The following letters & stories are accumulated & submitted by Ford Easton, native of Friendship, NY, and now a resident in Florida.  Ford plans to keep submitting all the stories that he receives from his friends nationwide, to remind us of another time and a real legendary character known far and wide as "Johnny Herdman".

(Webmaster Note: "The Chronicles" will be continually updated with additions.  Be sure to check back from time to time....; 3/23/13 addition of a couple of photos of old auto following Chapter 5.  rt)

John Herdman

& "stuff" up on the hill stories

you might remember about......




Colorization by Ric Main

"Such a colorful character deserving a splash of color himself

for those to remember him by."


Hi to all around the US,
For some reason the subject of John Herdman came up recently and all the great treasures that were up in the buildings and under cover on the hill above Angelica and Almond.  Word had it that during WWII the Govt. told John he had to sell all the old cars up there on the hill for scrap and the war effort.  Again as the story goes John dug pits and buried all the cars.  A lot of old cars up there in the 50s though as I remember getting an axle for a 1930 Oldsmobile I owned from one in John's stash.  I would guess that most of us getting this made the venture to the hill top to see John  and all his goodies.  Many of you probably remember seeing John around Allegany County too going to auctions or what ever.
I happened to mention some of my questions to a couple of guys I knew that were around in the 60s as to the final end to all the stuff and they was good enough to share some info. with me that I now share with you.  Maybe some of you might have some interesting stories on the subject to share too.

From a friend:

Ford - 
From what old Johnny told us in the mid-1960s, he had another son named Stanley who was a lawyer in Penn Yan.  Because his name was Stanley, John had already given him the Stanley Steamer car that he had up on the land.  The last time we visited John in 1967, he let us go upstairs and see the two small rooms he had that were full of guns, a few of them being very old blunderbuss types.  He said something about one son getting the automotive stuff and the other to have the firearms.  Perhaps the best way to confirm that would be to see if there was a will filed at the County Clerk's office.   

After John died, I understand that there was some guy who had taken Johnny Jr. in, and who arranged to sell much of the stuff off.  Needless to say, he totally swindled young John out of most of it.  I remember there was a 1903 Reo automobile up in the sheds as well as a couple of other cars from the 'teens, some horse-drawn hearses and other stuff associated with undertakers of old, since that was a real area of interest for old John.  As you probably know, Johnny's mentor was Rattlesnake Pete from up in Rochester, NY.   Pete, in turn, had been heavily influenced by P.T. Barnum, as I'm sure many other showmen were back then..  John was particularly proud of some of things he owned that had come from Rattlesnake Pete.  His bar up in Rochester had been full of all kinds of curiosities, very much in the Barnum tradition.  I have heard that Johnny Jr. still has a few bits that his father owned - it wouldn't surprise me if he still had the $10,000 dollar candy dish (human skull cleaved in half sideways) and the back scratcher which was the arm of a chimp or an ape.

Hi again,

Thanks much for this info. on the Herdman disposition of the "stuff" and some side notes I wasn't aware of.  I never heard of Rattlesnake Pete from Roch. but the story is very interesting.  I do remember the human skull filled with candy and the back scratcher.  When I was attending Alfred Tech I would take some of my girl friends up there with me to see the neat things and when we first got there as always you needed to see John for permission to rummage around the property.  John would invite us in to his home and that skull would always come out and the girl or girls with me would always let out a scream that I am sure could have been heard in Angelica or Almond.  John just loved this and he always got laughing when it happened.  I wish someone would write a book on the adventures of John Herdman and the items up on the hill.  I also remember many of the items you mentioned that were in the buildings.
Being a little older than you I can also remember John being at all the auctions in Friendship when I was a young lad.  He would bid on everything especially things that no one else wanted.  When he would win something and a bunch of us kids were around him he would pull out a roll of bills that would choke a horse.  Must have been $1000 in that roll every time.  Great memories!!


Chapter #2

Subj: Update on the John Herdman story and the stuff up on the "hill", Ford

Hi to all across the US again,
Thanks to my friend you can now put a face with the Johnny Herdman name along with a shot of some of the stuff up on the "hill".  Just to get the time frames straight John was around in the 40s and as you saw from the first note to me on the subject he was still around in the late 60s.  As we all get older certain things tend to stick in our mind that relates to John and the "hill"..  One thing I remember like it was yesterday was how wet and muddy it was in the Spring up on the "hill" around the house and in the so called buildings.  None of the buildings had floors in them and I can remember the water running right thru some of them.  John and his helpers put boards in the buildings and between them so you could get around.  John would sell little things so if you found something you wanted in the buildings you would show it to him when you were leaving and he would give you a price.  Wouldn't dicker though.  Being a young lad then I was afraid that all the neat things would be ruined with the water and I am sure some of it was.  No doubt John could have been a multi millionaire from what was up on the "hill".

