THE LIFE OF A PLODDER
FRED GORTON'S 95 YEARS
an account compiled from his memoirs and diaries
by his granddaughter
Kathy Lynn Gorton Emerson
Fred Gorton in 1948
You are reading the memoirs of Fred Gorton, APPENDIX III to THE LIFE OF A PLODDER: MISCELLANEOUS NOTES ABOUT PEOPLE FRED GORTON KNEW. Unless I was certain of the correction, I have left the spelling of names as he wrote them. The opinions expressed in these pages are Fred Gorton's. He was not politically correct by modern standards. Neither was he concerned about libel or slander. He may have been wrong in some of his statements, but he believed he was recording nothing but the truth. I make no apology for him, nor for sharing these records of historical interest with a wider audience. If any of the descendants of those mentioned herein wish to dispute one of my grandfather's comments, I will be happy to add their side of the story to this document and put the revised version on line.
Kathy Lynn Gorton Emerson
MISCELLANEOUS NOTES ABOUT PEOPLE FRED GORTON KNEW
Before we had streetlights in Liberty a man by the name of Harry Atkins used to drive a two wheeled gig and a strawberry roan horse to give Liberty their first streetlights--these little tin cans with a wick in the center. He would trim the wick and refill with kerosine every day just before nightfall and the little horse would go like blazes and stop with a jolt just at the right time. It would be 1892 as I was 14 and worked for Aunt Cynthia Ernhout. Harry Atkins also used to raise several different colors of sweet peas and bunch them and sell to city ladies. They peas must be the same color as the girl's dress. He made a pretty penny those days. He had no competition. He also had a popcorn machine on Main Street in the boarding season and took it to Loch Sheldrake on several occasions.
METTA BARTHOLOMEW (Mrs. Steve Harrison) (d. Feb. 15, 1939 at 67)
Stephen Harrison married Metta Bartholomew. He lived at Monticello before the marriage in the home of Orrin and Henrietta Van Kuren and they recommended him to Billy Bartholomew at Homer, N.Y. Metta was really an old maid and when she lived at Ferndale, N.Y. attended the temperance meeting at the Free Methodist Church and spoke her piece saying that the lips that touch liquor shall never touch mine. Mr. Harrison was a known boozer, but kept straight at Billy Bartholomew's home and in due time made Metta to believe he was cured of the liquor habit, so Metta went on a trip with him and married him, didn't even have a public wedding. As time went on Stephen kept his toddy in bottles in the barn. Metta's mother, Anthy, a very religious woman, found out (caught him having a swig as she sneaked up on him in the barn) and told her daughter she couldn't even sleep with him any more, but they met in the barn occasionally when Anthy was busy in the kitchen. Anthy died and Metta followed in a month with painful sores just like Job in the Bible. She left Stephen $1500 and he drank himself to death in five weeks.
John Bengel was born in Maxdorf, Bavaria in 1843 and died October 5, 1916 @ 72 years 10 months. He married Catherine Kraft (1852-April 26, 1946), daughter of Lewis Kraft and Christine Leicht of Callicoon Center. He had three brothers and one sister in Germany and one brother, Andrew (d. 1913) in Liberty. His children were Abbie K. (m. Jesse E. Morgan), Bertha (d. Aug. 22, 1967 @ 78; 32 Carrier St.), Charles (d. Sept. 16, 1947? @ 66; farmer on Neversink Rd.), Edward (d. July 22, 1960 @ 70; shoemaker), Frederick W., John Jr. (d. of rabies in NYC), Libby, and Rose (Mrs. W. Kinne). Fred Bengel (Oct. 7, 1874-Feb. 21, 1964) married Cora Calkins (d. June 21, 1912 at 37) and had two daughters. He lived in NYC, then rented the upstairs apartment at 100 Carrier Street from August 30, 1951 until September 30, 1961.
Dick Benton married Anna Ishults. He had a fine team of horses and a livery stable and made a good living in summer as many city people came to Sullivan County in July and August to spend their vacation. But Mr. Benton was led astray by a loose woman. He took her out real often, with his fine team of horses. She was married soon afterward to Fred Thumann. Then Anna was found dead, but at the trial only circumstantial evidence was found until her purse was found under the wagon seat with a sizable amount of money in it. She took boarders in summer and had her own money hid away from him. This new evidence clinched the case and the jury pronounced him guilty. He was taken to prison by Sheriff Elmer Winner and Walter Lewis. They didn't put handcuffs on him. Dick thought it a huge joke until his cell door snapped shut. He spent eleven years in prison and was released.
NOTE: Fred S. Thumann (d. Dec. 13, 1964) lived at 134 Lincoln Place, which was later bought by Fred Gorton's son Russell. Mrs. Thumann died December 13, 1944 at 63.
JOHN D. BUCHANAN (1848-1923)
Mr. John Buchanan drove a two wheeled gig past our farm every morning to take his daughter Nellie to Liberty Union School to educate her for a teacher. He owned a small farm over a mile below the Gorton farm. It was five miles each way for forty weeks school term. Mr. Buchanan kept several breeds of hen which he took to the county fair at Monticello. He was also judge of poultry at the fair and took the first prize in many breeds. Nellie later taught at the Strongtown School. She married Fred Sanford and had one daughter. Irving Sanford, Fred's brother, never married. He became discouraged as his brother and him didn't get along together on the farm. One morning, very early, he got up and started the motor of their car and fixed a blanket like a hood around his head and laid down next to the exhaust. This was before milking time. The electric company was asked to come and revive him. They sent two men but it was too late. His face was black from the fumes and rigor mortis soon set in. He left $12,000 which was in his name.
