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CHAPTER V

Childhood Memories

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The Sabbath was observed strictly by the children as well as by their elders. We were required to be quiet and our week-day amusements were forbidden. We were taught the Shorter Catechism and required to commit to memory verses from the Bible. All the cooking was done on Saturday as far as was possible. One important matter was to grind the coffee on Saturday. My aunt once forgot this duty, so the next morning she placed the coffee in a cotton bag and going outside to the wood house where the noise would not be heard, she beat the coffee to powder.

Henrietta and I took most of our small troubles to the Lord in prayer. On one occasion we were playing on some flat rocks back of the house. Father had given me a penknife and I valued it highly. Suddenly I missed the knife. We searched everywhere, then we knelt together in prayer. Shortly afterward we found the knife on one of the rocks. This made a deep impression on us.

I remember very well seeing Ma sitting at the big frames, quilting. She made a great many of these quilts and they were beautiful. She made quilts for my sister and there were a half dozen for me. Each of my children has one of them.

Ma told me that in her girlhood her father planted flax, once as much as fifteen acres. When grown, the flax was threshed or broken up, then carded and spun by the women into linen thread. The thread was then woven into cloth at the woolen mill. After that, the cloth was stretched on the grass in the sun down in the meadow and bleached, and thereafter made into bed linen and fine undergarments. Ma gave me some two dozen of these fine sheets and herself embroidered my initials in cross-stitch on each one. There were also homespun wool blankets.

Your dear mother was always most particular about the care of these things. She valued them highly and used them only on special occasions. Because of this care, they are still preserved.

One of my early recollections is of Mr. Zimmerman preparing to move West with his family in '54. Many of the farmers got the "western fever" at this time and moved to California or stopped midway. The picture of Mr. Zimmerman's big Prairie Schooner which carried his family and household goods is a vivid one. The schooner was painted a bright blue and covered with canvas supported on great bones or hoops and drawn in tight round the wagon bed. Two splendid big horses with bright and glittering new harness were hitched to this wagon. I never heard of the Zimmermans after they left the Cove, and we did not know whether they ever reached the Golden Gate or not.

The Conestoga Wagon differed only from the Prairie Schooner in that it was larger and more horses were used. Sometimes mules were used instead of horses--four, six and eight; one wagon running from Baltimore used twelve horses. The lead horses had small bells fastened to the breast strap.

The turnpikes were toll roads, of course. The most important early turnpike was that known as the National Road, running from Cumberland to Wheeling, afterward much extended and now known as the National Pike. When first opened, it was one hundred and thirty miles long and cost one and three quarter million dollars. The first coach carrying United States mail traveled over it in 1818. We all remember our own Chambersburg and Bedford turnpike with its toll houses, and in the old days, taverns on every few miles of road and still not enough to meet the demands of travel. Eight to one hundred horses would sometimes be stationed at a single tavern. Before the roads were built there were pack horses and mules. With the roads came the Conestoga Wagons, made in and named for a vicinity in Lancaster County. They were a perfect vehicle of transportation for the time and a historical fact of which Pennsylvanians are justly proud. At one time, three thousand of these wagons ran between Philadelphia and other Pennsylvania towns.

On the National Road there were many stage coach lines. One important one was known as the Pioneer Fast Line. Travel was expensive. From Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, ad distance of two hundred and ninety-seven miles, the fare was twenty dollars and the trip took six days.

On one occasion, father had been to Philadelphia and Baltimore buying goods. He had engaged a man to haul the goods from the railroad in Mercersburg over the Hunter Road to Webster Mills. I remember it was Sabbath morning and I heard the desecrating sound of tinkling bells and a Conestoga Wagon, drawn by six mules, crossed the bridge and drew up in front of the store loaded with father's dry goods. I remember the look of dismay on his face as he realized the wagon must be unloaded regardless of the Sabbath Day.

While speaking of horses and wagons, I recall an amusing incident which occurred many, many years later. A farmer driving his two small horses in a wagon, got stuck in the mud. In a short time, Tom Johnson came along with his wagon and two fine big horses. "Here, Tom, hitch on in front there and haul me out of this, will you?" called the farmer. With his slow drawl, Tom replied, "No-Bill-I-won't-do-it, but-if-you-take-out-them-two-Canarian-birds-o'your'n, I'll-take-you-out."

