Sayre Historical Society

Tours by appointment. The museum will be open Saturdays (10 to 4) and Wednesdays (from 5 to 7 p.m.) through December. Admission is free.

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Starting Sunday, December 6, the museum will be open for Sunday hours from 1 to 4 in addition to Saturdays from 10 to 4 p.m. and Wednesdays from 5 to 7 p.m. The museum will close for the 2015 season on Sunday, December 20 and reopen on Saturday, April 2, 2016.

Museum to celebrate 125 years of Sayre history

CAPTION: George Baxter, born September 28, 1891, participated in the Sayre Centennial parade in 1991. The sign on the car reads “George & Sayre, 100 Years Together.” George served in World War I along with four brothers: Joseph, John, Peter and James.

SAYRE – The Sayre Historical Society will re-open on April 2 for the 2016 season with a celebration of 125 years of Sayre history.

At the recent meeting of the board of directors, the schedule of events for 2016 was officially approved. The board also welcomed new director Steve Bowen of Sayre to the board of directors and re-elected officers for three year terms. The historical society is also making plans for the annual membership dinner on March 8 at Sayre High School. The program will be presented by Sayre historian James Nobles. Tickets will be on sale in February.

In recognition of the 125th anniversary of Sayre’s incorporation as a borough in 1891, the Sayre museum will unveil a new exhibit titled “Sayre at 125.” Along with the exhibit, which will run from April 2 to September 1, the historical society will open the Centennial Time Capsule at the annual History Fair being held on Saturday, September 3.

The four-drawer Time Capsule was sealed in 1991 as part of the year-long Sayre Centennial with provisions to have one drawer opened every 25 years until 2091. Contents of the first drawer will be distributed “according to the instructions found therein.” Any items unable to be delivered will be returned to the drawer and new items may be placed and the drawer will be re-sealed to be opened in 2091. The opening of all four drawers in 2091 will conclude the Centennial Time Capsule.

Along with these special events, other events slated for 2016 include the annual Celebration at the Station Wine and Craft Beer Tasting scheduled for May 18. Caboose Day will return to Sayre on Saturday, June 25 with activities and displays commemorating the “last car on the train.” Tours of the Sayre-built former Lehigh Valley Railroad caboose will also be offered.

On Saturday, July 23, the second genealogy workshop will be offered. Last year, Civil War historian John Goodenough of Binghamton, NY offered a fascinating program on “Finding Your Civil War Ancestors.”

In August, the museum will present “History Under the Stars” outside at dusk with images from Sayre’s past projected on a large screen on the museum grounds.

On September 3, in conjunction with the History Fair and the opening of the Time Capsule, the museum will present a new exhibit titled “Milltown, USA.” An examination of the colorful history of the oldest part of Sayre will be presented in the museum’s Rotating Exhibit Room.

Oktoberfest will return on October 12 featuring craft beer tastings and a celebration of ethnic foods.

On Saturday, November 28, the museum will host Model Train Day, a day-long celebration of model railroads. The museum will close for the 2016 season on December 21.

The Sayre Historical Society is a non-profit historic preservation organization staffed by volunteers. The group is membership-supported and a recipient of United Way funding.

The Sayre museum received the 2015 Clement F. Heverly Outstanding Service Award presented by the Bradford County Historical Society.

Dave Smith Run covered in new Sayre Quarterly

CAPTION: Dave Smith, who inspired a benefit run for 18 years, is pictured at a surprise assembly held at Sayre High School in 1980. The picture, from the 1980 Sayrenade yearbook, is one of many featured in the latest Quarterly history magazine.

SAYRE – The winter issue of the Sayre Historical Society Quarterly features stories on the Dave Smith Run, a grandfather clock and a pen and ink drawing that has some mystery attached to it.

The exhibit “Remembering the Dave Smith Run” closed December 20 at the Sayre Historical Society and the inspiring story of young Dave Smith is the cover story. Featuring rare photographs from longtime race participants Dale Smith and Randy Felt, the story recounts the trials and triumphs of the annual benefit race.

The run, which started in 1984 as a celebration of Dave Smith’s life following his death on December 26, 1983, raised $600,000 over 18 years. The race ended in 2001 following a dispute with the American Cancer Society.

