Laurel Leaves

Laurel Leaves
Book Cover
Sullivan County Oral History Project

Photo scanned by Derek Davis


Remembrances of Sullivan County Residents

Published by The Sullivan County School District

Transcribed by Derek Davis
February 2005
for the Sullivan County Genealogical Web Page
Source: The Frawley collection
All rights reserved.

Transcript excerpts of Sullivan Countians

who talk about their past experiences

and relate stories told to them


Ninth Grade English Students, 1980‑81

Sullivan County High School

Laporte, Pennsylvania

Produced originally under the supervision of Sally Coleman and Stevie Shoemaker.

A project affiliated with the

National Humanities Faculty

Published by the Sullivan County School District

Printed by The Print Shop

at The Sullivan Review, Dushore, PA

Originals are housed at the Sullivan County Historical Society and Museum in Laporte, PA.


We owe a special debt of gratitude to the advisor of this project, Dr. Robert Engs. Without his moral support and expert guidance throughout, this product, Laurel Leaves, would not have come into being.

To the 1980‑81 Ninth Grade Students in Sullivan County High School, we owe special recognition. They have worked during English classes, in study halls, and at home for nine weeks to produce the transcripts for the material appearing in this first publication.

We certainly appreciate the participation of our students' inter­viewees, the relatives and neighbors who graciously have shared their remembrances of life and work as it used to be.

Of course, there are other persons who have given us valuable support during this first year. Their names are not listed for fear of omitting one. They know who they are. Our students know who they are. We thank you!

S. Coleman

Editorial Policy

A. The questions have been removed from the published transc­ript excerpts. When necessary, questions, enclosed in paren­theses, have been incorporated into statements in the interview.

B. When necessary, the information has been put in chronological order.

C. Repetition has been eliminated.

D. All statements regarding historical events have been left as the subject related them even though contradicted in other inter­views, since we believe history is a matter of perception.

Also, the colloquial expressions, or an individual's way of speaking, has been presented and has not been edited. Concerning vocabulary (even profanity), colloquialisms and other unique forms of verbal expression have been retained.

E. Only obviously libelous remarks about other people have been eliminated.

F. All of the interview in its entirety is presented in our files. Also, the tape or tapes utilized in the oral interview have been presented.

G. A few transcript excerpts have been selected from each of the four ninth grade English classes and are representative of the various areas of the county.

H. Ellipses indicate when a word or words have been omitted from sentences. We have had a little trouble with these ... marks....

Dog Tags
1907 and 1910
Like all rural Americans, local citizens owned dogs. These brass tags were issued to show that the Sullivan County dog
license fee had been paid for the year. Tags were usually attached to a dog collar to establish onwership
and prevent a free roaming dog from ending up in the clutches of the local dog catcher!
Photo source: Scott W. Tilden
Originals auctioned on eBay in October 2012



The Barbour Brothers

Indian Attacks

The Molyneuxs and the Birds

The Underground Railroad

A Sturdy Linsey‑Woolsey Dress

The Steafather Name


Being Seen and Not Heard

Grandma was an Herb Doctor

A Boy and His Cow

I Almost Drowned

Doing Housework

Preserving Food

Smoking Meat

We Played in the Tall Grass

The Dog was My Closest Friend

St. Basil's School in Dushore

School and Snakes at Cherry Mills

Thomas Run School

World War I

Horses and Sleighs


Family Life (in Lopez)

Little Towns

First Radio


Holidays and Parties



The Depression




Cutting and Peeling Trees

The Old Tannery


Silo Filling

Rock Picking

Making a Telford Road

The Creamery and the Icehouse

History of the Creamery

Children's Chores

Doing Laundry



The Dutchman

The Devil's Game




Remembrances of Sullivan County Residents


The Barbour Brothers

It was way back (when) my father's people settled the town named Barbours . . . My mother . . . was born here in Hillsgrove and her grandmother came here in a butcher wagon and ox cart. . . . (With) the early Barbour settlers (that) came here, there was three brothers. They settled in the town of Barbours and all three of 'em were killed. One of 'em was killed going with a bag of wheat on horseback. The Indians killed him between Barbours and Huntersville. They were always great horsemen and they had a very nice horse that they were leading out to water, and he kicked this one Barbour in the head and killed him. The other Barbour had an up-and-down sawmill, and he got caught somehow and sawed in two with his sawmill. But there was enough left of the Barbours to go on and that's where the (original) name came from.

Don Barbour interviewed by Betsy Boyles, Jennie Beeman, Gary Bruns and Lee Liddic

Indian Attack

I'll tell you one (story) that came from the Little family. Back when there was Indians around . . . the parents were away one day and they left the children home in the cabin and the Indians came. The children had hid and the Indians set fire to the cabin and went away. The children came out of the woods to put the fire out, and they found that the Indians had cut the well rope, so that they couldn't get water out of the well. So they grabbed some pails and got the swill out of the swill barrel to put out the fire. (People used to have a barrel outside . . . and they'd put their extra milk in there and maybe their dish water. It'd get sour and then they'd dip it out and feed it to the pigs.)

Bessie Wright Brown interviewed by Kim Smith and Michelle Bacorn

The Molyneuxs and the Birds

My ancestors were the Molyneuxs and the Birds. And then my husband's people were the Warrens. Those three families were the first settlers here in Sullivan County. They farmed up near Millview. They came here from England and the Wrights came to Connecticut, I think back in the 1600's. But the Molyneuxs came to Sullivan County . . . in about around 1790.

