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TRIP TO BAKER VALLEY...WEST ALMOND

Submitted by Donald Cady

"Grandma lived from 1885 to 1976 and was my mentor for history.  Said we were related to General Anthony Wayne but did not know how, I found the line from Iddings to Wynne to Martin to Johnston through Pa.  including the earliest Quakers; ancestor Thomas Wynne was Penn's buddy and Doctor and thus the speaker of the first Pa. Assembly in 1682.  Grandma still had "Quaker Ways".  Hope you enjoy the trip to Baker Valley, I have countless relatives over that way." 

Our Grandmother Grace Johnston Cady was born in the Town of Wirt, Allegany County, N.Y. in 1885. With an intense interest regarding family and history, in 1959 she wrote up memories of both her and her mother, Alice Hinds Johnston who was born in Baker Valley to parents Samuel and Eliza Baker Hinds. Eliza was a daughter of Joshua and Elizabeth Parker Baker who came to the area about 1832 and had a large family. Some additions she omitted are added my me in parentheses.  DLC

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Grandma Johnston (Alice Hinds Johnston) was born in Baker Valley, Town of West Almond, Allegany County, January 29, 1853, on the small farm left to her mother by her first husband George Watson. The house, though remodeled, still stands on left side of Baker Valley Road going uphill, straight from the Lynn Watson home. (ca 1960) When she was living there the Baker Valley Cheese Factory was located across the road just a little downhill toward Belmont.  Her father and mother were older than most people being fifty-three and thirty-nine respectively when she was born. There were two children older than she and three younger, one of these three, Martha Amelia, died in infancy when grandma was about 2 1/2 years of age but she told me she distinctly remembered the baby sister she loved for so short a time.  Great Grandma must have cared for and respected her first husband for when her first son was born nearly 4 years after her second marriage she wished to name him George Watson Hinds but great grandfather objected, saying he could be called George if she wished but if W. was to be a middle initial it must be Washington and Washington it was!  Now who came out ahead on that?  Great grandfather was known as Uncle Sam and was noted for his ability with an axe, being said to chop more wood in a day than any of his neighbors.  He kept no horses, only cows, sheep and raised pigs for home cured pork. The wool from sheep was sent to someone who could card it, usually to a carding mill into what they called rolls. These were just the fleece cleaned and fibers made into a soft roll about the size of a man's forefinger, then spun by Great Grandma into yarn on her wheel.  She was known to spin faster and make better, smoother yarn than most. The two used these skills to pay help for preparing ground for crops and any other work that required team and equipment. A sister did weaving homespun wool cloth for wearing apparel and bedding and for cutting, fitting etc. garments for the family, as in her large family one girl learned tailor's trade and did that work for the family so great grandma lacked that skill and paid for the weaving by spinning yarn.  Grandma tells of her mother laying a large Bible on a stool or chair at one end of the spinning wheel and as she walked back and forth, as they had to in order to spin the yarn, would read a verse or two at a time. (As her vision failed, husband Sam Hinds rode horseback to Elmira to buy her a large print edition which we still have.)  Wish I could describe method of spinning yarn better. I only recall seeing it done once when Grandma took me to Aunt Eleanor Fairbank's and asked her to spin a little to show me how it was done.  It looked as if it would be a very tiresome job walking back and forth for the hours they put in at it. With the milk work, making butter even from a small number of cows they kept, during winter months when the cheese factory closed great grandmother must have been much overworked and no wonder she grew to scold quite a bit as I infer she did for Grandma Johnston once warned me to be careful and not get to be a scold as her mother did, even if I was at a loss to keep up work and not too well.  Grandma did not talk much of her father but from what she did say I took it he was rather a stern disciplinarian as she told he insisted they eat all their food on their plates before they could be excused from the table. She told of one time she would not eat hers so he finally told them to set her plate away and put it on the table for next meal and she could have nothing more until she ate it. The plate was put on for several meals and she would not eat, so her brother George and sister Juliette slyly ate the food and then called their father's attention to the fact that "See, Allie's plate is empty." He allowed her to have something more then and Grandma always smiled and said "We really THOUGHT Pa didn't see them."  