10 Years Ago
Week of January 10, 2013
Tollgates Maintained Early Roadways Here
Many early roads were trails of dust in dry weather and mud holes in wet weather. Inspite of these inconveniences, the forefathers traveled distances to accomplish their daily routines of visiting, attending church and engaging in business. Since stones were plentiful, the first roads were improved by adding gravel. This was done prior to 1850. In 1834, the Valley Turnpike Company was incorporated. Money collected from the Park View tollgate was used to build the Rawley Springs Turnpike, which began in Harrisonburg, VA, and extended to the top of the Shenandoah Mountain. Roads were to be maintained by charging a toll of one cent per mile for pleasure vehicles and prorated for stock and wagons. Since stones were plentiful, they were crushed by hand with a heavy sledge hammer. Tolls were collected from sun-up to 10 p.m. and on Sundays. According to “The Heartland,” a book of Rockingham County, VA, gatekeepers were paid $10 per month and house rent-free. It is interesting to note that some tollgate keepers accepted bread, eggs or other items instead of coins. Frank’s Bottom at the foot of the Shenandoah Mountain, was a tollgate. The tollgate consisted of a pole being placed across the road about three feet from the ground. A tall wooden box filled with rocks was placed at one end for this pole to rest on. A forked post was implanted in the ground with the pole bolted to it. A rope was tied to the small end of the pole, so the gatekeeper could pull it down and fasten it to a hasp in a post at the opposite end. This device’s definition is a “turnpike.” No known tollgates were in operation on the West Virginia side.
Oftentimes, the road would become impassable, so a “plank” or “corduroy” system was deivsed to improve conditions. Men cut thousands of small trees and heavy slabs into lengths which were the width of the road. They were laid close together against one another, forming a bumpy surface. This effort was known as “plating” the road. It is said that traces of this corduroy road can still be visible at the foot of the Shenandoah Mountain. After 1918, the roads were taken over by the state, and tolls were no longer collected.
The first rural mail carriers delivered mail from daylight until dark. Some delivered with horses, and a saddle bag held the mail. Men who carried the mail had to live up to the motto of the United States Postal Service, “Neither rain, nor snow…” But in the early 1900s, this was no easy task. E. D. Cooper, better known as “Ras,” was the low bidder on the Franklin to Harrisonburg, VA, mail route from 1908 until 1920. The contract included getting the mail through six days a week, delivering and receiving mail at post offices along the route and placing mail in individual boxes along the way. The early mail wagons also carried freight and passengers. The postal service provided the only means of transportation for some folk along the route. One way fare was $3.00; round trip was $5.00.
One driver would leave Harrisonburg, VA, at 5:30 a.m. while another driver from the east side arrived at the base of the Shenandoah Mountain where he would change horses. About noon, drivers would meet at the top of the Shenandoah Mountain and exchange wagons. By 7:00 p.m., each had returned to their respective starting places, unless the weather caused a delay or mishap.
At one time, the mail drivers had quite a cumbersome task. With all the various mail routes and exchanges, one finds that delivering mail today has become quite complicated.
by Harold D. Garber
To begin this I’d like to tell you of a 30 cent gift I received quite some time before Christmas.
I must share about my 30 cent gift. Of course there’s nothing here which would indicate just why this book is more special than its 30 cent price. That information is contained on the first blank page of the book. As I turned there, in a strong, youthful hand which wasn’t entirely familiar to me, and written in ink from likely a family fountain pen, was this inscription: “Lillie F. Cline, Green Mt., Va.” Then, much fainter and much more faded: “August 15, 1896.”
On the beautiful sun-lit morning my gift bearer, Bob Sites, one of my very few blood-relatives appeared at our kitchen door.
As we sat around the table, Bob produced the “30 cent gift,” and I only use this title for the gift to emphasize just how much more it meant to me. At the bottom of the title page was the listing: “Price, 30 Cents per Copy. $3.00 per Dozen.
What makes the book special to Bob and me is that Lillie F. Cline would make a change in status in three years and would become our grandmother, wife of Rev. Peter I. Garber.
Peter I. and Lillie were born in the same year—1877—but Grandma was the older and had a birthday which none of us would forget—Groundhog’s Day, with Granddad waiting an August appearance in the Jacob Garber family.
Granddad tried to make it to a 50th anniversary, but occluded veins and a weak heart called him to his heavenly reward in October 1949, less than two months before their 50th.
My family had moved into the upstairs of the Garber home in 1947 to care for them. With their passing, it remained our family home until my father’s passing in 2002.
In those two years with them, even though I was young, I learned many things: killing and dressing chickens at a chopping block in the garden, and complete soap-making—lye soap over a fire in our garden. This was a family who certainly enjoyed growing things: Thorn-less climbing rose bushes at the edge of the front porch, a yellow transparent apple tree just beyond the back door, and salsify in the vegetable garden. For those who don’t know it, a white underground tuber which has a taste much like oysters, and a grape arbor which would supply neighbors for the next 50 years in the neighborhood. Final memory—when Granddad had his selection of bringing something home from his many butchering days, his choice: pig’s feet. Much to my disgrace, I’ve never sampled this.