Bessie Wright Brown

The Underground Railroad *

Back in the slavery days . . . they had this (thing) called the Un­derground Railroad.... They had different places where they'd hide these black people.... And one of those places was over here on the hill by Jim McCarty's, and nobody ever knew that that existed 'til one time there was horse over the barn, fell through and went way down in this big cellar... Then it came up that was a underground station that those black people would stand in practically all day and wait for night to come and then they'd go on.
* Editor's Note: In July 2011, Connie Hatch wrote as follows:

The UGRR mostly followed the old Genesee Road. Lincoln Falls was the "forks" -- one "line" went on to Canton (via Shunk and Wheelerville) and one on to Towanda (Bethel being one of the "stops"). I found some notes written by a great-grandfather of my husband's. His parents were involved with the UGRR, as well as the parents of the woman he eventually married (a Pardoewho was a Quaker). This gr-grandfather wrote that, had he known sooner about his parents' involvement in the UGRR, he would have interviewed his father when he was still alive. The gr-grandfather moved with his family to this part of Sullivan County when he was about 5 (in 1855), so the UGRR was still in progress in this area in the late 1850s and into the very early 1860s. According to Melanie Norton:

Many people were involved in Sullivan County. Those ferrying slaves north to New York or Canada were quite literally putting their own lives in jeopardy because of Abolitionist ferment and the penalty ranging from confiscation of property to hanging. This realization lent to all persons involved being very low key and distrustful to not let it be known what they were involved in. The Quakers made it a practice to have no written word of instructions for deeds done for fear of retaliation and this made an example for others as well. Word of mouth stories told many years later have relayed the efforts of those involved but, again, no first hand writings have survived in this area.

Don Barbour

A Sturdy Linsey-Woolsey Dress

Now my grandmother was born in (the) fall of 1853.... All the clothes anybody had were made from their own wool and linen, and the cloth was strong. But the sewing was by hand with linen thread they made. And she had a dress that was new and it was linsey­-woolsey—that means linen one way and wool the other. It was gathered quite full, but it would have stood almost anything. One day her father and her brothers were working across the creek— they lived near where Tish Hembury lives now. And they were clearing logs across the creek; the creek was high and it was early in the spring. What her father had done to get over there was (that he) had cut down a tree and let it go across the stream. And he cut off all the limbs on the top with his ax . . . but left the other limbs on that didn't bother him walking across. She was sent over there to call them and tell them it was time for dinner.... When she was crossing this log, she slipped.... She would have fallen in except that her skirt was caught at the waist! There she was in a kind of cradle.... She was afraid to move for fear the back seam in the skirt would go, too, and let her down into the roaring creek! And you know the "Little 'Sock" does get pretty high and it was higher then–the streams had more water then, they say. Anyway, her father and the boys didn't come for dinner and she didn't come back, so her mother started ... towards the creek.... The father and the boys .. .could tell it was time for a meal and they just started home. They all found her there. Her father got her loose without getting her down into the creek.

Pauline Holcombe interviewed by Tammy Miller Mary Schoch and Valerie Sick
and transcribed by Karen Hamilton and Barbie Metzger

The Steafather Name

I know that (Steafather) isn't spelled now like it was spelled when they came from Germany. The story is that . . . when the children started to go to school, and they told their name, the teacher spelled it like it sounded, like they sounded it to her. So that's how it got changed in writing . . . to "Steafather." But on the old maps . . . why it was always spelled the old German way . . . S‑C‑I‑E‑V‑F‑A‑T‑H­-E‑R.

Mary Steafather Wood interviewed by Bobbie McGuire

Growing Up in Sullivan County

Being Seen and Not Heard

Well, it was pretty rough going (when I was a child). People didn't talk out in front of kids like they do today. They kept their troubles and everything to theirselves. They never complained in front of kids or in front of the family. . . . And you know, I never, never heard my dad and mother argue; never one cross word did I ever hear from them.

Fredress Miller interviewed by Jim McHenry

Grandma was an Herb Doctor

My greatgrandmother was what they called a regular old herb doctor .... My aunt used to tell about, ah, goin' out with (her) to gather herbs.... She'd go along with her. And that wasn't all. Gran­dmother was a very saving person. My aunt would go out with her in the chicken yard and they'd pick up all the little soft feathers to put in pillows. And then they'd go around the pasture fence and pick off all the little bits of wool off'n the fence and they'd wash that up; use it to make yarn out of.

Bessie Wright Brown

A Boy and His Cow

When I was a kid, my dad took me down to Jamison City. I probably was about fourteen years old. We left sometime about 3:00 (in) the early morning. We got to Jamison City at daylight to pick up a cow. My dad came on home to do the chores and what not; I started home with the cow. I spent the whole day and a little while into the evening leading that cow home. And they routed me through Thornedale. I never thought I'd seen so much woods in my life, and I never thought I was gonna come out at the other end. I went in Thornedale at Nordmont and came out at Ringdale on a road that I'd never seen before in my life. When it started getting dark I was about at Ringdale and I had to come over the hill and out across there, down the Cook Hill. By the time I got home, I was pretty well scared out. I think that was the longest trip I ever made in my life.

Joseph J. Sick interviewed by Pat Sick

I Almost Drowned

I almost drowned one time, but that was up at Ricketts. (I) fell in a well. I was only about four years old. My mother caught me just in time. She could just lay down and reach down in and get ahold of my hand to pull me out. I guess I was always afraid of water after that! I never learned to swim.

Mary Steafather Wood

Doing Housework

We washed our clothes with a washboard in a tub.... We did (the clothes) in the house. We had this big metal rectangular boiler that set on the stove with the clothes in it after they were scrubbed on the washingboard. Then we boiled them and then rinsed them again in rinse water. Oh, what work! But they were nice and spickin'‑spankin' clean. It was like we sterilized them when we boiled them. About 1929‑1930, we did get a washer‑wringer type . . . with a handle to crank. Sears and Roebuck, Kenmore (it) would have been. And we had a sewing machine with a wooden box cover.... It was a "Minnesota,"' a black one. You would have a pedal that you pumped back and forth with your feet that turned a round wheel that had a bar to make the needle go up and down.

Anna Orlowski interviewed by Cindy Orlowski

Preserving Food

Well, (to preserve food), they used to cold pack it and then they like pickled (it); put it down in salt brine and then they put the meat down in salt and that's the way they used to have to do it. They didn't have no refrigerators or anything (to) put their vegetables and stuff in.

