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Sinnemahoning History "Pioneers of Second Fork"

Just started reading a great book on the history of the Sinnemahoning Valley (Bennetts Branch). A great read for those with camps in the Medix, Benezette, Driftwood, Sinnemahoning areas interested in the pioneering days.

The local newspaper recently ran an article on it: St. Marys Daily Press http://www.smdailypress.com/content/view/211825/


Elk County native Jim Burke recently released his first book, “Pioneers of Second Fork,” which traces the history of 16 families of early pioneers who came to settle in western Pennsylvania at a location originally known as Second Fork.

Today the area is known as Bennett’s Valley.

Burke explained that he has always had a passion for local history and this is what inspired him to write the book. In the past Burke has written articles for several magazines. He is working with the Mt. Zion Historical Society on plans to publish a diary of a local citizen who was a veteran of the Civil War.

“I’m also considering writing a book on fiction that deals some events of local history,” Burke said.

Burke noted that “Pioneers of Second Fork” was an extensive effort and he has notes from the project dating back to the 1960s.

“I interviewed many of the descendants of the families who were the early settlers profiled in the book. In this endeavor we obtained many pictures and documents,” Burke said. “We also visited many libraries, museums, and historical societies.”

He noted that obtaining information for the book took him to locations such as the town of Winslow in Maine, Andersonville Prison in Georgia and Plymouth Harbor.

He added that all 16 families profiled in the book provided some very interesting information about the history of the area. Some of the stories focus on events such as a shoot-out on the banks of the Sinnemahoning, encounters with indians, and the Paul Bunyan of the Bennett’s Branch.

“I also discovered that one of our native sons, born on Rock Hill and educated in Caledonia, is acknowledged as the founder of Los Angles, California,” Burke said.

“Pioneers of Second Fork” is available for purchase at several local locations including from Ben Stone in Benezette, the Valley Farm Market, Burkes Home Center, St. Marys Chamber of Commerce, St. Marys Country Club and the Elk County Historical Society. It can also be purchased online from the Mt. Zion Historical Society or from the publisher, AuthorHouse.

Burke also noted that in researching the book he met a wide variety of interesting and knowledgeable people and it would be virtually impossible to acknowledge all of them.

Burke is a lifelong resident of Elk County and is actively involved with the Mt. Zion Historical Society. He noted that the Mt. Zion Historical Park was a dream of his parents, Joseph and Helen Burke.

“When my father passed away I assumed the duties as president of the society. I might add that the society has a very active board of directors, and through their combined efforts have developed the park to what it is today,” Burke said.
 

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Re: Sinnemahoning History "Pioneers of Second Fork"

Russ, Where did you find that book. We have a camp on SR. 872 below George B Stevenson Dam. I would love to read it and pass it along to the others at camp. If possible, when you are done with it I could buy it off of you. Let me know
 

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Re: Sinnemahoning History "Pioneers of Second Fork"

tuckerman I was at camp in Sinnamahoning 2 weeks ago and the fultons general store in Driftwood had several copys I think they were 15 dollars and I think the Willows restaurant had them also. Amazon.com also has them,I will be getting one the next time at camp
 

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Re: Sinnemahoning History "Pioneers of Second Fork"

You may want to also check out "The Story of the Sinnemahone" by George W. Huntley, published in 1936. He was a son of one of the lumbermen. It may be hard to find. I found it in a library and read it, some years ago. It is quite good.
 

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Re: Sinnemahoning History "Pioneers of Second Fork"

Russ B may be looking for a copy for me if not I will stop in a couple shops and see if they have any. Thanks
 

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Re: Sinnemahoning History "Pioneers of Second Fork"

Just got this book from amanzon. Seems to be a good read so far, a lot of history for those who are interested in the area and early PA.
 

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Re: Sinnemahoning History "Pioneers of Second Fork"

My parents moved to the benezette area about 2 years ago. There is a lot of neat history in this area. I will have to look for this book labor day weekend. There is a big rock out cropping off of mason hill road that some of the rocks have dates chisled in them from the late 1800's
 

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Re: Sinnemahoning History "Pioneers of Second Fork"

I will be at fultons in a few hours and I am going to have to pick up a copy. Thanks for the info.
 

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Re: Sinnemahoning History "Pioneers of Second Fork"

weasel65 were a bouts is the out cropping that you are talking about. I have never heard of it if you don't mind me asking
Mike
 

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Re: Sinnemahoning History "Pioneers of Second Fork"

he is talking about fred woods trail. You follow the trail back and it leads to some cool rock formations and as you walk through the people have chilsed names and dates which makes it even better.
 

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Re: Sinnemahoning History "Pioneers of Second Fork"

Thanks 2labs I will have to take a look at it labor day when I am in.
Thank you
Mike
 

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Re: Sinnemahoning History "Pioneers of Second Fork"

I was talking to Jim Burke tonight and I let him know that he is famous now.

I think it is cool that you guys are talking about a friend of mine.
 

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Re: Sinnemahoning History "Pioneers of Second Fork"

Mike sorry i did not get back to you on your question as i just got home from camp. And a thank you to 2labs for helping him out. Its a nice walk back in to the rocks some of them are half the size of my house. My wife and i will be up for 5 days on labor day maybe we will run into you thaks again
 

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Re: Sinnemahoning History "Pioneers of Second Fork"

Weasel we will be in for labor day also. we are the first drive on the left going up mason hill if you happen to come by and we are there swing in and drink an adult pop.we normally ride atv's during the day and are back at camp in the evening. Same goes for you 2Labs
Thanks for the info guys
we will check it out when we are in next
Mike
 

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Re: Sinnemahoning History "Pioneers of Second Fork"

I'm about half way finished with the book. If you have a interest in the northcentral part of the state it's very interesting. Especially if you have a camp in the driftwood,Sinnamahoning,Bennezette area it's interesting to be able to put a history behind the names of local streams and towns.
 

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Re: Sinnemahoning History "Pioneers of Second Fork"

I didn't buy it yet, but seen it at the Benezette store over the weekend. I think Ben has it marked up to $35.00 a copy. Just kiding. It was $15.95!
 

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Re: Sinnemahoning History "Pioneers of Second Fork"

Any more history books about this area ?
 

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Re: Sinnemahoning History "Pioneers of Second Fork"

Another very good read is "Fifty Years a Hunter and Trapper"
by Eldred Nathaniel Woodcock.
Autobiography about the experiences of Woodcock between 1855-1905 that take place in many of the northern tier counties of PA.
 
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