Delaware County NY Genealogy and History Site
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"Their Lives And Ours"
Our great grandfather, Gregoire Prosquine was born in Cracow, near Carlisso, Poland in 1750. He was married to Meliania Floteronin in Carlisso and was living there when their first child, Jean Baptiste Christopher was born on February 24, 1786.
When Jean Baptiste Christopher was only a few months old, Poland was invaded and taken over by the Russians. The Prosquine family then moved to France where Jean became, by environment, a Frenchman. He was a seaman on the Black Sea, but early in life became a personal bodyguard of Napoleon Bonaparte. He fought at Austerlitz in 1804 and was one of a vast army of over 600,000 which invaded Russia and saw the burning of Moscow in 1812; fought in the battle of Leipsic, October 16-19, 1813. He was wounded and was attended by the personal physician of Napoleon. After Napoleon's escape from Elba in 1815, Napoleon met his final defeat at Waterloo.
Jean, then located in N.E. France Commune of St. Quirin, Arondissument of Sarresbourg, Department of Meurthe, (town, county, state). At the age of 45, he met a beautiful, reined, competent woman, 32 years of age, born 10:00 am, June 21, 1797 in St. Quirin by the name of Marie Reine Oury (Ourie). They were married at Alsace, Lorraine, 10:00 a.m, May 25, 1830 by Monsieur Boulangeot, the Mayor of St. Quirin. This civil marriage was followed later by church services.
Their oldest daughter, Marie Anne Melanie was born at 1:00 a.m. on February 8, 1831. She was probably named for her grandmother Melanie Floteronin.
The name of Marie Anne Henri is in some record, and we think she was the mother or grandmother of Marie Reine Ouri. A difference in the spelling of names makes it difficult to get the exact relationship. The name Titina Ouri is also in some records. Michael Plith married the sister of Marie Reine Ouri. Michael Henri, born in 1761, who worked for the Mayor at the time of Jean and Marie's marriage, was probably also a relative.
In September 1831 - Jean, Marie and their daughter Melanie, left LeHavre, France for America taking them sixty days to cross. They went to Brooklyn (Flatbush) to the Delmonicos, as he was the one instrumental in their coming to this country. He wished to form a French Settlement and persuaded friends who understood agriculture, and who would be desirable citizens to come to the United States. We are of the opinion that Delmonico was one of the very first settlers.
Jean wished to go to Ohio before making his home in French Settlement, which it was then called; and taking his wife and two daughters, Melanie and Hortense, he settled in a low marshy spot in Ohio. They all became ill and the two daughters and two other children who were born there, died. He and Marie returned, and he worked for Delmonico (who became a famous restauranteur) for several years. Three sons, Alexander, Constant and Charles, were born in New York City.
Grandfather Prosquine moved his family from New York City via steamer; Hudson River to Rondout Point of the D & H Railroad. At this point, the continued down the Delaware at three miles per hour for eighty miles to Minisink Ford. It took Jean one week to build a flat bottom boat while in Lackawaxen, which he poled to Partridge Island. They called the board Jean Marie. From Partridge Island they walked to French Settlement to make their home. This was in 1841. They bought 50 acres of land from Onderdonk, who had purchased a tract of several thousand acres, had it surveyed, and sold lots of 50-75 acres. Jean, our Grandfather built a log cabin and barn located in meadow about ¼ mile from where the present farm house stands.
Their hardships in their newly adopted country were many. All the cooking was done over the fireplace in pots or kettles, hung on a crane extending over the fireplace. This fireplace also heated the cabin. Water was carried from a little brook from the overflow of a spring some distance away, and the washing was done in a little brook also. The clothes were hung on a fence or branches to dry. The only lights were tallow candles, or from a large chunk of wood burning in the fireplace. Toilets were small shanties called backhouses, due to their being to the rear of the buildings. Corn cobs, old magazines, and catalogues were used for toilet paper. In later years they were called Chick Sales, or water closets.
At night, the family would have the feeling that something was looking at them; and turning to the window, they would see a wolf with its paws on the sill, and its nose against the pane. Wolves, foxes and bears were very common, wild turkeys plentiful; and any day large herds of deer would be seen grazing in the meadow.
In 1844, Grandfather went to Albany and was naturalized. The spelling of the name Prosquine was changed to Proskine, undoubtedly due to Grandfather's poor English.
Their land was very productive, and they tilled it well and kept on clearing more and building stone walls around their fields.
Grandmother and several other French women would, two or three times a year, walk to New York City through the woods, a distance of 150 miles, and work on the Delmonico farm at Flatbush to earn money to buy a sack of flour and a few other necessary groceries which they would carry on their backs to their homes. To quote my sister Claudine, "Dodine, Now we walk a mile, and carry a few pounds of sugar, and we are exhausted." On one of these trips, Grandmother brought back with her a twig of rose bush which Delmonico's manager, Jules Bouchoux, had brought from his home in Burgoyne, France.
In April of 1852, there was such a blizzard that Grandfather could not get to the barn to get food for his oxen, and when the winds subsided after several days, and he could shovel a path without its blowing full of snow, he found one of his oxen dead, either starved or frozen to death.
Prosquine's old log cabin stood until it burned in 1870. There was only one room downstairs which sufficed for kitchen, dining room and sitting room, as they were called. The small bedrooms were upstairs. Nothing remains of their log cabin but a pile of stones.
In 1853, having prospered, they felt they should build a better house and barn on an elevation farther up in the meadow, which they did. Water was brought from a spring some distance away, which is still in use. They were also able to get a stove and did not put a fireplace in the new house. There is not a nail in these buildings. A bucket tie to a rope was used for bringing water to the surface from the well. There was also a spring in the cellar which they placed milk and butter in a tightly closed pail to insure their keeping during hot weather. Both the house and barn are still standing on the lower side on the present Route 97. A beautiful view of the Blue Ridge Mountains many miles away may be seen at this location.
The house built in 1853 finally fell to a cousin Lucien Nearing. He sold to a son of his sister, Martha. It has been entirely changed, modernized. The large old barn was torn down a few years ago.
Grandfather and Grandmother possessed many virtues and were very devout. On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, they would not eat a particle of food until the first star in the heavens had appeared. When the settlers decided to have a church, Grandfather contributed 25 cents and a day's labor each week until the church was completed in the French Woods in August 1858. This was a great sacrifice in those days.
It was in the summer of 1858 that Grandmother Proskine stepped to the front porch and called her husband for dinner. He answered her call and she saw him start to the house so she went indoors. When he did not come, she sent one of the boys to the barn to tell him dinner was on the table, but they returned to tell their mother that he was not there. She then sent them to the meadow and there, as though he was just starting to climb over the stone wall, he was found dead.
He was buried in the meadow, but later when there was a cemetery in French Settlement, the body was removed and placed in the cemetery with a slab to mark the grave. We have looked many times and have been unable to find the grave. There is a large flat stone just below Celestine's grave which I feel may be the slab referred to. I have contacted the Hancock priest many times, but have been unable to get any information.
Shortly after his death, her youngest son, Charles at the age of 20, wanted to go down the river on a raft starting from Long Eddy. His mother consented and he was very happy, dancing and hopping around. At the first pull of the oar he fell, apparently from a heart attack. The steersman had the raft tied up again, but nothing could be done. Charles evidently died instantly as his father had done earlier. It was a blow from which his mother never recovered.
Grandmother lived on the farm several years with her sons, but at about age fifty, she met with a most unfortunate accident. She was milking when one of the cows switched her tail in grandmother's eyes and almost blinded her. Monsieur Dardonville sent her to New York to the best doctors, but nothing could be done for her.
She remained on the farm living with her older son, Alexander, who had married Mathilde LeFebvre (LaFave), one of five Canadian girls. (The other four girls married into the French nobility). Their eldest child, Julia, was born there and later married Robert Lewis. In a few years when our father, Constant Nicholas, married Celestine Honorina Franck, Grandmother went to Fishs Eddy to live with her son Alex and his wife Mathilde and child Julia, and they managed the estate of his brother-in-law Hippolite Dardonville, who had married Julia, the sister of his wife Mathilde. Grandma lived in their home until her death in the early 1860's. Alex later owned and worked his own farm.
Jehu Fish made her coffin of pine boards which was put on a stoneboat, and drawn by a pair of oxen to the French Settlement cemetery. The sexton, Fritz Rotzler, refused to open the church doors as she had not received the Last Rites. Poor, blind, devout, old lady, living ten miles from church with no way of transportation, whose husband and she had done so much for the church in this small community was refused the right to enter its portals in death. Her resting place is not known.
A new church was built in 1912 using a part of the old one for a woodshed and building for the old foundation. Father John Cary, a close friend of ours, was the pastor in Hancock who served the parish in French Woods, and was instrumental in building the new church. He was a tall, handsome man. Later, he was pastor of a large church and belonged to the hierarchy. I drove to Watervliet and attended his funeral. He was lying in state and the honor guard changed every 20 minutes. It was all very beautiful, but sad. There was a choir of 123 priests.
First Wife of Constant Nicholas Proskine
Celestine Honorina Franck was born in 1831. She was a friend of the Delmonicos and a famous dancer who danced by request for Kings, Queens and royalty of all ranks; was entertained by them and showered with gifts; cultured and well-educated. When a young girl, we were told by a friend of ours-a Parisian who later married Thomas Johnston of Hoboken, life-sized pictures of Celestine were posted all over Paris. She was much older than Father and a wonderful woman, teaching father, who went to school only sixty days in his life; reading, writing, arithmetic and history.
He was greatly in love with her and when he was WORKING away from home, at noontime would send her a love letter by someone passing their home. They lived in the house built by Grandfather Prosquine in French Settlement in 1853.
He was very devoted, and after her death a few years later (1867) of tuberculosis, she was buried in French Settlement cemetery and a most ornate iron fence surrounds her plot. A tombstone with her name and date of birth was placed on the grave. After all these years, it is still decipherable, although both fence and stone have greatly deteriorated with age.
St. Basile, France. Died at sea 1860.
Pierette Cheviot, Wife born April 18, 1811
Burgoyne, France. Died at Fish's Eddy in 1891.
