I have been given the opportunity to work with the Blair County Historical Society and Valerie Metzler, a local archivist and historian, in trying to bring to life Sarah Molson, born in 1865 and died in 1932. We know that Sarah was born in Binghamton NY, but do not know her maiden name. She married a Richard Parker, who died sometime after the marriage. We do not know when they were married, where they were married, where they lived and when he died. She marries again to a William Nelson Molson (1840 to 1918) in 1890. William was a USCT (United States Colored Troop) veteran and was born in Mexico, Juniata County, Pennsylvania and lived in Clearfield and Altoona. In Clearfield, he was a school superintendent for Allen Chapel AME Church. He worked as a barber, a janitor for Juniata school, a plasterer, a laborer and finally as an elevator operator. He was also a Free Mason (a member of the Prince Hall Masons). There is no information about whether Sarah worked outside of the home. Both Molsons were members of the 16th Street African Methodist Episcopal Church in Altoona. I briefly interviewed a Mrs Hart Harris, a member of this congregation, who remembered that a "Grandma Molson" was a member of the church. Sarah's family donated a brown dress to the Historical Society. The dress was worn for her wedding to William Molson and over the years has been altered to accomodate changing fashions. Our hope is to present her times to 3rd graders since this is when they are introduced to Pennsylvania and local history and to find a couple of women willing to wear a replica of the dress (size 8 to 10) and become a reenactor for organizations like the Rotary, Kiwanis and other groups. Of course doing this has created more questions than answers in our research and it is our hope that someone may have some answers for us.
We were able to scan photos taken of Sarah Molson and William and Sarah's only daughter, Mary Molson Groce.
I was given the opportunity to read a historical fiction novel called "Redfield Farm: A Novel of the Underground Railroad". The author is Judith Redline Copey and she attended Penn State University. Attached is the review I gave on this book. Let me know what you think.
Other ways, I have documented history about African Americans in Blair County are listed on the web page: www.altoona.psu.edu/aahp and Facebook (Blair County African American Heritage Project). Please let me know what you think of those other internet/social media presences.
If you are interested in getting involved in collecting and documenting the history in this area, let me know.
African Americans are missing from the history of Blair County. This blog attempts to remedy that situation. In 1992, a group of people, both white and black, who wanted to highlight the presence of African Americans in the railroad history of Blair County came together and formed the African American Heritage Project of Blair County. This blog is dedicated to that group of visionary people.
On Saturday, April 30, 2011, I attended the annual Freedom Forum of the Blair County NAACP. I talked briefly about the history of the founding of the PA chapter of the NAACP in Hollidaysburg, PA in 1934. I have found some other tidbits about the local NAACP and wanted to share them with you. If you have more information about this group, please let me know.
NAACP of Blair County
Blair County Branch of the NAACP came into existence in November of 1923. The Crisis Magazine of April 1942.
The Crisis Magazine indicated that the Blair County branch was reorganized on February 10, 1939.
The 24th annual meeting of the PA State NAACP Conference met in Altoona at the Penn- Alto, First Presbyterian and First Methodist Churches of Altoona on October 24 through Oct. 26, 1958. Crisis Magazine, Dec. 1958, pg. 607-610.
Dr. George Walker is elected to the executive committee on September 23 through 24, 1939, at the annual state conference in Philadelphia, PA. The Crisis Magazine, Nov. 1939, pg. 344
In 1942, Charles Randolph Brown of Hollidaysburg was the vice-president of the PA State Conference of the NAACP. The Crisis Magazine, April 1942, pg. 141
In October 28 to 30, 1955, Mrs. Agnes Walker of Hollidaysburg was re-elected as 3rd Vice-President of the PA State NAACP. Her husband, Dr. George A. Walker, Sr. was elected as a Director of the State branch of the NAACP. The Crisis Magazine, December 1955, pg. 630
"The initial beginning of the Pennsylvania State Conference of NAACP Branches was in a residence on Juniata Street in Hollidaysburg, Blair County, Pennsylvania in 1934. This was the residence of Dr. George A. Walker and his wife Agnes. There were nine people in the initial meeting. Among this group was Mrs. Daisy Lampkin of Pittsburgh, who was the NAACP Field Director, member of the NAACP National Board and Vice President of the Pittsburgh Courier newspaper. Others present were Dr. and Mrs. George A. Walker, Mrs. Sophie B. Nelson, a school teacher and civil rights work from Pittsburgh, Charles R. Brown, a postal worker from Hollidaysburg, John G. Jones of Pittsburgh, Dr. James A. Gillespie and John B. Campbell both of New Castle."
"Since its inception, 16 persons have served as President of the State Conference of the NAACP. The first was Mrs. Sophia B. Nelson of Pittsburgh and the continuing list is as follows:
Dr. James A. Gillespie - Pittsburgh
Dr. George A. Walker - Hollidaysburg
Charles R. Brown - Hollidaysburg
Dr. Harry Green - Philadelphia
Joshua O. Thompson - Ambler
Dr. Burrell R. Johnson - Johnstown
Attorney Henry R. Smith - Pittsburgh
Louis E. Waller - Washington
Dr. Fred L. Vaughns - Uniontown
Dr. Charles H. Butler - Coatesville
*Thomas A. Smith, Jr. - Johnstown
Richard P. Burton, Sr. - Allentown
Charles T. Stokes - Pittsburgh
John Shelton, Sr. - Chester
Atty. Burrell A. Brown - Clairton
*Thomas A. Smith Jr. - Bethlehem
*Elected twice to serve as President of the State Conference"
Listed below are some of the NAACP of Blair County presidents. Whom am I missing?
Blair County NAACP Leaders: Nathan Benjamin (1972) , Charles Randolph Brown, Louise Affred (sp?), Eudora Gore, Louise Arthur, Dr. George Walker, Sr., Donald Witherspoon (1990 to present) , Rev. Lawrence Garrett (1968), Rev. D. Alpha Terry (1944), Charles Sexton (1961), Rev. W. L. Yarborough (1949), Edward Weldon
I am in the process of documenting African American history in Blair County. I find researching historical/family information to be fascinating. Perhaps that's the nerd in me coming out. I have lived in Blair County for 18 years and am chairing the African American Heritage Project of Blair County (http://www.altoona.psu.edu/aahp), whose purpose is to document this history. I am hoping to use this blog to showcase what has been researched and to allow others to add to this search. Thank you again for checking out my first entry.