Throwback Thursday by Matson Insurance: ‘Pigeon Hill’

Matson Insurance has partnered with Jefferson County History Center to offer readers a look into Jefferson County’s past. Today, “Pigeon Hill” is highlighted.

[Pictured above: Perhaps it is “Hospital Hill” that was once known as “Pigeon Hill,” due to the annual migration of the passenger pigeons. (JCHS Collection)]

(Submitted by Carole Briggs.)


In Hart’s Grove, Dennis McFadden’s collection of short stories about a town very much like Brookville, he describes it as nestled among seven hills “like Bethlehem.” While a comparison with the Seven Hills of Rome might have been more common, Bethlehem, too, is associated with that magic number.

The website we consulted tells how Rome was founded by people living among seven hills. Today five (Aventine, Caelian, Esquiline, Quirinal and Viminal hills) are populated with monuments, buildings, and parks. The Capitoline hosts Rome’s city hall, and the Palatine Hill is an archaeological area. People there do locate places by naming the hill.

People in Brookville do that, too.

McFadden’s comparison came to my mind while transcribing an oral history tape of an interview with Paul Brenneman. Paul moved to Brookville from Clarington when he was quite young, got an education, then worked as a butcher before starting his own plumbing business. More than 25 years ago, Richie Cashdollar interviewed Paul, who was then in his mid-eighties, for a school project. That tape, along with a good many more awaiting transcription, describes the changes Paul saw during his long lifetime.

When Richie asked Paul about the various parts of town, Paul replied, “The hill where the hospital is―we used to call that Pigeon Hill. I don’t know why, but that’s what it was named. And of course, where the school was―that was schoolhouse hill.”

Historian William J. McKnight refers to pigeons in volume one of his 1917 history.

“When I was a boy large nestings of wild (passenger) pigeons in what was then Jenks, Tionesta and Ridgway townships occurred every spring….These pigeons swept over Brookville on their migrating to these roosts….”

The last passenger pigeon died in 1908, but might these migrating birds flying over southwest Brookville have given that hill its name? Pigeon Hill, of course, became Hospital Hill after 1919, and many use that term today.

[email protected] 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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