Niagara County

Porter's Past - Oct 1998

Newsletter of the Town of Porter Historical Society
Vol. 22, No. 2, October, 1998
Vee L. Housman, Editor

Monthly meetings are held at the Youngstown Civic Center in the Civic Room located on the second floor and is elevator accessible. Meetings begin at 8:00 p.m.. Refreshments are served in the Historical Society museum after the meeting. Bring along a friend.



We have a new updated brochure and we're proud of the way it looks. Pick up a couple of them at the museum and hand them out to friends -- or even perfect strangers!


Our museum was open on Saturday and Sunday during the Harvest Days weekend, Oct. 9 and 10. Thanks to our volunteers who kept things running smoothly--namely, Cora Gushee, Janet Jachlewski, Mary and Fitch Cady, Bernetta Kelley, Joan Holmden and Vee Housman. We had a steady stream of visitors of all ages and it wasn't difficult for them to find something to fascinate them--the Victrola, the stereoscope, maps, pictures, and artifacts--from hair curlers and curling irons to pig ringers and cannon balls. And they all took a brochure home with them.


Renew your membership now while the price is right! $5.00 for individuals, $7.50 for families and $100 for lifetime membership. Dues will be increased on January 1, 1998, to $8.00 for individuals, $12.00 for families and $120 for lifetime membership.


This time of year means the end of summer, the beginning of crisp Fall days, beautiful Autumn leaves--and Monday Night Football! But to the farmer, it means the end of the growing season and the last of the harvesting. Let's now remember harvests of the past.

Niagara Falls Journal, May 26, 1894

YOUNGSTOWN. The recent protracted rain storm flooded half the farm land north of the Ridge Road and crops are suffering badly. The fruit has suffered the least of any yet, as the weather has kept warm through the storm. The roads and canals and many bridges are washed out. The county will be a heavy loser.

Niagara Falls Journal, July 23, 1892

Farmers have begun their wheat harvest and it promises a large yield. The hay crop has been the heaviest for several seasons.

Niagara Falls Journal, Aug. 20, 1892

RANSOMVILLE. Farmers state that rain has been too frequent for two weeks past and much damage may result. The barley and wheat crop have been fully harvested and the yield will not be up to the average. The yield of small fruits has been small thus far. It is said that the peach crop, though not up to the average, will be a fair yield. Apples are a failure except in a very few cases.

Niagara Falls Journal, Sept. 3, 1895

YOUNGSTOWN. During the past week the following gentlemen from the Town of Porter shipped specimens of fruit to the World's Fair to be placed on exhibition: John L. Hall, Duchess of Oldenburg apples; Peter S. Tower, Early Beatrice peaches; Henry Lutts, Red Astrican apples, Keswick Cadlery apples, Wild Goose plum, Abundance plum, Early Rivers and Early Louise peaches.

Niagara Falls Gazette, Sept. 23, 1930


W. W. Kincaid's Farm, Near Youngstown, Now Embraces Large Area and Is Model Establishment with Latest Devices for Cleanliness, Ease of Operation and Good Crops. Cantaloupes so large that a single man would have a diffult time consuming one at a sitting, water melons the reverse to size but of a deliciousness of meat which makes them a dainty for a queen, eggplant, asparagus and other vegetables and fruits of nearly every conceivable variety; things like these can be found on the farm of William W. Kincaid, president of the Spirella Company of this city. The farm is located on the River Road just as one enters the village of Youngstown. It is a truly marvelous establishment . . . .

Niagara Falls Journal, Sept. 24, 1892

RANSOMVILLE. About 2,500 baskets of peaches have been shipped from here thus far to Potsdam, Watertown, Camden, Adams, Rome, Gouverneur, and other points East. The daily shipment is from 100 to 400 baskets, and the price ranges from $1 to $1.25 a basket. Pears are worth $3.50 a barrel, and 800 barrels have already been shipped from this place. There will be a big grape crop.

Niagara Falls Journal, Oct. 29, 1892.

E. T. Ransom's firm are buying all kinds of farmers' grain and produce, paying the highest market price.

[ Pennsylvania & Town of Porter ]

The following was written by T. A. Harter in his weekly column of the Keystone Gazette, Bellefonte, PA, which appeared between 1894 and 1904. It was written in the original Pennsylvania Dutch dialect and was translated by Bob James of Alaska. I believe that it was just as true for Town of Porter as it was for the Pennsylvania Dutch.


