Reminiscences of the Patterson
by Leon D. Palmer
Being an account of the happenings of
an Irish family who
immigrated to the United States from about 1840 to 1900.
Spelling has not been corrected and left as Mr. Palmer wrote this work.
Pages 22 - 43
This was a little different route from what we had taken in going to the Miller place. Mother and Lila did not return with us but returned on the train.
That next morning at Deryuter we found the sick cow worse and unable to travel so Wm left the sick cow with the farmer, and continued on with the two cows left, arriving at the Patterson farm in the town of Lansing in Tompkins County late that night about eleven o'clock. It had taken two and one half days to come from the Miller place in Brookfield.
The next morning William set all hands at work picking apples, as the time spent in going and coming from Brookfield had put the work on apple picking away behind schedule. Frank Webb and I had never picked apples before and William had to caution us many times to be careful and not bruise the apples. We did not understand how careful a person had to be in handling apples for barreling purposes.
That first morning after arriving William sent Frank and I down to Henry Howser's place on the four corners, west of the Patterson place to borrow a ladder. Of course Frank and I, never had seen any of the Howser family and they never had seen us, so when we rapped on the door a young women appeared. Frank Webb who was a little more forward than I, greeted her with, "Does Hank Howser live here? The young woman (Whom we found out latter) was named Cora Howser. She replied, "Well not in particular." I who was rather flabbergasted at the way things were going chimed in "We want to borrow a ladder." Frank, boy like, muttered under his breath, "Dident know Hank was in particular. " Cora I suppose was wondering where such a remarkable pair of boys had dropped from, continued the conversation by asking, "Who we were and where we lived."
As we stood there on the steps trying to make ourselves understood, we could look through the door and we observed a big fat old man sitting in a chair and in one hand he gripped a heavy cain. He was listening and when we finally made Cora the young woman understand that we were from the Wm Patterson place and Wm had sent us there to get the loan of a ladder to pick apples, the old man got up on his feet with the aid of his cain and told us we could take the ladder. He proved to be, Henry Howser himself.
William was an expert apple picker and I have done very well after a time, and some practice and more cautioning from William. Frank Webb stuck to the job about a week and then tireing out and getting home sick he quit and returned to his Grandfathers back in Brookfield. I have never seen him sense.
After about two weeks picking the apples were about all in piles on the ground ready for the packing and barreling gang. If I remember aright William sold 113 barrels of apples that fall for $1.50 a barrel and many loads of evaporator apples at 50 cents a 100 lbs. Many apples were lost that fall by not being picked
Along in October William and I took a day off and went to Deyruter on the train to see how the sick cow was getting along. We found the cow no better and not able to travel so we came back home empty handed.
William then returned alone with a team and wagon and drew the cow home, where she lived several weeks but finally died a total loss. She must have been injured the first few days she was choked in getting the apple out of her throat. Some time latter in the fall William and I made another trip to Brookfield to the Elijah Miller place and got the rest of the furniture making three loads in all.
I think it was in the spring of 1900 that mother sold the Miller place to William Alverson of Sherburne for 400 dollars. The price she had paid for the original Miller place before buying any land from Daniel Cutler and John Campbell.
Life on the Patterson Farm 1900 - 1904
And Mothers Busy Life.
That winter of 1899 and 1900 I was introduced by William to cutting wood and sawing with a crosscut saw. Many times Wm had to give me warning not to ride the saw and keep my end up. Wm cut a lot of wood along the edge of the swamp (mostly elm) and a large number of willow trees on the land he owned down near the Henry Howser place. These willows he and I "snaked" out with a team and drew them up back of the Patterson house on the side hill and taller toard spring of 1900 Wm split these into fence rails and in the spring he built a rail fence from the "New Road" between two fields up to the corner of the "Weaver" orchid.
William Patterson like Abraham Lincoln was an old hand at rail splitting and a rail fence cost nothing but the labor of splitting the rails and posts and building it.
Christmas 1899 if I remember correctly we all went over to Leeander Lows and "Aunt Lib's" to dinner. They lived on the old James Patterson farm. "Aunt Lib" was a wonderful cook and indeed she was the pleasantest and most reasonable person in the whole original Patterson family. Jane Jones was there as was Arthur Jones and wife, (he was at that time working for Leeander Lowe), Frank and Jessie Pelham and baby Raymond were there and Carrie, William's younger daughter was there. The year before 1898 we had spent Christmas on the Elijah Miller Place in Brookfield with the Palmer family. Some change in one year.
Mother nearly burnt William's new house up that first winter we lived with him in Tompkins Co. It was our custom to burn large "chunks" of wood in a large sheet iron stove for fuel and if these chunks got going they made a tremendous hot fire. On this particular day Mother was doing some baking in the kitchen. Lila and Lulu Hare (neighbor Lloyd Hares girl) were playing n the living room. The chunk fire was neglected. Soon a snapping and roaring noise was heard and mother rushed up stairs to find the chamber floor all afire, flames coming out of cracks and a knot hole in the floor. Mother rushed back down stairs and secured some pails of water which soon quenched the fire. The thimble in the floor was to small not allowing any air space between the pipe and thimble so the overheated stove pipe set fire to the floor. Many farm homes are burned every year in this manner. This was the way William's other house had caught fire and William had no profited by the experience, as he nearly lost his new house in the same manner.
An insurance man called a few day latter and estimated the damage to the floor and ceiling. Frank Pelham who was a carpenter repaired and laid some new floor and put in a new and larger thimble through which the stove pipe went.