ROY L. CARPENTER
b. Woodbourne March 1900; d. July 4, 1952 @ 52; m. Nov. 3, 1926 Ruth Eronimous
Mr. John Carpenter lived at Hilldale and kept boarders at the Hilldale House. When Roy was a baby his mother was so busy with the boarders she let the boarders care for little Roy. In fun they would toss him up in the air, but one day someone missed catching him and he fell to the floor and got a broken hip. Roy wore crutches until he was 10. Then his parents moved to Canada. Roy threw his crutches away while there. His father died and they moved back to Liberty. Roy started to work for the elec. co. as a janitor for six years, then was meter reader until he died. He had a heart spell and the doctor said he would never work again. He got a little better so he decided to show them he could work, so he went out in the yard and fell dead. He had a sister named Pearl.
The David Carr place joined my father's place to the south, and was known as the Squire Devine Place. Later, Charles Hosie bought the place and he became Postmaster at Ferndale, N.Y. He had one child, Clara Hosie. Dewey Carr now owns the property of which the Strongtown school was a part, also known as the Clark Gorton farm. I served mail to Frank Carr who lived on the Ruben Huntington place in the years of 1908-1917. Dewey Carr was born in the year 1898 when Admiral Dewey was prominent when we were in the war with Spain and took the Philippine Islands. I used to feed my horse at Carr's place. Dewey married Hertha Tripps and their first child was born there. I bought strawberries from Dewey as I was the rural carrier and came by their house. No doubt this was his first business deal but he has gone far since that time. He bought the Clark Gorton farm below the schoolhouse and started a milk route with Guernsey cows. The new modern Thruway took most of his meadows so he bought Will Ratcliff's farm. He enriched the meadows with lime and 60 loads of manure. He took down the stone walls to make room for raising crops on a larger scale. Also he repaired the house there for a tenant to live in, made the barns up to date and as of today (1962) he is milking 100 cows and selling the milk. He is perhaps the most progressive farmer in Sullivan County. He also has a large hen house and sells eggs, cream, and cottage cheese on a regular route. His daughter Edith Ruby was born Oct. 15, 1914 and his daughter Grace Pauline Nov. 2, 1916. He allowed Will Ratcliff to live in the house until he died rent free. When Will saw the big crops of hay, millet and potatoes he told Dewey that he thought he should have some of the profits!
Mary Carrier's farm, where Fred Gorton worked for a time and where he met his future wife, was later the site of the Empire Hotel, which places it on the Barton road, off Carrier Street. The hotel burned down in the 1960s. On September 11, 1917, the Mary Carrier place burned to the ground at 4 AM. Mary E. Carrier herself, an old maid, died June 23, 1923 at the age of 66. She was the daughter of Albert Carrier, who died Aug. 2, 1905 at 80 when he drowned in a pond. Their relationship to Eber Carrier is unclear from Fred's notes, but Eber d. Mar. 16, 1949 @ 89. In 1935, Eber had a 275 acre farm at Cortlandt, NY. His son Ted d. May 22, 1967 at 68. The present day Carrier House Bed and Breakfast is the house formerly owned by Eber Leslie and Gertrude Evans Cooper on Carrier Street. This is identified as the Clark place by Fred Gorton but the Clarks, who also owned the property Fred bought, had bought their land from the Carriers. A Henrietta Carrier (d. Feb. 22, 1949 @ 76) married Orin Van Kuren of Monticello (d. May 9, 1936)
John Clark a rich stevedore built a dam on the Mongaup Stream for his son William who married Ophelia Stoddard, a very pretty girl, as a livelihood for them. The lake was 250 feet wide and a half mile long, they had a dozen boats for hire and a dance pavilion as thousands of summer boarders came up from the city for two months for their vacation. In winter there was ice skating for the Liberty young people to enjoy, and a bar. Lake Ophelia was the name. The pavilion burned down in 1914. Many years later a four lane highway was built and went through where the lake used to occupy. William H. Clark b. 1894; d. Upper Montclair NJ Oct. 11, 1915. His wife, Ophelia Stoddard, was the sister of Cora and Hannah Stoddard. Will and Ophelia had a son, George, b. 1904.
George Cooper, Sr. (1840-1908) and his wife Mary had a farm of 90 acres and a living spring 300 feet to the east. They installed a sweep pump in the basement. They kept summer boarders. Their house was three stories and they needed a new barn to stable six cows and a team of horses. Mr. and Mrs. Cooper reared eight children, but by the next season their cash was gone so they borrowed a thousand dollars from my father, N.G. Gorton at 6% and paid the interest at the end of the season, but paid nothing on the principal for thirty years. The farm was sold for $5000 after his widow died, leaving $4000 to be divided by five children still living. The man that bought the farm built a large hen house three stories high next to the spring and is doing a thriving business in eggs and chickens.
