119 South Pitt Street · Mercer, Pennsylvania 16137 · 724-662-3490
info@mchspa.org

About Us


Mission Statement

“The Mission of the Mercer County Historical Society is to collect and preserve artifacts, manuscripts, published materials and records relating to Mercer County’s pre-history and history and to use these to increase public awareness and appreciation for Mercer County’s heritage. The Society will strive to provide and promote educational opportunities connected with Mercer County history through its museum, library and archives, living history programs, oral history project, publications program, and historic sites and buildings. The Society will also encourage the preservation of materials, sites and buildings that are significant to the County’s history but which do not fall under the control of the Society.”

Revised 1999

Join The Historical Society

In these times of rapid change, it often seems that our history is slipping away before we have a chance to learn from it.  Partner with the Mercer County Historical Society to preserve our local, regional and state history before it’s too late.  Members receive our quarterly newsletter, special invitation to MCHS events and occasional, member-only deals on some of our books and booklets.  Click below to pick your membership and join.

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To join, download, print and fill out this form and mail it and your check to us at:

Mercer County Historical Society
119 South Pitt Street
Mercer, PA 16137

Download Membership Form

 

 

Our people are the best, and they make all the difference.

  • Staff
    • Executive Director:
      William C. (Bill) Philson

       bill2In the fifteen plus years (August 1997-present), our Executive Director—Bill Philson—has been helping to steer the Mercer County Historical Society (MCHS). Many things have changed, but our main mission has remained the same—to protect and preserve the history of Mercer County.

      The MCHS has been a continuity of change and growth since its inception and definitely since Philson started. Since 1997, we have redone many of our display areas in our main buildings, created new museums, re-staffed other areas, and much more. The MCHS has not stagnated! We continue to produce new books, booklets, pamphlets, DVD’s, and a variety of other products. We continue to offer displays that reflect Mercer County, Pennsylvania, history—not just here but from around the nation and the world. We have a variety of sites around the County and all are worth seeing.

      Philson is married to Bobbi Bleakney Philson, has two step-children—Adam Littell and Shannon Littell Byers—and four grand-Children—Daniel & Eli Littell and Tegan & Blake Byers. He lives in Coolspring Township.

      Philson’s main duties revolve around the day-to-day activities of the MCHS. He is also responsible for knowing what the Societybill1 might need in the future. Bill manages the Civil War Roundtable and speaks at various functions when called upon. He is in almost daily contact with President David Miller and serves as the liaison between the President, the Board of Directors, and patrons of the MCHS. Philson directs and maintains all sites that are controlled by the MCHS.

      Bill has had a varied career. He graduated from Penn State Shenango with a 2LAS Degree, from Slippery Rock University with two degrees—Bachelor of Science in Education with emphasis on Social Studies and a Masters Degree in History—and completed some work on a doctorate in History from Kent State University—specializing in their Public History section. He has worked as a GED instructor at Mercer and Lawrence County Jails. He has worked with low income unmarried mothers in several programs. Philson taught computers at several elder hostels. He was a Family Preservationist at Catholic Charities and later a Counselor. Bill taught at Monsignor Geno Monti Catholic Middle School. For the last twenty years, while working at MCHS and these other jobs for a living, he has taught history part-time at Penn State Shenango and a few classes at Thiel College. Bill assists his wife in teaching Sunday school at their church and was MCHS Volunteer of the Year, 1997.

  • Executive Committee
    • President: Robert Lark
      • President: Robert Lark

        bob1

        MCHS President

        Bob Lark has many interests both at the Society and in his life. Bob was the Chairman of the Mercer County Democratic Party for 22 years, a retired teacher of 40 years in the Butler Area School District and for 34 years the Chairperson of its History Department, a traveler, and many other things. Bob has had the opportunity to introduce President Bill Clinton twice in Mercer County. Likewise, Bob traveled to Topeka, KS, to meet Governor Alf Landon—the 1936 Republican Candidate for President and born in Mercer County. Bob organized the effort by the MCHS to place Historical Markers for Landon.

