The Apollo Area Historical Society considers North Apollo a part of our community and in 2017 had a display evoking the “good old days” from that area These letters were written to August Froncek from Pearl Sowers Wagner in 1967. The letters describe the North Apollo area. They are transcribed as written.
My Memories of a Section of North Apollo, Part 1
This deals with that part of N. Apollo known as the “Allison Farm”. This farm was purchased from A.V. Kipp by T.H. Allison in January of 1881. The land reached from the, as we then called it, the river road, on the West, up to Whitlinger ground on the East. A lane went through the eastern part of farm, it was known as Allisons Lane. In the year of 1889, Mr. Allison had a survey made and sold off a portion of the farm in lots and Allisons Lane was sold along with the lots, he then made a new lane, which formed the boundary line between farm and lots. Now these lots were sold to the following people, starting at North end of lane: I will number them, some contained more land than others, Lot No. 1 Edward Artman, No. 2 Harvey Olinger, No. 3 Adam Stitt, No. 4 Robert McElwain, No. 5 Bart Townsend, No. 6 G.W. Burkett, No. 7 –, No. 8 reserved for school ground. Lot No. 7, I am not sure of the original owner. The first family living there, that I have any recollection of was named McKinley. They were living there when President McKinley was shot. These are the names of the people who as the years passed by, owned or lived in these homes, Lot No. 1 Ed Artman, Taylors, Emery Culp, Hanna, McKinstry, Newhouse, and the present owner Mrs. Cochrane. Lot No. 2 owned by Olinger, he did not occupy the house. In 1892 my father W.A. Sowers moved into house, it has had six tenants, Sowers, Bowser, Sowers, Wagner, Daugherty, Wagner. Lot No. 3 Adam Stitt, John Stitt, Morgan, Wampler, Beers, Moyer, and Moore. Lot No. 4 McElwain, France, Moorehead, Zell, Sloan, Bowser, Jaracy. There was a four room house on this lot, between the Jaracy home and the No. 5 lot. A family by the name of Stitt lived here, also Fettermans. The house was torn down quite a while ago. Lot No. 5 was owned by Bart Townsend. I first remember Townsend, Gephard, Akins and Hayes families as living here. Lot No. 6 G.W. Burkett, Olinger, Olinger, Longs, Hulings, Burford, Baums, Norton. Lot No. 7 …McKinley, Moonly, McCoy, Sage, Shupe. Lot No. 8 School Grounds. This ground along with lot no. 7 was bought by Shupe.
My Memories of a Section of North Apollo, Part 2
This deals with that part of N. Apollo known as the “Allison Farm”. This farm was purchased from A.V. Kipp by T.H. Allison in January of 1881. The land reached from the, as we then called it, the river road, on the West, up to Whitlinger ground on the East. A lane went through the eastern part of farm, it was known as Allisons Lane. In the year of 1889, Mr. Allison had a survey made and sold off a portion of the farm in lots and Allisons Lane was sold along with the lots, he then made a new lane, which formed the boundary line between the farm and lots.
The first house to be built on the Allison farm was built by Bert Borland. It was along what is now 16th Street between Atchison Ave. and Held’s store. There was one other house on farm, which is now owned by Hobbens. It was the Farmhouse. There was a large apple orchard on the farm, extending E-W from what is now called Hickory Nut Road to Allison Ave. and from 16th to 2nd St. Our school house, known as Allison School burned down, I think in the year 1908 or 1909. We finished the school term in one room of Sugar Hollow School. After quite a lot of argument a 4 room building was erected on what was known as Luxemburg Heights: It was the opinion of some of the people, that a four room building was not needed, and it would never be needed, but it was built, and the one room building known as Peg-town School was done away with and the pupils of that school were transferred to the new school. This took care of 3 rooms, so the 4th room was used for a number of years for township high school. I don’t know what year the high school was discontinued, but in the year 1923, the school building that was so large, we would never use it, became so over crowded that the first of two smaller buildings were erected. We have another school house now, it was erected on what was one time Allison ground.
