The Port Allegany Bicentennial Committee meetings are growing each week, as more people from the community step up to help the little town on the edge of McKean County celebrate its 200 birthday.
Last month, organizers asked about how to identify all of the veterans who have ever served from Port Allegany, the response to which, they reported, was overwhelming.
This month, organizers are hoping to get help to identify who the oldest living Port Allegany residents or natives are, with the hope that they can be present to be honored at the opening ceremonies on June 12 and possibly ride in the parade on June 17.
Committee Chairperson Ilene Altenheim said they are also hoping to find any of the descendants of Port Allegany’s original settlers, to hear some of the family stories.
The names of those founding families are: Keating, King, Stanton, Lillibridge, Steele, Arnold, Smith, Coleman, Medbery, Benton, Vanderhule, among others.
The first family to settle in what would be Port Allegany was the Stanton Family, and the Lillibridge and Steele families established the village of Keating in 1826 with logging as their livelihood. The village’s name was later changed to Port Allegheny, with that spelling changed to Port Allegany in 1840.
“‘When Lillibridge and Steele came up here, the forest was covered with pine and hemlock,’” Dick Kallenborn told a reporter in a 2009 interview. “‘The first people who made money did it from sawing the pine,’” which was tied together in huge rafts and floated down the river to Pittsburgh.”
Another unusual treasure the committees find are coins flattened by the McKinley funeral train in 1901. After President McKinley’s assassination, the train traveled from Canton, Ohio, to Washington, D.C., making its only stop in Port Allegany. Flattening coins on the railroad was a common way to remember the historical event.
And, like the McKinley train, plans for this summer’s event are gaining steam.
At Tuesday’s event, Dr. Ed Schott spoke up on behalf of the Lions Club. They agreed to organize the parade on Friday night before the alumni football game. Bill Burleson from True Value and Just Ask Rental was also on hand and offered to donate two large tents for the committee to use on the square for the week.
Denise Russell reported that she had approached 14 businesses so far about taking part in “Taste of Port Allegany” this evening. She’s heard back from 12, and they are all excited to get involved.
Borough Council member Sam Dynda was also in attendance and let the committee know that the borough will not be requiring vendors to get permits for each of their booths. This news was gratefully received by the group.
Rod Rees, commander of the Port Allegany post of the American Legion, assured the group that he’ll work with the Vets Club to put together a special presentation on Wednesday night.
Bicentennial Committee member Dottie Anderson went over a detailed agenda for the upcoming week, which outlined musical performances, an ice cream social, historical presentations, a car cruise and kids night, a historical fashion show, a float parade and the annual Fair on the Square.
If anyone has any information, or wants to help with the Bicentennial committee, they are invited to attend next month’s meeting, the first Wednesday of the month, or contact Altenheim at (814) 274-9798 or firstname.lastname@example.org.