Antoinette - remained in France
Eugene, Victorine, Charles died 1902, Ferdinand born 1893, Martha, Marie died 1945.
Pierette Cheviot was born in Burgoyne, France on April 18, 1811 and married Pierre Commaneaux on April 20, 1834. Pierre Commaneaux was born in St. Basile in the year 1812. After their marriage, Pierre and Pierrette lived in Manlay, Department of Cote D'Or, France, where seven children were born. Their names were Antoinette, Louise, Anne, John, Claudine, Marie, (our mother), and Frank.
Antoinette married Joseph Germon and their children were: Eugene, Victorine, Charles, Ferdinand, Martha and Marie. Marie married Lion Rinal de Grand Champ and both died in 1945 due to starvation and improper food during the second World War. They were living in Champagny, near Paris at this time. They had four children: Bertha, born August 1893; Leo, born 1900; Yvonne, born 1901; Martha, born 1902.
I visited at the home of Leo and her husband Fare Zacarian, an Armenien, born in 1889 and graduated from the University of Constantinople at the age of 14. He was in the wholesale leather business at 348 Rue des Pyrenees, Paris. I went from London to visit the "French cousins", but made only a short stay, due to an error on my plane reservations. They served wine with each course, which I did not drink, and food quite different from ours. Between running to the dictionary and pantomime, we made out quite well in our conversations.
In 1856, Pierre Commaneaux came to this country from Champagny leaving his wife and children in Dijon. He came to work on the farm owned by Delmonico on Long Island and managed by Bouchoux, one of Pierre's friends. His passport was dated "via L'Cottolia 1856."
Pierre then went to the French Settlement, Delaware County, New York and sent for his family after two years. They embarked at le Havre on July 20, 1870, taking forty days to cross, (description on passport). They went to live in a stone house of which I have a picture. The stone house was not too far from where Grandfather Prosquine's old log cabin stood, which burned in 1870. There was only one room downstairs which sufficed for kitchen, dining room, and sitting room, as they were called. The small bedrooms were upstairs.
Cooking was done over a fireplace and water carried from a spring. In fact, they lived much as Grandfather Prosquine's family had, but theirs was a much harder life, if possible. In the winter the ice in the spring had to be broken before the water pail could be dipped in. Many times snow was melted if the spring was frozen too hard to use. Heat was from the large fireplace and light was from candles made from tallow, put in molds.
After a short time, Grandfather could no longer work and returned to his native country for treatment; but he was most unhappy without his family, and anxious to return here. He embarked at LeHavre on his return, but never reached this Country again. It was learned upon inquiry that an old Frenchman on the boat became very ill and died. His body was thrown overboard, but nothing further could be learned about him.
John Commaneaux, who was killed in a lumber camp in Pennsylvania, where he had been WORKING, was accidentally knocked from a truck and died. His wife had died a few months before, leaving two little girls. Father attended his brother-in-law, John's funeral. He was making preparations to bring the little girls home to live with his family when they developed diphtheria and died.
Frank was the youngest Commaneaux son and never married. He went to Phoenix, Arizona when he was quite young and always worked in copper mines. I remember him once coming to visit my mother unexpectedly and her throwing her arms around him saying, "Oh! My brother." He brought all of us a present, something made with beads by the Indians, and very ornate. He took us all to a picnic at City Brook Falls, New York. When we returned home, I rushed to my mother and said to her, "The band played lovely." I guess she was quite amused as I had never heard a band before.
Upon Frank's death, mother was notified by a Mr. Loker, Superintendent of Schools of Phoenix, Arizona; saying that Frank had left considerable money and some bonds. I contacted the different companies about the stocks, but was told that at the time, the stocks were worthless as the mines had been closed for some time. This was all we ever learned about them.
Grandmother Commaneaux and the children continued living in the stone house in the French Settlement and she worked for the Bouchoux family, their friends. When the children became old enough to work, they also went out. Antoinette, the eldest, was the only one who remained in France.
Grandmother very much wished to return to her own country, as she could not get accustomed to the cold winters, the customs, the language, nor the people. She was very dissatisfied and longed for her old home; but she had been very sick all the way over to America and did not want to endure that long sea voyage again. She remained at French Settlement until Marie, who had married Constant Nicholas Proskine, moved to Fishs Eddy. She then went with them, and remained there until her death in 1891. She is buried in the French Woods cemetery.
Grandmother Commaneaux was described on a passport dated July 20, 1858 as being 47 years of age, height 46 centimeters, light chestnut colored hair, eyes gray, nose ordinary and face full, color florid. The passport was given to Margaret Johnson Taylor, Tony's mother, by my mother, Marie Commaneaux Proskine. Helena Proskine Lindsay has a picture of her with her bonnet and "sac" on, hands folded in her lap, in a walnut frame hanging in the living room. I remember her as a little bent-over lady always wearing a "sac", (now called a jacket) and bonnet, and carrying a cane of which we children were quite afraid.
We were never allowed to speak to her, or in her presence, except in French. I was eight years of age at her death. In 1891, we were the only French family in the village, aside from Mme. Dardonville; Uncle Alex and Aunt Mathilde; and Mme. Cogniar. Mother said they spoke a patois (having come from Canada), and it would be very discourteous to speak French in an English speaking village. We dropped the language, much to my regret in later years.
Claudine, mother's only sister, married a farmer, Henry Nearing. They went to live in the house father and mother had sold them (built by Grandfather in 1853). Uncle Henry built on a large kitchen, dug a well, and about 15 years ago, a woodshed was built on the side. Thursday, July 7, 1955, Tillie and I were invited up there for dinner. Claudine (our cousin) lives there in the summer, but it is owned by Lucien Nearing.
Uncle Henry and Aunt Claudine Nearing had seven children; Martha, Frank, Claudine, (about my age), John, Lucien, Lena; and Isabella who died in infancy. Martha Nearing married Elmer Mills of Fishs Eddy and they live in Far Rockaway, New York.
Frank first married Nellie Fitzgerald and had two children, Gerald and Claire. His second wife was Addie Sherwood. He has always lived at Long Eddy and has a general store and sells feed, coal, and gasoline. His son, Gerald, attended Fordham University and his daughter Claire attended Lady Cliff on the Hudson.
Lena married John Deck, a farmer, from near Long Eddy and they have one son, Jack. Lucien married Sadie Donahue of Long Island and had one son, Danny. Sadie died along with the second child in childbirth.
Claudine went to New York City and for many years was a sales lady in a large department store. She later came back to French Woods and kept house for Lucien and Danny. Lucien worked for Baileys for many years. Danny was a fine boy and I especially remember him on one nice day when my sisters, Claudine, Tillie and I drove to their home. After awhile we missed Danny, and just before we left, he appeared with a pail of blackberries for each of us. He later went to Long Island where he worked, but died while still young.
FISHS EDDY, NEW YORK
and SURROUNDING VILLAGES
On April 23, 1708, in the reign of Queen Anne, the English Colonial Government granted to Johannes Hardenburgh, Ulster County, New York, a huge tract of land running from the Shawingunk Mountains to the Papagunck, or East Branch of the Delaware River. The Delaware rises near Grand Gorge, New York. The East Branch of the Delaware was explored in 1749 by Ebenezer Wooster, and flows down through and among villages; namely, Margaretville and Downsville; and the West Branch flows through Stamford, Delhi, and Walton, New York. They join at Hancock. At East Branch, the Beaverkill River and East Branch River join. The Delaware was named for Lord DeLaWor (Thomas West), a British nobleman, given the title by the British Crown. For further history of the Delaware, read George D. Albee's "Rhymes and Recollections," page 88.
The first white settler in the town of Hancock (then called Chehocton) was Joshia Parks in 1768. An amazing story is told of him. While hunting one day, he encountered a large black bear and his gun was knocked to the ground, but he fought it hand to hand and killed it.
Wheelers came to this section in 1790 from Stonington, Connecticut; built a camp, got logs out, made a raft, and ran it down the river. After selling the logs, they walked back to Connecticut, brought back material in an ox cart, and constructed a saw mill. The Wheeler house was built in 1790.
Saw mills were the principal industry in those days. The one at Partridge Island sawed the pine boards for the first frame house ever built in that vicinity. The doors were all made from one board; the hinges and nails handmade and were brought from Kingston, New York. The house was occupied by the Wheelers from Connecticut and used as a tavern in 1794. A ballroom was on the second floor and a post office on the first floor. It was later used as a dwelling house. The building burned to the ground around 1900.
Isaac Fish, coming to Fishs Eddy from Ellenville, New York, was the Great Grandfather of the present Sidney Fish of Fishs Eddy. He married Rachael Steward, a direct descendant of Roger Williams; (information from Sidney Fish-"Syd" in 1956).
Across the east branch of the Delaware River at Fishs Eddy is a rock called Flat Rock with holes in it, which we children were told was where the Indians used to pound their corn-that was a favorite spot, especially on Sunday afternoons; or to take a walk over a cool path bordered with rhododendron. We also used to have chicken roasts there, and corn left in the husk and roasted was another of our favorites.
Milton Maynard, later called, "Squire Maynard", lived about 1 1/2 miles above the bridge, a short distance above the old schoolhouse (made now into a dwelling house) where we all attended school when children. Down the river about one mile is a large rock called "Goodwin," which received its name from a man named Joseph Goodwin whose raft got stuck on it in the year 1800. We used to pole down in a boat and sit on the rock and fish. I never caught anything but sunfish.
About four miles south of Fishs Eddy, there was a small hamlet called Early's Flat which received its name from early settlers by the name of Early. During Revolutionary War Times, a grist mill was owned by a Tory named Hale, which was a rendezvous for the Indians and Tories when planning their depredations on the surrounding areas. A band of patriots descended on the mill and burned it to the ground.
The mill was destroyed in 1869 by a flood which washed away huge quantities of garden produce and such quantities of pumpkin that it was called, "The Pumpkin Flood."
