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                      Pioneer Life in Greenwood
                  “The Canisteo Times” - Canisteo, Steuben Co., NY
                   July 26, 1888 - Sept. 13, 1888
                   As related by Dennis McGraw, of Purdy Creek"
                   Missing text and name index provided by 
                   Sharon Stephens Kiser
                   updated: 3/14/2000 

   
 
 
                      Pioneer Life Name Index New! 
 
          The articles related by Dennis McGraw were put to print from
        the News articles - Sharon Stephens Kiser has provided the
        Forward and the editor's notes from the book.  We are greatful
        for the time that it took Sharon to type this information out 
        for us.  Thanks Sharon! 
 
 
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                              FOREWORD 
 
              The gathering of historical facts and compiling a logical
           chain of events in the life span of small country community
           such as ours, is a tedious and usually fruitless job, and 
           then again, there are the good times. 
 
           James Hope, Steuben County historian, while looking through
        a book of old newspaper clippings in the Village Library of 
        Bath, N.Y. discovered an article about Greenwood. He made copies
        of the article and mailed them to me. The article had been 
        written by a man named Dennis McGraw, for the Canisteo Times 
        and was reprinted by the Steuben Advocate in 1888. 
 
               The "Pioneer Life in Greenwood", was a large missing
                          part of Greenwood history. 
 
                   It needed to be enjoyed by everyone.
                   It needed to be preserved for the future.
                   It needed to be printed!!! 
 
               So, thanks to a Town Board that provides good 
           equipment and a Historical Society that cares.-- 
           We present, in his original words, in his spelling,
           with his punctuation and with his feelings, "PIONEER
           LIFE in GREENWOOD", by Dennis McGraw—1888 - Ed Mullen,
           Town Historian 
 
            First Printing - March 1983 - Greenwood, N.Y. (100 copies)
            Second Printing - December 1983 - Greenwood, N.Y. (100 copies) 
 
 
 
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                         Issue date: July 26, 1888 (1) 
 
                     It may seem strange to some that I now take 
               up my pen to write, this late day, of pioneer life
               in Greenwood, as I think there are some incidents 
               that happened in those early days that will be of 
               interest to the rising generation as well as to the
               few surviving friends, to have them published so 
               they can contrast the present state of things with
               what transpired when this country was a wilderness.
               I hope the reader of these sketches will make some 
               allowances and not expect too much from an old man 
               seventy-four years old, and as you may say, "brought 
               up in the woods, " where he could not enjoy the
               blessings of the free schools of to-day, that you 
               all enjoy. So if my reminiscences is not couched in 
               the prosy and grammatical language of the historian,
               you need not be disappointed. Things will be told 
               just as they happened and in my own way. Some things
               have happened that I have always thought should be 
               made known and published to the world at large, in 
               order to give honor to whom honor is due, and had 
               it not been for this I should not have undertaken 
               this task. I shall also touch upon the habits and 
               customs of sixty years ago. With this explanation 
               I will proceed with my narrative.
                    Sixty-two years ago my father, William McGraw,
               moved from the town of Dryden, Tompkins County, to 
               Greenwood, with a family of eight children. We left
               Dryden in May, for what we then thought the far West.
               My father was poor and we moved with an ox tea, and 
               drove one cow; our load was heavy and our progress 
               slow, but we were so delighted with the thought that
               we should soon reach the "Promised land," that we 
               did mind going slow if we only got there, and in 
               time we arrived in the County of Steuben. We came
               by way of Painted Post, and there saw the redman
               pictured out on a post, and I shall never forget 
               what an impression the sight made on my young mind. 
               We came along up by what was then called the Chimney 
               Narrows, where the Mayburry gang of robbers used to 
               waylay peddlers and appropriate the booty to their 
               own use. The gang had been broken up and Duglass 
              (Douglas -JAC) hung for the murder of Ives, still
               we were on the lookout. We finally arrived at William 
               Bennett's. Mr. Bennett had just moved into his new 
               brick tavern, and I can tell you there was a mighty
               contrast between his castle and the buildings that
               were to be seen all through this country. We staid
               with Bennett over night and the next morning started
               up Bennett's Creek. It being 14 miles to our 
               destination, we proceeded slowly along, as our team 
               was legweary and the road horrible. The road led 
               through a dense pine forest where a part of the 
               way the track was just wide enough to let the wagon 
               through and in some places it would sink in the mud 
               up to the hub of the wheels. We had not traveled more
               than a mile or two when we were forced to hire another
               yoke of oxen and "double up," making tow teams, and 
               then we had all we could do to get along. We finally
               made seven miles up the creek that day and put up for
               the night with a gentleman named Bachelder, and in
               the morning continued our journey, arriving at Levi
               Davis'. Mr. Davis came from Tompkins county a year
               or two before and was keeping tavern and store in a 
               small log house, one story and a half high, and the
               space he occupied with his goods was about six by 
               ten feet, doing a thriving business. Mr. Davis was a
               energetic man, made things move about him and
               accumulated a good property before he died. 
                      All the pioneers were hardy, industrious and 
               healthy, and were always glad to see and welcome 
               new neighbors. 
                       We had now about four miles to travel before
               our journey ended, and in the evening arrived at
               Richard Krusen's who then kept tavern and was land
               agent. We stopped with him over night and the next
               morning we arrived at my uncle's, Joshua R. Goldsmith,
               who came out the fall before. Uncle and father had
               taken up 160 acres of land and divided it between them,
               each having 80 acres. My uncle had chopped one acre for
               us so it was ready to burn, log and clean off. We moved
               in with uncle to live until we could build a cabin for
               our own use. We blocked it up with logs, and the roof 
               was made of bark peeled from trees, and for flooring 
               we split out slabs. The floor was built 18 inches
               from the ground, and was just long enough to hold 
               the bed and set the table on, and the edge made a 
               capital seat for the children, and in front was a 
               space of about six feet were the ground formed the 
               floor. The end of the cabin was left open were we 
               built our fire to cook our meals on. 
                       Now I want the reader to take a walk with
               me back to Canisteo, to Bennett's, Col. Bill Stephens,
               Capt. Elias Stephens, Jacob Doty and Benjamin Stephens'.
               It is here we had to come to get corn, and all our 
               supplies. This was our Egypt. Every man had to hawl
               (haul - sic-JAC) all his living up this dismal road 
               let it cost what it would. Those who had no teams had
               to shoulder a bushel or more of corn on his own back
               and carry it up this awful road to feed his little
               darlings at home, living in a shanty without windows
               or doors, and oh, how sweet it would be when it came
               on the table. You can see how we had it then and how
               you have it now. 
                        In speaking of things that happened along 
               this road, it brings to mind the first time we passed
               over it when we met an old hunter whose name was Ezra
               Stephens, who showed us the place where they found 
               Joshua Stephens, who was shot by the Indians. He told
               us all the particulars, as it happened just before we
               came to this section of the country and was the all 
               absorbing topic of conversation at that time.  I will
               now take the reader back to our cabin that we had got 
               in to. 
 
