Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Voices from the Past: Albert M. Rung (1947)

If you haven't been following the epic Samuel Phillippe thread over on the Classic Fly Rod Forum, you've missed some real gems. Here's an article I found and posted from The Huntingdon Daily News dated 12 July 1947, on the erection of the Sam Phillippe historical marker.


By Albert M. Rung

820 NORTH 16TH STREET, HARRISBURG, PA. The subject of historical markers has frequently been discussed in our column and as the program of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission to mark important sites constantly progresses, the subject has likewise created growing interest among Pennsylvanians.

To Mark Inventor's Home
A project of interest to sportsmen was recently inaugurated for the purpose of marking the old home in Easton of Samuel Phillippe, a gunsmith and inventor of the fishing split bamboo fishing rod. Among those named to the committee for the Phillippe marker are Mahlon G. Robb of Hartslog Valley and also the writer of these lines.

Mr. Robb is an enthusiastic fisherman and therefore an excellent member due to his thorough knowledge of angling. In reference to myself, it has been many years since I made any attempts in following the pastime but am heartily in accord in honoring the memory of Phillippe by erection of a suitable marker.

Makes Split-Bamboo Rods
Samuel Phillippe was born in 1801, and at the age of 11 began learning the trade of gunsmith with Peter Young, in Easton, whose forebears are claimed to have made guns for the Continental Army. In his "Book of the Black Bass" Dr. J. A. Henshall tells much about Phillippe's life and states he had made his first rods as early as 1845. The inventor's early rods were for his own use as well as for a few friends, but in 1848 and '49 he was making complete rods of four and six strips of split bamboo.

In addition to being an inventor and expert gunsmith, Phillippe also made violins and was a natural musician of some ability; he was honored with a silver medal by Franklin Institute for one of his violins. As a trout fisherman he was often seen in company with distinguished men of his time while fishing in streams in the Poconos; Judge James Porter, a native of Huntingdon and son of Governor David R. Porter, was among them.

Cited At World's Fair
Phillippe's portrait and two of his rods were exhibited in the Fisheries Building at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. One who had seen the portrait described it as that of "an old man with bald head, Horace Greeley whiskers, and spectacles on his forehead." The picture was labeled "Samuel Phillippe, of Easton, Pa., Born 1801, died 1877. Inventor of split-bamboo rod."

-- Dr. Todd

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