Harland Fetherbay interviewed by Tim McDonald

Smoking Meat

We raised most of our food. We used to butcher about four pigs a year . . . and we'd butcher a cow every year. My job (was) to make the brine up to put the hams in.... We used to fill the barrel half full of water, then keep adding salt 'til it floated an egg. Then we'd drop the hams in it and after they was in there pretty much all winter, we used to take them out. My job (was) to keep the fire going in the smokehouse. We used to take corncobs and we tried to get hickory sawdust to smoke our meat. Then when it got dry, we'd wrap it in bags and hang it in the attic and it stayed good all year.

Joseph J. Sick

We played in the Tall Grass

(When we was children) we played hide 'n' seek, hitting a ball with a stick . . . and tag. When we played tag, my father would come out and yell at us for trampling the tall grass down. Or we'd hit the ball and it'd get lost in the tall grass and we'd be trying to find it and he'd yell at us.... I liked picking huckleberries. I always enjoyed being out in the woods. We'd go swimming in Sulfur Water. We cleaned out an area of the creek and make a little swimming pool. Really the boys made it for us girls. Those rocks are heavy so they cleaned it out for us.

Anna Orlowski

The Dog was My Closest Friend

I had no one to play with, that is, the nearest neighbor was about half a mile away. So I didn't have many playmates. And the dog and I were great friends. I think my parents were worried a little bit that I might get bit by a rattlesnake 'cause there were rattlesnakes in that area. The dog did get bit once, and he doctored himself. He went down to the millpond and crawled into the mud and lay there for, oh, several days; finally recovered from it. So, if you ever get bit by a rattlesnake you'll know what to do!

Mark Burgess interviewed by Bill Hamilton and Karl Hugo

St. Basil's School in Dushore

(When 220 was going through) ... I was in Saint Basil's High School at the time. And, ah, we ... used to have the whole school gather in the auditorium. So this particular day, (the Pastor Sweeny) sent me up to the stage, and he said, "Now make a speech." I didn't know what in the world to say. "Well," he said, "Well there is a new road going through, a new highway, Route 220." He said, "Can't you make a speech about that?" "Well, I wouldn't know what to say." He said, "Well, ah, when there is a good highway," he said, "what do people do?" Well, I said, "They go; they travel on it." "Yes," he said, "They will be traveling to Dushore." And then he said, "When they leave Dushore what will they leave behind?" And I said, "Well they will leave a lot of dust." And everybody roared laughing! What he wanted me to say was that when they came to town they would spend money, and leave money in the community, and I didn't know that, so that was the end of my speech.

Mary Rouse interviewed by David Klem

Cherry Mills School
Souvenir 1897-98 School Year
Found in the home where the Dempsey ancestors lived in Cherry Mills
Photo by Mike Demspey
Who was given this document by the current owner of the old Dempsey property in February 2008

School and Snakes at Cherry Mills

On cold winter mornings we used to jump out of bed and grab your clothes, run down to the kitchen stove, get dressed, rush to the barn, help milk the cows, run in and have breakfast, and take off two miles to school in Cherry Mills .... We went (to school) five days a week, 9 to 4. We had two fifteen minutes recesses and an hour (at) noon.... In the morning we started out with arithmetic and then we would have reading. Then in the afternoon we would (have) health and geography and history.... In the springtime we'd eat some them wild leeks, and the teacher would send us home.

Some days we used to have an old horse and my dad used to hitch it to either a wagon or a cart. We'd drive the horse to school and turn the horse loose and the horse would come home by himself.... I remember one time when there was a big flood. When we came across the bridge between our place and the school, the water had gone over the fields, and when we come across, we waded in that icy water and hung onto the barbed wire fence to keep from being washed away.... (I) can't remember being scared, but that water was awful cold.

Once in awhile the springtime we'd eat some of them wild leeks, and the teacher would send us home. We had a little creek go by the school.... One time there was a great big ball of snakes come out like big as a bushel basket. We snuck them in teacher's drawer and when school started getting hot, the snakes started crawling out of the drawer and we got the afternoon off.

Joseph J. Sick

Thomas Run School, down the road from Colley

You should get your lessons and you did. (If) you missed too many words in spelling, you'd stay after school while the other kids got to go home. You had a big black board. You wrote that damn word that you missed anywheres from 10 to 20, thousand times, before you could go home. Next day you'd study your spelling!

Clarence Dieffenbach interviewed by Mary Knappman

World War I

When I went in the army during World War I, it was the first time that I ever had slept in a sleeping compartment on a train. I went from Dushore here down to Wilkes‑Barre, and there at Wilkes‑Barre I got on a train....And, of course, during World War I (the government was running the trains).... It was very, very hard to travel, to get onto a train because there were no available seats... When I got on this, I had, of course, all these government tickets. There in Wilkes-Barre...I had this ticket for a first‑class seat and sleeping compar­tment, and all he said (was), "Well, I'm sorry lady, but we don't have any such ones—reservations—open now." And I said, "Well, Un­cle Sam says that that's the way I go, and I'd hate to make any trou­ble about it. But that's the way I go." And when he saw that he couldn't push me aside, well he says, "Wait a minute 'till I check and see what I can do." I got my ticket and sure enough I got to be where I wanted....Oh, I had yards and yards (of tickets). They'd pull off a chunk. Let's see; I was from Monday...(to) the evening of the following Saturday…a whole week on the train to Waco, Texas.

Loueva Dieffenbach interviewed by Mary Knappman


Horses and Sleighs

(During the winter we traveled) with the sleigh, horses and sleigh…. They had the bobsleds, and when there was supper at Forksville, someone on the hill would pick us up with the bobsleds. All different families would go…. (For) Christmas programs and things at Estella, why they would take horses and bobsleds. And it used to drift so you couldn't even get up the road. You had to travel in the fields. It was a lot of fun…. All different families on the hill was in bobsleds together and covered up with blankets and used to have a good time…. They had two (horses)… most of the time. Once in a while you had three, but… two was about all we ever had.

Jean Higley interviewed by Shelia King

Community Life was Rich and Varied

Family Life (in Lopez)

We had about three acres of land and there were two homes on this land, a big house and the little house. There was a creek that ran behind the house and there was no woods around it like there is today, just tall grass. We didn't have much of any (modern con­veniences). We didn't have no indoor bathroom, just an outhouse, but, of course, everyone did back then.

