About Watsontown

September 1st, 2023

Watsontown Historical Association

Our museum documenting Watsontown’s history is now open at 109 Main Street, Watsontown, PA.

James Robison (the author of this website) just published a new book about all things historical in Watsontown and it’s now available for sale at the museum and online at Amazon.com.

Museum Hours of Operation

  • Tuesdays 10am until 2pm
  • Thursdays 6pm until 8pm
  • Fridays 10am until 2pm
  • First and third weekends of every month: Saturday and Sunday 1pm until 4pm

We will also open by appointment if you can’t make it during these times. Contact us by email at [email protected] or call 570.538.1777.

Lots of updates on Facebook.

Join the Watsontown Historical Association — application is here.

Monthly meetings are held on the third Sunday of each month, from 4 to 530pm. There is no December meeting.

My Watsontown

In 2015, the community of Watsontown, PA, will come to the 100th anniversary of Old Home Week. Back then, it seemed that a number of civic minded individuals felt the need to remember those who just a brief forty-eight years earlier incorporated Watsontown into a borough in the county of Northumberland located in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It has been a number of years since I moved from my hometown of Watsontown and think fondly of times in my youth and young adulthood growing up in a small community. While visiting, I noticed photos in a number of local establishments that originated from Old Home Week or from the Silver Anniversary Edition of the Watsontown Record and Star published back in 1907. It seems there is still the sense of spirit wanting to remember the good things of years gone by and the wealth of memories that this community continues to hold dear.

watsontown pa

It is also a time to lift up the myriad of gifts that this community has shared beyond the boundaries that have encompassed Watsontown. Lumber, furniture, and brick industries have enhanced the financial acumen of our area. Local merchants, restaurants, and banks have contributed to the commercial success of our community. Administrators, school board members and teachers have instilled a strong value system of life long learning through the education of our young. Numerous fraternal organizations and clubs have enlightened the civic mindedness of our citizens. Burgesses, police officers and volunteer fire fighters have added to the structure and orderliness of local government. Churches and various societies have heightened our awareness of something larger than the individual self or even our own community and to be grateful for our prosperity and generous in efforts to reach out to others in the name of that which is greater than us. My endeavor here is to build on the foundations of preceding histories that have been published duly footnoted and to bring the annals of time to the current date. Perhaps some future generation will take this work and add to it and that this will become part of a continued story for generations to share as our community flourishes and grows to new potential and fame.

~ James D. Robison, Jr., October 2007

Last Modified: 04.06.09

116 Responses

  1. Tom Becker Says:

    Any idea why Brimmer Ave. is so-called? That is, at some point, “Second Street” didn’t happen. I’ve always puzzled over this. Thanks!

    Comment by James Robison: On June 4, 1928, town council voted that Second Street which leads to the Watsontown approach to the Watsontown White Deer Bridge be named Brimmer Avenue in honor of William C. Brimmer. From an excerpt from my.watsontown.com reads as follows: “William served one term on town council from 1900 to 1902 serving the last two years as its president. On March 1, 1909 William became chief burgess serving until 1912. William was the original promoter of the Watsontown-White Deer Bridge having drawn up the plans for the construction of the bridge in his tailor shop on Main Street. He submitted the plans to the commissioners of both Northumberland and Union counties and fought three courts before the bridge was finally built in 1926.”

  2. Steve guffy Says:

    I am looking for the house at Andrew j guffy lived on first st I can’t find any number on a census and the location of my grandfather Hampton Guffey home listed by a census by Oscar Foust. A distant cousin from another tree of mine.

    Comment by James Robison: I believe his home is the one where the current lawyer, Michael Suders, has his law offices at 3 West First Street.

  3. Kathy L. Edinger Says:

    My grandfather (Tom Allen) was a charter member of the Watsontown Recreation Hunting Camp in Western Union County along White Deer Creek Rd. If anyone has any info regarding this group, please contact me. Other members were J. Wagner, Danny Kemble, Johnny Raup and more.

  4. Harry Byers Says:

    Like your site, can’t wait to read more good job Jim.

  5. Bev Foust Staman Says:

    Enjoyed finding this on Facebook, especially all the comments. John Murray and his wife Donna still make “clear toys” and also the great sand tarts that Dale and Grace Murray made. Big plans are underway for the sesquicentennial next year which should be great. It would be great if your material was ready by then, Jim. Keep up the good work!

    Comment by James Robison: Thank you Bev ~ I’m hoping to take time off from work so I can get back to Watsontown and do some research so that I can have this project finished by the end of the summer 2016 ~ we’ll see how things unfold ~ it has truly been an interesting journey ~ again, thank you!

  6. James e. Rife,Jr. Says:

    when I was a kid my family lived at 717 ash Street I have an old deed dated 1907 deed to a John Heilman which was given by the Watsontown building ass by deed dated Dec 31 1881 recorded in deed no.84 page 334 is this same land as my parents bought in 1943

    Comment by James Robison: Very interesting ~ wish more people would go to the courthouse in Northumberland and research their properties back to the original ~ would make for some fabulous reading

  7. diane emery fowler Says:

    hi jim we went to school together.i am looking forward to your book.i hope you let usknow how to get one.watsontown is the greatest town.thank you for this web site.