        Bob is a life member of the Society, has been a Board Member since 1982, and was the Chairman of the Building Committee that graced the MCHS membership the Anderson Building. Bob was the Chairperson of our successful 3-1-1 Fund Raising Campaign—raising money to take care of our buildings and grounds, help fund programs, and to enhance our programs. Bob has contributed to our 2014 Beringer/Caldwell One-Room School Reunion and our 2014 Rural Life Museum “Ox” Roast during Munnell Run Farm Day. He is also taking a personal interest in the displays in the MCHS’ Lobby/Foyer Displays. Bob has certainly been active in the short time he has been President, but we should have expected that—judging from his past history with the MCHS.

        At the Society, Bob often brings plants to decorate the front of the building in the summer and often helps maintain the landscaping of the headquarters.

        Bob lives in West Middlesex.

    • Vice-President: Timothy Bennett
      • Vice-President: Timothy Bennett

        tim1Since 1994, Tim has created—or helped create—two groups that have helped the MCHS. These two groups are the Western Pennsylvania Civil War Reenactors Society (WPCWRS) and the Sons of Union Veterans of the American Civil War—Isaac Eaton Camp. These two groups help publicize the MCHS and, upon occasion, the WPCWRS have reenactments in the backyard of the MCHS or at the MCHS Rural Life Museum. The WPCWRS have served as an adjunct unit of the MCHS and have helped by serving at some of our events—for example, this group is putting on the MCHS Annual Dinner and Program for 2013. It will be on the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

        Tim became a Member of the Board of Directors of the MCHS and quickly became the Vice-President. Tim has “covered” for Bill Philson as needed over the years—when Bill was forced to be out of the office.

        Tim lives in Grove City, PA, and runs a business there.

    • Vice-President Brett Stedman
      • Vice-President: Brett Stedman
    • Secretary: Mark Brown
      • Secretary: Mark Brown

        mark1Mark Brown has been the President of the MCHS and has for a number of years been the Secretary. Mark’s daughter has grown up in and around the MCHS.
        As President, Mark oversaw the construction of the Anderson Building—a task Mark claims gave him grey hair. Like Bob, Mark helps maintain the landscape of the MCHS headquarters.
        Mark and his wife, Linda, annually, decorate the Chapel for the Chamber Players Christmas Candlelight Concert. The Browns attend almost all of the functions of the MCHS.
        Mark lives in Mercer Borough and is a retired teacher from Sharpsville High School

    • Treasurer: John G. (Jerry) Johnson
      • Treasurer: John G. (Jerry) Johnson

        jerry1Jerry Johnson is the third of the seven Presidents of the MCHS to serve on the Board of the MCHS today. Jerry’s term of office as President was from 1961 through 1970. These three men—Jerry, Mark, & David—have served well over half the entire existence of the MCHS as president and are the last of that group of men who have served as President.
        Jerry has served as Treasurer for a number of years. He attends almost all of the Society functions and often offers the devotion prior to a meal or meeting.
        Jerry is a lifelong resident of Mercer Borough and is one of the two remaining Charter members of the Society. He has raised a significant amount of money for the Society and continues to bring in one of the biggest gifts the Society sees annually—from the Lindsey Trust. Jerry’s concern for the Society is well known. Under Jerry’s guidance the Society has grown and developed. Jerry’s vision for the Society is for it to continue to grow and thrive. Jerry and Bob Lark are on the committee that is to raise funding for the Society—both through the membership and granting organizations.

  • Board of Directors
    • Dale Boyd, Rural Life Museum Curator
      • Dale Boyd, Rural Life Museum Curator

        dalebDale came along at just the right time for the Society. As he came forward, we were starting the Mercer County Rural Life Museum. This fell right into the hands of the one person who could best handle it. David Miller visited a Rural Life Museum in New Mexico and believed the Society could use such a museum. As we searched for a location, we also searched for someone to run the place. Little did we know he visited the Society every Saturday after his workday ended. Dale volunteered for the position.
        But Dale isn’t shy about volunteering. He helps the Society in many ways—one can often find him filming our events. He will clean not only “his” museum, but whatever else people are working on. He helps close down the museum on Saturdays and will just volunteer.
        Dale lives in Coolspring Township and comes to the Society with a lifetime of knowledge about rural life. He works building and repairing machines used on large farms and small lots. Dales experience brings to the Society the perfect man to run its newest museum. Dale is dedicated, spends many hours keeping the museum open, and opens the museum early in the spring and closes it late in fall. Dale’s other interests include farm history, rural life, and World War II.