As I have said William was a good farmer and a hard working man. Some farm practices he and others did not know about in 1900. Wm kept a flock of sheep and some hens as well as cows and hogs.
The hens many of them died of cholera, no doubt due to the all corn or other grain diet fed during the winter. Some years corn did not get ripe and was soft and was fed to the hens. It was unfit to be ground up into meal for the cows, horses or hogs. Such things as laying mashes for hens was undreamed of in those days forty years ago. Many sheep died during the winter caused no doubt by feeding the much timothy and swale grass hay. William did grow wonderful crops of red clover hay which he fed to the cows. He kept quite a number of cows. I always done the most of the milking. The milk was made into butter by mother and packed into jars and was taken to the city of Ithaca by William and sold to Atwaters and Bentleys grocery stores and also some private customers. Ithaca was 15 miles from North Lansing. William used to make the trip to Ithaca often. I should say about once every two weeks. It was an all days trip in those horse and wagon days and dirt roads. In the spring and fall the dirt roads were almost impassible. I have seen the mud hub deep. When the roads were so bad people stayed at home and done only the very necessary teaming until the road dried off and were smoothed off with the road scraper on the main roads.
Around 1902 a creamery was built down at North Lansing by the farmers around the town, each putting in five or ten dollars a piece. They formed a stock company which rented the creamery to the Old Standard Butter Company of Owego. Roscoe Tarbell was the first man whom the Standard Butter Company hired to operate this creamery. He is now a Doctor in Groton. Then there was a T. J. Winnie and a George Westcott. Finally the Standard Butter Company quit business and the building was turned over to the Cornell University Diary Department and Jay Woodruff ran a skimming station for them for years.
On June 11, 1900 Edna Idalette Patterson was born. Mother named her after Aunt Edna Bartholomew who died in 1906 and Aunt Ida Ames. I do not believe mother had it any easier in her new home in Tompkins County, she worked just as hard, as she did on her own place in Brookfield. But she did not have the responsibility on her mind that she had there. Mother certainly liked to work and as i can understand now she done as much or more work than the average housewife. We will consider a moment just what she did do. We in 1940 would not know how she ever could stand it to do the work she die.
She had Edna the new baby to care for, in addition to all the house work, cooking, washing and making butter to sell in Ithaca. I used to help her churn it. Those first few years on the Patterson farm in Tompkins County mother sent William somewhere and got some wool carded into rolls so she could spin it into yarn on the old spinning wheel which she had brought from the hills of Brookfield. She had all the other tools that went with the spinning wheel, the reel and swifts. She spun this into yarn and when she sit down she was knitting this yarn into stockings and mittens for her self and William and us children. Also she always had several bed quilts in the making and she seemed to find time every so often, to sew a block on to these quilts and so turn out a new quilt every year or two. She also had croquet work going, laces and embroideries, and she made most of her own dresses as well as some clothes for us children as well as keeping them in repair by mending.
In addition to all this she hadent been on the Patterson farm long before she started in weaving rag carpets again and continued to do so for nearly the rest of her life.
She it was, who made the most of the garden in the spring and took care of it during the summer, also she was a great lover of flowers and had dahalas, morning glories, and what not, planted around the house and porch, and geraniums and other house plants in the windows.
She also attended to the chickens, she liked to work around the hens. She was always cooking up something hot in the wintertime for them. She it was, who raised the young chickens in the summer, and spring, that replenished the poultry flock on the place. Skunks, Hawks, and cats always caught a large number of them. Decease was not a factor to be contended with in raising chickens 40 years ago. She it was who killed, dressed and cooked up chicken for her Sunday dinners. No one could dress a chicken any quicker than she. Fried chicken and bisquits, together with whipped cream cake and other trimmings made a dinner fit for a king. Frank and Jessie Pelham and their boy Raymond visited us often, and Frank used to say he always got something good to eat when he camp up to our house. She it was who put up dozens of quarts of canned fruit, preserves, jams and jellies each autumn, for the families use through the long winter and spring and in addition to all this she sometimes came out and helped me milk the cows and in the latter years she would feed a number of calves which she was raising.
I tell you I did not appreciate mother half enough. I at the time did not realize the amount of work that she was doing and I believe the rest of us did not realize it either. The fact remains that very few women could do the work that she one in these modern times, they just would not do it.
From 1900 to 1908 or ten each winter there seemed to be an epidemic of La Grippe. Nearly every one had a siege with this decease which in latter years was more severe and in 1918 was called "influenza" or the flue and thousands of people died with it.
We did not escape these "Grippe" attacks during these winters. One after another would be sick and if the sickness was serious enough Dr. Skinner of Geneva would be called to prescribe for the patient.
Jessie Pelham, William's daughter who lived at Lock would come up and help with the work and help care for those of us who were sick.
Jane Jones, William's oldest sister would get sick during these winters, or toard spring, and would be brought down to our house to be doctored and rested up. Mother and Jessie Pelham would nurse and care for her with the rest of the family. When she had sufficiently recovered she was taken back to her own home again. She lived all by herself all alone near to Orrin Millers. Orrin Miller would let William know when Jane was sick.
My Visits Back in Chenango & Madison Counties
William Patterson was a tireless worker. He was a stern, gruff man in his every day life. He knew nothing about such a thing as recreation. All he knew about was work. Time was valuable in his estimation. Time spent in playing games, or spent in some other harmless amusement was time fooled away. I don't believe William ever heard the old saying "All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy." If he had, he had forgotten it, or he had cast that quotation aside as foolish.
