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Shunk: An Old Community in Sullivan County, PA

The text and most of the pictures in this brief summary was organized and contributed by Burke Campbell, who lives in St. Louis, MO. He can be reached at . The pictures of the teacher listings for the Fox Township School, where many Shunk children attended, were contributed by Elaine Frey who obtained them from George Burgess. Elaine also directly submitted the undated postcard pictures of the Shunk High School and the "bird's eye" view of the town. She also arranged for Bea McCue and Jane Edkin Hoover to provide school Attendance Records for several schools in the area from 1922-1950. Elaine can be reached at , and George can be reached at The Sullivan County Settlers Web Page is grateful to Burke for his historical information and pictures, and to Elaine and George for their school pictures.

A View of Shunk, PA
Looking east along Main Street
Between 1905 and 1910
Photo contributed by Burke Campbell

Shunk was originally an area in Fox Township known as Fox Center. The latter was established about 1845, before Sullivan became a county and was still part of Lycoming county. Fox Center was named for George Fox, founder of the Society of Friends or Quakers. Here are three pictures of the Friends Meeting House serving Shunk and the nearby hamlet of Piatt as the structure appeared at three different times in history. We are grateful to David Bailey for these photographs.

Friends Community House
Shunk, PA
Then Current Meeting House, about 1890, with carriage sheds and school house.
Photo contributed by David Bailey

Friends Community House
Shunk, PA
About 1920; sheds still remain. Notice the bonnets.
Photo contributed by David Bailey

Friends Community House
Shunk, PA
Taken in the 1980s.
Photo contributed by David Bailey

No doubt one wonders how a community was named "Shunk". The facts are that Pennsylvania had a Governor named Francis Rawn Shunk (1788-1848), who served from January 21, 1845 to July 9, 1847. He resigned before his term expired. On November 5, 1845, a Post Office was established at Fox Center. It was named after the Governor, thereby giving that community the new name of Shunk. This Post Office was located on the knoll across the road from the home of Walter Brown. The first Shunk Postmaster was Perus Williams.

In September 2006, Robert Shisler, a citizen of Fox Township, contributed some additional background and photographs, shown below, on Governor Shunk. He is buried in the Old Trappe Church, Trappe, Montgomery County, PA, the community where he was born. Shown below are pictures of his marker and the church itself. This is supposedly the oldest Lutheran Church in America in continuous service. It dates back to 1743 when the first service was held, and is on the registry of National Historic Landmarks. Governor Shunk's monument, a very tall obelisk, is toward the extreme right of the picture of the church.

The Old Trappe Lutheran Church
Trappe, Montgomery County, PA
Burial Place of Francis Rawn Shunk
Photo contributed by Robert Shisler

Francis Rawn Shunk
Memorial Obelisk
Old Trappe Church Cemetery
Photo contributed by Robert Shisler

Inscription on Memorial Obelisk
for Francis Rawn Shunk
Governor of Pennsylvania
Old Trappe Church Cemetery
Photo contributed by Robert Shisler

Bob Shisler subsequently published the following article in The Sullivan Review and The Canton Independent Sentinel in the week of September 25, 2006:


by Robert Shisler, Sr., Shunk, PA

Many people wonder how this little village in northwestern Sullivan County was named and why the small stream that meanders through the village ever came to be called Hoagland Branch. Hopefully, this brief article will answer these questions and provide some additional information as to the origins of Sullivan county, Fox Township and Shunk, the latter being originally known as Fox Center.
To place things in perspective, Sullivan County was created by legislation on March 15, 1847 being split off from Lycoming County. It was named for State Senator Charles C. Sullivan, Butler District, who was instrumental in securing passage of the enabling legislation. Laporte, the county seat, named for John La Porte, Surveyor General of Pennsylvania in the mid 1800's, was incorporated as a borough in 1853.
Fox Township in which Shunk is located was incorporated in 1839 when the area was still part of Lycoming County. It was named for George Fox, the founder of the Society of Friends ( Quakers ) , and many of the first settlers were Quakers. Settlers began moving into the area in the very early 1800's. The Hoagland and Battin families were among the earliest ones.
Hoagland Branch Creek, which bisects Shunk, was named for Joseph Hoagland, and that name can be traced back to Holland, with numerous Dutch variations, such as Hoogland, Hooglandt, Hoogelande and others. Between 1638 and 1658 several men emigrated from Europe to New Netherlands, which includes present day New York City. Joseph Hoagland is probably a descendant of one of them, Dirck Jansen Hoogland who arrived in New Netherlands in 1657.
Because of continuing struggles, the Dutch gave up New Amsterdam to the English in 1664, and while they briefly regained the land later, possibly because of continuing strife, some of the families moved to New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Joseph Hoagland was born in Hunterdon County, New Jersey in 1754. There are some indications that Joseph and his families' area involvement may have begun in the Muncy area as early as 1774.
In 1800, an Englishman named Phineas Bond, who had acquired substantial land holdings in current day Sullivan County, offered 100 acre land grants to the first twelve families to move into the area. He also offered an additional 300 acres at $ 2.50 an acre to anyone who would build a grist mill. Joseph agreed to build the mill and moved into Fox Center in 1803 or 1804 and built a log grist mill probably by 1811 on the Hoagland Branch just below the present day bridge in Shunk. The mill was a great benefit to the early settlers serving a wide area, including parts of Bradford County. Joseph Hoagland died in December 1845 and is buried in an unmarked grave in the old Quaker Cemetery in Shunk.
Fox Center became Shunk in 1847 when the village acquired a post office which was named Shunk. It was named for the then governor, Francis Rawn Shunk ( Born August 7 1788 in Trappe, Montgomery County, Pa), who served as governor from 1845 to 1848. He resigned his office on July 9, 1848 due to health problems and died from tuberculosis eleven days later.
He had a distinguished career, having served in the Pennsylvania Militia in the war of 1812, and held several governmental positions prior to being asked to run for governor in 1844 when the selected candidate on the Democratic ticket, Henry Muhlenberg, died unexpectedly. He narrowly won the election and was re-elected in 1847.
Governor Shunk is buried in Trappe, Montgomery County, Pa, at the Old Trappe Church cemetery. This church lays claim to being the oldest Lutheran Church in America in continuous service. His monument is very impressive and near other notables such as Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, possibly the first seminary trained and ordained Lutheran pastor in America, and his son, Revolutionary War General, Peter Muhlenberg. A picture of the full monument and the inscription on it are included with this historical sketch.

For those who want to learn more about Governor Shunk, there are many online resources. Also, here is a letter he wrote in 1837 that bears his signature. It was addressed to Philadelphia laywer Eli K. Price, concerning a lawsuit between the late William Tilghman and George Fisher. William Tilghman, at one time Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, was a central figure in the debate over the status of slavery in Pennsylvania in the first decade of the 19th century.

Letter From Francis Rawn Shunk
Administrator of Estate for William Tilghman
Between 1905 and 1910
Photos contributed by Scott W. Tilden
Original Auctioned on eBay in December 2014

According to the description of this item found online:

