When I went to Pennsylvania several weeks ago for my great-aunt, Betty Jean (Hocker) Wingeard’s memorial service, I had the good fortune to find my Grandmother on a talkative day. So, I took advantage of her good mood, asking questions and prompting her reminiscences of her childhood.
My grandmother grew up in the mountains of central Pennsylvania, up in Centre County. The family was living in Lescontes Mills in Girard Township, Clearfield County, where her father Clyde supported the family farming and working as a lumberman, when she was born. They moved to Pine Glen, Burnside Township in Centre County before she was 10 years-old.1
Clyde Leroy Hoover Sr. was born and raised in Pine Glen. So, with the move, the family returned to his childhood home. If you crossed the road and followed a path back through the woods, you’d eventually come out at the home of Samuel and Victoria (Walker) Hoover, Clyde’s parents.
The house they lived in2—while sizable enough for a family of 12 children—did not have electricity or running water. There was a well for water and an outhouse. Still is for that matter. When they needed water for cooking or washing, one of the children was sent either to the creek across the road or out back to the well. 3
When I asked about her favorite summer pastimes, she recalled that with chores there wasn’t a lot of free time. They baked their own bread, raised their own food—both animal and vegetable, harvested and preserved the food from the garden in the fall, and washed their clothes—and with 12 kids there was a lot of it—by hand. The girls worked in the house and gardens while the boys worked the farm and farm animals, hunted, and cut firewood.
But when there was time, she especially liked wood hikes (with her father, I believe), picnics, reading books from the library her mother ran from their front room, and splashing in the creek. The boys, she remembered, sometimes played baseball.
As she was talking, I realized the her childhood wasn’t so different than that of her parents and grand-parents and so on, even though she was raised in the 20th century. Even though I think of my grandmother as a “modern woman,” she gave me a close-up view of the lives of our ancestors, merely by taking a walk with me down memory lane.
This post is part of an ongoing, blogging challenge entitled 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, created by Amy Crow of No Story Too Small. Participants must write about one ancestor every week. This is my twelfth 52 Ancestors post and part of week fifteen.
- I honestly can’t remember if the move happened when she was a baby or later. I have a vague memory of her telling me of the move, riding in the back of a horse-drawn wagon, with the boys walking and driving the animals to the new place… Perhaps one of the family with a better memory will chime in. ↩
- The house was originally built, I’m told, by Rudy Mulhollan for his wife Catharine (Swimer) Mulhollan. The couple operated a hotel at that location and he eventually decided to build a home for his wife and daughters next door. The hotel is long gone, but the house still stands. ↩
- Although I’m not sure when the current well—located right out the back door—was put in, but I seem to recall it was fairly recently. Last 50 years or so. ↩