Eber Leslie Cooper (d. May 12, 1960@79) married Gertrude M. Evans (b. Sept. 10; d. May 22, 1968 @ 85). She had a sister, Edna Evans. Less and Gertie Cooper were lifelong friends of Fred and Daisy Gorton. Their daughter Mary inherited the house and sold it to live in a smaller one on Hope Street until her death. She never married. She received a copy of the 1980 version of Life of a Plodder and was amused by the picture Fred pained of her mother as a "hammock hopper."
George Cooper d. July 14, 1950 @ 71; b. May 27
Howard Cooper d. Nov. 30, 1956 @ 71
Ida Cooper d. Nov.1944 @ 84 in Jeffersonville; m. James H. Taylor (d. Dec. 12, 1939 @ 70); kept boarding house
Lloyd Cooper b. Nov. 27, 1886; d. Dec. 8, 1936
Marshall Cooper d. Dec. 23, 1933
Martha Cooper d. April 18, 1942 @ 76
Mary Ellen Cooper d. Nov. 1921 @ 53
Minnie Cooper d. Sept. 25, 1930 @ 56 m. William S. Wood
Phoebe Cooper (Mrs. Able) (1864-1944)
Roy Cooper d. Jan. 5, 1954 @ 71
William Cooper d. @ 77
b. June 7, 1894; d. Nov. 6, 1950
m. Lucy K. Wiwood (d. Aug. 5, 1963 @ 70)
The Sullivan County Fair Association advertised for a couple who would get married on the fair ground. They would pay the $50. He wanted the money to go on their wedding trip but the money wasn't paid until October. Electric company employee.
CHARLES B. CRISPELL
d. Feb. 27, 1951 at 72
m. Nora A. Harris (d. Nov. 16, 1968 @ 85)
Charles Crispell came from Red Brick school and was head cock of the roost there but found out the Strongtown boys could fight with more skill than he. He fought with Alvin Gorton. It was a draw. Charley gave me a black eye the first fight but with boxing gloves us boys got quite proficient in boxing, but Charley didn't know it, so my last fight I clobbered him so many times in the face I was ashamed to hit him more and called it a draw. Prohibition was on and we had temperance meetings once a month in the church at Ferndale, New York. Several volunteers would recite a piece or a reading. Two young men had an argument concerning one boy drinking cider after signing the pledge, so Charlie, after being laughed at by Edgar Blackman, stood out in the church hall where it was dark. I heard Charlie Crispell say "I will get him when he comes out," but I didn't think Charlie would strike him. But as Edgar came from the lighted room into the dark, Charlie struck Edgar a terrible blow in the eye. Crispell found out a week later that Edgar was still in bed from the damage done. He gave himself up and called at the Blackman home and said he was sorry. I often wondered why the father didn't throw Crispell downstairs when he came to see Edgar in bed. That was the end of our Temperance meeting. At Charlie's funeral in the Strongtown Church all the seats were filled.
d. 1966 @ 89
Will Davis married Jennie Gorton my cousin (one of John G. Gorton's children, although she is not listed in the 1880 census) and three weeks later lost his hand between the bumpers on the O & W Railroad. They bought a restaurant and prospered.
James Demerest lived alone. One could call him a recluse. He kept a horse and 2 or 3 cows and a dog. He made cider mostly to treat his friends. He ground the apples by horse power, tied the horse to a 12' pole and the horse went in a circle of 15' in diameter all by itself. He used to butcher pigs for the farmers in the neighborhood. Jim told dirty stories to the young boys. Somebody burned his house down while he was gone to Ferndale to get supplies. He wore felt boots with rubbers, 3 buckles on a snappled arrangement. He made a room in part of his barn. His neighbors built a small house for him. After a few years he was found dead in the yard and his faithful dog wouldn't let anyone go near the body, so somebody shot and killed the dog. A very dense hemlock forest was in the back of the 40 acre farm and a still came to light but was destroyed by the authorities. The rural delivery went past daily but Jim didn't have any mail box nor did I ever have a letter or paper for him.
d. Nov. 2, 1915
Being red headed and very homely, few wanted his company. One time the young folks were at the Huntingdon school house and had speaking of the old pieces as school recitations. Willis Cooley (buried Nov. 11, 1949) asked Tom if he would be offended if Willis pointed his finger at him saying that red headed fellow over there. Tom said he wouldn't care. So Willis spoke the piece "How we liked the teacher" and it went on how Tom stuck out his foot and spilled the pail of water. Willis pointed at Tom and waved his hands, telling how the teacher caught him by the seat of his pants and whirled him around and around until he bellowed like a calf and then let him drop. Tom used to call on a widow, Mary Simmons, as long as he had any money. Then she held him down and had the police come and get him. Poor Tom got drunk and was going down past Bonnell's Feed Store and along came a car. Tom stumbled in front of it and was killed, the end of a friendless young man of thirty years.