Partridge Island, New York (near Fishs Eddy) was found in 1792 by Ebenezer Worcester and got its' name from having large amounts of weeds called "Poke Weed." In the fall of year, the red berries from this weed were quickly devoured by large flocks of partridge or grouse from the neighboring hills.
Steven Riley tells a story about his son, Riley, born in 1890, which happened a few miles below Partridge Island at Tyler's Switch. It was a Sunday afternoon and Riley came to his father telling him there was a big dog nearby. The father did not go to see it and shortly Riley returned with the same story. Then the father decided to go and see whose dog it was. Instead of a dog, it was a full-grown panther. He started toward it, yelling to frighten it away from the boy, and picked up a large three-cornered stone, but he could find no trace of the panther. Thinking he could make a better survey, he climbed a tree about twenty feet above the ground that had fallen across the brook, and while peering around, he saw the animal directly beneath him. Using almost superhuman strength, he dashed the stone on the panther's head killing it instantly.
Partridge Island was the center of business and school activity when the Fishs, Lakins, and Maynards settled in Fishs Eddy. The reason for the growth of the village was the opening of the Midland Railroad in 1872, later called the New York, Ontario and Western Railway (familiarly called, "Old and Weary"). Later it became a double-track. The railroad had been in bankruptcy for 27 years, but continued running until 1958 when it was closed down. Some of the roadbed was used for the new highway.
I have heard father tell the story a great many times about people fording the river at Fishs Eddy. There was no highway bridge there for many years and people coming from Hancock on that side of the river by horse and wagon had to ford the river. People not familiar with the area were often in difficulty with the water rising up in the wagon and the horses swimming. A couple were drowned there in the year 1870.
We children, as well as older people, used the Railroad Bridge for crossing to the other side of the river. When we were on the bridge and heard the train whistling miles away, what a scampering there was! Men crossing on the bridge were more adventurous and many times, fearing they could not reach the other side, would step off the track and hang on a girder for dear life as the train created a terrific wind while whizzing by.
There were more trains running on the single track than any other in the United States. Later it was a double track. There were many trains coming over the Scranton Branch bringing coal from the mines in Pennsylvania through Cadosia and they usually had two engines and sometimes a pusher from Cadosia in order to make the grade just south of Fish's Eddy.
The employees of the O&W Railroad were paid monthly as the pay car came through and they entered it and received their pay from the paymaster.
All outgoing mail was placed in a mailbag which was tied very securely in the center and attached to an apparatus. The man in the mail car extended a hook and brought the mail bag in the car as the train passed on without stopping. Sometimes, the man in the train missed the bag and the mail stayed at the station for another day. Mail coming into the village was thrown out of the train as it sped past the station.
Speaking of the bridges reminds me that Put Knapp sitting on the bridge when he was a young boy caught a 7 lb. trout. His name was Levi, but he was always called Put. He became a well-known baseball player with the Big Leagues and died about nine years ago. He was always my champion at school. No one picked on me, pulled my curls, or touched my lunch box for fear Put would "teach them a lesson."
In 1806, the town of Hancock was named by Jonas Lakin after the first signer of the Declaration of Independence. He was the first settler in Fishs Eddy, and was known as Squire Lakin. He cleared a small tract of land in the woods and set up a store.
Father built a hotel at Fish's Eddy, Delaware County, New York in December 1875, and moved there, about six miles from French Woods. Besides the hotel, father went in the lumber, sand and bluestone business and had several teams of large western horses, which were kept busy at all times.
Six children were born at Fish's Eddy. Julia Hortense, Gus, Tom, Jules, Charles and Frank.
The sidewalk from the hotel ran down directly to the track or switch where father loaded his sand. On one side of the lawn was a five to twenty foot wall. But we never fell off or got run over by a train, as the walk ran from the kitchen directly to the tracks which shows that our parents demanded obedience. Of the ten children, Jules was the only one who ever wanted to play on the railroad.
One day, as father was driving in with a load of logs, he saw Jules, who was then three or four years old, between the rails on the switch. Father stopped the team, quickly jumped off the load, broke a piece of golden rod, and started for Jules- who did not realize father was after him until he was almost at his side. How he did run and look around to see if he was being followed! He was-and father told him never to go there again; but, about four weeks later he was, but saw the team this time, and before father could stop, he was in the house hiding under the bed.
George Smith and wife lived just across the tracks on the second floor of the station. He was Postmaster, freight agent, passenger agent, for the O&W Railroad, and assisted by his wife, Hattie, who was also a telegraph agent. I suspect they kept a look out for us, especially at train time. After father died and the Smiths came to Walton, where he was agent on the Delhi Branch, they were still close friends.
Mr. and Mrs. George Smith were great friends of the family, taking Christmas dinners with us for 55 years, and were most kind and attentive. Mr. Smith was station agent and operator for many years in Fishs Eddy and later in Walton. Mrs. Smith died before mother came to Walton. Mr. Smith used to come up in his little Ford car most every day and several times a week to take them riding around the country.
One day Mr. Smith took mother, Claudine, Tillie and Tony riding around the country. They all admired the beautiful scenery and Mr. Smith, even while driving, was always gazing around. Tillie and Tony sat in the rumble seat and sang songs, although Tillie couldn't tell one note from another, but they had joyous times. One day it began to rain and there they were in the rumble seat, unprotected from the downpour. They found an old blanket and covered themselves, and got down in the bottom of the car where they kept dry.
One Easter time when I was visiting from New York for a few days, mother was not feeling well, and I took her temperature, finding it normal. Several months later when she wasn't feeling well again, my sister Tillie said she should take her temperature, but mother said: "No, Julia had taken it when she was up and it was normal."
The family had tried to get her to buy a new hat, but she thought hers was good enough and when I was there one day, they told me about it. The next day I drove up and said, "Mother, let's go buy a new hat." She said, bustling to get her apron off, "I'll be right there," So we went down and bought a hat and she was delighted. She met the Priest a few days later and he mentioned the pretty hat she had worn the previous Sunday. We lived in a small village and the attendance was not large at the Catholic Church. Being an observant man, the Priest knew that Mother at the age of 90 would be delighted, just as women of fewer years would be.
There was no church at Fishs Eddy, so once a month when Mass was said at French Woods, father, mother and the children attended. A Catholic Church was later built at Fishs Eddy. The Saturday evening before, we all had a bath-as there were no bathtubs in those days a small wooden washtub was brought in the kitchen and each one bathed and then were sent off to bed. Our clean clothes and best bib and tucker were laid out for us to quickly get into Sunday morning. After breakfast, we were piled into the three-seated democrat, and father drove up the mountain through Nancokus (one of his farms), and to the church. Hattie recently was asking if we remembered how father, many miles before we reached the church, would remind us as she described it; "To kiss all the old Frenchmen on both cheeks." Our parents were very particular about our manners, but I fear we have lost them all.
When Uncle Henry started for the collection basket, we were all handed one cent. I suppose if it were given to us before hand, father thought we might drop it on the floor, then there would be a scramble which would never, never do.
After Mass was over and we had properly kissed everyone on both cheeks; and responded in French to their inquiries as to our health, and we had inquired as to theirs, we again piled into the democrat and drove to Uncle Henry's and Aunt Claudine's for a chicken dinner, which we all did full justice to. Aunt Claudine and family lived in the house Grandfather Prosquine had built and bought of father when he went to Fishs Eddy. She was mother's only sister in this country.
At about 3 o'clock, we would start back home-sometimes through Fourth Hollow, another of father's farms, or back down Nancokus. It was thrilling coming down that steep dirt road with father's foot on the brake so the wagon would not run into the horses and frighten them, causing a runaway. If that had occurred, we would probably all have been killed.
The Delaware River curving in and out through the valley was a beautiful sight. Even after we reached home, father would get out his prayer book and say all his prayers again. Perhaps he was so thankful to get us all safely home once more.
Mornings, he was always up around 4:45-winter and summer, lighted the kitchen fire, (we burned wood in the kitchen stove), put the tea kettle on, and pushed forward the meat which had been cut the night before. If it was in the winter, the meat had been cut from a frozen pig hanging by its hind legs in a runway between the hotel proper and an addition to the building. Father then went to the barn to milk the cows. We usually had four or five of them. When he returned, mother was up, as was the "hired girl." In those days usually a neighbor's daughter, who wanted to earn extra money was paid $1.50 a week.
Breakfast was much the same the year round, oatmeal or other cooked cereal, hashed brown potatoes, ham, fried eggs (10 cents per doz.), or pork steak. Pancakes, as we then called them, were served and were either buckwheat in winter or wheat in summer. The pancakes in the batter jar were sometimes also frozen. The buckwheat in the winter was always "set" overnight.
Mother always made bread, setting it at night in a large white enamel pan for that purpose. It was well covered with a clean cloth, then several thicknesses of warm covering put over it so it would rise and be ready for the finishing of it. This was quite a procedure, but it would be baked and ready to eat by noon or early afternoon.
Mother was very devout, and one winter when she was past 86 years of age, she and Claudine were staying with Charlie and Lucy Miller (Charlie's first wife). She attended 8:00 o'clock mass every day during Lent.
Tony was a great favorite of hers. He, Margaret and I were up at Claudine's a great deal. Tony spoke French to mother and that pleased her.
One time while Tony was up to Claudine's, after having always lived in an apartment, he said, "Dodine, I don't like your house, it's all chopped up." He was upstairs in a bedroom, but another time, he went in mother's room on the ground floor and looked all around and said, "Ma, it's a beautiful room, isn't it?" He always helped her bring in the eggs from the hen house and, after trudging along with her and walking up two low steps, he put the eggs on the table, sat down and said, "Ma, I'm worn out."
Another time he was walking in the yard at Claudine's with his mother and Claudine. The grass had not been mown recently, and it was quite high. Tony requested his mother to please move the trees so he could walk. He was about 2 1/2 years old when these events occurred. Mother and all the relatives were very fond of him. He was a very thoughtful, good boy. I think one reason mother was so fond of him was because he spoke some French and always said his prayers in French.
