Tales of Long Ago
Retold by Gladys YOUNG Burnham
From tales told by her grandmother,
Irena PURVIS Tanner
|Note from Joyce Photos in my own copy of this book are photocopies
of photocopies of photocopies, and are much too low quality to use. I will
include photos from other collections where appropriate.
Cora May was born in the Clark house March 28, 1873. She was a very small baby, but healthy, and a real joy. That spring Perry and Rene moved off the mountain, and he went to work for a cousin, Joshua Schermerhorn, near Mainesburg. He worked for several years. Dr. Fellows lived near. One day Rene took Cora and went across the field to call on Mrs. Fellows. To her horror, when she got into the house, she saw a closet door open with a skeleton hanging inside. Mrs. Fellows explained that her husband, the good Doctor, had been giving their two boys a lesson in anatomy, and had forgotten to close the closet door. She shut the door calmly, and went on with her conversation. Rene was always a bit leery of going into their house after that. Skeletons were not common in that day, even in a Doctor’s office. (For that matter, I guess they still aren’t.)
On August 8, 1874, John was born. Rene had spoken to Mrs. Fellows who was a midwife, to be with her when the baby came. Rene woke up in the middle of the night in labor, and sent Perry across the field with a lantern to get Mrs. Fellows (in those days, no doctors bothered with baby cases – just about any old lady could deliver a baby). By the time she had awoke, gotten dressed, and they had walked back, quite a lot of time had elapsed, and John was there before they were. Mrs. Fellows was a very efficient midwife. She hustled right around and attended to everything in a hurry. John was washed and dressed in double-quick time, and by the time the sun came up over the mountain, she was on her way back home.
Sometime during the next two years, Perry changed jobs and went to work for Art (Artemus) Rumsey, north of Mainesburg. He was a farmer of the old school and did all his plowing and heavy work with a team of oxen. Most farmers, by that time, were using horses for farm work.
In July of 1876 (Centennial Year), Rene was expecting another baby. She had not been well, and was approaching her confinement with a good bit of apprehension. Cora and John were a lively pair, and took a lot of care and chasing. Early in July, she had persuaded her mother, Mary Ann, to come and stay with her for awhile. Finally on July 22nd, labor began. Two days passed, and not much progress had been made. Finally on the forenoon of the 24th, Mary Ann began to worry. She told Perry she thought he should go to Mainesburg and fetch a doctor. Doctors were just beginning to be called in on baby cases, as the local midwives had always attended the births. Perry was worried enough that he immediately set out on foot for Dr. Maine at Mainesburg. He rode back with the doctor who immediately took charge, and soon brought a fine, eight-pound baby girl into the world. They called her Emma Belle. Because she was born in July 1876, she was called their Centennial baby.
On April 27, 1878, Zachary Taylor Tanner was born without any particular difficulty, I guess, as no details of his birth ever got into the family narratives. Thus Rene had her family-two girls and tow boys, which was what she had always wanted.
Times were hard in the 1870’s. Wages ere low, and it was hard to make ends meet. For a man and his wife and four children, it was hard to find enough for food and clothing. Nothing was wasted. Clothes were cut down from one child to fit another. Scraps were used to make rugs and quilts. Wool stockings, socks and caps were knitted, also mittens. Most farmers provided a house for the hired man to live in. There was always a garden, and usually a place to keep a few chickens. Sometimes there was a place for a pig, and usually enough sour milk from the farmer’s own supply to feed it. Apples from the common fruit trees that grew in every fence corner, and berries of all kinds were picked and canned or dried. All kinds of greens – dandelions, red root, mustard, dock, parsley, horseradish, and any other kind of food that the housewife could find that was edible was used. The sour sorrel was used to piece out the apple or berry supply in pies. Even so, living was difficult. About 1880, Perry began to look around for a farm that he could buy, with the idea that he could go back to carpenter work, and eventually build a house, barn and out-buildings of his own. He finally bought 100 acres of the Christopher Ward holdings in Ward Township in Tioga County, Pennsylvania, on Armenia Mountain about one-half mile west of Chamberlain’s Corners, on Fall Brook Road. Much of this was unbroken wilderness, tho’ there was a good spring of water back from the road, and there had been a house near the spring where Rene’s parents had lived before the Morris Run years. The house had fallen down, and the fields were overgrown with small saplings and huckleberry bushes. One field was covered with huge sandstone boulders which were to prove very hard to move. The soil was good, and the water was near the surface. As a first step toward home-building, Perry dug a well and stoned it up preparatory to installing a chain pump, which eventually he did. The water was clear and cold and was to prove a real asset. Perry and Rene and the four children moved back into the Clark house near his father’s, and Perry went back to carpenter work. Most of Perry’s brothers and sisters were married and had homes of their own. Rene’s older brothers and sisters were married then, or soon after. As René had four small children, her outside activities were limited. When Perry came home from work on Saturday night, he stopped at a grocery store, usually at Mainesburg, and bought what he considered to be the necessary things that they might need. Needless to say, his judgment wasn’t the best, but Rene, tho’ she sputtered about it, accepted the situation and made the best of it.
About this time, Chamberlain’s opened a grocery store on Chamberlain’s Corner, which made the long haul up the mountain with a bag full of groceries, much shorter. Most of the sweets were still maple sugar and honey, and many substitutes were still used for tea and coffee, as roasted corn for coffee, and sassafras bark, catnip, raspberry leaves, birch bark, etc. for tea. People pretty much "made do" with what they had. Clothes were patched as long as they would hold together, and nobody’s lot in life was much different from his neighbors’.
Up until this time, they had gotten along with the barest necessities in the line of furniture. Now, Perry began to be on the look-out for furniture. One buy was a half-dozen pine kitchen chairs with the original bark bottoms nearly worn out. He took them to Jason Clark, who put new hickory bark bottoms in them for a small sum. One of them is in my possession with the same bottom. (1975) During slack times in carpenter work, Perry got out logs and had lumber sawed. In other slack times, he dug a cellar and laid up the walls. He started a barn large enough for a team of horses, about four cows, and a sizable hay mow. In about a year, the house was finished enough so it was habitable. The second summer he bought a couple of cows. It was Rene’s job to milk the cows, get them to and from the pasture, and tend the garden while Perry was away at work. She had four small youngsters at the time. One particular plague of her life this summer was snakes. They seemed to be everywhere. Tho’ probably non-poisonous, they scared the daylights out of her when she came upon one unexpectedly.
Cora was about ten at the time; she and John and Emma were in school at the Ward Schoolhouse. That was also where they went to Sunday School. It was a good one-and-one-half miles "cross-lots," and about two miles by the road.
After the house, barn, henhouse, and pig-pens were built, Perry’s next project was a carpenter shop where he made some furniture. Some pieces still in existence are a dresser, a center table, four cupboards each about thirty inches high, a large cupboard for bedding, with two doors above and two below a shelf projection, and a wardrobe, all with beautiful molding trim. He cut his own planes to make the molding. They were beautiful pieces of work. He made his own doors for the house, all with molding trim. He made two milk-racks to hold pans of milk, one kept down cellar for summer use, and one kept in the pantry in the winter, but moved out to the woodshed in the summer, when it was no longer needed to hold the milk pans. Milk was strained into eight-quart pans and placed on these racks. When the cream came to the top in a thick layer, Rene skimmed it off into a large pan or tub to sour to the right consistency for churning to make butter. The skim milk was put into a "swill" barrel for the pigs, except as Rene saved out a panful for "Dutch" cheese occasionally, which she put on the back of the stove and left to scald until it was of the right consistency, then she poured the whey off into the pig feed, added some cream and a little salt which made a very delicious dish.
No scrap of fat of any kind was ever thrown away. It was left to accumulate all winter. Then on a warm day in spring, soap-making was in order. The wood ashes from the stoves were put into a barrel, and a "leech" was made. A hole in the bottom of the barrel with a can to catch the lye, as water poured in the top drizzled down thru the ashes. Rene had a large soap kettle which was set up in the back yard, and a fire built under it. The grease and lye was boiled until it reached the right consistency. Then the fire was allowed to die out. The resulting gooey substance was soft soap. Sometimes there were several boiling as grease accumulated. There was always plenty of wood ashes for scrubbing, washing dishes, baths, cleaning everything that the average family in our modern day has about six kinds of detergents for. No one knew if it was "bio-degradable" or not. It was just "soap."
The housewife almost never got to a store. How could she, with several small children, and often no team of horses or vehicle. The bright spot in the life of a farmwife was the peddler. Sometimes a pack-peddler with his wares – cloth, laces, thread, small notions of various kinds, buttons, hooks and eyes, etc., done up in a canvas cloth, slung over his shoulders. Rene often fed them in return for some of their wares. Sometimes she had a little money to spend. She acquired cloth for the children’s clothes, and cloth for shirts and pillowcases, quilt linings, etc. in this way. As most of these peddlers were Jewish boys, she had to be careful that she offered them no pork. They loved her home-made bread, and she said that was the only area where she tried to fool them; she had put a little lard in her bread, and they didn’t know it. She figured that if they didn’t know about it, the Lord would forgive them for eating it. As times got a little better in the ‘80’s the pack peddler was replaced by other types of door-to-door salesmen. Men with horse-drawn wagons, with not only the items the pack-peddler had carried, but cooking ware, books, brooms, and other household items. One of these salesmen came thru one day when Perry was there, and he bought a beautiful family Bible from him. Rene was quite disgusted with him for spending so much money, probably $7 or $8, but Perry wanted a complete Bible. They had never had anything but a new Testament before, and Perry liked the Old Testament stories. The name, "Mr. and Mrs. O. P. Tanner" was engraved in gold on the front cover. Everyone was so careful in handling it, that as of 1976, nearly 100 years later, it is still a beautiful Book, and in excellent state of preservation. (A. J. Holman & Co., Philadelphia, 1876).
