Sunday, May 30, 2010

Eakin School, my early years

I entered first grade at Eakin School in September, 1932. We lived about a mile from the school and, except for the first day when Mother took me in the car, I walked. That first year I walked with Bob and Marion Buckley, neighbors who lived about a quarter of a mile from us on the way to school. Bob was two years older than I was and Marion, four years older.

Eakin School was a one room, red brick building that housed all eight grades and had been around since before the Civil War. It had actually been used as a recruiting barracks during the Civil War. In the late 1800's my Grandfather and his brothers and sisters had gone to school there. Grandfather's brothers, Smith (Richard) and Clyde, taught there as young men. The red building bricks for the school were quarried and made on site. The building was approximately 12' x 40'x 60' inside dimensions. It had a fairly steep roof with two gable ends. There was only one door in the building and it was located in the front. Outside, there were four or five steps up to the door. There were four large  rectangular windows with multiple panes on each side.

Inside, the room was divided roughly in thirds down its long dimension with, I believe, nine rows of seats except the back-center half was open to the entry door. In front of the door as you entered was a large, round, pot-bellied stove about mid-way in the room that sat on a piece of metal which protected the oily-floor timbers from the heat of the stove. Almost the the entire front wall on the inside, from about three feet above the floor to a height of seven feet, was a large black piece of slate that functioned as a blackboard. The teacher's desk was centered in the front of the room, just in front of the blackboard. Along one side wall near the entry door were three rows of wooden pegs, one above the other, used for hanging hats and coats when school was in session. The other wall had shelves and was used as a library. There might have been forty or fifty feet of shelf space for books.

Outside, in front of the school, was a large graveled area about ten feet wider than the building on both sides and maybe fifty feet deep. Near the far end of this graveled area was the school water supply, a drilled well capped by a long-handled pump standing about four feet high. To drink from this well one had to either have a personal cup somewhere, or as most all of us did, someone pumped while you cupped your hands below the spout to form a cup and drank. A few fussy girls would wash their hands before drinking. The rest of us thought they were showing off and "uppity."

Along the right hand side of the building when facing the school, and about two thirds of the way back, were two large, slanting cellar doors covering the passage way to the area under the school floor. These opened to several steps that led down into a dank, dark, dugout-space beneath the school floor where coal for the stove was stored for use during winter.

Behind the school, and about twenty feet away from the building, were the outhouses–two-holers- one for Boys, one for Girls. Each outhouse had a shielding, wooden wall in front and side of its entry door and a low, sloped, hinged, wooden cover extending out from the back from which the waste material could be removed. As you might imagine, these could become quite aromatic in the early fall and late spring. We boys used to get large, flat rocks, sneak up behind the girls outhouse, quietly lift the covering door and hurl the rocks into the “maggoty” mess hoping to splash some poor unsuspecting girl seated inside.

One time, unknown to us, the school teacher, a woman, was using the facility when some of us older boys did our thing and the flat rocks did their thing. We gloatingly waited for the customary screams, which had always happened with every  gal we had caught. Surprisingly, silence.  No one in there? Hmmmm. In about a minute, and to our total surprise and chagrin, one angry lady teacher came boiling out of the outhouse.  As you might guess, no one would talk, so eight or nine of us were punished severely for that little caper.

On the north side of the school where the school’s long dimension was east-west and the entry door was on the west side, there was a grassy, upward sloping area with about ten very large old oak trees that provided wonderful shade under which to eat our lunches and for horsing around. Mudlick Hollow Road was about one hundred feet from the south side of the school and parallel with it. Going east from the school the road ran flat for just a short distance and then turned down as it wound its way down into “Mudlick” hollow. The road went from the school, where it intersected Sebring Road, all the way to Vanport, a distance of about five miles. During the winter when the snows were deep, this became a prime sled-riding slope. It was so long down to where it first leveled off that we could usually only make one or two runs during our lunch break.

Behind the school was a very large field that was farmed by the Hogue family who were my relatives.  The Hogues living there when my syblings and I attended school were descendants of Grandfather’s Aunt Rachel (Holt) and Uncle John Hogue. Corn was frequently the crop of choice and after it was harvested and the slalks cut there remained about a six or seven inch "stob" sticking above the ground. These became flying missiles during recess and lunch times.  Believe it  or not, no eye was put out during my six years attendance there and "stob" slinging every fall.   Don't tell me there wasn't a guardian angel watching over us kids.