30 Years Ago
Week of January 7, 1993
During the deep December 10 snow, Vernon R. Propst had a cow to fall in the snow like a drunken man. It was thought that she had eaten laurel. Back in the early times during a big snow, a young horse or mare was often broke to ride so if the rider was thrown off, the snow cushioned the fall and the rider was not likely to be injured, except maybe their pride was hurt. Back then, a horse meant a lot to a youth to own and travel thereon. Just like today, the automobile means so much to the youth. The late Jim Pitsenbarger, son of John and Elizabeth, once said, “I liked nothing better than breaking a colt.”
Have times really changed so much since 1939? Perhaps we will find that most men and women have basically the same New Year’s resolutions as they did in 1939. Most men reported wanting to resolve to “do better in business” and to cut down on their smoking and drinking. On the other hand, women felt the need to “be more ambitious” and to “improve dispositions.” Both men and women agreed in listing the saving of money as the most popular singular resolution.
50 Years Ago
Week of January 11, 1973
Rainfall in 1972
Ends 8 Years
Of Drought in Area
An unusually large amount of rain fell in Pendleton County last year bringing to an end a period of approximately eight years of near-drought weather in the county.
According to George O. Hammer of Franklin, official observer for the U.S. Weather Bureau, a total of 39.75 inches of rain was recorded here in 1972, which was 10.85 inches more than the 28.90 inches recorded the previous year.
Snowfall in the county last year was less than the preceding year. Hammer said a total of 21.50 inches of snow fell in 1972 and that 62 inches of snow fell in 1971.
60 Years Ago
Week of January 10, 1963
100 YEARS AGO
By LON K. SAVAGE
Editor’s Note—The following is one of a series of articles on the Civil War. Each weekly installment covers events which occurred exactly 100 years ago.
18,000 Fall In Battle
President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, published to the world on the first day of 1863, overshadowed another important event that had occurred as the new year came. News of that other event—the Battle of Murfreesboro (also called Stone’s River)—began to take its proper place in the headlines 100 years ago this week.
For as Lincoln worked on his Emancipation Proclamation and released it to the press, 18,000 men fell in battle in the cottonfield and along the banks of Stone’s River, northwest of the central Tennessee town.
It was a battle between two veteran Civil War fighters: Federal Gen. William S. Rosencrans — “Old Rosy” as his men called him — and Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg, the man who had invaded Kentucky, only to leave the state in haste after the Battle of Perryville.
“Old Rosy” started the fight on purpose when he pulled his army of 43,000 men out of Nashville the day after Christmas and headed southwest toward Bragg, 30 miles away at Murfreesboro. The roads were in a terrible mess, and it was December 29 before Rosencrans arrived and squared off for the fight.
Even then, it was Bragg, not Rosencrans, who made the attack, early on the cold morning of December 31st. His men, 34,000 strong, caught the Federals by surprise; the Federals had expected to do the attacking, and many were fixing breakfast when four brigades of Confederates came hurtling at them through the underbrush and cotton fields.
The assault was a resounding success. The Federal line crumpled, and the Confederates rushed through, taking prisoners and capturing supplies and weapons. Other Confederate brigades followed all along the front, and the Federal line bent backward into the shape of a “V.”
But gradually, the Federal resistance stiffened. Artillery was brought forward against the Southerners. Gen. George H. Thomas, the Virginia-born Federal general who would become known as the “Rock of Chickamauga,” brought up re-enforcements and held his line as his men blasted into the charging Confederates.
That night, as the new year came, a bright moon shone down on thousands of dying soldiers, and Bragg, thinking his victory complete, sent off a telegram to Richmond: “God has granted us a happy New Year.”
But it was not to be so. New Year’s day, Rosencrans, instead of retreating, readied his men for another fight, and January 2, late in the afternoon, he took his revenge.
It came with another Confederate Charge. The Yankees were waiting, and as the Southerners came, 58 Federal artillery pieces blasted them, slaughtering them en masse. Within little more than an hour, 2,000 Confederates fell dead or wounded.
Next day, Bragg began pulling out to nearby Tullahoma for a new headquarters, and Rosencrans occupied Murfreesboro on the fourth. Counting prisoners, the Federals suffered 13,000 casualities, the Confederates 10,000.
Next week: The South in Distress.
70 Years Ago
January 15, 1953
Homes In Pendleton More Modern Than
In Rest Of Country
NEW YORK, Jan. 8 – A greater proportion of Pendleton County’s population own the homes they live in and the homes are more modern and in better repair than are dwellings in most parts of the country.
Such are the findings of the U.S. Department of Commerce, based on the recent national Census of Housing. The results are now being made public.
Of the 2,126 occupied dwelling units in the county, 1,558 or 73 per cent are owned by their occupants. This compares favorably with the national figure, 55 percent. In the state of West Virginia, the average is also 55 per cent.
More common in Pendleton County than in most communities is one of the great conveniences of modern living—mechanical refrigeration. The census figures show that 49 per cent of the homes have it.
The report shows that the median value of non-farm, owner-occupied units in the United States has reached $7,400.
The Thorn Creek bulletin states “A total of 17 young men from our parish are in the armed forces of our country.”