Unidentified School Class Photos

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Gallery: Unidentified School Class Photos
Schools Shamokin Folklore The Academy

The Helfenstein Mystery

On the 22nd day of December 1854, an unusual event took place in Shamokin that remains unexplained to this day.  The story is best begun by reprinting here the letter that had been sent by the committee.

Dear Sir:

On Friday, December 22nd at 10 o’clock A.M. At this place, Judge Helfenstein proposes to dedicate forever a valuable and productive coal estate in the Shamokin Coal Basin for the benefit of the destitute poor of New York, Philadelphia, Lancaster, Carlisle, etc.  And also the laying of the corner stone of a free collage at Shamokin to be endowed with the proceeds of another coal estate; and also the dedication of a coal estate for the benefit of African Colonization.

Kimber Cleaver
Wm. Fagely

D. M. Bird
Wm. H. Marshall
Wm. Atwater

A description of the two estates shows that one laid immediately south of the town and was estimated to hold enough coal to produce 300,000 tons per year.  The other was purported to be a short distance east and was capable of producing 150,000 tons per year.  This estate was already leased for a royalty of 25 cents per ton.

The then Governor of Pennsylvania, William Bigler, was present at this auspicious occasion and after a short tour of the estate, laid the cornerstone of the free college.  Speeches were made by several men including the Governor and Judge Helfenstein.

It has been ascertained that this was the beginning of the “Academy” which stood where the present Shamokin Middle School now stands.  However, what happened to the free coal estates has not been learned and thus is still a mystery today.

Online Library School Publications Schools Shamokin High School

Shamokin High School Review – Vol. XXXI, April 1927

This publication is provided courtesy of Northumberland County Historical Society.

Schools Shamokin School District Stevens School

Stevens School

Stevens School, circa 1950’s

The Stevens building received its present name, January 10, 1876, by resolution of the board, “in honor of the great defender of the common school system,” Thaddeus Stevens. Prior to that date it was known as the Newtown school.

Stevens School Early Drawing

On the 5th of May, 1857, the township school board decided to purchase lots No. 8 and 4 in block No. 61 from C. P. and B. C. Helfenstein, and on the 19th of June it was resolved to build. A building tax of sixteen hundred dollars was levied, June 26th; the contract was awarded, July 13, 1857, to Benjamin McClow at his bid of eighteen hundred twenty-five dollars, and the work was prosecuted under the direction of Messrs. John and Shipp, building committee. For various reasons this location was not found to be entirely suitable, and on the 5th of June, 1869, the building and grounds were sold to Henry Morgan for five hundred dollars.

Stevens School

Frederick S. Haas, Withington Lake, and M. Emes, a committee of the board, reported in favor of a new location, June 4th; on the 1st of July, 1869, the contract was awarded Joseph E. Thompson at his bid of twenty-two hundred seventy-five dollars, and the building was erected agreeably to plans prepared by Daniel Yost. It was completed in August, 1870, and with extra work the entire cost was twenty-three hundred fifty-six dollars, ninety-five cents.

Stevens School Early Photo
Stevens School circa 1920’s

An addition to this building, similar to that erected at the Penrose building in the previous year, was authorized by the board, July 12, 1875, and a week later Messrs. Schwartz, John, and Robins were appointed a building committee. The work was done by R. S. Aucker under contract for the sum of twenty-seven hundred ninety-five dollars. As again enlarged in 1887 this building comprises eight rooms, in which four intermediate and four primary schools are taught. It is located on Third street at the corner of Spruce.

Stevens School Entrance, circa 1950’s