‘Voices from the Redbank Valley’ now available

From staff reports

The Redbank Valley Historical Society announces it has published and now has available to the public a 440-page hardback book that is the culmination of work that had been on the drawing board since the infancy of the organization when it was founded a decade ago.

The new publication, “Voices from the Redbank Valley,” was released just before Christmas, and is a publication that focuses primarily but not exclusively on the history of the municipalities that comprise the school district with the same geographical boundaries about 165 square miles.

Cindy Morgan, president of the organization, noted that plans had been to have the book available to the public earlier but the publication date, like innumerable other plans, was delayed by the impact of COVID-19 on businesses associated with the publication process.

Now the society members hope those who will purchase copies of the book will believe the end product was worth the wait.

The new “Voices from The Valley” is in an 8 and one-half inch by 11-inch format contrasted with the 7- by 10-inch page size common in the early county histories, it was noted.

The society’s desire with the new book was targeting not only the southern Clarion County-and northern Armstrong County areas, but also the personalities or events or structures since the publication era of the former county histories.

With the intent to have the book concentrate on the defined geographical area, the Society’s thinking was to focus on area history dating forward from the era of the thick county histories of yesteryear, but “we found it necessary in some cases, and very helpful to the understanding of those persons who were not familiar with the earlier publications, to provide a background of some of the earlier happenings,” said Morgan.

An example, Morgan said, is a comprehensive article by Ken Burkett, a Fairmount City resident and recognized expert on the early settlements and activities of the Native Americans. That article goes back to very early activities of those indigenous people.

An inside look at the book

The new publication covers a wide variety of subjects, running the gamut from communities that comprised the Redbank Valley area to individuals who achieved recognition in business, community leadership, sports and military distinction(like Jeremiah Zaccariah Brown, who was Clarion County’s first Medal of Honor winner in the Civil War).

Other area military heroes whose wartime contributions are highlighted include two men: Walter W. Craig, a World War I hero for whom the local American Legion Post is named, and Russell J. Hilliard, a World War II hero for whom the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post is named.

The book starts off with a colored map of the Redbank Valley area in Clarion and Armstrong counties and includes stories on the legendary Leatherwood Anti-Horse Thief Association; the activities of the Ku Klux Klan in the area about a century ago; a former local preacher who rose to national prominence as head of a well-known national bible institute; a former brewery that today houses the Smuckers peanut butter factory; and numerous other diversified subjects, Morgan noted.

The “Voices from the Redbank Valley” books are available for purchase for $65 at the New Bethlehem office of The Leader-Vindicator at 435 Broad Street, or the Society’s web page at RedbankVHS.org.

To obtain a copy of the book, purchasers may also contact Cindy Morgan at (814) 221-6225. If purchasers wish to have a book mailed to them or elsewhere, there is a $10 per book shipping charge.