A Trip to Watsontown

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, July 31, 1912:  Made a trip to Watsontown this afternoon. Had to get some things for tomorrow. Hope it doesn’t rain anyway.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

The Muffly farm was located mid-way between McEwensville and Watsontown. Grandma would have had to walk about one and a half miles to get to either town.

McEwensville was (and still is) the smaller of the two  towns, but the diary has focused more on McEwensville because it was where Grandma went to school and church.

Today, I’d like to share some recent pictures that provide a sense of what  Grandma would have seen on a trip to Watsontown.

(Unfortunately the photos weren’t all taken during the same season. Three are spring photos and one is a summer photo, but hopefully you’ll still be able to get a sense of what it was like to walk to Watsontown.)

Grandma would have walked up the road that went past her house. At the intersection she would have turned right to go to Watsontown (instead of left which would have taken her to McEwensville).

The view Grandma would have had as she walked into Watsontown. (Well, the view isn’t exactly the same because 100 years ago there would have been a bustling railroad station where the vacant lot is today.)

The homes that Grandma would have walked by as she entered Watsontown.

A hundred years ago today Grandma probably shopped in some of these buildings in downtown Watsontown.

After Grandma finished shopping maybe she took a walk by the Susquehanna River. (There wouldn’t have been a bridge across the river a hundred years ago.)

15 Responses

  1. Thanks for the tour. Today it is hard for us to imagine walking a mile and a half to town. We would take our car for something that far away. I live a mile from the grocery store and never walk there, even if it is only for a few small items.

  2. I loved taking Miss Muffly’s walk into Watsontown :-) Fabulous photos. Thanks so much Sheryl

  3. Really enjoyed Helena’s photo journey — and then there was the added benefit. The pictures jogged some memory of a previous research I had done on my Sigford family, so I made a quick run thru of a couple of maps and writings — sure enough old Samuel Sigford (gggrandfather) was raised in Northumberland County, more towards Shamokin and Sunbury. Nice touch this morning.

    • It’s really interesting how some of your relatives are also from Northumberland County.

      As you probably know, Northumberland County has a very unusual shape. It is “L” shaped–and Watsontown is near the top of the L. Sunbury is near the bend and is way out on the “flat” part of the L.

      Years ago Northumberland County was larger than it is now and included what is currently Montour County. And, you go far enough back Northumberland County included land as far west as the State College area.

  4. It’s fantastic that the town remains, vibrant and people are still calling it home. The town my grandfather lived nearby is almost gone. (I posted about it June 5th, 2012. Almost abandoned, mad me sad.

    • It is sad when towns decline.

      Watsontown has had good years–and years when it struggled. When I was a child there was a large Philco/Zenith factory there that made TV cabinets. (Remember when TVs were in large wooden cabinets.) The factory closed in the late 1970′s and it was really hard for the town, but things seem better now and the town seems to be on an upswing.

  5. Thanks for the journey back in time! Although Watsontown is not huge and still a nice small town, its people are the backbone of our community. They are proud of their rich history along the Susquehanna River. And thanks to Helena’s diary I have learned so much of the history of this area.

  6. That was the time when people walked everywhere. I enjoyed taking the walk with Helena. Nice scenery.

  7. I enjoyed taking the walk too. Wish I could take a real walk down a country road today. Well, I’d have had to go this morning as it’s 91 degrees out there right now.

  8. [...] school was going to start in a few days, maybe she went to Watsontown to shop for school supplies . . . or  maybe she went there to run an errand for her mother or father. . . [...]

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