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Encyclopedia > Big Runaway
The Big Runaway
Part of the American Revolutionary War

Date July, 1778
Location Pennsylvania
Result British victory, American evacuation of the West Branch Susquehanna Valley
Combatants
Britain United States
Commanders
Unknown Colonel Hunter
Northern theater after Saratoga, 1778–1781
Rhode Island – Wyoming Valley – Big Runaway – Carleton's Raid – Cherry Valley – Stony Point – Minisink – Penobscot expedition – Sullivan expedition – Newtown – Springfield – Groton Heights

The Big Runaway occurred in 1778, during the American Revolutionary War, when settlements throughout the West Branch Susquehanna Valley in Pennsylvania in what became the United States were attacked by Loyalists and Native Americans allied with the British. A mass evacuation of the settlers to Fort Augusta at modern day Sunbury at the confluence of the North and West Branches of the Susquehanna River resulted, while their abandoned houses and farms were all burnt. Combatants American Revolutionaries French Monarchy Spanish Empire Dutch Republic Oneida and Tuscarora tribes Polish volunteers Prussian volunteers Kingdom of Great Britain Iroquois Confederacy Hessian mercenaries Loyalists Commanders George Washington Nathanael Greene Gilbert de La Fayette Comte de Rochambeau Bernardo de Gálvez Tadeusz KoÅ›ciuszko Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben Sir... This article does not cite its references or sources. ... 1778 was a common year starting on Thursday (see link for calendar). ... Capital Harrisburg Largest city Philadelphia Area  Ranked 33rd  - Total 46,055 sq mi (119,283 km²)  - Width 280 miles (455 km)  - Length 160 miles (255 km)  - % water 2. ... The West Branch Susquehanna Valley looking north from above the Bald Eagle Mountain ridge. ... The Northern theater of the American Revolutionary War after Saratoga consisted of a series of battles between the American revolutionaries and British forces, from 1778 through 1781 in what are now the New England and Mid-Atlantic states of the United States. ... Combatants British United States Commanders Robert Pigot John Sullivan Strength 7,139 10,100 Casualties at least 260 at least 211 The Battle of Rhode Island was a battle fought on August 29, 1778 when units of the Continental Army under the command of John Sullivan attempted to recapture Aquidneck... Combatants Britain United States Commanders Colonel John Butler Colonel Zebulon Butler Strength 900 regulars and Native American warriors 360 milita Casualties 3 killed 8 wounded 300+ killed and captured (164+6 known dead) The Wyoming Valley battle and massacre was an encounter during the American Revolutionary War between American Patriots... Combatants United States and Vermont Republic British Commanders Seth Warner Christopher Carleton Strength unknown number of local militia 454 soldiers plus sailors on the ships Casualties 79 captured, unknown killed and wounded 1 killed, 17 missing and 1 wounded On October 24, 1778 with snow already on the ground but... Incident in Cherry Valley - fate of Jane Wells from the original picture by Alonzo Chappel by Thomas Phillibrown, engraver. ... Combatants United States British Commanders Anthony Wayne Henry Johnson Strength 1,350 700 Casualties 95 killed, wounded and missing 63 killed 70 wounded 543 prisoners The Battle of Stony Point was a battle of the American Revolutionary War. ... The Battle of Minisink, which commenced on July 22, 1779 at Minisink Ford in Orange County, New York during the American Revolution was one of the most bloody and decisive battles of the War where Loyalists and Iroquois under the leadership of Joseph Brant, a Mohawk who was a Colonel... Combatants Britain United States Commanders Colonel Francis McLean General Solomon Lovell and Captain Dudley Saltonstall Strength 600 regulars 1,000 regulars, 43 warships Casualties 13 killed and wounded 474 killed, wounded, and captured; all ships lost The Penobscot Expedition was the largest American naval expedition of the American Revolutionary War... The Sullivan Expedition, also known as the Sullivan-Clinton Expedition, was a campaign led by Major General John Sullivan and General James Clinton against Loyalists (Tories) and the four nations of the Iroquois who had sided with the British in the American Revolutionary War. ... The Battle of Newtown (29 August 1779) was the only major battle of the Sullivan Expedition, an armed offensive led by Gen. ... Combatants United States Great Britain Hessians Commanders Nathanael Greene Wilhelm von Knyphausen Strength 2,050 6,000 Casualties 15 killed, 40 wounded 25–50 or more killed {Note the appendix to The Hessians gives possible casualites estimates as being 25 killed, 75 wounded} The Battle of Springfield was a battle... The Battle of Groton Heights was a battle of the American Revolutionary War. ... Combatants American Revolutionaries French Monarchy Spanish Empire Dutch Republic Oneida and Tuscarora tribes Polish volunteers Prussian volunteers Kingdom of Great Britain Iroquois Confederacy Hessian mercenaries Loyalists Commanders George Washington Nathanael Greene Gilbert de La Fayette Comte de Rochambeau Bernardo de Gálvez Tadeusz KoÅ›ciuszko Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben Sir... The West Branch Susquehanna Valley looking north from above the Bald Eagle Mountain ridge. ... Capital Harrisburg Largest city Philadelphia Area  Ranked 33rd  - Total 46,055 sq mi (119,283 km²)  - Width 280 miles (455 km)  - Length 160 miles (255 km)  - % water 2. ... Britannia gives a heros welcome to returning American Loyalists. ... Native Americans are the indigenous peoples from the regions of North America now encompassed by the continental United States, including parts of Alaska. ... Fort Augusta was a stronghold in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, in the upper Susquehanna Valley from the time of the French and Indian War to the close of the American Revolution. ... Sunbury is a city located in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. ... Confluence of Rhine and Mosel at Koblenz In geography, a confluence describes the point where two rivers meet and become one, usually when a tributary joins a more major river. ... The Susquehanna River, originally Sasquesahanough as per the 1612 John Smith map, is a river in the northeastern United States. ...