Three schoolmates who were older than I at Strongtown School District #17 were the DeWitts. George went to work on the railroad at an early age while Miles and Frank stayed on the farm, which is now the Queen Mountain House, a half mile east of the schoolhouse. Also their uncle Horatio Smith (September 18, 1854-Aug. 14, 1939) lived with them. Horatio had a little wagon and drove a team of goats in harness with lines just like a horse team. Horatio was a cripple and sat with his legs off to one side, but he lived to be 84. He died at Mrs. Mamie Benton's in White Sulphur Springs. Miles and Frank DeWitt walked from the farm to Liberty Falls depot to the O&W shanty to work on the section under Jack Burke. Their father died before that time and the mother died perhaps a couple of years after Miles and Frank worked on the section at 90 cents a day for a 10 hour day. Anyway, the mother lay dead at home and Miles and Frank kept on going to work until the day of the funeral. At quitting time the day before they asked Jack Burke for the next day off to attend it. Jack said yes, but he was so mad he fired both of them for their action.
In July 1904, three boys took a swim in the Mongaup Stream at Ferndale. The brook was deep and neither of the boys could swim. Fred Herst the blacksmith heard a cry for help. He dove in the deep hole under a rock and rescued Roy Dodds, but the two Colgan boys were dead. I saw Roy Dodds two days later and asked him how he felt when he came to from the water. He said he heard the birdies singing but would not tell me more. He was eight years old at the time, and had three sisters. The two Colgan boys were much younger. Their father, Thomas Colgan (d. Jan. 24, 1918) had a hotel in Ferndale where the young boys used to congregate and play cards. Another stream joined the Mongaup there where a waterfall of 12' dropped down. It ran past Tom Colgan's liquor joint and there was also a dance pavilion at the top of the falls, also a tannery.
As I recall it the Only brothers had an argument with Chuch Donavan over the stealing of some goods belong to Donavan. Anyway, Donavan chased the two brothers into a thick woods in back of their home in the vicinity of Middletown with his rifle. The boys hid behind a large tree but as they appeared one at a time, Donavan shot both of them dead. Donavan skipped west to California but after a few months he began to worry about his wife and young child. He wrote to a friend in Middletown, one he thought he could trust, and inquired about his loved ones and signed his initials C. A. D. He said to write to him using a fictitious name, John Brown. The Pinkertons waited in the post office until Donavan called for this letter in the general delivery mail and took him back to Goshen jail to stand trial. I never knew what his sentence was but this was about 1890.
In response to this entry, I received an email with corrections to Fred's
version. His memory, it appears, was flawed. Here's an excerpt from that email:
The Onley Brothers owned a store on Franklin Square in Middletown. In actuality
the murder of the Onley Brothers took place in Howells, NY, which is where
their farm was, on the morning of Oct 6, 1905. The murderer's name was Charles
Rogers. Rogers killed both Fred and Willis Onley and he also killed 9 year old
Alice Ingerick and left her mother Georgia Ingerick for dead. (Ingerick was
the housekeeper for the Onley's.) All in all it is quite a sad and interesting
story. There is a set of Onley murder photo postcards which were photographed
and sold in the months following the Onley murders and Rogers capture. Charles
Rogers did hop the O&W train to Port Jervis and
then eventually he made his way to Madera, California and he did send a letter
back to Middletown that mysteriously was delivered to the wrong Rogers in
Middletown. The letter was turned over to the police and eventually, (April 9th
1907), Charles Rogers was arrested in a Los Angeles Post Office. Rogers was
found guilty of the murders after a 1 week trial in Goshen which ended on Oct
28, 1907. On July 20, 1908 Charles Rogers was Electrocuted at Sing Sing. There
is no Chuch Donavon involved in the Onley murders.
The real killer was Charles Rogers and the real motive was robbery as Rogers
had heard that the Onleys kept $100 in a metal box.
d. July 11, 1938 @ 73
m. Lila Johnson (d. March 31, 1945 @ 81)
Owned Livingston Manor Lumber Company. "He got a man of little worth to buy a farm for him. Handed him two thousand dollars for the first payment on John Bennett's farm with an agreement in three monthly payments from date to pay the balance in cash. $3000.00. The deed must be there at the closing ready for the lawyer to fill out the names on the deed, which was the name Sherman Ernhout, not Mr. X. Mr. John Bennett asked his layer if it was safe to get the easy money as Mr. X had no account. He said get it. Mr. Bennett signed the deed and didn't even see Sherman Ernhout's name instead of Mr. X on it. It seems no easy money came to John Bennett. This farm had a large number of hemlock trees and Mr. Ernhout hired men to cut logs--nine thousand dollars worth in lumber. This farm also was to be flooded to make a dam on a reservoir to furnish New York City with much needed water. A flume 27 miles long 20 feet in diameter drilled into rock under ground cost many million dollars to build. The dam was 70 feet high and a road 2 cars wide to travel on. Many new roads were built on higher ground to replace the flooded roads. The village of Neversink was bought off and Mr. Ernhout got ten thousand dollars for his new farm."[Editor's note: elsewhere Fred says $5000.]
Marvin Gardner a rural carrier from Hurleyville was driving an ambulance and came to a bridge near Loch Sheldrake and a freak accident occurred. The wooden rail was split and Mr. Gardner was struck through the chest with the sharp end and pinned there, but didn't die. He was married to Sadie, and she had lost her voice some years ago but a fire occurred one evening while he was alive and in New York City and she got very excited at the fire and began to holler very loudly. Knowing she could talk, she ran home and called him on the phone for an hour. She can still speak but her voice is husky.