The school year in those rural schools was from the day after Labor Day until April 15th the following year, reflecting the fact that the community was still in the transitional stage between being a rural farming community where all available manpower was needed to help with spring planting to more modern times when machinery replaced manpower. Change was in the air everywhere, but in those little one-room schools, time seemed to stand still.    World War ll changed all of that almost overnight.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Thomas Holt ll & Elizabeth (Humphry?) Walker

Thomas Holt II, third son of Thomas Holt and Elizabeth Mitchell's nine children, was born in April 1761 in Oliver Twp (?), Mifflin County, Pennsylvania. Mifflin County at that time was still very much frontier country and was recovering from the aftermath of the French and Indian War. Thomas was just 16 when his father, Thomas, on the eve of the American Revolution in 1777, was shot and killed during a target practice session of the local militia. It is hard to imagine the trials and tribulations his mother Elizabeth and the family must have gone through over the next ten or fifteen years. Her youngest child was just three years old at the time.

Thomas II was the oldest male in the household after his two older brothers, William and John, joined the local military unit and marched off to war. Even then, he did serve in the home guard or militia completing four short tours, mainly chasing roving bands of Indians. For that service he was granted in 1840 a Revolutionary War pension  #S4400. He was living in Trumbull County, Ohio at the time.

Thomas lived at home untill his mother died in 1798 in Lewistown, Mifflin County, Pennsylvania. He was still a batchelor living at home so his syblings permitted him to continue using his mother's iron cooking ware. It's interesting that such a mundane item as the pots and pans would be considered important enough to list in the final settlement papers.  Some time after that he moved to western Pennsylvania and then on to Ohio. Somewhere along the line, either in Mifflin County or Ohio, he met and married a widow?, Elizabeth Walker, b1778, seventeen years his junior. Elizabeth is thought to be the daughter of another Mifflin County couple, William and Jane Humphry.

 In the first week of June, 1806, Elizabeth gave birth to twins, William Humphry and Dorcas. Interestingly, William used the birth date of June 4 and Dorcas used June 2. Elizabeth apparently had a very difficult time giving birth to the twins for she died either during the children's birth or shortly thereafter. I have no information on where they were living when the children were born, the date of her death, nor where she is buried. Her death left forty-four year old Thomas with two newborns on his hands. He had been a bachelor for forty-two of those years and obviously knew absolutely nothing about caring for children let alone infants. So the babies were parceled out, William to his grandparents(?), the Humphrey's in Mifflin County Pennsylvania, and Dorcas to Thomas's sister, Eleanore (Holt) Windle and her husband, Francis, who lived in rural Trumbull County, Ohio.

 As an interesting aside, the Windles had eight children and shown here is a picture of the second of the six Windle daughters, Mary. The Windle children were, Elizabeth, b25 Oct. 1796, Mary, b3Mar 1799, Dorcas,  b7Aug 1801, Eleanore, b15 Jun 1804, William b2 Jan 1808, Rebecca b10 Apr 1810, Francis b6 Apr 1812, Martha Jane bJun 1817.

I'm not certain whether Thomas was living with the Windles or just near them. He lived on in Ohio until his death on the 29th of September, 1848. He was buried in the Eckis Cemetery, Milton Township, Trumbull County, Ohio as were the Windles and several of their children. The cemetery is in a rural area in the southern section of the county and is at the end of a fairly long lane leading in from the highway. As you come up on the cemetery the first thing you notice are four, fairly tall. black slate stones. These stones mark the graves of Thomas and the Windle family members buried there.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Spring, Spring, Beautiful Spring at Last.

By now, in rural Brighton Twp, Beaver County, Pennsylvania,  on May 9th in the 1930s, school would have been three weeks behind us and long forgotten.  Shoes, shirts and long pants would have been abandoned, some hanging in the closet or, more probably, under the bed waiting for Mom to find them. Garden planting and watering time for Rod and me. Sis's assignment would of been to kinda watch baby "Leezer--Squeezer--Squirt,---never Lee" take your pick. The orchards would have been harrowed by Dad or Uncle Frank on the old Fordson Tractor with its steam-emitting radiator and giant, bladed, rear driving wheels churning away.