My Memories of a Section of North Apollo Part 3
Where the forks in road at North end of the lane at the time was known as Hickory nut bottom Road. It goes down back of Griftlo Park, and there were four houses on it that I remember. The first was the John Scott home, a Greek family now owns it. Second was owned by Emanuel Cramer, was later owned by a man named Clawson, may still be Clawson. Third was owned by Rosenberger, fourth by George Johnson. Don’t know who owns it now, is in bad shape. And I think that down near the highway were two more houses.
Now for the ground on South side of 16th street- to and including 12th St. I think this was Whitlinger land, am not sure. Between the Fairground and the highway, houses were scarce, there were a row of houses, don’t think there were over six houses. They were along what is now Clark Ave. And I think they called them Long Row. Then along what is now 12th street, another row of houses, some of which are or were still there the last time I was on that street.
A small stream of water came down across this land, and crossed 16th street just about where Borough building now stands. This stream during a spell of dry weather would be some times entirely dried up. But come a rainy spell or as some times happened, a bad storm, and it was quite a venture to cross it. There was no bridge and more than one youngster got very wet.
There is a part of North Apollo that I all ways felt did not belong to Allison Lane. We called what is now 16th street Allisons Lane. All the houses on North side of 16th were built on the farmland; the first was built by Borland, between Atchison and Allison Ave. Second and third houses were between Moore and Wilson Avenues. One was built by Gary Fitzsimmons. Second by a man names Bush, I know Bush lived there. On South side of 16th street, I think the lots were originaly Whitlinger land. 16th St. came to an end at Histon (sorry, couldn’t make this out) end of our school ground. The 1st house on 16th was owned, I think by John Beatty; I know they lived there, the last family to live in that house as far as I know was the Ban. Miller family. House is no longer there. Next house was occupied by William Spencer family. It burned down. Next was Samuel Stitt, now James Wilding. Next was I believe a family by name of Hanna. And this house was where, if I remember correctly, Tavern now stands. Next house was Girts, later known as Jack Kerr property. There was a log house next to Kerr’s. I think it was occupied by “Aunt Peggy Stitt.” Then Gilmore Heckman, next Gideon Heckman. All so a family named Riggle lived in this section, they may have lived in the “Gid” Heckman house before Heckman. The Corner House facing Highway, I do not know who lived in it or owned it. Originally, I know of a William Remaly living there, he was a Justice of peace officer. All so Jesse McElwain lived there, he too was Justice of peace.
Taking all things into consideration it has been a good neighborhood: a place where, when my parents came here in the spring of 1892, there were no telephones, no automobiles, no way of getting word to a doctor in a hurry, as there is now. The men along Old Allisons Lane were all steel mill workers, did not all work at the same times or shifts so there was all ways a man at home to go for a doctor day or night.
My Memories of PegTown
Another part of North Apollo, long ago, called at that time North End Apollo, but better known as Pegtown, must not be forgotten. At the time of which I write it was quite a different looking place than it now is. I can’t truthfully say scenery has improved.
There were a row of houses facing the old canal on the east, and on the north side, where the block of houses, facing the beautiful junkyard now stands, was a woolen mill. I don’t remember just what year the mills were torn down and those houses were built. I know the mill was still there in 1917-18. I think a man by name of Ament built that block of houses.
Where the junk yard is was open space for a number of years. A ferry was in operation. When the circus came to town, as happened at least once each summer, the tents were pitched on this ground. This ground was also used as a baseball field and football field, and now looking at it, I can’t help but wonder why anyone should be permitted to deface the landscape as the owner of that junkyard has done and is doing.
Of the people living there at the time, the only names I am sure of are Burkett and Gibson. I can recall names of many families that have lived there over the years. (Most any man aged 65-75 years, who lived around Pegtown, could tell of the Bird Gibson home.)
I asked my father one time why they called the place Pig-town. He said it was not “Pig-town” but Pegtown. Of course the next question was, “Why was it Pegtown?” and Dad said, “Go to bed; tomorrow you will find out.” In the morning my father took me out on what I called and yet think of as “The Hill”. We went to what is now Clark Avenue. We had a good look at Pegtown. I still couldn’t figure out why it was so named. So we went a little further–went clear into Pegtown. He told me to look closely at houses as we passed. Finally it penetrated my brain–the houses were on posts. I said wasn’t it because the houses were set on posts; he said yes. I had the last word, however. I said it shouldn’t be Pegtown, it should be Post-town.
