Monday, February 28, 2011

My Life Mostly in Cameron County-Frances Schwab Murray, 1966-Part 3

Before I jump to Part 3, I want to mention that, just before posting Part 2, I got the urge to research someone mentioned in that post.  When I typed from the original papers, I wasn’t really focused on content.  I just wanted to get it done as quickly as possible.  But, a little section caught my eye when I was finally focused on content.  My grandmother mentioned her Uncle George’s son Howard (Stuart) being buried in Michigan.  I thought I might be able in get confirmation of dates or locations in her story.  Off to Google I went.  Search results led me to hypothesize her naming error for River Rouge.  Using River Rouge and the Ford plant references, I went to Google maps and found a large cemetery, Woodmere, instead of Wildwood. Turns out Woodmere has amazing records.  I found a record for Howard Stuart, age 1 year, 9 months, 2 days, born in Pennsylvania, residence on Peterson Street, who died of scarlet fever in 1906.  My genealogical motto:  Trust, but verify.

Earlier posts in this series:


Part Three:

I often wonder where the water is that we had 60 or more years.  In the creek it was bank-to-bank below our house.  A sawmill down from our house, across the creek had a spillway or boom built; the river was always filled with logs.  We kids used to cuff them although we were forbidden to do so.  They call it log rolling now.  One day I jumped onto a log and missed it, but hit a board on the boom.  It had a big spike in it.  It went clear through my foot.  One of the sawmill men came over, pulled me off.  Away I went crying, straight to my grandfather who always took care of all our sores or cuts.  He poured turpentine in that hole.  I can feel it yet.  And a slice of salt pork over the hole.  So I hobbled around on my heel for days.

Earlier, in the house where Alice was born, we had some little things happen, such as when Jennette took the shears and cut six-inch slits in a stand cover in our bedroom.  Here both she and I did our best to blame Walter Olkosky (the American Legion is named for him.  He was the first Cameron County boy killed in WWI).  His folks called him Waddick, Polish for Walter.  One time Mother had put her crock of cream and freshly churned butter in the springhouse.  We all went either to Cameron or to visit Grandmother Schwab, it was on a Sunday.  When we got back, Waddick had mixed sand in the butter and cream and dumped out all the pans of milk.  Boy, his dad almost killed him.  They lived across the road from us.  Several days later Jennette and I had a play house we took him to (he was one year younger than me) and fed him soap suds until he vomited. 

That cemetery I spoke of was where all the small pox victims were buried during the epidemic.  Several of mother’s uncles are buried there—Greenalch boys.  Bradytown was on top of the hill, so named for Andrew Brady.  There was lots of houses and a school house later.  Lena Leckner was the first teacher up there that I remember. (we all went to Cameron School, walked all the way, no nice roads like they have today, snow waist deep for us younger kids)  Mother’s Uncle Bill Greenalch and wife Julia ran the big boarding house.  Had lots of miners staying with her in Bradytown first called Mt. Hope.

We had a store and Post Office in Canoe Run.  The passenger trains used to stop four times a day.  Fred Webster was the manager of the store and ran the Post Office , too.  The coal company had an office in one side of the building and the company doctor, who used to come one or two days a week, had an office on the other side.  It was one story high, but larger than Joe Olivetti’s ground floor.  There was lots of nice homes in Canoe Run and we kids had great times there.  The oldest Minnow boy, Andrew, was hurt and died a few days later.  We used to swing on the steel cables.  He hit his head.  His sister Anna blew off several fingers playing with dynamite caps.  They were neighbors of ours.  John Minnow was the youngest of the family.  After we went to Detroit they built a school in Canoe Run in about 1904 or 1905.  Bruce Peterson was the first teacher there.  I wasn’t lucky.  They’d be no school-house in Canoe Run for me. 

When I started to school, we walked to Cameron--one mile-no bus, no cars, no snow plows, no paved roads, no cafeteria.  We carried our lunch in pails which had once held Karo Syrup or 5 pounds of lard, no fancy pail then.  School house was two story high—grades 1-4 downstairs , 5-8 upstairs.  One room, one teacher affair, heated by a pot-bellied stove in the middle of the floor.  No water.  We carried it from the nearby neighbor’s well.  Everyone drank out of the same long-handled tin dipper. Schoolhouse had the little houses out back—left side of field for girls, right side for boys.  This school burned in 1908.  We missed one week of school, but they set up school in the large dance hall of the Knights of Golden Eagle hall.  The floor was big enough to make two large rooms.  They rebuilt in 1909.  The school was a one story, two-room brick affair, heated by a furnace and built by the brick and stone masons—two brothers James and Mike Fitzpatrick.  It was torn down and the ground sold to Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Schreffler who built their home on the land. 

When we lived across from the coke ovens there was a family lived along side of us, only one small child.  He used to lick his wife and she’d come to Mother crying and black-eyed.  One night he was beating her terrible. Mother went to the boarding house where a construction gang was staying.  They were building the new coal tipple and crusher.  All from Ridgway Murphy & Hyde Company.  Bill Leilous was among the gang, they got a rope and went after him, pulled him from under the bed and took him down to the crusher scaffolding and was going to hang him.  My grandfather chased them away with a shotgun.  He was the night watchman at the plant.  That’s the last time we ever knew that man to hit his wife.  That’s when Aunt Mellisa met Bill.  They were married two years later. 

My grandparents Stuart [ed. note: aka Stewart] ran the boarding house in Canoe Run, next door to where Dad built our house. Grandfather did all the oven watching.  Baked their own bread, rolls, pies and cakes in the big oven.  It was a big affair.  What good times we used to have there in that big place.  Grampa, or Pap (and Mam) as we called them until I was grown, Pap played the fiddle (he never said violin), Uncle Charlie the banjo.  Aunt Mellisa and Esther, the piano.  All were beautiful singers.

It’s a wonder some of us kids weren’t killed as we climbed and roamed over the oven tops—up the steps to the top of the high crusher where the coal buckets came down their wire and dumped ore as we sneaked into the tipple on top of the mountain to try to sneak a ride in the coal-filled buckets.  It was in this same crusher and tipple that Mr. C.J. Goodenough of Emporium and Billie Nunn was trapped when they tried to break the frozen coal.  Mr. Goodenough went through with only scratches, but Billie was heavier and got stuck when almost to the bottom and suffocated.  That happened after we came back from Michigan, must have been around 1910 or so.  Everybody in Cameron went to help remove the body.  It took hours to get Billie out.  The men worked by lantern light.  The coke ovens was no longer running.  They were dismantling the tipple and crusher and so there weren’t many men working in Canoe Run by then.  Billie Nunn was a brother-in-law of Harry Morse.  He left four small children.  The men had to work by lantern light.  Held service for Billie in the Lodge room upstairs of the KGE (ed. note: Knights of the Golden Eagle) hall at Cameron.

The little dinky engine went within 30 feet of our front door when we lived in the Block Row.  In 1917 Neva Jenks and Goldie Segee’s sister worked as bookkeepers there.  Later on they both were hurt, not serious, when the engine ran away and jumped the track down by the Valley Hotel.  Henry Morris was the engineer and his son Harry, fireman. 

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