Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Fall E-Newsletter

Good afternoon everyone!

Our fall e-newsletter - the Drive Thru Edition - is now available for viewing at http://stonyvalley.com/Fall2015-Vol3No4.pdf.  It lists some exciting upcoming events as well.  Our program last night at the East Hanover Township Historical Society in Grantville had a wonderful turnout and we hope to see some of you out at our program at Sweet Arrow Lake County Park in Pine Grove tonight as well.  Remember this Sunday is Drive Thru from 9 am to 3 pm, with more details inside the newsletter, and if all goes well we'll also have a Spook Hike this Halloween too!  (Please make sure to check back for potential cancellation notices for these two weather dependent events.)

We hope you enjoy this newsletter, although it may be getting to you a little late, and HAPPY EXPLORING!

Brandy M. Watts Martin
Schuylkill & Susquehanna Railroad Historian    

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Mysterious "Mr. Youse" - Part 2

(or Thriving on Fresh Air and Wood Rats)

My previous post revealed the identity of "Mr. Youse" as Walter L. Hughes, of Trenton, NJ, who moved to Pennsylvania in November 1916 to assist Mulford Foster with farm work and other projects on his Cold Spring Nature Farm.  Walter's main objective was to establish an outdoor school for boys.  Despite all we initially learned about Walter's six-month stay at Cold Spring, some aspects of his life remained a mystery, and additional research and communications with Walter's family were undertaken to try to answer certain questions.  It turns out we may never have any definitive answers, but we can make some inferences based on the records we found and information and insights provided by one of Walter's granddaughters.

Where did Walter Hughes reside while living at Cold Spring?  And were his wife and son with him?

Foster Family Home
at Cold Spring in 1916
(Photo courtesy of Herbert Barr)

Mulford Foster lived with his wife, Fridel, and daughter, Gerda, in the corner house at Cold Spring.  At times during the six months from November 1916 to June 1917, the Fosters had extended house guests, including Fridel's father and stepmother, and Mulford's older brother and his wife.  Would there have been room with them for Walter and his family?  At this time also, according to personal letters, the farmhouse at Cold Spring needed considerable improvements to make it habitable.  Would they have stayed there?

Another possibility is that Walter and his family resided in the nearby Ney farmhouse over Second Mountain, Mulford having purchased Joseph Ney's home and property in October 1916, the month before Walter's arrival.  The Ney property, just over 211 acres, lay in both East Hanover and Union Townships, straddling the Cold Spring Road on the south side of Second Mountain (see map below).  One newspaper article says Walter lived "near Lotell" (aka Cold Spring).  The same article, however, also states:  "Circumstances make it necessary that they be outdoors most of the time, excepting nights..." - which could support the crowded house hypothesis - or simply mean most of their daily work was done outdoors.

A portion of F. W. Beers' 1875 County Atlas of Lebanon, Pennsylvania,
showing the location of Joseph Ney's property (marked "J. D. Nye"),
with information in red added by author

Whether or not Walter Hughes' wife of two years and their year old son ever lived at Cold Spring is unknown. We could find neither mentioned in any newspaper articles as being at Cold Spring except for the snippet about their visit, with Walter, to Cold Spring at the end of summer in 1916, a month or two before Walter moved there.  Yet, the photograph of Walter and his son at the springhouse (see previous post) appears to have been taken in the Fall or Spring, the trees being without leaves, suggesting that his wife and son either lived at Cold Spring or at least visited Walter there.  We can only conjecture about the reasons Walter's wife and son may not have lived with him at Cold Spring.

A Trenton Evening Times article dated January 29, 1917, does reveal that another member of Walter's family, his younger brother Harvey, did indeed live for awhile at Cold Spring.  The article states that Harvey, who was about twelve years old, "had taken up his abode" with Walter and enjoyed living "in the wilds of Pennsylvania," as this excerpt relates:

Foxes are fun to catch, but
wood rats make a fine dinner!
"In letters received by friends of the Hughes boys here [in Trenton, NJ], they relate some experiences.  Outdoor life, they say, is having its effects upon them physically.  Skating and coasting is a pleasure during all of the winter months...and they have learned to follow the snowy trails of the mountains in real mountaineer fashion.
Harvey has gone in for all kinds of trapping, the fox seen in the accompanying picture being an example of one of his catches.  Wood rats are in the section in great numbers and the young trapper has learned the ins and outs of cornering that species.  All kinds of trapping proves profitable, but the catching of rats is doubly profitable for the Hughes boys say they eat them, and they aver a rat dinner surpasses most any other dish and is not excelled by venison."