                          TO BE CONTINUED. 
 
 
 
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                           Pioneer Life in Greenwood - As related 
                by Dennis McGraw, of Purdy Creek [continued] 
 
                          Issue date: Aug. 2, 1888 (2) 
 
                         I will now take the reader back to our cabin 
                that we got into. The next thing was to clear off the
                acre of land chopped. We burned off the brush and logs,
                and planted it to corn, potatoes, cucumbers, squashes, 
                and a little of most everything, and got through the 
                eleventh day of June. We had an excellent crop of 
                everything we put in the ground that late day, and we
                felt proud that we had got in such a good country. 
                         I will now tell you how we stood financially!
                After counting the cost of moving and all other expenses,
                we had just sixteen dollars left to feed a family of ten
                until we could get a living off of our own land. At this 
                time we had an ox team and one cow, and there being no 
                pasture in town were we could turn them out, we had to
                turn them into the woods to live, and put a big bell on
                them that we could hear a mile, if the wind was right. As
                good luck would have it, the cow had a calf; we kept that
                in a pen while the old cow went off to feed, and when she
                had filled herself she was sure to come home to her calf. 
                          There was trouble in our shanty when the cow 
                came home the first night; we could smell her breath, and 
                that was not all, when we came to eat the mild we found 
                out what was the matter; she had been eating leeks. There
                were acres of them and the cattle loved them. We soon 
                learned that we too must eat leeks, and then we could 
                eat the milk and butter. Every inhabitant that time had
                to let their cattle run in the woods and every head had 
                a big bell on. Sometimes they would wander off in the
                woods and could not be found in two or three days. You 
                had better believe there was trouble when we did not 
                get the cows at night as it cut off the supply of milk 
                and butter. It also dried off the cows, they not being 
                milked regularly. Sometimes they would go four or five 
                miles to find grass. They frequently went down to 
                Andover as there the timber had been cleared off and 
                burned for the ashes, which were used to boil "black 
                salts, " which was at that time quite extensively used.
                (1) Sometimes there would be several droves of cattle
                together and the cow boys would drive them all home and 
                you had ought to have seen the sight and heard the 
                different chimes of the bells. 
                          Young folks are naturally timid in the woods 
                and they may want to know if there are any wild animals
                at that time. Yes, the woods were full of them. I have 
                counted twenty-eight deer in one drove, and there were
                bears, wolves, panthers, and wild cats. It was a great 
                blessing to the old inhabitants that there was game in
                the woods and fish in the streams. We could not have 
                lived without them. To illustrate and give you some idea,
                I will tell you what an old settler in the town adjoining
                told me. He went to do a day's work at sunrise -- that was
                the custom then -- and worked about one hour when he began
                to feel that it was most breakfast time, when his employer
                says: "Peter, we have no meat for breakfast; you will have
                to kill a deer." So Peter started, and says: "Boys, when
                you hear me shoot, come and help me in with it." He had
                not been out of sight long before they heard the report
                of his gun, and sure enough he had shot a fine deer and 
                they had the meat in good season. The custom was then,
                when any one killed a deer to divide it was with his 
                neighbors. Every one had a piece. The streams were full
                of speckled trout until they built sawmills.
                           Speaking of our meat supply, we used to watch
                deer licks. These were places where the water was brackish,
                where they would come and suck the water, and we used to
                go and watch for them nights. We would build a scaffold 
                in a tree near by, twenty or thirty feet high, and have
                some dry torch wood burning that would not blaze, then 
                have a bunch of shavings tied up ready, and sulfur matches.
                When we heard a deer come in the lick we would apply the 
                match to the burning torchwood and then we could see to
                shoot. The light on them in the night makes them look 
                white. They were hunted in various ways. Sometimes we
                would find them with the cows, they having got used to
                the cowbell. Sometimes we would make a lick by boring a
                hole in a log and fill it with salt, and watch when they 
                got at work at it and kill them.
                            When we first came to Greenwood, before there
                had been any fire in the woods to make it sprout, it was
                the nicest woods I ever saw; they were open and one could 
                ride on horseback most anywhere. On the up-land the timber
                was mostly beech and maple. The maple was a great help to 
                the people as from them we got our sugar and molasses. The
                beech used to furnish feed to fat our pork and to call in
                pigeons to nest which supplied us with young "squabs." 
                They used to nest here in an early day, every bearing year.
                Once when at work in the sugar camp on the head of 
                Bennett's Creek, about five o'clock in the evening, we 
                discovered pigeons in clouds; there were so many of 
                them they fairly darkened the sky, and they kept coming
                until dark when the tree tops was black with them. 
                After night fall we thought we would get a large
                quantity of them by falling trees one against another,
                but in that we were disappointed, for as 
                soon as we struck a tree with an ax they would flutter off.
                We never got one pigeon that night, but we got what was
                better. They nested that year in the big marsh and we got
                any quantity of "squabs," as fat as butter. People came a
                great distance with wagons and barrels, and fell acres of 
                timber to get them It was a sight to see and one that we 
                never shall see in this country again.(2) 
 