Francis Rawn Shunk (August 7, 1788 - July 20, 1848) was the tenth Governor of Pennsylvania from 1845 to 1848. Born into a poor farming family in Trappe, Pennsylvania on August 7, 1788, Shunk began working on his father's farm at age 10. He continued to attend school, and by age 16 had received his qualification as a teacher and started working in the school schools. Originally a Democratic-Republican in politics, and later a Democrat, in 1812 Shunk was appointed Clerk to state Surveyor General Andrew Porter, the father of Governor David R. Porter. Shunk served in the Pennsylvania militia during the War of 1812, and took part in the 1814 defense of Baltimore. After the war, Shunk was appointed Principal Clerk of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. In 1820, he married Jane Findlay, daughter of Governor and Senator William Findlay. From 1829 to 1839, Shunk served as Secretary of the state Canal Commission, a critical position in the government during a period when major canal, railroad and other public works projects were planned and constructed. In 1839, Shunk was appointed Secretary of the Commonwealth, and he served until 1842. When Democratic gubernatorial candidate Henry A. P. Muhlenberg unexpectedly died in August 1844, Shunk was selected as the party's replacement nominee. He narrowly defeated Whig candidate Joseph Markle. Shunk was reelected in 1847 but ill health caused by tuberculosis compelled him to retire before his second term was complete. He resigned on July 9, 1848, and died in Harrisburg on July 20, 1848, just eleven days after resigning. Shunk was buried at Augustus Lutheran Church Cemetery in Trappe. Shunk Hall on the University Park campus of the Pennsylvania State University is named in his honor. Shunk Street in Philadelphia is also named for him, as is Governor F.R. Shunk Avenue in Carlisle. The village of Shunk in Fox Township, Sullivan County is also named for him.


The Hoagland and Battin families, who were Quakers, were the first settlers of Fox Township. Families taking residence in Shunk circa 1872 were named Williams, Wilcox, Brenchley, Dickson, Shaddick, Kilmer, Wright, Lovell, Fanning, Button, Campbell, Caseman, Brown and Porter.

Top L-R: Lizzie Hoagland, Hannah E Campbell, Kate Keating, Pearl Keating, William Keating (with hat on)
Middle L-R: Jerry P??pson, May McBride, Tom ????, James Teevan, James Campbell, Eliza Teevan
Bottom L-R: Mae McBride, Rickie Tomkins, Wallace Hoagland (at center of picture)
Photo contributed by Burke Campbell

Historically, the list of U. S. Postmaster appointments at Shunk were:

Perus Williams, Nov. 1845-
Jacob Wilcox, Aug. 1850-
Henry Williams, 19 Feb. 1853-
Daniel * Williams, 13 Aug. 1857-
David Foster, 31 May 1861-
Clarissa H Williams, 1 Mar. 1862-
James H Campbell, 3 Oct. 1865-
Mary Kilmer, 22 June 1869-
James H Campbell, 18 Jan. 1870-
James H Campbell, 18 Jan. 1876-
Jacob Bohn, 16 Mar. 1886-
A Rosetta Fuller, 16 Apr. 1888-
Ambrose E Campbell, 9 July 1890-
John C Campbell, 10 Nov. 1897-
Rosell Porter, 10 Dec. 1921-1935

* The original text lists his name as "David", but that is surely a typo. In September 2008, Steve Brande, whose 2nd great uncle was Daniel Williams, pointed out this discrepancy. Note that Daniel's wife, Clarissa Williams became postmaster in 1862.

Note: From Jan. 31, 1935 to June 16, 1936 Shunk mail was sent to Wheelerville.
Lawrence Baumunk, resumed P.M. at Shunk, 17 Jun. 1936
Caroline Baumunk, 29 Apr.-27 May 1953, acting P.M.
Caroline Baumunk, 27 May 1953-1978
Lucy Lindley Baumunk. 1978-1997
Ann Baumunk Henderson, 1997-1999, acting P.M.
Ann Baumunk Henderson, 1999-Present

Source: (1) National Archives, Record of Appointments of Postmasters 1832-Sept. 30 1971, Sullivan County, PA; (2) Elaine Frey for the last two appointments, current as of January 2001

James Hamm Campbell, Born 1831
In Civil War Uniform
Postmaster of Shunk on Several Occasions

Pioneer items of interest:

The first settler, Amos Hoagland, the third son of Joseph Hoagland, took up land about 1803. This Amos was killed by a falling tree and was the first person buried at the Quaker cemetery in Shunk. Joseph Hoagland, Jr., fourth son of Joseph Hoagland, of Fox township married Hannah Mullen. The Hoaglands built a gristmill at Shunk in 1811. A Shunk resident who owned a general store was W. H. Fanning and J. P. Kilmer had a lumber mill.