Ralph Gerow went up in an airplane and came down in a parachute on Clements Hill. A large crowd was there to see him land. The aviator pushed him off the wing as he got cold feet as the story goes. He never tried it again.
Collins Gorton went to the army and left a wife and five children. James was the baby, one year old, and Grandma Gorton and Aunt Elmira took him until he was seven. Then my father and mother brought him up until he was 21 years old. Then James went to Newburgh and took a job as bookkeeper for the railroad. He married Hattie Sarvis. She left him for a year or more, and came back to Newburgh, but she wouldn't tell anything about her leaving him, where she had been, but expected him to take her in. He refused and got a divorce and married Margaret Blivin. They had two sons Kenneth and Thomas Elting. She died when Thomas was seven years old and James kept house on 96 Prospect Street until he passed away at the age of 86 years. I visited them before their children were born and they took me to the theater. The performing girls had bare legs as they danced, the first time I ever saw such a performance but I enjoyed it immensely. This was before I was married.
Floyd and Fred Gorton were born September 17, 1878 and at this writing we are 83 years, 10 months and 7 days old which is July 24, 1962. Floyd's first job he worked for Cousin Clark Gorton near the Strongtown Schoolhouse District No. 17. He later worked for a telephone company in Middletown, N.Y. pulling line wire under a live electric line. The wire flipped up and touched the high voltage. 5 men were pulling. Floyd being on the end was thrown down and unconscious for a minute, but came out laughing, and the other four men were happy to know none of the men were hurt. Later he worked for the O&W Railroad until the Round House Strike. Floyd being a strike breaker was called unprintable names, and later went to Oneonta on the Delaware and Hudson yards on the wrecking gang and was inspector until he bought a home at Mount Vision, moving from 96 River Street residence. At the Mount Vision place a large henhouse was there, a cottage and barn, eleven acres of land. He sold eggs, had 300 white leghorns, and retired at the age of 63 years. At the age of 41 years he married Alice Fields, she had a girl named Hazel, 17 years and boy named Howard 25 years old by a previous marriage. Floyd used to board with her. She got a sore toe and she asked him to dress it, and as the saying goes "he went up" and married her. Hazel got sick and died age about 33 years old but Alice lived to be 75 years old, after a long illness. Floyd sold the home in Mount Vision for $10,000 and took rooms with another employee, in Oneonta, name of LaVern Norris, 371 Chestnut Street, there he lived for 16 years and maintained a car for pleasure. June 11, 1931 he had an appendix operation. Russell took me to Wells Bridge after Floyd's eye operation May 20, 1962. Some months before that Floyd had operation for prostate gland cost over $600 and now was taken back to the Bassitt Hospital for second prostate gland operation in July 1962. Four operations all told to date.
SALLY ANN GILDERSLEEVE GORTON
Sally was born. February 5, 1799, the daughter of Nathaniel Gildersleeve and Jerusha Powell. Nathaniel died on October 30, 1840 at the home of his son, James Gildersleeve, in Liberty Falls. James owned the first tannery in Liberty. Sally m. John G. Gorton December 30, 1819. Fred Gorton was nearly seven when his grandmother died on June 15, 1887. "She planted 8 walnut trees on the Farm. Known as "Old Hickory" and today (June 10, 1963) 3 walnut trees are still alive. Grandma was 12 when she put the walnuts in the ground."
MRS ARVILLA GRANT
Born on Wildman's Hill, between Claryville and Grahamsville, she lived there until 1923. On her 100th birthday, December 11, 1938, she lived at George Curry's house on Carrier Street, Liberty and had been blind for three years. George E. Curry d. Dec. 24, 1959 @ 89. He worked for Livingston Manor Lumber Company and later lived in Unadilla.
JAMES GRAY JR.
James Gray Jr. went hunting with a friend of the family down toward Strongtown Church. Young James went over a wall ahead of his companion and the other man's gun discharged with fine shot and caught James in the back of the head. The doctor said in probing the shot out, it would destroy most of his hair in back of his head so he would have to carry the shot the rest of his life. James was perhaps 12 years old. This event took place when I was renting the Gray place about 1902.
d. May 24, 1962 at 69 (one month short of 70)
Edith Hasbrouck, daughter of Ben Hasbrouck (d. Jan. 31, 1937 at 71), a plaster mason, and his wife (d. Mar. 1, 1943), when young wanted to get married, but didn't go out with boys much and was disappointed with one fellow who backed out after asking her to marry him. He turned out to be a boy without all his buttons. She went to Binghamton to a revival meeting there and her testimony concerning being a missionary in a foreign country created enough enthusiasm that the church she was attending raised $1000 to educate her for the mission. She took the $1000 to Kingston and built a little church. She was the pastor and carried on services for several years. Then her mind seemed to slip. She was taken to an institution for a time, then to a home where she died. [Editor's Note: In one place Fred says Edith's sister Leah m. Adolph Doenick, in another that the sister's name was Leila and that she married Alfred O. Doenick (d. Nov. 4, 1967 @ 74) on November 25, 1915.]
d. Feb. 8, 1945 @ 80
m. Susan Pierson (d. April 19, 1935)
The only man who had smallpox in Liberty was Wooster Hasbrouck, our first druggist. He had this dread disease about 1890 and was taken to a log cabin at Revonah Lake and nursed by Mrs. Doran, a seamstress. Hundreds of people were vaccinated. The doctors worked 20 hours a day.
