AARONSBURG – The Penns Valley Area Historical Museum, located at 244 W. Aaron Square, Aaronsburg, opened for the season on Sunday, June 13. The museum presents two new exhibitions for 2021.
The first is a collection of women’s feathered hats, most of them handcrafted by Sarah Burd Fiedler and her sister, Mary Burd Leidacher Fiedler, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, when stylish hats were a fashion staple of women’s clothing. The feathers came from pheasants and grouse hunted in the Woodward area by Sarah’s husband, Ray Fiedler. Hats and hat boxes are on loan from the Georgene Searfoss collection.
The second exhibit features artifacts and memorabilia from the Kerlin Grandview Poultry Farm, which was located in the Central Hall from 1900 to the early 1950s. In 1900, AE Kerlin acquired a small farm in Center Hall and started a poultry business. Kerlin realized that progress could be made by focusing on one breed, and he began to work on breeding a “business hen”, which would be a prolific layer. He chose white Leghorns, which soon became known as the “Kerlin Strain” of Leghorns, renowned for their prolific spawning.
In 1929, AE Kerlin handed the business over to his son William W. Kerlin, and the business grew considerably, becoming essentially a poultry empire. Thousands of Kerlin Leghorns have been shipped to places around the world for decades.
According to James Kerlin, a grandson of William W. Kerlin, the poultry trade began to decline in the late 1930s due to the advent of home refrigeration and other food processing technologies. The Kerlins company held out until the early 1950s, then ceased operations.
In the mid-1950s, the old poultry farm took on new life, becoming Center Hall’s first residential development, named Grandview Terrace. In 1956, houses were built there, located on streets named in honor of William W. Kerlin’s grandchildren, Patricia, James and William. About 60 houses were built and still exist, and many of the original residents still occupy them.
The Penns Valley Historical Museum will be open Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. until October. For more information, call Kay Gray at (814) 349-5740.