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Memories of Farm Life on "The Redlands" in the 20's and 30's

Madelyn Hartman Smith Fortna

I was born March 26, 1921, the day before Easter, in Mount Joy Township, Adams County, in the house known as the Keefauver Homestead, or "The Redlands" where my grandmother, Rose Emma Mariah Keefauver Smith, was raised. I lived there in 1921-1932 and again in 1939-1944. Dr. Harry Hartman, a first cousin of my grandfather, Rev. J. Stewart Hartman, delivered me. This was the horse and buggy days, so Dr. Harry came and spent the day until I made my appearance. Grandmother (Ella Flickinger Hartman) came to help Mother.

This farm had 150 acres and was used for general farming. The house on this farm was built in the 1700's, colonial style, with a fireplace in every room, including the bedrooms and basements. The material for the brick was gotten from the quarry in a nearby field. When I was small, we heated the living room with a ten-plate stove. Mother cooked on it sometimes, and she had a big wood range. We burned wood in these stoves most of the time, but during the Depression, we often burned ear corn because it was hard to sell and because it burned with a very hot fire. We had no electricity until 1941 when the Rural Electrification Program made it possible, and we never had any indoor plumbing as long as we lived there.

Our water was pumped by the wind from a well at the barn. It was from this windmill that my brother Smitty and I got paddled one time because we crawled to the top and couldn't get down! The water was pumped into a cistern located under the barn hill and then flowed by gravity to the watering trough and to the cold-water spigot in the kitchen. If the wind didn't blow for three or four days, we would run out of water and have to take the cows to the meadow for water where there was a never failing spring, and we had to carry water to the house in buckets. It was in this spring that my brothers would catch snapping turtles.

We did have a telephone some of the time and could talk to our neighbors. This line was owned by the farmers and was maintained by them; so many times, the service was out because a tree or limb had fallen across the line. As I remember, our ring was a long and two shorts. You would ring that with the little crank on the side and everybody on the line could hear that ring and could listen in on the conversation- there were no secrets, but a good way to communicate with the neighbors.

We had three horses and a mule during my early childhood: Colley, Joe, Jack the mule and Bird, Joes' mother. Colley was a pet- anyone of us could do anything with her. In winter, we rode her to school, Horner's School, about a mile down the road. Smitty was the driver, my younger brother Jim sat in the middle holding the lunch boxes, and I rode on the back with the books. When we got to school, Smitty put her reins under the throatlatch of her bridle, and told her to go home. Only once Daddy had to go look for her- she had gotten in Howard Schwartz's back field because the bars had been left down and she couldn't find her way out. She would eat grass on her way home and sometimes didn't get there until noon. At that time there were only dirt roads, so in winter, mud would get hub deep, and only horse and buggy or sleigh and horse could get through. When I was a child, we did have a car sometimes, to use when the roads were passable, but several times during the Depression, we had to depend on the horses.

We always had Holstein cows. It was Daddy's dream to have a registered herd, but he never made it. We also had red hogs, ducks, geese, and chickens. Everybody had their assigned work for mornings and evenings to take care of the stock. Daddy and I did the milking and the boys did the feeding, cleaning stalls, etc. (How strange life is; sometimes I have trouble remembering what I did yesterday, but I can still name each cow as she stood in the stable.) Each cow had her own stall and knew it well.

We usually had 6 or 8 ducks, which had to be penned up every night so we could get their eggs. Their pen was under the corncrib. Our chickens had free range, so some laid in the chicken house while others hid their nests in the barn. We always had a few geese. They were good watchdogs and a treat to eat on holidays.

The first dog I can remember was "Spriggs", a black and white bulldog. Daddy had her bred each year and sold the puppies for $5.00 for the males and $2.50 for the females. He always had a list of people waiting for the. "Cappy" was a beautiful collie who was trained to go for the cows. All we needed to do was open the barnyard gate and the meadow gate and say "Go get them". In a very short time the cows would be coming up the hill to the barn. All the time I went to high school I milked, by hand, 10 to 12 cows every morning and evening. The milk was put into 85-pound cans and had to be cooled with well water, a job I hated. We had to stir the milk until it cooled and in hot weather, sometimes we had to change the water in the tank several times. The first milk haulers were the McCleaf boys. They came every morning around 7 am. Then Lloyd Yingling took over. When I was a really little girl, before I helped to milk, we had to take the milk down to the Taneytown Road in a stick wagon where Hershey Creamery Company picked it up. That is when Shorty Witherow worked for us. We often had farm hands who lived with us as family- some I remember: Shorty, Morris Fissel, Hayward McCleaf, Watlter Bloom.