MRS. LAFAYETTE HOLLIDAY
In 1897, near Monticello, near neighbors of Mrs. Lafe Holliday told police a bad smell was in the air for several days. She was burning meat in her stove and her husband was missing. The police found part of a human body in the woodshed. She was put in jail to await the Grand Jury action at the fall term. While there she became pregnant. It was never proven who fathered the child. Hon. George Carpenter (1846-1920) pleaded the case and remarked to N. G. Gorton "Poor old insane woman." He told the attorney, "Poor old Devil!" Mrs. Holliday was sent to the insane asylum in Middletown. While there she chased another woman with a pair of scissors. The case of childbirth was hushed up and never came out in the county papers.
Wm. Hones bought the top of Walnut Mountain May 1886 and built a 5 story house on it. The carpenter work nearly done, it blew down Nov. 18, 1886 in a shower between 11 and 12 o'clock. The wind came from the southwest. Two cottages were built from the wreck. Hub Linderman took one cottage down and made a home on 42 Carrier St. DeWitt Beebe the mason was laying the chimney when Mountain House flew down and was laid up many weeks and was [un]able to work for some years after the mishap.
Willis Hunt used to go to a bar just to pick a fight with someone. He knocked one fellow down 8 times, even through an open door, but the fellow wouldn't give up. Later, another night, someone picked a fight with Mr. Hunt only to have the friends of the stranger gang up on him and nearly stomped him to death. Hunt was laid up for many weeks but no scars remained on his face. As of April 28, 1962 at the age of 84 he was still going strong. He built a little cottage near the John Manion place on a new road leading to Swan Lake.
REBECCA D. HUTCHINSON (1849-1926)
Rebecca was brought up by Mr. and Mrs. George Hill at Ferndale. She married a man by the name of Hutchinson and had a son, George. The man was a stranger who came to Liberty Falls. One day, after George was a year old, along came a sheriff and a red-headed woman who claimed her man had left her with five children. They took him away. Rebecca was so furious she bit the bed post. At a revival meeting at the Free Methodist Church in Ferndale her son George was saved and she thought he should preach the gospel. She sent him to Chile, in Pennsylvania, preparatory for preaching, but George didn't make good and in 1906 became the first rural letter carrier from Ferndale instead. George Hutchinson (1874-1914), who was 6' tall, married Jennie Main (1875-May 30, 1938).
d. Jan. 1933 at 52
m. Rose Bengel (Sept. 30, 1877- June 30, 1957)
This boy when about 13 years old used to call on a girl by the name of Grace Bennett nearly every night after it became dark. His father objected, but he persisted. He got a job at the Strongtown creamery and lived alone at Charles Hosie's place and walked through the back meadows belonging to my father, N.G. Gorton and later got rooms of Drucilla Wickes, which was near the Creamery. He would put wood in the fire and go back to work, intending to have a fire all ready for his dinner, but Drucilla would take the tongs and put the wood in her stove and Winnie would come home to find the fire all out. One day he returned just in time to catch Drucilla carrying the smoking wood in her rooms, so the mystery was solved. A girl by the name of Eunice Wheeler would come there for two or three days at a time and stay with him. Winnie even told Eunice used to like showing her big legs which pleased him very much. Jim Wheeler had a Dance Hall near Stevensville which now is called Swan Lake. Mr. Swan used to rent out boats for 50 cents for half a day. Winnie played the field and had many sweethearts. One time he hired a horse and buggy of Ed Baker to take out Susie Wheat and when he returned the outfit Mr. Baker noticed heel marks upside down on the dashboard inside the buggy. The heels of Winnie's shoes must have had nails protruding out--a dead giveaway. A German girl named Rose Bengelmarried him and they began keeping house over the Creamery. Later they went to live in New York and had a store and a milk depot. When he died Rose kept the store for a term of years.
d. April 6, 1949
Son Clifford swallowed a marble but RFD Carrier Fred Gorton
advised no doctor needed, just a double dose of physic, which worked when
Fred's brother swallowed a lead bullet.
c. 1913 he defended a murderer named Banks who had killed a man in Parksville 20 years before and run away. The murderer came back after all that time and gave himself up. The case cost the county $1000.
MARK (DUKE) MEDDAUGH
When he was 18 years old slipped between the cars of a moving train and lost a leg below the knee so he walked on one knee and a peg. He carried mail from Ferndale to Stephenville and took passengers on the route. But one night at church, Joe Delmarter, a wiry track hand, tripped old Duke up when he came out of church. Duke was as strong as a bull and took Delmarter to the ground and pinned him down with both arms so Joe couldn't move. Died July 9, 1936 at the age of 83.
Rev. A. Willis Meyer rented N. G. Gorton's cottage. They were Free Methodists, very religious. He preached in Briscoe 8 miles away and in Liberty Falls, now Ferndale. He had a new three year old colt. Later, one day, he left little Arthur, his seven year old son, in the two wheeled gig for a moment and Arthur pulled up on the lines and the colt ran away with young Arthur toward Monticello. He yelled whoa! whoa! a couple of farm men met the colt waving their hands and stopped them cold. Poor little Arthur was trembling from head to foot. I called on him when he was about 65 years old, asked him if he remembered it. He said how could he ever forget it.
