Tri-County Diaries & Memories
WRITTEN BY Lora Ethelina HORTON Zeller Schraeder
During a January blizzard that which piled the roads high with snow, on a farm in Ghent, Sheshequin Township Bradford County Pennsylvania, was born to Clayton D. and Charlina Davidson Horton their first child a daughter, Lora Ethelina. The date was January 23, 1891 and the hour was 11:00 pm, this I have been told by parents and grandparents.
The farm was an equal division of the homestead grant of John E. and Zipporah Bidlack Horton, each of their three sons receiving 100 acres. On each was built a comfortable home, farm, and sheds. The farms were cleared of timber, stumps pulled out and fallows burnt. Most of these the fences around fields were made of these uprooted stumps, called stump or root fences. The three sons of this pioneer family were Martin Towner Horton, my grandfather. Isaac Jayne Horton, my uncle Ike. Alfred Eugene Horton, my uncle Al.
One of my earliest recollections was of sitting on great-grandfather John’s knee and listening to his stories of hunting bear, and deer, and helping clear the neighborhood of wolves which were a real threat to the lives of the people as well as the farm animals.
Great-grandma ‘zippy’ as she liked to be called was a sprightly little woman. One day she heard a sow and her little pigs making a terrible fuss. She left her small children in the cabin and when she reached the pigpen, encountered a huge black bear. She succeeded in scaring him off and grabbing the pigs, an even dozens into her ample skirts and ran to the cabin. She shot off a hunting rifle to drive the bear away when it returned for the pigs, but the sow was killed and after getting his fill of food trekked off into the woods.
When grandpa John returned home, he and some of the Bidlack family trailed the bear and killed it. I have seen the bearskin that was used as a rug or coverlet. "He believed Zippy hit the bear," He also told of trapping wolves, foxes, and beaver.
Their first home was built of the logs from trees cleared from the Virginia forest, pines, hemlock, oat, and chestnut. They were heaver with axes and mattocks, and oiled on top of each other with pinned corners of hard wood saplings, then chinked the cracks and crevices with mud and clay. Doors had leather hinges and were rather loosely fitted.
The cabin was built near a good spring of water, which was piped through logs burned out with iron rods. By building the cabin below the spring a constant flow of water was made available. This was stored in a huge log, hollowed out with smaller logs pipes to take the overflow outside into a barrel or tub for laundry purposes. These thoughts are a source of great pleasure to me. Watching the sparkling water for hours. It was always cool and sweet tasting.
There was also a huge stone fireplace built of a type of stone known as ‘firestone’. Complete with andirons and cooking crane for kettles of water and food. Black cast iron kettles almost worth their weight in gold to those pioneers. The only covered kettle I recall were the Dutch oven type which were used for baking corn bread, and sour cream biscuits, in the coals, never the fire pit. The only sweetening I recall was wild honey and maple sugar and syrup, all of the best.
Grandma made a delicious treat of parched or toasted corn; maize she called it. Crushed the corn with a mallet and added maple syrup and cream over that. She also made cakes of maple sugar in teacups and were they good! She always made delicious dumplings with meat and vegetables. She had only salaratus (soda) in a lumpy form for leavening. Her boiled wild turkey was out of this world, with dumplings light as feathers. When they passed away, they were both very old. This was my first encounter with the grim reaper, death.
My Grandfather, Martin Towner Horton was a tall broad shouldered man, well over 6 feet in height. He enlisted in company H. 57th Pennsylvania volunteers, August 13, 1862. He was seriously wounded during the battle of Chancellorsville, and discharged by government order May 31, 1851. (?) The blasting of a (Minnie ball) cannon ball over his head lost him his hearing of one ear and impaired that of the other. His eyesight was also affected at the time. Later in his life he became almost totally blind.
Previous to the battle of Gettysburg while marching, the people along the way gave him a quantity of sweet black cherries. Then a Negro gave him a canteen full of milk. The mixture made him violently ill. There was little he could tell me of that battle. He told me the battle of the wilderness Antitiam and other skirmishes. In some of the TV series of major John Mosebys Rangers, I have recognized some of both union and confederate patrols.