When I first saw the picture of John below my mind flashed to that great laugh that he had especially when he would bring that skull out with the candy in it and say to the girls "have a piece of candy".  Obviously Johnny didn't run on all cylinders, but he has given me and many others some great memories of our journey through life.  One of his joys was to have people view all the things he had accumulated over the years.  If you drove up to the area now nothing is left.  Just fields and memories!  Ford


 JohnnyHere he is folks from Allegany County history,  the "great" Johnny Herdman



The Herdman estate with some of the items up on the "hill".  The estate covered many acres up there on top of the "hill"

Info. from a reader of first e-mail:

"When  I went up to his place, he stayed in the yellow school bus by the house.  a v-12 cadilac car sat next to it. most valuable car he had,was a center door  model t, which ford motor co. wanted very badly, and offered him a vast sum of money, which he refused."


Chapter #3

Subj: Next chapter in the John Herdman serial just like the movies in the 40s/50s,  Ford

Hi to all again across the Country,
Here is a response from a fellow reader and I agree totally with him.  Sad but true folks.  So glad I got to grow up in those years.

I enjoyed your note about John Herdman had not thought about him in years, I too went up to his place when I was younger and was awed by the stuff he had and remember the candy dish, I remember all the muskets and the like he had. It was an experience.
People like John and Rattle Snake Pete are not allowed to exist to day. They were harmless and contributed an added some color to life. Live wasn’t so serious and dangerous when we grew up.
Sure am glad I do not have to grow up in this time do not see how it would be any fun even with all the technology.

Now here it is folks from a friend the next chapter in the John Herdmanhistory lesson enjoy:

My room mate at Alfred was quite a junk collector himself. Johnny was a huge inspiration to him at the time, and we went to see him quite often. 

As I said before, Johnny had quite an interest in things on the morbid side.  One of his obsessions, locally speaking, was his quest for a couple of mummified remains that had been created by an undertaker in Alfred.  It was said that he used a couple of unclaimed bodies that had been found along the railroad line, in order to perfect a better formula for preservative.  The undertaker had originally been up in the village at or near the Rogers Machine Shop on Main Street.  But after he died, the contents of his business wound up in Alfred Station.  Supposedly the current owner of it all at the time was, I think, the son of the man who'd bought all the stuff.  He was a grave digger who took pride in being among the very last men to still be doing the job by hand with just a shovel. 

Now, even my friend had his doubts as to how true any of that was, but he agreed to help Johnny out on it by going to visit the grave digger and see what he could learn.  Johnny had tried for many years to track down "them mummies," but no one wanted to hear any of it, particularly from a character like John.  So my friend went down, had a look around the place and absolutely had to buy an amazing old horse-drawn hearse.  Despite being what it was, it really was a beautiful piece of work, with curved glass and finished with all sorts of trim and a big, urn-shaped finial on top center.  Once he got the old man talking about the supposed mummies, the man said that yes, the undertaker did have two of them, and his father had removed them from the place in Alfred.  But he felt that the proper thing to do was to give them a decent burial and let them rest in peace, which was what he did in fairly short order. 

So much for Johnny and his search for "them mummies."  He was probably worried most that somebody else might get them before he did.  But at least he went to his own reward knowing what really had happened to them.


Chapter #4

Well here is the 4th chapter and it has developed because of continued e-mails I have received from you out there all over the USA.  Those of you that haven't shared your memories of the "hill" and John please do, so we all can share in it from your perspective..
From a reader:

Keep the stories coming.  Very interesting stuff!  I am a bit younger than you and Mark, but I do remember family excursions to "Johnnie Herdman's",  just to drive by the place.  Somehow I always felt like we were trespassing or entering some forbidden place.  We were usually on our way to the "fire tower" that I think used to be somewhere around there.  I think my Dad knew "Johnnie"  on a somewhat personal basis by the way he spoke of him, or maybe it was just the stories he had heard of him.  Oh, the memories............

The following is deemed to be true and only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.  Word has it that the ghost of John himself is lurking around and has been reading these chapters with all the rest of us.  I am truly believing that he is giving that great laugh of his from all the publicity he is getting.  If you happen to be driving up near the top of the "hill" keep your eyes tracking for any signs of John or his hired hands especially at this Halloween season as I know it was one of his favorite times of the year.

