Thursday, December 15, 2016

Mail Call: 15 December 1934 (George)

Letter from George Potter in Sargent, MO to his daughter Mary in St. Louis.

Don't come home for Christmas; the Buick isn't working apparently due to a dead battery and it is "un handy" to get to Cabool and back.  Mary came home anyways, at least for a day or two.

"I almost believe that you will have a steady job in the bank.  Their lady here says that is the way they do, keep weeding out as they go along and try to keep the most useful ones"

Note: "Walt" is Walter Bremerkamp, George's sister Dora's husband.
"Emma" is George's sister back in Pennsylvania

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

George's Photos ca. 1896 page 5 of 5

This set of photos features George Potter's cousin Oren Kennedy (1876-1951).  Oren was the son of George's aunt Emma Hasbrouck (1858-1882) and her husband Frank Kennedy (1853-1884)...thus, he was orphaned by age eight and raised by his relatives, with the Potters most likely taking a turn.  He was very close in age to George, and eventually took up the same profession (machinist).  Oren always sent his cousin George a birthday card, usually with a dollar or two enclosed.

In one of his birthday notes (April 1940), Oren remembered this time (1896) as:

"We have had a hard winter, it made me think of the winter of 1896 when you and I was cutting basswood bolts down at Eden.  And as I recall it was good sleighing when you and Charlie and Uncle Dave took me to the depot on the 14th of March"  

Eden would be Eden, Erie County, NY while Charlie is George's brother Charles and Uncle Dave was George's father David "Max" Potter.

Oren Kennedy and George Potter
Oren Kennedy

Oren Kennedy and unidentified "horse"

George's Photos ca.1896 page 4 of 5

These two photographs from George Potter's collection from ca. 1896 are scenes from life in western Pennsylvania (Erie or Warren Counties) or western New York (Chautauqua or Eire Counties).

I can't say for certain what is going on in the first photo, but maple sugar syrup production might be a reasonable guess.  There is still a commercial maple sugar producer near Corry, PA and many others around in Erie County.  The winters are certainly severe enough there for a decent maple sap run in the early spring.  

The man in the center of the image appears to be tending a long boiling trough with a fire underneath (regulated by a cloth flap) and vented through a sheet-metal chimney at the left (it isn't a tree trunk; the rivets are visible with magnification).  A crude lean-to provides some shelter.  A gent in a suit is visible through the steam off to the right, perhaps supervising the work.  The seated child is not too interested in the proceedings.

Maple Sugar Production ca. 1896?

The next picture is a hunting scene, probably in western Pennsylvania.  There is a partly-illegible notation on the cardboard mount which seems to focus on breakfast being served.  The portly gentleman on the left with the rifle and axe is identified as one of George's maternal Hasbrouck uncles.  Perhaps this is William Hasbrouck (1864-1919) whose eventual cause of death was "Diabetes (with) contributory cause imprudent eating."  

Hunting Breakfast Scene, ca 1896.

Friday, December 9, 2016

George's Photos ca. 1896 page 3 of 5

More of George Potter's photos from the period he was trying photography as a profession (ca. 1896, at age 21 or so).  These photos are mounted on the same cardboard backing as the Findley Lake photos and are of approximately the same size.

"Midnight on Bookenshaw Creek"
(Probably Brokenstraw Creek, near Corry PA.  George's spelling was usually accurate; the creek name was likely never something he saw spelled out)

A picnic, although the bent-trunk tree and its reflection are the main feature.  Also Brokenstraw Creek?

Skinny-dipping in some old swimming hole.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

George's Photos ca. 1896 page 2 of 5

The next two of George Potter's photographs from around 1896-1898 may also be from Findley Lake, NY.  Unfortunately, they are not captioned.

Findley Lake was created when a mill dam raised water levels enough to link two smaller, natural lakes.  The dam is the starting point of one of the branches of French Creek, near where George Potter was born in 1875.  French Creek is part of the Allegheny River watershed.  This could be a different mill dam on a different part of the watershed, but the people in the background seem rather well-dressed; even the kids appear to have ties.

In the following photo, the sign on the building describes it as a hotel and summer garden, but the rest of the text is blocked out by the tree trunk.  This might part of the Findley Lake, NY, resort community, as everyone seems dressed up.  The buck's well-developed antlers, still covered in velvet, suggest that this would have been taken in late July or early August.

A Hotel and "summergarden" with a deer pen, possibly at Findley Lake, NY
George seems to have let himself into the pen to take the photo, unsettling the deer.

George's Photos ca. 1896 page 1 of 5

One of the stories that my mother, Mary Potter Lavery (1911-1994), told about her father George Potter (1875-1943) was that he had tried his hand at professional photography when he was young. 