This was also the era from which so many stories survive about the pack-peddlers who were killed for their money, and their remains buried in cellars. There is hardly a neighborhood but was has a haunted house where a peddler walks at midnight some time of the year. Many of these legends are probably true as skeletons have been found in many old cellars in later years when some future resident decided to concrete his cellar floor. There is a tale handed down in several areas when a family has amassed a small fortune, that the start of their prosperity was the murder of a pack peddler. Personally, I don’t think most of them carried enough money to have made it worthwhile.
PARTIES, PICNICS, PANICS
The late 1870’s and early ‘80’s were the days of the famous health spas. Peter Herdic of Williamsport discovered the mineral springs at Minnequa, between Alba and Canton, Pennsylvania. He thought baths in those waters might be good for rheumatism and kindred ailments. He tried them and thought they helped. He had a large acquaintance with business men, lumbermen, and the entertainment world, so he bought the area around the springs, and some farmland nearby. He did much advertizing, and soon built a huge hotel and resort area. He added to the hotel as the idea caught on. It is said that he could accommodate 600 guests when the venture was at its peak. He had a large dance hall, and hired orchestras from New York and Baltimore to play. The famous Davenport family of actors built a large estate in Canton and put on performances there.
Mary Swain, Perry’s sister, lived at West Burlington. She came to Armenia visiting and told everybody about the project. It was a big drawing card while it lasted. In the early 1900’s business began to slow down. Peter Herdic went bankrupt. The receiving company apparently had no one with Peter’s gift of bally-0ho, and the venture ended a few years later with a big fire which mysteriously destroyed everything but the $35,000.00 insurance.
A Sunday School was usually held during the summer months in both the Clark and the Ward schools. There were preaching services occasionally in both places. There was a large maple grove on the Chamberlain farm, and almost every summer one or two ministers would hold a camp meeting there. The men of the community made seats from planks put across large chunks of wood. They made a platform, and a table sufficed for a pulpit. Mrs. Chamberlain’s parlor organ was moved out into the yard, and there would be two or three, or even four weeks of protracted meetings. Many people got spiritual help from them. At the close of the meeting, there was usually a picnic for the children, which the grown-ups enjoyed fully as much as they. Swings were hung, and races of different kinds were held, games were played by old and young, a bountiful dinner was served, and everybody enjoyed a good time of Christian fellowship, usually ending with a hymn sing when everyone was tired from physical activity. Some of the neighbors who enjoyed these times together were: the Chamberlains, Jelliff’s, Clark’s Haman’s, Purvis’s, (several families of them) Tanner’s, Wolverton’s, Paterson’s, Jones’, Connelly’s, and Horton’s. There probably were others, but those are the names I recall. Oh yes, the men played horseshoes. Usually someone had a big canvas they put over the organ in case of rain. There was usually three months of school in summer, when the little ones went, and three months of school in winter when the older boys and girls went. The summer school usually ended with a program and a picnic. In the late 1880’s and early ‘90’s, neighborhood "play-parties" as they were called, were popular. Kissing games, "Spin the platter", "Wink ‘um", "Jacob ‘n’ Ruth", and others were some. A couple of folk dances, "Swedie" (the music for which was provided by some of the young folks who knew the Swedish words), and "Bingo" were two popular ones. Finally a minister came into the neighborhood whose wife frowned upon kissing games. She thought games should provide a little more than a kiss when the culprit was caught, so she showed them how to play "Charades", and others that had a little more meaning to them. After she left, they still played kissing games to some extent, but also played the others. Kerosene lamps and lanterns provided the lights, the old chunk stove provided the heat, and the young folks provided the fun.
The families were "set off" by the school directors to go to different schools. The Tanner children went to the Ward School. It was about two miles "around the road," whether they went by Chamberlain’s Corners or Wolverton’s Corners, but there was a path "cross lots" through a patch of woods and across the fields which the children traveled. There were no problems with the three older ones. They trudged merrily off, collecting other youngsters as they went, but when Zack became six (1884) and had to go to school, there was a loud protest, which did no good as far as his father and mother were concerned. He was a healthy little boy, and they figured the one and one-half mile walk didn’t hurt him a bit, but as soon as he was out of sight of the house, he had a dozen ailments – stomach, stubbed toe, tooth ache, leg ache, sprained ankle – you name it – he had it. He would stand in the middle of the path and howl. The others tried going on, coaxing, bribing, pulling, as a last resort, going on and leaving him there in the path, howling. It always ended up that one of them, usually Cora, going back and coaxing him to come with her. Cora could get further with him than anyone else. John and Emma usually washed their hands of him and went on to school. The three older ones like school and were quick to learn. Zack protested every step of the way. There was nothing about school but recess that he likes. He managed, in spite of himself, thru the years to become a fairly good reader, and was very quick to come up with the answer to a problem in arithmetic, tho’ he seldom could explain how he arrived at it, as he was no good setting it down on paper. He had an active mind, and as he went thru life, he did very well in practical situations. Cora and John liked school and lessons. When they were 17 and 15 respectively, they took the Teacher’s Examinations and passed. John had unusually high marks, but there were plenty of experienced teachers around then, so neither ever had a chance to teach. Teachers boarded around among the parents of their pupils, and the pay was no fabulous sum. Perry continued to work at carpenter work occasionally. As he cleared more and more fields, he did more farming. He bought a team of horses soon after he built the barn, and cows, pigs and chickens followed.
Snakes were common. I don’t know that any were poisonous. Black snakes were plentiful. They seemed to keep the rattlers out. But if you came upon a puff-adder suddenly, it could scare the daylights out of you. Once in awhile a bear was seen.
This seems like a lonely life, but it really wasn’t. Nobody thought anything of walking a half-mile, or a mile to a neighbor’s house. They met at Sunday School in summer. Chamberlain’s kept a small grocery store on the corner during many of these years. There was always plenty of hard work. If a family burned out or had a streak of hard luck, the neighbors all pitched in and shared what they had with them. One of Rene’s favorite quotations was, "They that give to the poor, lend to the Lord", and she cheerfully shared what she had. It was some time during these years that she got her first sewing machine, a Howe. From that time one, the family sewing, quilt-making, etc., became much easier.
\THE FIRST BREAK IN HOME TIES
With four young people of varying ages, it was inevitable that there were lots of young people of varying ages in and out of the house. When she was about 16, Emma wanted an organ, so after some deliberation, Perry bought her one. It was six-octave, and for the times (about 1892), it was a very good one. Addie Morgan from the State Road came around the neighborhood with a horse and buggy about once a week that summer and gave music lessons. Emma practiced very diligently, and after the second summer of lessons, she got so she played quite well. Cora could sit down and rattle off chords, but she never wanted the drudgery of lessons. Cora was popular with the young men of the neighborhood, and John always seemed to have a bunch of girlfriends. When Cora was about 20, a family by the name of Young moved to the next farm. There was a boy about 20, named Fred, a younger boy, named Wesley, and a fourteen year old girl, Susie May. There had been five older children who had all died with diphtheria, within two or three weeks’ time. Mrs. Young never quite got over the shock, tho’ later she bore the last three. She had spells of deep melancholy, and sometimes spent hours wandering around outdoors by herself, usually singing some sad tune. Fred and Cora were immediately attracted to each other. For some reason, Perry took a violent dislike to Fred, which mad him all the more desirable to Cora. They began to talk of marriage, but both knew that Perry would not hear of it. So the inevitable happened. One day when Perry was away from home (February 17, 1894), Fred drove by with a horse and cutter. Cora got in and they drove the 30 miles or so, to the New York-Pennsylvania state line at Webbs Mills, and were married. The Young family had moved from that area, and Fred knew many of the people there. He had an uncle, John Sherman, near, and after they were married, they went to his house. Cora had told her mother what they were going to do. When Perry came home that night and Rene told him what had taken place, he was all ready to hitch up a horse and start after them. He was furious. Rene told him he might as well calm down, as by that time, they were probably already married. You didn’t have to have a license in those days to marry. All you had to d, was find a willing minister and produce a $5.00 bill, and Presto!, in a few minutes, you were married, and –most couples stayed married!! He finally said, "That Young man is no good, but she has made her bed, she can lie in it." He never quite got over his dislike for Fred, tho’ with the passing of years, he grew to accept him.
Fred’s younger brother, Wesley, played a banjo, and he and Emma had a lot of fun playing organ and banjo duets. Perry always seemed to like Wesley. There never seemed to be any romantic interests between he and Emma. They were simply good friends. About this time Emma met Eugene Welch, and he seemed to blot out everyone else.