There are still a few items here at the house that we bought from John.  One of my younger brothers collected bottles, so I got a dozen or more of different colors for him for Christmas - the old Pepto Bismo bottle was blue, and there was a brown one for Bovril.  I also got him a couple little bottles of Edison's Battery Oil.  Up in the barn I have a brass double bed that was out back of one of the sheds by a 1926 Essex.  That one was in as good shape as any of the cars he had out in the field.  John said that a doctor (or maybe a dentist) from Hornell had shot himself to death in the driver's seat.  You could tell that he was probably telling the truth about that.  He wanted $125.00 for it but didn't have any takers while we were at school.  There were the remains of a Pierce Arrow out there as well.  You could tell what it was because of the distinctive way its headlights were built into the top part of the front fenders.. 

Up in one of the sheds was sort of a "poor man's version" of The Cardiff Giant.  I think I saw the original "statue" from this 19th century hoax at the Farmer's Museum in Cooperstown in the early 1950s.  The sign next to John's "Giant" said something like:

"He's just a lonesome(?) fossil now,
Don't call him common stone,
For fossils are the looking glass
Through which the past is known."   (or something like that)

After showing people his candy dish, John would ask them if they wanted to see his giant jack rabbit.  In order to do that, they had to walk up the hill to another shed on the same side of the road as the house.  When they got there, of course, they found that it was actually a donkey - but John always got a kick out of taking everyone in.


The buildings on the Herdman estate up on the "hill".  John's house and the Jack Rabbit were on the right  side of the road.  Man oh man I enjoyed going thru these building!!!


Chapter #5

Hi again to all across the USA,
You folks have responded to my requests for additional info. even more than I had hoped for or expected.  Because of this I have enough additional stories and data to go at least through chapter 7 and possibly 8.  Example and preview of future chapters:  I talked with John Herdman Jr. this afternoon and what a neat and interesting person he is.  We ended the conversation with both of us looking forward to sitting down up on the "hill" for about 5 hours of talking and story telling.  He even helped me with some ideas on problems we are having with our Model A right now.  As most of you know I don't like Winter weather in WNY but it sure would be nice to visit with John now and not next Spring.  Oh well, now on to chapter 5.
This chapter is going to be mainly corrections that I have learned the correct facts about from reading or from you the readers that have e-mailed me.  Remember alot of time has passed that most of us remember seeing and going to the Herdman estate up on the "hill".  The first correction is mine.  Remember the picture of the buildings on the left side of the road if you were coming from Angelica!!  I said the Herdman house and jack rabbit pen were on the "left" side of the road.  Well folks I just turned 70 and with it my mind stumbled alittle.  For some reason I put "left" and I knew they were on the "right after being up there probably 100 times. Dah Ford!!

Here we go, as I said above John Jr. is doing great.  His brother Stanley lives in Newark, NY and graduated from Alfred Tech in 58 or 59.  He worked for Worthington in Wellsville and then for the FHA.  Important point he is not a lawyer..  John Jr. did some interesting thing in his working years and will share these in a later chapter.  Remember Ford said during WWII word had it that big holes were dug and all the old cars were pushed into them when Govt. said to scrap them.  Well this wasn't true!! The real antiques were pulled up into the woods and hid there until after the war.  Word had it the only ones pulled to the woods were the brass radiator model Ts, not true as all the antique cars and trucks went for a rest in the woods.
John did stay in the old yellow school bus but only during the day time.  This was because he couldn't walk well at the time and it saved a long walk from the house to greet visitors.  True story on the "center" door Model T.  ***(photos below) It was a 1910 and purchased by John Jr. when he was 15 from a Polly Pep in Cuba, NY for $12.50.  John Jr. licensed it at 16 and drove it for a number of years.  The T burned in a very suspicious fire in John Jr's. garage years later.  It was true that Ford Motor Co did offer big dollars for the car as only 600(they sold for about $900, very expensive at the time) or so of them were ever built.  Sad it burned.
John Sr. was a very smart man in his own way and was a shrewd business man.  He did some things that don't go along with the way our society says they should be done but then many of us fall into that category.  Doing this research I have gained much respect for John Sr.
Stanley wasn't given a Stanley Steamer upon Johns passing but a 1910 Chase truck that was originally the fire truck for Almond, NY.  One of the sheds (buildings) contained a 1903 Reo, not true!!  It was a 1904 Ford and John Jr. still has it..
The human skull candy dish was true as we all or most of us remember it.  Problem is it got stolen at some point in time and is long gone.  One son got most of the automotive stuff and the other the firearms.  John Sr's. sister was the executer of the will.  I forget If I mentioned it but it is true that John Sr. did sell the horse-drawn hearse many of us remember in one of the buildings to Paramount Studios.  Watch for it in the movies with the ghost of John driving the team of horses.
Remember the jail cell with the skeleton in it that moved whenever the organ was played??  These and many more stories in future chapters of the John Herdman serial.