Among the unique photographic views are a series of pictures from the third annual race held in 1986, another showing several runners including brothers Eric and Craig Childs, a picture showing former Evening Times columnist Gene Paluzzi and another showcasing a hot rod car driven by Monty Hughes and Norm Catlin in the early 1990’s.

Dale Smith credits his parents, including his mother, Joan, for the success of the benefit event.

“She was really able to encourage people to participate in different ways,” he said. “She was determined and had a way to get people involved.”

A memorial boulder donated by the Valley Kiwanis in 2001 at the Sayre High School track recognizes the efforts of the Smith family “for their dedication to the fight against cancer.”

The story on the grandfather clock includes a photograph of the unique time piece which was donated by Howard Blair Atwood. His grandfather, William Nelson Atwood, received the clock upon his retirement from the Lehigh Valley Railroad in 1943. A newspaper account from the October 14, 1943 issue of the Waverly Sun describes the retirement of William Atwood and his brother George, who both worked for the Lehigh. According to the article, the Atwood brothers were born at Camptown, Pa. but were separated when their mother died. William stayed in Camptown but his brother was sent to a farm on Spring Hill, according to the account.

A third item in the Quarterly tells the story of Ray Hausknecht, a 1941 graduate of Sayre High School, a World War II veteran and an employee of the Railroad Express Agency (REA) for many years. Several items that belonged to Mr. Hausknecht were donated to the historical society by his son, Stephen Hausknecht of Wilkes-Barre.

A photograph of Ray Hausknecht from World War II accompanies the story along with a photograph of Ray with a horse that belonged to Dr. Donald Guthrie. Ray was a groomer for Dr. Guthrie’s horse. A safe driving award Ray received while an employee of the REA is also included with the story.

A photograph reproduced in the center section of the Quarterly dates back to 1892 and shows the general office staff of the railroad at Sayre. The names of the men are included.

A sketch of a Lehigh Valley Railroad telegrapher at work in a station is reproduced along with an account of the possible artist. The sketch was the only one in a sketch book donated by Edwin Mitchell on behalf of Roland Salmi of Chemung. The sketch is believed to have been drawn by the late John Salmi of Lockwood, who was a graduate of Cornell University and worked on the research staff at Fort Belvoir in Virginia. He had an interest in architecture and the sketch was found among family papers in the Salmi family home.

Finally, the back cover of the Quarterly pictures members of Sayre Troop 17 (Epiphany) during a work bee at the historic Rest Cemetery in Sayre. The boys had attended the Philmont Scout Ranch and are working to complete requirements for a 50-Miler Award. Scoutmaster Cliff Cyr was assisted by Nick Barry, Justin Bailey, Matt D’Ortona, Kamren Curtis, Teddy Steele, and Connor Simpson.

The Quarterly is mailed four times per year to members of the Sayre Historical Society as part of their membership benefits. Individual copies are available at the museum and Carl’s Newsstand in Sayre.

The museum will close for the season on Sunday, December 20, 2015 and reopen on Saturday, April 2, 2016.

The Sayre Historical Society is a non-profit historic preservation organization staffed by volunteers and supported by funding from the United Way.

The group recently received the 2015 Clement Heverly Outstanding Service Award presented by the Bradford County Historical Society.

Sayre museum revisiting World War II history on December 7

CAPTION: Staff Sgt. J. Francis (Banny) Cain of Sayre, who was missing for over two years after the fall of Bataan during World War II, is one of many Valley individuals whose stories are told in a series of scrapbooks that will be available for the public to browse on Monday, December 7 from 5 to 7 p.m. Pictured with Sgt. Cain is his mother, Mrs. John F. (Evelyn) Cain.

SAYRE – A recent donation of ten scrapbooks covering the entire history of World War II in the Valley will be the subject of an Open House on Monday, December 7 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Sayre Historical Society. Admission is free and the public is cordially invited to attend.

The scrapbooks, donated by Robert Felt of Athens, document the entire experience of the U.S. involvement in the war, including young men and women from Sayre, Athens, Waverly, and South Waverly, as well as throughout Bradford County and even Elmira.