Anna Orlowski

Little Towns

When I was a kid, there was a town at Cherry Mills. They had a big gristmill there, three stories high. There was a grocery store and the Gross Hotel. The gristmill was owned by Joseph Sick. The store and hotel was owned by a Charles Sick. The 'Sock had a dam across it, and the gristmill had a great big waterwheel. The first year I went to school, the millpond went out, and all them fields that's on the lower side of Cherry Mills...flooded with water.

Joseph J. Sick

First Radio

(My first TV set?) It wasn't a big thing, I guess ....The first radio was the most interesting—the most exciting of anything. I remember when they talked radio and I wanted to hear one awful bad, and I remember I went up to Julius or Helen Luches, she had bought the first one, and I heard the ball game over it. And in the daytime it wouldn't speak very good, but at night it was pretty decent.

Charles & Mary Litzelman interviewed by Curin Heinighaus


As far as anyplace to go for any entertainment, there just wasn't such a thing. They had Sunday School in the school house held across the road, and we had to go to Sunday School....We had preaching there once in awhile; once a month or something like that, the preacher came up from Forksville and, if your people were religious, you had to go to services. I'll have to admit they generally weren't very entertaining to a kid like (me), but nevertheless, Dad said you go to church and you went and that would be all there would be to it.

Mark Burgess interviewed by Bill Hamilton and Karl Hugo

Holidays and Parties

Well, on Halloween, whatever the other kids did, I guess (I did)... Go around monkeying, soaping windows and stuff like that, nothing that was too mean, just little tricks. I went to a few dances in Dushore and in Colley. (Sometimes) at them dances, just a lot of fights going on. At a Halloween dance at Colley... I danced with (these two girls) every set all evening, and I didn't know 'till the next day that they were two men.... I worked in the store then a little bit for John Diltz, and he was kidding me about it the next day. He asked if I had a good time; I said, "Oh yeah, I had a dandy time and had every dance." I said, "I'd seen your wife there (and) Mrs. McCracken, but I didn't see you or Professor McCracken." He just laughed, he said the one(s) that I was dancing with were him and Professor Mc­Cracken dressed up as girls. Oh, they got a great kick out of that!

Leo O'Neill interviewed by Carrie Gilbert


We hunted small game. Rabbits was so thick you could only hunt a little while and you'd have all you could carry... Back at that time we had all kinds of grouse. They used to go up in bunches 10‑12‑14... We (also) had a few quail around here. Another thing we had that we don't seem to have today (was) ringnecks... We all hunted together here. Everybody would get up early, milk your cows. About twenty of us then, we'd hunt all day, and you could hunt all day and you never seen anybody you didn't know by his first name. It ain't like going in the woods today where you don't know anybody.

I went for bear one time. It started raining and freezing. We were in between the Nordmont and Thornedale, and it got so foggy we couldn't see. It was nice and warm when we left, then it got so cold our guns froze up. Our compasses wouldn't work. I said if I got out of the woods I'd never bother a bear again, and I never did.

Joseph J. Sick


Of course we knowed about the Klu Klux Klan (in Lackawanna County)... It's like a lodge, you know, that has all kinds of things.... I use to have two uncles that was KKK. One time we went to a meet­ing. It was kind of a picnic they had, and they could take their fami­lies, so we went with my uncle, mother and us girls. They had their meeting, of course; we didn't hear. We played out. And, ah, gee. af­ter while there was a great big fire, a great big cross they burnt. Oh it was a big one.

They didn't want to hurt anybody and they was out to see that they was gonna take care of their families. This one man, well, he had a family and... he just didn't provide for them. He'd drink his money up and they took many a basket and put on their doorstep. They went to him and they told him that he had to straighten up and take care of his family....They told him what was gonna happen if he didn't. By golly, one night they got after him and that was the last time he ever drank. They scared him so bad... because they was gonna tar and feather him.

Fredess Miller

The Depression

We didn't know what the (Depression) was like here because we didn't feel it that bad. We had cousins come here to stay that was from Wilkes‑Barre and some from New York City. They told about standin' in line half a day just to get a bowl of soup. I guess it was pretty rough in some of those places. Yeah, around here everybody had their own feed (food?). Things were a little hard, but not like the city people had it. (My relatives) generally came in the summer time; stay for a month or so, and generally help with the haying. Any place they could go where they could get something to eat. They was willing to work for whatever they could get to eat.

Joseph J. Sick


When (my daddy) was idle them fourteen months, he was out looking for work. He done a little of this and a little of that.... That was during the time that the Depression was. But it was election year. Well, they come to daddy and...they told him if he changed his politics he would have a job; they would give him a job. And daddy said, "Never, never will I change my politics, never!" So they asked mother if she would change hers. If she would change...they'd give him a job building a new high school. So mother went and changed her politics. So daddy got a job when they was building the new high school.

Fredress Miller

Making a Living in Sullivan County


I was a woodsman! ... In the beginning there was nothing taken out but hemlock. The hemlock was hauled to the creek with sleds and horses. The bark was hauled here to Hillsgrove (for the tannery). A lot of trees was just cut down for the bark, and the lumber or tim­ber was left there. Then when creeks got high in the spring and after the ice went out, the logs were rolled in and floated down to Mon­toursville. There they were sawed up into lumber... And William­sport was known as "The Lumber City in the East."

Don Barbour

Cutting and Peeling Trees

...A man would cut a tree down in the woods then, and the only thing he had to use was an ax. They didn't have crosscut saws in those days. So that was brutally hard work—step up to a tree and chop it down and turn around and fit it. (What) I mean by that, if they were peeling it, one man would go along the tree about every three or four feet—four feet, I guess it was. He'd make a ring around it with his ax. The next man was called a fitter. And he would come along with a spud and pry that piece of bark off. And so they would peel the tree. They wouldn't peel it all the way to the top where the limbs got too numerous; they'd just stop there and go to the next tree.... My father was more of a lumberman than he was a farmer, and so he bought this farm that had a good stand of timber on it. And he put up a sawmill. Besides farming each bothers would peel bark, and then in the winter they'd cut the logs up and we'd put them in the sawmill and saw them up and sell the lumber.