He was very proud of his war service and he looked forward from year to year to meeting his ‘buddies’ at the G.A.R. encampment and the monthly meetings of Perkins Post of Union Veterans. A reunion of company H. survivors was also a source of pleasure to him. I used to attend these reunion picnics with my grandparents and although I could neither dance nor sing, I could and did recite poems, which were well received. One of these was ‘The Blue and The Gray’. I also recited another poem written by a Mr. Trippe about the ‘Old 57th. I have lost the poem but I’ll never forget the applause, not for me but for the valiant 57th.
He and Grandma Louisa Ferguson were married after his return home. They had one son Clayton Darevine Horton, my father. They made their home in Ghent on the farm between uncle Ike and uncle Al Horton.
Some of his comrade’s names were Edminson, Brewer, J. Forbes, H. Forbes, Morrison, Easterbrooks, Isabel, Trippe, O. Shores, Ira Shores, and Philip Showers. He was chosen a delegate from post to attend the national G.A.R. Encampment, held in concurrence with the Chicago Worlds Fair in 1893. He and grandmother Louisa made the trip by train and had a thrilling time.
While viewing the farm and home exhibits at the fair. They came upon a group of people who wished to know how the pioneer women carded, spun, and made wool yarn. The exhibit consisted of a big wheel (spinning wheel) little wheel, reel, and a basket of carded (combed) wool from a sheep. The one in charge asked for volunteers to demonstrate the spinning of wool yarn. My grandmother, Louisa spun yards and yards of yarn for the people at the Worlds Fair. She had worked at it all of her life knitting socks, stockings, mittens, and scarves
After the visit at the fair and the encampment, they visited her cousins and uncle Arnold Ferguson in Streeter, Ill and Cedar River, they brought back pieces of wood half oranges, pieces of bananas and other things which were turned to stone. These, together with Osage oranges, huge chestnuts, and hickory nuts, a verity of Indian relics were a source of great interest to all.
When they arrived back home, they were presented with a granddaughter, Anna Maude Horton born August 21, 1893. This was also my grandfather’s birth date, Aug. 21.
I have my grandfather’s canteen, which he carried during the war. He received a pension from the government, due to his disability from war service. After his death all discharged papers were requested to be returned to the war department of records. Mr. Macafee was in charge of such affairs then.
He and his wife are buried in south Ghent Cemetery together with his son and wife (my parents). Near by are John E. and Zipporah Horton, his parents and Curtis D. and Ethilinda Ferguson, her parents, also his brother Alfred and his wife Sarah Horton and their daughter, Nellie and grandson Shewlyn Horton, son of L.B. and Edna Horton.
On my 12th birthday, January 23, 1903, the Susquehanna River at flood tide and filled with floating ice, the abutment on the Ulster side of the bridge crossing, became weakened and toppled into the flood. There was a pier in the middle of the river allowing the two spans of the iron bridge to form a V shaped stand on the rivers bottom.
Sylvester (Vet) Horton of Sheshequin, a deaf mute, shoemaker and cousin of my grandfather Horton, was the last person to cross the bridge on foot. Earl Smith passed him about midway with his team of mules and load of milk. Both Vet and his wife were deaf mutes. Her maiden name was Benninger. My grandmother Louisa was quite adept with the sign language and often had long visits with them both. On this morning he rushed down to her home to tell her of his close shave with the falling bridge. He did not realize his danger until he was at the middle of the bridge, then he knew not which way to go. He was in a bad state of shock when he reached the house. But after telling his story he took off on foot by way of Milan and Athens to cross the bridge there and go home to Sheshiquin by way of Sheshiquin narrows and Tioga point, where the Chemung River joins the Susquehanna on it’s way to the Chesapeake Bay.
Sylvester (uncle Vet) Horton’s daughter, Mayme Horton Voorhis became an excellent student, and instructor in special schools for deaf mutes. She had all her normal faculties and put them to good use. She studied education and won several gold and silver medals.