Some settlers returned soon after, but the attacks and mass evacuation were repeated in 1779 as The Little Runaway. These attacks on the Pennsylvania frontier led to retaliatory scorched earth tactics by the American army against the Native Americans, including Sullivan's Expedition, which destroyed over forty Iroquois villages. A scorched earth policy is a military tactic which involves destroying anything that might be useful to the enemy while advancing through or withdrawing from an area. ... Languages Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, Tuscarora, English, French Religions Christianity, Longhouse religion Related ethnic groups other Iroquoian peoples The Iroquois Confederacy or Haudenosaunee (also known as the League of Peace and Power; the Five Nations; the Six Nations; or the People of the Long house) is a group of...

Contents

Background

Map of fortifications and streams in north-central Pennsylvania during the Big Runaway. Modern county borders are shown for orientation.

The lands along the West Branch Susquehanna River had been purchased by the Colonial Government of Pennsylvania from the Iroquois at the Treaty of Fort Stanwix in 1768 (also known as the "New Purchase"). Settlers soon began arriving in the area, and increased settlements along the West Branch of the Susquehanna helped lead to the formation of Northumberland County in 1772. The settlements along the river were in what are now parts of Northumberland, Union, Lycoming, and Clinton Counties.[1] A map of the Province of Pennsylvania. ... Two different treaties between Native Americans and European-Americans were signed at Fort Stanwix, which was located near present-day Rome, New York. ... Northumberland County is a county located in the state of Pennsylvania. ... Union County is a county located in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. ... Lycoming County is a county located in the state of Pennsylvania. ... Clinton County is a county located in the state of Pennsylvania. ...


The territory purchased by the Colony of Pennsylvania extended as far west as "Tiadaghton Creek". The identity of this creek was disputed, with the colonists claiming it was Pine Creek (further west, giving them more territory), while the Native Americans said it was Lycoming Creek (further east). The colonial government recognized Lycoming Creek as the boundary of the "New Purchase", so settlement west of it was illegal. Despite this, there were settlers west of Lycoming Creek and west of Pine Creek about to modern day Lock Haven. Since they were beyond the pale of the colonial government, they formed their own system of self-rule, known as the Fair Play system.[2] Map of the West Branch Susquehanna River (dark blue) and Major Streams in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. ... Native Americans are the indigenous peoples from the regions of North America now encompassed by the continental United States, including parts of Alaska. ... For other meanings of Lycoming, please see Lycoming (disambiguation). ... Lock Haven is a city in and the county seat of Clinton CountyGR6, Pennsylvania, United States. ...