Perry and Rene prospered over the years. He made a very productive farm of his 100 acres. He built an addition to the barn until he was able to keep eight or nine cows. He eventually added a kitchen and a milkroom onto the house. The old kitchen became a dining room.
THE FIRST GRANDCHILD AND THE GRIM REAPER
Fred worked the summer of 1893 for Will Squires on the Sullivan State Road. He was a good worker. Will Squires was a prosperous farmer with a large dairy. In times of much farm work, a farmer’s day began at 4:00 a.m., and lasted until the chores were done at night. Fred lived in with the family that summer, but after his marriage to Cora, Will made a small tenant house on his farm available to him and Cora. They set up housekeeping in the early spring of 1894. Cora had many things made to make a house a home – sheets, pillow cases, pillows, quilts, doilies, towels, dish towels, crocheted rugs, some dishes, pots and pans, etc.
Fred had saved some money from the previous year’s work. Rene shared some of her housekeeping equipment. Her furniture was meager. She had a small dresser, which her father had made. They bought a bed, a cookstove, a kitchen table, and six chairs. Rene, Cora and Emma made window curtains from some material that Rene had laid by for a quilt lining. So they were really very comfortable for the times, when nobody, only the most affluent, had much more. Water had to be carried from a spring house above the house. This springhouse also served as their refrigerator. Milk, butter, and other perishables were carried to the springhouse and set on a large stone at the edge of the spring. As soon as the weather was favorable, Fred plowed a small piece of ground, and he and Cora planted a small garden, which soon became Cora’s project. She had a dozen hens which mostly picked their living. Will furnished the family with milk and butter. Wild berries and common fruit apples were plentiful. Some were dried for winter use.
Contrary to Perry’s dire predictions, they were very happy and contented. When they found in early summer that there would be a third member in the family, their happiness seemed complete.
During the fall of 1894, Reverend Hauser held a series of Revival meetings in the State Road Baptist Church. Rene, Cora and Emma committed their lives to the Lord. Rene and Emme were baptized along with a large class of converts in the Dewey Mill pond in the early fall. Cora was expecting her baby in January, so it was deemed wise for her to not to be baptized. I’m sure the Lord understood.
Sometime in January, 1895, they hired Eliza Cook to help Cora with the housework. Probably the most strenuous task was carrying all the water used in the household from the spring, several rods above the house. One advantage was that it could be carried downhill, instead of uphill. The overflow from the spring probably went into the barnyard to provide water for the stock. Later in January of the same year, there was a tremendous snowfall. Of course, that is the time the baby chose to make her debut. All did not go well. Mrs. Austin, who had some skill as a practical nurse, said the case was beyond her, and told Fred that somehow, they had to have a doctor. Of course there were no phones. A kind neighbor breasted the snow drifts and went on Armenia Mountain for Rene. It was an all-day trip. The neighbors started work shoveling the roads to Covington where Dr. Kiley lived. They started early in the morning of the 25th, and it was nearly night when the horses and bobsled finally succeeded in returning with Dr. Kiley. He spent the night, and sometime early in the morning of the 26th, a ten-pound baby girl was born. Fred wanted her named Jessie Gladys. Tho’ Cora didn’t care much for the name Jessie, she was too sick to protest much. Cora did not get along well. Childbed fever developed, and on March 12, she went to be with the Lord. She had already given the baby to her mother to care for. The home broke up. Rene took the things she could use for the baby, and Fred’s mother took the rest. Fred went back to Squires’ to help with another year of farm work. Fred wanted the name of "Jessie" dropped from the baby’s name, and by common consent, she became Gladys Cora Young. Perry and Rene took Gladys home to live with them. When Perry saw Fred’s deep grief over the loss of Cora, his heart softened, and Fred was welcomed into the Tanner household. Grandpa Perry and Gladys became the best of friends from the start. As soon as she was big enough to toddle around, she followed him everywhere. With three teenagers and a baby in the house, Rene didn’t have much time to sit and mourn, which was probably fortunate.
A CHILD IN THE HOUSE AGAIN
Rene and Emma were always very busy people. They used Cora’s dresses to make tiny ones for Gladys. One particular kind of material was called "wool delaine" which was a very soft, fine all-wool material. One dress was a medium blue, and one very beautiful one was "Ashes of Roses." Gladys had a dress and a bonnet made from the blue one and a dress from the rose one. Scraps of material were used in quilts. "Crazy Quilts" were much in vogue, and entailed as much work as the maker wanted to spend on them. Rene made one outlined with several kinds of feather stitching with moons, rising suns, stars, and many flowers embroidered on them in fine wool yarn.
There never had been a lot of "finishing touches" put onto the house. During these years Rene got unbleached muslin for about 5 cents a yard, and tacked it over the rough hemlock boards that Perry had used for an extra warm inside ceiling. Then she papered the rooms with wall paper, and painted the wainscoting and casings in the kitchen. Then she papered and painted the other rooms. Rene and Emma crocheted a rug of carpet rags large enough for the spare bedroom. Many small rugs were made for use in the kitchen and living room. Rene’s hands were never idle. On long winter evenings, she would sew, crochet, or knit while Perry got out the big Family Bible, and read Bible stories. Other books were few. A five-volume paper back printing of Cooper’s "Leather Stocking Tales" was one that was read until it was almost worn out, especially the "Pathfinder" and "The Last of the Mohicans." About this time Perry began teaching the Adult Sunday School class in the State Road Baptist Church. Tho
As far as I know, Perry never talked about his faith, there had been a vast change in his life and attitudes.
Perry had a very large "mustache" cup holding about a pint. Every morning he had this full of coffee, home-ground. He bought the bags of coffee beans at the local grocery store, half mocha and half java. One of Gladys’s earliest recollections is of getting a little cup and going over to Grandpa for a little coffee from his cup.
One Christmas when Gladys was about three, Perry made her a doll cradle. Rene and Emma bought a doll with a china head, and dressed it for her. There was wide crocheted lace on the panties and petticoat. The toes soon got broken off, and Emma made black stockings and brown velvet shoes for her. The next Christmas, Perry made her a hand sled. Gladys was an outdoor girl. Perry saw a pair of high rubber boots one day in a store somewhere, perhaps Morris Run. He bought them for her. When he took them home, they fit perfectly. Rene knitted a pair of very long-legged wool stockings to go with them, These, along with long woolen underwear made pretty good protection against both wet and cold.
Perry bought a Home Comfort Range for their kitchen sometime in the 1890’s. The oven door, when closed, had the words, "home Comfort Range, Kalamazoo, Michigan" in quite large letters in a large circle on the door. Gladys learned most of the letters of the alphabet from this oven door. The September after she was six, she would normally have gone to school. By now, the old way of three months’ summer school and three months winter school was obsolete, and a continuous term of seven months, beginning in September, was held. She was the only child to go to the Ward Schoolhouse from that side of the square, which meant that she would have had to make the one and one-half mile trip alone. The custom of the teacher boarding around was also outmoded about this time. The teacher’s pay was apparently raised a trifle, to cover the cost of meals at about 11 cents a meal, from Monday noon until Friday noon (about thirteen meals a week). A teacher could save 11 cents by bringing her lunch from home on Monday.
The next year, when Gladys was seven, school could no longer be put off. Perry offered to board the teacher, Grace Everitt, free for a month, if she would come and board there, and go to school with Gladys. She jumped at the chance. She not only had a comfortable bed and free meals, but she and Emma got along very well together, and there was soon quite a social life evenings. John was working on violin lessons, Emma played the organ, and Grace had a good singing voice. Several young neighbor people dropped in, and the house rang with gaiety. Before the month was up, a new family, the Bolts, with four children, moved into the neighborhood. Young’s had moved from the farm next door. Jim Garlic and two nephews, Charlie Lewis and Walter Buck, came to live with him. Walter was also starting school, so it came about that there was quite a group of children to go to school from that side of the square.
Rene’s life on the farm during these years was quite uneventful. She was an outdoor person, and would rather be out in the garden working, picking up potatoes in the fall, driving away and going after the cows, or helping with the milking, than doing housework. Thus it came about that as Emma grew older, she took over many of the housekeeping chores, which she liked to do. Se especially liked to cook and bake, which Rene cheerfully turned over to her. The flock of chickens grew over the years from a dozen or so, to three or four hundred. Perry started a regular peddling routine to Morris Run and Fallbrook every Friday. He sold eggs, butter, poultry, vegetables in season, and potatoes. There were times when he bought eggs, butter, potatoes, etc. from the neighbors and sold them. This grew to be a good source of income. John worked some for neighboring farmers. He became very interested in photography, and developed his own films. He had his own dark-room. He read everything he could about the art, and at one time attempted to do crayon portraits which didn’t have much sale among the neighbors, as most were too poor to indulge in such luxuries.
