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Montoursville, Pennsylvania

Montoursville, Pennsylvania
Broad Street in Montoursville
Broad Street in Montoursville
Location of Montoursville within Lycoming County
Location of Montoursville within Lycoming County
Location of Lycoming County within Pennsylvania
Location of Lycoming County within Pennsylvania
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
County Lycoming
Settled 1820
Incorporated (borough) 1850
 • Mayor John Dorin
 • Total 4.2 sq mi (10.8 km2)
 • Land 4.0 sq mi (10.5 km2)
 • Water 0.2 sq mi (0.3 km2)  3.12%%
Elevation 535 ft (164 m)
Population (2000)
 • Total 4,777
 • Density 1,181/sq mi (456.5/km2)
Time zone Eastern Time Zone (North America) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 17754
Area code(s) 570
FIPS code 42-50720[1]
GNIS feature ID 1213650[2]
Website Montoursville Borough

Montoursville is a borough in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, in the United States. As of the 2000 census, the borough population was 4,777. It is part of the Williamsport, Pennsylvania Metropolitan Statistical Area. The Williamsport Regional Airport is located in Montoursville.

Developed on the east bank of the river near the former native village of Otstawonkin, the borough is named for Madame Montour, a Native American interpreter and negotiator who was important in colonial history for her service to the British in New York and Pennsylvania. She was considered the leader of the native village. Her son Andrew Montour also became influential as an interpreter and negotiator, serving colonial governments in Pennsylvania and Virginia, including during the French and Indian War.


  • History 1
    • Colonial period 1.1
    • Federal period and later 1.2
    • Indian Park 1.3
    • TWA Flight 800 1.4
  • Geography 2
  • Demographics 3
  • Education 4
  • Notable people 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7


Colonial period

Otstawonkin was a native village located at the mouth of Loyalsock Creek on the West Branch Susquehanna River. The Great Shamokin Path ran along the west bank of the river, where late 20th century archeology has shown the village was mostly located.[3] During the 1730s and 1740s, it became an important stopping point for Moravian missionaries who preached in frontier Pennsylvania. For example, Count Zinzendorf, a missionary guided by Conrad Weiser with the permission of Oneida chief Shikellamy, came to Otstonwakin in 1742.

Madame Montour is believed to have been of Algonkin-French ancestry, born in Quebec. In one account, she told a colonist in the 1740s that she had been taken captive in an Iroquois raid and adopted into an Iroquois family. (Her given name may have been Catherine, Elisabeth/Isabelle, or Madeleine.).[4] Speaking French and English, as well as Algonquian and Iroquoian languages, she became highly influential in New York, and acted as Governor Robert Hunter's personal interpreter.

She and her Oneida husband Carondawana settled in Pennsylvania by 1727, moving south from New York; he had been appointed by the Shawnee in this part of Pennsylvania as their representative to the provincial council. A war chief, Carondawana was killed in 1729 in a southern raid against the Catawba people. Madame Montour continued to have influence as a friend of the British, representing the Iroquois and other native peoples of the area.[5] She was hospitable to the white men who were beginning to migrate into the West Branch Susquehanna River Valley. She had a great amount of influence with the various Indian tribes in the area, who were feeling the pressure of colonial expansion.

Believed to have been born in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Madame Montour grew up in the province of New York, where she served as an interpreter to the British. Because of her numerous native ties, she was very influential. The British colonial government was known to be sometimes laggardly in paying her for her services, making her wait one time a year for payment.[6]

Millstone from early native settlement, engraved "Otstonwakin, 1768, Montour Preserve"

Madame Montour is believed to have had three children, but different kinship terms has caused confusion among historians as to the status of some. Louis (Lewis), may have been a son or nephew, named for her brother, Louis Couc Montour. He served as an interpreter during the French and Indian War, when he was killed.[7] Her daughter (or niece), Margaret, later to be known as "French Margaret," became a leader of "French Margaret's Town" at the mouth of Lycoming Creek, a few miles up the West Branch Susquehanna River from Montoursville.

Her surviving son Andrew, took over leadership of Otstonwakin in the 1740s. Growing up in a polyglot world, he displayed his mother’s gift for languages, speaking French, English, Lenape, Shawnee and the Iroquoian languages. Comfortable with both Native Americans and Europeans, he made a good living as an interpreter for local tribes and settlers. In 1742 when Count Zinzendorf met Montour, he described him as looking "decidedly European, and had his face not been encircled with a broad band of paint we would have thought he was one."

