Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Life Mostly in Cameron County, Part I

Well, I’ve transcribed almost everything.  But I do need to do some editing.  I found multiple drafts so I need to organize much of the information before I can post it.  I’ll retain my grandparents natural syntax and grammar because it’s essential to their story-telling style.

But I do have some ready.  Here’s Part One of:

My Life Mostly in Cameron County
Frances Schwab Murray, 1966

I am of Swiss, English, Scotch and Welsh descent.  My father, Alex Schwab was a full blood Swiss.  Mother’s father was Scotch and English, her mother English and Welsh.  My father was born in Siselen, Berne, Switzerland.  My mother was born in Canoe Run, Cameron County in 1876.  Dad was born in 1871.  They were married in Cameron, PA August 7, 1893.  I was born August 13, 1896 at Rathbun, PA, the second oldest as my sister, Jennette was born August 4, 1894.  Like Abe Lincoln, I was born in a log cabin, as Dad was working in the woods.  Back in 1923 or 1924 part of that cabin was still standing.  When I was 6 months old, my parents moved back to Cameron where my sister Margaret was born in 1898 and 35 years later I attended her at the birth of her youngest daughter, Jean. 

One of my first remembrances is of the dolls Uncle John had bought for Jennie and I.  China dolls, one dressed in red and the other in blue satin.  We had them in the go-cart and Margaret, who was just beginning to walk, pulled the dolls out of the cart.  Both were broken beyond repair and Jennie and I were heartbroken. 

When I was about 4 years old, while feeding the chickens, I fell on a sharp can I was carrying the feed in, cut my chin open and had a bad cut above my eye.  I sure did some yelling.  Aunt Esther and Winne Shearer helped Mom to care for the cuts.  I’ve still got the scar to show this happened.  It happened in the house where Margaret was born and now that house has long been torn down. 

Dad and Mom moved to Weedville.  It was there Nelson was born in 1900.  I remember the house and time very well.  Mom had no doctor, but great-grandmother Costello was her midwife.  Dad worked in the coal mines, timbering the tunnels.  Nelson was about 6 months old when they moved to Canoe Run in a house across from the coke oven.  We didn’t live there very long and moved across the creek to the little bungalow where Alice was born. 

When we lived across from the ovens, Dad had a lumbering job and Mom boarded the men.  They slept in the house next door to our house.  The three McKay boys worked for Dad.  They used to catch rattlesnakes. And sell them to carnivals and shows.  They had boxes with glass tops so you could see them.  One day they had nine in a couple of the boxes.  One of the old teamsters was afraid one of us kids might break the glass and get bitten so while all the men was at work he took an ax and as they crawled out, he killed them one by one.  There was a terrible row when the McKays got back that night.  Later years one of the McKay brothers was bit by a rattler and died. 

It was in the bungalow at the foot of the hollow that Dad woke me up, sometime during the night and said I have to get up and dress, go for a neighbor, Mrs. Cordright, who was also a midwife. Because my mother was awful sick and needed help.  I was afraid to go as it was about ½ mile from us, past the cemetery where the small pox victims were buried, and trees had grown up on all sides of the road.  But barefooted and in the dark, away I ran.  About halfway there I fell over something that I thought was human.  This made me run all the faster until I came to Mrs. Cordright’s house, opening the door, I fell headfirst inside.  Mrs. Cordright came out in the hall in a nightgown and cap with lighted lamp.  I thought my lungs would burst.  I couldn’t speak for sometime.  She hurried and dressed and with lighted lantern we went down the road only to meet her red and white heifer coming up the road.  That’s what I had fallen over.  I can laugh about it now, but believe me, I sure was one scared kid. 

NEXT WEEK:  Part Two of My Life Mostly in Cameron County-Frances Schwab Murray, 1966 


  1. Welcome to the Geneabloggers family. Hope you find the association fruitful; I sure do. I have found it most stimulating, especially some of the Daily Themes.

    May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

    Dr. Bill ;-)
    Author of "Back to the Homeplace"
    and "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories"

  2. Dr. Bill-you all have made me feel welcome fast. I've already been learning from what others have been doing. Thanks.

  3. Wouldn't Frances Elizabeth be your great grandmother? Allen; Riley, Jr; Riley, Sr.

  4. No, she's my grandmother. You've put an extra generation (Allen) between me and her.