Throwback Thursday by Matson Insurance: Memories of Hart’s Grove (Brookville)

Matson Insurance has partnered with Jefferson County History Center to offer readers a look into Jefferson County’s past. Today, the history Hart’s Grove (Brookville) is highlighted.

[Pictured above: Writer Dennis McFadden graduated from Brookville High School a good many years ago. His memories of Brookville and the surrounding area often show up in his books. (JCHS Collection)]

Submitted by Carole Briggs:


A section of my favorite Fowler print appears on the cover of Dennis McFadden’s book, Hart’s Grove. A pseudonym for Brookville, Hart’s Grove is a small rural Pennsylvania town peopled with the quiet reserved folks you and I know. They move along familiar streets, meet problems we, too, have had, and use colloquialisms we use.

McFadden is a graduate of Brookville Area High School, class of 1961, and employed as a project manager in western New York State. His collection of ten interrelated stories takes place between the 1960s and the present.

He begins with the observations of a young newspaper boy as he delivers the morning paper when the “sky’s turning from black to blue and there’s fog hanging over the creek.” Readers quickly learn of strange encounters and problems with neighbors, and by the end of the book, they know about a disappearing wife, several murders, and a lost child.

Readers will learn Hart’s Grove is nestled among seven hills “like Bethlehem,” (and Rome, too) and become familiar with Longview, hospital hill, and the businesses on Main Street. They’ll hike along the east bank of the North Fork and paths familiar to local hunters.

One character even visits the History Center, albeit McFadden places it in the Blood Building next door (attributed to Josiah Blood, Esq. in 1878 not Parker P. in 1875) and marked by the “little green plate on the brick wall.” The description of the “gum-chewing, rosy-cheeked curator” assures me that McFadden and I have never met! I don’t chew gum very often!

References to real events both local and national, ground these stories in the real world, whether it be a reference to Sputnik (1957) or the local nurses’ strike.

Each story may be read independently. When read in sequence, characters found in the early chapters reappear. Readers will meet a fifth-grader named Cookie and follow him to the end, along with a host of western Pennsylvania’s spirited individuals.

To use that western Pennsylvania colloquialism, and as Al says on the final page, Dennis McFadden, “You done good.”

Copyright@Jefferson County Historical Society, Inc.

Throwback Thursday is brought to you by Matson Insurance in Brookville.

Submitted by the Jefferson County History Center.

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