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Women of Lycoming County

March 11, 2015 - Barb Barrett
This is a very celebatory month. March is Women’s History Month and upon my research, much was discovered about the women who lived here.

The first warden in the old Lycoming jail was a woman. It opened in 1801 after the land was purchased for one cent. One can't help wonder who she was and how she got to be in such a formidable position that was primarily occupied by males during this time. There were about a dozen cells. A fire destroyed the building in the mid 1860’s, and the building was later reconstructed in 1866.

Records show people showed jail time for trespassing, forgery, larceny, embezzlement, fornication, sodomy, drunk and disorderly conduct and even killing deer without antlers. The most common crime was illegal train riding. Occasionally someone was hanged on the gallows of the jail. They were located between the cell block and the wall surrounding the jail.

Julia C. Collins wrote the first novel written by an African American woman. There is an historical marker on her behalf along the Riverwalk, just off the Market Street ramp in downtown Williamsport. The first female postmaster in the area, Emma Shumaker, was from Muncy and last week the Lumiary highlighted Hughesville’s first female police chief. The Luminary, originally the Muncy Telegraph was also started by a woman in the 1830’s. The hospital here in Lycoming County was first started by two female physicians.

These are admirable positions for women and little recognition is given to them. Lycoming County now has a Women’s History Collection with source materials and documents on local women through Lycoming College and access to the archives can be obtained at A close friend of mine writes a column on Women's History for the Sun-Gazette and at the end of this month there will be a publication in circulation on some of the famous women and what they did here in Lycoming County, thanks to the daunting research compiled by Mary Sieminski of Montoursville.


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