It has changed, as has everything else. I often wish that I had the power, to, with a swipe of my hand, clear everything off the old farm, just for one spring and summer, and be able to walk out old Allison Lane in the spring and smell the Apple Blossoms. Then later in the summer, smell the ripening apples. Then to be able to restore N. Apollo, as it is now, minus a few disagreeable things.
The Low Water Ferry The Circus Comes To Peg Town!!
Love all the Stitt ancestry info. Of course, I knew of my great-grandfather Samuel Stitt’s house and my great-uncle John Stitt’s home, but other names are new to me. Also, Jesse McIlwain was my uncle. He was married to my Dad’s sister Edna Stitt. Will do some ancestry research on the other Stitt’s mentioned. Thanks.
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Glad you enjoyed the letters, Judy!
Wrong aunt. My Dad’s sister Elma was married to Jesse McIlwain. Edna was married to Robert Shoemaker, Sr.
My Sloan ancestors had property, as mentioned in the article. My Grandfather Chester Sloan. My Mother, Maxine Sloan Scott, born 1921 raised in North Apollo – she is 96 and still recalls her childhood and growing up there – and attending Apollo High School. Years later after she married my Dad, Dale Scott, they moved to North Apollo on Moore Avenue where we were all raised. We all have such fond memories of our town and especially the “people”. .. Darene Scott Stankus
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Love your message! You should sit down with your mother & write/record her memories. Priceless! And then donate a copy to the AAHS 😀
Compliments as always to the historical society for wonderful posts & remembrances! I love reading Pearl Sowers Wagner’s recollections – lots of wonderful details I’d never known!
Just want to clarify one thing that Pearl says she was not sure about. Pearl writes:
“Now for the ground on South side of 16th street- to and including 12th St. I think this was Whitlinger land, am not sure. Between the Fairground and the highway, houses were scarce, there were a row of houses, don’t think there were over six houses. They were along what is now Clark Ave. And I think they called them Long Row. Then along what is now 12th street, another row of houses, some of which are or were still there the last time I was on that street.”
The property she describes – on the South side of 16th Street – had originally belonged to Apollo’s Simon Truby (1806-1886) and not the Whitlingers. This Truby property was later developed into a neighborhood called “Lexington Heights,” shown on Map #8 in the blog post.
Whitlingers did own property to the east of Hickory Nut Road in North Apollo, as in the hand-drawn map at the top of the blog post.
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I lived in Pegtown when I was a child. My Dad had a job working for the junk yard owner. I remember his name was Nate Wiseman. When my family lived there it was a very poor neighborhood. … Our next door neighbor beside us was a very sweet old lady named Bertha Bear. Not sure of the spelling on her last name. … We were a poor family living in a small, quite run down house with 9 children. .. No bathroom, just an old outhouse at the end of a pathway behind the house. We would never have fit in with the upper class folks that were the land owners of which you speak. … My parents are long gone now & I am now much older. The LORD has been good to me & has given me many blessings throughout the years. I had often thought back to those years living in Pegtown. Remembering just how poor my family & the majority of my neighbors had been back then. … I found this page when I GOOGLED to see if Pegtown, PA still was in existence. …. Thank you for sharing the info. ….
It was so nice to read your memories of Pegtown! Thanks!
Pearl Sowers Wagner the writer of this letter was my grandmother. I last saw her when I was 10 years old in 1966. She passed in 1981. I spent several weeks in the summer of 1966 in North Apollo. It was a fun time. I return there once every few years. My mother, father, sister, and grandmother are buried in the cemetery in Apollo. I was there in October 2020. I drive by her home on Hickory Nut Road whenever I’m there. About 10 years ago the owners now let me come inside and look around. They have rebuilt it but much still the same. They say that her spirit is still in the home. Finding this website and letter for the first time has been wonderful for my brother, sister, and myself. My sister who is 80 years old lived several years in the home on Hickory Nut Road from the late 1940s thru the mid-1950s. Thank you again for posting this!!
Thank you so much for your letter. We love hearing memories from our readers!!