                                  TO BE CONTINUED. 
 
 
 
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                              Pioneer Life in Greenwood - As related 
                    by Dennis McGraw, of Purdy Creek [continued] 
 
                          Issue date: Aug. 9, 1888 (3) 
 
                    Mr. Editor, I beg pardon, you must indulge 
             in me and publish this in addition to pioneer life in 
             Greenwood: I feel that I have omitted to do Levi Davis 
             and his family justice. I want to say right here that 
             Davis's was always headquarters in Greenwood, and is 
             to this day. Much of the development of the town was 
             due to Mr. Davis and his family. I mean to give honor 
             to whom honor is due. There are some now living in that
             town that he helped into business when they were poor, 
             that are well-to-do to-day, that were witnesses to what
             I now write. He had an interesting family, smart,
             intelligent, and all made useful citizens in town. Mr.
             Davis once represented this Assembly district in our 
             state legislature, and filled many places of trustwith 
             credit, before he passed away, and uncle Levi and mother
             was looked up to for council in those days, and were
             missed more than any two inhabitants in town. I will now
             speak of Redmond Davis, he having recently passed away. 
             I must confess that I never knew his parents. He once 
             represented in the Assembly of this state with honor. 
             He was a help to the town, full of alms deeds, and left
             the world the better for having been in it.
                     John Davis, of whom I will now speak was a 
             liberal man. He was the baby when we came to town. I 
             was intimately acquainted with him, am glad of this 
             opportunity to speak of his good qualities. He too done
             much for his town, represented it in town, count and 
             state. After all his good deeds he was much abused on 
             account of the part he took in the contemplated Pine
             Creek railroad. He was an interesting man, and saw that if
             the road when through it would help the town, and it was
             no fault of his that it did not. If he erred, it was in 
             judgment, and we are all liable to make mistakes. Much 
             trouble came from that transaction, and cost to the town,
             by tow or three individuals, needlessly made, that were
             enemies to him, Davis, and I think an impartial republic
             will bare me out in saying John was right and they were 
             wrong. You know in every town there are men that are ready
             to make mischief and trouble. 
                       Once more we return to where we left off. 
                       We used to turn our hogs in the woods to fat on 
             beech nuts. It made for oily port but good eating for a
             hungry man who was glad to get even that. 
                       Of the sugar -- maple -- much could be said. A
             good sugar camp was to us then wheat the dairy is to 
             farmers now. We used to take sugar to Monroe and 
             Livingston counties to sell and trade for pork and grain.
             I have done so several times and my neighbor used to do 
             it. We used to make sugar making a specialty. It was a
             great help to the old setters. We used to select maple
             timber to burn and make ashes to make "black salts." It
             used to sell for three dollars per hundred. In the winter
             season we used to work at burning timber for ashes also, 
             and once bought a barrel of buckwheat flour and paid $14 
             for it, with salts at three dollars per hundred, made in
             the dead of winter. Think of this when you peruse these 
             sketches and compare how we used to fare then and now. 
             We done all this with a will and never said I can't. 
                       Of pine and white ash timber much might be 
             said, and I may speak of it hereafter. 
                       We had no roads, no schoolhouses, no mills,
             no meeting houses, and were about on a footing with the
             red man, but we had a will, and where there is a will 
             there is a way. We went to work laying out and making
             roads, so new comers could get in. The next thing was
             to build a school house were we could send the children
             to school. We built what then went by the name the Crusen
             school house, of logs, with fireplace and chimney in one 
             end, and furnished it with rude benches. The next thing
             was to build a grist and sawmill. A man came from 
             Courtland (Cortland) county by the name of Aaron Burrows,
             who was a millwright, but too poor to build mills. We 
             finally told him if he would undertake it we would put
             in and help him, and we soon had a grist and saw mill,
             although rude things, they answered for the present,
             and that was all we wanted as we did not put on much 
             style those days. 
                         I will now take the reader back to our log 
             cabin. As our money was short, myself and my oldest 
             brother, William had to go out to work, and father took
             a tramp to find work for us and finally succeeded. He 
             hired me out to Captain Elias Stephens, then keeping 
             tavern the next house below William Thomas', and my 
             brother William he hired out to Jacob Manning, then 
             living on Bennett's Creek. Father and the rest of the
             little boys done what they could to improve our humble 
             home. They chopped a little fallow to get in some wheat
             that fall. This being the first time of my going out to
             work, you must imagine my feelings. I was very lonesome.
             I missed somebody very much. Who do you suppose it was? 
             It was my dear mother. I did not know how much I loved 
             her until I found myself among strangers and away from 
             our dear little cabin. Not that I was not used well as 
             they treated me splendidly. I found Mr. and Mrs.
             Stephens to be very generous, but to use the language
             of the poet, "The sun may rise in other skies, but not
             half so bright as at Greenwood." This will give the 
             readers some idea of how the young boys fared in the
             woods. 
 
