited to garland and foliage. This would include the trimmings of pine trees and mistletoe.

And finally what is Christmas without Santa…the jolly old elf from Clemment Moore’s poem “The Night Before Christmas.”  Santa has been a popular figure of Christmas, having different means for people all over the world; most countries and cultures have there own version of Santa. The Dutch have St. Nick, England Father Christmas, and the Germans have Kris Kringle.

The Historical Society has in its collection many vintage toys from bygone years along with beautiful displays featuring the history of Christmas in Indiana County. Be sure to stop by the museum, visit the Clark House and be transported back to a simpler time. We would like to thank the Evergreen Garden Club for their decorating of the Clark House, and for all the volunteers and staff members that make our Christmas Open House possible.  We hope to see you December 8, 2017 at 6:00 pm, and we wish everyone a joyous holiday season.

October 2017 Society Happenings

Fall is in the air, Halloween is approaching which means times for ghouls, ghosts, and goblins. It is also a busy time for everyone at the Historical Society and we have a lot of events planned that may be of interest to the public. 




MEMBERSHIP

With the coming of fall also means the beginning of the Society’s annual membership campaign. We encourage you to become a part of this fantastic organization. We are constantly planning new events and programs; it is your membership helps the Society remain open to the public to provide these programs to inform the community about the history and culture of Indiana County.
Membership comes with many benefits which include:
·        Receipt of the month newsletter “The Clark House News”
·        Invites to special members only events
·        Discounts to event tickets
·        Notice of events
·        Free use of the library for research
We would ask you to consider becoming a member at any of the following levels:
Annual Membership:
·        Individual – $25
·        Family – $30
·        Sustaining – $60
·        Small Business/Professional – $60
·        Corporate – $125
One-Time Gifts:
·        Life Membership (Individual) – $500
·        Life Membership (Couple) – $750
·        Society Benefactor – $1000

GENEALOGY WORKSHOP

Looking to start genealogy research, but unsure where to start or have already started but don’t know where to turn to next?  Join Gary Clawson and Vince Beatty, Historical Society board members and long-time genealogy researchers, for a genealogy workshop.

This 3 part genealogy class will benefit both beginners and serious researchers alike, focusing on resources that have just become available to the public in recent months along with resources that have been available for some time. Each class will take the form of a lecture, followed by a help session where attendees can receive assistance in their family research. The classes are free to Society members and $5 per session ($15 total) for non-members. Each class will last approximately one hour and will take place in the Helman Library. The classes will take place on October 12, 19, and 26 at 10am.

A reservation is required for all workshops and attendance is limited to 16 people, please call the society to reserve your seat or for more information.


PARANORMAL INVESTIGATIONS 

Ever wonder what the inside of a museum looks like at night? Ever want to be a part of a paranormal investigation?  Now is your chance!! Join the Historical Society and the IUP Paranormal Society as they investigate the Clark House on October 7 at 6 and 8 pm. Space is limited, so reservations are necessary. Tickets are $15 and are available by calling the Historical Society at 724-463-9600 or by email at ichistoricalsociety@gmail.com.

Did you miss the paranormal investigations or were you a part of the investigations and want to find out what was found in other investigations? Join us on October 28 at 5 p.m. to learn about what was found during the Paranormal investigations held at both the Armory and Clark House. The cost to attend is $5 and free for those who participated in the investigations. Tickets will be available at the door. As always refreshments will be provided. It is sure to be a “haunting” good time.

We hope you will join us at the museum this month whether it is to join us for the various events, coming in to renew or join as members, or coming to tour the museum. We look forward to seeing you and assisting you in all your needs related to the history of Indiana County!!

Indiana County PA’s Historical Society: The Best Kept Secret for Uncovering the Past

Silas M. Clark House, built 1869-1870.

Historical societies are commonly associated with history buffs, but they are actually important to all members of the community.  They preserve and collect artifacts significant to the history and heritage of the community.  Many are hidden treasures, as is commonly said about the Historical and Genealogical Society of Indiana County, it is “Indiana County’s best kept secret.”

Local historical societies fact many issues today, especially financial and technological issues. For the Indiana County Historical Society, they maintain two historic buildings, the Silas Clark House and the Old Armory Building, and the cost to maintain them is always increasing.  The Society relies on membership to operate, but donations and volunteers are an important aspect as well.

As technology increases, historical societies face many issues, especially with so many resources online, but it is important to remember that Historical Societies have many things to offer that cannot be received through a computer.  For example, there are actual artifacts that can be seen in person, and there are also knowledgeable people readily available to answer questions.  With the advancement of technology, volunteers are need to use this new technology, whether that be scanning photographs or entering data into our museum software program, there is something for all ages and all people.  The use of teamwork is extremely important for the Society to operate.

It’s amazing how little the community knows about the operations of local historical societies and the work that goes into the up keep and operation of a museum, historic home, and research library.  Many people don’t understand why historical societies want to save old things, but it is part of our history and heritage that needs to be kept alive for future generations.  To showcase these items the Indiana County Historical Society has many programs throughout the year to educate the community about the past.

I urge everyone – students, teachers, schools, and individuals – to take advantage of this resource that provides education to our community through exhibits and research materials available to them in their own backyard.  Together we can turn the Indiana County Historical Society form “Indiana County’s best kept secret” to the “best place in Indiana County to discover the past.”