    • Gene Brenneman, MCHS Board of Directors member
      • Gene Brenneman, MCHS Board of Directors member

        As a former County Commissioner, Gene brings a different skill set to the Society. He has worked within the Government and this allows him a different view of it. He is able to make suggestions about where to go, what to do, and who to talk to when dealing with the County and, sometimes, the State.
        As a former banker, Gene helped the Society get the Raisch Log Cabin when it was found in an old building that was being torn down.
        Gene lives outside of Sharpsville, PA, and helps run a farm that is a farm market.

    • Cindy Critzer, MCHS Board of Directors member
      • Cindy Critzer, MCHS Board of Directors member

        cindycCindy is one of our newest volunteers at the Society, when she has time off from her job. She is learning how to use Past Perfect and is becoming proficient at accessioning and storing our new item that have been donated. One of Cindy’s strengths is planning events—we sure hope to make use of that very soon!
        Cindy lives in Mercer and works in Hermitage.

    • Margie Crompton, MCHS Board of Directors member
      • Margie Crompton, MCHS Board of Directors member

        margiecMarge, and her late husband, Bob, have been associated with the MCHS since the late 1970’s. There is so much to tell the membership at large and non-members about the job she did that these few lines will not do it justice. She worked here on a regular basis. Marge was the Preservationist/Archivist for the MCHS and worked very hard during the period she was here. Marge wouldn’t say she retired and still promises to come in and help. We all hope that is sooner rather than later.
        During her time here, Marge built many of the displays that are still present. She cleaned, sorted, and stored many items. Under her leadership many of our collections took on new meaning and importance. Marge always looked toward the future and wanted the best for the Society. As a member of the Board, Marge continues her commitment toward the MCHS.
        Margie spearheaded our 50th Anniversary Gala, as well as worked on our 60th. She has some real skills when it comes to putting on events. Marge is still willing to volunteer.
        Margie lives in Hermitage Township and is a member of the “New Virginia” Club—a group of folks who grew up and lived in the New Virginia area.

    • Tom Darby, MCHS Board of Directors member
      • Tom Darby, MCHS Board of Directors member

    • Woodrow Dixon, MCHS Board of Directors member
      • Woodrow Dixon, MCHS Board of Directors member

        woodydWoody is a volunteer and a member of the MCHS Board of Directors. He is from the borough of Mercer and is our “go to” guy. He has a general interest in local history and genealogy. Woody has been microfilming newspapers, is creating computer list of these newspapers, he has been working on some of our photo collections—especially our massive collection from Westinghouse. This collection will soon be available to patrons in our library. Woody hydrates those documents in need of restoration and (1) Microfilms them, and/or (2) finds a place to put them away for their protection. Woody has scanned our slides into JPEGs—these will, in the relatively near future be turned into DVD programs instead of slide presentations. These will be available for use in the schools and colleges and for use by our membership. Woody has moved some/most of our VHS tapes onto a DVD format.
        Woody lives in an old historic house in Mercer Borough and was MCHS Volunteer of the Year, 2012

    • Chris Evans, MCHS Board of Directors member
      • Chris Evans, MCHS Board of Directors member

        image002Chris is interested in preserving Civil War history within the County and he is also a member of the Western Pennsylvania Civil War Reenactor Society. Chris wishes to continue his work as a liaison between the WPCWRS and the Society.
        Chris lives near Mercer Borough

    • Nancy Henderson, MCHS Board of Directors member
      • Nancy Henderson, MCHS Board of Directors member

        nancyhDNancy’s interests include continuing the work and mission of the MCHS.
        Nancy lives near Stoneboro

    • Shirley Ibbs, MCHS Board of Directors member
      • Shirley Ibbs, MCHS Board of Directors member

        shrileyiShirley is one of our most adamant supporters. Her interest in the Society is, and has been, long term. She has been a member of the board for many years, seldom misses meetings, and seems to always be able to come to “our” events.
        Shirley lives in Stoneboro.