Mark Burgess

The Old Tannery

Well, (How they worked at the tannery?) First of all the hides were not like the hides that you think (of). They were big, dry hides like a board. They were shipped here from Argentina, South America, and these cattle were slaughtered down there not (for) the meat so much but just for the hides. They were dried some way (and)... ship­ped here. They were taken out of the hide house where they were kept dry and then they were put to soak in what we call liquor. Now, liquor is not in the terms that you think (of). It was made of extracts, sugar, tanned bark that they ground from hemlock, and then they were soaked for X number of days. They came out of there and they were just flimsy, soft, and the hair was still on... they had a very bad odor. Then they were put on a big board, and... they scraped all the hairs off of them. Then they went back into another solution, and they were put in what they called the rockers. There they was doused up and down. They were taken out of there and then they were dried. Then they went to the rolling raft (?). (By) then the hides were about thick like sole leather... They were all rolled and the creases and everything was all taken right out 'til they were big wide pieces of leather. They were (then) loaded on the (rail) car and ship­ped to these shoe factories where the sole leathers were cut out and pieces for harnesses were made. It took 110 days from the time the dry hide was throwed in the liquor in the tannery 'til it came out a piece of dry leather at the end of the (line).

The reason why (the tannery) left was... you don't see kids much with leather soles on their shoes, and that's what they made, sole leather. And they used it for harnesses and the leather they used on saddles. It got to the point where... wasn't so much hemlock, and there wasn't much use for sole leather for shoes or one thing or another.

We didn't swim at the bridge... when the tannery was here. They were dumping extracts and stuff in there, and if a cow drank a drink of water down here below, around the bridge or anywhere's, it would kill him deader than a mackerel. So... when we went swimming, we had to go up Mill Creek or... Mag's Rock.

Don Barbour


I worked at O'Boyle and Foy's mine. That was located between Mildred and Lopez. I made about nine and a half cents per hour. It didn't work very steady. It was low work; low vein coal and misera­ble work. The veins of coal, lots of it, was only about, oh, from twenty inches to two feet high. We had to crawl back there sometimes a couple of hundred feet to lay on your side to shovel the coal. Lots of times clothes were wet and in winter it would freeze quickly and we were tired. In the winter time, when the snow was on the ground and sunny, going in for the night‑shift in the afternoon, you were almost blind for a while until you got accustomed to the darkness in the mines.

Albert J. Exley interviewed by Mark Beaver


...When they started the mines, it was good. Everything was solid, but after, when they came to the end of the coal, they started taking the pillars. (The) pillars was like this wall, and that's what they call the pillars, and they'd be about sixteen feet wide. Then you was tak­ing that back and you wasn't leaving nothing behind, so after you got so far the roof would get so heavy that it would start falling down on ya... (That's how) I had my (leg) broken....It was in the stick place like that, high coal. It was about eight feet high and we was taking the pillars back and the place was working. See, working like the rock was breaking everything off way up to the top of the ground. So I happened to just go down to the shovel and get a load of... coal....I stand and a piece of coal fell off of that rim up the edge. It come down, I couldn't, I didn't have a chance to drop it or get out of the way. It just come so damn fast and broke my leg.

Steve and Sophie Hoodak interviewed by Debbie Wilcox and Sandy Weisbrod

Silo Filling

Well, we used to fill our silos like they don't do today. We cut the corn by hand, then loaded it on the wagons and hauled it in with the horses. Then we stuffed it in an old blower that chopped it up. Then blew it into the silo. We had a bunch, 15‑16 (men), all the neighbors would get together. We'd fill one silo at a neighbor's, then we'd move to another neighbor and fill his. We'd fill a good silo in a day–day and a half. Four‑five teams of horses hauling, 4‑5 men load the corn, two at the silo pullin' it off, one stuffin' it in. Then they had two in the silo spreading it around, tramping it down. The (silos) were about 10‑12 feet wide and about highest one around would have been about 30‑35 feet.

Joseph J. Sick

Rock Picking

(Rock picking was the hardest job.) It was (done) during the hot weather and you had to take the stones off the top of the plowed ground and then hauled them over to the stone pile and you had to unload them by hand too. I helped my granddad and we had oxens and the stone boat....It just had runners on it and planks across it. They took a lot of stones and made flatstone fences out of them.

Harland Fetherbay

Making a Telford Road

In 1912, they put this road through here... from the top of the hill (at Colley) up to Saxe's... there by the pond. (It was two miles and one‑tenth.) I worked on it from the top of the hill out here 'till it was finished....This road is what you call a telford—you won't hear it, no one will know what you mean by it. It's, ah, they graded it, I be­lieve sixteen feet... wide. And it was really hard and graded... just like the ground was. But they flattened it out a little. This country all around here... practically every farm had stonewalls for fences, pro­bably four feet wide and four foot high, stones instead of putting posts and wires up. (All) those stones went into this damn highway. And they hauled them along here and dumped them along the side. Then you'd set the stones up edgeways and tight enough so that.. ten‑ton roller could get up on it and flatten them out. They had to stand straight when he rolled that with the big roller. The two of us had fifty feet or more to lay. We got fifteen cents an hour, dollar and half a day. Stanley Erle (my wife's brother) and I, we damned near doubled that sometimes.... That was big money at that time! And it was rather hard work down on your knees . . . all the time in the dirt. But then they... rolled that. They had the stone crusher up here just above the Grange Hall on the other side of the road. That ground up the rocks... the bunches that they put on. Then they rolled them hard. And they put some pine on top of that. They rolled that and kept it wet. And that highway's been here ever since. (The dictionary tells us that "telford" is a road pavement built by laying pieces of broken stone, seven or eight inches in diameter, upon the road foundation, packing them with smaller pieces, covering with gravel and rolling hard and smooth.)

Clarence Dieffenbach interviewed by Mary Knappman

Ice Harvest in the 1920s
The presence of what appears to be a mechanized or tractor driven ice sled points to a
later date than the methods described below for the Kaier beer enterprise or the Harrington creamery supplies.