3/23/2013 - Added photos submitted by Ford Easton are below showing the 1910 "Center Door Model T". Captions supplied by Ford.

John Herdman Sr Ford Center Door 1 

(above) John by the Center Door "T"; ca.1950s

 John Herdman Sr Loren Don Weir

John by the Center Door "T" with Loren, Don Weir


Note from a viewer, Jim Gelser:

Not visiting John Herdman's place only once so most of what I have tell is "hear-say".
What I do know is that my uncle, Albert Weaver would spend winters at John's sawing logs. As a small kid I remember going there to see Uncle Albert there with my parents.
The house was much of a clutter except of a sitting-room that his mother kept in order. There were lots of interesting articles to arouse ones curiosity.
There was also another gentleman from Angelica by the name of Lafey Wirt that also worked with them.
One story that I heard from someone that visited John's was a that pig had died and laid on the path that wounded through the property. While giving the tour John took off his coat and laid it over the pig before the woman stepped over it.
In the reading earlier it was mentioned that John didn't run on all cylinders. I believe that the word "eccentric" would be a friendly way to describe it. The old timers back then maintained practices that helped them stay independent which are looked at today as odd and out of date.
*At the time of John Herdman's death (about 1972?), the Democrat & Chronicle had articles about him.
*My Dad told of Rattlesnake Pete's place on Mill St in Rochester. There are a few photos and stories on the Monroe County Library System site.


* The photo (above) is of a sawmill that Albert Weaver had set-up somewhere up the road from the Allegany County Fair Grounds about 1958. The building served as a tool shed. There was a bunk that he slept in when the temperature allowed it. Dad took him a small stove to cook on and use for heat. Albert was 80 years old at that time.
Being predictable I expect that it was similar to the sawmill that was at John Herdman's place.  In a note from my cousin, Helen, she mentions John Herdmans mother. John's mother was a friend of my grandmother Ada Weaver (b.1860, d.1952).  This indicates that she may have came from the Town of Granger. 
I wonder what John's mother's maiden name was? 
I wonder if it was John's wife that went to school with Uncle Albert  (b. 1877, d. 1962)? 
Looks like I'm "hooked" again. 
Looks like more digging in my future.