Warren H. Fanning General Store & P.O 1906

The Shunk Kilmer Mill Complex 1904
Williams Pond with water impounded to operate waterwheel of gristmill
To extreme left lies raceway toward mill
J. P. Kilmer Steam Lumber Mill at top center

In 1868, James H. Campbell built another general store and had interests in a gristmill with his father John Campbell. In 1884, James sold his interest in the mill. His son, Ambrose E. Campbell, acquired the general store and later rebuilt it on the hill across from the East Hill Cemetery. L. Baumuck later bought the store and ran a lumber business there also. The general store is still standing in Shunk today. This store appears here in two pictures, the first an undated view from up the hill, and the second as the background for a reunion of Civil War Veterans taken from in front of the store in 1891.

A. E. Campbell General Store
Rebuilt 1905 from original James. H. Campbell store
House to left owned by Cora Belle Campbell:
1st marriage to Ford Manley, 2nd to Frank Morgan, 3rd to James L Brenchley

Patriotic Order of the Sons of America
Shunk Branch
Memorial Day 1891
Front, l to r: John P Kilmer, Urban Walker, Sanford Fanning, Zachary T Kilmore, Welda Sadler, Ambrose E Campbell, Elgeroy Hill, Chauncy Fuller, Dr. Blake E Gamble, George Walker
Second row, l to r: Herbert Hill, William Dumond, Peray Fanning, Orin Hines, Jackson Williams, Leon I Campbell, George Battin, ____ Hines, Reuben T Battin, Clayton Battin, ____ Brown
Back: Leonard Maxon

Here is a picture of the store on the inside with A. E. Campbell and his wife, Clara May (Ferguson) Campbell, shown. Note the spittoons and kerosine lamp:

Ambrose Earl and Clara May (Ferguson) Campbell
At Work in Their General Store
After 1905
Clerk in center not identified

Photo from Sullivan County Historical Society and Museum Collection

Here is another mill picture from Shunk and a panoramic view of the town from the early 1900s.

Shunk Flowering Mill of John and James H Campbell
Rebuilt 1885 by Homer K. Williams
Blacksmith shop at left
Second floor is P.O.S. of A. Lodge

A View of Shunk
Looking west along Main Street
Early Twentieth Century

Burke S. Campbell
St. Louis, MO
December 29, 2000

The two following pictures contributed by Elaine Frey from George Burgess are teacher and pupil listings for the South Street School in Fox Township. The first, taken in 1926, lists the pupils and teacher for that year. Edwin Frey was Elaine's grandfather. The second picture is for a different class at the same school, probably at about the same time as the first picture. Jesse Williams, who died in 1972, was a well-recognized personality in the Shunk community, according to Elaine.

The Freys are a very old family in the Shunk area and Elaine has been responsible for transcribing and contributing several local cemetery listings to this web site. George is a descendant of William Burgess, who worked in the Hillsgrove area in the 1880's.

South Street School, Fox Township, 1925-1926
Edwin E. Frey, Teacher, and Pupils

South Street School, Fox Township, About 1925-1930
Jesse H. Williams, Teacher, and Pupils

Here are two more pictures sent directly from Elaine for this history in August 2004. They are scans from undated old postcards. The first shows a wooden high school builidng and the second shows a panoramic view of the town.

High School, Shunk, PA

Shunk, PA
Bird's Eye View

Copyright 2000 Robert E. Sweeney and individual Contributors. All Rights Reserved. Prior written permission is required from Robert E. Sweeney and individual Contributors before this material can be printed or otherwise copied, displayed or distributed in any form. This is a FREE genealogy site sponsored through PAGenWeb and can be reached directly at ~Sullivan County Genealogy Project (