Photo contributed by Frank Snyder

The Creamery and the Icehouse

(The) creamery owned the icehouse (in Dushore)....They (got) their ice off Dushore pond (made by the dairy). They'd have a bunch of men... first start cuttin' the ice. They'd pull a cutting machine with a horse. Used to groove the ice then break it loose with spuds, pull it down the channel, (and) run it up an elevator. They'd haul it with horses down to the creamery, then they elevated it into the ice­house, cover it with sawdust. **

** Editor's Note: John C. Lieberman gives us additional perspective on the "ice" business. His family intermarried with the Kaier family, famous both for local religious leadership and for developing a thriving brewery business locally and in Mahanoy City, PA. You can learn more about them at The Kaiers Come to Pennsylvania in Faces and Families of Old Sulivan County, Group Ten. Any way, John contributed a Request dated May 1898, from a Lehigh Valley Railroad agent on behalf of the Kaier family brewery business to solicit prices for carloads of sawdust! The request mentions as potential sources the major Sullivan County lumber enterprises operated by Jennings Brothers and Trexler and Turrell:

Mr. Kaier needed a lot of saw dust for his ice business, The saw dust was used as an insulating material for keeping his ice below 32 degrees F. In 1892 Mr. Kaier installed an ammonia compressor, condenser, etc in his engine house which was part of the brewery in Mahnaoy City. This refrigeration unit was used to cool the wort (beer) from the brewhouse kettle, keep the fermenting beer at the proper temperature and keep the aging beer at the proper temperature. Prior to 1892, the beer was keep at the proper temperature in caves or underground where the temperature was colder than outside temperature. Yuengling brewery in Pottsville, still owns the caves from more than 150 years ago, now being part of the brewery tour there. I don't know when Charles Kaier stopped using ice from his dam to refrigerate the beer. But in 1989 they still required ice at least for sale to the taverns that sold Kaier's beer. They also still sold ice at that timeto the residents in the Mahanoy City area to keep their food cold when the "cold box" outside the kitchen window was of no help in keeping their food cold. The ammonia refrigeration unit that Kaier had installed in 1892 could have been used to make ice from the Kaier dam. I don't know when they started to make their own ice, but it had to be after 1892. By the way, when I worked for the Pabst brewery in Milwaukee in 1967, they still had concrete "tanks" for refrigerating their beer. The tanks had concrete roofs holding ice from Lake Michigan that was used to keep their beer cold. I know that the Kaiers were harvesting ice in 1912 from their dam which was located very close to the Lehigh Valley RR at the top of the cemetery road in Mahanoy City. In fact, there is a photo of the Kaier dam, and the ice storage building and stables, in the Kaier 1912 50th Anniversary booklet.

(The creamery) used to ship their milk all out in bottles on railroad cars. After you got the bottles all loaded in the car, then you crushed ice, and threw it all over them milk bottles, cover it with big, heavy mats and it would go to New York and other places. That's how they kept their milk from spoiling; that's what they filled the icehouse for.

Joseph J. Sick

Harrington Creamery
Dushore, PA 1915

Photo contributed by Frank Snyder

History of the Creamery

...Maurice J. Harrington was the local man here and in the early 1900's, 1912, he established a plant down here to receive milk and cream to make butter. Later, it developed into a larger plant. He opened plants in Wilkes‑Barre, Newark, New Jersey, and he sold milk there. Then in 1912 he started to make ice cream, and by 1946, when we sold to Philadelphia Dairy, we were producing about a mil­lion and a half gallons of ice cream a year, and it was being sold not only in Northeastern Pennsylvania, but in southern and central New York State (as well). It was a large operation.

We operated as Harrington and Company until 1946 when our company was sold to the Philadelphia Products Company and for ten years they operated it as the Philadelphia Dairy Products Com­pany. Then in '56, Philadelphia Dairy Company sold its interest to the Foremost Dairies. So it was Foremost Dairies then from '56 until '65 when it was deteriorated and it became owned by other people, and later on it was closed up entirely.

About 1940, they put the eight hour day in. Prior to that, you could work as long as you wanted to, but you did have to pay time and a half over the 40 hours they worked in a week. We bought milk from about 1500 farmers....The Federal government sort of told us what we should pay for the way our milk was sold. In other words, if you sold all milk into fluid milk or bottled milk, you paid a higher price than if you sold it to make butter or cheese or some other product. So you had to take all these different milks that you made into (dif­ferent products) and (work out) an average price....Before you paid it to the farmers, you had to check with the Federal government to see that you were following their rules....Like one farmer told me one time; I said, "What did we pay you for milk last month?" And he said, "I don't know, but it wasn't enough." That's the way the farm­ers looked at it a little bit ....

At first each farmer drove in his own milk. Then they had a man who would go along and he'd get hold of maybe twelve or fifteen farmers and say I'll take your milk to the plant for so much a hun­dred. Generally the rate was around $.35 to $.40 a hundred....We paid the driver and just deducted it from the farmer's milk price when we paid him.

(It's) natural when you sell anything like food (to get complaints). In fact one of the worst scares I've had was up in Nichols, New York. We sold ice cream and there was a typhoid epidemic broke out in Nichols where we had sold ice cream. It came out in the paper that some local person had blamed the typhoid epidemic on the ice cream. We got the health department in and they said, "No, it couldn't have been from the ice cream because your ice cream is sold all over the area and why would these ten or twelve people in Nichols get typhoid fever when they didn't get it anyplace else?"

Abe Frank Snyder interviewed by Jim McCamley and Andy Bohensky

Children's Chores

Well, from the time we were small children, we helped around the farm here. And, ah, we used to make maple syrup and before school and after school we used to have to carry sap and build a fire and keep the sap boiling... Right up here in the woods... we had what we called a sap house. And we had a sap pan. And we put the sap in this pan. We could put about two barrels of sap in at one time. And then we'd boil that down. And as it boiled down, we'd keep puttin' more sap in. And it'd take about fifty gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup... we used to make quite a bit. At that time maple syrup sold for a dollar a gallon and maple sugar sold for ten cents a pound.