OFF TO WAR
Zack was always an adventurous boy. Life on the farm seemed very dull to him. I suppose Perry’s stories of the Civil War, life in rebel prisons, and tales the boys told around the campfires of life in these United States, fired his imagination. At any rate, when he was eighteen, he left home, and went on his own, to New York City. Somehow, New York wasn’t as glamorous as he had pictured it. After his money was almost gone, and he had spent a couple of nights in a "flop house," where he paid 10 cents for the privilege of lying down on the floor, with his coat for a pillow, he walked back home, a sadder and much wiser boy. That ended his adventures for that summer. However, the next summer again found him very bored with farm life. He helped a neighbor put in crops, and earned a little larger next-egg than he had had the summer before, and again left the neighborhood. This time without telling anyone he was going. "The Cuban Rebellion, Teddy Roosevelt’s exploits on San Juan Hill," made interesting reading. He talked with Emma more than anyone else about his thoughts. When several days elapsed, and they knew nothing of his whereabouts, Rene began to be frantic with worry. Probably Perry worried, too, but he carefully concealed it from the family, and said, "Don’t stew about him. He’ll come home when he gets hungry enough." But some time passed and still no word. There was no mail delivery on Armenia Mountain at that time. (1898) In fact, I guess the only mail was at Post Offices at that time. One day Perry went to Mainesburg for groceries, and there, at last, at the Post Office, was the long-awaited letter to Emma. Zack had gone to Athens, got in with a boy he had met at his Uncle Amos Brown’s. The War stories sounded very glamorous. Agrinaldo had taken over the Philippines, ceded to the United States by the Spaniards as a part of the settlement after the Cuban Rebellion, and soldiers were needed to enlist for three years and go to the Philippines to try to regain it for the good old U.S.A. Zack was stationed at Fort Niagara, above Buffalo. He and his buddy had enlisted, and would soon be on their way to the Philippines. Rene was crushed. First Cora, now Zack. She couldn’t picture him as ever coming back. The Philippines was half-way around the world from Armenia Mountain. They got Emma’s Geography book and looked it up. Perry said sternly, "It’s his own doings, he’ll have to suffer the consequences." After the troops landed in the Philippines, he wrote frequently, usually to Emma, and dept the family fairly well informed of his experiences. Emma wrote to him very faithfully. He and Bertha Welch, Gene’s sister, also corresponded some.
Rene was still filled with foreboding. Each letter that came, she expected to be the last. He sent a packet of Manila newspapers, and she dreaded to open them and read the horrors of war. Zack at one time carried mail on horseback on Luzon. At one time his company was quartered in an old Convent in Manila. The boys amused themselves by carving pipes out of piano keys. Somehow, she lived through three years of this, but when he was discharged in the late summer of 1901, and was back home, safe and unharmed, she really was easy once more in her mind and became her old philosophical self. Over the years Emma and Eugene Welch had become very good friends. He got bored, too, with life in Pennsylvania, and spent one winter in Michigan in the lumber woods. He and Emma wrote many letters, and when spring came, he was likewise glad to be home. Needless to say, Emma’s cup of joy was running over. Zack and Gene were both home safe, and the world looked rosy again.
About this time John thought he wanted to make a career of photography. He worked in a studio at Mansfield for awhile, then went to Lopez, a little town in Bradford County, and set up a studio for himself. Lopez, at this time was a thriving lumbering town. Prospects looked bright for awhile, but he found it was a poor way to make a living. He kept at it for about a year, but finally sold the studio and came home. Crayon portraits were stylish then. He did quite a few, but prices were too high for many to buy.
A NEW DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
At reunions there had always been a gay crowd of teenagers in the Hart family, but none of them stood out in Rene’s mind. They usually got together on a front porch, or someplace apart from the older folks and had a good time by themselves, so that when John brought Nellie Hart to the house one Sunday afternoon, she didn’t think that she had ever met her. She was the daughter of Henry and Ruphemia (called Feemie) Hart. They lived in Mainesburg. She had a little brother, Owen, about four years old. Nellie, herself, was about sixteen. The next day John told his mother that he and Nellie were going to be married. "Married, Gracious," exclaimed Rene, "she isn’t dry behind the ears yet, from the looks of her hands I don’t think she has ever washed a dish or peeled a potatoe." "She’ll learn," John told her. "Well it’s a good thing you learned to cook for yourself when you were down to Lopez." She told him. Time passed and she didn’t hear any more about marriage plans, and had about decided that they were forgotten, when on New Year’s Day, 1902, John came in with Nellie and announced that they had been married in the Methodist Parsonage at Mainesburg that morning, and showed her their marriage certificate to prove it. They had come home to stay. Sure enough, Nellie had brought her suitcase. With many misgivings, Rene gave them the spare bedroom. Nellie had been raised as an only child until Owen cam along. With a pair of doting parents, a grandmother, Amelia Hart (or Meel, as she was called), and Aunt Alice Rumsey (Henry’s sister), living next door, who had no children of her own, to whom Nellie could always turn if she didn’t get sympathy at home. John helped his father at home that winter. There were barn chores, wood to get up and saw, and cattle and horses to water. John had a horse of his own to feed and care for, and stables to clean, besides house chores; wood for two stoves to bring in, water to carry, etc. Perry and John kept quite busy. Rene and Emma were always busy. Besides meals, dishwashing, washing, ironing and baking, there were always hand craft projects. Rene usually kept a quilt on upstairs where the stovepipe went up thru from the kitchen stove. There was always endless sewing, knitting, and crocheting. Their hands were seldom idle for many minutes during the day. Nellie’s routine at home seemed to be to be in bed until the middle of the morning, then get up and have her mother fix breakfast for her, play awhile on the organ, then go up to see Aunt Alice, and so the day went. It never seemed to occur to her that there were meals to be prepared, dishes to wash, washing, ironing, baking, and cleaning to do. She got very irked with Rene and Emma if they pointed out some of these jobs to her, and threw many a temper tantrum when she and John were alone. John had made up his mind to help Perry with farm work the following summer. The Elbert Connelly family had decided to leave the Mountain, and go into the grocery store business in Covington, so Perry made a deal with them to rent their farm for the year. Perry told John that he and Nellie could live in the house. That seemed to give Nellie an incentive to get ready to keep house. She went down to her mother’s and stayed for some time, and they made sheets, pillowcases, etc. Rene had some quilts for them, and when the weather began to break in late March or early April, they got some furniture together and moved in by themselves, which was good for all concerned. John spent long hours in the fields, which meant the Nellie was by herself a great deal. I expect she spent a very lonely summer. When fall approached, she said she was not going to spend the winter in that lonely house, so John looked around for a house and a job in Mainesburg, near her folks. About that time, the house across the road from Aunt Alice’s was vacated, and John and Nellie moved off Armenia into it, which made Nellie, Aunt Alice, Nellie’s mother, and Grandma Hart very happy. John got a job clerking in John De Witt’s store, which solved another problem. Nellie was seventeen that summer, and really began to grow up. So time went on.
In the early 1900’s the terms at Mansfield State Normal School were divided differently than they were when it became Mansfield State Teacher’s College. The fall term began September 1, the winter term December 1, and the spring term after Easter, in late March or April. Graduation was about the last of June. The fall of 1900, Bertha Welch and Emma decided they wanted to go to Mansfield, Emma to take music, and Bertha to prepare for teaching. One prepared for teaching, then whenever they felt they had enough education to pass the teacher’s examinations which were given by the County Superintendent of Schools (Professor Longstreet in Tioga County then), they would take them. So arrangements were made. The girls were to board at Rush LeBarron’s, nearly opposite the Normal, across the street. Both girls acquired a lot of new clothes and some spending money, and signed up for their courses. Sam Welch and Perry took turns taking the girls back to school on Sunday afternoons and getting them after classes on Friday afternoons. These must have been really rugged trips some weekends. It was a good ten-mile drive with a horse and cutter from Armenia to Mansfield. When it was Sam’s turn to take them, Perry took (or got) Emma at Sam’s at the foot of the hill, about a mile from home. The girls had a wonderful winter. The LeBarron’s were very nice people to board with, and they had a glimpse of a whole new way of living, and an entirely different cross0section of America; and it didn’t spoil either of them. At Christmas time Emma bought Gladys a bisque doll with real hair, which she still has. (1976) Rene spent a very lonely winter. On some Sundays the family went to church, but on the Sundays that Perry had to make the long drive to Mansfield, it was just too much.
Emma improved her organ-playing, and Bertha brushed up on the 3 R’s and got her teacher’s certificate, so she taught school the next winter at Slate Run, where her brother, Herman, was located in the lumber business. She met Jack Reese there, and eventually married him. Both the Tanner’s and the Welch’s had hoped that Bertha and Zack’s friendship would end in marriage, but neither of them seemed to lean that way.
BACK FROM THE PHILIPPINES
Zack was mustered out of the Army, and came back home with many pictures and tales of far-away places with strange-sounding names. He made Army life, and even the danger spots, sound exciting. To most of the hometown boys, who had never been further away than Wellsboro, he was quite a hero. He soon found that he needed a job, and went to work for a near-by farmer, which, by the middle of haying, took most of the heroism out of him. As Perry had no one to help him on the farm, he didn’t rent the Connelly farm the next year, but farmed his own acres, and started to build up a larger poultry business. He bought a 50-egg incubator, and hatched a large number of baby chicks. Rene complained that they scratched out all her flower beds, so Perry put chicken wire fence around the garden, and somehow most of the flowers survived.
