Home Again at Webster Mills
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Now began years of great activity. I started a system of exchange, trading merchandise for wool, lumber, corn, dried fruit, butter, eggs and smoked meat. The merchandise consisted of dry goods, notions, groceries, household goods and hardware. It was called a General Store.
One year I recall, I sold ten thousand pounds of wool and five tons of dried apples. These apples were used largely on the slow-moving vessels at sea to prevent scurvy.
I was now doing a business of $25,000 a year. Commercial fertilizer was just being introduced at this time. I canvassed the country selling hundreds of tons of fertilizer and at the same time buying wool. In this way I met and made the acquaintance of practically every citizen of Fulton County. I did this by traveling with horse and buggy, sometimes on horseback. Frequently, Doctor Cook and I would travel together, his professional calls and my affairs taking us in the same direction. We had many funny experiences, but my goodness Elizabeth, I can't tell all of them--we would have twelve volumes!
When Cam was a little fellow about four years old (I know he still had long golden curls) his grandfather made a set of harness for his black dog, Tray, a big Newfoundland which Cam hitched to a wagon, playing "horse" all day long. One afternoon, Houston Johnston, a grandson of Reverend McNaughton's and a young man then whom Cam called "Uncle Huton", was in the store and together we walked to the front door. Just outside tied to a hitching post was a young, skittish horse and there playing beneath him was Cam! We dared not move or speak, but in a moment he saw us and ran forward out of danger.
About this time, Uncle Jimmy Carbaugh who lived in the Corner three miles away and had been a great sufferer for a long time, went to the barn one day and hung himself in the hay mow. When he was discovered that evening, ten or twelve of his neighbors came to the barn and as one after another went up the ladder and saw him, they would return to the barn floor. Finally Ike Hendershot said, "Get away, boys, I'll go up and cut him down." Up the ladder he went and getting one look at Uncle Jimmy, he let go hands and fell to the floor. Then they asked Ike to go for Doctor Cook. It was twelve o'clock on a summer night when he reached the doctor's home. He called him and said "Uncle Jimmy Carbaugh has hung himself in the hay mow, Doc, and we want you to come and cut him down." While the doctor was dressing, Mrs. Cook came to the open window and said, "Why Isaac, is Uncle Jimmy dead?" "Dead'rn hell, Mrs. Cook," replied Ike.
Ayr Township was strongly Democratic, as was the County, and it was something of an honor when I was twice elected school director and was both times President of the Board.
The store at Big Cove Tannery was at this time conducted by Captain George W. Skinner, the son-in-law of Mr. James Parker, joint owner of the store and tannery with his brother-in-law, Mr. George Kerper, a man of my age. They were all prominent Democrats and the store was Democratic Headquarters for Ayr Township, just as my store became Republican Headquarters.
Captain Skinner had entered the Civil War at the age of sixteen. He came out a captain with a very fine record and at twenty-one was elected treasurer of his native county, Franklin. When his term expired, he was elected to the State Legislature. He serviced five or six years from Franklin County and also from Fulton County.
Dr. Peter McCauley Cook, brought up as a boy in the little Cove, was our physician, as I've said before. Some little time after his marriage he built a home half-way between Webster Mills and Big Cove Tannery, which was one and a half miles south of us. The doctor was also a strong Democrat. Captain Skinner, the doctor, and myself were about the same age and the best of friends always. That is, we were friends for three hundred and sixty-three days in the year. On Election Day we were bitter enemies and keenly on the lookout to "trip each other up" in any way we could.
The negro voters lived in a colored settlement three miles distance from the polls. They never came to vote unless someone drove up for them and not being able to write, someone always fixed their ticket. Early one election day, Dr. Cook's son, Claude, drove in with a couple of darkies. I was nearby at the time and while he tied his horses, I beckoned to the darkies, took them in and voted them. Nothing was said of this until the polls closed. Then Dr. Cook said to me, "Hunter, you were smart enough to get those darkies but old man Polsgrove from the Little Cove, for whom you sent ten miles, you know--well, I asked him if he wanted his ticked fixed and when he said 'yes', I voted him for the whole Democratic ticket!"
On another election we had had a hard fight and we were dead tired. We had not spoken to each other all day, but at closing time "Doc" called to me, "Hunter, come over here." I crossed the room and asked "What do you want, Doc?" "Sit down, Hunter, I'm getting d---d hungry for your society," he replied. He defeated me for the Legislature in 1897. Poor fellow--he died of pneumonia three weeks after he took his seat. I was with him much during the five days of his illness and was present when death came.
Speaking and thinking of early politics, I am reminded of an incident which occurred long before the ones just related--in 1871, just a few months before Brother Web died. It was the first election in which the negroes had the vote. I had twelve of them lined up, having previously paid their taxes. I was standing by a fence talking to a man and whittling at the top rail with my penknife, when I heard a commotion behind me. George Kerper, a young uncle of Captain Skinner's, was shaking his fist in Web's face and angrily proclaiming that "those niggers can't vote because their taxes aren't paid----." In an instant I was in front of him shaking my fist in his face--the one which held the open penknife!
George challenged every negro vote and much bitter feeling existed all day. A few days later, Uncle George Hunter was at the Tannery and George Kerper said to him, "Tell Hunter I say that the next time we meet, if he speaks to me, I'll speak to him."