In addition to the scrapbooks, immaculately laid out starting with the December 7, 1941 surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, a collection of laminated newspapers from the collection of Sayre historian James Nobles will also be available for browsing. Additionally, a series of mounted newspaper articles, recently loaned to the Sayre museum by Andy Solock of Sayre, will also be on display in the museum.

Included in the scrapbooks is the heart-breaking news of the death of Second Lt. Melvin Skerpon of Sayre, a 23-year-old pilot of the U.S. Army Air Force. He was fatally injured when his B-17 Flying Fortress “made an emergency landing in Enniskilleh, Northern Ireland,” according to the newspaper account.

“One of the best basketball players ever turned out at Sayre High School, Lt. Skerpon had just received his final combat training at Dalhart, Texas,” stated the account. He had graduated from Sayre in 1939 and was in his second year of study at Mansfield, said the article.

In another account from the scrapbooks, Lt. Col. James Davenport of Sayre was reported to be in Italy “where he is executive officer of a heavy bombardment group with the Army Air Force,” said the article.

In another account, five sons of Mr. and Mrs. John Cannavino of Sayre were reported to be in the service at the same time. They were Sgt. Michael Joseph Cannavino, Pvt. Michael Louis, Pfc. Anthony, Mario (aviation ordinance mate 2nd class), and John A. Cannavino (seaman first class), described by the article as “somewhere at sea.”

Another article mentions the Valley Canteen hosted by the USO at the Lehigh Valley Railroad passenger station in Sayre.

“Until a month ago, Sayre was just another station on a tedious journey for soldiers going to or coming from camps on furloughs,” the article states. “Now it is a pleasant stop-over where refreshments can be obtained and cramped muscles can be stretched.”

The article notes that the Valley Canteen was one of the first in the country to be organized and “is functioning daily to serve sandwiches, doughnuts, coffee and cigarettes to those men of our armed services without charge.”

Along with photographs, the article notes the work being done by the volunteers.

“Approximately 90 women from Waverly, Sayre and Athens have volunteered to serve with the Canteen and are taking a 22-hour course of instruction in canteen and nutrition which they must pass before they can officially become members of the unit,” stated the article.

It is no exaggeration to state that the scrapbooks contain a wealth of information. Guests are asked to use special care when handling the scrapbooks. Museum volunteers will be available to assist patrons.

The Sayre Historical Society is a non-profit historic preservation organization staffed by volunteers. The group is membership-supported and a recipient of United Way funding.

Grandfather clock to be unveiled at Model Train Day

CAPTION: Ken Bracken, long-time Sayre Historical Society board member, puts the finishing touches to the museum’s latest acquisition, a grandfather clock that was donated by the great-grandson of a Lehigh Valley Railroad timekeeper.

A unique grandfather clock that was recently donated to the Sayre Historical Society will be a featured attraction at the annual Model Train Day on Saturday, November 28. Donated by Laurie (Atwood) Wightman of Windsor, the clock is believed to have been originally located in the Lehigh Valley Railroad station, now the home of the Sayre Historical Society.

The grandfather clock, featuring the hand-painted insignia of the LVRR, originated with William Nelson Atwood of Athens who worked for the Lehigh Valley Railroad in Sayre. Starting his career on October 1, 1897, he retired as a timekeeper in the railroad’s accounting department six weeks shy of 46 years. According to his great-granddaughter, upon Mr. Atwood’s retirement, he was asked what he would like to receive as a retirement gift. He said he had admired the clock but was informed that the railroad could not give him the clock but that they could sell it to him for $1. He purchased the clock, according to his granddaughter, and upon his death the clock was passed to his son, Howard Ray Atwood. Upon his death, the clock was passed to his son, Howard Blair Atwood, who desired to have the clock donated to the Sayre Historical Society. He recently passed away and his daughter, who acted as the estate’s executrix, fulfilled his wishes “for all to enjoy.”

The operating clock has been relocated to the telegrapher’s bay on the first floor of the historic train station. The move was coordinated by museum board member Ken Bracken with the assistance of Tom Nobles of Lincoln Street Clock Repair of Sayre.