We children, and sometimes older people, rode down hill on the packed snow. The children all had their own sleds and we would stay out until nearly frozen. One PM I came in with cold, wet feet, and mother told me to remove my shoes and stockings, and put my shoes in the oven. In some manner, the oven door became closed, and soon there was an odor of burning leather. Mother opened the door, but my poor shoes were damaged beyond repair. I believe that I received quite a reprimand as it was sheer carelessness. Our parents were always very just, so I'm sure I deserved all I got and probably more.
When the older boys and girls went out, we usually took a bobsled which would hold 6 or 8 people piled every way, as long as we could stick on. One of the big boys using a large heavy sled, usually homemade, would attach it to the bob, and steer down the hill. We usually went up the runway- about a mile or so, where the men had been dragging logs, and the road was as smooth as glass. On one side was a bank and on the other about 50 feet below was the brook. How we would come down this hill around the curves, through the opened bars, and into the village! Sometimes we were going so fast that the steersman could not control the bobsled and 11 of us on it; and we would run up on the sidewalk and get a spill, other times going into the barbed wire fence.
I remember one time the steersman broke his leg, but that did not deter us from riding downhill. Aside from that, there were no really serious accidents, although we did get many cuts, bruises, and black and blue spots.
Skating on the river was lots of fun, too. We'd have partners, join hands, and away we would go, even though many times the ice was quite rough. At the Goodwin Rock, we would sometimes stop and build a fire to warm our hands and feet.
In summer, we had picnics at the rock, although only about six could conveniently get on it. It was flat and there was not much danger of us falling off unless we got too near the edge. On a warm afternoon it was a fine place to be. We could see the fish swimming all around, enjoy the cool breezes, and the green mountains in the background.
We always used boats in the summer. A few people had row boats, but usually a pike pole was used as the rift coming down was very shallow.
We sometimes fished from the rock, but I was not much of a fisherman, usually catching only sunfish, but in the brooks I was more successful at catching trout.
Many times I would get up early and with a branch from a tree, a line and worm on my hook, I would usually catch several trout from our brook.
Eeling was much indulged in by everyone around Fishs Eddy. First a torch was made of old cloths wrapped tightly, well saturated with kerosene oil, placed in a wire cage, and then fastened on a long pole which was attached to the front of a boat. When it was quite dark, a party would start with spears, lighted torches, and in a boat usually poled upstream. When the eelers felt they had gone far enough up river, they would disembark and, hanging on each side of the boat, would wade downstream looking for the eels or other fish swimming by the bright light of the torch. Many times there would be a huge catch and other times very few. It was great fun, but sometimes the water was very cold. I have been in the boat many times and sat there shivering, but the next time I was as anxious to go as ever.
I was quite a tomboy and wanted to go in for all the sports my brothers did. My sisters were all much older than I, in fact, grown up when I was quite young. My brothers were all older than I was, except Jules and Tom and did not enjoy having me join in their sports. One time they were shooting at a target in the sand bank and I wanted to try my luck.
The gun kicked me as they knew it would, and knocked me over. Did they get a scolding from mother! She told them I might have broken my arm. They said, "Well, she always wants to do everything we do."
In the fall, we went chestnutting, and on Saturday afternoons or holidays accompanied by the teacher, we would take small sugar or salt sacks to where we knew we would find plenty of chestnuts. Some of the older boys would climb the trees and shake them. What a shower of nuts would come down! This would be after a hard frost when the burrs had opened up. We always gathered enough to last all winter. Sometimes we boiled them or cracked them with our teeth, and put them on the kitchen stove to roast. There was a big chestnut tree back of our house and when we heard the rain and wind blowing in the early morning, there was no difficulty in getting us out of bed as we were sure to find the ground covered with nuts.
One summer there was a terrific thunder storm and father said, "Lightning struck near us." He went out and sure enough, it had come down the chestnut tree, destroying it, and killing a big pig that had been under it.
I was quite a tree climber and Martha Hewitt and I went chestnutting one beautiful October day not far from home, but out of sight of everyone, or so we thought. It was across the tracks on a rise of ground back of Grace Lakins. We were supposed to be out for a walk, but the idea of chestnuts was too great a temptation, and we decided to get some. I had on a brand new dark blue flannel dress with graduated flounce that Tillie had just made for me. I had begged mother to let me wear it and she had finally consented, although we were always made to keep our good clothes for Sunday, church, and parties or when we had company. I climbed the tree and Martha was on guard. I was shaking a branch furiously when she ran shouting to me to get down. We had not realized that from the Lakin home they could see the moving branches. I slid down the tree, tearing a big hole in my dress. We escaped from Peter Lakin, but I, not from mother when she saw my dress. Never again was I allowed to wear my best dress for an everyday occasion.
The boys and girls went around in groups more than now. Our home was always filled with a crowd in the evenings. We played games, sometimes danced, and to add to our pleasure, we would get a 10 quart pan of apples from the barrels of them in the cellar, pop a huge pan of popcorn, make popcorn balls or molasses candy, but made of Karo corn syrup. We made two kinds-taffy, which we pulled to make white, but which was seldom cooked to the right consistency, so that we were putting butter on our hands or sticking them under the cold water a great deal of the time, so it would not stick to our hands. The other kind we cooked harder and put a small portion out in greased pans and butternuts on top. We called this "Brittle."
We always had a great many butternuts which we gathered in the fall and laid out on a floor to dry. They have a very fine flavor and, being easy to crack and get out of the shell, we made frequent use of them-in cake or icing they were delicious. Beechnuts, while good, were so small and hard to get at the meat that we did not use them as much.
Sunday afternoon and evening was really the special gathering-we congregated in the parlor which was then called the sitting room. There was no living room then. I played the organ, but later we had a piano. Willis Hewitt played the comet, and we sang songs by the hour. Our friends all stayed for supper, of course, and you can imagine the food we consumed.
I took music lessons at an early age, but never became very proficient. Lucien Bonnefond played the violin and I enjoyed accompanying him. I also played in church a few times, and at parties. Daisy Baldwin and I played duets at parties, entertainments, etc.
Sunday school picnics were popular. Sometimes on the Island we went out in boats for a ride, or a ride in a swing tied to the branch of a tree, 50 feet high, with a large rope. Usually holding two children or adults, a rope tied underneath the seat so that we could be pushed way up, sometimes into the branches. Frequently we resorted to pumping, usually two of us, both facing each other, but standing up in the seat. By alternately crouching down and pushing forward with our feet, we could attain quite a height. Some children could not endure swinging, became nauseated, and frequently someone fell out and was injured.
Strawberry socials, box parties where girls put up the lunch, and the boys and men bid on the boxes, were popular. Many times the boys, being anxious to eat with his favorite, would bid a box way up, then find he had bid on the wrong box. These affairs were for the benefit of the church.
Another great sport was riding on the hay when it was ready to go to the barn. We younger children were all on top of a large load of hay one nice summer day. Jack Dailey, who drove one of father's teams for 20 years, was driving, and, as the horses trotted down a little grade, the hay slid off the wagon right into a mud hole. We went with it, but that was great fun for us.
In the severe winter of 1918, the water froze throughout our house and a tenant who lived in the wing tried to thaw the pipes in the cellar with a blow torch. He went away, leaving it burning, causing the hotel to catch on fire. Practically nothing was saved. I was WORKING in Bellevue at the time and it was quite a shock to hear of the disastrous fire. The Hancock Fire Department was sent for, but most of their apparatus was frozen and they could not help. A bucket brigade was formed, but with water frozen all over town, it did not do much good.
The maple trees were tapped for sap in the spring as soon as weather permitted. A good sap day was a warm day, but cold night. The sap was gathered every day by a hole bored in the tree and the pith burned out of a small Sumach branch to make a drain, then this was inserted in the tree. A bucket or pail was hung on this notched spile. The sap was emptied into milk cans or large containers and put on a stone boat drawn by one horse usually, and taken to the sap house where it was put in a large vat and boiled down. Milk was used to clarify or it was strained through flannel, then it was poured into gallon cans or stirred into large cakes of sugar. It sold from 75 cents to 80 cents a gallon, but is now well over $15.00 per gallon. (In 1976.)
There were always several sugaring-off parties. Hot syrup, quite thick (thicker than for regular use), would be put in a small dish, then we would stir until it became white and almost cold, and ready to eat.
Many men enjoyed fishing through the ice in winter, but father was not a fisherman in any season. In the winter, he used to send a team on the ice and cut cakes of ice 1 1/2 to 2 feet square, took it to the ice house where it was laid in layers with sawdust between each layer to keep it from melting. It would keep cold this way and was for use in the summer time.
For some reason I was very keen about going barefooted, much to the annoyance of my sister, Tillie, who insisted it would make my feet very large; but, at present I wear smaller shoes than any of my sisters. The only objection to it on my part was that, when I wanted to run over the newly mown fields, the stubbles held me back considerably.
Riding on the hay was almost as much fun as going for a straw ride in winter with the big wagon box on sleighs, filled with straw, well covered.
In the winter, especially Thanksgiving, the teacher would take us on a sleigh ride. Perhaps 35-45 pupils would pack into a big wagon box with hay and blankets on the bottom, and blankets over us. As I think back, they smelled very horsey, but we did not mind that-in fact, we hardly noticed it. The horses always had sleigh bells. What a grand time we would have, singing merrily to the tune of sleigh bells. Sleigh runners on the snow, packed hard as ice, had an intriguing sound.
Father had two farms and much land. The Nancokus place was notorious and feared for its rattlesnakes. When the men were haying one summer, they caught a rattler about 5 feet long, and as large around as a man's arm. They made a noose, and when they returned from work, brought it down home, where it was put in a barrel with a heavy wire screen over the top. They also caught another one which was a trifle smaller. When the trains stopped people would jump off and run to see the largest snakes ever seen around here. There was always something to do in those days, besides jump in a car as the present generation do.
It seems that I was always into some mischief. One time when I was about five or six years old, and wore long curls, I appeared before the startled family with all my curls cut off except one. Tillie cried and everyone was disgusted and annoyed with me. When they asked why I did it, I said I wanted to look like Tommy Bryden, a young fellow who boarded at the hotel. Of course, the one lonely curl had to be cut.