    • Thomas Kuster, MCHS Board of Directors member
      • Thomas Kuster, MCHS Board of Directors member

    • Opal McCarl, MCHS Board of Directors member
      • Opal McCarl, MCHS Board of Directors member

        opalmOpal is a former teacher at the Mercer Area Junior/Senior High School and, after that; she was a longtime volunteer for the MCHS. Opal helped Marge in many of the displays—along with many other projects and jobs. Opal spent much time guiding tours for the Society and knew most of the stories we share with our patrons. If one were to watch Opal leading a tour, one would understand why she decided to become a teacher. Opal is still volunteering to act as docent for school-aged tour of the Society.
        Opal lives in Mercer Borough and was MCHS Volunteer of the Year, 2000.

    • Lee McCoy, MCHS Board of Directors member
      • Lee McCoy, MCHS Board of Directors member

        leemLee has been a member of the Board for several years. Lee has an abiding interest in our Goodsell Archives. Lee was a driving force in creating the play that was written for the Society based on the Goodsell/Perry 1909 Expedition. It was put on at Grove City College and is available for use in other productions—professional and otherwise (read that as High School and above). Lee has a keen interest in local history and has lived here all his life.
        Lee lives near Grove City.

    • Paul Mehalko, MCHS Board of Directors member
      • Paul Mehalko, MCHS Board of Directors member

        paulmPaul is a member of the Board of Directors.
        He is also the curator of the MCHS Raisch Log Cabin located in Sharpsville. Though technically a log house, this building was found inside a more modern house when it was being torn down. It was saved through the works of many people around the County. Especially Dr. Frederick Raisch, who painstakingly helped tear it down—numbering all the logs—and helped rebuild it exactly as it was originally. In the late 1990’s it was moved to the Canal Park in Sharpsville. Paul spends much time at the Log Cabin and spends many Sundays and holidays making sure it is open for the public. Paul was also a Boy Scout leader and has spent much time at the Custaloga Boy Scout Camp—the home of MCHS Indian Cemetery—and has a keen interest in that project as well.
        Paul lives in Sharpsville

    • Shirley Minshull, MCHS Board of Directors member
      • Shirley Minshull, MCHS Board of Directors member

        shrileymShirley is a member of the Board of Directors. She has been a volunteer here since the spring of 1997. She worked under the careful tutelage of Dr. James K. Sewall until his retirement. Today Shirley is our genealogist and keeps our patrons satisfied, as much as is possible. She is an expert in our files and collections and makes frequent trips to the Mercer County Courthouse. Without Shirley’s help it would be hard to tell where we might be at out library or as a Society
        Shirley lives in Grove City and was MCHS Volunteer of the Year, 1998.

    • Nancy Ollinger-Thiess, MCHS Board of Directors member
      • Nancy Ollinger-Thiess, MCHS Board of Directors member

        nancyoNancy started volunteering at the MCHS just after the bicentennial of Mercer County ended in the latter part of the year 2000, or early in 2001. She and her future husband, Jack, worked with Marge and Bob Crompton on many projects, displays, and events for the Society. There interest in the Society grew and, eventually, they were offered seats on the Board of Directors. Since their acceptance, they have continued to be a part of the Board. Their interests within the Society vary widely and they support our mission and our goals.
        Nancy lives in the Borough of Mercer and was MCHS Volunteer of the Year, 2002.

    • Robert Olson, MCHS Board of Directors member
      • Robert Olson, MCHS Board of Directors member

        robertoBob Olson is a retired History Professor from Thiel College, as well as a former interim President of the College. He is a long time member of the Society and its Board of Directors. Bob has had a wide and varied experience at the Society. In addition to writing articles—in cooperation with his departed wife, Margaret—Bob has served in any capacity he has been asked. Bob is interested in history as a professor and an individual. He enjoys local history and public history.
        Bob lives outside the Borough of Fredonia in ?? Township.

    • Dave Robinson, MCHS Board of Directors member
      • Dave Robinson, MCHS Board of Directors member

        Dave is a Financial Planner and he also prepares taxes. Dave’s interests include the Civil War and he is also a member of the Western Pennsylvania Civil War Reenactor Society. Dave is willing to give lectures on Mercer County and the Civil War.
        Dave lives near Greenville.

    • Margaret Ruggles, MCHS Board of Directors member
      • Margaret Ruggles, MCHS Board of Directors member 

    • Jack Thiess, MCHS Board of Directors member
      • Jack Thiess, MCHS Board of Directors member

        Jack has been a Board Member for some time now. Jack, and his wife Nancy, started as volunteers in late 2000 or early 2001. They worked with Marge on many projects, programs, and displays. Jack’s continued support of the Society is wonderful. He will do almost anything to help our Mission.
        Jack lives in Mercer Borough and was MCHS Volunteer of the Year, 2001.

