On June 26, 1988, a devastating fire destroyed many of the historic buildings in downtown Perkasie. Greg Nyce was one of the Perkasie firefighters who responded to the fire. As the fire engulfed the Shelly Lumber shed and the J. G. Moyer Building, Greg and Clyde Snyder were fighting the fire from above in Perkasie’s aerial truck parked on Seventh Street. As the wind whipped the fire across Seventh Street to the American House Hotel and Lesher’s Store, the aerial bucket truck became engulfed in flames. Realizing that they could not go back down to the ground, Greg and Clyde were able to swing the aerial platform to the roof of the building at 14-21 N. Seventh Street. They were able to jump onto the roof and go through a hatch into the building.
After the fire, the aerial truck was refurbished and returned to service in Perkasie. In 2013, the truck’s new owner, Oakland (NJ) Fire Company, returned the truck to Perkasie for the 25th Anniversary of the Perkasie Fire. The truck was positioned on Seventh Street where Greg Nyce, Chief Worthington and others climbed into the aerial bucket and reenacted the scenario from 25 years prior.
After returning to the ground, Greg Nyce donated his fire helmet, the one he wore during the fire to the Perkasie Historical Society Museum.
Thank you, Greg, for your donation of your helmet and thanks to our firefighters for their service to the community.
An email from a gentleman in New York State posed a question; Is Tunnel Hill Farm now Pennridge Airport?
He had a section of a propeller from a 1929 Tunnel Hill plane crash. For years he had searched for the crash location.
Our search of the digitized Central News found an article about a Pitcairn Airplane with two onboard that crashed at tunnel farm, which later became Pennridge Airport. The pilot of the plane was Fred Winkler. His passenger was a student aviator, “Bob” Koehler, son of Dr. and Mrs. A.G. Koehler of Perkasie. They were inspecting the area for a possible site to land a plane on Legion Day of Anniversary Week. Both men escaped injury and the plane had to be disassembled and taken away. The propeller section from the crash ended up in a personal collection and has since been returned to Perkasie as a donation to the Perkasie Historical Society Museum.
A Lauderdale County, Mississippi historian contacted the Perkasie Historical Society to confirm their findings of a connection between Perkasie’s Lt. Walter Godshall and their Lt. Thomas Clay Carter Jr. from World War I.
The Lauderdale County Archives is the repository for the Carter Family papers and photographs from the late 1880’s into the 1950’s. This Victorian era family, was composed of 8 children, the youngest of who was Thomas Clay Carter Jr.
One of their publications, “Excerpt From The Carter and Crumpton Families of Mississippi and Alabama” by S. W. Calhoun, Jr., included chapters on Lt. Thomas Clay Carter Jr. In the chapter, “Tragedy in France” a Lt. Godshaw (sic) is mentioned several times as the officer with Thomas Clay Carter when he was killed. Captain Wert, the battalion commander did not list a Lt. Godshaw (sic) on his register in 1920. This inconsistency raised the interest of Mr. Calhoun, and initiated his search as to who was this soldier?
Through the use of today’s technology, Mr. Calhoun was able to find the Perkasie Historical Society Tobacco Fund Book of World War I soldiers. This book documents each Perkasie soldier with a photograph and short biography. In assessing that reference, comparing their battle history, it became evident that “Godshaw” was actually “Godshall”. The correspondence also noted that Lt. Walter Godshall was killed a few days after Lt. Carter.
Aligning the connections between the Perkasie Tobacco Fund Book and the Lauderdale County Archives, enabled us to receive copies of the publications with detailed accounts. This material is used to honor the memory and sacrifice of our soldiers in the Great War.
Image on the left is the original German tombstone. Rick Doll photo
Top image the current tombstone is from www.findagrave.com.
A resident contacted the Perkasie Historical Society about looking at a tombstone that was found on his property. The stone was in German and from a child named Fridrich Knoll who lived for a little over two years (1856 – 1859). This time frame was before the incorporation of Perkasie Borough in 1879, and before the Perkasie Central News began publishing the local newspaper in 1881. We turned to society member, Judy Pezzanite, who is proficient in genealogical research for help. Searching Find a Grave and Ancestry .com, Judy was able to solve the mystery.
Fridrich Knoll was the son of Lewis and Hannah Knoll who lived in Hilltown. They had six children, Hannah, Mary, Amanda, Fridrich, Frank and Charles. Fridrich survived for only two years and 4 months and is buried in St Peter’s Union Cemetery in Hilltown. One of the children, Frank Knoll, moved to Perkasie in 1894 and became the first Funeral Director in town. He lived at the corner of Fifth and Chestnut Streets and constructed the three-story building on Chestnut Street for his funeral business. The current tombstone for Frederick Knoll is in English and replaced the original German language stone. Later, the original tombstone was turned over and repurposed, as a steppingstone in a Perkasie backyard.
At one time, the railroad in Perkasie was very busy. There were numerous through passenger and freight trains along with local freights serving Perkasie businesses. One of the local sidings was at the Freed’s Hay Press. The hay press was replaced with Stover’s Feed Mill in 1938 and still operates today as Davis Feed Mill. This railroad siding leads to a concrete and metal structure that still exists, unused today.
Matt Lynch searched the Central News and found that this structure was constructed in part by the borough in 1929. The concrete bins under the railroad track were constructed by O’Rourke Brothers of Perkasie and used to unload coal from railroad cars. The coal was needed to fire the boilers in the borough electric plant located next door. The coal would have to be trucked to the stockpile outside of the plant. The borough paid $2.00 to Stover’s for every car unloaded. This procedure ended in 1948 when Perkasie Borough stopped generating electricity. Also, of interest, are the two spotlights attached to the unloading structure. They were used to illuminate the large powerhouse smokestack where “Perkasie” spelled out in the brickwork.
At the March 2020 Perkasie Historical Society meeting, Paul Clymer presented a program on the 100th Anniversary of the Hartzell - Crouthamel American Legion Post 280 in Perkasie. Mr. Clymer was our Pennsylvania State Representative for thirty – four years and is now Commander of the American Legion Post.
Mr. Clymer talked about World War I and the atrocities of that war. He remembers, as a child, many of the war veterans living in the Perkasie and Sellersville area. He recalls seeing a man with a persistent cough and questioned his father. His father shared that the man, a World War I veteran had lung damage from his exposure to the gas used in warfare.
After the war the returning veterans formed the American Legion. The Perkasie Post 280 was named after Calvin Hartzell and Earl Crouthamel. Both were Perkasie boys that were casualties of the war. Calvin F. Hartzel was Killed in action at Ronsoy, between Cambrai and St. Quentin on September 29, 1918 when the tank hit a land mine. Earl Crouthamel was killed on November 2nd, 1918, in Huysie, Belgium. This was just nine days before the armistice. The American Legion Post at one time had over 500 members and now has about 45 members. The legion organizes the Memorial Day Parade which alternates between Perkasie and Sellersville. They support community events and provide scholarships.