    Comment by James Robison: I’m looking forward to it as well ~ crazily trying to get it completed by the end of this summer in time for next years sesquicentennial in Watsontown. I agree, I love my home town and thank you for checking out the website and leaving a comment ~ keeps inspiring me to complete this awesome project.

  8. Jean Chamberlin Says:

    I appreciate the responses that gave me info on my friends Janet Evans and Marianne Sheffer. I thank you all. I would like to find the history of the munitions manufacturing in Watsontown during WWII. My father was transferred there by Philco Corp. of Philadelphia early in the war. The three years we lived in Watsontown were filled with adventure, friendship, and the scars of war. I am eager to find more of the war industry in Watsontown: where was it located? What had been there before? How long were munitions manufactured there? These are only the first questions that come to mind. There are many more.

  9. Caroline Williams Says:

    I bought a small side table with drawer at the Goodwill store in Matthews, NC, near Charlotte, yesterday. It had a sticker in the drawer saying it was 100% mahogany by Watsontown Table. I had never heard of that company, so I googled and found your website. I am wondering what years the furniture company operated, just to know about how old this table is?

    Comment by James Robison: The Watsontown Table Works was established in 1878 by James W. McLain, Joseph Hollopeter, Dr. Joseph Housel. Ario Pardee subsequently purchased the works and moved its location from the car shops near Fourth Street to a location across from the Railroad Depot. In 1882, Pardee sold it to J. Gosh Bower and Francis Miller who continued operating it under the firm name of West Branch Table & Furniture Company until 1894 when they moved their operations to Hagerstown, Maryland. The company continued under different names (Breon Table Company, Barr Table Company, and Wood Products Company) until it was destroyed by fire in 1924.
    A separate company known as the Watsontown Table and Furniture Company was established in 1893 near Eighth Street and the railroad tracks and operated until 1936 before it changed to the Watsontown Cabinet Company and became a subsidiary of Philco.

  10. Fred Strickler Jr Says:

    Miss the old home town. Class of 1952 and would like to hear from some of them.

    Comment by James Robison: Memories are great ~ hope you hear from some of your old hometown buddies.

  11. Ric Jones Says:

    Anyone know when Jim Robison’s book about Watsontown History is coming out?

    Comment by James Robison: Hello Ric ~ the book project, which has been going on since 2007, is slated to be completed in the next month or so and will be available through Watsontown Historical Association

  12. DIANE L FOWLER Says:

    Will we be able to reserve copies?i need to get one.

  13. Bill Dentler Says:

    This is a wonderful site that I’ve used, along with the pamphlet “Watsontown 1867-1967” to find information about my grandparents (Isabel Hunter Russell and Lee Dentler) and their parents etc. Isabel was the daughter of William Tweed Russell (and grand daughter of Dr. H.D. Hunter) who lived with the Cooners (in the inn?) after 1904.

    Does anyone have any record of where Dr. Horatio D Hunter (1835-1877) lived (in Watsontown)? He was the first MD there, served in the Civil War, and returned to Watsontown. I have a photo of his house that I will share but have no idea where it was located.

    Just curious.

    Comment by James Robison: Not exactly sure the location of his home, but his wife, Sarah, was the daughter of William Cooner the founder of Cooner Hotel and I believe they lived there for a time. According to the Williams’ Directory, Mrs. Sarah Hunter’s home was on Main Street above Second Street.

  14. Sabrina Pasko Says:

    I remember my Great Grandmother Bessie Muffly babysitting me when I was young. I would wait for my my Mom to get off work from Philco (Zenith) My Great Grandmother had a trailer that faced the factory. I remember her giving me a dime and then sending me to Murray’s ice cream store so I could buy a cone. I was just three I think. The trailer is still there last time I was down that way. I miss my Great Grandmother.

  15. Robert S. Stoudt Says:

    I don’t know if you are aware or not of the following link which pertains to an early trolley car linking Watsontown with Milton and Lewisburg. It was sent to me by an uncle who currently lives in Florida. Am passing it along for what it’s worth: https://susquehannavalley.blogspot.com/2020/02/when-milton-had-trolley.html?fbclid=IwAR3R7Uif-ucdLvKECpa3qbhudFnEP53WzdJ1iZVs8rMLFI9iB2Q-bT1Nt4I

    Comment by James Robison: Thank you for sharing. Wonderful photos pertaining to the trolley.

  16. Kathryn L Milton Says:

    I am trying to return a 1918 ledger that belonged to John G Cathcart who was the tax collector at that time. The family moved to Ct early 1920? and this ledger was found afer my father died. He was the son of John named Thomas Russell Cathcart who had a farm near or in Watsontown at that time. This ledger lists payments of taxes for the residents in Watsontown.I think it is of historical interest. I can’t find contacts at your local town government thus I chose this way to contact anyone interested in getting it returned. K.L.Milton Cathcart.

    Comment by James Robison: It sounds like a nice find. If you contact the Watsontown Historical Association and speak with Kathi Wertman, I’m sure she would be glad to help you

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