Much of our travelling in the valley was done on horseback. The women would be seated on a pillion, a round padded seat fastened by straps to the back of the man's saddle. Of course, when the ladies rode alone, they used a side saddle and their riding skirts almost swept the ground. I remember Grandfather Patterson's barouche, a very elegant carriage of English make. It was upholstered in pale gray brocade, with hand straps at the sides and two metal steps which pushed under. Before the ladies could alight these steps were pulled out and let down. The wheels were large and the body was swung on very high springs. I recall the aristocratic air of this turn-out when grandfather's family drove up to the church door of a Sabbath morning. There were but one or two of these carriages in the county. Then came buggies, sulkies, surreys, phaetons, the stylish cutter and the comfortable old basket sleigh and the sleigh bells of those happy days.

The old log schoolhouse was a mile north of home, near the stone church. A stove stood in the center of the room. Around the stove and facing it were the seats of the younger children--just benches with backs to them. A shelf fastened to the walls was the desk, and benches without backs formed the seats of the older pupils from the time they began to write. My teacher for the first five years was Mr. Henry Dietrich, quite a disciplinarian in spite of the fact that he only had one arm. It was here that we learned the three "R's".

There was a unique feature about this first school I attended. A paddle-shaped piece of wood hung on the inside of the schoolhouse door. On one side a large letter "O" was printed, on the other side a large "I". When a child wished to leave the room as he passed out he turned the "O" side of the paddle to the room. When he returned, he changed it to the "I" side.

The first public schools were established about 1834 and the first high school in McConnellsburg was opened in '98. The first public school superintendent was elected in '54. Up to the present time (1930) there have been eleven county superintendents. It was not until 1909 that the standard of the high schools came up to the requirements of the state.

All through my younger years we used the outside bake oven. It stood near the brick wash house and was made of brick and mortar. The brick fire box was about four feet square and on top of this was a large mortar dome with a door in the side. In here were placed the bread, pies and cakes. Ten or a dozen loaves of bread were baked at one time and it was far better bread than we can buy nowadays.

Two days in the fall which I always delighted in were apple butter boiling and butchering day. A couple of bushels of apples were picked the night before, everyone helping, and early the next morning a fire was built outside and the huge black iron kettle with copper lining hung over it. A half barrel of cider would be put to boil in the kettle, later the apples were added and with a big five foot long wooden handle ladle, it would be stirred all day long with the sugars and spices added at the last and then the apple butter would be put into gallon crocks. About Thanksgiving time, four hogs were butchered and it took more than a day to do everything, render the lard, make sausage and get the hams and bacon ready to be sugar-cured and smoked.

We used candles exclusively for light. Ma would make a great quantity of these in the fall. For many years, we kept the candle moulds used in making them. In 1859 or 1860, we had our first coal oil lamps. The oil was inferior and highly explosive.

The Ben Franklin Stoves were the first stoves used in this valley. They sat in the fireplace and were very nice-looking. Then came the ten plate stoves. We had fire places in all the downstairs rooms and in two rooms upstairs.

As a young boy, I remember playing round the old iron furnace, seeing the great banks of slag, etc. In 1820, a charcoal iron furnace with two stacks had been erected three miles south of Webster Mills at a point known as Pott's Mill and at present owned by William Bishop. This furnace was called the Hanover Furnace. The iron ore was mined in Lowries Knob and made into iron by the charcoal method. They manufactured about two thousand tons a year. The arsenal at Harpers Ferry used the entire output and because of the high quality of the material, it was made into firearms. (In 1902 I had an analysis of the ore from Lowries Knob made by the Bethlehem Steel and the Lackawanna Steel Companies. They both gave an analysis of 57-6/10% metallic iron.) This furnace was discontinued in 1847 because of no railroad facilities and the high cost of transportation. In 1848, Mr. John Pott erected a flour mill on the site of the old furnace. It was run by water power from Cove Creek.


Prologue by William Remington Patterson, Jr.

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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