The Centennial - I Buy a Farm and Get into Politics
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On September 29, 1886, McConnellsburg celebrated its own hundredth birthday. This was the greatest day the little town has ever known. The crowd was estimated at ten thousand. At the four entrances to the town, hugh arches of evergreens were erected. All over the county floats were built representing the history of a hundred years and more, and a wonderful parade it was with costumes of every period being worn. This pageant took two hours and was over at noon. It was followed by an "ox roast" in the Court House Square and in the evening there was a fantastic parade made more effective by elaborate fire works. Yes, it was a big day! William Sloan, Captain Skinner, Dr. Cook, Dr. John Duffield and others, including myself, were marshals in the parade. We had the finest horses to be found and the two chief marshals were Major Frank Hess and Lieutenant J. Walter Johnston. One citizen of the county came to town very, very early in order to miss nothing, but before 9:00 A. M., he was so drunk he had to be put to bed and missed the whole show!
In 1889, I bought the George A. Hunter farm from Dr. Walter Johnston. He inherited from his grandfather, M. McNaughton, who purchased it from Uncle George. There were one hundred and seventy-eight acres of farm land and eighty-seven and a half acres of wood land in Lowries Knob. Uncle McNaughton and Aunt Eleanor lived there many years. He died in 1887 and Aunt Eleanor in 1888. You know Aunt Eleanor raised the three grandsons, Finlay, Houston, and Walter. Uncle McNaughton's daughter by his first wife married the Reverend Thomas Johnston and died shortly after Walter was born. The house on this farm was built by my grandfather, David Hunter, and for several years before he died he lived there with his daughter, Martha. Why he moved from the big stone house on the hill, I do not recall, but a tenant farmer lived in it. After I acquired this farm, my tenants occupied only the one side of the house.
That summer, my two older daughters, home from Wilson College, had a house party for over a week, and all the young men occupied the other half of the farm house. That was a great week--the boys were all Princeton students and most of the girls were Wilson girls. I believe no youngsters could have a happier or more lively time than that crowd had. Every riding horse in the countryside was called into service and riding, swimming (in cold spring water), picnics and straw rides were the daytime entertainment with dances, fancy dress parties and moonlight drives in the evenings.
Because it might be of interest to you some day, I will give you the names of the boys and girls who made up the party:
"Hattie" Bell Patterson - Mrs. E. U. Gillespie
Elizabeth (Benn) Jackson - Mrs. Alex. Stewart
Katharine Sierer - Mrs. Charles O. Wood
Effie McNaugher - Mrs. T. P. Trimble
Margaret McNaughter - Mrs. McClure (The Rev.)
Bronson Orr (not living now)
Some of these are Blanche's most intimate friends today. She was a beautiful girl and had many opportunities to marry. Her final choice proved unfortunate and her marriage to Frank Winton Eitemiller of Pittsburgh was dissolved. For thirteen years she kept house and nursed her invalid mother with tender care. For six years now, she has been the hostess in a girls' school and is very happy in her work.
The same year, I bought the farm from Walter Johnston, the Johnstown flood occurred in which three thousand lives were lost. The flood which was due to this heavy rainfall in the country, was the most destructive one I have ever known in this locality.
From 1891 to 1894, I represented this county on the State Board of Agriculture. I prepared two papers for the Agricultural Report, one of which, "The Farmer of the Future" was published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger. In this paper, I predicted that within twenty-five years, the farmer would have rural telephones, electric power and rural high schools, a prediction which came true.
My father died as the result of an operation in the winter of '94 and in the spring I was nominated on the Republican ticket as Representative to the State Legislature. After a strenuous campaign, I was elected in November by a majority of one hundred eighty-five. I was the second Republican in the county up to that time to be elected. I was proud that my own township gave me two hundred and thirty votes out of three hundred. This was exactly one hundred years after my great grandfather Patterson was elected and fifty-eight years after my grandfather Hunter was elected to the same office.
In my father's will, he left to my sister, Henrietta E. Carson, the David Hunter homestead with one hundred and ninety-seven acres of farm land and eighty-seven and a half acres of wood land in Lowries Knob. In 1914 she sold to Mr. Leonard Bivens. Father willed to me the Webster Mills Store and house and one hundred and twenty acres of farm land.
On April 14, 1895, your mother and I celebrated our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. We gave a big reception and the guests from a distance were Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Johnston, Mr. & Mrs. Samuel McClay, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Wilson and Mr. William McClay. They were all from Pittsburgh. There were many from Mercersburg, Hancock and our own valley. Mother wore her wedding dress as did Mrs. McClay who was a bride of less than a year at the time. We had a wonderful time and your mother was the prettiest woman there.
Cam was a student at Mercersburg Academy for two years, from '96 to '98, but study was not Cam's strong point and I felt he would do better with business training and for three years he was in Philadelphia with a shoe firm.
In 1895 I built the first telephone line in the county from Webster Mills to McConnellsburg. It was financed by private subscription and at this time I began a real estate business.
On my return from Harrisburg in the spring of '95, I found my business had suffered by my absence, and after several months of struggle, I made an assignment in order to protect my creditors and myself. By selling my business and the George A. Hunter farm and collecting backward accounts, I was able to pay everyone in full. My store was taken over by J. Lind Patterson and Sharp Patterson, two cousins.
For several years before I sold the George A. Hunter farm, half of the house was rented to Dr. Garthwaite, who succeeded Dr. Cook. After that, Dr. William F. Sappington, who brought his bride to Webster Mills following Dr. Garthwaite, lived there until they built their own home. A warm friendship existed between the Sappingtons and ourselves. My son, Campbell, married a sister of Florence Sappington. They came to seem like our own family. Doctor Sappington went to Europe in the medical service in the World War nearly a year before the United States went in to the war. He returned a major in 1918 and remained in the Army. At present, they are stationed at Fort McKinley in the Philippine Islands.
In 1903, "Doctor Bill" as we called him, found that your mother who had been ailing for some time, had diabetes. She was put on a strict diet at once and some years later she was under observation and treatment in a Baltimore hospital. She developed a cataract on one eye which in time was removed in Philadelphia, but it did her little good and she gradually lost her sight. Her blindness was a great trial to her. The last two years she lived in this home with its conveniences meant much to her and she had every possible comfort, but those last months in which she suffered patiently are a sad memory. The fourteenth of April was our fiftieth wedding anniversary but she was too ill to remember the day.
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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This page was last updated on Monday, 10-Sep-2018 09:15:11 MDT
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