The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Milton Region

April 22, 2014

100 gather in Milton to mark Gov. Pollock's legacy

MILTON — James Pollock smiled broadly Tuesday evening as he pointed at the name on the grave stone next to him.

It read James Pollock, died 1890.

It wasn’t a visit from beyond the grave, James Pollock Boyer, of Wyomissing, was on hand to celebrate the legacy of his great-great-grandfather’s brother, Gov. James Pollock, of Milton, who, 150 years ago on Tuesday, received approval from Congress to put the phrase he coined, “In God We Trust,” on the two-cent piece. It’s now on all money minted in the United States.

“It’s an honor,” Boyer said of being able to celebrate his distant relative’s legacy with about 100 people from the Milton community at a series of events Tuesday. “I grew up knowing about him.”

The celebration started with a reception at the future James Pollock “In God We Trust” Museum on South Front Street. Guests got a first look at the planned museum, which will include exhibits from the two significant periods of the motto, the Civil War, when the phrase was created and placed on currency, and the Cold War era, when the phrase became the national motto.

“Those are the two stories of ‘In God We Trust,’” said Milton Main Street Manager George Venios.

Venios announced the group is hoping to raise $1 million for the museum and an endowment to keep the museum operating well into the future.

“It’s a lofty goal, but we’re going to do this statewide and nationwide,” he said.

Also in attendance was state Rep. Rick Saccone, whose district is near Pittsburgh and who is leading the charge to make the display of the national motto mandatory in all schools.

The evening continued with a graveside remembrance of Pollock in the Milton Cemetery, where Pollock is buried.

The Rev. Stephen Shirk, of First Presbyterian Church, led the service. Gov. Pollock’s mother was a member of the church in the 1800s, he said.

“His great faith came from his dedicated parents and from the people of Milton,” Shirk said.

The evening concluded with the annual Milton Historical Society Gov. James Pollock memorial dinner, which focused on the phrase “In God We Trust.”

State Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver, R-108 of Sunbury, and state Sen. John Gordner, R-27 of Berwick, presented citations to The Improved Milton Experience and the borough to honor the night.

At the dinner, Karen Walton, a direct descendant of Pollock, was on hand to witness the celebrations. From Reading, it was her first time in Milton.

“I was taken back in time,” she said. “I could imagine my (family) walking through here.”

Walton said she is “honored and proud” to see the legacy of her great-great-great-great-grandfather.

“I’m absolutely honored,” she said. “I got chills.”

The main speaker at the dinner was Thomas Uram, president of the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists. He designed a special medal to commemorate the 150th anniversary of “In God We Trust.”

He pointed out that Pollock is enshrined in the state Capitol building on the cornerstone etched with his famous phrase.

“Not many people know that,” he said.

The history of how the motto was formed is “a true Pennsylvania story,” Uram said.

“Though it was certainly led by James Pollock,” he said.

Other mottos that were considered included “God, our country” and “God, our trust,” Uram said.

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