Save the date! Holiday Open House December 8th

The Society’s new Vintage Wedding Album will be on display at the annual open house Saturday, December 8th 10:00 am – 2:00 pm.  And while you’re there, browse our gift shop for great holiday gift ideas.

HHS Begins Vintage Wedding Album
The Society is inviting residents to bring or send their wedding photo to our office to be displayed in a photo album.  Please include the day you exchanged vows, name of the church or place of the wedding, your attendants and honeymoon destination.  Other information you might wish to add could be where you resided or reside in Harborcreek Township, number of or names of your children and any special notations you would like to include.

We look forward to receiving wedding photos either through our harborcreekhistory@gmail.com or by your bringing them to 5451 Merwin Lane to be scanned during office hours; original stays with YOU.  This project will bring a new dimension to HHS and our purpose to preserve the exchange of marriage vows as township residents began their married lives together.

Shades Beach Historical Marker Dedication

You’re invited to join the Harborcreek Historical Society and Harborcreek Township in dedicating a new historical marker at Shades Beach Saturday, May 20th at 10 am. The marker, which was funded in part by the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority, celebrates the history of Harborcreek’s shoreline.

Guest speakers for the dedication include Honey Stempka, Founder and CEO of Undo Undone and Project Manager for the Lake Erie Quadrangle National Marine Sanctuary Designation, and Jeanette Schnars, Executive Director of the Regional Science Consortium and member of the Pennsylvania Archaeological Shipwreck Survey Team (P.A.S.S.T.). Together, they will talk about recent efforts to identify, survey and document all shipwrecks in PA waters.

Refreshments provided.

Letter from the President

Dear members and sponsors,

It’s been a long time since the Society has had a place to call home, but we’re finally in our forever home. It’s gorgeous. We thank the Harborcreek community, Dean Pepicello, Joe Peck, Tim May and the Blanchfield family for their support after our offices at Knowledge Park closed and providing a new home. With their encouragement, the board never lost sight of the mission developed 20 years ago.

The Gifford-Blanchfield House will be open weekly for the community to visit and use. Please consider volunteering with us. A new building comes with new responsibilities, and we’ll need volunteers to help care for the house and during special events.

The Gifford-Blanchfield House is ideal for gatherings of 15 people or less, so keep it in mind if you need a space to meet.

Be sure to add to your calendar the following two events: the Shades Beach historical marker dedication on May 20, 2017, and the official dedication of the Gifford-Blanchfield House on July 15, 2017. We’d love for you to join us!

~ Lori Sheridan, President

Community Service Award Presented to Harborcreek Township Supervisors

At the 2017 Annual Meeting on January 28th, the Harborcreek Historical Society honored Harborcreek Township Supervisors Joe Peck, Tim May and Dean Pepicello for their unwavering commitment to the community and their investment in the Gifford-Blanchfield House. They orchestrated the transfer of the Blanchfield property from the Rick Blanchfield family to the Township and then oversaw the renovation of the house, all of which was done in partnership with the Society and Blanchfield family.

East Erie Moose Lodge #593 Award Funds to Society

In January, the Harborcreek Historical Society was one of several local organizations to receive a donation from the East Erie Moose Lodge #593 from their games of chance fund. The donation of $500 will be used to support activities and projects at the new Gifford-Blanchfield House that will take place in 2017. We thank the Lodge for their generous donation, and invite them to visit our new headquarters and see the work made possible by their gift.

Memories of Fishing Blue Pike

 By John Skuce

When I was a boy …..

As board members identifying, discussing and researching the topics for a new marker for Shades Beach, our initial focus grew to include the entire Harborcreek Township shoreline, Lake Erie included. We each chose individual subjects on which to report. Being one of two male board members and a lifelong outdoorsman, I brought up the subject of fishing. Not fishing as we know it today, but fishing for Blue Pike sixty plus years ago. My memories are so vivid, that I forget my age and am surprised when talking with other fishermen who I suspect had the same experiences as me, respond by saying they are too young for that era. On the other hand, I know fishermen who have memories almost identical to mine. 

As I look back, I am no longer sure who lived with whom, but it has never mattered. You see, my parents and grandparents always lived together. Although each of the four influenced me greatly, this story is about my grandpa. From a very early age, he instilled in me the love of nature and all things outdoors. As I recall, I was about ten years old when he took me on the first of countless blue pike outings. We took party boat excursions from the public dock and also rented much smaller boats from the local liveries. Sea sickness only laid me flat in the front of a party boat once. We caught lots and lots of fish, occasionally three at once on the same rod. Of course I am a fisherman and even in those early years, so they tell me, I loved to tell fish stories!

