Researched & Submitted by Mary Rhodes; from Allegany County Democrat

September 9, 1943


Memories of 70 years ago were stirred for one reader by the story of Arch Merrill, Rochester newspaperman, on his trip with the Democrat publisher to the source of the Genesee River at Gold, Pa.  To Frank Stryker of “the top of Corbin Hill” four miles south of Belmont, that story was the elixir of youth such as to recall vividly a visit in 1872 to the Potter County farms owned by two uncles.

Hills have a fascination for Mr. Stryker.  From rising dawn to setting sun, he glimpses the majesty of nature from the 2,200 Stryker home elevation across a sweep of valleys and hills unsurpassed anywhere.  Through the years he has tilled those Corbin hillsides and hilltops and the keenness of mind that strikes one now in the 77th year seems bred of the great open spaces, tied in as the spot from which he must outwit nature to wrest a livelihood.  His zest for life is of that sort.

Quite natural then that on his visit to Wellsville with his grandson, Frank Davenport, he should drop in at The Democrat to renew a friendship with the publisher.  The Merrill incident had recounted the trip to the Hosley farm at Gold from where the hillside spring gives the Genesee “its start,: and then the trek across country to the hilltop farm of the Torok brothers.  It is on that farm that the watershed divides run to the Genesee, the Allegheny and the Susquehanna rivers.  And  the 1872 echo is from that farm.

“The horse-and-buggy trip of 70 years ago all cam back in that story, “ Mr. Stryker related.  “I even remember the day, October 13, because it was my seventh birthday.  My uncles, Issaac and Marshall Stryker lived on adjoining farms and I could go right there today and find the Torok place one of those farms.  Then it was called Cobb Hill.

“We lived in Scio village then.  I went with my father and mother.  One thing I always remembered in the fields were large rocks.  In later years I understood these rocks were quite generally taken away for use in the Coudersport glass factory.”

The years that have intervened since his seventh birthday have largely been spent on hilltops.  Yet his pursuits other than that of farming entitle him to share at least a sobriquet as “the highest official in the state.”  For 38 years Mr. Stryker has been a member of the Board of Assessors for the Town of Amity.  His stride is quick, his step secure as he takes off cross country for any appraisal of farmland, and any visitor may soon know that he has a challenge to keep pace with him.  His flowing patriarchal beard, indeed, is most deceptive as to his vitality.

So it is that with such hill habitants as Supervisor Gus Lynch of Andover, who farms Round Top at an elevation of 2,400 as the highest first class farm in the Empire State, Mr. Stryker can share the title of “the highest official in the state.”  Nor does one coin such fame for them in mere humor.  Indeed they have each found in these hills the integrity and reward of labor such as has stamped their work for recognition among their neighbors and friends.  The hills from Gold, Potter County, to Amity and Andover echo and re-echo of those who like them serve their fellow men from their hilltop outposts.

So hearken to this travelogue of a lad on his seventh birthday in 1872.  It has taken the allotted three score and ten years to unfold.  But much has happened in between.  The hills give back their “own gold” to those who drink deep of their might, unafraid of the task to which they summon in living atop the hilltops.  H.D.B.

(H. D. B. is Hubert D. Bliss, publisher of the Allegany County Democrat.)