To return to the years of the 1880's--my second son, William Morrow, was born July 23, 1884. We had lost a premature baby boy two years previous to Will's birth. It was a great disappointment and the safe arrival of her son William was a joy to your mother. I was away from home so much and was so busy, I do not remember much of the babyhood of the last two children, Will and Henrietta (Dottie). I know "Willie" as we called him then, was a serious little fellow and a dreamer. He was two and a half years older than Dottie who was born February 5, 1887. She was enough younger to be at times "a thorn in the flesh" as a little girl, but she was near enough his age as she grew older to be a great pal.
When Dottie was just a tot she was often put in Willie's charge and she interfered terribly with his plans. She was quick as a flash, while he was always deliberate. To keep her from running away (and she knew every loose paling in the yard fence) he would tie her to a tree while he pursued his own affairs. His mother discovered this state of things one day and asked him what he was doing. "I'm learnin' Dottie to behave," he answered. On another day--a rainy day--he cut of exactly half her hair. Later on she walked all the fences and rode all the horses. She could go into the stable and saddle the worst kicking horse I had. I do not believe she ever cared for dolls. She was a wild little bird of a girl, quick and independent. When her younger child, Marjorie Hunter, was three years old, Dottie developed tuberculosis and for nearly three years was separated from her family in her fight for health. It was a tragic experience for them all but she made the grade and is restored to her family.
Cam, as the older boy, domineered Will and imposed on him for some time, but there came a day of reckoning. I think it was sudden and unexpected! Campbell was a born horseman and from the time he could sit beside me holding the ends of the reins, he went with me frequently. The boys had a make-believe stable under the long back porch. The stalls were filled with "stick horses", all racing stock with such names as Maud S. Dexter, Don Pedro, etc. Lois Caldwell, the little sister of my clerk, John Caldwell, was about Will's age and frequently visited us. She and Will were good pals and spent hours with these horses which were methodically fed, saddled and exercised.
The playhouse of the two older girls was frequently the scene of arguments and tears--very audible tears when time for music lessons arrived, but their mother never allowed anything to interfere with this. They were great friends with Jessie Cook and Nell Skinner. They exchanged Saturday visits, spending all day with each other. One of their favorite games was "Indians". They dressed in feathers and paint and with realistic Indian yells would run over the hills at Webster Mills. Or they would play "summer resort" out in the creek with big flat rocks for hotels and tubs for boats. They often quarreled as to which resort was the better, Narragansett where Nell's Grandfather Parker went for the summer or Bedford Springs where Grandpa Patterson went. One day the quarrel was between Nell and Elizabeth. Elizabeth had the best of the argument until Nell savagely remarked, "Oh well, I don't care, because my momma has diamonds and yours doesn't, so there!" That finished Elizabeth.
I think they led their teachers at school a merry dance. I recall seeing them start out starched and clean in the mornings, but not so when they returned! On Mondays a great line of clothes hung drying in the backyard. Sitting one day on the front porch, a friend remarked to me, "Hunter, I see very little evidence of you on that clothes line."
Elizabeth had a vivid imagination and everything she played was intensely real to her. She built air castles continually. She was very frail as a child and as a young girl, but had endless energy. She was an active person always. She was graduated as a nurse in 1911 and constantly busy in her profession until her marriage to Henry Remick Neeson of Baltimore which had a tragic ending in 1926. In 1917 she built the home we now live in. We moved to it from the old home at Webster Mills in January 1918 and since 1924 she and I have been constant companions.
I want to write of two instances in Cam's childhood which I remember vividly. It was in the days of buggies, buckboards and two-seated carriages in which the back seat folded down and slipped under the front seat. On this exciting day, I had a business trip to make to McConnellsburg and J. Houston Johnston was going with me. Cam was about three years old and begged to go with me but I refused to take him. We had driven about four miles when we heard a peculiar sound. Houston looked back, saw nothing, and we drove on. Shortly we heard the sound again and fearing that some children were hanging on the back of the carriage, I stopped and Houston got out. He found no one and was about to enter the carriage when he caught a glimpse of a laughing little rascal lying in the back of the carriage. I sent Houston hurrying back with the boy while I walked to town. Houston had only gone a short distance when he met Will Sipes galloping up on a horse. The neighbors had gathered when Cam was missed at home, the neighborhood was searched and the mill race dragged, and then they sent Will Sipes for me. Everyone was standing around when "Uncle Houston" drove in with the boy. His mother had him safe in her arms and his grandfather said he should be punished--but there was no one who cared to do it.
Some years later it was circus day in McConnellsburg and we brought the children to town in the surrey. Cam was at the age when his friends were wearing regular "feller's" suits. His mother expected him to wear a white linen with a big ruffled Fauntleroy collar. There had been a scene about it but Cam wore the outfit! The poor child's day was ruined. We saw him actually sidling up close to the buildings trying to escape notice! I never felt sorrier for a boy and of course his mother never asked him to wear the suit again.
Introduction … by David Hunter Patterson
Chapter 1 … The Valley of the Big Cove
Chapter 2 … The Tall Oaks & Towering Pines of Gallant Little Fulton
Chapter 3 … The Pattersons and the Hunters
Chapter 4 … Concerning Some of my Forbears
Chapter 5 … Childhood Memories
Chapter 6 … Some Church History
Chapter 7 … Boyhood Days
Chapter 8 … I Go Away to School
Chapter 9 … Incidents of the Civil War
Chapter 10 … Springfield - Graduation
Chapter 11 … Your Mother
Chapter 12 … A Quaker Family of Western Pennsylvania
Chapter 13 … From 1870 to 1880
Chapter 14 … Home Again at Webster Mills
Chapter 15 … The Centennial - I Buy a Farm and get into Politics
Chapter 16 … Last Years in the Old Home
Epilogue … by Elizabeth Patterson Neeson
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