There was little time for reading, or any kind of relaxation. Work was hard, and the hours were long. They went to Sunday School and church at the State Road Baptist Church, which was practically the only break in their week of hard work. Gene and Emma began to talk of marriage in the fall. They were both 26 years old, and Rene said they should know what they wanted if they were ever going to.
Fred married Hattie Andrews from Pine City about 1898. They had a baby daughter, Mildred, born in 1900. In the fall of 1902, Charles Young, Fred’s father, wrote to Perry and Rene inviting them to come to Pine City and visit them. They talked it over. Zack and Emma decided they could care for things at home, so they began to prepare for the trip. It must have been about thirty miles from Armenia to Dry Run above Pine City, where Charles and Susan lived. This was quite a journey by horse and buggy. So real early one October morning, Perry, Rene, and Gladys started out. Gladys was seven years old, and this was the first long journey she had even taken. They stopped for dinner at Dell and Luciny Hart’s at Bailey’s Corners, which was about half-way. They arrived at Young’s about 5:00 p.m. Susie was expecting them, and she had prepared a delicious chicken supper. Susie May (called Gertrude, and baby daughter, Pearl, cam over; and Fred and Hattie with Mildred, came in to see the visitors. A wonderful evening was spent talking over old times. As I remember, it was Thursday night when they arrived. They spent Friday there, and started back early Saturday morning. They stopped and ate dinner again with Dell and Luciny, as Luciny had insisted that they do when they had left. This must have taken place early in October. Zack and Emma did the chores, and took care of things at home while they were gone.
On December 3, 1902 Emma and Eugene Welch were married at the Tanner home about 11:00 a.m. Zack and Bertha Welch stood up with them. There was a big dinner afterwards to which both families came. Sam and Abbie Welch, (Gene’s mother and father), Herm and Huldah, and ‘little Ruth" (I don’t know why they called her "little Ruth") and Marshall, Gene’s sister, Bertha, Zack, John and Nellie, and, of course, Perry, Rene and Gladys, and the minister and his wife. After dinner, Gene and Emma started on their wedding trip with a horse and buggy. They went first to Myron and Millie Brown’s on Comfort Hill, where they spent the night, and most of the next day. Toward night, they went to Lawrenceville to visit Bessie and Andrew Krebs. They went to housekeeping on the old Welch homestead in Welch Hollow in the spring of 1903. Sam and Abbie moved into a smaller house about a half-mile away, near the foot of Armenia. That farm also belonged to Sam, but it was much smaller. Sam was getting on in years, and didn’t feel equal to managing the larger farm. Gene had a hired man summers. He seemed to get along winters very well by himself. Emma thought she wanted a dining room, so they built another room on the south side of the house where they ate during the summer months. In winter, the house was heated by two wood heaters, and a wood-burning cookstove in the kitchen. Kerosene lamps provided light at night.
Sam and Abbie had a pair of beautiful peacocks which were quite uncommon at that time. Hey were a delight to all who viewed them.
On July 21, 1904 Doris Malena was born to the Welch’s. Of course she was a beautiful baby, and was the pride and joy of both sets of grandparents. From the first, she asserted her independence, and ruled the household. With the new baby, household tasks multiplied, and Emma had a succession of hired girls. One of the nicest ones was Esther Cleveland, who was with Emma several years, until she married and had a home of her own. She could be trusted to look after the family’s best interests in every way – money, housework, and babies. She was a very kind and loving helper.
When little brother, Osmer, came along on March 3, 1906, Doris had to accept some defeats, but not many. She still asserted her rights, loud and long. Yet, she was always a very lovable child, and remained Grandpa Welch’s favorite.
Francis came in September, 1908. Doris and Osmer were very healthy children. Francis was frail from the first. Emma had the measles while she was carrying him, and Rene always attributed his frailty to that. He was always short and thin for his age, and seemed to pick up every infection that he was ever exposed to.
Lillis came along a couple of years later, and was a strong, healthy little girl with beautiful blond hair. She, also, had a strong will of her own.
Each summer when school was out, Emma and Blanche Wilcox organized a Sunday School at the Baity Schoolhouse near where the neighborhood children were taught Bible stories, hymns, and basis religious principles. Much of this carried over into later life. As they grew older, most of the families attended the State Road Baptist Church. Most of the children got their basic church foundation from the Baity Sunday School. As the Welch children grew older, they attended high school in Covington.
During these years, Rene, Perry, and Gladys were kept very busy on the farm on Armenia. The poultry business grew. Everybody worked long hours, but they were health, and generally happy and well-adjusted.
Telephones came to Armenia in 1905. The men of the neighborhood built their own line, and put in their own phones, which were manufactured by the Stromberg-Carlson Company.
LIVING CONDITIONS AND ONE MORE DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
Clothes in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, especially in winter, were worn for warmth, rather than beauty, except for a few dress-up clothes which each family managed to keep on hand. Women’s dresses were mostly of dark material-black, brown, dark blue, or dark green. So strongly did most folks feel about this that a woman seen on the street in a red, orange, or yellow dress, was instantly branded as a woman of ill-repute. Women’s shoes were of the high-buttoned variety, worn both summer and in the winter. Rubbers were worn in wet weather, and ankles were protected from cold by felt "gaiters," also buttoned. Shawls were worn in winter, and capes in spring, fall, and winter. Every woman had at least one very warm, quilted bonnet for winter, and a straw bonnet for warm weather. Of course, sunbonnets were always worn in summer. Every woman owned one or more veils of "nun’s veiling" to protect her face from winter wind. Some of these were black, others were dark blue, brown, or dark green. Women and children wore hand-knitted mittens and long stockings in winter. In fact, most children had little else, as they went barefoot from spring until snow came the next fall. Most men had buckskin or sheepskin mittens to keep their hands warm on long trips with the team, or when getting up wood, and other outdoor work. Felts and rubbers were the common outdoor foot-wear. Very long skirts were a protection from the cold for both women and little girls. Boys wore dresses until the age of three or four, tho’ I can’t see why, as overalls would certainly have kept them warmer.
Most families in the early 1900’s began to acquire a small library of books. Mary J. Holmes was a popular writer for ladies. "The Delineator" was a popular fashion magazine. "Ladies Home Journal," "Household," and "Farm and Fireside" came into almost every home. The R. F. D. came over Armenia Mountain about 1904 or 1905. With the R. F. D. came the daily paper. Perry subscribed to the "Philadelphia Inquirer" about that time. This opened up a whole new world of reading. Elmer Rose was the first mail carrier.
The Tanner family ate well. There was always plenty of pork, chicken, eggs, butter, potatoes, and vegetables; apples, pears, plums, cherries, and as many berries (strawberries, raspberries, (black and red), huckleberries, and blackberries), as the family card to pick and can. Rene had her own tame strawberry patch during these years. She used freely many things, such as cream, etc., that most folks came to consider as luxuries. She and Emma were good cooks, and baked a huge amount of bread, doughnuts, pies, cakes, and cookies. They made their own clothes, as everyone did at that time.
It was during these years the Perry built a kitchen and mill room on the back of the house, and fixed an inside cellar way. When they moved the cookstove into the new kitchen, there was a need, the next winter, for another stove, so Perry bought a coal stove for the former kitchen, which became a dining room. Soft coal had to be hauled from Fall Brook, but that was no big problem, and it furnished a steadier heat.
In September of 1904, Agnes Boyd came to Ward Schoolhouse to teach. She was a good teacher, much loved by her pupils, and highly respected by everyone who knew her. Her sister, Euphemia, had taught there several years before, and was very well-liked, so the parent thought they were very fortunate to get Agnes. She came from that part of the County known as "over on the River", meaning the head waters of the Tioga River. She had had some preparation for teaching at the old SCI (Susquehanna Collegiate Institute) in Towanda, and what was more important, she loved children. That was all the more important after a year with Bertha Everitt, who disliked children and was a very strict disciplinarian. Bertha knew her subject matter very well, but she should never have tried to teach boys and girls, as she was too harsh with them. She got along very well with grown-ups.
A romance soon sprang up between Zack and Agnes, and they were married on September 20, 1905. Zack had a job waiting for him in a freight office in Dubois, so they left immediately after they were married at the home of her parents, Peter and Agnes Boyd. Perry and Rene liked Agnes very much, and welcomed her as a daughter-in-law. They lived in Dubois for two years, and then they came back to Mainesburg, where Velma Jeanette was born on August 24, 1907. Marion Irene came along about three years later. Helen Marie was born on June 19, 1912, and Glen came along a couple of years later.
MOVING TO TOWN
During the years 1905 and on, Perry’s health began to fail. He had been a very hard-working man. In summer, spring, and fall, his day usually began at 4:00 a.m. He began to have very severe headaches, rheumatism bothered him a lot. He finally began to look for a place near Mainesburg, where he could move, and leave the hard work and the long hours of the farm. He bought the Shelton place south of Mainesburg, which didn’t satisfy either him or Rene. The buildings were very old, and Perry didn’t feel like making the necessary repairs to either the house or barn. So he looked again, for a place more to his liking. One day he was talking with someone from Mainesburg, and they said they thought the old Haight place could be bought fairly reasonable. Mr. Cudworth owned it, and it was reported that he wanted to sell it. Perry went to see him, and they immediately made a deal. It had been a two-family house, occupied by the Haight brothers and their families, and there were ten rooms in it. He and Rene began making plans to move. Perry had nine cows on the farm, and he sold them, all but two. They butchered the hogs, but kept the horses. There was a good-sized hen house on the place, and a fairly large barn. Perry had bid on the stage-rout from Mainesburg to Mansfield, and soon found out that he had it. They moved Thanksgiving Day, 1907.