                             TO BE CONTINUED. 
 
 
 
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                           Pioneer Life in Greenwood - As related by 
                 Dennis McGraw, of Purdy Creek [continued] 
 
                        Issue date: Aug. 16, 1888 (4) 
 
                       At the time I worked for Mr. Stephens I was
             lonesome and frequently went over to what we then called
             her the widow Rhoda Stephens, and heard her tell the tale 
             of woe of the Indians shooting her husband. I got some 
             acquainted with her children, Bessie, Abby, Clinton and 
             George. We use to go after the cows together. Most all 
             of these I speak of have passed away, but I still cherish 
             them in my memory. People those days were more friendly to
             strangers when they are at the present time. There was at
             that time a man by the name of Davis living with Mr. 
             Stephens, he was what we then called "on the town." We
             having no poor or county house, the poor were sold to the
             lowest bidder, those that would keep them the cheapest 
             and they lived with the family and were happy and I think
             that is the way the poor should be cared for. Now it costs
             more to build county houses and keep our superintendents 
             than it does to keep the poor. The worst man I worked for
             was Amos Lewis, he lived up the creek, the first house 
             below Levi Davis's he was a hunter. Did no labor much, 
             but made a living principally by hunting. The first day
             I commenced to work for him he told me in the morning what
             to do as he was going hunting. He told me to do this and 
             that, that it would have taken me a week to do. I was 
             going in with all my might, for I thought if all was not
             done when he came home he would be mad and then turn me
             off, but fortunately for me there came a man that lived 
             up at the head of the creek by the name of William Burger
             and, I told him my trouble. He soon cheered me up, and 
             said he had worked for Lewis and that was his way of doing
             business. You do what you can and it will be all right
             when he comes home, which proved to be the case. People
             kept moving in and I was getting acquainted with the new
             comers when they arrived. Every one would be interested 
             and would be ready to lend a hand. At that time there 
             was several log houses and barns going up, loging 
            (logging - sic.-JAC), spinning and quilting bees, and
             O how we used to enjoy it. I was full of life then, 
             though and quick, and hard to handle for a boy of my age. 
                   Most all the old settlers had large families of
             boys and girls and the young folks soon got acquainted
             and Sundays you would see them out in droves, going 
             sometimes four or five miles to meeting or to a quilting
             or spinning bee. They always went on foot for there was 
             no carriages or horses, and if there had been the roads 
             there such that they could not use them. These time will
             always be fresh in my memory. 
                     The people were healthy. We lived in town seven 
             years before there was a death of an adult and that was a 
             young man by the name of Oliver Bess, who was learning the
             hatters trade and was taken with the old typhoid fever.
             Several took it from him and died. At that time it looked
             upon in a different light to what it is now. The population
             is so great now and death so often that people get hardened 
             to it, but then it made a deep impression on the new 
             colony. There was no public burying place. They generally
             buried the dead on their own land or at some school house
             where they held meetings. 
                     Take a walk back with me to our cabin, the 
             center of attraction to me, for I loved the humble home, 
             for mother was there. The ensuing fall we got in about 
             one acre of winter wheat and built a log house with a 
             good shingle roof, plastered with mud. In October we went
             down to Canisteo to get corn. I husked first for William 
             Bennett. He then husked his corn on the hill. Each hand 
             would have a basket and take two rows at a time. The stalks
             were large and tall, ten feet high, and the corn splendid.
             We had a good time. Bennett was an old hunter and fisher. 
             He would go out most every time and fetch a string of fish
             or deer so as to have a change for his work hands. To tell
             the truth and make a long story short, the Canisteo people 
             generally were a noble, generous, big hearted people, and
             when we came down out of the woods they seemed to be on 
             a strife to see which could do the most for us. I can 
             never forget their kindness. If any body enjoyed life it
             was the old pioneers of Canisteo. Peace to their ashes. 
             We got our corn paid for, then father took the oxen and 
             went down the awful road and got it home. Winter set in 
             and we had not got one spear of grass to feed our ox team 
             and one cow and calf. We finally started out with the oxen
             and a rude wood shod sled and went into the town of
             Independence (Allegany Co., NY-JAC) and found a man by 
             the name of Stilmon (Stillman-JKC) that took us in and 
             let us thrash, paying us in rye straw. We took home a 
             small load of this, and that is all the fodder we had to
             keep four head of cattle that winter. We were chopping
             fallow all winter and killed the brush, and when we started
             out in the morning with the ax on our shoulder, the cattle
             knew what it meant and would follow, as they got each a 
             chunk of corn bread that was baked in the ashes and each 
             a handful of the straw we got at Stilmon's (Stillman's-JAC).
             In the spring you might put your hand on their ribs and 
             find their skin loose and they looked fine. 
 
