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THE JOHNSTOWN TRIBUNE
JOHNSTOWN, PA
1919

 

9 Jan 1919
p12; c1
Contributed by Lynne Canterubyr

FRANKLIN COUPLE WEDDED 65 YEARS

Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Horner United in Richland Township in January, 1854

Jacob Horner, aged 92 years and his wife, Mrs. Rebecca Callihan Horner, aged 81 years, of Franklin Borough, were united in marriage 65 years ago today at the home of Mrs. Horner's father, Jacob Callihan, in Richland Township. Both Mr. and Mrs. Horner are enjoying excellent health. They were married by the Rev. O. W. Ow, a minister of the United Brethren Church, who was an intimate friends of the Rev. Jacob Ressler, one of the pioneer members of the Allegheny Conference of the U. B. Church. The latter was the father of the Rev. Dr. J. L. L. Ressler, the present pastor of the Conemaugh United Brethren Church, who paid them a special ministerial call today. Mrs. Reuben Garrison, wife of former Station Master at the local P. R. R. passenger station, is the only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Horner. Jacob B. Horner served in Company A, 54th P. V. L., during the Civil War. He was captured during an engagement and was a prisoner at both Andersonville and Danville.

 

Monday, 29 Dec 1919
Contributed by Lynne Canterbury

TALES OF FIFTY YEARS AGO
RECALL MANY EVENTS IN LOCAL HISTORY

To the Editor of the Tribune:

Sir:  The re-publication in the Tribune of December 9 of an account under the quoted heading of his visits to neighboring towns of James M. Swank, then the editor and proprietor of The Tribune, recalls to the mind of the writer many prior and subsequent events of local history.

In his write-up of Wilmore, his reference to the posture in which he found Squire Joseph Miller seated in his office in a chair tilted back with his feet crossed on a corner of his writing table, describes the posture in which hundreds of people subsequently found him in his "Wilmore bank" for the Squire was a financier of marked shrewdness, and although his rates of interest were sometimes high, yet he had a solicitude for the temporal welfare of his neighbors, and his advice often saved some of them from the snares of unscrupulous agents for the sale of machinery, etc.  He was a Justice of the Peace in Wilmore from the time of its organization as a borough in 1860 until his death in 1889.

George W. Kerbey (not Kirby) the Pennsylvania Railroad passenger and freight agent of whom Mr. Swank speaks, was agent from an earlier date than 1859. The first agent at Wilmore station was John Dopp, who assumed control at the opening of the Pennsylvania Railroad which was on November 28, 1854. He remained agent at Wilmore Station (the town was until 1860, Jefferson) for about a year, when he was succeeded by Mr. Kerbey, a schoolmate of Tom Scott, afterwards President of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Mr. Kerbey continued as agent (at first he was also telegraph operator) for about 42 years. When he first assumed control at Wilmore, there was no other agent between Cresson and Conemaugh. When J. C. and George B. Stineman, Joseph Croyle, Samuel S. Paul and Richard J. Hughes, then fourth auditor of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, formed the South Fork Coal Mining Company in the latter sixties, when they loaded a car with coal designed for the eastern markets they wrote the number of the car on a slip of paper which they placed in the split end of a short stick, which they held up close to a passing eastbound train for the fireman to catch hold of the stick, and when the train arrived at Wilmore, the stick was thrown off; and Agent Kerbey picked it up , and from the writing on the slip of paper, made out the manifest for the car. This continued until 1873, when George B. Stineman became the first Pennsylvania Railroad agent at South Fork.

Mr. Kerbey, his wife and most of his family are now dead, amongst whom were his sons -- Major J. O. Kerbey (the boy spy), Thomas and Edward Kerbey. Mrs. Ruth Fox and perhaps another daughter, Ruth, are living.

The fine railroad station of which Mr. Swank writes, a brick structure about 30 by 60 feet with an extension slate roof clear around and platform almost all around, considered the most commodious railway station between Pittsburgh and Altoona is now not longer in general use, the straightening of the line leaving it, high and dry, about 500 yards from the present depot which is not nearly so commodious and not the one third of the size of its predecessor.