Why did Walter Hughes leave Cold Spring?  And where did he go?

The most likely answer to the first question was found by Walter's granddaughter on a civil service application from the 1930's, which also held the answer to the second question.  Under past employment was recorded:  July 1911-November 1916, YMCA Central Branch, Trenton, NJ, Boys Work Secretary, annual salary $1080; November 1916-May 1917, Cold Spring Nature Farm, Lotell, PA, Naturalist Assistant, no salary, immediate supervisor M. B. Foster; May 1917-May 1919, Community YMCA, Rock Hill, SC, Community Secretary, annual salary $1800 (followed by succeeding jobs).  It seems that Walter left Cold Spring to accept paid employment, or at least that was a determining factor, especially with a family to support.  That no salary was listed for his position at Cold Spring didn't surprise us, since our research shows that financial constraints came with the life Mulford Foster chose to pursue at Cold Spring.  Mulford was involved with many ventures but none provided a steady income, perhaps one of the main reasons he eventually left Cold Spring, too.

Walter's granddaughter describes him as "a man of deep convictions who [seemed to] change positions as much as a matter of principle as of opportunity."  Dedicated to education and devoted to the public good, Walter spent much of his life working for various YMCAs.  He also engaged in farming.  He finished his career with fifteen years at the Franklin Institute in Boston, first as a chemistry and mathematics teacher and then as a supervisor of admissions and placement.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Mysterious "Mr. Youse" - Part 1

(or How A West Coast Clue Led to An East Coast Photo of Cold Spring)

A number of years ago we came across a few brief mentions in local Lebanon newspapers, from the year 1916, about a "Mr. Youse, of Trenton" visiting, moving to, and working at Cold Spring.  These vague snippets provided very little information about "Mr. Youse" and his activities at Cold Spring.  Searching for a man named Youse in New Jersey censuses, Trenton city directories, and other records, yielded nothing pertinent.  It was as if the man never existed.  Frustrated by the many dead ends, we added "Mr. Youse" to our "To Follow Up" folder and busied ourselves with more productive leads to uncovering the history of Cold Spring.

Details on who "Mr. Youse" was and what he was doing at Cold Spring eluded us - until a woman living in Washington State emailed us a Trenton (NJ) newspaper article, from 1916, headlined "Walter L. Hughes to Live in 'Wilds'."  The "wilds" were identified as Lotell, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, or, in other words, Cold Spring, its post office at the time being named Lotell.  What followed was a description of the projects Mr. Hughes intended to pursue as a partner with Mulford Foster, then owner of the Cold Spring Nature Farm at Cold Spring.

A sudden revelation hit us - aha!  NOT Mr. Youse, but Mr. Hughes!  No wonder we could find nothing about this person!  Knowing his true identity and having the detailed article from the West Coast, our subsequent research quickly revealed much about "Mr. Youse" and his reason for being at Cold Spring.

Walter L. Hughes 
(Trenton Evening Times, NJ,
November 6, 1916)
Walter L. Hughes was born in Trenton, NJ, on November 23, 1889.  He graduated with high honors from Princeton University in 1911 with a degree in Agriculture, having financed his education through various jobs including newspaper carrier, raising chickens, canvassing, and prep school teaching.  He was actively involved with both the YMCA and the Boy Scouts, being employed for several years as assistant secretary then Boys' Work Secretary at the Trenton Central Branch YMCA.  Walter was scoutmaster of the first Boy Scout troop established in Trenton.  He enjoyed the outdoors and being a leader and counselor of boys and young men.  He was an idealist who strongly believed in the value of practical education.

All of this seems to have made Walter Hughes a suitable partner for Mulford Foster, a self-taught naturalist who for many years was also involved with the YMCA and the Boy Scouts, at various locations, giving nature talks and as camp naturalist.  Mulford was caretaker of the Camden (NJ) YMCA's Camp Ayer, at Cold Spring, for a few years, before purchasing the property in January 1916.  He hosted summer camps there for other boys' groups when not in use by the Camden YMCA.