It meant a lot of disruptions for everyone. A new school for Gladys who was twelve years old, and an entirely different life for Perry and Rene. Perry kept the cows at the Shelton place, which had a fair-sized barn with room for hay and grain bins, and twelve acres of pasture in summer. It meant a half-mile walk night and morning to milk and do chores, but Perry didn’t mind that. He kept quite a flock of chickens at the home place, which Rene promptly took over as her job. There was a big garden and fruit trees on both places. It would seem that there was about as much work as on the farm, besides the mail route. He left Mainesburg for Mansfield at 9:00 a.m. , and drove to Mansfield where he picked up the mail after the 10:00 train came in, sorted it, and delivered the mail on the way back, arriving at Mainesburg about 1:00. The route was called a "Stage Route", also "Star Route". He took passengers either way for 50 cents a trip. It was a very different routine, and he was very happy. He didn’t seem to mind the work. Rene soon made friends with the neighbors some of whom she knew before: Mrs. Stauffer, Mrs. Connelly, Mrs. Rose, and others. She and Perry quit making the eight-mile drive to the State Road Baptist Church, and started going to the Mainesburg Methodist. She got involved with the Ladies’ Aid, and the neighborhood social affairs, and was quite contented.
About 1908, Rene had an infected tooth, and the infection spread to the sinus. Dr. Harkness told her that an operation was the only way out, so she and Perry consented, and he contacted Dr. Carpenter of Troy, who thought he could do it at their home, with Dr. Harness’ assistance. So one afternoon the two doctors came. Dr. Harness anesthetized Rene, and Dr. Carpenter bored a hole up from a tooth cavity, and scraped the bone, and cleaned the sinus. She improved rapidly. Perry was also wearing out. He was having violent headaches. Dr. Harkness treated him, but he didn’t seem to improve much. Rheumatism was making his life miserable, and a kidney infection developed.
John and Nellie had been having a long series of domestic troubles. Another man entered the picture, and they got a divorce. John sold the house, moved back home, and took over the stage route, which had increased to two trips a day. One from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and the other from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. There was much more money in it, but the hours were long and hard. It meant driving about twenty miles a day, regardless of the weather or roads, along with the responsibility of getting passengers to their destination. They sold the cows. Rene cooked for two men, instead of one, besides tending chickens, keeping fires in winter, and tending garden in summer. The chickens were always there to need feed and water, and eggs to be gathered. Gladys was out of school, and had a job operating the telephone central at Mainesburg.
In late May of 1912, Perry contracted pneumonia. He continued to grow worse. Rev. Smith, the Methodist Minister at Mainesburg, was very faithful to call on him, nearly ever day. He witnessed to a deep, firm faith. About 4 o’clock, June 7th, he went to be with the Lord. He was buried two days later in the Mainesburg Cemetery. Rene, brave, strong soul that she was, picked up the pieces, and went on. On June 19th, Helen Marie was born to Zack and Agnes. This baby was a real blessing to Rene. She gave Rene something to think about, besides her own grief.
John continued to live at home with Rene for several years. He drove the stage at least six more years.
GRANDMOTHER AND GRANDDAUGHTER
Gladys had always wanted to teach. Prior to this, the way had never seemed to open for her to continue here education. There was much more to certification by this time, than taking a teacher’s examination. Some time must be spent in a teacher’s college, or Normal School, altho’ High School was till not required. She began saving money toward attending Normal School. Whenever she saved up enough money to attend for a few months, she went. During the summer of 1916, she went to Mansfield for Summer school, passed the Teachers’ Exams, and in September of 1916, she started teaching in Holly School, near Austinville. She boarded at Nelson Holly’s, and walked about one-half mile to school. It was a large school with lots of problems, and she made many mistakes. E. A. Retan was County Superintendant of Schools of Tioga County then. He gave her much good advice, and through his kind help, she learned by her mistakes. The next year, he recommended that she try a smaller school. He placed her in Hazen School in Jackson Township, with only eight pupils. She had a chance to get her feet under her.
On October 18, 1916, John and Blanche Campbell of Covington were married. She was an R.N., and a very kind and understanding person. They moved into the house across the road from Rene in Mainesburg. Rene and Blanch got along very well, and Blanch looked after her in many ways. The Hazen School was three miles from the Railroad station at Jackson Summit. Gladys didn’t get home very often. Going home involved getting to the railroad station Saturday morning, a train ride to Mansfield, going to Mainesburg on the stage with John. She could spend the rest of Saturday and Sunday at home, then an early trip to Mansfield to catch the six o'clock milk train Monday morning. There were no seats on the milk train.; You had to perch on top of a milk can, potato crate, or anything else you could find for a seat, getting off at Jackson Summit about 8:00 a.m., then cajoling someone into meeting the train, so she could get to school by nine o’clock. She didn’t make the trip very often. The next year, she taught at Jackson Summit in the Primary Room, which eliminated the Jackson summit-to-Hazen part of the trip. She boarded at Charlie Satterlee’s that winter, and it was the coldest winter that Gladys ever remembers.
In 1914, Germany declared War against civilization. World War I was upon the world. The United States did not formally sever diplomatic relations with Germany until February, 1917. Everyone was preparing for war. The Red Cross became very active all over the United States. Many sweaters, socks, and nightshirts were made. Rene and Alice Stauffer were appointed the head of the knitters in Mainesburg. The new Kitchener sock heel style was adopted by the Red Cross as standard, and they had to learn all over how to finish a sock heel. Patriotism ran high – a whole new group of war songs were written. "Over There:, "It’s a Long Way to Tipperay", "Giddy, Get-up, Go on, go on, We’re on our Way to War", the poem, "In Flander’s Fields", and many others. Motion pictures (silent moves at that time) were all geared to War themes. Many boys enlisted. Some of them soon got across into France. Neal Austin was the first Mainesburg casualty. Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, brought a cessation of hostilities, but the horrid aftermath of the was still with us. A nationwide flu epidemic added to the general misery. Gladys taught primary grades 1-4 at Jackson Summit the winter of 1918-19.
During the winter, Rene had all her remaining teeth pulled. Blanch was very kind, and a good nurse, and saw her thru it. Gladys went to Jackson Center for the next two years, then back to Jackson Summit for one more year. Then to Teachers’ College in Mansfield, where she graduated in 1923. She then taught a year in Charleston, grades 2 and 3. Rene kept the home fires burning during these years. Gladys bought her first car, a 1917 Ford Coupe, from Fay Kilgore in Mansfield in 1923. Rene had given her $100 for a graduation present, which she used as a down-payment on the car. How she managed to save that much on a $12 a month Veteran’s Widow’s pension, and the income from a few hens, and a garden, is hard to understand. From somewhere in the past, a neighbor had said, "Give Rene a dozen hens, and a place to keep them, and she’ll make a living."
THE LOSS OF THE YOUNGEST
Zack had been ailing for some time. A combination of T.B. and malaria from Philippine days caught up with him. He was in bed most o the summer. Rene, Gladys, Agnes, and Blanch all rallied around and helped care for him. He passed away July 10, 1924. Rene took it very hard, but she rallied her forces and set about doing everything she could to ease Agnes’ burdens. Velma was working in Canton at the time. Marion was crippled by polio, and was quite a care. Helen was twelve years old, and Glenn, nearly ten. Agnes got a small pension. She had a large garden, but times were hard for her. Gladys started teaching in Bentley Creek in September. Rene was alone again, altho’ John and Blanche still lived across the road.
Rene spent much of her time reading Zane Grey books, which were beginning to come off the press. She became interested in Westerns, and filled her time with all that she could get hold of. During a umber of years about this time, she had a traveling library at her home in Mainesburg. This provided her with books, and also kept her in contact with the neighbors and the outside world. She was interested in Mainesburg and State Road Community affairs – Grange, Missionary Society, Church, etc. She made a good life for herself. She must have been about seventy years old at the time. She tended a large garden each summer, and kept her flock of chickens.
CUPID STRIKES AGAIN
Gladys taught the entire Bentley Creek School of about thirty pupils 1924-25 and 25-26. In September ’28 a mob of first graders came in, so the school was again divided into the Upper and Lower grades. The first grade was so large that at this time it was –downstairs, grades 1, 2, 3, and upstairs, grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8, tho’ there was about the same number in each room. Helen Seymour taught the lower grades. Both Gladys and Helen boarded with Estelle Stirton, who provided them with very comfortable living conditions, and excellent meals. In September 1926, Helen married LeRoy Raynor, and Gladys went to East Smithfield to teach 7th grade. In the meantime, Gladys and James Burnham became interested in each other. They attended parties, went on sleigh rides, and took an active part in the social life of Bentley Creek.
John and Blanche moved to Covington, which left Rene very much alone. Agnes and the children came to visit her often, but they were too far away to run in and out. Francis and Mary Bartlett and their daughter, Evelyn, moved into the house across the street. They became very good friends of Rene.
