Centre County and the Civil War
July - December 2012
Download the brochure
Download the exhibit panels (panel design by Daivd Lembeck; text by Angela Breeden)
The Centre County Historical Society's exhibit, "Centre County and the Civil War," will make an encore appearance in July 2012 at the Centre Furnace Mansion, as part of the 150th commemoration of the Civil War. This exhibit will be on display from July through December 2012.
The importance of Pennsylvania's role in the Civil War cannot be denied. Over 360,000 soldiers, including 8,600 African Americans, fought for the preservation of the Union while valuable resources such as iron, steel, and agricultural products helped to sustain the effort. Those along the southernmost part of the Commonwealth had a direct view of war through battles, Confederate occupation, and the destruction of entire towns such as Chambersburg. While Centre Countians did not experience the Civil War in the same direct fashion, their lives were impacted on every level.
A mix of opposing political viewpoints became one of the characteristics of life during the War. The town of Bellefonte was the home of Governor Andrew Gregg Curtin, a Republican and dedicated supporter of Abraham Lincoln. It was also the location of large iron furnace operations and a community of free black people that comprised 11% of the population. Outspoken voices about the war and relating issues, such as slavery, emerged in publications such as the Democratic Watchman as editor and part owner Peter Gray Meek expressed his deep opposition for the Republicans, the President, and for the continuation of the War. His position was shared by those living the "German Townships" of southern Centre County where their feelings of alienation echoed the national issues that led to the Civil War.
The soldiers and their families felt the greatest effect as sons, fathers, brothers and husbands faced the perils of war first hand and related it to their loved ones back home. Their absence resulted in shifting responsibilities and economic difficulties as those left behind struggled to work the farms, maintain the businesses, and continue with a life that was uncertain, all for reasons that were not always clear to them.
While much has been written about Centre County's military history, such as the 148th Regiment and the Bellefonte Fencibles, it is a part of a larger story, which the Centre County Historical Society explores in this exhibit, Centre County and the Civil War.
The "Centre County and the Civil War" exhibit will be open during the Mansion's regular hours: Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. from July through December. Special exhibit hours will be available during the Central Pa. Festival of the Arts in conjunction with the Civil War 150 Road Show. Between July 12-15, the exhibit and mansion will be open from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Admission is free; donations are welcome.
The Centre Furnace Mansion is located at 1001 E. College Avenue (corner of Porter Rd. & College Ave.), 1 mile from Beaver Stadium, and from the Central Pa. Convention & Visitors Bureau.