The bridge that fell into the river at Ulster extended to the Ferry Road. There were three spans of iron works. When the new bridge was constructed it was extended across the Culver Reyander’s flats to the foot of Ghent Hill. During the construction of the new bridge and for the remainder of that winter, those who attended Ulster High School, crossed the river amid floating ice and swift flood waters in row boats which were operated by Leonard Johnson and brothers of Sheshiquin and by Cory Leanord as a regular taxi service.
During the summer months they also operated a flat raft ferry boat for the convienious of drivers who could persuade their horses and mules that it was possible to make a safe crossing. At one time during the winter my father took our family in a two-horse cutter on sleighs across the river, on the ice. The river was completely covered with smooth ice. That was quite a thrill. We visited my grandparents at Ulster.
One crossing of the new bridge was long remembered by me. On the night of my graduation from high school, my father allowed me to drive our new rubber tired run about, with a fringed umbrella for top, together with my sister Maude and our friend Marie McCabe of Waverly.
During the construction of the new river bridge, my grandma Louisa took in six of the workmen – Engineers as boarders. I was helper for her. The men seemed to have enormous appetites and the extra washing and ironing were hard. All was done by hand scrubbing and hand turning the wringer. All of the water had to be hand pumped and carried out also. The board and laundry were included in a $10.00 per week price. Grandma Louisa made money profit and was happy.
They left the home farm in 1898 and purchased a house and lot from Louis Deter on Main Street. Later, sold by my grandfather to C. Reese Souisa, made a money profit and was happy.
My grandfather then operated a one horse and buggy carriage livery. He had regular customers among the traveling salesmen who came by train. He drove them to Rome, North Rome, Athens, Smithfield, and even as far inland as Nichols. Train accommodations were poor at the time. Only two passenger trains each East and West on the Lehigh Railroad at Ulster in those days.
During the winter of 1898-1899, my father contracted a bad cold and la grippe, as it was then known. Dr. Gary Holcomb of Ulster prescribed a move from the farm and a change of occupation. He went into partnership with George B. Lewis of Saco. They bought from farmers on both sides of the valley, steers, veal calves, sheep, lambs, as well as cows, chickens, turkeys, geese and ducks which they shipped by railroad to Wilkes-Barre, Bethlehem, Philadelphia, and New York. They did well financially for the following two years. But my grandfather’s health was not much improved and he was homesick for the farm. So just after the turn of the century we moved back to our old farm home.
The following year vast improvements on both the barn and house were made. New concrete stables for the cattle, a side building inside the barn, which was enlarged by a larger addition of another barn, and a shed was built for use of cattle during the winter. About this time Chester Thomas of Milan drilled a deep well, 208 feet, near the house. This was drilled through hard blue clay and the rocks were hard also. The resulting water was of a slimy nature, with an oily content. Neither good for man nor beast. It cost over $500.00 and the board of the well drillers for a month. My father had hopes of furnishing water for both the house and farm from this. He became very discouraged.
He purchased and trained for driving many horses, which he sold at good profit. One team of roan mares was my favorite. They took blue ribbons at the Towanda Fair two years in a row. My father taught me to drive and a very few times allowed me to drive under supervision, these prize mares.
While our family was in Ulster, the farm was rented to Asa Horton, a cousin of my father’s. His wife was Mattie Baily Horton. While on the farm they adopted a baby girl, Faith Chase Horton. Then the following year they had a baby son, Carleton E. Horton born to them.
My father became a life member of the Bradford County Aguculture Society and was chosen along with Albert McCraney of Towanda, (later he was sheriff of Bradford Co.) as mangers of the Animal House Department. They did much to encourage the exhibition of well-bred horses at the local fair, which was held annually.
The harness horse racing was a favorite pastime for me at the fairs. Many of the horse owners were well known local men. Among them were Albert McCraney, Dr.Leslie G. Marshall, Dr. Freeman Marshell (Vets), Fred McIntyre, Bert Gorsline, Keith Kellogg, George Brinckly, Curtis Tyrell, and Am. Arnold. C.B. Easterbrook was manger of the agriculture exhibits and later farm machinery.