Father had a great deal of woodland. In fact, he owned most of the mountain running from Fishs Eddy to French Woods, and on the other side, a large tract toward East Branch. Father enjoyed bee hunting. When he and the men would be walking in the woods and they saw bees, they would note the general direction of the tree, and on a Sunday usually, they would go hunting for honey. Many times they would come back with ten or twenty quart milk pails of wild honey. This, of course, had leaves and twigs in it and had to be strained, but compared well with the honey from apiaries. The trees, unfortunately, had to be cut and the supply for food for the bees taken from them. Wild honey was highly recommended for Asthma and Bronchial ailments.
Father and mother had their fiftieth wedding anniversary in 1913. They were presented by their children, fifty dollars in gold and fifty American Beauty roses.
Father was never away from home unless he went down to the river on a raft or when he was on jury duty. He did not go to war as he could hire a man to go in his place for $200. and he had a family to support. One time when he came back from down the river, he brought a walnut bedroom suite which Mother gave to me when she came to Walton to live with Claudine. Father was very dependent on Mother in some ways-he never learned to tie a four in hand tie, and when he was at Delhi on jury duty and had to stay all night, he slept with his shirt, stiff collar, and tie on.
Mother was always a hard worker, and never had an easy day until she came to Walton in her 80's. She was always washing, baking, ironing, cleaning, mending, scrubbing, and at night, making over clothes from the older ones to the younger ones.
The hotel was always filled with boarders, but sometimes, were busier than others. Rafting in the spring brought more men.
Word would be sent that a raft was tying up at Fishs Eddy and men soon would be at our Hotel. This meant baking quantities of bread, cake, pie and plenty of meat and other food on hand, as raftsmen were big eaters and had to have supper, sometimes as late as 10 PM. They were then up at the crack of dawn for breakfast and their huge baskets of food enough to last through the day, had to be ready when they left.
Rafting would continue as long as the river was high. Sometimes they were delayed and might be stopping at Cadosia. Instead of calling right or left to the steersman, the call was, "Pennsylvany, Jersey." The professional raftsmen were always big brawny men, hard WORKING, hard fighting, and hard drinking, also hard swearing. There is a picture of the last raft to go down the Delaware in a scrapbook of Tony's, and also one in my hall.
The Walton Fair was the attraction of the year. An excursion train, usually in two sections, was run from Liberty to Walton-reaching Fishs Eddy about 9:00 AM and leaving Walton at 6:00 PM. We all did extra chores in the summer to get money for the great event. Berry picking was the most lucrative at 5 cents a quart. Sometimes father and mother came along with all the younger children.
A chicken would be killed, pie and cake baked, pickles, pears, and other goodies all packed in a big basket for lunch. We would find a shady spot and all sit on the ground while the food was passed out. Father never failed to take home a basket of grapes and sometimes a half bushel of peaches.
Butternuts were only starting to get ripe at Fair time and, of course, we were always anxious to get the first ones, even before the meats were fully grown. The stain from the outer shell would almost dye our fingers and the one sure and effective way mother had of making us leave them alone was to say we couldn't go to the Fair. It always worked.
We always made our own ice cream in a six-quart freezer turned by hand. Ice would be taken out of the ice house right nearby, and put into a wooden tub, and chopped up in fine pieces. This would be put in the tub around the metal can containing the cream. Plenty of salt was used and when the tub was filled with ice and salt, the crank was turned until it began to turn hard, which meant the ice cream was frozen. Carefully, the ice was removed from the cover of the can and the dasher removed. Several of us children were always around at that time with spoons to clean off the dasher. A cork and clean cloth were placed over the cover, then more ice and salt were added and packed around the can. Properly packed and put in a cool place, this would last for several days in some homes, but not in ours.
Every August 15th a church picnic was held at French Woods and mother always made a six quart freezer of ice cream; a five quart pan of baked beans; and dozens of homemade raised biscuits called rusk. That was tradition.
Claudine Appauline, the first child, born June 6, 1868, in the house Grandfather Prosquine had built in 1853, was never robust. When she was 14 years of age and after our parents had moved to Fish's Eddy, she developed Inflammatory Rheumatism and was seriously ill for several years.
She attended Walton school in 1885 and was very studious. She received her Normal School Diploma which allowed her to teach in New York State, and she started to teach at the age of 16. She received $5.00 weekly and paid $2.00 for board. She also went later to Oswego Normal for two years and then taught school again for money so she could attend Geneseo Normal. She taught district school for a period from fifteen to twenty years.
Claudine and Lester Woolsey taught the school at Long Eddy. After he received his M.D. he was always the Proskine family physician. He said he thought as much of our family as of his own. He died shortly after Helena in 1966.
Claudine taught in Walton High School for about 17 years, then developed torticollis and resigned. She had been anxious to teach 2 1/2 years more, but was unable to. I took her to New York City to see Dr. Balenzweig, friend of Dr. Gross-he was one of the best known orthopedic men in the city. He made a brace or steel collar for her neck which she wore for several years along with treatments.
After she retired, she bought a house at 96 North Street and about three acres of land on Mt. Pleasant. (I bought the North Street house from her later and lived there a number of years.) The Mt. Pleasant portion of Walton was originally called Louse Hill. Why? I do not know why, as it is a beautiful spot overlooking the village.
Mary Claudine, Gladys, Margaret, Hortense and Adrienne stayed with her and went to school. I was able to pay for their board. Minnie Beecher worked there and received $7.00 a week as Claudine was still teaching. As I write this (1939), Claudine is most happy there among the lovely flowers and with mother and Tillie. She hopes to live to be 93. Mother lived with Claudine until her death.
Claudine fell and. sprained her ankle while she was alone one day and Tillie was marketing. I had been at Bill Johnson's in Florida, and upon returning had found everyone in good health until a few days later when this happened. The next day Hattie and Frances wanted Tillie to go to see Helena and spend the day so I went up and stayed with Claudine. In the afternoon she became nauseated and thought it might be from the lemon pie she had eaten, but I gave her medication and she felt better. She slept well Sunday night, but was not feeling well the next day. I called the doctor about six o'clock and another doctor came as Dr. Eells was away. I said to him, "Hasn't she a coronary?" After he examined her and had gone downstairs I again asked him and he said, "No, it's indigestion." Tillie came home and I returned to my home about 8:00 P.M. The next morning about 7:00 A. M. Tillie phoned and said Claudine was dying. I asked if she had called the doctor and she said, "No," so I called Dr. Eells and asked him to pick me up as he had to go right past my house, and he did. To my surprise, when we got there, Tillie said Claudine was dead when she called me, but did not want to shock me. She passed away March 23, 1954 and is buried in the Walton cemetery.
Previously Claudine had given Mary Claudine a chest, or what we called a chest. It stands quite high, has four small legs, and is perhaps no more than 4 feet long. It is made from the wood from the forest behind the home of Joan of Arc. It has a silver plate on the inside of the cover stating that it was given to Monsieur Cogniar by the secretary of Mlle. Rachael-a famous French singer.
The house, barn and land which Claudine owned was left to me in her will and she also named me Executrix.
Mathilde Frances, called Tillie, was born February 11, 1870 at Fish Brook, a few miles from French Settlement where father had taken a lumber job. She attended school in the school house near the Maynard home where we, in later years, attended school.
She did dressmaking and for many years, also assisted with the housework at home. Later, she took a course in dressmaking with Mrs. George Fish, Hancock, and went to nearby villages to sew where she would sometimes stay for several weeks.
Eventually, she went to New York City, boarded with Mrs. Ella McIntosh on West 103rd Street near Broadway, and sewed for many prominent people. Among them were Mrs. Harry Von Tilzer whose husband was a song writer; Mrs. Riese of the diamond firm; Jacob, Hudson Real Estate; O.A. Jones, bookmaker; and the Dardonville family who had a lamp shop on Fifth Avenue-imported lamps. The Dardonville's and our whole family were great friends.
Tillie later gave up her work in New York and went to Roxbury to look after the babies of Tom and Jennie. The babies were twins named Margaret and Thomas, but Thomas lived only a few days. Jennie died in childbirth with another daughter, Jennie; and Tillie took care of them. She later did practical nursing. About four years later, Tom married Edna Cowan of Hobart and they had two children named John and Gordon. Edna later died in childbirth and then Tillie came back to take care of Tom's house and the children. When Tom married the third time, Tillie then went back to practical nursing.
Tillie then went to stay with Claudine and mother at Mt. Pleasant and still continued doing nursing and was very much like by patients and doctors. After Claudine's and mother's deaths, she took a small apartment in Hattie's house on North Street. Tillie helped with Hattie's housekeeping as Hattie took in boarders and tourists. Tillie was also at the beck and call of the entire family.
About 1932, Tillie came to New York and I had her admitted to Polyclinic Hospital where she was operated on for a slight growth. She stayed with me for two weeks.
During the years, Tillie did not marry. She enjoyed visiting Jennie and Margaret whom she had taken care of when they were children. She was at the home of Margaret Redder when she became ill and was sent to the hospital at Savannah, New York. I, Julia, was notified where I was visiting Sherman Lewis down the Hudson, and he immediately brought me to the hospital where I remained until Tillie's death. She died October 27, 1961 and was buried in the Walton Cemetery beside our other sister, Claudine.
Helena Mary was born at Fish Brook, February 3, 1872. She attended the district school and then went to live with the Jules Dardonville family where she served as governess for several years. They went to Long Branch, Newport and other resorts for the summer.
She then went to Oneonta Normal School and became a teacher. She taught for several years and, among the places where she taught were Long Eddy, Basket, Readburn and Fishs Eddy. When she was teaching a Basket, father used to send Jack Dailey with the team for her on Friday and take her back Sunday afternoon.
Helena married Peter Lindsay of Cooks Falls but continued to teach and they lived with mother and father at Fishs Eddy. They had two daughters Mathilde and Elaine, who were born there.
Helena was Postmaster, my brother Gus corrected me when I called her Postmistress, for many years. One day a neighbor passing mother and father's house saw Peter lying in the yard. They notified Helena in the Post Office down the road, but when the Doctor arrived from Hancock, he said Pete had died instantly of a heart attack.