    • Dee Dee Zickar, MCHS Board of Directors member
      • Dee Dee Zickar, MCHS Board of Directors member

    • David Miller, MCHS Director Emeritus
      • David M. Miller, MCHS Director Emeritus

        david

        Ex-President and Director Emeritus

        There have been eight Presidents in the history of the MCHS—since 1946. Dave Miller has been two of these Presidents. Dave’s terms have run from 1970-1981 and from 1988-2014. Mark Brown served as President during the in-between years. David’s forward thinking and economic acumen serves the Society well. We are in a position that will allow those that come after us to have an easier time financing the Society.

        Any growth over the last twenty-five years is directly related to the leadership of “Professor Miller” and his acting on the wishes of the Board of Directors at the appropriate times.

        Dave lives outside of Jamestown, PA, and teaches at Thiel College, Greenville, PA.

    • Paul Zigo, MCHS Board of Directors member
      • Paul Zigo, MCHS Board of Directors member

        paulzPaul has worked on various projects here at the MCHS. Paul’s first project was in working with the Society’s books. He did and still does a good job on that project. He started here several years ago as a volunteer and quickly became more interested in those items that are beyond the day-to-day. He became a member of the Board of Directors and attempts to come to the meetings. Unfortunately, Paul cannot come in as he once did. It is still good to see him and he is very interested in what the Society has on its plate. Paul attends most meetings and many of our events.
        Paul lives in Mercer Borough.

    • County Liaison: Matt McConnell
      • County Liaison: Matt McConnell

    • Media Liaison: Gail Habbyshaw, Greenville Record Argus
      • Media Liaison: Gail Habbyshaw, Greenville Record Argus

        gailhGail has been our best publicist since Mae Beringer or Morgan Barnes. She covers planned events, as well as the actual events at the Society more completely than anyone in the County. Gail attends most of our events, reports on them, and helps us get our Press Releases out to the Greenville and surrounding communities. Gail is one of the best friends the Society has and she proves it with her writing abilities and her unstoppable support of the MCHS. We, the MCHS appreciate Gale’s talent and devotion.
        Gail lives in Mercer borough, writes for the Greenville Record Argue and was MCHS Volunteer of the Year, 2005.

  • Volunteers
    • Cindy Critzer
      • Cindy Critzer

        cindycCindy is one of our newest volunteers at the Society, when she has time off from her job. She is learning how to use Past Perfect and is becoming proficient at accessioning and storing our new item that have been donated. One of Cindy’s strengths is planning events—we sure hope to make use of that very soon!
        Cindy lives in Mercer and works in Hermitage.

    • Woody Dixon
      • Woody Dixon

        woodydWoody is a volunteer and a member of the MCHS Board of Directors. He is from the borough of Mercer and is our “go to” guy. Woody has been microfilming newspapers, is creating computer list of these newspapers, he has been working on some of our photo collections—especially our massive collection from Westinghouse. This collection will soon be available to patrons in our library. Woody hydrates those documents in need of restoration and (1) Microfilms them, and/or (2) finds a place to put them away for their protection. Woody has scanned our slides into JPEGs—these will, in the relatively near future be turned into DVD programs instead of slide presentations. These will be available for use in the schools and colleges and for use by our membership. Woody has moved some/most of our VHS tapes onto a DVD format.
        Woody lives in an old historic house in Mercer Borough and was MCHS Volunteer of the Year, 2012.

    • Christy Hunter Hall
      • Christy Hunter Hall

        christyhChristy has been a valuable asset to the MCHS. Her father—Don Hunter, a former member of the Board—bought her a membership as a Christmas gift many years ago. After a few years, she became our Associate Director. In this capacity, she served admirably. Many of our members—you—remember her from that time. Eventually, she decided to retire. However she has become a valued volunteer. She is accessioning items into PastPerfect that were accessioned years ago—I believe she told me recently that she had just finished 1980. This is quite a task—the MCHS probably has between 100,000 and 200,000 items donated before we bought our computer program. This “catching up” will take some time. Chris is willing to help in other ways and has done more than her fair share. She has been and is a guiding force here at the Society—always trying to keep us moving forward in ways that challenge us to become better.
        Christy lives in Jefferson Township.

