Blooming Grove Society keeps history alive

Keeping a piece of local history in tact for generations to come, Blooming Grove Historical Society has a museum free and open to the public off the beaten path in Cogan Station.

The museum is open Sundays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. but also by appointment other days by calling Greg Thomas, board member, at 570-419-6770.

A group of German separatists settled in the 105 acre location in 1805. They named the area Blooming Grove after seeing the valley turn a bright white from the blooms of dogwood and rhododendron blossoms, and the name of the community stayed with it. In 1828, the Meeting House was established as a church, school and meeting location structure for the people. It still sits on the property today and is available for tours.

“The original families each had 10 to 15 children, and obviously, the land was used up quickly after divvying it up. They ended up in Anthony Township, throughout Hepburn Township, Warrensville and et cetera,” Thomas said.

Thomas said many of the original historical places in Williamsport, like Trinity Church and the original city hall, were built by original settlers from Bloomingrove who migrated outward with their families.

“Out of this church, there were seven daughter churches, as we call them, that were founded,” Thomas said.

As the Blooming Grove location originally had its own church and meeting house, others went out to create more churches as they branched out to live away from the area.

“Church services were Sunday afternoon, and they lasted about three hours. They were no backs on the seats, so we always like to say they were a hearty group of people,” Thomas said.

The settlers first had a church just across the street from the 1828 structure, but it was lost to time. They began to use the 1828 Meeting House structure full time once it was constructed, and it became the focal point of the settlement where school, church and public meetings were held.

In 1928, the location became a historical site and was turned into a museum.

“It’s off the beaten path. People don’t really know it’s out here … we like to say it’s a hidden gem,” Thomas said.

For the 100th anniversary of the Meeting House, the Stone Museum was constructed in 1928. Inside the Stone Museum are displays of original tools and equipment from the settlers that were used in school instruction, cooking or any daily life activities. Everything in the museum can be traced back to the original families on the settlement.

“It’s just a nice way to lift up our ancestors and keep their memory alive. Too often, we lose the history … this is a way we can continue on the history and remember them,” Thomas said.

There is also a genealogy in the museum for guests to look up their own family history to see if they can trace back to some of the original settlers.

For a highlight of the museum’s collection, the original cups for communion are still on display in the museum.

“There was one cup for men and one cup for the women,” Thomas said.

There is also sheep carding equipment, used for making sheep wool into cloth, on display. The specific type of equipment is often rare to find these days due to deterioration.

Behind the Meeting House also exists the original graveyard, including the graves

With a unique collection of historical items and old structures of the past, the location offers a different place to host events or weddings.

“We’re open to accommodating for special events,” Thomas said.

For more information on Bloomingrove Historical Society, visit www.bloominggrovehistoricalsociety.org/.