We would have tested the ponds still-much-too-chilly, murky waters  just in case. Little fuzz-ball "peepies" would be clustered around their almost-constantly clucking and scratching old mother hens leading them in search of weed seeds, bugs and, if lucky, a worm. And the mighty majordomo of the yard, big-daddy-turkey-gobbler, would be strutting his stuff for his small harem. Many of the fruit trees would be in blossom and some of Granddad's many flowers would have already exhibited their beauty for everyone's pleasure.
Spring on that old farm was was always a wonderful time for me and my siblings. It wasn't just that we were free of our school chores, we were free to just enjoy and explore everything around us. That kind of feeling is exclusive to youngsters and we had it in abundance.

We had a half-dozen or so neighbor kids to hobnob with: the Buckleys, the Bevingtons, the Gillespies, the Killians and Bankovitches, as well as a half-dozen or so cousins. The cousins were my Uncle Guy's kids,  the "Davis Glenn" clan, from over on the Dutchridge Road. Ruth was the oldest,  Ronny, next in line, whom we saw only occasionally because he was in the "CCC" (Civilian Conservation Corp), Cleo, Herb, and Ann, the baby of the bunch. We saw them a lot. We either visited them or they visited us.

By then the crows and songbirds would be nesting and Granddad Holt would be watching the skies for the purple martins to arrive and take up residence in the special boxes he had made for them and erected on great high poles. At least they were great high poles to us kids. Small dirt mounds appeared in many of the fields and if you were observant you could catch sight of Momma groundhog and her babies out of their holes enjoying the sunshine and eating the abundant fresh clover. There was "new" everything everywhere, confirmed by the old Burma Shave add which announced: "Spring has sprung, grass has Riz, where last year's wreckless drivers is." What wonderful memories.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Jeremiah & Rebecca M. (Evans) Smith, Hancock Co,, WVA

Jeremiah E. Smith, son of John and Annie M. Smith, first saw the light of day in County Kildare, Ireland in the year 1825 ( according to his entry in the 1860 census, Fairview, Hancock County, Virginia). I have not been able to find when the family migrated to America. What I do know is that he married and that his first wife, Ann, died in Hancock, County, West Virginia on  8 July,1859 and is buried in the Methodist/Protestant Church Cemetery, New Manchester, Hancock County, West Virginia. I could not find any record of children or whether she was from Ireland or America.
Two and a half years later, on the 21st of January, 1862, in New Cumberland, Hancock County, West Virginia, Jeremiah married Rebecca M  Evans daughter of Isaac W. and Ruth (Dawson) Evans. The marriage lasted until Jeremiah's death thirty eight years later in very early 1900. He wrote and signed his will on August 7, 1899 and it was submitted for probate on July 14, 1900.  He was not listed in the 1900 census. He is buried in the New Cumberland Cemetery, New Cumberland, Hancock Co., West Virginia.

They had  ten children over a period of twenty years,  all born in Hancock County, West Virginia, Ann b1862, Isaac Kirby b18 February, 1864, Fanny Bell b23 March, 1866, John H  b1868, George R. P. b5 January, 1870, Benoni Edward bNovember 1873, Ida bJanuary 1876,  Blanche. b1878, Samuel, b1880 and last but not least, Bessie May, b13 January, 1883. I have death dates for only three of the ten, Isaac, 24 August 1864, Fanny Bell, 3 December, 1926 and George R. P., 24 October, 1928. In the 1900 census of the Clay District, Hancock County, West Virginia, only three were still at home with their mother, George, Samuel and Bessie. Rebecca lived on another twenty years until 2 February, 1820. She is buried along side  of Jeremiah in the New Cumberland Cemetery. Interestingly, her daughter, Fannybell lived only four more years dieing in Redondo Beach, California 3 Dec 1924. She is buried alongside her husband, John Newton Thornhill in the Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood Park, Inglewood, California, Los Angeles County, California.
 If anyone who reads this has any information on any one in this family, marriages, children,
pictures, deaths ,etc. I would really appreciate receiving it. Also, I have come across pictures of Jeremiah and Rebecca and will add them as soon as I get them.