Last Years in the Old Home
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My son, J. C. Patterson, returned from Philadelphia and together we took back the store. He was married in 1906 to Bessie Robertson, daughter of Colonel William and Mary Susan Vallient Robertson of Baltimore and I made a four room apartment for them on the second floor of our house. The three families of us, Cam and Bess, the Sappingtons and ourselves, made a congenial little set and we had many good times together. We always had the Christmas dinner and the Patterson relatives from Brook Side for dinner.
About this time, I made the most unpopular effort of my life and was both criticized and ridiculed. Hoping to have a good macadam road from McConnellsburg to Webster Mills, I got the estimates and other data together and advertised a mass meeting at the McNaughton School House a mile south of McConnellsburg. It was a well-attended meeting, and almost a riot! The State was to pay seventy-five percent of the expense which was estimated at $100,000 and the township and county were to pay twenty-five percent. Well, we didn't get the road--not until the State built it in 1922. The crowd at the meeting grew so angry and excited that one man proposed they should burn me in effigy!
It was in 1908 that J. C. was appointed Road Master for Fulton County and he then purchased his first car, a slender, tall, and out-spoken Ford Roadster. Many people at this time felt that eight miles an hour should be the maximum speed limit. It was quite an experience when J. C. drove me to Chambersburg, a distance of twenty-nine miles, in one hour! I always liked a fast horse and I still enjoy a fast drive. The occasion of this trip to Chambersburg was to attend the funeral of my life-long friend, Captain George W. Skinner, who died in 1909 at the age of sixty-four.
It has been pointed out that when our forefathers came to this valley they were able to travel no faster than Abraham when he journeyed to Canaan from Ur so little improvement had there been in modes of transportation during those thousands of years. Even at a very much later period the Imperial Post of the Roman Empire traveled at about the same rate as the stage coaches of Dickens' day. So it is no exaggeration to say that there have been more changes in the twenty-five years in which our road has developed from The Pike into the great nationally known Lincoln Highway, than for a century before.
Surely I have lived in an interesting epoch. When I was born in 1844, the veterans of 1812 were still in their prime and the steam cars and steam ships were of such recent invention as to still be a matter of wonder--and fear. Within my recollection is the arrival of the telegraph, the sewing machine, the excitement of the Mexican War and the Gold Rush of '48. Then came farm machinery, the telephone and typewriter, the Chicago Fire in '71 and the Indian Uprisings--in one of which General Custer was killed in 1876--the cable cars, followed soon by the electric or trolley cars and electric lights. Shortly after came the Spanish American War, then the automobile, airplane, dirigible, the moving picture, the radio, and since the World War, all of these later wonders have been improved.
Without a doubt, the future holds miracles beside which the developments of the past hundred years will appear but as crude beginnings. We are now living in what may be termed the Airplane Era. In April the government will establish an intermediate landing field on the borders of our town and I hope this summer to take my first airplane ride, though my friend, Mr. Harry Byron said to me, "Unless you have business up there, Mr. Patterson, don't go."
Finally in 1914, J. C. withdrew from the firm of D. H. Patterson and Son and very shortly I sold the business to D. E. Crouse who had been my clerk. In the latter part of 1917, he bought also the Webster Mills home and thus it passed out of the family.
My son, William M., was graduated from high school when he was sixteen. That same summer, he passed the teachers' examination and applied for a school. The directors felt he was too young and assigned him to the least desirable school in the county, the Meadow Grounds School, but Will surprised them by accepting the school and he stuck it out through a tough experience to the end. It has been a matter of deep regret to me that I was financially unable to send Will to college. He became self-supporting at once and when still a boy gave me assistance.
In 1908, he started to work for Mr. William E. Frick, President of a jobbing firm, the Frick & Lindsay Company of Pittsburgh. Later he was made vice president and April 1922, he was married to Josephine Barnett, a daughter of Joseph E. and Elizabeth Fulton Barnett of Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Their son, William Morrow Patterson, was born July 10, 1929. My son, J. C. Patterson, became connected with the Frick & Lindsay Company in 1916 and is in charge of the Oil Fields Department. In 1928, this firm became the Frick-Reid Supply Corporation and after Mr. Frick's death in January 1929, my son Will was elected president of the company.
During the last years at Webster Mills, Blanche, as previously stated, nursed her mother and took care of the home. All the other children were away then, but they made frequent visits home; Dottie with her little son, Billy, Cam and Will frequently coming together, and Elizabeth from Baltimore spending her two weeks vacation every year at home and making frequent overnight trips during 1917 when her house was being built. In November 1917, we had a sale at Webster Mills and on January 5th we moved to the McConnellsburg home. The weather was bitter cold and the snow was so drifted that only a single road had been cut through with frequent junctions for passing, but by two o'clock we were moved in and comfortable, with furnace heat, hot and cold water and a bright and cheerful home.
Mrs. Walker Johnston, an old friend living across the street, had us there for dinner the first evening and the next morning, Sabbath, while we were eating breakfast, neighbors dropped in to welcome us to town. Our good friends, Mr. and Mrs. John Runyan, invited us there to dinner that day, so you will see we were in the midst of friends and kindly neighbors. Elizabeth was home for two weeks at this time and when she left we were entirely settled in this home which we all love.
I had suffered for some time with a frost bitten foot and in the fall of 1918, I gladly gave up two toes at the Church Home Hospital in Baltimore.
That Christmas, for the last time, our entire family was together, an unbroken circle. Dottie and Remington with little Billy and all the other children got here and mother was brought downstairs for the day, so we had an old time Christmas celebration.
In conclusion, I wish to say that I trust these recollection will be of some value to my children. We have been six months in the writing of them and just this week I have been reading for the first time "Grandmother Brown's Hundred Years". I am struck with the similarity of many incidents in her wonderful life and my less wonderful one. If I should live fifteen years longer, I might add a second conclusion to the memories.
I desire to place in this record my appreciation of the kindness, consideration, loving care and helpfulness shown to both their mother and myself by our children. Their thoughtfulness has been a joy and comfort to me in my declining years.
Introduction … by David Hunter Patterson
Chapter 1 … The Valley of the Big Cove
Chapter 2 … The Tall Oaks & Towering Pines of Gallant Little Fulton
Chapter 3 … The Pattersons and the Hunters
Chapter 4 … Concerning Some of my Forbears
Chapter 5 … Childhood Memories
Chapter 6 … Some Church History
Chapter 7 … Boyhood Days
Chapter 8 … I Go Away to School
Chapter 9 … Incidents of the Civil War
Chapter 10 … Springfield - Graduation
Chapter 11 … Your Mother
Chapter 12 … A Quaker Family of Western Pennsylvania
Chapter 13 … From 1870 to 1880
Chapter 14 … Home Again at Webster Mills
Chapter 15 … The Centennial - I Buy a Farm and get into Politics
Chapter 16 … Last Years in the Old Home
Epilogue … by Elizabeth Patterson Neeson
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