Do you know what the two Clearfield County towns of Munson and Chester Hill have in common? If you guessed they were both named after Chester Munson, you are correct.
The town of Munson was named for the Honorable Chester Munson (1815-1897). Munson arrived in Centre County in 1843 before moving to Clearfield County.
He landed in Morris Township and partnered with incorporating the route from Kylertown via Morrisdale and Philipsburg to intersect the Tyrone and Clearfield Railroad. In the late 1800’s, the Kyler colliery operated near what was then called Munson’s Station.
The business was operated by Mr. Robert Fishburn, who ran about 30 coke ovens day and night, employing about 100 men. To this day, the locals still refer to this area of Munson as “Fishburn Hill.” Robert Fishburn (1836-1908) emigrated from County Durham in England in the year 1864.
Chester Hill is located along Route 53 just across the Moshannon Creek from Phillipsburg.
At one time, the post office in Chester Hill was named Wigton due to the Wigton brickyard, which was located behind the present-day Blaise Alexander car dealership.
The town was laid out by Jacob F. Steiner (1828-1882), who settled there in 1849 and engaged in the lumber business.
In the year 1883, the borough was incorporated and named Chester Hill in honor of Judge Chester Munson. Munson is also recognized for donating the ground on Second Street in Philipsburg for the first AME Church.
It was noted that the first automobile in the borough was thought to have belonged to the Sommerville family whose original homestead still sits prominently along Walton Street.
The town was thriving in the early part of the 1900’s with the mines in full operation and the PRR going right through the area carrying loads from Osceola Mills to Philipsburg, Tyrone and beyond.
Located on the corner of Gertrude and Walton Streets in Chester Hill was the Ruggiero homestead. Mrs. Pasqualina (Alberella) Ruggiero operated an Italian grocery market from the front room of her home while her husband, Salvatore Ruggiero, worked for the PRR.
Both emigrated from Italy in 1904 to settle in the borough of Chester Hill. Together they raised ten children in Chester Hill.
Now as you travel through Munson and Chester Hill, you can think back to the man: Chester Munson. He made quite an impression on the county of Clearfield. Chester Munson, along with his wife Letitia, are laid to rest in the Philipsburg Cemetery.