(To go about making maple sugar) you just boil your syrup a little bit longer, and then it gets hard, after it cools off. You boil it longer. And then you put it in dishes, and then after it gets cold you take it out of the dishes and you have a cake of maple syrup.

Peter Emig interviewed by Diane Harrington

Doing Laundry

I went to school at public school in Dushore until I was sixteen years old. Then I quit school and I worked at home with my mother. My mother had very sore legs. She wasn't well and I helped work in the fields and gardens and helped around the house. We had cows and I milked cows and took care of the chores like that....My mother took in washing and she'd wash clothes for people, so I had to carry the water....There was a watering trough right down in front of our home, (I'd) just carry the water from there. My mother used to have to put it on top of the stove to warm it to wash the clothes.

Clara Ricci interviewed by Tracy Walsh


Education there in the days when I started teaching school was a rather inexpensive proposition. I taught school the first term for $45.00 a month. And you did all the janitor work, built your fires and swept the schoolhouse and brought the drinking water in.

Mark Burgess interviewed by Bill Hamilton and Karl Hugo

Legends and Stories

The Dutchman

...Another very interesting character was a fella that lived (nearby). A very short Dutchman and I didn't know him too well. I'd seen him a few times, but he did a rather peculiar thing, I think. There was a graveyard on Bear Mountain, very few people knew it on Green Mountain. And the graveyard is very close to his dwelling. I know; this boy and I stayed all night in that house one long night after these people were gone. These people that bought the place, we were a little worried about that graveyard and a thunderstorm came up in the night. Thunder and lightening flashed, our bed collapsed, might be by the thunder, but it wasn't put up too good and we went on the floor. We were quite excited about it.

Well, anyhow, this old gentleman got in a quarrel with his wife. And he got badly upset by anyone who influenced her so that he went out, took his gun, went out in the graveyard, layed down in the grave and pointed the gun at his head and threatened to shoot him­self if, uh, she didn't comply with whatever their difficulty was. Well, they were characters, but what made them interesting sometimes was what they said and I don't think we should go into that.

Mark Burgess

The Devil's Grave

This legend was told to me by my great‑grandfather. Your great­-great‑great‑grandfather, Josiah Hembury, who was an immigrant from England, worked in many sawmills in this county. At this time he worked at a sawmill at Seamons in the middle of the (19th) cen­tury....One morning a stranger appeared on the job and asked the foreman for a job. The foreman put him to work....When noon came the men, as customary, would go to camp for lunch. So they asked this man his name and he told (them) "The Devil." And they asked him to go to lunch and he said no, he was going to stay and have lunch with the devil. So the men went (to lunch) without him. And when they returned from lunch, there they found a tree which had blown over on top of the man, and he was dead. No one ever knew any different. So they dug a grave and this is where they buried the man who claimed he was the devil. Just a flat stone laid over the grave site in place of a marker. He was killed when the tree top went over him... and crushed him. The flagstone is still there that was used for the marker. (That's) at Lopez at what they call the Seamons place on the large Loyalsock, probably 3 or 4 miles below Kachmar­sky's farm... going towards Thorndale or Ringdale. There's been people there to the grave. Now I've never seen the grave myself...

Joseph Hembury interviewed by Ronnie Hembury


Staff members, including English and social studies teachers at Sullivan County High School, became aware of the fact in 1978, that little of the history of Sullivan County had been maintained since the turn of the century. A grant proposal was writ­ten to the National Humanities Faculty. The problem was identified. The proposal specified the need for our students to be engaged in an empirical learning activity that would involve them in developing oral and written language skills and, at the same time, have them participating in a valid primary historical procedure.

Following our affiliation with the National Humanities Faculty, we received gifts of money from local community organizations; also, the Sullivan County Board of School Directors granted us eight hundred dollars to purchase cassette tape re­corders and tapers. An oral history unit of study was approved for ninth grade Eng­lish classes. With these grants we were able to integrate the oral history concept as a nine‑week unit within the traditional English curriculum for ninth grade students.

During the summer of 1980, a Core Team from Sullivan County High School at­tended a two‑week Summer Institute and was able to do individual and joint research on the project with professional assistance.

Our NHF grant provided expert consultants in the areas of oral history and folklore to assist in planning for the project. These experts were from Foxfire Foundation, University of Pennsylvania, Minnesota Folklife Center, Villanova University, and Cor­nell College, Mt. Vernon, Iowa.

During 1980‑81, the classroom teacher was given an additional planning period, specified by NHF. Classroom activities were developed by the teacher and students and included the following procedures:

1. Introduction to oral history—a people‑centered history—and objectives for the oral interviewing project in ninth grade English.

2. Students and teacher discussed the qualifications used as guidelines for selec­tion of interviewees.

3. Identification of older people, relatives or neighbors, as sources for oral history. Students discussed selection with parents.

4. Students and teacher developed questionnaire outline and prepared for initial contact and first interview.

5. Students contacted older relative or neighbor chosen by students to interview, informing potential informants about the project and the value of personal recollec­tion in compiling the history of Sullivan County. Students explained the use of the tape recorder, guidelines for the interview, and the necessity for a written legal re­lease form.

6. Students practices oral interviewing techniques in the classroom by interview­ing class members and older visitors in the classroom. Students helped transcribe (write verbatim) tapes of oral interviews to reinforce skills in oral interviewing.

7. Students interviewed informants using interview outline as a guide for questions.

8. Students indexed content of tapes and transcribed taped interview.

9. Students conducted follow‑up interviews, if time permitted, to clarify questions and seek additional information from informant.

10. Transcripts were proofread. Spelling errors were corrected by students and teacher. Transcripts were checked for accuracy by listening to the taped interviews.

11. Volunteers, adults and business students, typed transcripts.

12. Transcripts were edited for clarity and for publication of a final product, if time permitted.

The pilot project has demonstrated quite clearly that an oral history unit is work. It is definitely a "hands on" experience, not a passive learning activity. The taped in­terviews can easily be transcribed, proofread, and corrected within a nine‑week period if the students, motivated and directed by the teacher and parents, properly pace the work.

In the years to come, we intend to follow through with the project, using ninth grade English classes as the base. We plan to interview additional sources and main­tain the project as an ongoing unit of study in the English curriculum.