Comments to: Ford Easton Jim Gelser,   or 


Chapter #6

Good Wed. evening to all across our beautiful land,
First I would like to thank the many folks that have come forward with e-mails and phone calls on this very enjoyable venture I am doing on John Herdman Sr. and the stories that developed over the years of his life in Allegany County and up on the hill between Angelica and Almond.  These added bits of information will make for interesting reading as the chapters go on.  Many of the stories I have found out and you have too if you have been keeping up with the chapters were not always true or took a slight turn off the correct line.  In chapter 5 I tried to correct a number of these after I had a very enjoyable conversation with John Jr. that still lives up on the hill very  near the original Herdman estate that his Dad spent most of his life on.
I feel some background is needed at this point to kinda fill in some of the blanks several of you have asked me about recently.  John Sr. was born in Tacoma, Washington in 1905 and not on the hill as many of you might have thought.  When he was 10 his folks decided to pack up and head east to WNY and farm it there.  Back in those days you didn't jump into a car or truck for the trip but literally the trip was made in a covered wagon per John Jr.  John Sr.didn't like farming that much so he got involved with dealing for this and that and also attending auctions where he would buy anything that no one else wanted or at least very cheap.  Sound like the younger days of Henry Ford doesn't it as he was very mechanically oriented too like John and didn't like the farming life.  This confirms the stories in the first few chapters of this serial.  John Jr. said his Dad figured he had over 10,000 items in each of the buildings talked about and pictured in pervious chapters on the left side of the road as you came up the hill from Angelica.  All told I am sure John Sr. probably had close to 70 or 80,000 items around and piled up on the estate.  I am sure some of it is now down on John Jrs. estate.
From a fellow reader that attended Alfred Tech when I did he states the following:  Ford, I remember John very well.  I remember during one of my visits to the estate on the hill that some goats John had climbed up on an old convertible car and fell right thru the roof.  John had to huff and puff up to the car to get the goats out.  John gave that funny little laugh he had once the goats were out on life went on.
Remember I mentioned the organ and the skeleton in one of the buildings in chapter 5.  Well John had wired or improvised a rope connection from the skeleton in the jail cell that John said was the remains of the first murderer hanged in Allegany County when the County seat was in Angelica or others have said Belfast.  Doesn't matter for this story plus I have been told in an e-mail that the skeleton was really from a science lab somewhere but that it was a real skeleton and that is all that really matters.  I can remember John Sr. leading myself and others on a tour of the buildings and he would reach over and hit a key on the organ and the skeleton would jump around and John would give that laugh he was so famous for.  I bet someone that wasn't ready for it probably fainted dead away.  Oh! John had so much fun with people and his tricks like the human skull candy dish talked about in an earlier chapter.
John also had a bone hand with the wrist attached that he would offer to you to shake hands with when he first met you.  Someone stole the skull years ago but John Jr. still has the bone hand and wrist.  Not sure if it is human or not as I have been told it was from an ape.  Doesn't matter but quite a shock the first time I saw it.
I have received several e-mails from the wife of John Srs. nephew on his wife's side.  Her father in law was also Johns brother in law.  John's wife was Nancy and they had the two sons Stanley and John Jr.  She left John Sr. at some point in time and moved back to Michigan where she was from originally.  Our e-mail writer can remember visiting the hill with the in-laws.  Her mother in law refused to get out of the car.  After one of the trips up to the estate the mother in law told her that John Srs mother was still alive and living in that house surrounded by the "stuff".  The mother in law said when John Srs. dad was still alive he wasn't allowed to have any of the "stuff" on the house side of the road but after he passed the "stuff" just kinda grew on over to the house side of the road.  This all kinda seems familiar as my wife seems to say these same things to me now about some of the "stuff" I accumulate.  See all those visits I made to Johns in the 50s and 60s rubbed off on me to be a collector of stuff too.
Well that is enough for this chapter with much more to come in future chapters.  I hope you are enjoying all this as much as I am enjoying putting it together and hopefully keeping the interest in the John Herdman Sr story alive for you and future generations.  There is definitely no one like old John was and probably never will be again.  Even John Jr. doesn't come close to having as much as his dad had.  The really sad part of this story is that both John Sr. and John Jr. have been cheated out of land and many of the items that were up on the hill by people that were mean and took advantage of these well meaning good people.
Did you ever wonder where John Sr. kept all that money talked about in earlier chapters?  Well I will share with you were some of it was and maybe still is in future chapters, who knows.  I guess maybe only "the shadow" knows for sure.  Or maybe it is the ghost of John Sr. as he sits at the player organ that was near the jail cell that is now on John Jrs. estate.
Ford  11/25/09


Chapter #7

Good Wed. evening to all across our land,
Sorry I have been late getting this chapter 7 out to you but I have been somewhat under the weather.  I am fine again now and running at 100%.  I have received many e-mails from you that are getting the chapters for this serial and it seems they have renewed your memory banks from those good years awhile back.  Continue to enjoy.
At the end of chapter 6, I gave you a preview of one of the most baffling stories that I believe to be factual and I really wonder about as I am sure you will too.  Years ago a neighbor farmer and I guess a friend of Johns stopped by to pick John up to go to a commission sale probably in Hornell.  Just as John was about to get into the truck for the trip he got back out.  He then walked over to a pile of scrap pipe and picked up one of the pieces and got back into the truck with the pipe.  When the sale  was over and everyone was paying for their purchases, John screwed a fitting off the end of the pipe and took out enough money to pay his bill.  How John knew the scrap piece he picked up was the one with money in it was a mystery to the farmer friend and he always wondered after John passed if they found all the money he had hidden around the estate.  I wonder that also and I am sure you do too.
I briefly mentioned the 1910 Chase truck that is now in the possession of Stanley, John's son that lives in Newark, NY.  The truck started its life as a fire truck in Almond and was always very hard to start because it was a three cylinder two-cycle engine.  After many failures to start and the final one when a large fire had broken out the fire dept. got rid of it.  In 1924 the fire truck went up for auction and everyone knew the problems with it plus it was older now and no one bid on it.  John bid 50 cents and the truck was his.  During 1931 John was a little short of money. Depression was on big time for you younger folks the didn't know so money was at a premium for just about everyone.  A farmer living near the estate said he would buy it to make a tractor if it could pull a plow.  Well it didn't pull the plow so John returned the money paid and the truck never left the estate again until Johns passing and was then taken to Newark where Stanley restored the truck to its now original condition.  Word has it that only 40 or 50 Chase trucks remain today.
The jail cell and the skeleton talked about in a previous chapter has a very interesting history I will share with you.  The cell was from Belfast and not Angelica as originally thought.  It wasn't the County jail cell but the village lockup cell. The first man hung in Allegany County was David How in 1824 at Angelica and was probably buried in the Angelica cemetery.  David "Hote" Carpenter was the third man hung and you will see how the plays into the story next.  Years ago Agnes Common who was born at the foot of Jersey Hill would occasionally visit John's estate up on the hill.  John knew that her great aunt had been married to David "Hote" Carpenter and he would always take her to the cell with the skeleton and ask her if she was there to see "Uncle Hote".  This is the story I have received so you be the judge of the correct life of the cell and the skeleton.  The cell and the skeleton are now located on John Jrs. estate and shown in the picture below.


jail cell you can see if you visit John Jrs.  He welcomes visitors and buyers.

