Souderton-Telford Historical Society tries to spread knowledge of towns’ past

In this 2017 photo, Souderton-Telford Historical Society member Dan Yocum looks over what appears to be a child’s chair promotional item from J. M. Landis & Co. Lettering on the chair that is too faint to be seen in the photo reads, “I came from J. M. Landis & Co. the leaders in Furniture & General Mdse Souderton.” J. M. Landis & Co., which in later generations became Yocum & Godshalk, was started by Yocum’s great-great grandfather, Ellis Souder. Looking on are fellow STHS members, from left, Cory Alderfer, John Derstine and Brad Price.

SOUDERTON — People, places and the things they did are what Souderton-Telford Historical Society is all about.

“Basically, we're trying to keep the history of Souderton and Telford alive, anything to do with the buildings or people or things that happened,” said Cory Alderfer, one of the group's core leadership.

People often contact the group with questions, such as asking for more information on when their house was built, she said.

Others have another reason for getting in touch.

“They'll contact us when they have some type of history that they want to preserve,” said Brent Bernd, the society's president.

That can include things such as photographs or other memorabilia and be connected to families, businesses or other groups, he said.

“They bring it to us for safekeeping, but also for us to be able to share it with other people,” Bernd said.

Someone recently found a rolled up paper in a trunk at their home that turned out to be a 1905 drawing of what is now the Buschman & Johnson law offices in Souderton, Alderfer said.

“Luckily, they just didn't toss it,” she said.

Instead, the person contacted Alderfer's husband, Ron, another of the society's core group, and the drawing is now part of the group's collection.

Officially started in 2016, the roots of the Souderton-Telford Historical Society go back further, with STHS leaders involved in other things such as the creation of Souderton's Historic District and the preparation of the Arcadia picture book about Souderton published in 2011 to coincide with Souderton's 125th anniversary celebrations in 2012.

The group doesn't officially have members, nor does it hold membership program meetings, but almost 1,500 people follow its Facebook page, making them essentially members. The STHS also puts out a newsletter six times a year looking back at historical persons, places, events, and even food. The most recent one was about groundcherries. The next one will be about milkmen, Alderfer said.

“We especially love having guest writers for our newsletters,” she said.

Over the past few years, Cory and Ron Alderfer have done about 15 presentations, most of which were “Then and Now” historical programs, at places including Indian Valley Public Library and retirement communities, she said.

“A lot of times we try to gear it towards the group we're doing it for,” Alderfer said, giving as an example, a presentation at a church with church history included in the presentation.

The STHS has also participated in Souderton's annual parade the first Saturday of December, Alderfer said, along with Souderton's Third Friday activities.

The group was set up at most Third Fridays with a display illustrating some of Souderton's history, Bernd said.

This year, though, that wasn't possible.

“Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, we have not been able to have the same type of activities that we would usually have that would allow us to get some community exposure,” Bernd said.

That doesn't mean all the STHS activities are on hold, though, he and Alderfer said.

“We're still there to answer questions and put out things on Facebook,” Alderfer said.

The newsletter also continues, they said.

Earlier this year, STHS officially received its 501(c)(3) non-profit status, allowing donors to take a tax deduction on donations made to the organization, Bernd said.

“We had a lot of things planned for this year, and we're gonna build on that,” he said. “Hopefully the community sees a lot more of us next year.”

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