Certainly their shared interests must have brought Walter and Mulford together.  Mulford lectured in the public schools of Trenton during the winter of 1912, likely including the school Walter's younger brother Harvey attended, perhaps how they first met each other.  Possibly Mulford's brother, Hubert, was a catalyst in some way since he was residing in Trenton at the time and a YMCA supporter.  We do know the two men interacted at the Trenton YMCA's 1914 summer camp, Camp Washington, on Marshall's Island in the Delaware River, near Frenchtown, NJ.  Walter was director of the camp and Mulford was camp naturalist.  During July 1916, Walter again was in charge of the Trenton YMCA's summer camp, and the following month was head of the commissary and equipment departments of the Boy Scout summer camp on the same island.  A Lebanon newspaper mentions Mulford spent three weeks in August at Camp Washington; no doubt he was there as camp naturalist.

After the New Jersey scout camp closed that summer, Walter, his wife and young son, visited Cold Spring for an indeterminate length of time.  He resigned his position as Boys' Secretary in October and moved to Cold Spring in early November.  In the "wilds" of Pennsylvania, Walter planned to assist Mulford in a number of projects - developing an extensive chicken and pigeon business, planting a large apple orchard, and bottling spring water - along with general farming.

Walter's primary goal, however, was to establish "an all-year camp or rather out-of-doors school for boys," in which he would be an instructor.  He felt that "to give a lad the opportunity afforded by practical study in the open would tend to make of the youth a perfectly developed man, physically, mentally and spiritually..." (Trenton Evening Times, Nov 6, 1916).  He felt assured that his venture would be highly successful, but things don't always work out as planned.

To what extent Walter and Mulford worked on their intended projects is unknown.  Little news came out of Cold Spring in the winter months.  They planned to clear forty acres of land for the apple orchard to be planted in the spring.  Apparently, they did so, for it was reported that 150 apple trees were planted the first week of May 1917.  Shortly afterwards, Walter visited South Carolina for a few weeks.  Then we could find no further mentions in the Lebanon newspapers of Walter Hughes at Cold Spring.

Our newfound information about "Mr. Youse" had enlightened us, but some mystery still remained in unanswered questions such as:  Why did Walter leave Cold Spring?  Where did he go?  Where did he reside during his six months at Cold Spring?  Were his wife and son living with him?  Neither were ever mentioned except for their visit to Cold Spring at the end of summer in 1916.

More research was needed.  And we thought perhaps if we could locate a living relative of Walter Hughes, they could provide us with some answers.  We tracked down Walter Hughes' two granddaughters, who live on the East Coast.  Both were interested in and appreciative of the information we had dug up about their grandfather, it being from a time period of which they knew little about his life.  Having aroused their curiosity and wanting to help us with our research, the one granddaughter offered to look through "a sizeable trove" of inherited family photographs and mementos for anything pertaining to Lotell (Cold Spring).  Since their grandfather had only spent six months at Cold Spring, finding anything seemed a long shot.

A week or so later, this photo arrived by email:

"Lotell, Spring House, Walt & Pete"
(words written on back of above photo of the Cold Spring, circa 1916)
Walter Hughes, at left, and his young son Walter Jr.,
nicknamed "Pete" because he was as curious as Peter Rabbit
(Photo courtesy of Judith Hughes)

At first glance this photo may look like "just another picture of the springhouse."  Upon closer examination, however, you see what appears to be an elevated V-shaped wooden conduit for water, running from the springhouse (just to the left of little Pete) and ending just short of the lower left corner of the photo.  This structure appears in only one other photo we have of Cold Spring (shown below).  The Hughes photo shows a different perspective on the structure which could help us determine what its purpose was, as well as the function of the shed below the spring.  That's why every photo and Every Memory Matters.  Each adds a piece to the panoramic jigsaw puzzle of the history of Cold Spring and the Stony Valley.

Cold Spring & a small shed below it, circa early 1920's
(Photo courtesy of Francis Ditzler)
We've speculated on three possible uses of the shed:  a gravity-fed bottle filling area for the spring water business, housing for a hydraulic ram pump, or housing for an acetylene generator.  We'd like to hear your ideas about the purpose of the wooden structure and the function of the shed.  Post a comment or email us.

As for the unanswered questions about Walter Hughes, I'll share what we learned in my next blog post, The Mysterious "Mr. Youse" - Part 2 (or Thriving on Fresh Air and Wood Rats).

Thursday, October 30, 2014

What's On the Menu at Cold Spring?

