Venango County Historical Society
PO Box 101 307 South Park Street Franklin, Pennsylvania 16323
History of Venango County Historical Society
The Venango County Historical Society was organized in 1957 and received its charter in November, 1959. After several temporary locations, the Society purchased its present home, the Hoge-Osmer House, in 1981. The Society is governed by a 24-member board of directors who meet 10 times a year on the second Monday of the month, with the exceptions of August and December.
Society funding comes from several sources - our membership dues, donations, grants and trusts, our Endowment Fund and an annual gift from the County of Venango. The majority of our funding comes from fundraisers - our annual Book Fair is the largest.
The historical items that make up the Society's collections come entirely from donations.
The Hoge-Osmer House
The Hoge-Osmer House was built by Thomas Hoge in 1866, shortly after the close of the Civil War. Originally, the house consisted of only the front four rooms. In 1892, the house was purchased by the Newton Osmer family, when the back rooms of the house and the enclosed front porch were added.
Much of the furniture and many of the carpets in the house were owned by the Osmer family. The lighting fixtures have all been refurbished, but are original to the house. The five fireplaces in the house were the original heating system.
The house had several owners throughout the years, and was purchased by the Society from Mrs. Marian Eicholtz in 1981.
The Egbert-Mullins-Koos House
The Egbert-Mullins-Koos House, located just next door to the Society at 307 South Park Street, is the Society's future home. The owner of the house, Caroline Allison Koos, passed away in 2009. Her will left the house and its contents to Venango County Historical Society, and expressed her wish that the Society operate her home as a museum "for the enjoyment of the citizens of Franklin and Venango County." The Society took possession of the house in 2013, and, since that time, has been working toward that goal.
The Egbert-Mullins-Koos House was built in 1859 - 1860. It was started by S. Ullman and finished by A.W. Raymond, who ran a general store and other businesses in nearby Raymilton, located in southern Venango County. In 1869, the house was purchased by Dr. Albert G. Egbert.
The Egbert Family
A.G. Egbert was born in Mercer County in 1828, a son of Lewis and Asenath Nixon Egbert. He spent his early years helping to run the family farm before attending the Academy in Mercer and a school in Austinburg, Ohio, before graduating from the Cleveland Medical College in 1854. He came to Venango County and established his first office in Clintonville before moving on to Cherrytree Township in 1858.
The day after Colonel Edwin L. Drake struck oil, August 29, 1859, A.G. Ebgert purchased a farm on the banks of Oil Creek in Petroleum Center. The land came to be known as Egbert Farm, and was the first land in the world to be purchesed strictly for the production of petroleum. Dr. Egbert gave up the practice of medicine soon after that, and he and his brother, Milton (M.C.), became two of the most famous oil producers of the era. He returned to medicine only once, volunteering his services as a surgeon following the Battle of Fredericksburg during the Civil War.
On October 17, 1860, A.G. Egbert married Eliza Phipps in Cooperstown, Venango County. Eliza was born in Clinton Township in 1835, one of thirteen children of Samuel and Amelia Halyday Phipps. Amelia was a daughter of Francis Haladay, the first white settler at present day Oil City. Eliza was a teacher, and held certificates from Franklin and Venango County, as well as from Mercer County, Illinois. She was teaching in Clinton Township at the time of her marriage.
Albert and Eliza became the parents of eleven children, born between 1861 and 1879. When A.G. Egbert returned to Petroleum Center from his military service, he saw what a rough, and sometimes dangerous, town it had become. He moved his family to a farm in Mercer County near that of his father, and, in 1869, to the house at 307 South Park Street in Franklin.
A.G. Egbert continued in the oil production and lubricating business and became a civic leader in Franklin. He took a particular interest in improving Franklin's two city parks, located directly across South Park Street from his home, donating many elm trees to be planted in the parks. The A.G. Egbert Memorial Fountain, dedicated in 1896, is located in West Park. The fountain underwent a complete cleaning and renovation in 1987.
Egbert also improved and expanded his home, adding the bays in the dining room, library and music room, as well as the addition to the back of the house that included the kitchen downstairs and the back hallway and toy room upstairs. The large cut stone front porch, spanning the width of the house, was also added at this time. He died on March 28, 1896, and, in 1899, Eliza Ebgert sold the home to William James Mullins for $12,000.00. Mr. Mullins made immediate plans for extensive renovations to the house which would be home for him, his wife and their three young daughters.
The Mullins Family
William Mullins came here from Pittsburgh in the 1880s to work as a chemist for the Eclipse Refinery, a subsidiary of Standard Oil. After coming to Franklin, he met Elizabeth Bostwick, and they were married on November 28, 1888. The youngest of their three daughters, Elizabeth Allison Mullins, was born on November 22, 1899.
Elizabeth married Edward Emile Koos of Franklin on December 8, 1923. Their daughter, Caroline Allison Koos, was born on November 13, 1924. Edward Koos died on October 2, 1925, and Elizabeth returned with baby Caroline to live with her mother in the family home.
Mr. Mullins devoted himself to his family, to his hobby of photography and to community projects, including the Franklin Library and the Episcopal church, on both the local and the diocesan levels. He also made many changes to the interior of the home, intending to turn it into one of Franklin's finest showplaces. He succeded in his goal, and the house remains much the same today, with many rooms retaining the original wallpaper and decoration. He died on January 17, 1917.
Elizabeth Bostwick Mullins was an active community leader. She formed the Franklin Hospital Auxiliary, serving many years as its president, including a 12-year period when the group managed the hospital. She was a leader in the Red Cross, Well Baby Clinic, World War I Victory drives, the Franklin Library, Community Chest and St. John's Episcopal Church where she taught a boys' class and was president of the church's Women's Auxiliary. She was the first woman to be elected to the Franklin Chamber of Commerce, and served as its vice president. Her daughter, Elizabeth Koos, supported the World War II Victory Drives by donating the harp and sounding board from a box Steinway piano that was once in the library of the house.
Mrs. Mullins died on October 2, 1958. Her daughter, Elizabeth, died on February 12, 1959. The last member of the Mullins family, Caroline Allison Koos, also known as Kitty, lived in the home until her death on November 2, 2009. Kitty Koos continued an interest in the community, specifically the Episcopal Church, the Franklin Public Library and the Venango County Historical Society.