I recently found a collection of George's early photographs which perhaps represent work he intended to sell.  These photos are mounted on cardboard and most of the cardboard backings have pinholes, suggesting that they may have been displayed for show or for sale.  The photo papers seem to have been trimmed as they are slightly irregular in size; most are 4.5x6.5 inches (around 114x165 mm).  

The two photos below have a common theme.  They capture the resort area of Findley Lake, NY, which was the site of a "Lakeside Assembly" on the Chautauqua model at the turn of the past century.  Structures for lectures and concerts were on one side of the lake, while lodging for the visitors was on another; the two were connected by paddle-wheel steamboats.  The steamboat in George's photo matches up with one illustrated in the Findley Lake historical website:  

The vessel in these photos is almost certainly the "Silver Spray", which operated in this single-deck configuration during the 1896-1898 seasons.  It was converted to a two-deck plan after 1898 and continued to operate until 1910.

The titles in quotes are George's in his hand.

"Moonlight on Findley Lake"
Paddle-wheeler "Silver Spray"

"On Findley Lake"
Waiting for the next boat at Findley Lake.  The owner of the "Silver Spray" added a top deck for the 1899 season.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Mail Call: 14 November 1934 (Gladys)

From Gladys Potter in Sargent, MO to her daughter Mary in St. Louis.

Short note asking for the means to pay on the grocery bill in Cabool.

George Potter and Arch Brooks are hauling wood using Arch's mules.

Note:  Mrs Rivry is neighbor Arch Brooks' mother-in-law.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Mail Call: 5 November 1934 (David)

From David Potter in Sargent, MO to his sister Mary in St. Louis.

David doesn't need an offered suit or shoes, but wants corduroy pants and a "deerskin" jacket...a leather vest with sleeves and a zipper front.  Socks are a must.

Perhaps  this is something like the jacket in question.
I don't think Dave got one, though
David Potter
circa 1934

Third-page addition from George Potter to his daughter Mary:

"The old Buick has a bad case of jitters and I look for it to give a gasp and quit any time.  Dave is the only one that can make it run and he works with both hands & feet & sometimes then she stops on the road & then everyone gets out and pushes"

Signed J. Bascom Twitch

Monday, October 24, 2016

Sorghum cakes?

Sorghum Cakes (not Gladys' recipe),
background is a
Rag rug by Gladys Potter circa 1960

The previous two letters from Grandparents Gladys and George Potter mentioned sorghum production on the Sargent, MO farm and the desired end product, sorghum cakes.  That got me doing some research.  I don't have the Potters' recipe, but the following one is contemporary (from "A Taste of the Past" compiled by author Phyllis Connor in the 1990s from old-time cookbooks.)

The method is demented, but it produces a very good cake without milk or eggs.  The cinnamon also could be optional, since the sorghum flavor is rather strong.  If Betty the cow did not provide butter, I suppose any available shortening would work.

There are many more elaborate versions of Sorghum Cake with milk, eggs, additional spices, dried fruit and so on available from "Mr. Google," but this one is both minimalist and surprisingly good.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sorghum syrup

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (Not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking soda (Not baking powder)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup water, boiling(!)

Preheat oven to 325F
Grease 9x9 inch cake pan

Cream butter and sugar
Add Sorghum syrup to butter and sugar

Sift together the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, cinnamon)

Mix the dry ingredient mixture
into butter/sugar/sorghum cream...gently.

Add boiling water, stir until mixed well.  The batter will foam up somewhat.

Pour into pan, bake 45 minutes or until the top springs back and/or a toothpick comes out dry.

Let rest on a rack for 20 minutes then turn the cake out and let it cool completely.

Tech note:  The soda is reacting with acids in the sorghum syrup to provide leavening, the boiling water helps speed the reaction.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Mail Call: 23 October 1934 (George)

Letter from George Potter in Sargent, MO to Mary Potter in St. Louis, who was still working on a temporary basis and living with George's sister Dora and her husband Walt Bremerkamp in E. St. Louis.  The temp job is across the river in St. Louis itself and so carfare eats into her pay.

Johnny cake and fresh milk from Betty the cow for supper....with the promise of sorghum syrup for cakes.

Note: "Lucile and Em" are Emma Jane Potter Parker (1878-1953), George's sister,
and her daughter Lucille Parker Quested (1897-1968) back in Erie County, PA.

Note:  "Brooks" is neighbor Arch Brooks.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Mail Call: 14 October 1934 (Gladys)

Letter from Gladys Potter in Sargent, MO to her daughter Mary who is still working in St. Louis.

