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FUN Facts: Organ Building Pioneer Born in Clarion, Clarion River Once Known as Tobeco Creek, Much More

Sunday, September 16, 2018 @ 06:09 AM

Posted by Joanne Bauer

26804350_10155939922123704_3361583115418189581_nFUN Facts, brought to you by First United National Bank, is a new weekly feature on and that will list facts about the area and other relevant topics.

1. The Most Sought After Organ Builder of the Early 20th Century Was Born in Clarion, Pa.

Ernest Martin Skinner, pictured above, was the United States’ most sought-after American organ builder in the first quarter of the twentieth century.

He was born in Clarion, Pennsylvania, on January 15, 1866.

Skinner’s fascination with creating musical sounds was “formed through an abundance of exposure to music via his family.”

His parents, Washington Martin Skinner and Alice Francis Brett, were both itinerant professional concert and opera singers. The Skinner family settled in Taunton, Massachusetts when Ernest was seven-years-old.

In 1900, Skinner started his own company and through the years various companies bearing his name produced hundreds of organs that were placed within prestigious facilities throughout the world.

His final major project was a great organ built in collaboration with his son, Richmond Hastings Skinner, and placed in the Washington National Cathedral in 1938.

Skinner passed away on November 26, 1960, at the age of 94, in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

More information on Skinner can be found here.

SOURCES: Arizona State University, The Life and Work of Ernest M. Skinner — Dorothy Holden published by The Organ Historical Society, 1985

2. SCI-Forest Accounts for Nearly 1/3 of the Total Population of Forest County


The most current population data available shows that 7,410 people reside in Forest County, Pa., making it the third-least populous county in Pennsylvania.

An August 31, 2018 population report released by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections lists the current SCI-Forest population at 2,409 inmates meaning the facility accounts for 32.5% of the total population of the county.

The population of the county prior to the 2004 opening of SCI-Forest was at 4,946, according to census data.

SOURCES: PA Department of Corrections, United State Census

3. One of the Founding Fathers of Modern Hematology Grew Up in Oil City, Pa.


William Holmes Crosby, considered by many to be one of the founding fathers of modern hematology, the study of the physiology of the blood, was born in Wheeling, West Virginia on December 1, 1914. Six months later his family moved to Oil City, Pennsylvania. His father, W. Holmes, was an architect and his mother, Frances Irene Forrester, was a schoolteacher. After graduating from Oil City High School, Crosby attended the University of Pennsylvania where he began his life in research as a volunteer in the local hospital hematology lab.

After the outbreak of World War II, Crosby served two years at as an instructor in the Army’s Medical Field Service School at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. He then requested overseas duty and, in 1942, joined U.S. 85th Infantry Division. During this time Crosby, always seeking a something to study, studied Russian. He would keep vocabulary cards in his helmet. Crosby’s battlefield duties resulted in a Bronze Star with an oak leaf cluster. Another cluster was added for his service in Korea.

He published more the 450 peer-reviewed papers on hematology, oncology, gastroenterology, iron metabolism, nutrition, and general medical practice. In addition, he was an inventor and published translator of poetry.

Crosby passed away on January 15, 2005.

More information on Crosby can be found here.

4. The Clarion River Was Once Known as “Tobeco Creek”


Prior to 1817, the Clarion River was more commonly known as “Tobeco Creek,” a form of “Tuppeek-hanne,” meaning a stream that flows from a large spring. Settlers referred to the river as the Toby or Stump Creek as early as 1809.

In 1817, surveyor Daniel Stanard named it the “Clarion River” because the water sounded like a “distant clarion.”

Twenty-two years later, the town of the same name, Clarion, Pa., was erected.

SOURCE: United States Geological Survey

5. Franklin Native Lawrence Holds the Atlanta Falcons Career Interceptions Record


Rolland Derenfro “Bay” Lawrence, a former professional American football cornerback for the Atlanta Falcons, was born on March 24, 1951, in Franklin, Pa.

Lawrence, who starred in football at Franklin Area High School in the late 1960s, went on to play college football for the little-known Tabor Bluejays in Hillsboro, Kansas.

The Falcons signed Lawrence as a free in 1973 and he would go on to play his entire NFL career in Atlanta before retiring in 1980.

During his years with the Falcons, Lawrence was widely considered one of the best cornerbacks in the league. In 1977, he represented the Falcons at the Pro Bowl. He was also named to several first-team all-conference teams by The Sporting News, The Associated Press, UPI, Pro Football Writers Association, and various other organizations.

Lawrence still holds the Falcons record for most interceptions in a career with 39.

SOURCE: Pro Football Reference

FUN Facts is brought to you by First United National Bank – The FUN Bank! Stop at one of their offices in Fryburg, New Bethlehem, Oil City, Franklin, Clarion, or Cranberry and allow First United National Bank make you one of their satisfied customers. For more information visit

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