William must have remembered his own experience in his boyhood days, tho he kept me busy and I did not have any too much idle time to myself in the five years that I worked for him. I can say that William was good to me. He got me boots and shoes to wear when I needed them and clothes, also he would give me a few dollars in money at times when he sold anything.
In 1900 William bought me a bicycle. This was what I had always wanted. He and I got this bicycle on one of his trips to Ithaca. After the haying and harvesting was done William always gave me a week or more off to myself which I spent in going back to my old home in Chenango and Madison Counties and visiting Uncle Silases Ames'es, Uncle Emmet Risedorphs. Uncle George Palmers, folks and Grand father Bartholomews folks. I always enjoyed these trips visiting with my cousins, Uncles, and other relatives. I seemed to fell more at home out among them, than I did back in Tompkins County on the Patterson farm and amongst strangers. Nearly all of them were alive and well, then and now thirty five years or more latter they have almost all passed away. To me, going back home to Chenango County was something to look ahead to each year. For several years I always carved the year date on a big beach tree back of the Elijah Miller house. I went to the Brookfield Fair with Uncle Silas and Cousin Clarence. I went hunting and fishing with Jay Risedorph at South Edmeston and one year while at Jay Spaulding's on the Ira Palmer place at Aunt Susan's I was caught with both tires flat on my bicycle and I walked to Sherburn and back to get an inner tube, cement and patches and then I got my bicycle rolling again.
In order to get to Chenango County I used to take the train at Locke, go south to Freeville Junction change care, to Rippleton junction, change cares again, and go south to Earlville. This took all day usually arriveing in Earlville about 5 o'clock. Had to wait at Rippleton junction from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p. m. for the train to Earlville. My bicycle was placed on the train and checked as baggage. Uncle Silas used to call Rippleton junction "Popelton" junction. While waiting here I used to go up to Casavnovia which was a small town on Casanovia Lake. Many wealthy people lived there. It was sort of a summer resort.
Life on the Patterson farm was uneventful. After a few years life got to be pretty dull to me a growing boy. It was the same grind day after day in the same old way. As I have said before William was a good farmer and he followed practices of
of farm management that were up to date up to his time.
Some farm work he done in the most difficult way. He raised big crops of hay but never could find time to put up a horse fork, pitching the hay off by hand. Of course his barns were small and low down or it would have been impossible to have pitched it off by hand. (Mistake: would have been perhaps impossible to have pitched with horsefork). A great quantity of swale hay along the new road and swamp had to be cut by hand with a sythe, as the ground was to soft for a mowing machine. William was a great man to raise big crops of corn. This was always cut by hand, and also husked by hand. This ear corn was fed to hogs as well as other stock. He was a most successful hog raiser. He usually sold the hogs in Ithaca at the markets dressed.
I used to get lonesome working with William. He would work along with me day after day and never say a word except when necessary.
I made many acquaintances with the neighbors. I was a healthy, rugged, growing, young man with no clear ideas in my head or what I did want to do. I wanted to see some of the world and meet different and other people. I could see that other people worked and lived and managed different than William Patterson did. I wanted to row my own boat so to speak, but I had no idea where my boat was going, so long as I was rowing it. I saw just enough of the big world to want to see more. In the years of 1903 and 04 I took in all the excursions that were run and skeduled by the Lehigh Valley R.R. from Locke. It went to Niagara Falls, to Elmira, to Sylvan Beach, to Auburn, to Syracuse, to North Fair Haven. I began to dream of haveing some business of my own, or have a job and work for some railroad or big company. The idea of staying and working on Pattersons farm became abhorrent to me. On one of my trips out to Chenango County, the exact year I can not give now, I saw and had a visit with Uncle George Palmer father's brother. He was working in Sherburne at the time in the meat market there. Upon inquiry at the market the man in charge directed me to go up to the slaughter house where I found Uncle George trying out lard. He sat on a high stool over a large caldron kettle which was brim full of boiling sizzling lard in the makeing. He was stirring it with a big iron stirring rod or fork. We talked for some time and Uncle Jud asked me a lot of questions. How old are you now? Havent you been going to school? When he found out that I had not he stirred the boiling lard more vigorously, and muttered some things under his breath. What a pity! Its a shame! Don't you know you ought to be in school? You want to always try to know and meet and get aquatinted with the better class of people, know how they do business and live and talk. School and education helps you understand so much, and makes you able to meet and know who and what the good people are. He talked some about my father and what a shame it was that he never went to Bernards Bay, and that the money my father had, some of it should have went for my education. Well I came away and I felt pretty small. I realized as I never had before, that I was growing
up and was not equal to a lot of other people, simply because I had not a common district school education. I could not talk, read nor write, spell or figure as well as many people whom I had seen and admired could. All I knew was how to plow and harrow and pitch hay. It made me desperate. I never had cared or liked to go to school but now I ahd a great desire to go to school. How to get the time and opportunity to go I could not figure it out. I did not dare to tell mother or William Patterson that I wanted to go to school. I realized William was getting to be an old man and was depending on me to do the work on the Patterson place. If I had told them that I wanted to go to school I believe that at time they would not have taken the matter seriously. I knew they could not send me away to school. They could not afford it and further more I had not finished all the grades in the district school. I went for a time each winter and when the spring farm work started I was needed at home. As I remember I reached the fifth grad during the time I did go to school.