Late night bread baking..."Now can you smell it"...

Sorghum cane stripping on Oct 15 followed by syrup making (was there a cane mill in Texas Co.?)

David is "fixing flats for a pastime."

"Everybody has gone to bed but the cats & they are fighting"

"I have got to stop writing as the lamp is going out for the want of oil"

"If this letter isn't spelt correct, you fix it."

Note:  Brooks is neighbor Arch Brooks.  I cannot identify "Murdocks" or "Opal."
Mrs. Fieldens runs the grocery store which offers credit; there was at least one cash-only grocery in Cabool as well.

Note: Mrs  Brooks is Claudine Rivry Brooks, Arch Brook's wife.
I cannot identify "Paul Bird"
Dora is Dora Bremercamp, George's sister, in East St. Louis.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Mail Call: 4 October 1934 (Gladys)

Letter from Gladys Potter to her daughter Mary in St. Louis dated 4 October 1934.

Gladys has rescued an old red coat which George had given to the dogs and traded it to a neighbor for a bushel of wheat.  Grape picking by the creek then leads to poison oak and hands like a "horny toad."

Note:  Mrs. B is neighbor Arch Brooks' wife Celestine Claudia Brooks; the Mary who gets the dogs' coat is Arch Brook's daughter "Lizzie"

Note:  Dora is George's sister in E. St. Louis, married to Walt Bremerkamp

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Mail Call: 29 September 1934

From George Potter in Sargent, MO to Mary Potter, who is still working her temp job in St. Louis.

George is looking into buying the "New Southern" hotel in Houston, MO in trade for the farm.  This won't happen...but with Gladys cooking and a staff of good-looking daughters it might have been a hit.

Note:  "Walt" is Walter Bremerkamp, George's brother-in-law
(See photo below)
Mary was staying with the Bremerkamp family at the time.

The Bremerkamps of East St. Louis
Walter (1897-1972)
Robert (1926-2006)
Mary (1926-1933)
Dora Potter (1892-1966): George's sister
Photo circa 1929
Dora Potter Bremerkamp was seriously affected by the death of Mary Bremerkamp in 1933 of some childhood disease.  Dora put the child to bed with orders to stop fussing, but little Mary died overnight.  At the time Mary Potter was staying with her, Dora was involved in the Spiritualist movement.  The seances were what my mother remembered from that time.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Mail Call: 15 September 1934

Letter from George Potter to Mary Potter (15 Sept 1934) - a Saturday.  Mary is working in St. Louis at her temporary employer, while George is back in Sargent, MO.

The farm had a peach tree: 85 quarts of peaches canned without sugar...a wonder nobody died of botulism, since this would most likely have been hot-bath canning at 212F at best.

The good part is on the second page...the car gets a flat, and David Potter fixes it, while Dorothy Potter and her friend Ruby Taylor decide they won't wait and walk on.  They get their comeuppance in a sudden rain storm.

Emma Potter Parker (1878-1953)
George Potter's younger sister back in Erie County, PA
who sent back some cash now and then.

Note:  Arch Brooks (1886-1968) was the Potter's neighbor.  His property surrounded the Potter farm on all sides.  Mary was his daughter.

Mail Call: 1 September, 1934

Letter from George Potter to my mother, Mary Potter, dated 1 Sept 1934 (a Saturday):  By this time in 1934,  Mary had finally found a job in St.  Louis, MO, after spending 3 years in business school in Tulsa, OK.  The job was temporary/provisional but fortunately lasted longer than its original 10 day run.

Any earlier letters (1930-1934) were not preserved, assuming I don't find some in unexpected places in the files.   After a year or so farming in Sargent, MO, George is looking to doing something else.  That isn't going to happen, though. 

George Potter (1875-1943)

Note:  the "flappers" are Marjorie and Florence although,
in the singular, Florence is usually "Flapper" and Elaine "Soph"

Monday, June 6, 2016

16 July 1919: Tulsa, Oklahoma; A letter from George Potter

I found the following 1919 letter from George Potter to his daughter Mary back in Erie, Pennsylvania in a box of miscellaneous holiday and gift cards, mostly from persons unknown to me, rather than in the carefully-sorted files where Mary kept her (many) old letters.

This letter is special, if a bit odd, since it is addressed to Mary (age 8 at the time) but gives instructions on what to pack and move from Pennsylvania to Oklahoma, and how to pack things.  It provides an interesting mental inventory of a household of the time, although in a form Gladys Potter probably neither needed nor wanted.  George has been in Tulsa for a while (he has an "ingrown appetite" from living in boarding houses), but his family would not arrive until January, 1920.