When Grandma told me of this she did it when I was "sputtering" about one of you children being stubborn and she said: "They don't take it from any stranger!"   Grandma of course was a small girl when the Civil War broke out.  Prices soared and work not well paid for resulted in rather hard times for the family. They, spurred on by her mother, managed to hold on to the home.  When it came time for attendance at school the children first went to a school they called going over South to reach. As near as I can recall it must have been on the road between Belmont and Phillips Creek (Squintville it was called then), later the Baker Valley District was formed and a school house built less than a mile from their home. I taught there in 1904-05.  (The writer recently was welcomed into the same schoolhouse by the occupants.  Imagine the emotions at seeing the very room where my grandmother was a young teacher and her mother had been a pupil, with the original board ceiling and structure!)  The Methodist Church of Phillips Creek was where the children attended Sunday School. She told of going barefoot in summer until they came in sight of the Church, then sitting down and putting on their shoes and stockings. Don't think they went much in winter due to distance and later services were held in the school-house.  When quite young she stayed with some elderly people, helped in house and went to school. Believe one family by the name of Johnson and one named Fuller but am not sure.  The Civil War days with the boys and men of the Valley leaving for the front impressed her very much. There were 3 or 4 McGibney men from the neighborhood who went, one of them was James, grandfather of Mrs. Vinna Bennett and of Willis McGibney. They had two sisters, Sate (Sarah) and Mate (Mary). Only one of the four brothers, James, came home. Grandma was in school where one of the sisters was teaching and one a pupil, when someone rode up on horse back and told them James had come home. The younger sister jumped up clapping her hands and saying over and over "James has come home!" then dropped back in her seat, laid her head on the desk and burst into tears. ( Perhaps moist eyes for the reader as well?)  One thing she vaguely remembers when very small was her Uncle DeWitt Baker bringing his new wife to see them and the pretty shiny dress she wore and the treats she brought the children. I think she must have been about three years old. DeWitt was the father of John, Stephen and Clara, neighbors and friends.  Besides the Uncle's families the ones most often mentioned by mother were McGibneys, Watsons (Joseph, brother of her mother's first husband), Ives McElroys, Lytles, Fullers. Three of her girl friends were Lot Ives Tucker, Jenny McElroy Brown and Ett Watson McGibney. These friendships lasted for life as I vividly remember visiting at Browns and McGibneys and Mother and Dad visited Tuckers after they came here.  One cold and stormy winter day they went to school without their hoops and were laughed at by the boys every time they moved out of their seats. It was an unheard of thing to go without hoops, then she said they didn't try it again! As little girls they wore pantalets.  She always loved flowers and said one year she planted hollyhocks along the path from door to road and how she was surprised because her father noticed them and told the rest to be careful of Allie's flowers.  Schools Grandma never attended any but the one room country school. When several of the young folks went to Alfred Academy she wished to go very much but it was impossible. Although she did not go she obtained a teacher's certificate in 1869 and taught one term of school, I think on JerseyHill, am not sure. If I remember correctly she was paid $1.50 per week and boarded round a week at a time with each family. She said the trustee told her when it was the time for one family not to go there but to come to his home. Was not strange that after one term she decided that she preferred to work in homes of people she knew either personally or by reputation as she earned fully as much and was treated as one of the family.  She worked for the DeWitt Bakers' several different times. I know she worked there when the youngest son Stephen was a baby, winter of 1871-72.  Somewhere along the way she learned to milk and consequently milked from four to eight cows morning and night. It was customary in that area for women and girls to help with the milking with the men and boys, many farmers keeping a dairy of twenty to forty cows with milk going to local cheese factories. Mother grew to be a very swift milker and after she came here used to tell James she would go out with him and see if she remembered how to milk and he said she always beat him as to time in milking a cow. (James being the writer's father and the subject's grandson: James Cady)  She also worked for the Watsons who lived neighbor to them, told me she milked 7 or 8 cows morning and night and did work for the family of six with the mother having a new baby and being in bed for ten days or two weeks. There were two sons, one older and one younger than mother.  