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Town of Williamsport honors its founding father

July 05, 2005|by HEATHER KEELS

heatherk@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT - Though the sun beat down and temperatures soared into the 90s, directors of the Town Museum of Williamsport donned wigs and Revolutionary War costumes Monday morning for a ceremony to honor Williamsport's founder, Brig. Gen. Otho Holland Williams, at his grave in Riverview Cemetery at 11 a.m.

"This is part of what the Fourth of July is all about," said Jerry Knode, the museum's chairman, who called Williams a great hero of the Revolutionary War and said he was one of George Washington's most trusted soldiers.

During the Revolutionary War, Gen. Nathaniel Greene divided the southern Continental Army into two battalions and appointed Williams to lead one of them, according to a pamphlet compiled by the museum. The pamphlet quotes Greene as saying, "I cannot help acknowledging my obligations to Col. Williams for his great activity on this and many other occasions in forming the Army, and for his uncommon intrepidity in leading on the Maryland Troops to the charge, which exceeded anything I ever saw."

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Williamsport Mayor James McCleaf proclaimed the day a town holiday, following a welcome from "town crier" John James. Gene Farley of American Legion Potomac Post 202 read an invocation and Assistant Museum Chairman Kim Bowers presented the tribute.

About 70 town residents turned out for the event, Knode said. He said he thought the temperature might have kept some people away, but he wished more had braved the heat.

"People don't know what the Fourth of July is all about," he said.

The museum had not held the ceremony since 2001, but directors hope to make it an annual Fourth of July tradition, said Joan Knode, Jerry Knode's wife and one of the event's organizers.

"It kind of kicks off Williamsport's celebration," she said.

The town's evening events included a performance by the Williamsport Community Band and a fireworks show in Byron Memorial Park.

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