Thrashing on the "old time" thashing floor in 1903
William Patterson used to tell how they thrashed grain when he was a boy. They did not have thrashing machines in those years before and during the civil war 1850 to 1870. Grain was tramped out with the aid of oxen or horses on a thrashing floor, and then the chaff containg the grain was run through a fanning mill if you were fortunate enough to own one. If no fanning mill was available the chaff was poured from one basket to another in a wind and this blew the chaff away leaveing the clean grain. Grain that had been bound in to bundles was sometimes pounded out with a flail on the barn floor, but treadint it out with horses seemed the easiest way untill some one conceived the idea of shelling grain by punching it against a swiftly revolving metal cylinder in which teeth or spikes had been placed. These spikes hit the grain and shelled it. This cylinder was run at a high speed by means of a belt and a small pulley. The cylinder was connected up and put on the top of a fanning mill and the grain as it was shelled by the swiftly revolving cylinder fell down on to the sives of the fanning mill and the chaff was blown out by the fan leaving the grain clean. Someone added a contrivance to carry away the straw or straw carrier and the thrashing machine was born.
The power to run these first thrashing machines was furnished by horses in a "tread mill" which furnished power by belt to revolve the cylinder and fan in the combined thrashing machine.
From about 1900 to 1920 steam engines furnished power to run thrashing machines. From 1900 to 1906 or there about Jim Bard and his brother Ed of West Groton done the most of the thrashing around West Groton and North Lansing. In those days four men went with a thrashing rig. Self feeding machines had not come into use. One man had to feed the machine another tended baskets in which the cleaned grain was caught and measured. Another man fired and tended the steam boiler and the fourth man rested the drawed water when the water tank go empty which supplied the boiler. Every 100 bushel thrashed each man changed work thus the feeder would tent baskets and the basket tender would feed and so on around. Jim Bard had the habit of stuttering when he talked and his brother Ed chewed great quantities of plug tobacco, as most of the men folks did in those days.
"Jolly Tar" and "Three Black Crows" was the popular brands of plug chewing tobacco. This plug or cake tobacco was flavored with honey and molasses and pressed into slabs or cakes about 3/4" thick, and a piece for a chew was usually cut off with a pocket knife.
Ed Bard told us boys one time how he had found a big 1,000 legged tobacco worm all squashed and pressed in under a tobacco leaf in one side of a plug and how he had chewed this squashed worm nearly all up before he discovered it.
This story did not encourage me to chew tobacco not at all! And while speaking about tobacco I will add that cigarretts were not smoked in those times by but a few people. Indeed cigarettes were called, "coffin nails" by most of the old pipe smokers. They said they burned your head and lungs out and make you have T.B. as consumption was beginning to be called.
What a change thirty seven years has made! In 1940 we find the mmild, not a "cough in a carload" Old Golds and Camels, Chesterfields, Pall Mells and other brands of mild cigarretts and all the young people smoke them even the ladies. But to return to grain thrashing in 1903.
Jim Bard was the first man I believe that had a straw blower on a thrashing machine in place of the straw carrier, around North Lansing. Those first blowers on thrashing machines sucked some of the grain off the sieves and into the straw and Jim was told by many of his customers that he had "blowed" for the last time on their farms. Soon after the "blower" made its appearance there appeared a device that cut the bands on the grain and fed ti into the machine. This self feeding device as well as the straw blower were improved in design and are today in 1940 standard equipment on all thrashing machines.
There were other thrashing rigs besides Jim Bard's around West Groton and North Lansing. Jim seemed to think that by getting an extra large machine and an extra large traction steam engine to run it he could thrash faster than the smaller machines but his large sized steam engine took so much coal that the farmers refused to have his big ponderious machine on that account. (The farmers had to furnish fuel for the steam boiler.) And Jim's machine weighed the grain and his competitors give a bushel for thrashed grain by measure, so Jim Bard in latter years seemed to loose out in the thrashing business about the neighborhood.
In the autumn of 1902 William had a large piece of ear corn and he and I after cutting and shocking it started in husking. My recollection is the weather was fine that fall and about Nov. 1st we had the corn nearly husked. William had the lower barn both mows full of grain, barley, oats and buckwheat. People did not thrash out of the field and as early as is done in 1940 back in those days.
Jim Bard came one day while William and I were husking corn and wanted to do the job of thrashing out this grain in the lower barn. William was very anxious to finish husking the corn and said "no" he was not ready to thrash. Jim told William "BBBy GGosh I-I-I aint a-a going t-to p-p-p-ull d-down h-h-hher a-a-a-aagin!" in his stuttering voice.
We finished husking the corn and I believe we drawed all the ear corn in the crib and corn stalks drawed out of the field in the barn and in the stack. Then along in November when William was ready to thrash it rained and snowed and the dirt
roads that we had in those days were in frightful shape for a heavy traction engine and thrashing machine to navigate on, so William's grain was not thrashed. He was desperately in need of this grain to feed so on Dec. 1st 1902 he and I started in on the lower barn floor treading the grain out with horses in the old fashioned way that grain was thrashed when William was a boy. My job was driveing the horses around and around on the threshing floor while William pitched the straw over with a fork. It took about 1 1/2 to 2 hours treading with the horses before the grain was shelled out of the straw. After about two or three days the floor would be a foot to 15 inches deep with chaff and grain and then we would take a day and run the chaff through the fanning mill and would clean up 20 or 25 bushel of grain. We worked at this about two or three days a week all winter, the last of the grain was treaded out on March 10th 1903 so my diary records. When we were not working on this old time thrashing floor William and I cut wood. My diary says we thrashed 150 bushels of barley, 150 bushel of oats and 45 bushel of buckwheat in this old time way. That was some busy winter for me in 1902 and 1903, but was no doubt a good experience for me. Mother used to tell William some times that he was working me to hard. William would say, "It will do him good. It will be lots easier for him to work when he gets older if he works now."