American Revolutionary War

When the American Revolutionary War broke out in 1775, the settlers were nearly all for independence from Great Britain and supported the Patriot cause. About 75 soldiers from the territory that became Lycoming County served in the American army, but the West Branch of the Susquehanna valley soon became a front in the war as well. According to tradition, the Fair Play Men made their own Declaration of Independence from Britain at the mouth of Pine Creek on July 4, 1776, unaware of the Continental Congress' Declaration.[1] Go to american revolution at wiki to get the same information provided below! This article concerns Patriots in the Revolutionary War. ... For the United States holiday, the Fourth of July, see Independence Day (United States). ... Year 1776 (MDCCLXXVI) was a leap year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a leap year starting on Thursday of the 11-day slower Julian calendar). ... POOP HS;JHGF;JADHGJHASGHASJHGJSAHGJWJITHADHSGJHDASJLGFNKRA The Continental Congress was the first national government of the United States. ...


There had always been tensions between the settlers and natives, with some attacks, especially in the "Fair Play" area. This became more serious in the winter of 1777-1778, when two settlers were killed by Native Americans in separate incidents, and two Native Americans in a party of nine were killed by Col. Antes and his men in a skirmish after. Later a party of Native American raiders who had plundered along Buffalo Creek, near Lewisburg in Union County were stopped near modern Jersey Shore in Lycoming County and their booty was recovered.[2] Lewisburg is a borough in Union County, Pennsylvania, 30 miles (48 km) south by east of Williamsport and 60 miles (97 km) north of Harrisburg. ... Jersey Shore is a borough located in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. ...


The local militias were short of men (as many had joined the army), weapons, and supplies. The Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania was focused on supplying the army and levied taxes, which were in some cases more than the net worth of the individual settlers. Despite pleas from the settlers for more assistance, the colonial government did not send help initially, but as the West Branch Susquehanna valley became a new theater of the war, they changed their mind. On May 21, 1778 the Supreme Exective Council pledged to send the settlers "one hundred fire arms of which thirty-one are rifles" from Harris's Ferry (modern Harrisburg), plus another "seventy rifles [which] had been obtained from the Continental store", as well as allocating 500 pounds of lead (for bullets) and 250 pounds of gunpowder to the settlers. They also asked that General Washington send 250 riflemen from the army to assist the defense of the frontier. However, none of this aid arrived in time to help the settlers.[2] May 21 is the 141st day of the year (142nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1778 was a common year starting on Thursday (see link for calendar). ... Location in Pennsylvania Coordinates: Country United States State Pennsylvania County Dauphin Incorporated 1791 Charter 1860 Government  - Mayor Stephen R. Reed (D) Area  - City  11. ... George Washington (February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799)[1] led Americas Continental Army to victory over Britain in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), and in 1789 was elected the first President of the United States of America. ...


The Supreme Executive Council's decision was based on an increasing number of attacks against the settlers. On May 16, 1778 three settlers were killed by Native Americans near the mouth of Bald Eagle Creek, and three men, seven women, and several children were captured by Native Americans in two attacks over the next four days. Later in May three settler families on Loyalsock Creek were wiped out: their cabins were burnt, two were killed, and fourteen disappeared, presumed captured by Native Americans. In separate incidents in late May, three settlers (a man, woman and boy) were taken prisoner near modern Linden in Woodward Township, and three Fair Play men were killed (while one escaped) as they tried to get a boat to evacuate their families to Fort Horn at the mouth of Pine Creek. Near modern Lock Haven a skirmish led to the wounding of one Native American and one Fair Play man.[2] May 16 is the 136th day of the year (137th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1778 was a common year starting on Thursday (see link for calendar). ... Bald Eagle Creek from Pennsylvania Route 150 near Lock Haven Bald Eagle Creek is a tributary of the West Branch Susquehanna River mostly in Centre County, Pennsylvania in the United States. ... Woodward Township is a township located in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. ...


