John Touhey

Interviewee:  John Touhey
Date of birth:  July 4, 1941/74
Interviewer:  Donneta Crane
Interview date:  June 14, 2016
Interview location:  STHS’s one-room schoolhouse
Interview length:  25 minutes
Time span discussed:  1990s to 2006

Summary:  John Touhey was instrumental in reviving the Society in the late 1990’s after it went into decline due to George Duval’s passing. Here John explains the revival and how they rebuilt.


Time markers:
00:00 – introduction
00:25 – moved to Solebury Township in 1977, to Solebury village in 1997
00:49 – once owned the Sergeantsville Inn, made community contacts and friends
01:20 – revival started with Alexander Frank, a 1980s STHS board member
01:42 – interest in history started with an oral history certificate from Columbia
02:01 – hosted STHS organizational meeting at his home in September 1998; community participants and supporters included Shaun Miller, Joan Fitting, Elaine Crooks, Dave Benner, Dick Baio, Kitty Petrie, Michael Pretiger, Jim Westcott, Mary Martin, Diane Washburn, Bob Hills, and Chee Jamison
03:15 – not involved with original iteration of the Society except through people he knew like Alexander Frank and Georges Duval; interest dovetailed with retirement and desire to know more community members
04:29 –Township held old society records, wanted to turn them over
05:06 – $20,000 kitty in bank, needed to be organized to access funds; Elaine Crooks instrumental in setting up the legal non-profit framework
05:42 – several different groups had special interests, Cuttalossa sought Historic District registration to protect valley
06:30 – Ned Harrington’s enthusiasm, researching properties; Arthur Gerrold and others had agendas helped by the Society
07:33 – meetings held in John’s house until 2002, Earl Jamison loaded space in Peddler’s Village for a couple years
08:13 – potential to purchase Sally Paxson’s Rolling Green Farm to house the Society and the New Hope-Solebury library
09:29 – first New Year’s Brunch in 2002 started the Tercentennial celebration; local people for Speakers’ Bureau
10:35 – Cuttalossa Valley walk led by Will Rivinus had 90 people; Ecumenical event in April, Gay Day in May auction raised money;
12:06 – responsible for all 300th anniversary events, separate committee pulled together
13:03 – membership re-started with about 30 members, and grew to about 200
13:18 – 2003 fundraiser dinner at iconic Bucks County houses raised $14,000
13:48 – dinner supporter Jim McHugh of Sergeantsville Grain and Feed, Dick Phillips of Stockton Wine, Giant Supermarket, Earl Jamison, Wally Sellers, John Stewart Burns in memory of Alexander Frank
16:02 – all programs first year were outstanding
17:33 – first picnic at Burgess Lea, Chip Durrell hosted, major success
18:03 – campaign to acquire Rolling Green did not get traction; could have been a cultural center
19:38 – Society’s headquarters moved to Ingham House in 2003; Elaine Crooks and Sally Jagoe presidents about that time;
20:37 – moved to schoolhouse in 2006
20:51 – reflections on the mission and impact of the Society; importance of local organizations

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