Thu. May 30th, 2024

Everyone is invited to attend an upcoming presentation by Harriett Gaston entitled “Our Stories: A History of the African American Presence in the Tyrone Area”.
The event is sponsored by the Tyrone Area Historical Society and will be held at the Tyrone History Museum Thursday at 7 p.m.
Gaston is coordinator of minority programs at Penn State Altoona and is chair of the African-American Heritage Project of Blair County.
The presentation is not limited to the Tyrone area, but focuses on Northern Blair County, including Tyrone, Bellwood and Warriors Mark.
The whole idea for this presentation came about due to an oral history interview with Ms. Minerva Frank, a 95-year-old resident of Warriors Mark.
In a videotaped interview, Ms. Frank recalled her childhood memories of a former slave family who lived in Warriors Mark in the early 1900s.
The interview was conducted by Gaston, along with Penn State professor and Warriors Mark resident, Jerry Zolton.
According to Zolton, Ms. Frank is expected to attend the presentation to answer questions and share her memories of the area’s bygone days.
Gaston will also touch upon the Underground Railroad in Pennsylvania, among other topics.
Nancy Smith, Tyrone Area Historical Society President, said she realized how little information is available on Pennsylvania’s Underground Railroad when a middle school student visited the museum and asked for information.
Gaston explained the reason for the lack of information is because the Underground Railroad was, by definition, extremely secretive.
While other family histories are often passed from generation to generation through the retelling of stories, journals and letters, information on the Underground Railroad was not discussed and was eventually lost over the years.
But, Gaston says the area was definitely a part of the movement, with many former slaves traveling secretly through local communities. Some continued north to Canada, while others chose to branch off and settle into new lives in Pennsylvania or connect to another section of the Underground Railroad.
Both Gaston and Smith agreed for interested individuals wishing to obtain more information on the Underground Railroad, there are several publications by black studies scholar and author Charles L. Blockson, who was born in Norristown, Pa. in 1933. A 1956 graduate of Penn State University, he has amassed one of the world\’s largest private collections of African American history and is considered one of the country\’s leading experts on the Underground Railroad.
This week’s presentation is free of charge and everyone is invited to come out and discover something new about this area’s history.

By Rick