Along with the grandfather clock display, the Model Train Day will feature two HO-scale model train layouts, model train displays, and vendors offering railroad-related memorabilia including postcards, photographs, slides, books and model train items. HO-scale replicas of the Black Diamond Express, the John Wilkes and the Asa Packer passenger trains will be featured on the second floor. The latest rotating exhibit “Remembering the Dave Smith Run” will be on display until the museum closes for the season on December 20. An exhibit in the first floor lobby focuses on the Railway Express Agency and the late Ray Hausknecht.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and admission is free.

The Sayre Historical Society is a member-supported, non-profit historic preservation organization staffed by volunteers and a recipient of United Way funding.

The Sayre museum recently received the Clement F. Heverly Outstanding Service Award presented by the Bradford County Historical Society.

“Runway coal car!” featured in Sayre Quarterly

CAPTION: Bystanders inspect the damage to nine vehicles damaged when a runaway coal car crashed in 1967 literally feet from the Lehigh Valley Railroad station in Sayre. Thirty-two-year-old Owen Fassett Jr. amazingly rode the coal car through two crossings before jumping off just prior to the crash. No one was injured.

The fall issue of the Sayre Historical Society’s Quarterly publication has a compelling story on the 1967 runaway coal car that averted tragedy and has entered the lore of Valley history.

Written by Nancy Fassett, the article recounts the once-in-a-lifetime experience of 32-year-old Owen Fassett Jr. who was unloading a car of coal at John H. Murray & Son when the car started to move. The story relates the amazing ride through two road crossings all the way to Sayre before it came to a crashing halt literally feet from the Lehigh Valley Railroad passenger station.

“As the car entered the Sayre yards, it started to tip to the left, and that is when Owen jumped and started running”, according to the article. “The coal car was loaded with fifty to seventy tons of coal.”

Other articles in the fall issue include a feature story on the historic Rest Cemetery and the long-standing efforts to maintain the burial ground that contains the remains of over 200 early residents including Valley pioneer John Shepard.

“The first burial, according to tradition, was an 18-year-old nephew of John Shepard’s, whose name was Chester Pierce. The historical record suggests young Pierce was the victim of an accident caused when his foot became caught in a stirrup while riding a horse and he was dragged to death. Unfortunately, no record was made of his burial in the cemetery and no grave marker exists today that shows his final resting place,” the article states.

A 1941 Sayre High School program donated by the late Mary Zimmer of Sayre, lists the names of the football players, band members, color guard and “S” Club members of the old Red and Blue. Sam Olisky was president of the S Club and members included Tom Worthington, Steve Ball, Charles Stevens and others. The color guard leader was Lois Woodward and the drum major was Marjorie Bizilia.

Another feature is a series of photographs taken in 1975-76 showing the Sayre railroad yards before the famous Route of the Black Diamond was merged into Consolidated Rail Corp. on April 1, 1976. The photographic slides were taken by former Valley resident Alain Robiolio and donated to the historical society.

LVRR officials back in 1890 are featured in a large photograph in the center section of the booklet. Names from the past identified in the photograph include J.W. Bishop, Bert Hayden, George Lacey, and E.O. Pealer, along with several others.

The Quarterly concludes with a retrospective of the recent Rotating Exhibit on “The Mighty Susquehanna.” The story includes rare images of Native American sites around Sayre including an underground sweat bath which was rendered by the late Ellsworth Cowles, flood pictures from 1936 courtesy of Sayre historian James Nobles and an interesting account of long distance swimmer Russell Chaffee of Sayre.

“In 1966, the former math teacher swam the entire distance of the Susquehanna River accompanied along the way by local Boy Scouts in canoes,” the article states. “Mr. Chaffee’s endurance endeavor was chronicled by the local radio station that reported on his progress along the river.” Chaffee recorded an amazing record of long distance swims.

The local history publication is available to members of the Sayre Historical Society who receive issues of the publication four times per year. Individual issues are available at the historical society on Saturdays from 10 to 4 and Wednesdays from 5 to 7. The booklet is also carried locally by Carls Newsstand in downtown Sayre.

The Sayre Historical Society is a non-profit historic preservation organization staffed by volunteers. The organization is membership-supported and a recipient of United Way funding.