John Sr's. mother lived to 92 and lived in the original homestead house with John.  I can remember seeing her in my visits to the hill.  During Johns later years story has it that he developed gangrene in his leg because of his diabetes and not trusting Drs. and hospitals he told the following to a friend of mine.  During my friends visit John was sitting in the yellow bus.  Remember in a previous chapter John used the bus days as his leg had been bothering him!  John was just sitting there petting his old dog and kept calling him "Yep, my ol doctor dog".  He must have said the same thing 4 or 5 times until my friend asked him why do you call him your "ol doctor dog"?  After some time John said he had his dog bite him and that is what had just about cured him of the gangreen.  Friend said John Jr has told him just about the same story too.  Who knows you be the judge!!
Well that is enough for this chapter and as before John is probably watching and enjoying how all of you are enjoying these stories.  Chapter 8 will include additional stories from up on the hill and those helpers that we were all afraid of when we were walking among the stuff.

1969 Obituary

car 1

car on the estate of John Jr. originally on Srs'. estate


about a 32 Buick.  You're welcome to visit and buy items from John Jr.

That is/was probably a '32 Buick.  Not known to many people today, Buick got sued over the radiator shell, because it resembled a Packard shell to closely.  Packard won the suit, and Buick had to change their design.  A close look at the windshield post makes it a '32 or later.  The 31 windshield post was more straight, but by 32, they were moving to a slant windshield.


Chapter #8

Good Thursday to all across our beautiful land,
I am sitting here on the organ stool with John Sr. sharing some stories of the days he was with us in those great 40s, 50s and 60s.  John mentioned to me a minute or so ago to tell all of you that he says hello and hopes you are enjoying the stories and tales I have been sending out to you.  As you all know by now John was a good friend of Rattle Snake Pete who lived in Rochester, NY.  Both John and Rattle Snake Pete would have made P.T. Barnum proud as they both thought he was great and were for a large part followers of him.
Back in chapter 7 I shared with you that I would tell some stories of the hired men that lived on John's estate along with all the stuff and helped him with all the things that happened on a daily basis like getting things for customers and most importantly being the watchman for all the stuff to make sure it didn't get feet and wander off without being paid for.  I can still remember on one of my trips up on the hill and the estate being about scared to death when one of the men came out of a makeshift home he had along a row of cars and asked if he could help me.  After I caught my breathe again I said in a stuttering voice, no just looking around.  After that I always tried to make sure of my surroundings when I was on the estate.
Two of the men that worked for John on the property in those years were Albert Weaver who also worked a sawmill during the winters for boards that were needed to house the stuff and make repairs.  In later years, about 1958, Weaver had his own sawmill down near the fair grounds.  Weaver being very predictable I am told, says that the one on the estate was probably the same as the one he use on the estate.  He lived in the tool shed and slept on a bunk bed when temps. allowed for it.  And I thought I had it rough in Viet Nam living in a tent!!  Another worker was Lafey Wirt and story has it that he or John were giving a tour of the estate and a pig had died right in one of the paths so the one leading the tour removed his jacket and covered the pig so a lady on the tour wouldn't step on it.


Weaver sawmill near the fair grounds and probably about like one he operated on the Herdman estate.

A contributor writes that his Grandmother, Agnes Common, was born at the bottom of Jersey Hill and frequently visited Ira Hadsell and his wife when she was a little girl (about 1900). The Hadsell house was directly across the road from the Herdman house that John and his mother lived in.  John used the house pictured below for storage of some of the stuff in later years after the Hadsells were gone.