My mother entered for prizes in the homemaking department, home baked breads, biscuits, pies, cakes, cookies, and canned fruits, vegetables. Also canned meats, beef, sausages, veal, and even lamb, rabbit and squirrel. She had also had dried corn, apples, peaches, jellies and preserves.
She took prizes on almost every entry. She did sewing, dresses, aprons, and quilts. One year she collected $36.00 in prize money, which she purchased an Elgin pocket watch, and is a proud possession of her great-granddaughter, Bonnie Ann Baran. She is a senior in Athens High School 1958-1959. The watch is silver embossed with gold, has an open face and still keeps good time. The crystal is the size of a quarter (25c). Bonnie Ann was born October 31, 1941, at Towanda Pa.
My mother was an excellent seamstress. She made all our dresses, petticoats, coats, hats, bonnets, as well as underwear. The only store bought ready-made things was our shoes and stockings. The woolens for winter were knitted by our grandmother Louisa. No material was ever wasted, and her finished product was something to be proud of.
At the time of my graduation, due to hard a time at the birth of my brother, Murrary M. She allowed a seamstress in Rome, PA, the wife of Dr. Fred Rice, to make my graduation dress. It was all hand made two-inch bands of hemorred Persian laving put together with yards of lace insertions and lace edgings. It was very beautiful and well done. She worked a month on the dress, her price $10:00. I really would have preferred mother’s work, but we were all happy with the results. My picture in the dress was given to Jacquelyn Zeller, my granddaughter born in Bur Le Due, France, to Yavette Cachonet and Leon F. Zeller. Who also have a son, William Raymond Zeller, at their present home in North Ghent.
I was 15 years of age when I graduated from Ulster High School. I was the youngest in a class of eight. I received 3rd place, which gave me the class prophecy to prepare. This I did with the help of my Mother’s friend Mrs. O. W. Boyer, who assisted me with rhymes and presentation of large maple leaves. The class consisted of Laura E. McAffee, Leslie D. Watkins, Lora E. Horton, Reba Parks, Francis Mallory, Bessie Snyder, Mattie King, and Guy C. Hirnold. Today there are only Francis Mallory Bruggman, Bessie Snyder Sammosids, and I who have survived the years since 1906.
During the following summer, I attended teacher’s summer classes at Rome, PA, Taught by Prof. R. B. Allen. Later he was the first cashier of the Ulster National Bank, a position he held for 20 years or more. I successfully passed and received my certificate for teaching in the rural schools of Bradford County at the age of 16. My age had been properly stated but not checked by Superintendent H. Putman. I had been promised the position of teacher at the MacAffee School in Sheshequin Township. In order that I could be allowed to teach it was necessary for all the parents sending children to school and all members of the school board to begin and be present a petition to the county superintendent. This having been done I started school in a small one room school house at the crossroads about one and a half miles from home.
I had twenty pupils of all sizes, ages, and several of the older pupils were taller and some were as old, or older then I.
This was in 1907. I believe that I did my work well and satisfied my patrons. Three of the older ones successfully passed the eighth grade county exams and entered high school the following term. They were Ruth Gillette, Sarah Gillette, and F. Bustin.
The term of 1908-1909, I taught at Bumpville, Rome Township. I boarded with Elmer and Edith Arnold who had two daughters, Alberta and Marie in school and Elmer Arnold was one of the schools directors. My mother and Edith were schoolmates at the Ghent school. She gave me a bad case of mumps when I was under 2 months of age. She came down with the mumps while spending the night at our home.
It was on November 28, 1908 that my father passed away after only a week illness of pneumonia. I felt this loss very seriously. My brother Clayton was born February 2, 1909. I was asked to teach at Bumpville the following year, but chose to be at home with my mother and so accepted the teaching job at Ghent 1909-1910. I returned to Bumpville the following term of 1910-1911.
