Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Aunt Mary Fights Standard Oil ~ 52 Ancestors #30

I am participating in this year's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from Amy Johnson Crow. Each week has an optional writing prompt and this week's writing prompt is Colorful.

I have written about my mother's colorful Aunt Mary before (at Bald Mary) and about the five Hunter sisters several times. Earlier this year, I wrote about Mary's younger sister, Margaret, for the Maiden Aunt theme.

This story starts with the purchase of a small farm in 1943, and comes to life with the rising demand for oil, gasoline, and natural gas in the early 1950s.

On July 5, 1943, for $18,500, sisters Mary H. Gerken and Margaret L. Hunter purchased a 41-acre farm in Allison Park, Pennsylvania, which included buildings, chicken coops, and farm machinery and equipment.[1] The farm was on Middle Road and McCullough Road (now known as McCully Road) in Allison Park, north of Pittsburgh. They lived with their mother in a home about a mile south on Middle Road (see a photo at 1940 US Census - Great-Grandmother Hunter) and employed a farmer to work on their farm. Unfortunately, if I ever visited the farm with my grandmother and great aunt Margie in the 1970s, I don't remember it, but my cousins who grew up in Pittsburgh have wonderful memories of it. (See the Maiden Aunt post link above.)

Because of the increased demand for oil products in the following decade, new pipelines were being constructed across the country. In 1952, Tuscarora Oil Co., of Harrisburg, a subsidiary of Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey, planned on laying a 360-mile long pipeline from Linden, New Jersey, to Midland, Pennsylvania, on the Ohio River, downriver from Pittsburgh and almost due west of the farm.

On Wednesday, May 7, 1952, the Tuscarora Oil Company reached the sisters' farm on Middle Road, and attempted to install the pipeline across their farm. The sisters fought the oil company by initially barricading access to their property with their jeep, tractor, and car and refusing to move. An attorney for the oil company claimed that a bond posted in federal court allowed them to place the pipeline on the land by right of eminent domain. On May 9, a federal judge permitted the work to continue.

Aunt Mary was quoted in The Pittsburgh Press as saying: "We’re fighting for the rights of the small land and home owner against a greedy corporation. I’ve watched their shameless exploitation, intimidation and deceit too long."[2]

The following photograph was also included in that issue of The Pittsburgh Press.

It is primarily Aunt Mary (Mrs. Gerken) who is quoted in the newspapers, explaining that they were fighting for the rights of small landowners, though it's "Miss Hunter" (Aunt Margie) who is quoted as saying: "We believe in private ownership and big business. Squeezing out the small farmer leads to Communism. The small farmer has always been considered the backbone of the country."[2]

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Cousin Albert Spalding, Violinist ~ 52 Ancestors #29

I am participating in this year's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from Amy Johnson Crow. Each week has an optional writing prompt and this week's writing prompt is Music.

My second great uncle William Scott Pyle (1856-1906) had two sons and one daughter, Mary Vanderhoef Pyle, born in 1886, who married Albert Goodwill Spalding, a famous American violinist.

Courtesy Wikipedia
Albert Goodwill Spalding was born 15 August 1888 in Chicago, Illinois to James Walter Spalding and Marie (Boardman) Spalding, a contralto and pianist. (His father and his uncle, Albert Spalding, founded the sporting goods company.)

After studying violin in New York and Italy, he made his debut in Paris in 1905 when he was 17. His American debut was made in Carnegie Hall on November 8, 1908. Newspaper headlines of the day raved about his abilities.

He put his performing on hold so he could serve in World War I, and on 19 June 1919, he married my grandfather Pyle's first cousin, Mary Vanderhoef Pyle.

The Internet Archive has recordings (digitized from 78 rpm records) of his playing which is truly a wonderful use of the Internet. From 1934, you can hear Albert Spalding play Chopin's Waltz in B Minor and Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes, both violin solos with piano accompaniment. You can also search for Albert Spalding and select media type "Audio" to find additional recordings.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Copeland Father and Son Travel to Maine in 1904 ~ 52 Ancestors #28

I am participating in this year's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from Amy Johnson Crow. Each week has an optional writing prompt and this week's writing prompt is Travel.

I've been enjoying scanning photographs from my aunt's collection. Both my aunt and my mother have photographs from their father's trip to visit his paternal grandparents in Calais, Maine, from Winnetka, Illinois, in 1904, a trip of over 1,200-miles!

This was a trip "back home" to see Henry Clay Copeland (1832-1912) and his wife Sarah (Lowell) Copeland (1833-1916). I can't tell from my collection of photos if my great-grandmother, Ethel, or grandfather's 18-month-old sister, Betty, went on this trip; there don't appear to be any family group photos.

What a trip this must have been for not-quite-four-year-old Lowell Townsend Copeland! At this age, my grandfather was known as Townsend, but his nickname of Towgie or Towg is noted on the back of some of the photos.

Lowell Copeland and his son L. Townsend Copeland in Calais, Maine
The back of another copy of this photograph reads: "Taken Oct 1904 in New Brunswick - beautiful drive - L.C. [Lowell Copeland] and Towgie [Lowell Townsend Copeland]."

From the back: St. Stephen / Towg - New Brunswick, Jul 1904
St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada, is across the St. Croix River from Calais. The date on the back of this photo suggests that they were in Calais by July of 1904.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Samuel Greeley Supported Independence ~ 52 Ancestors #27

I am participating in this year's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from Amy Johnson Crow. Each week has an optional writing prompt and this week's writing prompt is Independence.

My 4th and 5th great grandfathers, both named Samuel Greeley, served in the Revolutionary War from Nottingham West (now Hudson), New Hampshire.

Samuel Greeley (1752-1798), who was "suddenly killed by the fall of a tree," was known as Samuel Greeley Jr to distinguish him from his father, Samuel Greeley Sr (1721-1802).

The History of Hudson, N.H. by Kimball Webster (Manchester, N.H.: Granite State Publishing Co., 1913) is a great resource for the history of this community and includes transcriptions of many old town records in addition to sketches for Samuel Greeley and other men of its early history. (A digitized copy of the book can be found at Google Books and at FamilySearch Books.) This book is considered a DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) source for the service of Samuel Greeley Sr, probably because it notes (on page 252) that the old military records of Nottingham West were lost or destroyed. Much of the following information is from this book, as well as from vital records sources in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Samuel Greeley Sr (DAR Patriot #A047894), responded to the Lexington Alarm on April 19, 1775, leading sixty-two men from Nottingham West, New Hampshire, to Lexington, Massachusetts. On their way, they were met by a courier who informed them that the British had retreated, so the men returned home. Many went on to fight in the Revolution, though not Samuel Greeley Sr, probably due to his age; he was in his 50s. It also appears that Samuel Greeley Jr didn't fight, but he did pledge his support for the Patriot cause. Both Samuel Greeleys are found to have signed the "Revolutionary War Association Test" which men were required to sign if they were supporting the Patriot cause:

WE, the Subscribers, do hereby solemnly engage, and promise, that we will, to the utmost of our Power, at the Risque of our Lives and Fortunes, with ARMS, oppose the Hostile Proceedings of the British Fleets, and Armies, against the United American COLONIES.

Samuel Greeley Sr was born on 10 May 1721 in Haverhill, Essex County, Massachusetts, the oldest child of Samuel Greeley and Rachel Robenson. He moved, with his parents and younger siblings, from Haverhill to Nottingham West, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, in 1740.