Montour also served as an interpreter with Fort Necessity during the French and Indian War. Andrew Montour left Montoursville at some point and moved to Juniata County with his mother before finally settling on Mountour's Island in the Allegheny River near Pittsburgh. She died in that area in 1753.

Federal period and later

Permanent European-American settlement of this site did not take place until after the American Revolutionary War.[5] John Burrows gained credit as the founder of Montoursville because he sold lots to other settlers, as well as achieving some political power and wealth.[8] He was born near American Revolution for fourteen months. Following the war, Burrows migrated to Muncy, Pennsylvania and worked in the distilling business for several years.

He built up the needed capital to make an investment in some land near the mouth of Loyalsock Creek, which was developed as Montoursville. Burrows also gained a measure of political clout in Lycoming County, serving first as a justice of the peace before being elected to the county commissioner's post in 1802, and to the Pennsylvania State Senate in 1808. He bought 570 acres (2.3 km2) in 1812. Burrows divided his land into lots in 1820 and sold them for $50.00 each.[8]

The first buyers of lots in Montoursville settled according to ethnicity. The Germans settled in the eastern end in a neighborhood that became known as Coffeetown, while the English settled in the western neighborhood that was known as Teatown. In addition to selling the lots in Montoursville, Burrows operated a highly successful farm. He sent his produce by raft down the Susquehanna River to Baltimore, where he was able to turn a profit. Burrows built the first gristmill in the town. He also continued to sell lots up until his death in 1837.

His son Nathaniel Burrows became another successful early businessman. He opened the first general store in the town. He received the contract for construction of the West Branch Canal in this section of Lycoming County. Nathaniel Burrows influenced the routing of the canal so that it ran closer to the town and his businesses. Montoursville was incorporated as a borough on February 19, 1850.[5]

John Else came as a child with his family to the Montoursville area in 1807 from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. His father had a farm along Mill Creek in what is now Mill Creek Township. As a young man, John Else worked to build the first permanent bridge over Loyalsock Creek in 1815. He made numerous improvements in the community.[8] Else built many structures in Montoursville, working with his father on its first permanent house.

Indian Park

Indian Park is located on the north-western side of Montoursville; Interstate 180/U.S. Route 220 run parallel to it. In the 21st century, the large recreational park has several miles of hiking and biking trails, numerous softball fields, picnic areas and pavilions and fishing ponds.

Developed in the late 19th century, Indian Park was an amusement park. Known as a trolley park, it could be reached by public transportation. Visitors from Williamsport would board the trolley in downtown and ride to Indian Park to spend a day of recreation along the banks of Loyalsock Creek.[8] The park had one of the largest and longest roller coasters on the East Coast. The park also featured more than 20 acres (81,000 m2) of ponds, a theatre, and a merry-go-round. The amusement park was closed in 1924 due in large part to the seasonal costs of reconstruction of infrastructure following the nearly yearly floods on Loyalsock Creek. In addition, people's increasing use of automobiles meant they traveled to other destinations for pleasure.

TWA Flight 800

The TWA Flight 800 Memorial

Montoursville was disproportionately affected by the explosion of TWA Flight 800 on July 17, 1996, off East Moriches, New York, as 21 of the 230 passengers were Montoursville-area residents. The sixteen Montoursville High School students and their five chaperones were departing on a class trip to France as part of a student exchange program.[9]

Montoursville received condolences from around the world, including Japan, Australia, and Belgium. Governor Tom Ridge attended a vigil at the school with his wife.[10] Ridge also attended a memorial service, which was also attended by New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum.[11][12] Condolences were also sent by President Bill Clinton, the U.S. softball team at the Atlanta Olympics, and François Bujon de l'Estang, French ambassador to the United States (1995–2002).

A memorial was erected on the grounds of Montoursville High School. It is a statue of an angel (sculpted by James Barnhill of Asheville, North Carolina) on a base engraved with the names of the 21 local victims and a brief history. The memorial is in a circular grove of 21 trees, one for each person lost. The angel was chosen because onlookers thought a cloud seen above the high school on July 21, 1996, resembled an angel, with 21 small clouds at its feet. Randolph Hudson of State College was chosen as the memorial designer and Beth Hershberger served as landscape designer.

