Friday, February 29, 2008

1910 Souvenir Card from Pleasant Hill Grammar School, Houtzdale, Clearfield Co, PA

(click image for larger view)
One of my genealogical buddies sent me this vintage souvenir booklet from his hometown's grammar school. The cardboard booklet was probably tied together in one corner with a ribbon. I have really enjoyed Ellwood's knowledge of the town where my father and many of his family and friends lived. I heard stories of my dad and his boyhood chums jumping on the cars of the "Pennsy", the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, as it slowly climbed the hill through Ramey, PA, and then traveled on to Houtzdale. As the train slowed down through the next town, the boys jumped off the train, cleared the surrounding fences and headed toward a cowboy movie at the Sherkel theater.

One time, as the kids jumped off the train, they heard a loud hiss and several of the railroad cars separated. They thought they had disconnected the cars by some mishap. As one of the riders told me many years later, "We not only cleared the fence, we didn't even seeee the fence".

Over the years, I've done quite a bit genealogical research regarding inhabitants of the town- going through local cemeteries, reading old parish records of the German Lutheran church, and searching censuses. I recognized some of the names on this souvenir card.

Julius Viebahn, one of the school officers, was a leader of the German community. His daughter, Elizabeth Viehbahn, was apparently a teacher at Pleasant Hill. While most of Julius' German associates were coal miners, I believe Julius was a very successful merchant. A few years ago, another researcher named Rick contacted me because he was trying to collect data on all the Viebahn families in America. I sent him a picture of "our" Julius' tombstone in Brisbin cemetery. I was disappointed he didn't acknowledge my donation. But he had posted on his web site an image of a beer stein imprinted with the name of Julius Viebahn which I now present and acknowledge below:

The mug was made in PA, so perhaps "our" Julius had them manufactured to promote his business in Houtzdale.

Sadly, one of Julius' young children died at 10 years of age. The Parish Record of the German Lutheran church recorded that "Emil Viebahn, son of Julius Viebahn and wife, Margarethe, was born in 1890, died 9 Nov 1900 and buried 11 Nov, in Brisbin Cemetery, PA. The funeral in church was overcrowded. - Pastor E.A. Born". That was the second son of Julius to die at a young age. Both sons are buried at the I.O.O.F. cemetery in Brisbin.

Some of the students listed in the souvenir booklet were actually related to the teacher's mother. Mrs. Margarethe Viehbahn, nee. Lewis, was the aunt of Mabel Samuels and her younger brother, Edward Samuels, through their grandfather, Owen Lewis. You will have to go to the genealogical chart of my Father's web site to follow that relationship. Point is: school discipline was probably a family affair.

There are two Barnes children listed as students. There were probably related to Mr Thomas Barnes who started up coal mining operations in a young town in Cambria County, PA, which they named Barnesboro in his honor. The honor did not last, because at the millenium in 2000, the towns' father's merged Barnesboro with the adjoining town of Spangler and created a "modern" entity which they called "Northern Cambria" which I think is forgettable (is it north or northern?). And darn, another piece of my heritage gone.

Incidentally, William Todhunter, President School Officer, was also an official of Barnesboro Coal Company.

Oh yes, Nellie Rhodes, another student, was the mother-in-law of Ellwood Zimmerman, who sent me the images of this booklet. Nellie Dainty's mother, Mary Ann, nee. Dainty, was linked to my Hartley Line through her sister's marriage (Emma Dainty married Thomas Hartley in 1892). Got all that?

Source of Souvenir Booklet: Ellwood Zimmerman

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