                         TO BE CONTINUED. 
 
 
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                         Pioneer Life in Greenwood - As related by  
              Dennis McGraw, of Purdy Creek [continued] 
 
                   Issue date: Aug. 23, 1888 (5) 
 
                         The children had to go to school by a foot
             path and marked trees. The school district was large. My 
             oldest brother and myself could not go to school much, 
             for we had to work out to get our clothes. The first fine
             coat we got we went in the winter to Canisteo and cut 
             logs for Daniel Jamison, at five dollars a hundred, that
             averaged 18 inches top end we used to cut fifty logs a
             day on an average. The first fur hat I ever had I made 
             shingles and bought. The first fine shoe I ever had I
             bought myself. You see by this time I considered myself 
             a man, though young, I could do a man's work, and when 
             I went out Sundays or to some doings, I wanted to be as 
             respectably dressed as the rest of the young men. But at
             this time we had not much leisure time. Every one, male,
             and female had something to do. The men clearing the land 
             and the women folks spinning flax and wool and weaving to
             make our own linen and fulled cloth for every day wear.
             The girls worked as well as boys all had their work and the
             motto was then they that do not work neither shall they eat.
             It was no disgrace for the girls to have their sleeves 
             rolled up to the elbow and help mother wash dishes, and 
             if a young man happened in scud and hide because they 
             were caught at kitchen work. But I give you notice when 
             the work was all done and they did fix up it was an 
             imposing sight to see their healthy red cheeks, the 
             very picture of health, go five miles to meeting on foot. 
                         We had as smart and good looking set of girls
             as I ever saw in all my travels and I have been around a
             good deal. The boys were a full match for the girls,
             tough and hardy as bucks. Work did not make them 
             miserable then as it seems to now days, and one boy
             then would do more in one day than two can do now. 
             To give you some idea: I have cut seven acres of 
             grain, wheat, in one day and, my brother offered to
             bet fifty dollars that I could cut eight and no one 
             dare take him up. This was in Avon, Livingston county.
             There were men in Greenwood that could chop six cord of
             four foot weed in one day. We did not have none of your
             lightning saws then, when we wanted wood cut. It was just 
             so with the girls I know one girl that cooked and waited
             on a lot of us that were haying and helped mild a dozen 
             cows and churn and spin forty knots of yarn, all this in
             one day. Her name was Mary Davis and I call on Levi Rogers
             to prove it, who lives at Andover (Allegany Co., NY-JAC). 
                      The first celebration of the Forth of July in 
             town, was to Cameron Corners. We were quite patriotic at 
             that time. The old Revolution soldiers were not all dead 
             then and they used to be out in force on such occasions 
             and set at the head of the table and have a free dinner.
             I think Captain John Rogers was a marshal of the day and 
             Benjamin Brundage, orator. We had plenty of martial music,
             fifes and drums and they knew how to use them for we had 
             to train two or three times a year. Every boy that was 18
             years old had to do military duty. We got a nice pole and 
             had it in readiness. We were at a loss what to do, we had 
             no cannon. Finally there was a man by the name of Isaac
             Pickle, a blacksmith, took a wide piece of iron and doubled
             it together and brazed it and fastened in a birch pin, made
             a prime hole, then we took a large piece or block of wood,
             counter sunk it in the log and loaded it to the muzzle, 
             then we up with our pole and let the stars and stripes
             float to the breeze. Mr. Brundage gave a toast: Gentlemen
             we have raised a liberty pole for the sake of the little 
             fun we will make it manifest by firing Pickles gun. We 
             had a good time, all enjoyed it, old and young and at 
             night the young folks had a ball. We danced up stairs, 
             and the roof was low, we had to keep in the center of the
             building to keep our heads from hitting the rafters, but
             you had better believe there was decorum there. A good many 
             had moved in from the distant States and some were there for
             the first time. Each tired to excel in shaking the pigeon 
             wing and keeping scotch time. We had not go to cotillions
             much then. French four, the eight hand reel and three hands 
             and a half round were our favorites. You ought to have been 
             there and see for yourself. We all felt that we were on 
             trial for good behavior. This was our first Independence 
             ball in town, and young men and women eyed each other close,
             for at that day if a young man did not pay his bill or got
             drunk or was caught in some mean trick he was out with 
             the girls, they had to carry themselves straight. Fine 
             clothes and jewelry were of no account then, but the 
             character and public sentiment was strong enough to frown
             on misconduct. 
                        Now we will harvest the little field of wheat 
             we had put in on our new farm it ripened very uneven and we
             were almost out of Johnny cake and wanted some wheat bread
             very much, so we cut some of the ripest spots and left it
             out in the sun a day or two and then thrashed it out with
             flails. Having no barn then, we laid down a couple of logs
             and laid sleepers on them, then laid planks or boards on 
             them and put up side boards then we were ready for business.
             Having no fanning mill we would scoop up a shovelful when 
             the wind blew, to clean the chaff out, then we would spread
             sheets on the old shanty roof and let it dry in the sun a 
             couple of days, then William and I took it on our backs 
             down to John Stephen’s to mill one morning before breakfast.
             That made the sweetest bread I ever ate in my life. During
             the dry time when we could not get our grinding done here
             we had to go to Belmont, Allegany Co. At that time where
             Wellsville now is was a dense pine forest and only one log
             cabin. There was but one wagon track and some places the 
             wagon wheels would go in up to the hub. Being out of bread
             Francis Krusen and I started each with a load of grain 
             to Belmont, then called Phillipsburg. Arriving there we 
             found the mill damn had just given out, and we could get 
             no grinding until repaired. So they told us if we would 
             help repair the dam they would board us and keep our teams
             Saturday we got our grist, having left home Monday morning .
             Saturday night we arrived home. We had each taken a small 
             grist for our neighbors and we staid so long that some of 
             them had to live on boiled millet, that we used to raise 
             those days. To illustrate there came a woman to our house
             that lived in a back settlement with two small children 
             and told mother she had eaten nothing in two weeks but
             nettle greens and nursed two children. One child weaned
             but she let it nurse with the baby to keep it from 
             starving. Think of this you that have every thing that
             heart could wish and be thankful that these old pioneers
             felled the trees, made the roads, built the school houses 
             and made the rough ways smooth and drove the Redmen out,
             conquered the wild beast and made things ready for you. 
 
