Called the "Gem of the Endless Mountains," Sullivan County has been a crossroad and ethnic melting pot in the highlands of northern Pennsylvania for more than two centuries.
There are villages, ghost towns, family farms and hunting camps scattered along valley floors and clinging to the mountainsides. Early lumber mills were built along the Big and Little Loyalsock Creeks and tributaries in the early 1800s, and outdoor sports and modern tourism became major industries in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Land speculation by companies such as Asylum Land Company led to the development of coal, lumber and railroad industries throughout the county.
With the help of the Sullivan County Historical Society and Museum, C.J. Hatch has compiled more than 200 vintage photographs in a new pictorial history book. With each page, she helps bring readers down memory lane.
Hatch hopes the book will "draw more residents and tourists into the county's museum, as well as leave the reader with a further appreciation of the county's history and a respect for the ancestors who settled here."
A portion of the book's profits will be donated to the Sullivan County Museum for archival preservation.
The Sullivan County Historical Society and Museum began in 1932 with a mission to preserve the history of Sullivan County and its communities. C. J. Hatch, in conjunction with the historical society, has compiled the vintage photographs in Sullivan County with the help of many county residents.
Hatch, 50, is a transplant from the Heart of Dixie who first visited Sullivan County some 22 years ago. Married to a local "ridgerunner," she learned about a small part of local history through her in-laws, which led in a larger part to interest in the county as a whole.
A college graduate, Hatch's interest in old roads led to researching the old Susquehanna and Tioga Turnpike that ran between Berwick and Elmira, N.Y., a part of which was cut through Sullivan County in the early 1800s.
One of several custodians at the Sullivan County Museum in Laporte, Hatch is actively involved with the local Roving Theater (scripts are based on the county's history) and the Sullivan County Scholarship Association, an organization which provides scholarships for Sullivan County high school seniors.
When not buried in research at the museum, Hatch's other interests include needlework, cleaning, cooking with cast iron cookware, collecting old recipes and books, photography, exploring old roads and railroad beds, writing fiction and poetry, and raising her two children.
Hatch hopes that with the publication of Sullivan County, local area residents and tourists will be drawn more into the county's history and to the museum. She also hopes this book will leave the reader with a further appreciation of the county's history and a respect for the ancestors who settled there.
Hatch will hold a booksigning from 5 to 8 p.m. May 1 at Otto Book Store, 107 W. Fourth St., as part of First Friday events.
The softcover book is 128 pages and retails for $21.99.