(penn state reporter, Volume 13, Number 36, June 10, 1976)

Frackville, Pa. (population, 5,445) is becoming a town with a "past," thanks largely to the efforts of a one-woman historical society -- Lorraine Stanton.

A library assistant at the Schuylkill Campus, Mrs. Stanton wanted to make a personal contribution to the Bicentennial observance, and she decided to start in her own back yard.

"There had been no history of Frackville written since 1904," she observes, "and the older residents were passing away. I thought we had better listen to these people and get their recollections down on tape before it was too late."

She found them not only eager to talk to her but also to share the old photographs in their possession. Checking their reminiscences against old newspaper accounts, she combined stories and pictures into a column, "Old Frackville Tales," which has been published each Friday and Saturday since last Nov. 21 in the Shenandoah Evening Herald. Her pieces will continue to appear through next August when Frackville's own centennial observance is scheduled to take place.

Historical scoop

One of Mrs. Stanton's historical "scoops" was the discovery of Frackville's first female postmistress -- Mrs. Stanton interviewed her 74-year-old granddaughter. The postmistress was Mrs. Lenora Meredith, and she served from 1876 to 1885. Her husband, John, was the first man in Frackville to enlist in the Union Army and the first to die in the Civil War. Mrs. Stanton has pictures of the Merediths to embellish her "tale," which will appear in the Evening Herald this summer.

She has also obtained a picture of Miss Sarah McCool, the author of a Schuylkill County history, and will present copies of the portrait to the Smithsonian Institution (where a copy of Miss McCool's history reposes), to the State Library at Harrisburg and to the Schuylkill County Historical Society. The donor of the picture is Miss McCool's 90-year-old niece.

Mrs. Stanton is preparing to let Frackville learn for the first time how its name was chosen -- it was not by the toss of a coin as local legend has it -- and she has researched stories on the Borough's Civil War veterans and the effects of the 1917 flu epidemic. One of her most moving interviews she taped on Mother's Day in 1975 -- recording her own mother's memories of the area.

In addition to her columns on Frackville's history, Mrs. Stanton has prepared 100 articles dealing with the Centennial Exposition of 1876 in Philadelphia; these articles are also running in the Evening Herald, as have a series of pieces written by Mrs. Stanton to describe the exhibits and facilities at various Pennsylvania museums and historic buildings in the Pottsville area. Designed to assist persons interested in visiting the sites, the articles supply useful information about such things as picnic facilities, admission fees and parking. They are titled, "Pennsylvania is full of History -- DISCOVER IT!"

To help Frackville celebrate the centennial of its founding in 1876, Mrs. Stanton is directing the schoolchildren of the Borough in a play, "History and Holidays through Song and Story." The play, which has been videotaped, includes songs from the 1800s, plus a special 1934 number titled "Frackville," written by two members of the local Woman's Club. Mrs. Stanton did the narration for the entire program.

Frackville is just 11 miles from the Schuylkill Campus, where Mrs. Stanton has been working for eight years.

"I found my niche in life at the library," she avows. "I really enjoy helping the students."

The feeling is reciprocated. This spring the students asked Mrs. Stanton to serve as advisor to their newspaper next year.

Her historical research and writing occupy almost all of Mrs. Stanton's free time these days, now that her children are grown. Her oldest son, Robert, has his doctorate in mathematics and teaches at Rice University in Texas. Her two younger children are twins. Deborah, a former Pottsville schoolteacher, is married to Lt. Barry Janov, and her brother, Dennis, works in Altoona.

Mrs. Stanton hopes that someday Frackville will have its own historical society, and if it does, she has an important item to donate to its collection. She arranged to get the flag that flew over the nation's Capitol on April 10 this year -- the actual date of Frackville's incorporation 100 years ago. In the meantime, the Borough's history during the past century is being preserved through the diligent efforts of Lorraine Stanton.

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