Elaine attended high school in Walton and then lived with Mary Claudine and Stanley in Bethlehem. After graduation, she became a teacher for a short time only. She married James Inman of Prince Edwards Island, Canada and they built their home near her mother's at Fishs Eddy. James was in the service and later went to work for the township and then in construction for many years. They had a son, Ronald, who was born there and he lived with his grandmother, Helena, a great deal of the time. Elaine and Jim were very anxious to have a daughter and when Ronald was twenty years of age, a daughter arrived and then two more daughters were born.
Mathilde also taught school for many years. She married Alex Offnick of Sands Creek. He had a business in Hancock. They had three children, Alexander, David and Peter. After Alex's death, Mathilde moved to Hancock and still taught school, and did a great deal of church work.
Helena Mary passed away in the Smith hospital on November 15, 1966 and is buried in the Walton Cemetery.
Harriet Marie was born on the farm (French Settlement), February 24, 1874, where father had returned from Fish Brook. She went to Hancock High School. Then she learned the millinery business with Mrs. George Fish in Hancock. She later worked in Walton in the Bush Millinery Shop for two years.
She married Earl Cary of Oneonta on April 21, 1900. He was a bookkeeper for E.E. Risley who had bought a huge lumber tract from father, and had a mill and camp on the mountain. They were married in the living room at Fishs Eddy by Father Hughes and they went to Oneonta on a honeymoon. They first lived at Keeryville, N.Y.
Earl was associated with the acid business for many years. They lived at Cooks Falls a short time where he had charge of the company store. They then went to Hazel and he was manager of Keery Chemical Co. (charcoal, wood, alcohol, acid)
Earl played the banjo a great deal and sang many songs, several of his own compositions. One I remember only part of - "There is a hole among the mountains, along the Delaware. They call it Fishs Eddy, they'd no other name to spare." Some other lines I've forgotten, but it ended by saying, "The boarders got the croup from eating frozen soup, in the layout called, the Proskine House Hotel."
Earl had been ill for several years when they moved to Hancock in 1921. He had a cough for some time, and at Christmas time when I came home for the family reunion, I suggested he come to New York and I would have him examined at Cornell Clinic, a part of Bellevue. I was then with the Department of Health, and he and Hattie stayed with me for three weeks.
The doctor said Earl should go to a sanitarium and he went to Liberty, but was very displeased and demanded his clothes. He came back to Hancock and died a few weeks later. Hattie lived there for 7-15 years. Then, she and I bought the Burgin house at Platt and North. I sold her my share a few years later. Hattie had not been well for several years and she was taken to the Delaware Valley Hospital where she died on June 1, 1968.
Hattie and Earl had one son, Francis, who is considered one of the best telegraph operators on the New York Central Railroad. Francis married a teacher, Catherine Whaley. (Some of her people came over on the Mayflower.) They were divorced and then he married Marcia Strock, also a teacher; but she did not care for teaching and gave it up. Marcia became ill and was in the Kingston Hospital for several months where she died several years ago. Francis and Catherine and Marcia had remained on friendly terms. He had been ill for some time. After Marcia's death, Catherine came to his assistance and they were remarried. They live in the summer at Shandaken in his house, and in the winter in her home on Long Island. He is now recovering from a cataract operation. They are a most congenial couple.
Charlie was born March 8, 1877 and attended Fishs Eddy School. He worked for his father and then went to Delaware Literary Institute, a co-ed college, where he met Daisy Baldwin and Marian Travis (later-Risley) with who he remained good friends.
He married Lucy Miller, a young school teacher from French Woods who had worked at our house during vacation. She was a wonderful person, liked by everyone and accepted by the entire family. They lived in Walton where Charlie was manager for the A&P food store chain and Lucy did the bookkeeping.
They had two children, Hortense and Adrienne. Adrienne studied music at The Conservatory in Eastmans for several years, but gave it up and trained for nursing at Bellevue Hospital. At her death she was supervising nurse in The Department of Health in Schenectady.
Hortense married Hank Kuppinger of Skaneateles and they had several children. Hortense also took care of welfare children and she, her husband and one welfare child were burned to death in a disasterous fire of their 200 year old home.
Charles had a double hernia for many years and it began giving him trouble. I asked Colonel Wadhams (one of Bellevue's best surgeons) if he would operate on Charlie. Lucy and Charlie came to New York and she stayed with me while he was in the hospital. At the time, I was doing private practice and had my own apartment. They stayed a few weeks after Charlie had his operation. He always used to say, "My doctor got me out of there in just a few days while others were there for weeks."
Lucy passed away February 28, 1937. Charlie then worked at Bailey's Furniture Plant in Walton for many years and boarded with Hattie. He later married Juna Brownell of Walton where they had a home. During Charlie's final illness, he was in Delaware Valley Hospital and came home with a male nurse who cared for him until his death December 8, 1970. Juna then sold the house and lived in an apartment near Delaware Street. At the time of this printing she now is in Delaware Infirmary in Delhi.
Francis Alexander was born July 8, 1879. He was born with a kidney condition. At the time the ice went out of the river, men, women and children would race to see the debris coming down the river. Frances contracted a bad cold and developed acute Brights Disease. He was taken to Post Graduate Hospital, N.Y.C. to see a well-known urologist, Dr. Guiterres, but nothing could be done for him and he died February 8, 1902.
Constant Leon (Gus) was born October 27, 1881, at Fishs Eddy. He was named Constant after his father who was nicknamed "Gustin". Gus attended school at Fishs Eddy, and assisted in Frank Babcock's store during his leisure time, and then worked there full time.
A few years later, he decided to go into business for himself and bought a store in Pines where our sister, Claudine, kept house for him as she was not teaching at the time. There he met Josephine Holley, a teacher, whose parents' home was nearby. Gus and Josephine were married, and moved to South Kortright where he rented a store.
In 1925, Gus built his own home with store downstairs and post office, as he was appointed Postmaster. Gus was Postmaster for 39 years. His avocation was chicken raising and farming. Josephine took care of the post office and he hired help for the store. They had three children; Jean, Alex and Maurice.
Jean attended Hobart High and then Cortland Normal. She married Sherman Benjamin of Albany. She taught school in Delmar and Stamford, and is very active in church work. Ben worked in department stores and then bought a small farm at Mayfield where he also worked in a glove factory in nearby Gloversville. He eventually sold and came to Hobart. Gus bought a farm near South Kortright for them. (House was over 100 years old.)
Alex went into Real Estate at Trumansburg. He married Louise Benning. His wife is an RN. Alex is well-known in the appraisal of Real Estate.
Maurice had polio and his life was despaired of, but, he rose above his infirmity, and assumed a fine government position with NASA. He married Louanne Sponable. They had several children.
In 1965, Josephine, their mother, died. Several years before, due to an illness, it was necessary to have her leg amputated. She was allergic to adhesive tape, and we had quite a time keeping the dressing on the stump. One night at 2 A.M., I heard Gus talking to Jo and I knew there was some problem. I got up, went in her room, and discovered that the dressing was off. We tried all sorts of things to secure it, but they didn't work. Finally, I asked Gus if he had an old white shirt and he asked "Why?" We cut the entire sleeve out, tied the cuff tightly; and after putting on a new dressing, we placed the stump in the sleeve. We then attached it to an improvised belt and it worked beautifully. Jo had an artificial leg later, but never became very proficient in its use.
Gus, as he has been known, died on June 10, 1973, in the Carrie Eells Nursing Home in Walton, where he had been a patient for about six months. He was most unhappy there, and wanted to be with his family, but it was impossible for any of us to care for him. Jean, Pierette, Kevin, and I were with him at the last. Tony had been there, but had to leave only one half hour before. Gus is buried in the Walton Cemetery.
Thomas Vincent, the ninth child, was born in the hotel at Fishs Eddy on November 18, 1887. He attended school there, though later he and Jules went to South Kortright, stayed with Claudine and attended Stamford High. He then came to Walton and joined the teachers' training class of 25 girls. He taught for a short time, then went to Valpariso College in Indiana. He returned East and taught a few terms; then went in the lumber business with Charlie and Gus at West Settlement, near Roxbury. He developed pneumonia and was at Gus' home in South Kortright where Tiller took care of him.
He returned to West Settlement and I came up from New York and stayed with him all winter. While still on the lumber job, Tom married Jennie Smith (June, 1914), daughter of Thomas Smith whose farm adjoined Toms place. She was second cousin of Lord Strathcona, founder of McGill University in Montreal. Tom and Jennie lived on the farm several months, then moved to Hard Scrabble on a large farm the other side of the hill. They had a large and beautiful wedding. Jennie and her people were friends of Helen Gould, John Burroughs, Edison and Firestone.
On May 26, 1916, twins were born to Tom and Jennie and were name Thomas and Margaret. Dr. Aimes, a Canadian doctor, was assisted by Dr. Keator who was a New York doctor in Roxbury for his health and a friend of the Smith family. Thomas was a hemophiliac and lived only a few days. Jennie hemorrhaged badly and was very ill. Mother and Hattie came up to the farm to assist with the work due to the serious condition of Jennie and the two babies.
They soon bought the Strathmore Farm at Hubbell's Corner. Jennie was pregnant again in a little over two years. Jennie was supposed to have a special nurse for this birth, but the doctor neglected to send her. The baby, Jennie, arrived July 12, 1918, at 7 P.M. The mother was very ill and Tom asked if the doctor didn't need another doctor. Dr. Keator was finally sent for and said there was nothing that could be done for Jennie, the mother. It was too late and she died in the A.M.
Tillie came from New York and cared for the children, Tom and the household. About four years later, Tom married Edna Cowan Benedict, a friend of Jennie's from Hobart. Edna's sister, Nellie Holdcroft, and her husband were missionaries home from Korea on furlough and he performed the marriage ceremony. (Nellie and her husband have both passed away since.)
Tom and Edna had two sons; John, born August 27, 1924, and Gordon, born June 17, 1926. Edna was a devoted mother with both her own sons and Jennie's daughters. Edna then had another child who was malformed and lived only a few months. Edna also died in childbirth as Jennie had.