                           TO BE CONTINUED 
 
 
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                        Pioneer Life in Greenwood - As related by
               Dennis McGraw, of Purdy Creek [continued] 
 
                        Issue date: Aug. 30, 1888 (6) 
 
                       Pleasure sleighs and carriages was out of the
             question in the woods. Sometimes we had to build and use 
             small logs for planks, and where there was swampy places we
             used small logs, laid down close together so an ox or 
             horse could not get their foot in the holes. I have seen 
             such bridges thirty rods long. Horses were not much used, 
             they could not live on browse and run in the woods, so ox
             teams was the order of the day. Some of the inhabitants 
             who had oxen had no wagons and would lay a bag of grain
             on the ox yoke and some would make what we call a dray,
             falling a small crotched sapling and cut it long enough
             above the crotch for a tongue, leave the prongs about 
             five feet long, fixing a platform on the crotch, put some
             auger holes in, then stakes, then side boards, forming a 
             box, then they were ready for business. There were but 
             few wagons and when any one had to go to Canisteo for 
             supplies, those that had wagons had plenty of 
             opportunities to lend. Most all the wagons in the place
             were old so they soon gave out. Sleighs were not used much
             until the country was cleared up. Our sleds then everyone,
             almost we made ourselves. We had to make all of our farm
             implements. Our harrows we made of crotched trees. Select
             one the right size, cut the right length, bore holes for
             the teeth, drive them in, put on the clevises and all 
             was ready. We made our own brooms, axe helves, forks, 
             hoe handles and some made their own bedsteads and used 
             bark for cords. Until we raised flax we used to use deer
             skin and woodchuck skin, tanned, and moose wood bark to 
             make flail strings and mittens and bag strings. Some wore
             buck skin breeches, and some times we had a deep fall of 
             snow some wore snow shoes made something like a long ox 
             bow with cross pieces to strap to the foot and travel on
             the snow. Sometimes children that had no shoes would go 
             out bare footed in the snow to play and when their feet 
             got cold hold up one foot to get it warm, then the other
             foot, and when they could stand it no longer spring in 
             the house.                                  
                       I was once going out to Avon, Livingston Co., 
             in the winter, with horses and sleigh. At that time there 
             was a piece of woods I would say a mile long. I there met 
             a girl twelve or fourteen years old, bare foot, going 
             through the woods, and her feet looked as red as geese
             feet. It used to be the custom for boys and girls to go
             bare foot in the summer and we use to bruise our feet 
             and have what we called stone bruises on our feet. It
             was a common thing to sometimes knock off a toe nail. 
             sometimes we would step on something sharp and cut a hole
             in the foot. After we got the land cleared up the fires 
             run in the woods, the berry brush began to come up and 
             soon berries were abundant. It was said by some that 
             Greenwood was great for blackberries and babies, and they
             were right, for I never saw so many berries and babies 
             as I have seen in Greenwood. It was a thriving place for
             most ever thing but money, that was not there. We had to
             go out of town to get money. We use to go out north 
             harvesting every year, great droves of us. We got good 
             wages those winters. We use to lumber and raft and go 
             down the river rafting. Every thing those days to get 
             money. We had to have a little to pay taxes and it was 
             handy to have a spare shilling in our pocket. While the
             reader has been reminding of babies I want to say right
             here that I think the old stock that sailed on the 
             Mayflower will soon be extinct on this continent and 
             this blessed and free country filled up with foreign 
             born. You are wise, think of these things and ponder 
             them well for they will soon stare you in the face. 
             Some of our best blood was shed in the Rebellion while
             aliens were exempt from going still they claimed our 
             protection, and I shall always think that our rulers 
             erred in judgment and did wrong in not having this 
             class of our population help to put down the Rebellion.
                  