AUNT DOLL MISNER
March 25, 1934. My visit with Aunt Doll Misner. Aunt Doll was past 80 years old and stone deaf when I called on her one Sunday afternoon. I had to look in the window until she saw me. She unbolted the door and let me in. We had a tablet and pencil as she couldn't hear a sound but she could talk to me. She told me all about her two boys, Sherman and Walter (1874-1954). Walter has two daughters. One of them was very fat with a good appetite and doesn't like to wear too much clothing. Her habits are run nights and sleep days, do no work, make her bed every two weeks, complain about her poor health and hit up her dad for money. Harrison Misner was Aunt Doll's husband and my mother's brother. Aunt Doll died October 20, 1936 at the age of 83 years. Uncle Harry had died September 19, 1928 aged 88. After Uncle died, Aunt Doll collected a mortgage of $2500 and her son Sherman and wife lived in her home. Sherman lost his left arm in a railroad accident. He took a job as switchman at Fallsburgh. Sherman wanted that money and they shut her up in a room for several days but she wouldn't hand it over. Sherman died Nov. 13, 1934 at the age of 62.
d. Dec. 7, 1964 @ 73 or 74
Laverne Misner was the last survivor of the Darbee Farm; with a dozen cows she worked the farm just like a man--drove the team, spread manure and all. She attended every antique auction, drove her own car, took no advice from nobody. Her house was large, eight rooms, where she stored her antiques of every kind. She made a ditch to install the village water which run right past her farm from the reservoir above. She slipped in the ditch before the pipes were laid and broke her hip and was taken to the hospital. After three days she died. Her estate was large. A relative from California conducted the auction. The antiques brought top prices, some $3000 it was said. Five spinning wheels brought $50 each. It was learned the Darbee estate all went to a cousin in California. Not a nickel to the Presbyterian Church in Liberty of which she was a loyal member. Quite a few friends were peeved in not getting a hand-out. No will.
Mike Noeth liked his toddy and told of his affairs when he was a little tipsy, just to make the other boys laugh. He took his sweetie to the dance when he was about 21 years old and found when he woke up next morning his sweetie was lying in bed with him. She told him they got married the evening before. He said he didn't remember anything about a marriage, but agreed it must be true. They started keeping house and she kept him under control for many years. He was a lather by trade and earned a good living. He built a new home on a large lot and a henhouse in back. He kept a dozen hens and thought someone was stealing the eggs so he bought a shotgun. One day he got home real early and saw a man leaving the henhouse. He took the gun, loaded with fine shot, and blazed away. The man lost so much blood he died in 2 or 3 days and Mike was sent to the lock-up. Two little boys went there to see him in 1896 and asked him how it happened. Mike said, "I only hit him once. I hit him in the leg."
THE THREE DR. PAYNES
Dr. Charles S. Payne died of apoplexy Dec. 12, 1917 @ 56. His wife Lillian died July 5, 1955 at 92. Dr. Luther C. Payne died of heart ailment on May 16, 1935 @ 58. He practiced medicine 33 years. Dr. Demming S. Payne was born September 27, 1904. He married Ruth Armitage December 31, 1935. He died in For Lauderdale, Florida on March 15, 1962 @ 57 while playing golf. He practiced medicine 30 years. Nearly 500 people attended his funeral at the Liberty Methodist Church. His children were Pamela, Deming, Luther, John A. and Timothy.
Hans Raymond when a young man would take a dare just to show the boys he was smart. The young men collected at Jim Demerest's farm one evening told Hans they could drink him drunk under the table. He accepted the challenge. Glass after glass Hans drank to match the other boys. But the boys poured their cider down their front as they turned their backs to him. He never caught on, so he was taken short and mussed his pants, just the thing the boys had planned would happen. Another time Hans bragged how he could lick Dave Bennett with one blow. Dave was a peaceful boy the same size as Hans, so they went out of the Manion Store, which was well lighted, and squared off. Hans said to Dave, "You can't slap my face too quick to suit me." Dave struck Hans and gave him a black eye. Hans told his father the boys had an apple fight where the car was loading to be shipped to the mill. Will Filch had a scrap with Hans. Took him down and said "I've forgotten more about fighting than you ever knew." 1898 was the time.
Frank Ryder and W. Breakman attempted to board the front end of a moving caboose but Frank missed his hold and his leg was crushed above the knee. He was about age 28, c. 1882.
Better known as "Honey Bee Smith." June 30, 1934: A skip of bees came to us at one o'clock today about the size of 5" in the center and 12" long to a point in the spruce tree in our yard. I called Wash Smith. The bees crawled on his bare arms but they didn't sting him.
living in Florida 1968; m. Mattie Birmingham (d. Feb.5, 1957 @ 73)
Roy was a postal clerk. His two sisters had a store on Main St. Later he was elected treasurer of the Presbyterian Church for 20 years and an elder. He married a rich lawyer's daughter, the belle of the town. Later he was appointed Game Warden of Sullivan County. Both sisters and his father died early. Fred Gorton was his uncle on the Steenrod side. His father, Levi, and Fred's wife Daisy had the same father, but Roy would never call him uncle. Levi Steenrod (d. Sept. 9, 1918 @ 61) married Ida Grant (d. Aug. 3, 1955 @ 91). He was a blacksmith in Liberty.
