Window to the past
DONALD R. SERFASS/TIMES NEWS Genealogist Samantha Gibbons, Tamaqua, explains some of the highlights of a family lineage display she created for the 75th anniversary of the Tamaqua Public Library. The two-part exhibit at the South Railroad Street facility encompasses a lobby display window and an interior display case, and is free to the public.
A new exhibit at the Tamaqua pays tribute to the 75th anniversary of the library by saluting the rich genealogical heritage of local families, many of whom were loyal library supporters over the years.
The exhibit, entitled 'Window to the past,' utilizes the lobby display window and an interior display case and includes a wide variety of unusual old family photos, birth and baptismal certificates, old documents, a genuine Victorian photo album, books devoted to genealogical research and rare memorabilia from Tamaqua's past.
Included is a colorful, old fraktur, a document which displays a style of broken lettering. Fraktur are highly artistic and elaborate folk art pieces created by the Pennsylvania Dutch. Most Fraktur date from 1740 and 1860.
The elaborate exhibit is the work of Samantha Gibbons, Tamaqua, who serves as the Tamaqua Area Meals on Wheels coordinator.
"Much of it focuses on my family, and I tried to use it as examples," she explains. "It's done in honor of the history of Tamaqua. I've always been proud of the fact that I have so many roots in Tamaqua."
The pieces not only span the early era of the Land of Running Water, but also represent some of the great events of national history.
"One of the pieces is a Civil War letter from my grandfather," said Gibbons.
Gibbons is descended from a large family.
"Both of my parents were adopted," she said. Her father was the late Thomas Gibbons, and his father was Charles Gibbons.
"He (Charles) was the youngest of seventeen children. My grandfather was one of 120 grandchildren," she explained.
But many familiar local names are part of Gibbons' past. As a result, the display includes artifacts from families such as Johnson, Shoemaker, Neifert, Gedling and others.
One of the photos depicts Elizabeth Bond dressed formally for a portrait done in the 1880s. Bond and her husband started Bond Drug Store.
Another unique portrait shows young newlyweds who enlisted in the armed services during World War II. Both are dressed in military uniforms for their wedding.
The majority of the display encompasses the era from the 1850s to 1960s. However, one piece of artwork, a pastel and wash, dates to the 1780s.
Gibbons, who has done extensive work in the field of genealogy, said the display was done in support of the hard work of Library volunteer Eric Zizelmann.
"He's been working hard to build a genealogical resource at the Library," she said.
The exhibit is free to the public and will remain on display at the Tamaqua Public Library into the new year.