Squire Ephriam Crum, of whom he speaks was the delegate to the convention at Ebensburg in 1835, which accepted, finally, the public school system. He and his son-in-law John Carr, built the Wilmore grist mill which they sold to Philip Woleslagle, of whom he speaks. Woleslagle with his son, P. J. Woleslagle, afterwards as the firm of P. M. Woleslagle & Son, did an extensive lumber and mercantile business at Ben's Creek and in Wilmore. At the former place, "Abe" Myers, now of your city, was the sawyer, and at Wilmore, the late Thomas J. Hughes. P. M. Woleslagle sold the gristmill to James F. Stanton, of Stanton's Mills, Somerset County, whose brother-in-law, John V. Fleck, operated it for several years. Stanton sold the mill to the late Sylvester Crum, son of Ephriam Crum. It is now owned and successfully run by Charles and William Crum, sons of Sylvester Crum. It is one of the most prosperous gristmills in the county.

P. M. Woleslagle went to Kansas, where his son, Philip, was killed on a railroad, and his wife died. He afterwards removed to West Virginia, where he married a second time and finally died, his remains now lying the U. B. Cemetery in Wilmore. P. J. Woleslagle died a few years ago in Altoona. A granddaughter of the senior Woleslagle and daughter of William Woleslagle, and granddaughter of Dr. S. M. Kern, is now married to a Mr. Seaman, a telegraph operator of Wilmore.

Dr. S. M. Kern was a skillful physician; but he loved farming better than the practice of medicine.  His wife was a daughter of Fleetwood Benson, once Sheriff of Cambria County.

George Settlemyer, of whom Mr. Swank writes, was in his time, one of the most prosperous farmers of Cambria County. He was a son of Godfrey Settlemyer, a soldier of the Revolutionary War, who it was said first served in the Hessian Army; but having been made prisoner, joined the army of Washington and did good service in the cause of liberty.

George Settlemyer married a Miss Susan Shenafelt from east of the mountain, a worthy and amiable lady. They had several children amongst whom were Sarah, Maggie, Elizabeth, afterwards Mrs. Daniel Black, Rev. William H. Settlemyer, a retired Lutheral minister, now of Baltimore, Md., and G. W. Settlemyer, now deceased (the Rev. W. H. Settlemyer) being the only surviving member of the family.

As a schoolboy, George Settlemyer often traveled four or five miles through the woods to attend school at Parrish's, afterwards O'Hara's Mill and also at Pensacola, and south of Wilmore; and when he became a man of means, he built on his land a school house, about the year 1844, and at his own expense, that his children and those of his neighbors might enjoy better educational facilities than he as a youth possessed, and in Road Book No. 1 in the Prothonotary's office in Ebensburg is recorded the order for a view of a public road "from George Settlemyer's schoolhouse in Summerhill Township to Judge Murry's Mill in Jackson Township."

Mr. Settlemyer, besides operating his large farm of about 250 acres had a water-power saw mill on his premises, which was the source of a considerable income. He had several tenants on his farm, and employed considerable other labor, his standard of remuneration for a day's work being a bushel of wheat, or the value thereof, with three meals for those who were at his palatial homestead for breakfast. The Monday morning after the great frost of June, 1859, seeing that his wheat crop had been killed by the frost, he went to Pittsburgh and bought 21 barrels of flour at $5 barrel before the price went up that his family and those of his tenants might not suffer want; and what he had to space besides his own use, he sold to his tenants at cost at Wilmore Station.