Newest exhibit remembers the Dave Smith Run

CAPTION: A group of runners at the Dave Smith Run include Dale Smith and Tom Williams, race organizers, and brothers Eric and Craig Childs, along with others, in a race in the late 1980's. (Photo provided by Randy Felt)

SAYRE – The newest exhibit at the Sayre Historical Society focuses on a young Sayre man who had a big impact on the town where he lived.

“Remembering the Dave Smith Run” will open Saturday, September 5 as part of the annual History Fair and continue until Sunday, December 20 in the museum’s Rotating Exhibit Room.

The Dave Smith Run was named in honor of a 1980 graduate of Sayre High School who was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma while in high school and bravely battled the disease until his demise on December 26, 1983. In the year after his death, the first Dave Smith Victory Run was held at the Sayre High School track to celebrate the life of Dave Smith. High school friend Tom Williams and Dave’s twin brother, Dale, approached the local chapter of the American Cancer Society to find a way to help. The idea was to host a 24-hour relay run where a group of runners would take turns running on the track, covering over 240 miles in that time period and raising money for cancer research.

“We were just a couple of young guys,” recalled Dale Smith. Eighteen years and countless miles later, the event had raised over a half million dollars for cancer research.

CAPTION: Dave Smith is pictured in his 1980 Sayrenade yearbook photo.

The first year runners endured bad weather and a rough cinder track at Sayre, but managed to raise $1,500 in contributions. Over the years, the race became an inspiring example of community generosity. Year after year, the event organizers motivated more and more people to become involved in their cause. There were numerous “connections” organized in local businesses and surrounding towns: The Ingersoll Rand Connection, The Guthrie Connection, The Towanda Connection, The Troy Connection, and The Mary Barry Connection, to name a few.

Despite a bitter ending when the race organizers had a dispute with the American Cancer Society over distribution of funds, the Dave Smith Run remains in the hearts of countless people.

“The experience of those 24 hours, in one place and doing what we did, had such an impact on other individuals,” said Dale Smith. “It was such a positive experience.”

The exhibit is free and open to the public. Museum hours are Wednesdays from 5 to 7 and Saturdays from 10 to 4.

The Sayre Historical Society is a non-profit historic preservation organization staffed by volunteers. The society is a recipient of funds provided by the United Way.

“Sayre’s Days of Old” topic of History Under the Stars program

"History Under the Stars" will take place on Saturday August 22nd beginning at 7PM with music with the actual program beginning at 8PM followed by the Sayre Fireworks.

CAPTION: Sayre’s “lamplighter of long, long ago,” Haight Griswold, will be one of the featured historic images at the first History Under the Stars program at the Sayre Historical Society on Saturday, August 22.

SAYRE - A unique program at the Sayre Historical Society will focus on “Sayre’s Days of Old: Horses, Trolleys and the Old Lamp Lighter,” on Saturday, August 22 from 7 to 9 p.m. Presented by Sayre historian James Nobles, the first History Under the Stars program will be held on the museum grounds in downtown Sayre just prior to the Summer Fireworks display at Riverfront Park.

“The program will include images with commentary of the early days of Sayre as it grew from being an Athens Township hamlet of a little over 700 people in the year 1880 to its boom town growth of over 3,000 people in 1890,” said Nobles.

The program will be displayed outdoors on a large screen affixed to the southern end of the Lehigh Valley Railroad Station. Admission is free and bags of popcorn and bottled water will be available.

“This was a time of horse drawn carriages and wagons being driven on dirt roads,” Nobles said. “Bicycles and walking were prominent and for many people were their only mode of travel. East Lockhart Street ended at the Susquehanna River where a ferryboat was operated, preceding any bridge over the river to Riverside Drive.”

The program will also include many images of the trolley system on its route through Sayre on tracks in the center of the dirt roads. The "gong" of the trolley bell was well-known to the people of Sayre for nearly a half century. Railroading will include the arrival of the very first Black Diamond Passenger Train at the Sayre passenger station in 1896.”

As the sun sets, the program will include images of Sayre’s old streetlights.

“In its early days, Sayre had oil streetlights that required a person to, in the words of an old song, “turn them on when night is near,” and to, “turn them off when dawn is here.” Haight Griswold was Sayre’s “old lamp lighter of long, long ago.” Images will be shown of Haight on his rounds,” Nobles explained.

