READ TRANSCRIPT OF SUPREME COURT, MELVIN VS. SUMMERVILLE regarding the building of the Clarion County Poor house.
In 1898, voters approved the proposal to build the county home. 1903 The County Commissioners bought the G. V. Curll farm for $71 an acre, for use as the County Poor Farm. The original debt for the county was $90,000. In 1927, Clarion County paid off the last of its 1903 bonds for building the Poor Farm.
They built an 800 acre working farm for the poor and outcast - most inmates employed on the farm, keeping it self-sufficient. The home is constructed of three layers of brick, which was effective in regulating the internal temperatures, utilizing fireplaces for heat. (It appears that there may have also been skylights that provided additional lighting and heat).
Inmates unable to physically work on the farm assisted in whatever manner they could: peeling potatoes, etc.
Various churches in the community would take turns going to the County Home and providing services and in singing hymns with the residents.
The main house in front was the superintendents home, consisting of three living rooms on the first floor. Three bedrooms were located on the second floor with a bathroom and a reading room. Each room in the house has its own fire place. Sometime in the early 1900’s a third story was added to the main house adding four more bedrooms to the main house .
Men and women were housed separately: the men residing in the right wing, and the women in the left wing.
There was a large kitchen in the back not visible from old photos. It had a large walk-in pantry and also has what may have been four office rooms and one bathroom also in the rear.
Thomas I. Fox, served as the superintendent of the county home for the first year after its establishment. (source: Fox family biography, Genealogical and Personal History of the Allegheny Valley, Pennsylvania By John Woolf Jordan; Published by Lewis Historical Pub. Co., 1912. Page 942-943)
Sometime between 1900-1910, Oscar Lee & Dora Altman headed the county home for four years. (source: Sue Luellyn). By 1912-1914, Oscar Lee Altman was serving as an undertaker, performing many of the county home’s undertaking needs.
In the 1910 census, David A. and Sarah (Reese) Myers were superintendent/matron of the county home.
In the 1920 census, James H. and Laura (Betz) Callen are heading the home.
In the 1930 census, George R. and Anna A. (Stewart) Summerville are heading the operation of the home.
1936-1953 James & Lottie (Myers) Laughlin served operating the facility. Lottie's obituary reads ..."She had been the efficient and highly esteemed matron of the Clarion County Home of Sligo for the past seventeen years, a longer period of service than any previous matron."
In 1970, superintendent and matron of the Clarion County Home in Sligo was Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Kelh. The farmer for the Home was Elvie McDonald. Professional positions for the Home will be Registered Nurse Mrs. Doris Donner and Licensed Practical Nurse Mrs. Dorothy Clark. The physician is Dr. Albert C. Myers.
Sometime during the 1980’s, the home was converted into an apartment building.
About 2005, it was purchased to be used for the Peaceful Valley Ashram & Retreat and is currently under construction for its new purpose.
Davis History; Caldwell Atlas
Census images; Local history; Various Death certificates and obituaries
Sue Lluellyn’s Poorhouse Story
Clarion County Home (Poorhouse)
and Peaceful Valley Ashram & Retreat History
Peaceful Valley retreat to mark first anniversary
Oil City Derrick
The internationally-renowned yoga instructor says they are making progress with the restoration efforts as well as in reaching out to the community.
Her main objective is to make the ashram and retreat center along Route 68 just outside of Sligo a destination.
"There are so many possibilities," Mata said in an interview after a recent trip to Germany. "It can bring a lot of life to the area."
Mata, who is an expert in Ayurveda, visited a number of yoga centers during her three-month trip to Germany.
Ayurveda is the art of self-healing and longevity.
Mata, who is a native of British Guiana, has been practicing yoga her entire life and started teaching in 1975.
The nursing complex sat empty for nearly 30 years after the Clarview Nursing & Rehabilitation Center was built next to it.
"This (facility) is part of the area and a part of history," Mata said. "We have lots of plans and ideas.
But she concedes she can't do it all herself.
That's why she is hoping to have more involvement from local non-profit groups and volunteers.
Anyone who has an interest in an area - such as gardening, art, music - are invited to share their talents at the ashram.
"We're looking for lots of volunteers," Mata said.
Yoga and meditation are the basis of the retreat center.
Mata is in search of dedicated individuals who share her vision and want to teach yoga.
The expert is hopeful that the main house will be completed by the end of the summer as well as the west wing.
Interior walls have been painted bright colors and the flooring has been upgraded.
The west wing will provide six treatment rooms and a classroom area.
Plans include having guest yoga teachers visit the retreat center along with a schedule of seminars on yoga, healthy living, diet and nutrition, massage therapy, beauty treatment and more.
The local facility was built in 1898 and originally served as the county's care home.
One of the area's oldest barns is located behind the complex.
Unfortunately, it is in danger of being lost due to sever deterioration.
"We need quick help" or it will have to be torn down, said Mata. "It's got to be a miracle."
Celebrating the arts
Mata said the ashram will mark its one-year anniversary on July 21.
The summer schedule includes a visit from a German musician that month.
There are also plans to offer a children's challenge workshop program from July 29 through Aug. 5.
It would be limited to about 15 children and focus on motivation and self-discovery.
In June, a doctor who specializes in pancha karma is expected to visit.
This is a procedure that works to root out the cause of a disease, said Mata.
"Education is the most important part" of the Peaceful Valley experience, Mata said.
Healing is not just about treatment or medication.
Doctors are an important part of life, said Mata, but the use of prescription medication across the nation has become excessive.
She said it may prolong an individual's life, "but at what cost?"
"Happiness is what is healthy," Mata said. "We teach you how to be happy, how to live healthy."
Mata's attorney, William Strong, also subscribes to the practice of yoga.
"He's so enthused by it," she said.
Strong said he was involved in a serious vehicle accident late last year that nearly took his life.
He said he was told he survived the crash and was able to rebound more quickly because of his physical fitness.
Ayurveda is becoming very popular, Mata noted.
"People are getting interested," she said.
Additional ideas include opening a roadside cafe in an outbuilding at the facility.
Mata directed the Yoga Vedanta Center in Ft. Lauderdale and while there she and Yogi Hari developed Sampoorna Yoga, training more than 700 teachers who practice throughout the world.
She comes from the Sivananda lineage and studied directly under Swami Vishnu Devananda for seven years.
Mata also studied Ayurveda with Dr. Vasantlad in the United States and India.
More information can be found online at www.leelamata.com
Source: The Derrick, Wednesday, May 23, 2007 (front page and page 5).
Note: the link in the article does not function. View Leela’s page.
The site has wonderful photos of her restoration project and information on the ashram.
Leela Mata will celebrate her one-year anniversary in July at the Peaceful Valley Ashram and Retreat located at the former Clarion County home near Sligo. Mata - an internationally renowned yoga instructor - says progress is being made with the restoration work at the facility. She is pictured here in the west wing. (photo accompanying article on right)
Photo of fireplace prior to the restoration project. Photo courtesy of Leela Mata.
Photo atop the stairwell (prior to restoration) that shows some of the woodwork that decorated the old Clarion county home. Photo courtesy of Leela Mata.
David A. Myers (husband of Sarah Reese), who served as County Home superintendent abt 1910.
Residents and staff of the County Home can be found in Piney Township, Clarion County, PA census transcriptions. For complete transcriptions of the township, please access them through my homepage—Residents.
with Leela Mata