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Williamsport pays tribute to founder

June 28, 2009|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WILLIAMSPORT -- Matthew Dodd says one of the greatest compliments he ever received was to be described as a musician, a historian and an entertainer.

Dodd, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., used all of his talents Sunday during an event at Williamsport's Springfield Farm Barn to pay tribute to the town's founder, Otho Holland Williams.

Dodd told the history of U.S. settlement through the end of the American Revolutionary War through stories and song.

Joan Knode, events coordinator for the Town Museum of Williamsport and a newly elected town councilwoman, said the museum organizes the annual tribute before its Fourth of July celebration.

Williamsport was founded in 1787 by Williams, who was a member of the staff of Gen. George Washington during the American Revolutionary War. He founded and designed the town of Williamsport, hoping it would be the U.S. capital.

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Knode said Sunday's event was to be held outside, but was moved into the barn because of rain.

Susan Shank and her sister, Deborah Shank, both of Hagerstown, said they attended the tribute because they enjoy learning about history.

"It was very entertaining," Deborah said of the way Dodd blended music with storytelling to create a vivid timeline of events.

Dodd said that blending familiar songs with the time period in which they were written helps audiences understand their meaning.

Jason Malott of Williamsport, a local historian, said he attended the tribute to see Dodd perform. Dodd's story-telling was done as a living history, with Dodd in character as a U.S. colonist from Ireland.

"We're proud here about our history," Malott said of local residents.

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