History of the Penns Valley Area Historical Museum Association
The settlement of Haines Township and Aaronsburg existed years before the establishment of Centre County. This area of Central Pennsylvania was part of Cumberland County and later Northumberland County before it became Centre County in 1800. Squatters settled on the land before the first families came to claim their land in 1775. Aaron Levy purchased land from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1783 and created a plot plan of 600 lots to develop the town of Aaronsburgh in 1786. Since the town is in the middle of the state, Levy had hoped it would become the county seat. The wide streets with reserved lots for churches and schools were all part of his vision to create a harmonious community.
The house owned by the museum association that displays thousands of area artifact items is about 200 years old. John Hess built the Georgian-style log house in 1816. On the west side of the house, an addition was added years later.
Lot #410 ( 244 West Aaron Square ) –
Aaron Levy sold the lot to Simon Gratz in 1802.
In 1814, Gratz sold the lot to John Hess (a hatter) and Julianna Hess, for $100. Hess erected the eastern section of the Georgian-style log house in 1816.
Frederick and Rebecca (Margaret) Reager owned the house in 1837. Rebecca died in 1892.
The property was sold to Henry and Carrie Dutweiler for $600. The property is described as having a two-story house, stable and other outbuildings.
The Dutweilers sold the property to Emanuel and Harriet Wetzel.
In 1895 Wetzel sold the house to W. A. J. and Catura L. Korman.
By 1902 the property was sold to Thomas C. and Sally Weaver for $525.
In 1910, Weaver sold the house to John A. Grenoble for $800.
Grenoble sold the property in 1923 to David Sparr Wert for $1670.
Upon Mr. Wert’s death in 1987, the house was transferred to Douglas Vonada, his grandson.
Mr. Vonada sold the house to the Penns Valley Area Historical Museum in April 2004.
For more information on local history, you can start by reading the following books:
- Commemorative Biographical Record of Central Pennsylvania – by J.H. Beers and Co. 1898. It includes Centre, Clinton, Union and Snyder counties.
- History of Centre and Clinton Counties, Pennsylvania – by John Blair Lynn 1883
- The Aaronsburg Story – by Arthur H. Lewis 1955
- Aaron Levy Founder of Aaronsburg – by Sidney M. Fish, Ph.D. 1951
- History of the North American Indians in Eighteenth Century Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania – by David Zeisberger AMS Press; (June 1976)