We lived on what we grew, only buying coffee, sugar, molasses. (Molasses came in a large barrel, and you had to take your own jar to the store to be filled), and a few other staples we got at Grandpa Smith's store in Barlow. Our grandparents left the Smith farm below Horner's School and purchased the store from Abner Mills in 1915, and my Daddy helped run that until he married in 1917. On the farm we gathered wild strawberries and raspberries. Mother used to make jellies and shortcake. We had black, red, and white cherry trees on the farm. The Derr family picked them for the half. That meant if they picked 6 buckets full, the Derr's got 3 and Mother got 3. We gathered hickory nuts and black walnuts and would pick them out during the winter when it was too cold and ugly to work outside. Mother always had a garden, planted 10 pounds of onion sets (they had to last all winter), and lots of other things as she canned enough to last the winter. We grew 10 to 25 bushel of potatoes, depending on the weather. We always used the big ones first- Daddy used to say "Always pick he best, and you will always have the best to pick from".

Brother Jim was always inventing something or training something; he hated real work. He trained one of our young bulls to pull the garden plow. It would have been much simpler to use a horse, but not him. Daddy had a forge in the corner of the workshop that he used when repairing machinery. He did all his own repair work as well as shoe horses. Daddy had modern machinery compared to many of the neighbors- he had the first grain combine in Adams County and did custom work after our own grain was harvested. Before the combine, we used a binder to cut the wheat and oats, which had to be then shocked and threshed. Mike Witherow owned the threshing machine, and would go from farm to farm threshing with his big steam engine. It would take 10 or 12 men on threshing day, so neighboring farmers helped each other. Mother had to cook dinner and supper for all those men, and it usually took two days. Silo filling time was the same- that was when the corn (green stalk) was cut up and put into the silo for the cattle' winter-feed. When the wheat was thrashed, the straw was blown out into the barnyard, and was used for bedding the animals during the winter. Farmers competed to see who could build the best stack. Uncle George Geiselman was considered the best as it had to be stacked in a certain way so that the rain would run off and not soak in.

A job I hated to do was setting up the corn plants, following the corn plow. The corn had to be plowed at least twice during the growing season to keep the weeds out. This was done by two horses pulling a plow that worked two rows at once. Then we kids had to follow the plow and uncover any stalks that got covered with dirt- the bigger the corn, the less we had to do, but still a stinky job. Another job I didn't like was minding the cows. Normally, the cows were pastured in the meadow, but after the crops were harvested, Daddy wanted the cows in those fields to eat any grass that was there so someone had to watch them so they stayed where they were supposed to be. We usually did it on horseback.

In the fall, as soon as we husked corn, we would fill the oven of the wood stove with nice big ears and roast them for several days. We would then shell it and take to Mr. Anderson's mill near Harney, where he would grind it into meal. At that time Daddy would take several bushel of wheat too, and have it ground into flour for our winter's supply. Mr. Anderson was from Virginia and knew someone who grew white hominy corn, so we always got 25 or 30 pounds of hominy from him. Our winter's breakfast always included hominy. Each morning Mother would put a cup of hominy in a gallon crock and fill it with water on the back of the stove. By the next morning, it was ready to fry- great with eggs or pudding.

We killed our own pork and beef each year. When we were all home, we would butcher hogs in November, kill the beef in January, and hogs again in February. We had no refrigeration, so the pork was either cured or canned. The beef would hang in the smokehouse, where it would freeze. As soon as it thawed, it had to be canned. Mother always aimed to have at least 100 quart of beef canned for the year.

Daddy cured the hams, shoulders, and bacons two ways-either sugar cure or salt brine. The salt brine would be made strong enough to float an egg. (Is it any wonder the meat was so very salty?) This would keep the meat through the summer until it was time to butcher again. Uncle George and Aunt Elsie Geiselman helped on Butchering Day - though it actually took two days. The first day the hogs were killed, scalded, scraped, and gutted. On the second day, they were cut up and we would make pan haus, pudding, render the lard, and stuff the sausage. The pudding meat (hog skin, livers, kidneys, and bones were all cooked together in a big black kettle and when soft, it was ground together. The broth, thickened with flour and corn meal, was used to make the pan haus. If you wanted scrapple, you just put some pudding meat in it. Aunt Elsie always cleaned the intestines that were then soaked in salt water overnight, and the next day, stuffed with sausage meat. You made the sausage meat by trimming the hams and shoulders. We always tried to keep it as lean as possible, as all the fat was put into the lard kettle which was cooked (rendered), and then put through a press. The liquid was the lard and the solids were the cracklings.

We had a place in our first basement (we had 3 rooms in the basement- one for washing, one for potatoes and one for apples) for two big black kettles where we did the butchering day cooking. These same kettles Mother used to heat the water to do her washing. When we butchered at Uncle Georges, we had to build the fires outside for the big kettles, so it had to be a clear day. Butchering day was always a big day for all. Daddy always got Frank Currens to kill he beef- Mr. Currens did this for most of the neighbors.