Gladys went to summer school at Susquehanna University in Selingsgrove for eight weeks. Classes were over Thursday noon, so Gladys came home nearly every Thursday p.m. She didn’t have to go back until Sunday p.m., so that made a long weekend for her to stay with Rene. This was the first that Rene had ever admitted that she was tired, or couldn’t stand it to work in her garden all day, or take part in any activity that came up. After all, she was 76 years old. Gladys and Jim were married August 10, 1929 at the home of Reverend J. A. James at Mainesburg, a lifelong friend of the Tanner family. Rene and Evelyn Bartlett were the only witnesses. They were married abut 1:00 p.m., and drove to Gettysburg. They spent the afternoon on the battlefield, ate supper at Gettysburg, and spent the night at York Springs in a tourist home. The next day they went over into Maryland for lunch, then drove back to Bentley Creek, as James had to be at work in the Chemung Foundry at 6:00 a.m. They spent the night with Jim’s father and mother, Howell and Addie Burnham. Then back to Mainesburg the next night, which was Monday.
Jim and Gladys lived upstairs over the First National Bank of East Smithfield the winter of 1929-30. Rene had several sick spells during the winter. Near spring, she scraped the skin off her leg, and the resultant sore refused to heal. Emma came and stayed with her a couple of weeks. The leg healed as she kept off it, but she continued to be very tired and droopy.
Jim was looking for a place around Bentley Creek to buy for his own. In June, 1930, the opportunity came. He bought a small house and four acres, known on the old maps as the James Straney place, from Raymond and Kathrun Crainey, and proceeded to fix it up, and make a home of it. He had visions of a chicken farm, so he bought the Driscoll house up in upper Ridgebury, tore it down, and built a brooder coop, a chicken house, and an egg and feed room. He got some baby chicks, and was soon in the poultry business, still working on his job at the Chemung Foundry. Gladys taught at Centerville the winter of 1930-31.
During the intervening years, Rene bought a cow. There was about two acres of pasture on the Mainesburg place. The children all advised against it, but she wanted her own milk and butter. It was a good cow, and gave lots of milk, but –the problems were many. She got out and invaded the neighbors’ gardens, she had to be bred. Rene had to carry water to her, as the only source of water was the pump by the house. Stables had to be cleaned. It was just too much, so when a neighbor made her a good offer for her in the fall, she sold her. Then the problem of a milk supply came up. Several other neighbors had that trouble too, so a neighbor, Roswell Ripley solved it. He took his milk to Mainesburg to the creamery each morning, and he told them if they would get quart pails with covers, and hang them on nails on the side wall of Krise’s grocery store at a convenient height, and see that there was nickel in each pail each morning, he would put a quart of milk in each. He wouldn’t make change, or run a charge account – no nickel, no milk. This was very satisfactory for a long time. The Mainesburg kids must have been a very honest bunch. Folks hung their pails out early in the evening, Rene always took hers down before dark, they were there with the nickels in them until Mr. Ripley came down past with his milk the next morning. Finally a new family moved into the neighborhood with a small boy, about ten years old. The nickels began to disappear. Mr. Ripley was true to his word – no nickel, no milk. A neighbor went to the boy’s father. He was very indignant, surely it wasn’t his son. They had the boy in and questioned him – no, of course not, he never touched their nickels. The neighbors again tried the nickel in the pail. It worked for a short time. They got their milk as Mr. Ripley found their nickels. But temptation apparently was too strong, anyway, it never had been proven that he was the guilty party. So the milk business ended, and most folks ended up by using evaporated milk which could be fought from the store for 10 cents a can.
Rene kept her chickens for several years. She bought chicken feed from Attie Austin’s feed mill and carried it home, 25 pounds at a time. She traded eggs for groceries, cloth, stockings, shoes, etc., at Krise’s store, or the T.W. Judge General Store which came into Mainesburg during these years, and was run by Gordon Stauffer.
Rene was a person of stung conviction about many things, one of them was playing cards. If one of the children or grandchildren brought a deck of cards into the house, Rene promptly gathered them up, and threw them in the kitchen fire. She never did any sewing on Sunday. On Saturday night, she folded up whatever she happened to be working on, and laid it away until Monday morning. Her favorite chapter in the Bible was the 91st Psalm. Her eyesight was remarkable. She had a pair of glasses which she had bought from a traveling peddler, but she rarely used them. She could thread a needle without them.
Rene ate well. She cooked and baked a great deal. She dried apples, corn, and blackberries, and canned the surplus from her garden: peas, beans, corn, greens, etc. She bought beef and pork occasionally, and had a chicken when she got hungry for it. Her chickens were her pets, and she never could bear to cut off a chicken’s head herself. She would get a neighbor, or Glenn or John, or whoever happened by, to do it. After the head was off, it was just meat, and it never seemed to bother her to go on with the rest of the preparations.
During these years, she attended the Methodist Church at Mainesburg, and rarely missed a Sunday morning service. She went to Grange meetings quite often with Evelyn Bartlett, or some other neighbor. She loved to be with other people, but rarely took an active part in things. She kept a lot of houseplants. She had one Christmas cactus for over 25 years. She made a good life for herself. Although she enjoyed company, she wasn’t dependent on others. She did sewing, knitting, crocheting, and some embroidery. Sewing was the pastime she enjoyed the most, and planned and made many quilts.
The last years Rene spent in the Mainesburg home were very hard for her. She was in her later 70’s. She couldn’t realize how her strength was failing. She expected to carry on as she always had. John and Blanch moved to Covington, and the Bartlett’s moved across the road. They were very kind to Rene, and they became very good friends, but they had their problems, too. Francis’ health was poor. Mary worked for others a great deal. Evelyn kept the house going, cared for her father. She kept quite a flock of chickens, but they barely made ends meet financially.
During this time, Rene’s pension increased to $40 a month, which she made do very well, but there was just too much hard work connected with living, especially in winter. She kept a coal stove going in the living room, which meant carrying at least two buckets of soft coal up from the cellar a day, and ashes to take out each day. She kept a wood stove going in the parlor, which had been opened into the dining room with a balustrade, which made a very pleasant room in summer, but which must be heated in winter. Rene had to carry chunks up from the woodshed five or six steps, ashes also had to be carried out there. She moved a three-burner oil stove in from the kitchen to the dining room to cook on, so she didn’t have to heat the big kitchen, but she must bring oil from the store a couple of times a week, for that, and the kerosene lamps. There were endless paths to shovel – to the pump, to the road, to the chicken coop, and to the out-house, all of which was back-breaking work for a person in her 70’s. All water used in washing, cooking, baths, etc., must be carried in from the pump outside. Also water for the chickens. She had to got to the Post Office for her mail. Evelyn helped her much with these chores. Glenn came up occasionally, but he was attending high school at Mansfield, and had his problems, too. Agnes had many problems at this time, also. Gladys was teaching in East Smithfield, and had a full schedule.
LEAVING THE OLD HOME
Rene’s health continued to fail. She seemed to lose her zest for living, so in the fall of 1931, it seemed advisable for her to break up her home, and leave the place in Mainesburg. She packed up such of her belongings as she wished to take with her, and moved to Bentley Creek with Gladys and Jim. Her health gradually improved, probably because she no longer had to do heavy lifting and cleaning, etc., and could rest when she wished. As she continued to meet people and get out more, she entered into the social life of the village; Missionary meetings and Church and Sunday School. She made a place for herself in the social life of the town. She had known the Burnham family for many years, and the older members of the Jelliff family.
She rented the house in Mainesburg to Maude and Edson Lawrence, and they soon moved in.
An early morning telephone call on February 11, 1933 brought grief to Rene, as Gladys heard Blanche’s voice, and got the news that John had died suddenly early that morning. Rene was saddened, but it seemed that by now, she was getting accustomed to this type of news. More information came later. John arose in seemingly customary good health on Saturday morning. He got ready for work on the road, as usual. He went to the garage for his car, in which he carried other workers to the Cherry Flats road project. He was stricken, and staggered toward the house, calling for Blanche. He fell in the snow, and was gone before neighbors could come to his assistance. He was a member of the State Road Baptist Church, and had been a Christian for many years. The funeral was held on Monday afternoon, February 13th at their home in Covington. He was buried in Riverside Cemetery in Covington. Jim and Gladys contacted Agnes, and took her with them to the funeral. He was 58 years old.
Life went on as usual at the Burnhams. Jim was really launched in the poultry business, with baby chicks, eggs to wash and pack, chickens to feed and water; life seemed to be very full. Rene had her own little chicken business – a dozen hens, a coop of baby chicks, and a small vegetable garden, which she tended for herself. Two grandchildren had come to live with Agnes. Her health began to fail in the fall of 1933. Her sister, Anna Crewe, came to help care for her. Marion had always been a care. She had had polio when she was a baby. Her mind didn’t develop properly, and she was crippled in her body. Helen had married Franklin Smith of Bloomsburg sometime before this, and was in a home of her own. The two grandchildren were Deana Alberta, and Cora Elizabeth (Betty). It made quite a household for her to care for. Glenn was home also. Agnes passed away December 2, 1933, the day after Deana’s eighth birthday. The two little girls were left homeless. Jim and Gladys immediately took them for their own. Glenn and Marion went to Blossburg with Helen. Rene was more in the midst of a family. She seemed to take a new lease on life, although she was eighty at the time. Her eyesight was good, and she still had nimble fingers to sew or knit. She made many articles of clothing for the girls, tho’ she was determined that they wear their dresses much longer then the prevailing style. Gladys could always take up a hem privately when Rene was not watching, tho’ not much escaped her. She pieced innumerable quilts, not only for Gladys and the girls, but made a quilt top for every bride of her acquaintance for several years. One winter she planned and pieced twelve quilt tops.