In the mean time I had prepared myself for examinations and obtained a professional grade certificate. This allowed me a raise in salary from $40.00 to $50.00 per month for 8 months a year. Of course all books and school supplies were furnished by the school board. But I was cleaning women as well as fireman all for free. There was ample ventilation as the windows fitted very loosely and through the long length of stovepipe spanning the room end to end. The black boards were of slate to be written upon with white crayon.
The term of 1911-1912 I was back in Sheshequin Township again at Heavener Point School. I had a large group there. Among the pupils were Mary Tompkins, Wanda and Stanley Payne, Blanche, Edna, Guy, Arthur, Raymond, and Harold French, Hazel Inez, Harold Fice, William Sheeler, and Haward and Elmer Parks. Blanche French and Hazel Fice entered high school after passing county tests.
In the fall of 1912, I secured a position at the Milan School. At that time it was still a one-room school with 48 pupils on the roll during the term. I was prepared to meet with my preparations and experience. I tried to extend the class time by using a quarter of an hour at noon time and a half hour after 4pm. The parents and board objected. After the Christmas holiday I had a serious attach of la grippe and a nervous break down also. I was confined to the bed for two weeks and having been refused a leave of absence, so I resigned. It was May before I had regained my health and then through the summer and winter of 1913 I did dressmaking for our friends and neighbors.
On January 28, 1914 I was married to Ray B. Zeller. We had five children born to us, Dorothy, Newton, Mildred, Leon, and Helen. Ray passed away after a battle with pneumonia, March 29, 1926. Dorothy was 11 years of age and Helen 11/2 years old.
I attended school at Ghent, PA; my first teacher was Mallow C. Horton. He was a neighbor hood farmer but one of the finest gentlemen I have ever known. He was a very kind and sympathetic teachers as well as a churchman and also a good farmer. At the time I wanted school, the first compulsory vaccination law was enforced in the school. Of course I had to become infected and was very ill at school with a high fever. I was hoping for a perfect attendance record. To help me attain this he carried me home at noon a distance of over ¼ of a mile. I was seven years old at the time and was not a lightweight.
The following day my father took me to school on horseback and I spent the weekend at grandfather Davidson’s as I had another perfect attendance record in church and Sunday school to keep.
I attended church, Sunday school, and class meetings at the old white M. E. Church. It was just across the road from the Davidson home. Many happy hours were spent with my grandparents and aunt Addie. She was my mother’s only sister, and who was my Sunday school teacher. She taught me the bible from cover to cover. We also read poetry together. Her favorites were Longfellow, Riley, Margaret Sangeter, and Lowell. She knew and recited chapter after chapter of the bible. She was a wonderful Christian woman. She had a very hard life, caring for her aged parents. She left home for a couple of years to clerk in the M.K Murray Bakery at Sayre, PA. She was lonesome for her home and her parents missed her, so she returned to them.
Aunt Addie was ever kind and thoughtful of others. After her parents deaths she married George Bidlack who had been left with three small boys, the youngest a mere baby. She was a good mother to them and they are fine well thought of citizens today. They were Jay, Guy, and Don Bidlack. She passed away in 1937.
My grandfather Samuel Davidson Jr. was a serious bible student, memorized chapter after chapter of the bible and explained many passages for a child to understand. A bible reading and prayer was as much a part of his daily life as was breakfast and supper. I recall an event that which was of importance to me. One morning about 10 O'clock while grandpa was reading and explaining the bible story of the day, a knock came at the door. When he had finished reading he opened the door to find a peddler, a David Samuels waiting to come in. Grandfather said, "Come on in friend and get on your knees, we are praying in this house." Mr. Samuels knelt with us and grandfather asked a blessing for the stranger within his home. I have heard Mr. Samuels repeat this conversation many times; he usually added the statement, "That he had never had a better selling day."
Samuel Davidson Jr. was the Sunday school superintendent, class leader and justice of the peace in Sheshequin Township. Wilmot Chaffee was justice of Sheshequin Village. My grandfather performed several marriage ceremonies and often remarked that, "his knots always stayed tied." Grandmother Harriett was a stout, comely looking lady, a good cook, housekeeper, and was quite able to speak her mind at any and all times. The schoolhouse was directly in line with the back door of the Davidson home, and when a special baking was completed, she would wave her white tablecloth for me to come up for a treat.