                         Our mode of building was to cut logs roll
             them up on long skids until they were high enough for 
             beams, then they were pun on then we generally went about
             four feet higher, the plaits and rafters were put on, 
             and then we cobbed up at the ends with logs and tow foot
             up at the ends with logs and two foot shingle, and then
             bore two inch auger holes and put pins in, lay on a pole 
             for the butt of the shingle to rest against, then a block
             to each end, then another pole, and so on up, using no 
             nails. Our chimney was built in this way: Take stone
             and build the back up about four feet then we would get
             a couple of crooked poles resembling sled crooks and lay
             one end on the chimney back and the other on the beam of
             the chamber floor, then go up with the chimney with mud
             and ticks, put in a long lug pole with a long iron with
             iron hooks to hang pots and kettles on with a large stone
             hearth, then the house wife was rigged for cooking. They
             first started out with a large baking kettles with a 
             large cover, put in the loaf, set the kettle on coals
             then put on the led and put coals of fire on that to 
             bake the bread. Pretty soon the tin oven was introduced
             then they baked that way, but had no way yet to bake pan
             cakes, so the crane was used; they could swing that out
             and tend the griddle then nicely. We used to burn four
             foot wood. Have a large back log, lay down a couple of 
             short chunks then the fore stick then start the fire 
             with a little wood and chips and you would have a fire
             that would warm a hunter that had been out on the chase
             on a cold winter's day. To make short cake and pie crust
             they use to burn cobs and take the ashes for baking
             powder, the next they used pearlash and then salaratus 
             and I need not tell you what they use now. Griddle pan 
             cakes use to be the order of the day every winter while 
             I lived there. Our principal crops while the country was
             new was buckwheat, oats, rye, potatoes. Winter wheat 
             generally rusted and shrunk. Spring wheat done a little
             better, but buckwheat, oats and potatoes could not be 
             beat and while we was clearing land was plenty. We have
             sold oats for fifteen cents a bushel and potatoes for 
             ten cents, and take it out of the store at that. We have
             bought cows for $10 and sold for that in the fall of the
             year. Common labor was fifty cents from sunrise to sunset.
             Carpenters work $1. Butter 8 cents a pound, fat sheep 
             from $1.50 to $2. Our sports at that early day was 
             playing ball and wrestling, running foot races, 
             shooting at a mark, and that was generally done after
             some bee or raising some building for we did not have
             much leisure those days, but when we did get together
             we made things move right along. 
 
                          TO BE CONTINUED. 
 
 
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                        Pioneer Life in Greenwood - As related by 
                 Dennis McGraw, of Purdy Creek [continued] 
 
                      Issue date: Sept. 6, 1888 (7) 
 