The steady work did not hurt me but I got fearfully sick of that old time thrashing job. I did not go to school at all that winter. I was just a boy in my 16th year and I was beginning to do a lot of tremendious hard thinking but I keept all my thoughts and dreams to myself.
William was good business man. He was always attending auctions around the neighborhood and buying up pigs, cows, hefers and livestock bringing them home to his farm feeding them up and fattening them and then selling them at a profit. He like many other Irishmen seemed to like hogs, for he could make them grow as fast as any man I ever knew. And he had hogs in the fattening pen all the time the year around. Usually sell them in the meat markets there. In my diary I have a record of butchering 12 hogs on Feb. 22, 1903 and on Feb. 23 William took them to Ithaca and they weighed 1,913 lbs and came to $153.04. Ed Strait, Ralph Hare and I helped butcher on the 22. Ralph Hare married Ethel Miller on June 2th of that year. She was John Henry Miller's oldest daughter. Ralph was Lloyd Hare's son and they lived on the Andrew Brink farm at that time moveing from the Dennis Kelley farm which was the next farm east of the Wm. Patterson place. In this year 1903 in addition ot her many duties Mother found time to make three trips out to Chenango County in order to care for Grandmother Bartholomew who was at times in feeble health also Grandfather Bartholomew was also getting along in years and quite feeble.
My diary records her going out to Grandmothers on Jan. 28 and returning on Feb. 3, again on May 27 and returning on June 18th
and again on Aug. 15th and returning on Sept. 3th. William used to drive out with them and mother and Edna would return on the train.
I think it was the spring of 1903 that William purchased a pair of oxen of David Raynor. He was an old time ox driver. He paid $60.00 for the two, they were partly broke. He used to draw wood out of the swamp with them and drag the ground for the spring grain that year. He would drive them with a whip and his loud voice "Getap" Getap Get along and gee "Haw there" when he desired them to turn to the left or "Gee there" when turning to the right. I did not take to the oxen very well. He finally sold them for beef in 1904 or 5.
Some of our neighbors at the Patterson Farm
and Hattiet (sic) Butler who became public nuisance No. 1
Lloyd Hare was our nearest neighbor to the East of the Patterson farm. I think in the spring of 1902 he moved down west toard North Lansing on the Andrew Brink farm. The farm from which he moved was owned by Dennis Kelley and a John Buckley moved in on the Kelly place. Up the next house an Abraham Robinson lived who died in 1902 and Dennis Kelley purchased his place and he lived there a number of years. Further est on the corner toard West Groton Charles Downald Robinson and his wife Ida lived and a short distance from them Charles Fitch and wife lived. Very near to these people Zeno Teeter and wife lived. To the west of the Patterson farm just down beyond the school house on the south side of the road at the end of a large apple orchard was the Dan Lane farm. His son Newton Lane lived there. In 1902 or 3 Newt Lane died and in 1904 Roswel Beardsley the "Oldest Post Master in the United States" died and to settle his estate a lot of mortgages had to be sold among them one mortgage on the Newton Lane farm. John Buckley our neighbor on the Dennis Kelly farm purchased this "Dan Lane" farm and moved on the place. He worked the Kelly farm also in addition to his own place. The next house west on the road to North Lansing was the Henry H. Houser place. He was an old man and familiarly called "Hank" by his neighbors. He died some time about 1905 or 6, and his son and wife moved in from Myres Station over on Cayuga Lake. Hank Howser's son was also named "Henry" and was called by neighbors "Long Hank Howser" because he was so tall. His father being short and fat. The next house to Henry Howser's was the Harriet Butler place. Harriet Butler was a strange character. She was an illiterate sort of person yet she had a great deal of intelligence that was shrewd. She was an old lady and drove around the country with a small bay horse hitched on to a yellow wagon. She had a crippled club foot. Some of the neighbors declared it was a cloven hoof. She was always haveing troubles and she lobed to tell the neighbors about them and get sympathy. She pastured her cow and horse in the road and there became a nuisance to the neighbors. She loved to argue and law suits were her delight. Henry Howser and Dan Lane had a law suit with her in an endeavor to keep her cow and horse off the road and it was said she beat them in the suit. This happened before we came to Tompkins County. William told me once he met Harriet in her wagon on the road, after the suit was over and William says "Well, Harriet have you got over with your trouble." Harriet stood up on her feet in her yellow wagon, shook her fist and said "Billey I cleaned them all out"!
Harriet's daughter Laura Harris and children and grandchildren lived with her. They were very poor, Harriet got a pension of 10 dollars a month this was about all they had to live on. After the creamery started at North Lansing Harriet took the milk from her one cow to the creamery in her little old yellow wagon. She met people at the creamery and dearly loved to talk.
The neighbors Andrew Brink, Henry Howser and Newt Lane were very careful to have a good road fence along their farms and gates which they were careful to close when they entered or left their fields from the road. If the gates were not shut Harriet's cow and horse would be sure to be in their fields and in their crops.
Will Harris, Harriet's son in law, was ordered by Justice Dana Tarbell, to leave the country and never return, or serve a term in prison. He chose to leave and as far as I know was never heard of again. I never saw him as this happened before we arrived in Tompkins County.
