THIS WEEK IN HISTORY: Students blasted off to summer reading fun
50 years ago, 1970
The public library’s vacation reading program was in full swing, or should we say full orbit? The theme, “Summer Reading Is Out of This World,” attracted hundreds of avid young readers.
The readers celebrated their success by the numbers of books they completed. Each received a bookmark after reading two books, and a membership certificate after reading five. Readers at each library branch marked their progress with a space ship traveling throughout the solar system.
The Lowellville branch had more than 100 readers enrolled in the program with their names and rocket ships covering an entire wall. Readers at both the North and West branches met in small groups for discussions and planned to keep the groups going beyond the summer vacation and into the fall.
Display cases and moon globes helped the readers explore their stories at the Campbell and Austintown branches. High school students from Cardinal Mooney even volunteered by giving puppet shows to the young readers. Books simply flew off the library shelves that summer as readers shot for the moon.
40 years ago, 1980
A team led by John White, professor of anthropology at Youngstown State University, wandered deep into the woods only to emerge worlds away. Their trek was only a few hundred yards away from U.S. Route 224, just inside Pennsylvania’s Mahoning Township in Lawrence County. The foliage and underbrush was so dense that every sound from the outside world was hushed. As the team pushed forward, briars snagged at their clothing as leftover drops of heavy rain dripped from the trees. “We are walking from the present into the past and will soon come upon the only identifiable vestiges of a small community which flourished here nearly 150 years ago: the ‘lost’ village of Quakertown.”
The land was owned by the Penn Power Co. and White obtained a permit to explore the grounds. His journey began years before and with the help of students and friends, he had found the village. The team first came upon a cemetery wall very well camouflaged by the greenery. A few headstones were sunken into the ground, but their script was still legible. Septemus Cadwallader was 81 when he died in 1813, his wife, Sarah, passed away in 1821 at age 63. Broken markers and the remains of excavations hinted at vandalism or perhaps even grave robbery. Moving on from the cemetery, White showed the team a still distinguishable road which led to the site of the main village, but the group returned to their cars instead of pushing on.
Heading down the road, they stopped and crossed a small bridge at a railroad crossing, only to hear a loud roaring in the distance. Quakertown Falls was very active from the previous night’s rain, as the water rushed over the edge through a gorge to the Mahoning River. The falls had attracted Cadwallader to the area where he built a grist mill on his 400-acre property. The falls area also was home to John Shearer’s fulling mill, along with a tanning mill owned by Cadwallader’s sons.
The team climbed toward the ridge top and discovered the remnants of a long-abandoned stone quarry. The quarry was not quite as old as Quakertown but pieces of its culvert, stone-lined well, and dynamite shack were still visible. Further up the hill, the team discovered foundation stones, steps, and even a horse harness ring attached, telling the story of the people and animals who once called this place home. As they continued toward the center of town, more foundations were hidden among the dense growth. Not hidden by that growth were two stone uprights, spread apart about the width of a wagon track. The group pondered these pillars and wondered what they might have been for. Did they mark an entry gate? Was the village completely walled?
The group continued over a set of railroad tracks to find the ruins of Cadwallader’s stone house. The house was built in 1805, and only the end portions remained, slowly losing ground to vines and grasses. The family’s stone-lined well was surrounded by flowers, including an old-fashioned cabbage rose. Could this have been planted by Sarah, surviving over 175 years with new buds each spring? A bridge was built in this area in the early 1830s, but its foundations did not survive the winter ice and it was washed away, never to be rebuilt. As the team trudged up the steep road out of Quakertown and back to the present, many questions lingered in their minds about the ghostly place they had explored. Will we ever know what happened to the lost village and how it came to be lost and only found 175 years later?
• Compiled from the archives of the Youngstown Vindicator by Traci Manning, MVHS Curator of Education