A stewardship fund established to help finance the ongoing preservation and operation of the Coal Oil Johnny House is being introduced during a public December 12 Birthday Party celebrating its namesake’s 174th birthday.
The two-story peg-n-post farmhouse is situated today at Rynd Farm at the south tip of Oil Creek State Park, on a parcel leased by the nonprofit Oil Region Alliance of Business, Industry, and Tourism which acquired the building in 1999. It was constructed on the west bank of Oil Creek in approximately 1850 by Culbertson and Sarah McClintock, who adopted John Washington Steele and his sister Permelia. The McClintock farm became one of the highly productive oil farms during the hustling and bustling years after Drake’s initial successful 1859 well upstream along Oil Creek.
The McClintock-Steele-Waitz House carries the names of the three most famous families who owned it and resided therein. Steele is better known by the nickname given him by Philadelphia journalists to reflect his over-the-top spending of the family’s petroleum proceeds during two years of outlandish living away from his wife and young son who continued to live in the house and were assisted by her family (the Moffitts) from Dempseytown. Larry and Carole Waitz of Rouseville are the third generation of the Waitz family to have owned this property.
The Coal Oil Johnny House Stewardship Fund will support the operation and maintenance of this simple wooden building, which is a house museum open by appointment. The fund will be directly administered by the Oil Region Alliance.
The public is invited to join in the 174th Birthday Party and educational program entitled “Coal Oil Johnny’s Times” which will occur on Tuesday, December 12 at 7 p.m. inside the Venango Museum of Art, Science & Industry at 270 Seneca Street in downtown Oil City. Adult admission is $5, with students free of charge when accompanied by an adult. The guest speaker is historian Neil McElwee. Birthday-style refreshments will be served.
While advance reservations are not required, it would be helpful if likely guests would RSVP to the attention of Mrs. Marilyn Black at the Oil Region Alliance office, (814) 677-3152, Extension 105, firstname.lastname@example.org.