My grandfather was a buyer of farm cattle and sheep. Some of the finest he butchered and peddled to his neighbors and friends. One of the happiest experiences of my early life was riding over the countryside with him and ringing a large brass hand bell to announce our arrival at the various farms. Ice was rather scarce, it had to be cut in blocks from ponds and stored in icehouses filled with sawdust from lumber mills. He used ice sparingly but never sold meat that was not clean and eatable.
Many hours spent in his company helped me all through my life to fare the various troubles, no worse than many others have to bear, but at times plenty hard for me. He was the only one who could talk my grandmother out of one of her ‘hot headed’ spells. Sometimes he wasn’t so lucky; one day he sat on the back door step talking to her, and was chuckling to himself over her ravings, when she upturned a basket of freshly gathered eggs over him. He calmly called Addie to start some flapjacks as they had scrambled eggs ready to cook.
He was a friendly and just man, who gladly shared his last cent with a needy person. Always ready to assist a neighbor whose cattle or horse were sick. My great-grandfather, Samuel Davidson Sr. was a local preacher who with his wife, Anna Congdon Davidson came from New England and made their home in Litchfield, PA. Later moved to Ghent and lived just west of the church on the main road. There was a deep cool spring of water near their home. A large ‘well curb’ a box like with windlass and bucket attached to a chain or rope to raised and lowered the bucket.
Great-grandmother was a native of Massachusetts and Connecticut. They were the parents of six children, Clarissa wife of B.D.Cooper, Alzina wife of James Carmer, and Samuel Jr. also three who died in early childhood. Samuel Jr. married Harriet Hoyt Davidson had three children born to them, Anna Adaline born November 11, 1866, died August 15, 1937, Charlena born March 12, 1870, died April 26, 1942, and Howard Perly born June 30, 1882, died January 13, 1893. Howard died of black diphtheria after an illness of only two days. This was a serious blow to my grandparents. I have often heard of his bright, and almost adult mind, now days would be thought of as a special child. He was very religious, a good singer, an excellent pupil in school, and a great favorite of his schoolmates.
We as children were brought up in the church and were among church going people. In good weather we enjoyed the walks to services. But when the weather was stormy or snowing my father always found time to see that we were there and on time. One of our favorite pastors was Rev.Newton W. Barns. I thought as he was a widower, my aunt Addie Davidson would be an excellent wife for him. She proceeded to change my matchmaking schemes by asking what I expected grandpa and grandma as well as myself and sisters would do if she were living in a parsonage. I dropped the subject at once. She always seemed to have the right answers.
When I was 10 years of age, my father purchased a Hardman & Peck piano for me and gave me four years of lessons in piano playing. My teachers were, Mrs. Ville R. Mather and Miss Lelia Blair of Ulster. Through no fault of the teachers I failed completely. I could and still can read music notes, but I could not tell when I played wrong notes and I really had no music in me as I have often been told. Janice Baran, my granddaughter in Athens, PA has the old piano and has learned to play beautifully. She plays in church at recitals with her teacher Dorothy Potter.
The year that I graduated, my father purchased a rubber tired run-a-bout as they were called, an open carriage with a fringed umbrella. He encouraged my driving and riding horses. He allowed me to drive as far as Towanda, Sayre, and Nichols. In Ulster one day as I was crossing the Lehigh Railroad tracks my trust steed suddenly started up the tracks but was stopped at the end of the loading platform of the depot. Some section hands of the railroad led her back to the station platform and the regular crossing. To this day I cannot remember what if anything frightened the mare, but I have always thought that she like most females liked a change once in a while. My father considered offering her to the Railroad as a trackwalker.
