Throwback Thursday by Matson Insurance: The Life of Entrepreneur Nathan Greene Edelblute

jchc-exterior-emailMatson Insurance is partnering with Jefferson County History Center to offer exploreJeffersonpa.com readers a look in Jefferson County’s past. Today “The Life of Entrepreneur Nathan Greene Edelblute” is being showcased.

(Between 2001 and 2004 the former Nathan Greene Edelblute Building was preserved and adapted as the Jefferson County History Center.)

The Life of Entrepreneur Nathan Greene Edelblute

A set of letters dated 1855, addressed to Nathan Edelblute, and found in the older section of the History Center (northeast quarter of the building), includes a list the nineteen-year-old made on New Year’s Day 1856. He listed 6 pairs of pants (1 good), 4 vests, 5 coats (1 good), and 6 fine shirts. He wrote that he had clerked for men named Amived (sic) and R. Arthurs, and had run logs on the Clarion River. His income for that year—$215.

Four years later he “commenced business,” perhaps in that original section of the History Center building on Main Street. By 1874 he had a farm as well and was raising, selling, and racing trotters. One of four deadly fires swept through Brookville’s Main Street area in 1874 leveling the Fryer building, and Nathan took that opportunity to buy that property (where the west part of the History Center stands.) He proceeded to build the large west retail store, the front east retail area, and the large apartment on the second floor where his family would live. These new parts surrounded the northeast quarter of the present building built in the 1840s or 1850s.

We think the family entered their living quarters through the large double doors in the middle of the building and proceeded to the lower parlor (front research room) and kitchen (rear research room). They reached the second floor by climbing the grand staircase or the back staircase off the kitchen. The formal parlor, ball-room, and four bedrooms were on the second floor.

The Edelblutes raised their family there. The marriage of daughter Adda to Elmer Pearsall in 1890 took place in the parlor, and Nathan moved to Punxsutawney the next year. After Elmer left for reasons unknown, Adda remained in the family residence until her death in 1946.

After Nathan moved to Punxsutawney, the large retail space that had been the N. G. Edelblute Dry Goods Store, housed in succession: Patterson’s Drugstore, Trautman Drugs, Western Auto, and the DuBois Courier office. The smaller east retail space housed a billiard parlor, Lena Jackson’s millinery shop, Guth’s Jewelry, the Pel Shoe Store, and the Carousel Gift Shop. After Adda’s death the heirs used the residence area to store family furnishings.

And what does this building tell us about American history?

Nathan Greene Edelblute was an enterprising young American who used his business acumen to take advantage of post-Civil War economic opportunities. This was a period of rapid economic growth and a period when people sought luxury goods. Edelblute capitalized on that good fortune.

[email protected] County Historical Society, Inc.

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

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Submitted by the Jefferson County History Center.


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