Primitive forts and smaller fortified houses gave the settlers some protection. From west to east, these included Fort Reed (at modern day Lock Haven), Fort Horn (at the mouth of Pine Creek), Antes Fort (opposite modern Jersey Shore), a fortified house near the mouth of Lycoming Creek (modern Williamsport), the fortified Harris house near the mouth of Loyalsock Creek (modern Montoursville), Fort Muncy and the fortified Brady House (both near modern Muncy), and Fort Freeland (near modern Turbotville). As the situation worsened, more settlers moved temporarily to the forts and fortified houses. They were still vulnerable when they had to return to their homes and farms to tend to their crops and livestock.[2] Map of Lycoming County, Pennsylvania highlighting Williamsport Williamsport is a city in and the county seat of Lycoming County,GR6 Pennsylvania in the United States. ... Loyalsock Creek is a tributary of the West Branch Susquehanna River located chiefly in Sullivan and Lycoming counties in Pennsylvania in the United States. ... Map of Lycoming County, Pennsylvania highlighting Montoursville Montoursville is a borough in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, in the United States. ... Muncy is a borough located in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. ... Turbotville is a borough located in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. ...


June 10, 1778 has been called the "bloodiest day" in the history of Lycoming County, with three separate attacks on parties of settlers.[2] Two of these attacks were along Loyalsock Creek and the third was near Lycoming Creek. In the first incident a party of twelve, including a friendly Native American and a black man, set out from the fortified Wallis house near modern Muncy to look for stolen horses. Robert Covenhoven, a guide and former soldier, was sent as a messenger to order the party's return. When the party's commander, Captain Berry, refused to turn back, Covenhoven joined the party as a guide and scout. No horses were found, and returning back via the same route they had taken earlier (against the advice of Covenhoven) the party was ambushed. Some were killed immediately, six were captured (including the black man, who was burned at the stake), and Covenhoven and a few others escaped. Meanwhile a second party of three men had set out the same day from the Wallis house to retrieve cattle from the Thomson farm. They were ambushed there by a group of Native Americans and at least one Tory, with two settlers killed and the third wounded and taken prisoner. Yet another party was bringing supplies to the westernmost forts, heard the shots of this attack, but were too late to help.[2] June 10 is the 161st day of the year (162nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1778 was a common year starting on Thursday (see link for calendar). ...


Later that same day, a party of sixteen settlers on its way to Lycoming Creek were attacked in what is now Williamsport. In what became known as the "Plum Tree Massacre", twelve of the sixteen were killed and scalped, including two women and six children. Two girls were taken prisoner, and a boy and a girl escaped and made it to settlements on Lycoming Creek. They were so frightened by the attack that they were unable to communicate clearly where it occurred. Later search parties found all the victims of the three attacks. It was thought that all the attacks were the work of one group of Native Americans and Tories that had come south along Lycoming Creek on the Sheshequin Path.[2] Map of Lycoming County, Pennsylvania highlighting Williamsport Williamsport is a city in and the county seat of Lycoming County,GR6 Pennsylvania in the United States. ... Native American Big Mouth Spring with decorated scalp lock on right shoulder. ... The Sheshequin Path ran along Lycoming Creek in Lycoming County. ...