Will Harris had a son Clayton Harris and a daughter Laura Harris. She died sometime about 1908. These children lived with their mother at Harriet Butlers.
One spring I think it was in March, John Buckley was drawing wither potatoes or cabbage to North Lansing. On the way back as he was passing the Harriet Butler place he heard loud cries, and the sound of pounding or thumping. He stopped his team and listened. He heard more shouts and groans and Laura Harrises voice shouting "give it up." Hand that money over to me" and the sound of more poundings and Harriet Butlers voice saying "God Help me" God help me."
John Buckley leaped out of his wagon and in about three jumps was at the door of the Butler homestead which he opened with out ceremony, and saw Laura leaning over her mother Harriet who was all crumpled up in a chair. She was beating her mother over the head and shoulders with her fists in an endeavor to make her hand over her pension money. "Whats going on here" shouted Buckley as he strode in and pushed and spun Laura around over against the wall and away from Harriet. "None of your darned business. Get out of here" shouted Laura. "Im going to make it my business. Dont you touch that old lady again" and John Buckley got a hold of Harriet and pulled her out of the house and getting her into his wagon took her home with him where he immediately hitched up a horse to a buggy and loading Harriet in took her over to Dana Tarbells who was Justice of the Peace where a warrent was sworn out by Harriet for the arrest of Laura her daughter for felenous assault and battery. This happened on a Saturday and Laura was arrested by Al Vanauken the constible who lived at Ludlowville the next day, Sunday.
All the neighbors knew of the warrent being issued and were watching at a distance to see the constible Al Vanauken make the arrest. Laura Harris was a big strong women and it was expected she would put up a fight. I was out on the hill just below the Patterson house watching the proceedings through a telescope. I believe Lila and Edna and mother were there to. I saw Al and Bert Swartwood drive up to the door. Al jumped out went up to the door which he seemed to pen leaving Bert in the wagon. In a moment Bert excited I suppose jumped out of the wagon and in the door but Al had Laura all secure, handcuffs on her wrists. She was loaded in the wagon by Al and Bert and they drove off, I suppose to lock up at Ludlowville.
The next day Monday they had a hearing before Justice Tarbell and Laura of course pleaded, "Not Guilty" and demanded a jury trial. I believe this was held the next day at North Lansing Grange Hall. The whole neighborhood turned out. I was there and every one else. Grant Halsey was the lawyer for Harriet and Laura got Dick Norman of Genoa for her defense. She was found guilty by the jury and Dana Tarbell gave Laura a one years suspended sentence with a warning not to touch her mother again.
Harriet now finding out that she had the sympathy of all her neighbors she took full advantage of it, by calling around on each of them just about dinner time each day. She called on us I remember several times and mother couldent refuse to offer her something to eat. John Buckley and his good wife Belle were especially rewarded by her visit, John dident know what he was getting into when he rescued Harriet from her daughters chastisement that day. Ella Howser, "Long Hank Howser's wife and Bert Swartwoods people who lived on the Andrew Brink farm were made the objects of daily calls by Harriet, and usually at meal time. This became an intorable nuisance. John Buckley, Ella Howser and I believe Grant Halsey confered together and they decided the place for her was in the soldiers widows home. So if I remember a right she was taken there by Grant Halsey. After being talked into the idea of going there by Ella and Grant Halsey. After she was gone Ella Howser bought Harriet's place and she moved Harriet Butler's house and barn down on her own place and they were built on to her own place and barn makeing valuable additional space to her buildings.
Laura Harris I believe moved over near Genoa where she found a small house to live in. So ended Harriet Butler and her place. The soldier's widow home where she was taken if I recollect aright was in Binghampton. What I have related happened after William Patterson's death.
Coon Hunting with Jake Decamp
I dearly loved to hunt and trap for the pelts of the fur bearing animals that lived around on the Patterson farm. In 1900 boy like I secured a double B air rifle. This did not satisfy me for very long. A year or tow following that I bought a 12 gage shotgun and with this I really could kill something. William Patterson used to give me time off in the fall so I could go hunting. I used to bring home squirrels and rabbits and I did enjoy hunting these. During the summer I shot a great many woodchucks and many crows. The crows used to be very thick. You could hear a crow cawing at most any time of day and flocks of them could be seen toard night flying over and going presumably to roost someplace. They were a nuisance and done much damage to the corn when it was first coming up. Crows in 1840 have nearly disappeared. You do not see them flying around like we did 35 and 40 years ago. I used to catch skunks and muskrats and twice I caught a mink. These were scarce and difficult to trap. The furs I secured I usually sold to Frank Pierson at West Groton. Ed Strait who lived on Leander Lows place was also a great hunter and trapper and I quite often went with him hunting. He had a ferret, a weasel like animal, which we used to place in rabbit burrows to drive the rabbits out. He gave me the first ferret I had. That died and I purchased a brown female farret of Henry Spangler, hotel keeper at North Lansing from which I raised some young ferrets and sold them. From 1900 to 1902 or 3 there seemed to be an epidemic of rats on the Patterson farm and I believe other people were pestered with them also. At the Patterson lower barn the rats were so thick in the winter that they had a beaten path in the snow all around the barn. I used to shoot at them with the air rifle and even tried my new shot gun on them which scared the rats all out of sight by and I used to turn my ferret loose in the lower barn which would make the rats run out in sight so I could get a shot at them.