The five chaperones were Debbie Dickey, a French teacher of the Montoursville Area High School; Doug Dickey, her husband; Carol Fry, former school board member; Judith Rupert, high school secretary; and Eleanor Wolfson (mother of student Wendy Wolfson).

The names of the 16 students are as follows: Jessica Aikey, Daniel Baszczewski, Michelle Bohlin, Jordan Bower, Monica Cox, Claire Gallagher, Julia Grimm, Rance Hettler, Amanda Karschner, Jody Loudenslager, Cheryl Nibert, Kimberly Rogers, Larissa Uzupis, Jacqueline Watson, Monica Weaver, Wendy Wolfson (daughter of Eleanor Wolfson).


Montoursville is bordered by the West Branch Susquehanna River and Armstrong Township to the south. Loyalsock Creek forms the northern and western border with Loyalsock Township. Fairfield Township borders the borough to the north and east.[13] As the crow flies, Lycoming County is about 130 miles (209 km) northwest of Philadelphia and 165 miles (266 km) east-northeast of Pittsburgh.

Montoursville is located at (41.252729, -76.915507).[14]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 4.2 square miles (10.8 km²).4.0 square miles (10.5 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.3 km²) of it (3.12%) is water.


As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 4,777 people, 2,067 households, and 1,393 families residing in the borough. The population density was 1,181.0 people per square mile (456.5/km²). There were 2,169 housing units at an average density of 536.3 per square mile (207.3/km²). The racial makeup of the borough was 99.02% White, 0.10% African American, 0.06% Native American, 0.33% Asian, 0.06% from other races, and 0.42% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.42% of the population.

There were 2,067 households out of which 28.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.6% were married couples living together, 10.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.6% were non-families. 29.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 2.84.

In the borough the population was spread out with 23.4% under the age of 18, 5.2% from 18 to 24, 26.1% from 25 to 44, 22.6% from 45 to 64, and 22.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 90.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.4 males.

The median income for a household in the borough was $37,484, and the median income for a family was $44,583. Males had a median income of $33,750 versus $24,449 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $19,648. About 2.4% of families and 4.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.4% of those under age 18 and 5.1% of those age 65 or over.


Montoursville Area School District consists of:

  • Loyalsock Valley Elementary School
  • Lyter Elementary School
  • C.E. McCall Middle School
  • Montoursville Area High School

Notable people

See also

History of Lycoming County, Pennsylvania


  1. ^ a b c "American FactFinder".  
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names".  
  3. ^ Hirsch, Alison Duncan. "'The Celebrated Madame Montour': Interpretess across Early American Frontiers", Explorations in Early American Culture 4 (2000): 81–112 (subscription required)
  4. ^ Hirsch, Alison Duncan. "'The Celebrated Madame Montour': Interpretess across Early American Frontiers." Explorations in Early American Culture 4 (2000): 81–112
  5. ^ a b c Meginness, John Franklin (1892). "Chapter 29: Borough of Montoursville". 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 ed.). Chicago: Brown, Runk & Co.  
  6. ^ Robin Van Auken. Madam' Catherine Montour"'".  
  7. ^ A Picture of Lycoming County (PDF). The Lycoming County Unit of the Pennsylvania Writers Project of the  
  8. ^ a b c d Don King. "Narrative: Montoursville's history presented by chapter". Christopher Garneau. Archived from the original on 2006-12-09. Retrieved 2007-05-02. 
  9. ^ "National Transportation Safety Board: TWA Flight 800 Report (Retrieved on 2007-05-02)" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-07-29. 
  10. ^ "Montoursville mourns loss of 21 killed in crash (Digital Collegian via Archive.Org, July 19, 1996)". Retrieved 2007-11-23. 
  11. ^ Ravo, Nick (1996-08-18). "Giuliani Shares Montoursville's Sorrow (New York Times, August 18, 1996)". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-07-29. 
  12. ^ Macklin, William (1996-08-18). "A Special Gathering In Memory Of Montoursville's Lost Ones". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2013-05-22. 
  13. ^ "2007 General Highway Map Lycoming County Pennsylvania" (PDF) (Map). 1:65,000. Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Bureau of Planning and Research, Geographic Information Division. Retrieved 2009-12-27. 
  14. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990".  
  15. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 
  17. ^ "Incorporated Places and Minor Civil Divisions Datasets: Subcounty Resident Population Estimates: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Population Estimates. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 
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