STRONGS OF STRONGTOWN
In the vicinity of Strongtown school lived three families named Strong. Cyrus Strong lived on the Joel Crispell place. [Note: entries in Appendix I state that Joel Crispell moved to Cyrus Strong's on September 28, 1887 and then that Eber Strong and his wife moved into part of Joel Crispell's house in 1894] His nephew Alfred lived just below the MacDonald place, 3-4 miles from Liberty Falls Depot, [see also Appendix I] and Thomas Strong lived on a side road as one turns right just below the MacDonald place. Thomas kept boarders in summer. It was said Cyrus's courtship consisted of his tossing a kernel of corn at Eliza and saying, "Now, Eliza, did you catch this one?" They were very old when the Gorton boys went to Strongtown School. We called Alfred "Uncle Fuddle." He had one son who was foolish. He would sit by the hour with a whip, pretending to drive horses, and flog them severely too. One time they asked him to bring in some wood from the wood shed and had quite a time to stop him from filling the kitchen with wood. Another time when his father was drawing wood past the schoolhouse, he asked Eddie to hold the horse while his father went back to get Eddie's lost mitten. When he returned, Eddie said, "My Lord, Pa found the mitten!" His father was very religious and Eddie would pray and sing in mockery and beat his breast in regular rhythm. Thomas Strong died at 92. He married Martha Starr (d. August 24, 1938 @ 92) and they had a son Frank H. (Aug. 20, 1875-Jan. 30, 1963). Frank married 1) Alice Naomi Seitzinger (d. Aug. 21, 1952) and 2) Mabel Meyers Main on Nov. 28, 1953. His daughter was Ada Laning. His step-daughter was Mrs. Mildred Faulkner.
Charles E. Strong (d. Jan. 8, 1968 @ 89) was a Ferndale resident for 37 years. His wife d. Oct. 2, 1916 at 32. His daughter was born in 1911.
S. L. Strong d. Nov. 19, 1915 @ 77. He was struck by an automobile. His wife and daughter survived.
Nettie Ward taught at least three generations of children at the Liberty School. She was due in three years for a teacher's pension. [She taught 8th grade when Fred attended Liberty School in the early 1890s.] When the churches had revival meetings, she told pupils to seek Christ and in the school room too. She lost her mind and shot herself after teaching for many years. It is believed her worry over this (retirement) plan caused her to commit the act. I suppose there are some teachers today that are inclined the same but refrain. After her funeral a hundred or more school children followed the procession to her grave. I think she died in 1906 at the age of 56.
MRS. DAVE WATSON
In the year 1887 a widow, Mrs. Dave Watson, made the mistake of having two men callers. She was a mother of three grown children. She lived upstairs over Mutting's Bar Room which is the Short Line Bus Terminal location now. Perhaps she got the dates mixed up. It happened at 1 AM. Kirt Fisk was single and warned John Wales if he was seen there he would be shot on sight. John Wales was married and had no business there anyway. Mr. Wales didn't heed the warning and started up the stairs to call on Mrs. Watson. Fisk heard him coming up the stairs and met him with a bullet. Mr. Wales fell to the bottom of the stairs and died. We have no record of Fisk being brought to trial. So Kirt Fisk married the widow. Mrs. Watson, in due time, died in childbirth. Not long after that, Kirt Fisk fell down stairs and broke his neck and died immediately. The moral--the wicked shall not live out half their days!
d. Jan. 1, 1930 @ 54
m. Sarah Rush (d. July 2, 1956 @ 61)
After Frank Webster built his barn with a trap door to pass into the basement below with a hinge weighted for easy control with no half-way platform in case one slipped off the ladder, he was warned that if it caught his head he would be hung. He said it wouldn't happen, but at milling time he didn't come in for supper. The family waited until 8PM before investigating why he didn't come home for supper. Willis Hunt found him. Sure enough he was hung by the trap door wedged tightly on his neck. Twenty-six years later his son Harry shot himself with a 22 rifle. He was single and lived with his mother and sister. She died Mar. 30, 1952 at 56. Frank Webster and his brother Fred had a turning mill run by water power where they made souvenirs for the summer boarders. Frank's brother Fred (buried Phillipsport, N.Y., Nov. 18, 1949) married Stella Kortright (d. Jan. 11, 1958 @ 80), daughter of Newton Kortright. The Websters were nephews of Chauncey Rowe.
JACOB WILSON FAMILY
In 1888 his wife was sent to an asylum. Later, perhaps 1892, their house burned to the ground. The neighbors chipped in and got them house keeping furniture and all on a farm; then in haying Vivian, 7, fell off the hay wagon and was crushed to death. John, about 20, took Paris Green for spraying the potatoes. Tom got a bad disease and shot himself. Fanny was killed by an automobile. Daisy married an old man named Smith and had one child, Leon. Smith outlived her but Leon was adopted by David Carr, next to the N.G. Gorton farm. Adrian, 20, married Jim Manion's daughter in Youngsville and lived in Monroe, N.Y. where he was an auto mechanic.