The older one was very bad about getting up in the morning, all had a quota to milk and when the older boy was late they all milked some ofhis cows. One day she milked over a dozen and Mr. Watson asked how many she had done and sent her to the house as he and Elmer would finish the rest. (Elmer, the older boy, was Clair Watson's father.)  The baby was Alice and she died when I was a young girl, Mother was fond of her always.  Ett (Mrs. McGibney after her marriage) had mother helping her at least two different times. Mott, her husband, was a little slow or slack about having wood on hand for their cooking and Grandma tells of one time they had no wood so put everything on stove with no fire and when Mott came in with the hired hands and asked if dinner was ready the girls told them it would be as soon as it was cooked! There was a bit of an explosion when they found no fire but after that wood was usually cut for them!  She was working for McGibneys at Duke Center, Pa. (Bradford oil boom of 1878) where they kept a boarding house when work in oil was first done there, and where she met Grandpa J.. Her mother died that year and she and Grandpa were married the following March. Her father had died in 1869 and after his death when their mother's health failed, she and sister Juliette took turns staying with her.  Grandma Grace's narrative ends there for the talk of Baker Valley and goes on with amusing but poignant anecdotes of Whitcomb and Davis neighbors and the year of her teaching in the Valley as she boarded with Baker uncles and a spinster aunt. She had a very full life caring for others with three children living on this farm in three homes, surrounded by 13 grandchildren and caring for as many as five "elderly" at one time...... with no bathroom in the home for some time. The other child became a missionary in India and Pakistan and stayed with her family for extended periods. Great Grandma Alice Hinds Johnston lived to age 92 when I was six and I can recall her smile as she would stoop and ask "Are you one of James or one of Julia's?"  Grandma was disturbed to find that the ancestral Baker Cemetery was enclosed by a fence to become part of a sheep pasture and implored her husband and brother to go take care of it; the overturned stones and such. Age and busy lives precluded that along with the challenge of entering onto another's property, but as Grandma said it is "in perpetuity" which seems a relative term?  I plan to go and see if any stones are legible. Family and personal anecdotes have been included to give flavor and ambience to the Baker Valley of that century.....also names of neighbors in case descendants are "searching".  Grandma became a teacher as did many of her children and grandchildren with a heritage of learning and sharing.  GGrandma Alice Hinds Johnston and unmarried Juliette Hinds were thrown from a runaway carriage ca. 1902; Juliette was killed and Alice survived a coma but was never the same .  Grandma went there to teach in 1905 and boarded with two unmarried uncles and a spinster aunt. She was amazed at their ways, especially the accounting. Each month the milk money was divided three ways and if one got a cent extra it was carried over to the next month and evened out then! Her father and mother would share or give up all they had for others and were not so fussy. Of course her father had worked the oil fields and was used to good wages, though they kept little for themselves.  She had a "peculiar" uncle who came over to stay with them, Sylvester Hinds.  He was old, probably past fifty, and one night when riding home in his buggy from Bolivar the local boys thought to scare him..... "Your money or your life!" one demanded as they jumped from the bushes.  Uncle Vet replied "That's a game two can play!" and fired his revolver in their direction.  The local constable paid a call the next day with a warrant but Grandpa convinced him Vet did not mean to hurt anyone but tried to deter the boys before they got in real trouble.  I wonder if he threw them his wallet that perhaps they might have taken it?  Grandma's Aunt Julliette stayed with them and Uncle Stanley at age ten insisted on driving the horse one day with his mother and aunt.  Grandpa said no as the horse was frisky but finally relented "I will hold the harness for a way."  But the horse bolted and got out of his control and after a fast run the buggy overturned throwing the three into a fence.  Juliette was killed, ggrandma was comatose for a week or more and was never well after that. Ggrandpa Johnston felt responsible. Juliette has a beautiful tombstone while J.K. and his wife did not bother for themselves later but they have a more modest one in Bolivar beside the sister.  For poor backgrounds financially they did well, Grandma's three daughters became teachers, Dad a metallurgist, and several cousins and I had a stab at teaching. Degrees mean little as to intelligence anyway!

Don

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