Another time when she played me false, was when Dr. Freeman Marshell with his new ‘Bush’ roadster tried passing us on a narrow country road. We took off into the bushes but stopped at a rail fence. The mare was not all to blame. She couldn’t see what was behind her and there was a most ungodly noise I do admit. This same notional beast often tried to take the top of my head on the sill over the barn door. She couldn’t bear to allow me to dismount outside as she was in a hurry to get inside.
After grandma Louisa died, my grandfather married an old friend who had been an attendant at his first marriage, Harriet Hemmingway Verbeek and widow of his army comrade Philip Verbeek. He sold his home in Ulster and removed to Nichols, N.Y. where he bought a house near his wife’s sister, Mrs. Addie Tompkins, wife of Omar Tompkins. C. Reese Lewis purchased the Ulster home and lived there a number of years. After a period of 3 or 4 years, grandfather moved back to PA, he purchased the George Whalen property, there his wife died. He was almost totally blind at this time but my mother cared for him as he returned to the old homestead to spend his last days.
My mother married Ernest Hall of Smithfield, PA and spent some time in Florida. When she became ill and unable to care for herself she went to the home of my sister, Maude and Mark Myers in Sayre, PA. She also returned to the old home. But was taken after a severe heart attack on April 26, 1942. The old homestead was sold to Mr. Rowe of Ulster, PA who has a large number of beehives in the old apple orchard. The mammoth oak tree about 100 yards south of the orchard still stands. It was a great favorite of my mothers. I have her picture, standing under it at a time when she had to use a cane as support. When we first returned to the home farm in 1900, the local telephone system had been completed. This was a great convienience. There were local exchanges at North Rome and Ulster; some real long distance calls could be completed.
I well remember the home coming of James Bidlack and Archie Brainard after they were discharged from the Army following the Spanish American war. Even though they never left the US they were willing to volunteers. Both men suffered attacks of typhoid and malaria fevers while encamped at Chattanooga, Tenn. Their graves are decorated at South Ghent Cemetery with veteran’s flags each Memorial Day.
Uncle Daniel Bidlack was our first postmaster (that I recall). The mail was brought from the county seat at Towanda by stage. George Martin was the driver; his home was N.Rome (Center valley as it was known then). He was a hard driver and drove some pretty wild mustangs. They didn’t always stop to deliver the mail; we picked it off the roadside. On one of his wild trips Mr. Sam Beanard was a passenger. On the way in from Towanda the mustang chose to travel over a newly constructed railroad bridge. The horse and rig were lost the passenger was killed and it was some time that we were without mail. Later when the rural free delivery was established, we had mail delivery each day. Mr. O.W.Boyce was our first R.F.D. carrier, later Mr. Huge McKinney of Ulster, PA. With the R.F.D. our mail was issued to Ulster, Previous to Ghent Post Office.
Recently an article and picture of my very first schoolteacher, now Rev. George V. McAllister and his wife Rhoda Mae Ransome, whom he married at the end of the school term. They were celebrating their 61st wedding anniversary at their daughter’s home near Philadelphia.
One day at school he under took to teach a weak-minded boy who had an impediment in speech to read one line I have a ball, and to count from 1 to 10. He spent the entire noon hour and all afternoon but about 3:30. Bert Bidlack did as requested of him, and George McAllister said, "thank God for this my patience was at an end." After this he had no trouble until addition and subtraction when he was again nearly stopped. Bert Bidlack became a useful citizen and resided in Newport where he and his mother passed away. He was able to memorize bible verses and repeat them and during his later life was a good Christian. He was the son of James Daniel Bidlack and Sarah Minier.
Another neighbor and family was Spencer and Lucy Sackett. Their farm adjoined our home farm on the east and their large family was Ghent schoolmates of mine. Their names were Elvira Grace, Ruth, Elizabeth, Lucy, Mae and William Sackett. The Sackett family never missed church services, Sunday school, class meetings, prayer meetings or revival meetings. Not one or two of the family attended but every member. They were all good gospel singers and were ever ready to help their fellow man in mud. They were not over burdened with worldly goods but full of kindness and understanding to those in trouble.
This is the end of Lora’s hand written memories
As typed by Susan R. Wittie 03/02/2001