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Old times in Sugar Valley

The geography of Clinton County sort of fascinates me. I’m about the only one who thinks like this; nobody else quite makes the science of it that I do. I can tell by the way my family’s eyes all glaze over when I talk about it.

But think about it. Across the middle, there’s kind of a community strip — With Beech Creek on one end and Avis on the other, including Mill Hall, Lock Haven, McElhattan, and other communities in between. You get this slice of communities running straight across. Up above, you have mostly forest, punctuated by Renovo. (Glen Union barely counts as civilization.) And down below, you have a lot of farmland and quaint areas — Sugar Valley.

I mention this because the Sugar Valley Historical Society is holding their Good Old Days on May 11. At the Booneville Campground, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., you can drop by and participate in the fun in Sugar Valley.

Sugar Valley has an interesting history to it. I’ve written before about the Loganton fire of 1918, and about several of the citizens and hauntings that have happened there. But there’s more, there’s always more.

Sugar Valley consists of the communities in, mainly, Logan and Greene Townships. Though it can’t exactly be said to have a founding date, being more of a nicknamed region instead of an incorporated community, it was settled in the early 1800s. Originally, it was a part of Centre County, until Clinton County was created in 1839. Most of the land where Loganton now sits was owned by a Philadelphia anatomy professor named Casper Wistar, who owned considerable amounts of land in the county. I’ve seen his name turn up on a lot of old maps.

Greene Township was founded in 1840, and Loganton laid out around the same time, though Loganton wasn’t incorporated until 1869. The community was owned and laid out mainly by Colonel Anthony Kleckner, who owned a mill in the area. Kleckner is a big name in Sugar Valley’s history.

Another one is Jacob Karstetter. Karstetter lived in Greene Township in the early days, and had a reputation for being a fantastic shot – Supposedly, he never missed, to the point nobody ever wanted to compete with him.

Karstetter was fifty-four when the Civil War broke out, and he wanted to join the fight. These days, there are reenactors way older than that, but back then, they had a few age limits. Fifty-four was considered too old. Now, back then, a lot of young kids were lying about their age to join the war; county sheriff Henry Dill Loveland claimed he was two years older so he could go fight. Jake Karstetter went the other way, taking ten years off his age and claiming to be forty-four, and served two years in Company C.

Karstetter was wounded, and then captured, and offered a parole if he agreed not to fight anymore. He refused, telling his captors that he was guaranteed to fight them. Later, when he was sent home, he immediately ran back to join the war again. The Army doctor refused, telling him that he was too old, but perhaps something could be arranged.

Now, again, Karstetter did the opposite of what everyone else was doing. Many people were paying huge sums of money to stay out of the war. Karstetter paid two hundred dollars to get back in. During this time, it was said that he was difficult, often not following orders. When told to do dishwashing duty, he would often wander off and do some sharpshooting instead, which at least he was good at.

Sugar Valley has had a long and interesting history, with a lot of colorful characters. If you want to drop by, you can learn more about some of them at Good Old Days. See you there.

——

Lou Bernard is a Lock Haven resident with a keen interest in the history of this area. He is adult services coordinator at Ross Library and may be reached at loulhpa@gmail.com or 570-660-4463.

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