Two years later, Tom married Martha Robinson who lived next door. They lived in Roxbury and Oxford, and had three children; Alynn, Tyler, and Alice Mary.
In 1944 Tom bought the Palen farm, two miles from Woodchuck Lodge which was one of the country homes of a well known Philadelphia surgeon. After a few years, he sold this property and they moved to Oxford, New York.
Tom then took a job as a lumber inspector and was most successful. One day after having been out with one of the men and doing some lifting, he came home and complained of a pain in his back. Tom had been ill for a few days and the Doctor suggested staying in bed. On Saturday, the Doctor said he could return to work Monday. Sunday he said he would take a bath and then he called for Martha to come up. She came in the bathroom and as she lifted a wash cloth to do his back he leaned over the tub. She thought he had fainted and called to some men out on the lawn. They got him on a blanket and in the meantime she had phoned the doctor and for me to come at once. When I arrived after 38 minutes, the doctor had pronounced Tom dead.
Tom and Jennie's first daughter, Margaret, married Marion Redder (called Pete). They had two sons. Pete was manager of Sylvania and, while driving home from work one night, had a fatal automobile accident.
Jennie, their second daughter, married George Marquette and they had two daughters and one son, Jennie, Margaret and Edward. All live in California. George and Jennie had a grocery and meat store in Greene, New York. George also has been Justice of the Peace for many years.
Tom and Edna's son, John, married Alma Murray and they have seven children. John has several large farms and he is now Supervisor of North Norwich, N.Y.
Gordon, their other son, married Terri Feane and they have one son, Gordon, who is still in college. Gordon has a very good position with an electrical laboratory concern in Schenectady.
Alynn, son of Tom and Martha, married Shirley Jones, and they have five children. They live on a large farm and Shirley works part time in a hospital.
The second son, Tyler, is a veterinarian. He married Buena Wickham and they have several children.
Alice Mary, their daughter, has been in Hawaii for several years and is married to David Young. He transferred and they are now in Okinawa.
Jules Lucien was the tenth and youngest child, born February 19, 1890 at Fishs Eddy, Delaware County, New York. He was named Jules at the request of Mme. Dardonville because he was such a nice baby and she wanted him named for her son, Jules, dealer of imported lamps on Fifth Avenue, New York.
Jules and Tom both attended school in Stamford while living with Claudine at South Kortright. After graduation from high school, Jules went to Ada University and graduated. He met Estella Sellers of Bartlettsville, Oklahoma while they were in college and married her. After Jules graduated, he got a position as manager of the White Construction Co. with whom he stayed practically all of his WORKING days. They lived in Wautatosa outside Milwaukee.
He brought Estella to Fishs Eddy to meet the family. We were all very fond of her. They have two girls; Jule Marie, born August 2, 1927 and Mary Jane, born January 10, 1929. They had another home in Hammond, LA, as much of their work was in the South. He also had an interest in a small business in Milwaukee.
Jule Marie married a young Jewish man and they had two children, Catherine Mary and Jon. They were divorced after a few years and Jule and her two children went to live with Estella and Jules. Later, Jule Marie married a taxi driver and lives not far from her parents. Jules and Estella decided to adopt Jules' children which they did. Jon went in the service and Catherine Mary attended school at times.
Mary Jane remained in the north and married Theodore Barr who has been most successful in business. They have two daughters, Barbara and Pamela.
Estella later attended the church wedding of a friend and died during the ceremony. Jules is very lonely in his lovely comfortable home on a large corner lot with a patio, table and ornate chairs. He is now WORKING a few hours a day in a candy factory, he says, to kill time. He also has recently recovered from a cataract operation.
I was born in Fishs Eddy on November 22, 1883, although Claudine always said it was the 23rd - the hour was midnight. I was named after my godmother Julia LeFebvre Dardonville, who was a friend of the family and a great help when new babies were expected. Mrs. Grace Lakin was the one usually with mother, although three times she had Dr. Johnson from East Branch, not a relative.
My schooling was a Fishs Eddy, but I took my high school exams at Livingston Manor and Hancock. Also, I took organ and piano lessons for a number of years from Susie Hawk of East Branch, but was never what I call a good musician. After completing the high school exams, I was too young to try for teacher's exam, so Frank Ostrander, the School Commissioner, said he would give me a permit if I would promise to take the exam when I was old enough, since there was a shortage of teachers.
Later, I taught at Upper Readburn and boarded at E.C. Baxter's, the Trustee. Many of the teachers boarded around at different families. I received $5.00 a week. On Friday nights I always walked home - quite a distance. I took the teacher's exam when I was old enough and got my 3rd grade certificate and then taught at Sands Creek, near Hancock.
Shortly after, I married James A. Johnson, supposedly from Marissa, Illinois on January 1, 1903. I believe he left home in England, when a very young boy. He invented the automatic transmission, but sold the rights to a group of men. I understand from his son, William E. Johnson, (by his first wife), there was some difficulty about his citizenship, although he always claimed to me to be an American citizen.
We had three daughters and separated after a few years. My attorney, George Gordon Battle, a friend of Lottie and Henry Keiser, and a former District Attorney, along with Joab H. Banton, wrote the Bill of Separation, and put it through court. They suggested that I receive monthly checks as my husband was foreman for American Bridge Company and had a fine salary. I positively refused, saying I would not accept one cent. The only thing I asked from him was to get out of my life and stay out. I'd support my own children.
Mary Claudine stayed with father, mother and Helena. Gladys and Margaret were sent to boarding school. After a time, they went with Claudine who still was teaching school Charlie's two girls stayed also at Claudine's and went to school in Walton. Minnie Beecher kept house for Claudine for $7.00 a week, as I mentioned before.
All my daughters took music lessons; Mary Claudine from Professor Miles, and Gladys and Margaret from Mrs. Miles, but, when they came to New York, they took lessons from the organist at Presbyterian Church at 55th Street and 5th Avenue.
Mary Claudine and Margaret went to college; but Gladys, after taking a course in art in New York, preferred going to Europe where she stayed for one year with her father's parents. She is not pleased that I do not go there to live, as she says I am a French woman, although I insist I am an American.
Gladys Kathryn, now known as Elisabeth, married Marquis Blas de Batanero de Monte Negro. They had one son, Alexandre Basil Michel who is married and lives in London. He married Dorothy Sutcliffe Pawson and they have three children, Gabrielle, Christine, (Tini) and Peter.
Gladys and Blas lived in New York between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway for a time; then went to Paris, and later on to the French Riviera where Blas died, leaving Gladys with very little money, due to his ill health. Gladys speaks Russian, French, German, and gives music and speech lessons. She now lives in Luxembourg.
While in London in 1951, I was entertained at dinner and an evening at Dorothy's home, when Alexandre first met Dorothy. Her father was a professor in one of the universities in London. Alex is in the brokerage business.
My oldest daughter, Mary Claudine, while in college married a young instructor, E. Stanley Ault of Baltimore. He taught for many years, secured his PhD and is now Professor Emeritus of Purdue University. They live at Lafayette, Indiana and have four sons and one daughter - Robert, Edgar, Donald, Claire Marie and David. They are all married, have several children and grandchildren.
The Aults are an unusually happy family, religious, sacrificing, honest, living up to the golden rule. One of Mary Claudine's and Stanley's grandsons, Charles, recently visited me in March, 1976, while he was on furlough from the Navy. He is on a nuclear submarine in Charleston, South Carolina and is leaving soon to spend several months in Scotland.
My youngest daughter, Margaret Louise, graduated from Cornell University and married Vernon S. Taylor of New York. He was assistant manager of the Hotel New Yorker. They had one son after five years. Vernon S. Taylor, Jr. (called Tony). They were divorced when Tony was a baby. Vern was an especially warm friend of Bill Terry, manager of the Giants baseball team.
After college, Margaret had wanted to teach, so a good friend of mine, Sister Margaret, Superior of the Sisters of Charity at Sacred Heart, said she could substitute there. After a few days, Margaret decided it was not for her and she took an exam and went into the Public Library at 145th Street. She then went with American Cyanamid, Petro Coal Tar Products, in Signal Hill, California; then back east with the Navy; and then with Bell Labs in Whippany, New Jersey, where she had a very good position and was very happy. Margaret developed cancer and died in 1958. She wished to be buried near her ancestors and so she was buried in the plot on the hillside at French Woods.
I attended a millinery school and then worked there for awhile, but another girl and I decided to open our own shop at 66th Street and Broadway. It was a failure, principally, I think, due to the fact that we did not have funds to carry us along. I then worked in Macy's during the holiday season and for a short time in the music department.
Later on, I went to a Practical Nursing School where I met Kitty Sweeney, a very fine woman. We were friends until her death. I applied for training at Bellevue Hospital and was accepted. It was very hard work, but most interesting. Several of us decided to study at Columbia for our B.S. degree, so that made it still harder.
While I was still in stripes an embarrassing incident occurred. I was making rounds one Sunday with a young doctor who had just returned from service. We were standing at the entrance to the baby ward where we could see the entire length of the corridor and the ward and he said "Just look at the silk in this shirt. I got a half dozen of them." I felt the material in the sleeve and just then Miss Amy Hilliard, Supt. And Carrie Brink, her assistant, rounded the corner as they were walking down the corridor. Well! We both greeted them and they talked a few moments and left. The doctor and I both thought I would be reprimanded or sent to training school office, but nothing was ever said about it.
One night I was very busy; four post operatives, five to prepare, giving enemas until clear. It was sometimes worse than cleaning out a cow stable; three emergencies, census-et women patients. I called the office and asked for a floater, which was always done if we felt we could not manage. Instead, the night supervisor, Miss Carson, came in the ward and she walked the entire length of it with me, gazed around and said, "Mrs. Johnson, you'll manage - this is what makes Bellevue nurses so efficient." I did.
Also, when we did night duty, we would bring our lunch baskets after 6 PM dinner and eat our midnight lunch whenever we could. More times I went without eating then when I did. Now my niece, Adrienne Proskine, who was in Bellevue training, tells me they have eight hour duty instead of twelve and go to the residence for a hot meal at midnight, while the ward is covered by a substitute.