As a farmer -- or rather as the superintendent of a farm -- Mr. Settlemyer was one of the most thorough of men.  He raised his own grass seed -- clover and timothy and there was not a weed -- not even a daisy -- to be found on his farm; and the fingers of his right hand were crooked, ever ready to pluck up any moxious week which might appear. Not an elder but one which grew in a shallow cave under a rock could be found on his farm, nor a briar of any kind, except raspberries and blackberries in his large and fertile garden. He raised much hay and grain, and no honest man was ever refused credit by him; and although the township was overwhelmingly Democratic, and he was as a Whig and afterwards as a Republican an "offensive partisan," he was frequently elected to the office of road supervisor, for the reason that he could supervise the work of road construction in less time than any one else. He made some money, however, by furnishing plank for the numberous bridges in the township.

A singular experience was that of Mr. Settlemyer in the raising of sheep; for while his flock frequently numbered 199, he could never, do what he would, he could not increase his flock to 200.

He had a large sugar-maple grove, about 400 of which trees he utilized for the manufacture of maple sugar and syrup. During the Civil War he was able to loan the Government $5,000; and his advocacy of legal tender notes was about as good greenback argument as one could hear; and the writer afterwards a greenback writer often used it.

Clifton T. Settlemyer, his wife, a daughter of Joseph O. Thomas, and their little son -- George -- great grandson of George Settlemyer are all of the descendants of the subjects of the sketch on the old homestead. A large frame bank barn -- probably the first barn of its kind in Cambria County -- was struck by lightning and burned to the ground a few years ago.

On the Settlemyer farm is the famous artesian well, locally known as the "Oil Well." It was bored in 1865 by a company of capitalists of which the late Philip Collins, of Ebensburg, was the head. The well was drilled with a plumging fit operated by steam; and when a depth of 90 feet was reached, the drill dropped 32 inches, and good drinking water has since been flowing to the full capacity of the six-inch bore-hole. When the well had been sunken to a depth of 682 feet, the "jars", of the long links above the plunger, slipped past one another, and became entangled. A new drill was procured and they were pounded for six weeks when the well was abandoned.

Miss Lenore McCormick, the telelgraph operator whom Mr. Swank met at Wilmore is now Mrs. Thomas E. Reilly, of Philadelphia. She is a daughter of the late Prof. S. B. McCormick, an old time Johnstown school teacher and the second County Superintendent of public schools of Cambria County, who died at Oakland, California, several years ago.

Mr. Swank's Trip to Summerhill
via the Old Portage Railroad

Mr. Swank's description of his walk to Summerhill and his remarks about it are interesting, and it may be of interest to the readers of The Tribune to know that this abandoned roadway as a railroad which has since been used as a public highway between the two points is soon to become a brick paved state highway, which appears to be assured from the fact that the contracting firm of Coles and Englehart, of Ebensburg, as graded a connecting link from the old Portage road went of the old deep cut to that line at the east end, this grading having been made necessary by the obstruction of the old line known as Boyles' Curve of the old Portage which otherwise would have been an ideal auto road with a gradient of 42 feet to the mile (the gradient of the "Long Level" of which it was part). This part of the old Portage which it is expected will be paved as far as Portage during the coming year is on the Lamb's Bridge -- Gallitzin State Highway.

"Summerhill once known as the "Half-way House", has lost its ancient importance and is now only a quiet way station on the Pennsylvania Railroad," says Mr. Swank.

The name "Half-way House" arose from the fact that William and George Murray in the palmy days of the Allegheny Portage Railroad built a commodious inn or tavern and business house midway on the "Long Level" between the head of the Plane No. 1 and the foot of Plane No. 2, seven miles from either place. The locality was first called "Croyle's Mill," from the fact that Thomas Croyle had about the year 1901 built a grist mill and saw mill here on the Little Conemaugh and the first view for public highway (the first act of the Court of Quarter Sessions of Cambria County) was ordered on December 7, 1807. The mill after Mr. Croyle was operated by George and William Murray by John Sechler, by Tobias Ashe, mentioned by Mr. Swank, and afterwards for many years by the late D. A. Sipe, under whose management it became the most important water-power grist mill in Cambria County -- its water power under curtailed by the erection of reservoirs above it on the South Fork and North Branch of the Little Conemaugh being the most powerful and continuous of any in Cambria County.


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