Chapter 7 contained the story of the "ol doctor dog".  A reader has shared his thoughts on the subject and confirms the story as probably being true.  We knew The Doctor Dog very well.  During more than one visit, John would have us come into the house, have a seat by the stove, and pretty soon he would bring the Doctor Dog in.  John believed the dog's saliva to be medicinal, so he would have him come in and lick the gangrene sore for a bit, then he would let him back out again.
John Jr. shares the following interesting story on the original skeleton that has been talked about not only in the this serial/chapters I have done but other papers too.  Jr. agrees there were two jails (holding cells) one in Angelica and the one in Belfast. David "Hote" Carpenter John says was the first man hanged and his bones were put in the attic of the school house in Angelica after he had been buried in a paupers grave years before.  Years later John Sr. purchased the skeleton (bones) when they were found in the attic.  The "real" skeleton was sold at some point to a museum in Carlisle, PA.
The hand and wrist that some think are of an ape or chimp are really human says John Jr.  John Sr. purchased it from Rattle Snake Pete but not sure when.  Picture below shows John Jr. holding it so you be the judge!!  Have Jr. show it to you when you visit his estate.

An earlier chapter discussed John Sr. and his trips to all those auctions and sales during his life.  It didn't really matter what came up for bid he always or almost always said 10 cents.  You wouldn't believe how often he got it for that 10 cents.  John would also attend the Allegany County Fair each year and have a small stall that he would sell some of the "stuff" from.  One very important thing happened during this time each year.  John always wore bib overalls and when fair time came around he would pull out or buy a new one for the fair event.  Sounds like the Easter bonnet story coming up this Sunday doesn't it!!
Well that is about enough for chapter 8 and I have enjoyed doing it and sending it on to you.  I have heard from a number of additional folks and they know many additional stories and tales that I will be sharing with you in the next two chapters.  Did you know that John was thinking of going into the war business back when and actually purchased some machine guns from the govt.??  John hit that key just to your right and see it I tied the string tight enough to rattle the skeleton for this next group that is coming thru this building.  Hurry up though as I think they are in the far end of the building now looking at the Stanley Steamer or the horse drawn hearse the movie people were asking you about selling a few weeks back.



(Above) John Sr. about 1955 in those bib overalls (photo credit to Bill Greene, past County Historian)

"stuff" waiting to be organized and put in a building MAYBE.  Looks like the Hadsell house then


Chapter #9

John Herdman serial, chapter 9 as the saga from Allegany County continues, Ford
Date: 10/18/2010

Good Monday evening to all across our land here in the USA, Canada and now England in the UK too,
Alot has happened since I last had your attention with chapter 8.  Oh I'm sorry John as I know you want to say hello to everyone out there too.  John and I have been sitting here talking about all the neat folks that came by the estate back in the 40s, 50s and 60s to see the treasures and hum other things that had accumulated in the buildings and the grounds.
John has just shared with me the story I had left you with in chapter 8 on the machine guns he purchased at the Niagara Falls Air Base.  We all know by now that John couldn't pass up an auction wherever and what was being auctioned off.  Some time in the late 50s or early 60s John attended a surplus military auction at the Falls facility, bid and won 6 or so browning water cooled tripod mounted machine guns along with other items.  Yes John I know and agree it must have been good things or the government wouldn't have purchased it in the first place.
John why don't you share with the folks what happened next or at least the next day.  As best I recollect it about mid morning sirens were coming from everywhere and armed troops were surrounding the estate.  Their commander approached me and asked if I had purchased several machine guns the day before at the auction in Niagara Falls.  I said that I had and the paper work for the purchase is right here somewhere.  Maybe Dr. Dog has carried it off but yes I have it.  The commander shared with me that the machine guns I had purchased were still in operating condition and they were here to get them and take them back to Niagara Falls.  I remember I gave him one of my laughs that I gave to everyone in those days and said with all the troops with him I didn't have a choice anyway did I?  He didn't think it was very funny and had his troops load the guns in their trucks, gave me a receipt saying I would receive a check from the Govt. in a few weeks and off they went.  End of the machine gun story.
As we all know by now John had a real fascination with guns though and a friend of his owned a non operational Thompson machine gun.  This person was a very good wood worker and made 9 models of the the machine gun.  He placed the wood guns in a case along with the real gun and would ask folks to pick out the real one and offered a prize if you could pick the real gun.  John really like these guns and somehow obtained one of the wood guns.  Friend of mine that now lives in West Virginia saw and talked with John about the wood model about 1950.



During this last summer I did much research and several interviews to help in bringing you these chapters of the serial.  Much of the research was with the help of a friend in Friendship and a friend of his that originally lived in WNY, attended Alfred University and now resides in "merry olde England".  See how global this whole thing is getting.  Yes John I do know that you remember both of these gentlemen when they were younger and visited with you many times while they were at Alfred.
These gentlemen have come up with several and probably the only known pictures of  the immortal "Dr. Dog".  The first picture was taken probably in the winter of 64.  Dr. Dog was always near by and on call!


"With Dr. Dog's Eyes Open!"