During the first war, I was head nurse in charge of Fourth Division, Surgical, which was considered the hardest and largest in Bellevue. There were scarcely any Veteran Hospitals then, and Bellevue, being a city hospital, bore the brunt; it was always over-crowded and not enough help. I had to put cots down the center of the aisles. Wards, supposed to have 30-35 would usually have 40-50. Diets were sent up in large containers from the diet kitchen and we distribute them. Also, charts were written up, basins, bed pans and trays, passed before 7 AM. Colonel Wadhams, Major Josh Hartwell, Dr. Reginald Sayre and Dr. Gaston Carlucci, were all wonderful doctors to work with. I assisted a specialist with a craniotomy on a Sunday morning as the operation had to be done then to save the mother. Everything went off like clock work and I was highly complimented.
While I was still in training, we had some jolly times. Mabel McDougal from Canada, who later married the doctor who did the caesarian on Margaret when Tony was born; (Sky) May Rockett, Eleanor Castro, Eleanor Beach and myself were usually together. One day Mac (Mabel McDougal) bought a new dress on her afternoon off and wanted us to see it after dinner. We all congregated in her room straight down the corridor form my room, which was next to the superintendent. I could never decide whether it was a compliment or otherwise, but there was a corridor extending from the rear straight down to our passageway. We told jokes, ate ice cream and cantaloupe, and forgot about the 9 o'clock curfew until one of the girls started to her room and discovered Mrs. Castro, the Night Supervisor, pacing up and down. She knew something was amiss, but could not locate the room. After sometime, I felt sure she had gone in another direction and I would make a dash for my room, crossing the open space. To my dismay, there she was, heading toward me. I closed my door quietly, jumped into bed and pulled the covers up to my chin.
I laid there at least 15 minutes, then decided I would get up and undress, and to my horror found I was still wearing my cap which we usually removed as soon as we were off duty. This was the rule and besides the caps cost 35 cents and were not washable. We received $8.00 monthly for uniforms, black shoes, and black hose. No jewelry was permitted except our watches on a black ribbon in a pocket on the front of our uniforms.
A man with whom I was friends for many years was connected with the Hudson River Night Line, going up the Hudson to Albany. Several times a number of us were invited down to Pier 32 to have dinner on the boat at 5:30, giving us time to eat by the time the boat got to the last stop - 125th Street. From there we took a taxi back to the residence. (He was killed in an auto accident, June 30, 1934.)
One episode where I was the chaperone was very embarrassing. After fifteen of the girls wanted to go out to a show, dinner, etc., on an all night leave. The Superintendent gave permission if I would consent to chaperone, which I did. We had two connecting rooms at the Hotel New Yorker and such hilarity, dancing and performances! Never again!
At the time of my graduation Miss Hilliard said to invite my daughters. Gladys and Margaret came and were given a room right next to mine, which was next to Miss Hilliard. She even said to have their meals in the dining room with me. Everyone was amazed at her courtesy as nothing like that had even been done before. I was quite happy at Bellevue.
I did private duty after leaving Bellevue and had many fine patients. Mr. And Mrs. George Stockton Boudinot, (He was secretary of the National Association of Manufacturers, and a relative of his was the first President of the Continental Congress). George and Jessie, as they wanted to be called, and I used to go to the Waldorf roof several nights weekly where we were treated royally by Oscar, (known internationally as "Oscar of the Waldorf"). Mr. Boudinot made all decisions as to banquets, etc. and he selected the Waldorf.
Another was Mattie Ferguson who had a character part in "Blazing Love". She developed rheumatism after the picture had started, so I was with her constantly. The limousine called for us at the North Western Hotel and took up to the studio. Her husband, Fred Riechalt, was the director of a very popular early western picture.
One other patient was the grandmother of Milton Berle's wife. She was a very refined, cultured woman, and we got along beautifully, but I had planned to go to California so she went to Oneonta, then back to Walton to Smith's Hospital. She had planned on coming back with me, her daughter told me afterwards, but she died before my return.
I was offered a position as Assistant Superintendent of Nurses in a new hospital in North Carolina. A friend of Mac's was going as superintendent, but as she intended to be married the following year, she felt I would be the plausible one to take her place. But I felt that I should have my family 2with me, and refused. I took the exam for probation officer which I passed high on the list and then decided I preferred the Department of Health, although immediately after leaving Bellevue, I was inclined to study medicine. I wrote several colleges and was amazed at the credit which would be given me for my teacher's certificate, work and experience in Bellevue, and Columbia.
I brought Gladys and Margaret to New York, sent Mary Claudine to Cornell, and was with the Department of Health for many years. I supervised 5,000 children and while at Sacred heart, had 3,000, the second largest Parochial School in the United States, the other was in Chicago. I met Father Scully there, a young curate with whom I became very good friends. He made rapid progress and became Bishop of the Albany Diocese. I left the Department of Health two months after he went to St. Patricks. I also was President of the Nurses Association Department of Health in New York.
I retired in 1939, after having bought a house at 96 North Street in Walton and for a time I have a nursing home, but, because of the war and wages paid, gave up the nursing home. Hattie and I then bought the Bergen house at Mead and North. Some of the wallpaper, we were told, had been on the house over 100 years. I later sold Hattie my interest in the house.
In 1920, I had bought thirty acres of land from Father for a girl's camp. Tillie managed the cooking, and I would go up to the camp, taking an extra month's vacation. The camp's name was Tawah, an Indian name meaning, "He who keeps the door open". We had a musical once a month, charging admission, then dividing the money between the Methodist and Catholic churches.
The second summer a minister from East Branch attended and was so pleased he asked me if they could go up sometimes, to which I agreed. In two years I more than paid for the camp, boats, and all equipment; and then sold it to a couple from Brooklyn for a very nice profit.
In that same year, I took extra time and traveled on a most enjoyable and educational trip to Mexico City. Rose Stoeffler and I decided we would go to Florida for the winter and I also asked Hattie and Charles if they would go. We, four, and Tony left for Florida in my new Pontiac eight in the worst storm, but I was used to driving in all kinds of weather and didn't mind. This was another nice trip.
In 1949, I purchased the house at 108 North Street, Walton. This house was built by the North sisters around 1877. A niece of theirs, had become engaged to a William Ogden, but a week before her marriage, her trousseau ready, she died. He, a few years later, went to Chicago and became the first Mayor. He was very shrewd and amassed a fortune. Upon his death, he left $100,000 to each of the four aunts and to one for whom his sweetheart was named. He also left 100 shares of common stock and 50 shares of preferred and one of his business enterprises. The house was built after the sisters received their share of his estate and they put a great deal of the money in the building of the house.
Previously, the sisters had lived in a little log cabin which was on the same spot where the house now stands. They hired the best carpenters, ordered marble for the fireplaces brought from Italy, and demanded the best of everything for their new home, which is now my home at 108 North. They had two gardeners, a coachman, and several other men employed around the place, and a cook and housekeeper assisted in the house. The grounds were beautifully kept and it was the show place of this section. The hitching posts and the carriage stone are still standing. After their death, it fell to Arthur North, a highly educated, cultured man with no business ability. He, his wife and two children lived here, but he was drowned in the Genessee River sometime around 1946. The house had deteriorated and I am still trying to repair much of the damage done to it as for several years it had been made into several apartments.
I still reside at the North Street home and my grandchildren and great grandchildren come to visit me. My grandson, Alex, his wife and three children came from London and visited me on August 1, 1965. They flew to Canada to attend the Olympics then rented a car for their use while in the USA.
After five years of marriage, a son, Vernon Spencer Taylor, Jr. or Tony as he is known, was born to Margaret Johnson Taylor and Vernon S. Taylor at the New York Hospital. While still only a few months old, Tony's mother and father were divorced. Margaret took an apartment on 55th Street and attended business as she had done previously. She had a maid, but I was usually there a great deal of the time. When Tony was 4 ½ years of age, we felt he should attend a kindergarten school. She was quite anxious for him to attend a school which was operated by our friend, Mary DeNio. I preferred his going to a French kindergarten and I would finance it. He used to go down from the fifth floor to the main floor and a doorman would meet him and escort him to a waiting taxi that would take him to the school on 65th Street on the East side. In the afternoon, the taxi would bring him home from school and the doorman would ring the bell. He was the youngest of 5,000 children and one of his finger paintings was exhibited at the Museum of Natural History. He attended school there for one year and became quite proficient in his French.
He then attended public school and later came to live with me while he attended the Walton schools for several years. His mother then gave up the position in New York and accepted a position in Tucson and then in Signal Hill, California. After several years, his mother returned East and he attended Delbarton school in Mendham, N.J. Later, he entered Fairleigh Dickinson University, but left and went into the service where he remained for over five years.
He had a beautiful dog, "Lady", part Dalmatian and Husky, who was a great pet. She was a very gentle dog, but some feared her because she was trained to have a protective attitude at all times. Even the dogs who trespassed on the property were chased off. She lived to be 16 years old and was getting slightly blind. One of the tenants backed their auto into the dog and injured her. I then had to carry her up the stairs as she could not walk up them. As I was going to California in a very short time, I felt the only thing to do was to have her put to sleep, which I did. Jess Hoffman had her put in a nicely papered box and buried under the Syringa bush in my yard.
While still in the service, he met and married Ann Vaughn of Riverside, California. After leaving the service, they returned to the East to the home of his mother, Margaret, who was very ill and entered the hospital in New York City. The doctor stated it was a terminal case and that I, her mother, could remove he if I wished. Tony, his wife, and young son, Craig, remained at his mother's home and I brought Margaret to the Smith Hospital in Walton where she passed away after several weeks.
There were two more boys born to Tony and Ann; Kevin and Timothy. Tony applied for a position at Bell Labs where his mother was employed for years and was accepted. He has made many advances and is very successful with the Bell Labs. He now has two children out of school and one who hopes to enter the electronics field. For many years they have all spent a great deal of time in Walton with their great-grandmother Julia Proskine Johnson.
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