Mass evacuation

All of these attacks and the lack of military help from the Pennsylvania government disheartened the settlers along the West Branch of the Susquehanna. In the early summer of 1778 news came of a group of Native American warriors, perhaps accompanied by Loyalist and British soldiers, heading for the West Branch Susquehanna River valley to destroy all the settlements there. This news was provided by a friendly Native American named Job Chiiloway at Fort Reed (modern Lock Haven), who was then murdered as he slept by a drunk settler engaged in target shooting. The Wyoming Valley battle and massacre occurred on July 3, 1778 (near what is now Wilkes-Barre). A mass attack there first overwhelmed small settler forts, followed by a massacre of many of the women and children who had taken refuge there. This news caused the local authorities to order the evacuation of the whole West Branch valley.[2] Combatants Britain United States Commanders Colonel John Butler Colonel Zebulon Butler Strength 900 regulars and Native American warriors 360 milita Casualties 3 killed 8 wounded 300+ killed and captured (164+6 known dead) The Wyoming Valley battle and massacre was an encounter during the American Revolutionary War between American Patriots... Nickname: The Diamond City Motto: Pattern After Us Coordinates: Country United States State Pennsylvania County Luzerne Founded Incorporated  Borough  City 1769  1806  1871 Government  - Mayor Thomas M. Leighton (D) Area    - City  7. ...


At least two riders braved attacks to warn their fellow settlers. Rachel Silverthorn volunteered (when no man would) to leave the relative safety of Fort Muncy (in Muncy Township). She rode along Muncy Creek and the Wyalusing Path and warned settlers, who fled to the safety of Fort Muncy. Her own family's cabin was later burnt to the ground.[3] Robert Covenhoven, who had served under George Washington in the Continental Army and survived the attacks of June 10th, rode west along the ridge of Bald Eagle Mountain to warn settlers at Fort Antes (opposite what is now Jersey Shore) and the western part of the valley.[1] Covenhoven is listed as a Fair Play Man and one of the signers of the Tiadaghton Declaration of Independence. Muncy Township is a township located in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. ... Muncy Creek Township is a township located in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. ... George Washington (February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799)[1] led Americas Continental Army to victory over Britain in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), and in 1789 was elected the first President of the United States of America. ... The Ridge-and-valley Appalachians are a belt within the Appalachian Mountains extending from northern New Jersey westward into Pennsylvania and southward into Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia. ... Bald Eagle Mountain is a stratigraphic ridge in central Pennsylvania, United States, running east of the Allegheny Front and northwest of Mount Nittany. ... Jersey Shore is a borough located in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. ...


Most settlers had already gathered at the small forts and fortified houses for safety, but now the forts and the settlers' homes and fields were abandoned, with livestock driven along and a few possessions floated on rafts on the river east to what is now Muncy, then further south to Fort Augusta at what is now Sunbury. Women and children rode on the rafts, while the men walked on the river bank to protect them and to drive along the livestock they had been able to save. Their abandoned property was burnt by the attackers. Some settlers reported fleeing at night with the glow of their burning settlements lighting the sky behind them. Muncy is a borough located in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. ... Sunbury is a city located in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. ...


Fort Horn and the other Fair Play Men settlements were all destroyed. In the New Purchase, only Fort Antes (made of hard-to-burn peeled oak logs) and the stone Wallis House survived the flames. The property losses were estimated at ₤40,000, and there were deaths among the settlers. Colonel Hunter, the commander of Fort Augusta who had ordered the mass evacuation, was criticized roundly. Many at the time felt that military assistance would have allowed the settlers to withstand the attackers.[1]


Aftermath

Some settlers soon returned, a few while the ruins of their homes still smoldered. Many of those who fled were recent immigrants from New Jersey, fleeing the war there. Many of those had been poorly equipped and ill-able to withstand attacks, and simply returned to New Jersey. The government of Pennsylvania sent military aid. Colonel Thomas Hartley built Fort Muncy to protect returning settlers. On September 24, 1778 he led a force of about 200 men up the Sheshequin Path on Lycoming Creek to the North Branch of the Susquehanna to strike back against the Native Americans. Hartley's expedition covered about 300 miles (500 km) in two weeks, defeated several bands of Native Americans and destroyed a few native villages. This proved the feasibility of operating in the Iroquois territory and led to the expedition of General Sullivan the next year.[1] It has been suggested that this article be split into multiple articles. ... September 24 is the 267th day of the year (268th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1778 was a common year starting on Thursday (see link for calendar). ...


