"Emporium's Man of the Millennium" By Pete Bennett
Who would you pick as the most outstanding community leader in Emporium, PA in the past century?
There are so many candidates including Frank Berman, Edwin Thomkins, John Earl, Bruno Carnovale, Buz Olivett, Guy Felt George Erskine, Max Balcom, Frank Blumle, Byron Murray, Bert Metz, Fred Petrazio, Frank Geleskie, Robert Taylor, Rod Shadman, Harry Lloyd, Francis Higgins, Henry Auchu, Jim Gennocro, C. E. Plasterer, Claude Campbell, Walter Clock, Fred Petrazio, Romeo Lunn, Ward Zimmer, B. G. Erskine, George Rishell, Norm Drum, Walter Clock. Or should it be a woman like Marian Murray, Dr. Clair Lathrop or Mildred Mambuca? And I've only named a few. There are many I did not name an apologize for not including your favorite if he or she's not listed.
Well, Josiah Howard, is my pick for the most outstanding citizen and community leader in Emporium in the 20th century and that's how he will be remembered, I'm sure you will agree.
Born January 3, 1861 in Williamsport, PA. Josiah came to Shippen Township as a child with his parents Charles B. (C.B.) and Lisita Morris Howard in 1865. He grew up here and upon the death of his father in 1891 he became the head of the C. B. Howard & Sons saw mill. A very civic minded individual, he was elected Burgess of Emporium in 1902 and served five terms in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives between 1905 and 1915.
He also established the Emporium & Rich Valley Railroad, constructed the first brick pavement in the borough, a stretch between Emmanuel Episcopal Church and the IOOF building and was an executive of the Novelty Incandescent Lamp Company which later became Sylvania Electric Products.
Civic pride also led him to serve on the Board of Directors of the First National Bank, the Cameron County Bank, the Emporium Water Company and the Emporium Works. He also was a vestryman and Senior Warden of the Episcopal Church for forty years. He helped establish the Keystone National Explosives Company and the Aetna Explosives Company. He also held interests in several lumbering operations and mining companies in other states and abroad.
But probably Josiah's greatest legacy is the founding of the Cameron County Library on December 22, 1898. It began as a reading room in the Emmanuel Episcopal Church. As it grew, it moved to larger quarters and was called the Emporium Free Reading Room.
In 1908, the library became the Emporium Public Library and in 1928, the voters agreed that the Borough should take over and maintain the Library. Until that time, Mr. Howard had been personally supporting the Library alone.
Later in 1939, the voters of Cameron County agreed to create and support the present County Library. The Library was to be supported by the county through an annual tax levy which continues as the library's primary source of income today. In 1940, the Cameron County Public Library opened its doors in the former First National Bank building located on the corner of 4th and Broad Streets.
The collection of the new library was made up primarily of books transferred from the Emporium Public Library. That is over forty years that the Library was maintained solely by Mr. Howard.
Josiah was married twice. He and his first wife the former Laura Bisel were married in Williamsport, PA on June 17, 1887. Laura died September 27, 1914. His second wife was Blanche Hyde Moore whom he married on October 30, 918. She died in 1950.
Josiah died on March 14, 1936 and is buried in Newton Cemetery.
Josiah Howard, Emporium's Man of the Millennium"!
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