The oral history process is extremely important for students, as they are taught to gather data just as historians would do. At the same time they develop their English skills in treating the data. This data also provides us with an evolving historical docu­ment, that grows each year and becomes a textbook for our community school in the areas of history and English, and eventually a resource of great value to all members of the Sullivan County community. The project also allows us to participate in a school‑community cooperative effort to preserve our history.

We hope that this publication will generate the necessary funds to purchase cas­sette tapes, repair equipment, and publish a second Laurel Leaves during the 1981‑82 school year. In our first publication we have skimmed the surface of our transcript contents. We hope to share more data with you in the future.

Interviewees—Interviewers—1980 81

1. Mrs. Grace Andrews—Karen Oliver

2. Mrs. Ruth Arey—Joel Hope, Anita Tourscher, Angie Bradley

3. Mr. Walter Arnold—Walter Fontaine

4. Mr. Don Barbour—Jennie Beeman, Betsy Boyles, Gary Bruns, Lee Liddic

5. Mrs. Lulu Bedford—Alan Bedford

6. Mrs. Elizabeth Bigelow—Michelle Heath

7. Mrs. Ethel Bird—Marsha Woodhead

8. Mr. Clinton Boyles—David Frey

9. Mr. Ralph Brink—Rhonda Phillips

10. Mrs. Bessie Brown—Kim Smith, Michelle Bacorn

11. Mrs. Helen Burgess—Joel Hope

12. Mr. Mark Burgess—Bill Hamilton, Karl Hugo

13. Mr. Roscoe Burgess—Scott Yates

14. Mrs. Mary Calaman—Bonnie Higley

15. Mr. Robert Carpenter—Idabelle Altemose

16. Mrs. Josephine Chrzanowski—Dee Ann Chrzanowski

17. Mr. Victor Cott—Chris Franki

18. Mr. Frank Cox—Mike Ruble, John Barnes

19. Mr. Derrick Davis—Tammy McCusker

20. Mr. John Decker—Rhonda Garey

21. Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Dieffenbach—Mary Knappman

22. Mrs. Susan Eby—Brenda Souder

23. Mr. Peter Emig—Diane Harrington

24. Mr. Albert Exley—Mark Beaver

25. Mr. Harland Fetherbay—Tim McDonald

26. Mr. Leon Fetherbay—Tim McDonald

27. Mr. Clair Fiester—Danny Brink

28. Mr. Rip Hanley—Dave Smith

29. Mrs. Florence Hatch—Roger Hatch

30. Mr. Arlan Higley—John Hutchinson

31. Mrs. Jean Higley—Sheila King

32. Mr. Albert Hoag—Jimmy Nolan, Earl Altemose

33. Mr. Steven Hoodak—Debbie Wilcox, Sandy Weisbrod

34. Mr. Melvin Hutchinson—Mike Higley

35. Mrs. Valma Kadak—Sarah Brown, Jamie Chase

36. Mr. and Mrs. Ray Kanally—Mike McCarty

37. Mr. Harry Kilmer—Laura Yanney, Donna Kilmer, Stacey Pardoe

38. Mr. Arthur Kinsley—Derrick Davis, Steve Selleck, Mike Spencer

39. Mrs. Vernie Kinsley—Tammy Richlin

40. Mr. George Little—Bryan Hurst

41. Mr. and Mrs. Charles Litzelman—Curin Hemighaus

42. Miss Beatrice Mason—Bob Montgomery

43. Mr. Rush McCarty—Michelle McCarty

44. Mr. Francis Mclntire—Rusty Mclntire

45. Mrs. Fredress Miller—Jim McHenry

46. Mr. Carl Molyneux—Brian McCarty

47. Mr. Frank Molyneux—Susan Woodhead

48. Mrs. Susan Morgan—Robin Heess

49. Mr. Frank Mosier—Misty Bacorn, Tammy Parrish

50. Mrs. Jessie Nesbitt—Tracy Perrin

51. Mr. Herbert Norton—Mike Richmond

52. Mrs. Clara O'Neill—Michelle Jordan, Eileen McDonald

53. Mr. Lee O'Neill—Carrie Gilbert

54. Mrs. Anna Orlowski—Cindy Orlowski

55. Mr. Fred Phillips—Diane VanBuskirk, Marcia Faus, Joe Barto

56. Mr. Leo Phillips—Diane VanBuskirk. Marcia Faus

57. Mr. John Potuck—Ann Potuck

58. Mr. Charles Raub—Roger Hatch

59. Mr. Edward Rexer—Ronnie Rexer

60. Mrs. Clara Ricci—Tracy Walsh

61. Miss Mary Rouse—David Klem

62. Mrs. Ellen Ryan—Bill Ryan

63. Mrs. Ethel Sandusky—Jan Sandusky

64. Mrs. Geraldine Scanlin—Chris Yonkin

65. Mrs. Florence Schweitzer—Blaine Peterman

66. Mrs. Martha Shultz—Lenny Shultz

67. Mr. Joseph Sick—Pat Sick

68. Mr.Chet Siegel—Donna Johnson

69. Mr. A.F. Snyder—Andy Bohensky, Jim McCamley

70. Mr. Lewis Speary—Steve Hunter

71. Mr. Harry D. Smith—Paul Gable

72. Mr. George Taylor—Tammy Rine

73. Mrs. Glen Taylor—Joel Hope, Anita Tourscher, Angie Bohensky

74. Mr. Victor Totoris—Jimmy Nolan, Earl Altemose

75. Mrs. Julia Vanderpool—David Vanderpool

76. Mrs. Mary Wood—Bob McGuire

77. Mrs. Donald Worthington—Tracy McHenry, Missy Weiler

78. Mr. and Mrs. Earl Worthington—Brady Wolfe

79. Mrs. Julia Yarosh—David Vanderpool

80. Mrs. Marion Young—Rhonda Garey

81. Miss Pauline Holcombe—Tammy Miller, Mary Schoch, Valerie Sick

Transcribed by Karen Hamilton and Barbie Metzger Grade 8 volunteers.

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