    • Shirley Minshull
      • Shirley Minshull

        shrileymShirley is a member of the Board of Directors. She has been a volunteer here since the spring of 1997. She worked under the careful tutelage of Dr. James K. Sewall until his retirement. Today Shirley is our genealogist and keeps our patrons satisfied, as much as is possible. She is an expert in our files and collections and makes frequent trips to the Mercer County Courthouse. Without Shirley’s help it would be hard to tell where we might be at our library or as a Society. Shirley’s interests include genealogy, abstracting, and indexing. She has stated that she is willing to help in a project to identify as many as is possible people buried in the County’s Potter’s Field—across from the old Mercer County Home.
        Shirley lives in Grove City.

    • Paul Zigo
      • Paul Zigo

        paulzPaul is a member of the MCHS Board of Directors.
        Paul has worked on various projects here at the MCHS. He started here several years ago as a volunteer working on our book collection and quickly became more interested in those items that are beyond the day-to-day. He became a member of the Board of Directors and attempts to come to the meetings. Unfortunately, Paul cannot come in as he once did. It is still good to see him and he is very interested in what the Society has on its plate.
        Paul lives in Mercer Borough and was MCHS Volunteer of the Year, 2010.

    • Paul Mehalko
      • Paul Mehalko

        paulmPaul is a member of the Board of Directors.
        He is also the curator of the MCHS Raisch Log Cabin located in Sharpsville. Though technically a log house, this building was found inside a more modern house when it was being torn down. It was saved through the works of many people around the County. Especially Dr. Frederick Raisch, who painstakingly helped tear it down—numbering all the logs—and helped rebuild it exactly as it was originally. In the late 1990’s it was moved to the Canal Park in Sharpsville. Paul spends much time at the Log Cabin and spends many Sundays and holidays making sure it is open for the public. Paul was also a Boy Scout leader and has spent much time at the Custaloga Boy Scout Camp—the home of MCHS Indian Cemetery—and has a keen interest in that project as well.
        Paul lives in Sharpsville

    • Dale Boyd
      • Dale Boyd

        dalebDale came along at just the right time for the Society. As he came forward, we were starting the Mercer County Rural Life Museum. This fell right into the hands of the one person who could best handle it. David Miller visited a Rural Life Museum in New Mexico and believed the Society could use such a museum. As we searched for a location, we also searched for someone to run the place. Little did we know he visited the Society every Saturday after his workday ended. Dale volunteered for the position.
        But Dale isn’t shy about volunteering. He helps the Society in many ways—one can often find him filming our events. He will clean not only “his” museum, but whatever else people are working on. He helps close down the museum on Saturdays and will just volunteer.
        Dale lives in Coolspring Township and comes to the Society with a lifetime of knowledge about rural life. Dale was MCHS Volunteer of the Year, 2008. He works building and repairing machines used on large farms and small lots. Dales experience brings to the Society the perfect man to run its newest museum. Dale is dedicated, spends many hours keeping the museum open, and opens the museum early in the spring and closes it late in fall.

    • John Leyde
      • John Leyde

        johnlMr. Leyde is a returning volunteer. John worked at the MCHS several years ago and has recently returned to continue his efforts to “preserve and protect” Mercer County history. John’s first, new; effort is to catalog our donation from the Sharon Office of the Protective Home Life Insurance Company. This Project has a national, state, and local component. It should prove challenging. After completion of this project, John will move his former indexing from paper to computer.
        John lives in Findley Township and was MCHS Volunteer of the Year, 2004.

    • Director of Environmental Services: Eric Veado
      • Director of Environmental Services: Eric Veado

        ericvEric has been known to many members of the MCHS—some for over twenty years. Eric comes to the MCHS from his home near Jamestown, PA, and maintains the facilities and the landscaping of the headquarters in Mercer. He sometimes ventures to other sites belonging to the MCHS. He does a journeyman’s job in all of the tasks that are assigned to him. If he has questions; he asks and then carries out his instructions. Eric works hard and does his best which is often better than most other works by other people.
        Eric is the Mercer County Historical Society 2013 Volunteer of the Year.