For years we could only speculate about the culinary delights served to visitors and guests at the Cold Spring Hotel.  Newspapers prior to 1881 give few particulars about the hotel table.  But after the second hotel building was constructed adjacent to the old hotel and other improvements made, many news articles attest to the Cold Spring Hotel’s fine reputation for its cuisine.  Correspondents who dined at the hotel noted:  “excellent cuisine” (1881); “the bill of fare included everything palatable and healthful, and the beauty of it is that the supper was but a specimen of the every-day cuisine of the hotel” (1884); “the table [is] abundantly supplied with a variety of well cooked and well served viands” (1888); “the table is all that any person might wish for” (1888); “the table is bountifully supplied with appetizingly cooked food” (1891); “the cuisine cannot be excelled” (1891); and more.  High praises - but what particular foods and dishes did the patrons actually eat?

According to an 1888 Harrisburg Telegraph article:  "The table will be abundantly supplied with fresh meats and vegetables, daily, from Harrisburg markets, also from the farm connected with the park, which also furnishes fresh milk, cream, butter, eggs, etc."  Circulars from the 1890's advertising the Cold Spring Resort similarly state:  "The Table is supplied with the best of everything in season.  Our own farm, connected with the Park, furnishes fresh milk, cream, eggs, poultry, etc.  The best creamery butter will be constantly supplied for table use."  In the 1880's and 1890's the farm at Cold Spring included a stable, a chicken house, a pig sty, apple and peach orchards, a vineyard, grain fields and vegetable gardens, all of which would have supplied food for the hotel table.  Other food supplies, such as flour and cornmeal from the mill at Lickdale, were reportedly brought by wagon over Second Mountain.  This information reveals some of the staple foodstuffs the hotel cooks had to work with - but what specific dishes did they prepare for visitors and guests? 

We pondered over possible menu items based on the aforementioned information and culinary dishes suggested by menus from the 1880’s and 1890’s from similarly classed hotels in Harrisburg, Lebanon and Reading, some of which were owned and operated at times by the various owners and managers of the Cold Spring Hotel.  Then we came across the following 1892 ad:

Ad stating "Chickens and Waffles will be served"
Reading Times - May 9, 1892

Also we found a Reading Times article describing the annual Fall outing of the Reading Press Club in 1897, a train excursion to various points of interest, including a stop at Cold Spring where the newspapermen and their families enjoyed a dinner of “chickens and waffles and all the desirable concomitants prepared with a lavish hand.”  By its numerous mentions in social news of the time, chickens and waffles was a popular dish served at banquets and large gatherings.  And it was served more than once at the Cold Spring Hotel.

After years of contemplating about the culinary delights served to visitors and guests at the Cold Spring Hotel, imagine our excitement when recently we came across a news story describing the Schuylkill County Bar Association’s annual dinner excursion, to Cold Spring, in July 1888.  Included was the following detailed menu for the “elegant dinner” they enjoyed:

Cold Spring Hotel Dinner Excursion Menu
as printed in the
Harrisburg Telegraph - July 20, 1888

If anyone has additional information on foods served at the Cold Spring Hotel, or a hotel menu, or knows the names of persons who worked in the hotel kitchens or dining rooms (or was employed in any other job at Cold Spring), we'd appreciate hearing from you.  Post a comment or contact us at email.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Fall 2014 Upcoming Events and E-Newsletter

It's time for the e-newsletter again!  Content in this quarter's newsletter is a little shorter than the previous newsletter due primarily to the amount of upcoming events we have scheduled.  With it filling a whole page, the Fall season will be extra busy for everyone at StonyValley.com with viewing the "Stony Valley: Step Into History" 3-D model, numerous presentations, and even the annual Stony Valley Spook Hike. 

We hope to see you at one of our upcoming events.  Brandy M. Watts Martin, Schuylkill & Susquehanna Railroad Historian and Seth A. Martin, Stony Valley Daily Life Researcher, had a wonderful time at the Stony Creek Valley Coalition's Annual Picnic this past weekend at the Kittatinny Rod and Gun Club, where they showed the 3-D model and were on hand to answer questions.  If you missed the 3-D model this past weekend, don't worry.  What is usually Drive Thru weekend in October (Drive Thru is unfortunately cancelled this year) will see the 3-D model at Comics and Paperbacks Plus in Palmyra.  Check out the second page of the newsletter for ALL the upcoming events we have scheduled.  Fall is the season for presentations and events for StonyValley.com!

This issue and back issues of the e-newsletter can be found at http://www.stonyvalley.com/e-newsletters.html, and if you want to make sure you don't miss any updates on the blog or an issue of the e-newsletter, please sign up for our e-mail list!