In the summer of 1779, Sullivan's Expedition went up the North Branch of the Susquehanna and destroyed at least forty Native American villages in New York and Pennsylvania in a scorched earth campaign. The Native Americans were aware of Sullivan's plans and launched their own attack on the West Branch of the Susquehanna, hoping to draw off Sullivan or even attack him from behind. Their attacking force was discovered as it descended the Sheshequin Path along Lycoming Creek by Robert Covenhoven, sent as a scout again. The authorities ordered a second evacuation, so that those settlers who had returned did so only to flee a second time in the summer of 1779, in what became known as the "Little Runaway". The second force was about 200 Native Americans and 100 British and Tory soldiers and attacked the valley again. While the evacuation was less panicked this time, Fort Freeland (near modern Turbotville and Watsontown) did not evacuate. It is unclear if they failed to receive the order to evacuate or ignored it, but over half of the settlers who had fled there were killed, with most of the rest taken prisoner.[1] In any case, Sullivan's expedition and the harsh winter that followed it helped reduce attacks, stabilized the area, and encouraged resettlement. The Little Runaway and Sullivan's Expedition also led to an increased commitment by the government to the security of the frontier.[2] Watsontown is a borough located in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. ...


Fortifications

Fort Augusta was a stronghold in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, in the upper Susquehanna Valley from the time of the French and Indian War to the close of the American Revolution. ... Confluence of Rhine and Mosel at Koblenz In geography, a confluence describes the point where two rivers meet and become one, usually when a tributary joins a more major river. ... The Susquehanna River, originally Sasquesahanough as per the 1612 John Smith map, is a river in the northeastern United States. ... Northumberland County is a county located in the state of Pennsylvania. ... Gristmill with water wheel, Skyline Drive, VA, 1938 A gristmill is a building where grain is ground into flour. ... This 1820 oil painting by Chester Harding is the only portrait of Daniel Boone made from life. ... Union County is a county located in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. ... Turbotville is a borough located in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. ... Muncy is a borough located in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. ... Lycoming County is a county located in the state of Pennsylvania. ... Muncy Township is a township located in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. ... Loyalsock Creek is a tributary of the West Branch Susquehanna River located chiefly in Sullivan and Lycoming counties in Pennsylvania in the United States. ... For other meanings of Lycoming, please see Lycoming (disambiguation). ... Bowman Field is a minor league baseball stadium in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. ... Map of Lycoming County, Pennsylvania highlighting Williamsport Williamsport is a city in and the county seat of Lycoming County,GR6 Pennsylvania in the United States. ... Nippenose Township is a township located in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. ... Jersey Shore is a borough located in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. ... Map of the West Branch Susquehanna River (dark blue) and Major Streams in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. ... Clinton County is a county located in the state of Pennsylvania. ... Bald Eagle Creek from Pennsylvania Route 150 near Lock Haven Bald Eagle Creek is a tributary of the West Branch Susquehanna River mostly in Centre County, Pennsylvania in the United States. ... Lock Haven is a city in and the county seat of Clinton CountyGR6, Pennsylvania, United States. ...

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f [1939] A Picture of Lycoming County (PDF), The Lycoming County Unit of the Pennsylvania Writers Project of the Work Projects Administration, First edition, The Commissioners of Lycoming County Pennsylvania. Retrieved on 2006-07-23. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Meginness, John Franklin [1892]. History of Lycoming County, Pennsylvania: including its aboriginal history; the colonial and revolutionary periods; early settlement and subsequent growth; organization and civil administration; the legal and medical professions; internal improvement; past and present history of Williamsport; manufacturing and lumber interests; religious, educational, and social development; geology and agriculture; military record; sketches of boroughs, townships, and villages; portraits and biographies of pioneers and representative citizens, etc. etc.", 1st Edition, Chicago, IL: Brown, Runk & Co.. ISBN 0-7884-0428-8. Retrieved on 2006-03-16. “(Note: ISBN refers to Heritage Books July 1996 reprint. URL is to scan of 1892 version with some OCR typos).” 
  3. ^ Robin Van Auken. Welcome to Historic Williamsport: Early Settlers Owe Lives to Heroic Duo. Originally appeared in the Williamsport Sun Gazette. Retrieved on 2006-08-02.

 
 

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