The most exciteing times I ever had was going coon hunting with Jacob Decamp. He and his son in law Fred Edsall owned one of the best coon hunting dogs I ever heard of. The dogs name was Sport and Jake Decamp did love to hunt coons with him. Jake was an old man but never the less he would tramp all night long if he could get a coon up a tree some place. The miles I have traveled tageing along with Jake carrying an axe, a lantern or shot gun would mount up into two figures, on these coon hunting trips. I will always remember the first time I went with Jake after coons. It was one Saturday night I went down to North Lansing to get the mail and as I was passing the Decamp place, (It was the next place to the Andrew Brink place) I saw a man standing out under an elm tree in the moon light. "Hello! there. Nice night aint it." said a voice and Jake Decamp stepped out of the shadow into the road. "Yes" I said, "it is a nice night."
It was in the fall about the 1st of October, the year I have forgotten. "Say", says Jake, "Do you know coons would run tonight. Lets go cooning." I had never been coon hunting and of course was eager to go, but I told Jake, my folks will wonder why I did not come home. "We won't be gone very long two or three hours" days Jake, so after some talk and coaxing I agreed to go. Jake always took some one along with him to help carry a gun or axe. Usually several would go along but this night he and I went alone. We took a lantern, an axe and a shot gun along. We changed off carrying the gun as it was heavy. He and I grudged down through North Lansing on West to William Decamps woods which we went through toard the North. Sport the dog did not find any coon so we continued on north through the fields of corn and buckwheat and into more woods some where around East Genoa. About this time the moon went down and it was dark as a pocket and I had no idea where I was. We continued our tramp circleing toard the east through more woods and still Sport could find no coon. This dog was broke to follow coon and fox tracks. Rabbits he would not follow. About midnight Jake said we were some where on Goose Street on the Billy Green farm and circleing around toard the south and in the direction of home. "Beats all" Jake said, "That we cant find a coon on such a night as this." I who was pretty green at this kind of sport ask if the dog really would run a coon. "Ha youall see," says Jake. "Betcha he'll start a coon yet before we get home. The coons aint running tonight but they will fore morning. "Along about one o'clock we approached Charles Williames woods. I was getting tired and pretty sleepy my eyes were getting heavy. I had not heard a bark out of the dog in all the night past and I was getting tired carrying the gun and disgusted with the trip. I wished with all my heart that I was in bed at home. Suddenly Sport gave a sharp bark followed by a steady stream of barks and yelps that rang out on the still night air like a ringing of a bell. "Coon, Coon, "yelled Jake, all excited. "Thats a coon, and he's right close on to him to, I can tell." I was wide awake in an instant. We stood still listening to the hounds load ringing baying. It was sweet music in our ears. "No use tramping around, he'll have him up a tree in a minute or two," Jake said.
Suddenly the dogs bark changed into a steady yelp that seemed to come from one place. "Hes got him tree'd," says Jake. Now we'll go find him, and we made a bee line in the direction the barks were comeing from. We soon came to a large maple tree that the dog was circleing around and barking up as Jake called it. The tree was probably 20 inches through and looking up in the branches we saw it had a lot of leaves on it. "We'' chop it down" says Jake and he started in chopping with the axe. After he had chopped a spell I took my turn at it, and between the two of us we had the tree chopped through in less than an hour. As it fell it lodged in another tree
and did not go down. "Gosh" says Jake, "What luck, that coon is in that tree yet we will have to stay till morning so we can see to shoot him. You stay here at the foot of this tree and build a fire and I'll go over to the tree its lodged in and build a fire there for if we don't he'll come down and go into another tree. It was getting toard three o'clock in the morning and the fire felt good as the night was chilly. After a spell Jake calls over to me and said, "Put some wood on the fire and come on over. I guess that coon wont come down the tree if there is a good blaze of fire at the foot of it." So I replenished the fire and went over and sit with Jake at his fire and we talked. Jake lit up his pipe and smoked. Sport the dog curled up near Jake and appeared to be asleep. After a spell he got up and wondered off. A few minutes latter his ringing bark was heard on the still night air. Jake sat up with a start. "Gosh darn that coon has come down the tree and gone," worse luck, and a few minutes latter Sport was barking up another tree. While I was over at Jakes fire the coon had come down the lodged tree in spite of the fire at the foot. We went over to where the hound was "barking up" and found it to be a big elm tree. Jake said it was hollow. I says "What you going to do now," Jake says, "Stay right here till morning this may be the home tree." He built another fire and we raked up a pile of dry leaves on which we laid our weary selves, and I know I went to sleep and I think Jake did to for when I awoke it was broad day light or about six o'clock in the morning. We looked the big elm tree over away up in the top we could plainly see a hole. Jake said he was going over and see Charlie William's and get him to help cut the tree and I took a bee line for the Patterson place and home.
Mean while at home mother worrying because I had not come back got William up about two o'clock, and he walked down to North Lansing lantern in hand and roused Frank Beardsley out of bed and inquired of him if he had seen anything of me the night before also, he roused Ben Brown's from their slumbers asking the same question. They said I had not been in the store the evening before and did not know anything about my whereabouts, which fact puzzeled William. He was just a little worried himself as to where I had disappeared to. He said that on his way home that night he heard a hound barking away off in the North, and he suspected prehapps I had gone cooning with some body. I arrived at home that morning and found Mother and William at my job milking the cows. If I remember aright I husked corn with William all that day and needless to say I went to bed early that night and sleept like a log.