One of my treasures is my grandfather’s Coleman Lantern. It was manufactured in the early 1940’s and although I have repaired it many times, it still works as well as new. When we launched from the livery, it accompanied us on every trip. Many boats would collect tightly over the school of pike, each with at least one lantern, giving the impression of a small village when seen from shore. The Coleman was placed over the side of the boat on a hanger inserted in an oar lock. Since it shone exceptionally bright, ours had an accessory to shield our eyes. What was sometimes unpleasantly bright for us was an attraction for minnows – emerald shiners. When they appeared from out of nowhere, my grandfather frantically grabbed the bait net and swung it through the school before they could escape. Our supply of bait would be replenished preventing a fate dread by all fishermen – running out of bait! 

Well into the night would come word from my grandpa that it was time to reel up because he was about to extinguish the lantern and head in. Even though we had caught many fish, I never looked forward to the end of fishing and still don’t even to this day! 

The Coleman would be carefully inspected, made ready for next time and wait as I did for our next trip.

Lake Erie Adventurers

No matter what the season of the year, there is usually someone thinking or dreaming of what is on the opposite shore of Lake Erie. A recent article published in The Harbor View newsletter, which is published quarterly by the Society and distributed to members, highlighted two spectacular lake crossings. Here are a few more for your reading pleasure.

Due North, Harborcreek Historical Society Newsletter, March/April 2007
Because It’s There, Harborcreek Historical Society Newsletter, May/June 2008
The Ice Walkers, Harborcreek Historical Society Newsletter, May/June 2008

The North East News-Journal printed “Rare Lake Erie freeze shines new light on local men’s adventures” on March 28, 2014. Harborcreek resident and high school teacher Marty Dale has first-hand knowledge of the 1978 crossing of frozen Lake Erie by three North East men. Marty and Archie Wright “manned their CB radios for the night, transmitting every hour to the men.” Who were “the men?” They were Chris Sprague, John Hallenburg, Jr. and Bill Power, who successfully hiked across the frozen lake from Long Point to Freeport Beach March 4, 1978. The trek lasted for 18.5 hours.

Gauge War Wayside Marker Dedicated May 31

On Saturday, May 31, 11:00 am – 12:30 pm the Harborcreek Historical Society hosted a dedication for the Gauge War historical Marker. The presentation took place at the Harborcreek Municipal Building (5601 Buffalo Road) in the upper meeting room. We were joined by guest speaker Paul Foust. Mr. Foust wrote his graduate thesis on the “war” and discussed the December 1853 confrontation that took place in Harborcreek between railroad laborers and residents.

The new historical marker is installed in Harborcreek Township’s Roadside Park. The project is supported in part by the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority.

View event photographs by clicking here.

Message from the President

Greetings HHS members,

Happy 20th Anniversary! Harborcreek Historical Society is turning 20 this year. During the last two decades many changes have taken place – and more changes are to come.

If you have visited Knowledge Park recently, you might have noticed a great deal of activity. Penn State Behrend is growing and needs more space to house their programs and offices. In the Fall of 2013, the Society was notified that our office space was needed. Penn State Behrend has graciously found another space for us, but it is extremely small. Therefore, until a larger space is acquired, we will not be able to have office hours or programs at our Knowledge Park office.

Harborcreek Historical Society’s Board of Directors is committed to the vision and mission that was developed 20 years ago and the Society will continue to be a presence in the community. Harborcreek Township Supervisors have found space for the display cases and will allow us to use the Township Building for meetings and programs. HHS Directors are in the process of creating a Speakers Bureau of various topics that can go to your meetings and events. Also, we will continue with The Harbor View, our website and Facebook presence.

While we are in the process of moving into a smaller space, we remain focused on the security and safety of the HHS acquisitions – the documents, photos and memories that have been given to us.

If you have any comments or questions please email us at harborcreekhistory@gmail.com or call (814) 899-4447.

Lori Sheridan, President

“Thank You” for Attending the 2014 Annual Meeting

On January 28 Harborcreek Historical Society hosted its annual membership meeting. Director John Skuce led a discussion about growing up in Harborcreek in the 1940s which sparked interesting conversations about school, hunting, farming, and neighbors. The Society’s Board of Directors and executive officers were voted on as well at the annual meeting. We thank John for his engaging presentation and welcome Jane Ingold to the board!

Meet Our New Director Jane Ingold
Jane Ingold is an Assistant Librarian for the Lilley Library at Penn State Behrend. One of her “other duties as assigned” is to oversee the Behrend Archives. She was raised in Cranesville and received her BA in English from  Gannon and a Masters of Library and Information Science from the University of Texas at Austin. While there she worked as a page at the Barker Texas History Center, where she learned to love archives. She has written several articles about Behrend family, Behrend College, and Hammermill Paper Company history including a two-part series for this newsletter and she enjoys giving tours to local groups. Last year she co-chaired the Local Arrangements Committee for the Spring meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference which brought over 230 archivists to Erie from as far away as North Carolina.  She has been a member of Harborcreek Historical Society since 2007.

Photograph Caption: Richard Cowell and Sherman Clark at the Society’s annual meeting.