My friends state that during their visits John would often open the door and let Dr. Dog in to give a few "miracle licks" soothing John's gangrene infected leg.  Yes John you share the story about Dr. Dog.  They wanted him over in Viet Nam I am proud to say, but we wanted him here, mmm yeah.  Those of you that remember John probably can hear him saying that as he used "mmm yeah" quite often.  As we leave chapter 9 I want to share with you that John Herdman Sr. was liked by just about everyone that I knew.  I asked John Jr. if he ever remembers his dad getting mad at anyone or thing and he shared that he didn't.  He was always willing to chat with anyone that visited the estate and allowed them to wonder through the grounds and buildings.  You will see in future chapters that he was highly respected in his business dealings with local business people too.  I did interviews with a local, Angelica, man that was a friend of Johns and business man and also John jr at his estate just above his Dad's estate this summer.  Many good stories and pictures to come in future chapters folks.  Come on John we had better check the buildings real quick to make sure everyone has left for the day and let the watchman know you are going to the house to fix some dinner for your mother.




John's mother looking through a basket in the estate house.  As you know John's mother outlived John.  I can rememnber seeing Mrs. Herdman but never remember her saying anything to us visitors.  fe


Chapter#11 - "The John Herdman story"

November 12, 2019 

I had heard through my many conversations and talking with folks around Angelica that the owner of a pallet manufacturing co on the outskirts of the village would be a good person to talk with on the history of John Sr.  His name was Roland Gallman and he passed a number of years ago.  A phone call to his co. got me to him and an arrangement was made for me to do a recorded interview with him.  Well long story short I did the interview on a tape recorder and for some reason the tape became lost probably with all that was going on with the final years of putting together my book on stock car racing in the 1950's.  I gave up and thought it was history until just recently when I came on the paperwork I had written down all the points when listening to the tape back years ago.  Now on to Chapter 11, Ford
Roland Gallman was in the Navy and was discharged in 1946.  He bought a truck and did cattle hauls to Buffalo and feed loads back to Angelica for 15 years.  John and Roland met up at a local sawmill, Kenan/Wilsons, by chance where John purchased slab wood that he used for the construction of the buildings on the other side of the road from the house.  He then contracted Roland to haul it to the estate on the hill.  He then asked Roland one day if he could ride with him to Buffalo on his cattle/feed hauls in the later 1940's.   Roland was a little worried because John wasn't the neatest dresser and could be a problem if he stopped to eat etc.  Well John showed up for the first trip at 7 am dressed in brand new bib overalls.  Off they went and when they arrived at the stockyards John called a taxi and went off somewhere, maybe a bank and returned a few hours later in time for the return trip to Angelica.  John make this trip to Buffalo a number of times over the years with Roland and always had his money in a sugar sack with him plus each time he went he was dressed in new or freshly washed overalls.
John knew where everything was in every building.  Roland shared that once he needed a draw shave and couldn't find one at the local hardware so went to John's and John told him to go to one of the buildings and pointed to it.  He said then go back 200 ft. or so and it will be on the right side.  Well sure enough there it was right where John said it would be.  John seemed to know where everything was in all his buildings Roland stated.
Roland saw John at many of the auctions that I had seen him at too when I was a young lad in Friendship.  Roland said John would bid .10 on everything at the auctions and didn't care if things got away, but by the end of the day his old truck was full of "stuff"on the return to the estate.
Roland remembered John taking the old jail cell from the Dewey house next to the court house in Angelica and put it in one of the buildings that was talked about in a previous chapter.  Roland said the skeleton in the cell was "real".
Roland confirmed that much of the old junk metal like the cast iron radiators were buried in the creek bed so John didn't have to sell it to the Govt. for WWII.  As was stated in previous chapters old cars especially with brass radiators were towed to the woods to wait out the wars end.
Roland was the local Angelica police chief and would take tramps that showed up in town to the County Home that was located outside the village.  He would advise John when this happened and John in turn would visit the Home and ask if they(one or two at a time) would like to live up on the property and work for him.  These men helped build many of the long buildings on the estate.
You will remember from a previous chapter that many thought John stored his money in old pipes around the property.  Roland confirmed that only coins were put into the pipes.  Bills were always kept in the sugar sacks.  Remember John always had one with him on his trips to Buffalo.  All the guns that we all heard about but I never saw were kept in the main house Roland said.
John was a professor in his younger years and taught local kids through 8th grade in a one room school building near the bridge at the bottom of the hill.  John stated collecting "stuff" in the late 30's early 40's.
Well folks that is the end to chapter 11 and the last chapter I will be doing.  I am so glad I found the notes from the Roland tape as it helps confirm a number of items that were just hear say.