There seems to have been a rather good piano to sell (perhaps Mary Minerva Hasbrouck Potter had played once...although Victorian parlor furnishings may well have included a piano without anyone able to play it).  There was also a chair with Mary Hasbrouck's grandfather's name (Robert Heath) mentioned specifically...I wonder what happened to it.

Please click the letters to enlarge them if necessary.

Letter, July 16, 1919
The inflation factor 1919-2016 is about 20x

note:  the Benders mentioned here are Gladys'
aunt "Vine" Lore Bender (1865-1945)
and husband Eli Bender.  

Monday, March 14, 2016

Gladys Potter's Ancestors: Antoine Lore, River Pirate?

This post is an abbreviated version of the excellent family history which is being written by Roberta Estes on her blog  It is well worthwhile to read the full story there.

Grandma Potter's great-grandfather Antoine Lore was born after his parents, Honore' Lore and Marie LeFaille, had emigrated to Quebec from New York/Massachusetts after the British lifted their ban on the Acadians.   Their home was near the parish of Blairfindie, in what would become the town of l'Acadie.

credit: Histoire de L’Acadie, Provence de Quebec, published in 1908
via Roberta Estes
Antoine Lore's baptismal record shows that he was born sometime in March, 1805.  His father is a carpenter (joiner) and is able to sign the registry, unlike the witnesses:

Batismal Record of Antoine Lore, 1805
Ste-Marguerite-de-Blairfindie church
credit:  Roberta Estes
The 25th oMarch 1805, we the undersigned have baptized Antoine, born yesterday of the legitimate marriage of Honoré Lord, joiner, and of Marie Lafay of this parish.  The godfather was Antoine Crotteau and godmother was Rosalie Guerin, who (both) declared they did not know how to write.  The father has signed with us.
s/ Honoré Lore (sic)  s/ R. P. (Rev. Père) Lancto, Priest 
In 1831, at the age of about 25, he marries a Vermont girl, Rachel Hill, who is at most 15 or 16, having been born in 1815.  The marriage was by a Justice of the Peace, with no other information filled in.  Rachel's family is an old-time New England family with Mayflower ancestors and almost certainly Protestant.  Perhaps an elopement with an exotic and handsome older man?

Vermont is in easy reach of l'Acadie, traveling south up the Richelieu River to Lake Champlain and then a few miles east to Bristol and Starksboro.  Antoine was perhaps already an itinerant trader, as he would be later in life.

Birth Record
Rachel Levina Hill
credit: Roberta Estes
Marriage Record, 1831
Antione Lore and Rachel Hill
credit: Roberta Estes

There is no sign of Antoine and Rachel's whereabouts until 1843 where, according to Franklin Lore's descendants, Frank was born in Jamestown, Chautauqua County, New York.  There are, however, no official records to support this tradition.  William Lore was born earlier, in 1839, also in New York, probably in the same general area.

It is not probable that there were not other babies born between 1831 and 1839; they most likely died in infancy.  More died later.

Antoine (now "Anthony") and Rachel appear in the 1850 and 1860 census in Warren County, Pennsylvania, which is just down the Allegheny watershed from Jamestown, New York.  "Anthony" applied for US citizenship on June 2, 1862 in Warren County.  With a five-year waiting period before his final application, "Anthony" should have reappeared in 1867.  He does not, though, and so is presumed dead 1862-1867.  Rachel is gone shortly after the 1870 census.  She left a number of younger children, who were taken in by relatives or hired out as farm labor.

Several of the families who descended from Antoine Lore had stories about him and about his death.  He likely spent much of his life as an "Indian trader" or "River Pirate" on the Allegheny River. Roberta Estes' source for the "River Pirate" tale lived in Indiana yet used the local Allegheny River term and was embarrassed by the whole issue; this gives me some confidence in the story.  Allegheny river pirates were not pirates as such, but traders who supplied raftsmen on the river with beverages and other goods, mostly of inferior quality at untaxed prices.

The different family stories tend to agree that Antoine drowned, most likely in the Allegheny, possibly in the line of his duties, and probably murdered.  A capsized raft figures in one story.

"The Progenitor"
possibly Antoine Lore (1805-before 1867),
more likely his son Frank (1843-1916)
credit: Frank Lore Family, via Roberta Estes 
 This photo is of Roberta Estes' ancestor, Curtis B. Lore, much younger brother of William Lore.  One imagines William and their father Antoine had similar good looks as young men.  They certainly were persuasive to women.

Curtis B. Lore (1861-1909)
photo ca. 1887 (aged 26 years)
William H. Lore's Brother
credit:  Roberta Estes