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Victory Valley Camp Topic of Upper Milford Historical Society Meeting

Nestled between Old Zionsville and Hereford, site welcomed first campers in 1956

Located between and Hereford, and bordering Berks County is a village known as Sigmund, home to the Victory Valley Camp and 73 acres of surrounding property. 

Members of the Upper Milford Historical Society listened intently as Douglas Manwiller of the camp spoke of its history at their March 31 meeting.

Victory Valley Camp began in 1955, Manwiller said, when the property was purchased by the Mennonite Brethren in Christ (now the ) for use as a nursing home or Bible camp meeting site, before deciding on a children’s camp. 

In the summer of 1956, the first 121 campers came to “Sigmund Bible Camp,” as it was originally called. It was unclear when the name was changed to Victory Valley Camp or why. 

According to Manwiller, the chapel on the property dates back to before 1850. It was used as a coal storage building for the iron furnace across from the camp.  The chapel is still used on Sunday nights and for Bible time during the week.

The stone house on the property was built in 1871 and once served the town of Sigmund as a general store, post office and hotel.  “I remember delivering ice to the hotel with my father,” recalled Joe Benner.  “We would take it there from Vera Cruz, where the ice house was,” he continued.

The house was purchased in the 1920’s by a Mr. Henninger, who placed a large “H” on the front porch and chimney.  That “H” remains on the building.  The house now serves the camp as offices, living quarters, the crafts room and photography dark room.  The barn is used for storage.

Beulah Miller recalled that she would help to deliver milk to customers in Sigmund.  At that time the milk was put into glass bottles and sold by the quart, she said.

The property also contains three lime kilns and two quarries.  Neil Moser explained that the limestone was mined from the quarries and burned in the kilns into a powder in order to use it for fertilizer and cement.

Manwiller said there are now 13 cabins on the property, along with a swimming pool, a man-made 2.1 acre pond, covered walking bridge and a gymnasium.  The pond, he said, comes complete with fish, bullfrogs and a snapping turtle. 

The gym is used year-round by the community, including the Upper Milford Youth Association.   “It’s a nice way for us to reach out to the community,” Manwiller said. “We have this nice facility that we don’t use all the time.”

During the question/answer portion of the program, Henry Beitler shared with the group that during his time as fire chief at Old Zionsville Fire Company, there was an arson fire at the camp.

Following his talk, those in attendance looked over photographs Manwiller brought along with him.  Duane Wetzel, of Coopersburg, was looking for pictures of himself when he attended the camp as a young boy.  “I found my brother and my uncle,” he said, “but not me.  I guess I was hiding that day!”

Marge Heatley April 02, 2011 at 10:11 PM
Yay for Upper Milford Historical Society. This program brought back memories for several in the audience. This summer camp has a rule--No Ipods or electronic games. The kids get to enjoy Nature, and after a short withdrawal period, they love camping with woods all around...isolated from traffic and modern noises.
Verus Milford Langham, jr. April 09, 2011 at 03:10 AM
Does anybody know the origins of the name Milford as it applies to Rapides Parish, Louisiana? I ask because my mother married an enlisted man while he was stationed at Fort Polk sometime back in the 1940s. She was the daughter of a farmer from Gardner who just happened to be my Grampa Wade Hampton Miles (Myles). My father later on went on to the Armored Officer Training School at Fort Knox, Kentucky and then was later assigned as a 2nd Lieutenant to the 3rd Armored under General Patton. My father never returned from the war as his platoon was ambushed just outside the Colmar Pocket in northern France and he was wounded, taken prisoner and died 3 days later (2 Jan 1945) in a German POW camp. He was subsequently buried there and soon afterward reburied in the French military section of that same town, then as the Lorraine National Cemetery was completed his remains were transported there for his final burial... near St. Avold and therein he has remained these many years, under foreign soil and I find it somehow befitting that somewhere here in his beloved America a community has been found to bear his middle name, Milford - that officer's name is Verus Milford Langham... my sister and I have many kinsmen in and around Alexandria and that is the place of my birth, my sister having been born in Pineville a year and 11 months prior. We are currently researching any and all trails leading backward to the footprints made by our father. Thank you.

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