The chicken business thrived. Jim added more chicken houses and brooder coops. Eventually the girls grew old enough to wash eggs. Deana was eight, and Betty was five when they came to the Burnham’s in 1933. In the fall of 1938, Jim made up his mind that he would like to see Florida, so he got Howard and Nina with Corvin (then about one year old) to stay with Rene, keep the chicken chores going, tend the eggs and look after Rene. Then he and Gladys, Deana, Betty, his mother, and sister, Mildred, spent two weeks in October traveling through the south. They spent four or five days with his cousins, Frank and Elsie Thompson at Earleton, Florida. They had a cottage on Lake St. Augustine. They traveled across Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and into northern Florida. They stayed in tourist cottages for an average price of $1 to $1.50 per night. All tourist cottages then had cooking facilities. They did their own cooking for breakfast and supper, and packed a lunch which they ate somewhere along the road. It was a wonderful trip. They had gorgeous weather. When they returned, they found that Bentley Creek had had beautiful fall weather, too. Jim’s sister, Mildred passed away in January of 1939.
In the summer of 1940, the Burnham’s had another itch to go traveling. This time to California, where Gladys’s father, mother and sister lived. Deyo Montanye took care of the poultry business. Violet, Marie, and Bernice Chamberlain took turns staying with Rene. They were gone from July 22 till August 24th. Jim’s mother and his Aunt Phoebe Lucas went with them. They had a tent-trailer, which made up into six beds at night, and there was storage space for cooking supplies, as well. Average price for parking the car and trailer, with restroom privileges, and, in most cases, electric hook-up, was $1 per night. They went the northern route: Chicago, Yellowstone Park, Grand Teton Mountains, over the Rockies, Salt Lake City, Donner Pass to Sacramento. Young’s lived at Walnut Grove on the Sacrament River about seventy miles east of San Francisco. They came back the southern route – Grand Canyon, Boulder Dam, Mojave Desert, across New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, corner of Kansas, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, into Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh, and home through the Alleghenies. It was a wonderful trip. When they returned, they heard of the wedding of Elmer and Cleora Young (August 21, 1940).
On her 92nd birthday, Rene got an unexpected birthday present from the United State Government – a check for $1,720.00 back pension pay. She immediately saw LeRoy Raynor, and made plans for a sun porch on the south end of the Burnham house. Rene’s sister, Bell, fell and broke her hip, and passed away as a result on April 29, 1943. She must have been 88 years old. Her youngest brother, George, died about that time, also.
Gladys’ step-mother, Harriet Young, was the victim of an automobile accident December 15, 1940, and she did the next day in a hospital in North Platte, Nebraska. Ann also sustained a broken back. The driver of the car, Otto Kunchman, who was driving them east, was uninjured.
In the late 1940’s, disaster struck the chicken business. Tracheo-Bronchitis wiped out the chicken business in a matter of months. Jim sold the well hens for what he could get, and was left with a $1,000 feed bill at Schuyler’s in Wellsburg. World War II soon struck, and work was at a standstill. Rene poured her pension money into the gap. Gladys got work at the Remington Rand in early April at about $9.00 a week. (3:30-11:30 p.m.) Jim found work at the Rand soon after. The girls took over supper, and the clean-up after. Everyone put their shoulder to the wheel, and somehow the storm was weathered. (Pearl Harbor was bombed December 7, 1941). In January 1943, Gladys started teaching on Hanlon Hill. Kathryn Crainey came to stay days with Rene. Gladys also taught on Hanlon Hill in ’43-’44. Nora May came to stay days. Deanna was in East Smithfield High School, where she graduated 1943. Rene was still very active around the house. In the early fall of 1943, (Rene was ninety), she started out the front door to hang up some laundry, and slipped and fell on the threshold and broke her hip. She scorned a wheelchair, tho’ she never walked again. She made her little sewing chair (a rocker) very comfortable with cushions, and hitched around in it for many years. She came to the table to eat her meals, peeled potatoes, etc., and was generally active.
LIFE FROM A ROCKING CHAIR, GREAT GRANDCHILDREN
Deana graduated from High School in 1943. She worked in the Norden Plant in Elmira. (They manufactured bombsites. The Eclipse factory made the fuses.) She married Warren Inman on December 15, 1945. Betty was a cheerleader in High School, but she never graduated, she fell in love, and married Wayne Campbell on June 9, 1945. Wayne was in the United States Navy at the time. Betty was home, and worked at various places in Elmira.
Rene went from her rocking chair, to an armchair, to her bed, every
day, and sewed and pieced many quilt tops. Her grandchildren – Doris, Osmer,
Francis, Lillie, Velma, Helen, and Glenn were often here. Emma sometimes
stayed two or three weeks at a time. Francis married Jennie Barrett. They
lived on the old Welch farm. Jennie always seemed happy to have Emma go
and spend time with Rene. (Maybe a break from too much mother-in-law, at
times, although Emma was not a hard person to get along with). All of them
were married during these years, and most had children. Doris married Keith
Ripley, and had Gordon. Osmer married Thelma
Douglas. They adopted Donald, then several years later, they had Clifford, and Richard. Lillis married Robert Mudge. Their children were: Wilma and Margery. Velma married George Lousnberry. Their children: Deana and Betty. Helen married Franklin Smith. Their children: Phyllis, Donald and Dorothy. Glenn married Irene Spencer. They had one child, Patricia. They were divorced. He later married Dorothy Kelly. Their children were: Leslie and T.J.
Speaking of Great-grandchildren –
Deana and Warren had Norman Lauren August 7, 1946, Gregory Ray, October 7, 1948, and Lynette Susan, March 27, 1950. Warren and Deana spent the winter in Florida in 1948-49, without the coming and going. (Betty and Wayne were also keeping house by themselves). Rene and Gladys spent many hours alone. Gladys was tax collector at the time, but that was no arduous job in the winter time, so Rene spent a lot of the winter reviewing old times when she was a girl, and the years that followed. Gladys eventually started taking notes – hence the basis of this yarn. I suppose she was lonely, and it helped to recall happier days.
After Rene broke her hip, Dr. Pratt didn’t recommend that she go to a hospital. She was ninety years old. He said she never could take the long days in traction. He recommended that she fix some comfortable chairs, and get a wheelchair. She we afraid of a wheelchair, so she managed things her own way. Jim fixed a toilet by her bed, and that took care of that problem.
She never sewed on Sunday, which was a day of rest to her. Sometimes there was company in the afternoon, yet, Sundays were very long, but she never would allow herself to go to bed before 9 o’clock. She was quiet, yet somehow, she was always in the midst of things, and was always a force to be reckoned with. Sometime during these years, she sold the Mainesburg house to Lura Connelly who made a two-apartment of it once more.
THE END OF THE ROAD
She hitched around the house in her little rocker for seven years. As fall came in 1950, she grew perceptively weaker. The trips to the table seemed longer. Sewing was no longer easy. She spent more and more time in the big armchair. One day she wondered if Emma and Gene would come over and stay a few days. They came. Then the day came when she didn’t want to get up in the morning. Neighbors were very kind. Edith Jelliff, Elizabeth Jane Burnett, Deana, and others helped out by spending the night, helping with housework, or food. Betty was in the Robert Packer Hospital, where shortly after, her so, Donald William was born, and died. Eleanor Woodward was very kind during these days to look after Deana’s three. Dr. Pratt was in about every day to check on her.
One day she said, "I wish the Lord would hurry up and take me to heaven. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Cora and Perry and the boys." The Lord evidently heard her wish, for a few days later, she passed away quietly in her sleep. She left us on December 5, 1950. She had had her 97th birthday on April 29, 1950. Reverend William Woughter was anew pastor that year at Bentley Creek, and the family wanted an old friend to have the main part of her funeral, so they got Reverend C. H. Guernsey who was preaching at Great Bend, Pennsylvania, an old family friend who had been at Bentley Creek for seven years, to have the funeral, assisted by Reverend Woughter. Lucille Jelliff furnished soft piano music. Reverent Guernsey based his remarks on her favorite Psalm, the 92st. The bearers were her grandsons and grandsons-in-law, Keith, Osmer, Francis, Robert, Warren and Wayne.
Her earthy remains lie in the Mainesburg Cemetery beside those of Perry and Zack. John is buried in the Riverside Cemetery in Covington, and Cora (and later, Emma) are buried in State Road Cemetery in Sullivan Township. The funeral was in the Bentley Creek Wesleyan Methodist Church. She lived a rich, full Christian life, and "many people rose us and called her blessed."
Retyped and submitted by Mallory Babcock – July 2008
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