The Thomas T. Taber Museum of the Lycoming County Historical Society will host a Society Program on Sunday, September 17 at 2pm in its Community Room. Mr. Gail Largey will be showing his documentary ”William B. Wilson: A Life’s Journey”. This film is included in the Communities lecture series as it contains material about Arnot & Blossburg.
Attorney Bill Hebe of Wellsboro narrates the film. He is Wilson’s voice. “Doing it was fun and very meaningful to me,” Hebe said. “My Scottish ancestors came to America about the same time as the Wilson family. They were also coal miners and settled in Morris Run and Arnot. So, Wilson’s story is part of my family history, too.” He continued, “The film is an amazing work, detailing the life of Billy Wilson, Tioga County’s most significant historical figure. It is a Ken Burns quality film,” he said referring to Burns’ use of archival footage and photographs in his documentaries.
Gale Largey of Wellsboro was prompted to tell Wilson’s story by historians David Jones, a Wilson descendant, and Keith Lindie, both of Blossburg. Largey did the research, wrote and produced the documentary. Ken VanSant of Wellsboro did the editing. Locals, all descendants of coal miners, are the voices in the film. This is the most recent of the 11 documentaries Largey has produced, first as a sociology professor at Mansfield University and now as a retiree.
“Wilson was an important national figure,” Largey said. “He immigrated with his family to Blossburg from Scotland as a child and began working in the Arnot mines when he was nine. Wilson had incredible integrity, supported laborers’ and women’s rights, a living wage, finance reform and was against drinking. He served four terms in the United States Congress and was involved in all the major strikes from 1913 to 1921 when he served as the first U.S. Secretary of Labor under U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. As secretary, he oversaw four bureaus – Children, Immigration, Naturalization and Labor Statistics and a Division of Conciliation. Many of the labor department’s activities today can be traced back to Wilson’s time. He put his department on the map by mobilizing an effective workforce for defense production, for which he was credited with helping to win World War I.”
Note: this is a long documentary - about about 90 minutes, so there will be a short intermission half way through. Refreshments will be served.
The Lecture Series focuses on ‘Communities’ for the 2017 season, combining Coffee Hours (Thursday mornings at 10am, March through June, September through December) with Society Programs (Sunday afternoons at 2pm, May through October). A total of fourteen lectures are presented throughout the year. All are free and open to the public.