The other day I read an article about a man who wished he were a boy again, living at home on the farm. I doubt seriously if that man was raised as a boy on a farm. If he was, then he would have had big advantages over the boys being raised on farms in my days. I wouldn't wish for a farmer's life for myself, and anyone who would must be in pretty bad circumstances.

A farmer's boy. What was he? Born into a home burdened with plenty of work--if he didn't cry himself to death while his mother was out milking nine cows every morning and evening, eventually he'd find himself wearing pants, a pair of red leather boots, and being sent to school. He'd carry a lunch pail to school full of cold liverwurst, hard-boiled eggs, and apple butter bread to learn his A B C's. His legs were too short to reach the floor, and there he'd sit in his classroom all the live long day, glazing his coat sleeves with his nose.

As soon as he was old enough to work, his school days would grow shorter. At first he would miss school for chopping wood, which began in early spring and extended throughout the summers. Then came gathering stones from the cultivated fields, then building fences, harvesting corn, and at just about this time one of the biggest days on the farm would arrive.

It was sheep-shearing day. The day's fun consisted of catching half the sheep, holding them over a carpenter's bench with their heads forced downward, and giving the sheep lice a chance to crawl onto your neck and hair.

The next thing was planting corn. Four kernels to a stalk--one for the birds, one for the worms, and two to grow. Father would follow after with a hoe. If it wasn't done properly he'd come forward with his boot. Have you ever ridden a horse to plow a cornfield? Can you remember how sleepy you'd become and how you'd be jarred awake when a plough blade struck a tree root?

Then harvest would come. Five or six men would wade through the dense wheat fields cutting swaths which fell behind them in clumps as they passed. These were left for the lonely boy who trailed behind them by a half field, and whose chore it was to spread out the straw for drying. We'd always listen to the talk of the mowers as they gathered to whet their scythes. It was generally about girls.

The harvest is here. A dozen grain cradles and binders would be in the fields. Once again the boy is ousted from any fun. Again he follows alone from a half-field distance with his tzomma drawga. For his ten o'clock snack the boy gets a piece of cherry pie--but no whiskey. After dinner the men lie on the grass for an hour of rest, and the boy has to water the horses, hold the scythe handle while the old German blades were being pounded and sharpened, or crank the grindstone to grind the scythe blades until it's once again time to go back to the fields.

Then the oat harvest would arrive, and a ten-acre field would lie shaven clean on a Saturday afternoon. After everyone else had gone to the Sunday School celebration we'd go to the oat field mad enough to fight--but we'd go. In those days there'd be no back talk permitted if we had disagreements.

Finally, Fall would arrive. The corn would have to be husked, and the boy would be hustled out of his warm bed at four o'clock to harness nine horses, then wait behind the warmth of a wood stove until the coming of dawn. As soon as the workers arrived we'd be with them in the fields. We'd just as soon have wrestled with the devil himself than to pack a ripe corn shock. When thresher time was here we'd thresh during the days, and at nights we'd clean up. Have you ever sat in a wheat bin behind an old red windmill until ten o'clock at night with the cold grains of wheat behind your underwear tickling and itching? I think not so.

Right after the harvest celebration schooldays would return again. The first thing on the program would be a big fight at school. If you weren't beaten in the fight, the teacher would beat you later, and when you finally got home from school you'd be beaten again for having been beaten in school.

And so things went during my life on the farm. It passed quickly enough. Surely, there was no great joy in it, and I'd never wish to return to those days. But still I am glad that I once was a farmer's boy, because there I learned what hard work is, and not to fear the life of a working man.

And what did the farmer's son learn when he was lucky enough to go to high school in Wilson in 1931?

Niagara Falls Gazette, May 20, 1931

RANSOMVILLE, May 20. There was a splendid attendance at Ransomville Grange meeting last Saturday evening, to hear the speaking contest by the boys of the agricultural class of Wilson High School. There were five contestants who were introduced by their instructor, Mr. Dikeman. Those participating were Frederick Oldenberg, speaking against the extended use of machinery; Whitney Barnum, whose subject was "Shall the Farmer Specialize?" Clinton Perry gave a very interesting and instructive talk on "Irrigation"; Frederick Beutel, "Fighting Weeds," and Lee Stacey, "Tractor Farming." These topics were very ably and creditably handled by the contestants. . . .



Contributed by Vee L. Housman, courtesy of Town of Porter Historical Society.

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