In 1928 Daddy had our woods, about 15 acres of large trees, cut out. A Mr. Metz came that winter and moved his sawmill in. He worked there all winter- we kept his four big white horses in our barn. The horses were used to drag the trees to the sawmill.

The great Depression hit in 1929 and the next 10 years were very tough. No one had any money. Some people committed suicide because they lost their farms. My Grandfather Smith (J. Carna) was on the board of Directors of the Littlestown Savings Institution, and he lost all his money when it closed. As an 8 year old, I lost my life savings of $30. During this time we had calves we couldn't sell for $5. Our bread man came twice a week and we got 4 loaves each time for $.32. Often Mother had trouble finding that $.32. When we didn't have a car, we used a horse and buggy, or we had surrey with a fringe on top. In the wintertime at least one or two nights each week, neighbors would come in and play 500, a card game.

We all worked very hard in harvest time, with long days, daylight until dark. The Hartman Family reunion was always held ion June 18th, Grandma Hartman's birthday. That was the one day we always took off, even though it was in the middle of harvest. We dressed in our Sunday best, and went to Harrisburg, Littlestown, or Cavetown, depending on whose turn it was to entertain. [The Hartman Reunion continues to this day.]

Another big day was the Sunday School picnic. We usually got 10 cents to spend, which would buy a hot dog and an ice cream cone. It was held in Benner's woods in August. We always went to Mt. Joy Lutheran Church, where Mother and Daddy were very active. Mother taught the Young People's class as long as I can remember.

Saturday night was bath night. Since we had to electricity or plumbing, we each took our turn in the kitchen using a little tin bathtub. We could sit up in it. The water was heated in the tank attached to the cook stove. We rarely had toothpaste. Usually we used baking soda or salt.

The day we went for a Christmas tree was always a big day. We had lots of cedar trees on the farm, so it was always a cedar tree. (Usually we chose too big of a tree; they look much smaller on the stump than they did in the house!) We always looked for the perfect tree as we had hundreds to pick from. Christmas Eve we always went to church, where we all had recitations or parts in the play. I can still see Smitty, Edwin Benner, and Addison Durborow in their shepherd costumes and crooks going down the aisle. After the program, Santa would come, and give each child a pound bag of candy and an orange- a real treat. During the Depression, Daddy sold cedar trees for Christmas to a man who came with a big truck and loaded on all he could for $.25 a tree. There was never any sign of Christmas until Christmas Day except the bare cedar tree. After we came from church, we kids all went to bed. Mother said she decorated the tree while Daddy slept on the couch. For years we had Christmas dinner at Grandpa and Grandma Smith's house. We were luckier than a lot of children, because of Grandpa's store. Every time we went there, which was often, Grandma would say "Go get your piece of candy". We were given a 1-cent piece, which in those days was a big piece.

Brothers Jim and Smitty would make extra money catching squabs, baby pigeons, in the barn. Both also trapped for skunks. These traps had to be checked every day. A #1 skunk was almost all black, and was worth the most, around $1. A #4 skunk had a white strip from head to tail and was worth only about $.25. The all smelled the same. The boys would catch frogs too, at the spring in the meadow; a meal of frog legs was delicious. When the boys would get a snapping turtle, it was kept in the rain barrel at the cellar door until Mother could make turtle soup.

We used to fish too- had a pond down near the woods that had catfish in. We would wade in and make the water muddy, then the catfish would come to the surface and we would throw them out onto the bank using a piece of mosquito netting between two sticks. (Jim's invention.) We would fish in Rock Creek too, near the store. Ascension day was a family outing to Red or White Rock with a picnic lunch. In summer, the Yingling brothers held an auction every Thursday. As a reward for working hard, Daddy would buy a bunch of bananas, watermelon, or cantaloupe, for a treat. We would cool the watermelon in the hand-dug well at the house that was 25 or 30 feet deep. We would put the melon in a grain sack, tie it shut with a rope and let it down for a day or two to get cool. When ready, we would just pull up the rope.

We always had two gallons of ice cream on the back porch in wintertime. We could make it with snow or ice from the creek. We often made 2 gallon every other day. Since we had no refrigeration, each morning we would save about a gallon of milk for Mother to cook with. As the milk soured quickly, Mother had ways to use it, like flannel cakes, cookies, etc. If she should need milk for supper in the summertime, I often went down in the field and milked old "Pol". You could milk her anyplace and from either side; all other cows were milked from the right side.

In the fall of 1944 our farming days came to an end when we moved to Gettysburg. My brothers had gone into the army, Daddy was chief clerk to the Adams County Commissioners, and I had started working for the Adams Electric Cooperative. The Redlands farm was sold in the late 40's and the Smith farm in 1964.

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