The program will show the progression of transportation in Sayre from horses, bicycles, Herdic coaches, and steam locomotives, to the trolley cars, and finally automobiles.

“Some of the images will be very familiar as much of the background in the pictures has been preserved and is with us today,” said Nobles.

The History Under the Stars program will include musical entertainment starting at 7. The history program is scheduled to start at 8. Sayre’s fireworks, which will be visible from the station grounds, are set to start at 8: 45 p.m. Blankets and lawnchairs are encouraged for the program.

The Sayre Historical Society is a membership-supported, non-profit historic preservation organization staffed by volunteers. The group is the recipient of United Way funding.

“Molly” featured in Summer Quarterly

SAYRE - Longtime Sayre resident Molly Cacchione is the subject of a feature story in the Sayre Historical Society’s Summer Quarterly. She was born on June 10, 1912 and passed away on December 21, 2014 at the age of 102 after a long life of service.

CAPTION: In this 1948 photograph, Sayre’s Molly Cacchione wears clothing made for her in Armento, Italy, birth place of her mother. Molly is featured in the Sayre Historical Society’s Summer Quarterly publication.

Other items in the summer Quarterly include a photograph of the Class of 1965, an account of the life of Spanish-American War veteran Richard Sherman of Sayre, the conversion to electricity of the Lehigh Valley Railroad’s power house in Sayre, and an unusual find by Kathryn (Alteri) Atkins. She donated to the Sayre museum an LVRR shop employee’s round trip ticket that turned up in a California antique store.

The Quarterly, published four times a year, is mailed to historical society members as part of their membership benefits. Individual copies are available at Carl’s News Stand in Sayre and the historical society museum located in the former Lehigh Valley Railroad Passenger Station in downtown Sayre.

The illustrated feature story, written by Sayre historian James Nobles, covers Cacchione’s life as a daughter of immigrants Bernardo and Anna Marie Cacchione. The biography focuses on her life on the East Side, working at the Belle Knitting mill (later the Blue Swan), faithful church membership in the Epiphany Parish, volunteering at the Robert Packer Hospital and involvement with the Sayre Centennial Committee.

“Molly was one of ten children, all raised in the Church of the Epiphany,” said Nobles. “All were educated in the Sayre public schools, first at the East Side School, just a block away from the Cacchione home, and then at Sayre High School which at that time was east of the ponds on West Lockhart Street. Molly and all her siblings learned their work ethic working in their father’s bakery, in addition to assigned chores within the home under the guidance of Mother Anna Maria. From her very earliest years, conscientious work was part of her life. Another trait taught by their mother was to look for the good in everyone. Molly spent a lifetime doing that.”

Photographs include a nine-year-old Molly when she was a fourth grader at the East Side School, a newspaper photograph from 1965 of a union committee induction ceremony at O’Brien’s Inn, Molly at the Church of the Epiphany, and more.

The Sayre Historical Society is a non-profit historic preservation organization, membership-supported and staffed by volunteers, and a recipient of United Way funding.

The Sayre Historical Society is open Saturdays from 10 to 4 and Wednesdays from 5 to 7. A Genealogy Workshop is scheduled for Saturday, July 25 featuring John Goodenough of Binghamton who will offer tips on researching Civil War ancestors. Pre-registration is required for this free event.

See Our 2015 Events!

Books Available for sale by mail

Pictures from the September 6th History Fair ...Click here

Music of Sayre
Music in Sayre, Our Newest Revolving Exhibit!

Museum celebrates Roosevelt in Sayre with ice cream social, caboose exhibit.
A new book documenting the 1905 train excursion that carried President Theodore Roosevelt through Sayre made its debut at the Sayre Historical Society’s Caboose Day on Saturday, June 28
Press Release

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What's Happening

Caboose is now on display at the SHS Museum!

SUCCESS STORY--Society and Museum partner for energy effiency and weatherization upgrades
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"…a busy little city nestling ‘midst the Blue Ridge Hills…"Sayre Alma Mater
SAYRE, located along the north central Pennsylvania-New York border traces its name to Robert Heysham Sayre and its location and early development to visionary Howard Elmer.

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A Piece of Our History ...see book & purchase details
Black Diamond Express
Sayre - Postcard History