That was my first coon hunt and I did not see any coon caught either. Seeing Jake latter in the week I learned that he had went over to Charlie Williames, eat breakfast with Charlie and then they had cut the big elm tree and found one medium sized coon which they captured. Jake got back to his home in time for dinner that Sunday. Jake's wife Kate was used
to Jakes being away for days and nights on his coon and fox hunts and was not worried.
I went after coons with Jacob Decamp, many times after that, and several times alone with him and usually several would go. WE always got a coon or more, except once I remember we did not get any coon but got two skunks, one black and one a half stripe. I believe that same fall a week or two latter I went with Jake again on a all nights coon hunt and I actually seen a coon caught, or shot out of a tree. Besides Jake Decamp and myself, Frank Robinson and Clayton Harris went along to help carry the shot gun and axe. On this particular night we went down south of North Lansing to the old shoemaker shop which is a small building standing on the corner a little beyond Frank Tarbells and the Methodist church. Turning here we went southwest down through what was called "the gulf" and was where Jacob Osmans grist mill was located. Jake Decamp says to us boys, as we were nearing the Jake Osmans place, "You boys arnt afrait or gosts are you? They say John Gallagers gost haunts this gulf". Its right here under this tree where Jake Osmun shot him, here's the spot where he dropped and he told all about John Gallager and Art Jones and their raid on Jake Osmans chickens some years ago which resulted so distasteriously for John Gallager. We assumed Jake that we were not afraid of ghosts and as for myself I did not feel in any way afraid of Gallagers ghost, or any other ghost. It was a spooky place as we walked down the lonely road through the gulf by the dim light of a lantern in the darkness. I don't know how Frank and Clayton did feel about spooks, but it was just like Jake to try and "throw a scare" into us.
That night if I remember a right after getting down into the gulf we struck, "Salmon Creek", and turning north we tramped for hours on the east bank of that stream without finding any coon track much to Jakes disgust. "I tell you, (Jake says) them coons aint out tonight. They will come out toard morning" and Jake was right. We tramped away north circleing toard the east and then south and toard home. Where we went in the darkness I do not know. Long after midnight we were about all tired out, and we reached Charlie Williames woods the same woods where Jake and I had treed a coon a week or two before. Sport the hound treed a coon and had it up a large elm tree in some beds out of leaves and after talking a while I guess we all fell asleep for it was day light when we woke up and the coon could be seen in the top of the tree. Two shots from Jakes shot gun brought him to the ground and we all went home. Breakfast was more enjoyable after you had tramped all night. Another time a large crowd went with Jake away south of North Lansing into Frank Herrings woods.
It was a beautiful night that night, the moon was full and shone bright as day. Jakes hound ran a coon up a tree and it was at once brought to the ground with the shotgun, shot in
the moon light. That was the largest coon I ever saw. The boys brought it up to the North Lansing creamery and T.J. Winnie the creamery man weighed it on the scales and it weighed 23 lbs. At another time a big crowd went down through the "gulf" by Jake Osmans mill and on Salmon creek. Glenn Bacon had a dog along and Jake had his younger dog along with old "Sport". They ran a big coon up a butternut tree on the banks of Salmon creek. As they had three dogs along it was decided to shake the coon out of the tree, which was done and all three dogs pitched into the coon. There was an exciteing time for about five minutes, the howling and yelling of the dogs, the snarling of the coon and everybody yelling sic em, sec em. They finally had to grab the dogs by the collar or they wouldent have had any coon left, the dogs would have torn it to pieces.
The most exciteing coon hunt I ever saw was one night when the same crowd and all three dogs went over in Ike Robinson's gully near to the Patterson farm. Ed Strait was along with his dog, Old Sport started a coon near the commencement of the gully along the 'new road," the other dogs trailed along after "old Sport" and soon the dogs seemed to seperate and all four dogs were running in as many directions. This had Jake Decamp who was a veteran coon hunter puzzeled for a time but not for very long however. "By Gosh" says Jake they must be forty coons in this gully", as we listened to the hounds naying and comeing from all directions. Old Sport was the only dog in the lot that would, "bark up" the tree, and stay at the tree where the coon was, but even old "Sport" seemed to be puzzeled that night. Jake could tell "Old Sports" bark from the other dogs and he finally caught Sport (at times at loast) barking up a large birch tree along the creek in the deep gully. The other dogs seemed to be centering toard the same place. It was bright moon light. The noise all those dogs made was terrific. No coon could be seen in the tree. Jake directed Charlie Hugunine(?) to climb the tree and see what he could find. It was a tree that could be climbed quite easy, and Jake had along some linemens climbing irons. He had all the neccessary tools for coon hunting.
Charlie reported when he got in the top of the tree that it was hollow as he had found a hole, which could not be seen from the bottom of the tree. "We'll cut that tree down" says Jake, and as the crowd furnished plenty of help it was soon falling across the creek. Five coons were taken out of this tree. Some difficulty was found in getting the coons out of the hollow cavity in the tree. Holes were cut along the side of the tree so Jake could reach in and grasp a coon by the hind legs while the coon was occupied in front by fighting off the dogs. Its a wonder Jake dident get bit by the coons when he snaked them out by the legs. That was an exciteing coon hunt. We got back home early that night as it was only about midnight. Many times we did not
stay out all night. The coons Jake always took the hides which were worth some money, the meat he divided up around to who ever wanted it. I was offered some several times but mother objected to eating coon meat. Those who had it said it tasted very much like mutton. We certainly tramped for miles after "coons" back in those days, and now I should hate to have to walk so far. I dont see how Jake Decamp ever stood it, but he did enjoy hunting coons.
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