                       I would say that Greenwood has always held her 
             own in every enterprise with her sister towns. She has 
             burnished her full quota of public men, lawyers, bankers,
             teachers, members of our State Legislature, members of 
             Congress, preachers of the gospel and in all the walks 
             of life has never lagged behind. There is many things
             I might say of that moral town, for it was there that I
             arrived at man's estate. It is there I formed acquaintances 
             that I shall always cherish until my dying day. There are 
             many things that cluster around my memory I can never forget.
             It was there I found my Sarah. It was there our children 
             was born unto us and it was there I was born from above,
             of which I shall speak hereafter. We used to take solid 
             comfort. Neighbor used to take solid comfort. Neighbor 
             strangers seemed to love each other better than own 
             relation do now. The customs were different. No body
             was trying to be rich, but to enjoy the fruit of their
             labors. I forgot to mention the doctors that Greenwood
             presented to the world, and numerous other things I might
             mention. Our women in their sphere were as noble as the
             men and some of the best housekeepers I ever found lived 
             in Greenwood. 
                         I will now tell you what qualification young
             men and women had to have to marry. They did not marry for
             money, they married love, and worked for the money. If a 
             young many and woman was industrious and had no bad habits
             and had good common sense they were fits subjects to marry,
             and some did that had noting but their hands and good 
             health. They had to begin housekeeping in a very humble 
             way. I knew a young married man that went down to Canisteo
             to Stricklands’ store and bought his outfit of crockery and 
             carried it home in a pocket handkerchief; and they got 
             along in the world well. I have known some that started 
             quite high that came to grief. Those that started poor 
             done the best. When young men did marry they expected to
             support their wife and not have the women support them, as
             some have to do at this day in the circle of my 
             acquaintance. Such a man as that would have been drummed
             out of the town of Greenwood or took up for a vagrant and
             sent to the house of correction. We use to go fifty miles
             sometimes to get work when we lived in the woods, but now
             if a man will work he will get it at home. 
                      I will now give you a little of my experience
             as a hunter: I was always handy with the gun and was a 
             good shot at a mark but could not kill deer. I had what
             old hunters called the "buck fever." Finally there was
             an old hunter came to our house and wanted some tobacco.
             He said he could not see a deer until he had some tobacco.
             He knew my failing about shooting deer and told me to go 
             out and when I saw the next deer to get already to shoot 
             then turn my head and spit then take sight and be sure to 
             see both sights then let go, and I found his advice done 
             me good. I went out soon after and laid one out, and this
             is the way I did it: There was another fellow following 
             some deer and I knew the runways where they would come, so
             I ran and got there in time and waited near the runways. In
             a short time up walked a large buck, big horns, and stopped.
             I thought of what the hunter told me and bang when the gun 
             and away went the deer, but his flag tail was down. I went
             to where he stood and discovered hair and blood. Seeing 
             he bled from both sides, I after him expecting to find 
             him dead every minute. I never thought of reloading my gun
             but pursued on a keen jump and you had better believe I 
             made good time, (probably a mile in five minutes,) paid no
             attention to where I was going, towards home or from home,
             I had blood in my eye. I shot him too far back through 
             the belly. I shot at the biggest place. On we went, I did
             not know whether I was in the body or out. finally we came
             to a clearing and a shanty. I made a halt and went in the
             shanty. I knew the inmates and said to them you have moved.
             The man looked at his wife and smiled and said I guess you
             are lost. And so it was, I supposed I was in the town of 
             independence, but was in Greenwood. He volunteered and 
             went we me and soon we got the deer. You had better 
             believe there was s a proud chap about my size. I 
             walked home that night to tell my folks and comrades
             all about it. After that I killed a good many deers but
             will tell of only one more exploit: One Sunday afternoon 
             there were two deer came in our field and the temptation 
             was great to shoot them, but I resolved not to break the
             Sabbath, and let them work. Monday morning bright and 
              early I was after them. wounding one of them I went to
             reload my gun, and found I had no bullets with me and 
             had to leave and go for bullets to the settlement. I went
             down to Mr. Lane's mill and run some bullets. They had
             a dog and William Lane and Lester Harding wanted to take 
             their dogs and go with me. I told them to take a string and 
             lead them for I thought I could get a shot before we let 
             the dogs go. So when we got in the vicinity I told them to
             stop and I would go over the brow of the hill, and when 
             they heard me shoot to let the dogs come. As I came to the
             top of the hill well deer jumped and ran some forty rods 
             and stopped behind a large pine stump and stuck his head 
             I put a bullet through his head and he turned a somersault
             and fell dead and the wounded one jumped up and I put a
             bullet through his head before the dogs arrived. It was
             all done in less time than I would have taken to tell this
             so I thought I was well rewarded for keeping the Sabbath. 
             The largest deer I ever killed was down Bennett's Creek 
             near Thomas'. They called him old goldin. He was very poor,
             but had a nick like a bull; I sold him to a man by the name
             of Temple, it being so far from home and he was crazy to
             have him. Small game I have killed of all kinds in large
             quantities but never killed a bear, panther or wolf. They
             were afraid of me and run. 
                         For fear I may weary the reader I will treat 
             on another subject. I want to speak more of Levi Davis and
             his family after he got out of the woods and accumulated 
             property. When the famine raged in Ireland he sent forty
             bushels of wheat to feed the hungry and Mrs. Davis was a 
             model woman in many respects, and was a woman of good 
             economy. I speak of her with pleasure she was a mother 
             to the motherless and was unceasing in feeding the hungry
             and clothing the naked. To illustrate: Uncle Levi came in
             one day and said woman, where is such a cow I haven't seen
             her in a day or two: Mrs. Davis said she is up to Daniel
             Ward's. You know they have a family of little children 
             that have got to have milk and I told Ward to drive the
             cow home and milk her for they got about all she gave 
             daily and they are as able to milk her as I am and have
             not half so much to do. All this came under my observation.
             I might enumerate other instances, but this will give some
             idea of what they were and how we missed them when they 
             passed away to reap their reward above. You know we read 
             in the good book "I was in hunger and ye gave me meat,
             thirsty and ye gave me drink, a stranger and ye took me
             in, enter into the joys of they Lord." 
 
                             TO BE CONTINUED. 
 
 
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                    Pioneer Life in Greenwood - As related by 
              Dennis McGraw, of Purdy Creek [continued] 
 
                      Issue date: Sept. 13, 1888 (8) 
 
                            There was a time in Greenwood after they
                 had cleared up the land and began to plow that the 
                 land was not productive. They could not half till 
                 it for the stumps, roots and stone, and some got 
                 discouraged and sold their improvements and left town.
                 At this time David Sherman from Herkimer county, came 
                 in town and having some means bout out some of the 
                 inhabitants, in what we called Youngs settlement,
                 and commenced the dairy business. He was a man of no 
                 pretensions, plain, but a model of industry, and the 
                 best cheese maker in town, having a wife that was a 
                 pattern of neatness and piety they succeeded well in 
                 their vocation. When we wanted a piece of good cheese 
                 we knew where to get it ever time. He was a carpenter 
                 and joiner and by industry had made some money. He 
                 commenced to build suitable buildings for a large dairy
                 farm and put up the largest barn then in the county.
                 The best foundations under it and a cellar under the
                 middle of it to store all kind of vegetables or his 
                 cows and family use. I feel it is my duty to give 
                 Sherman more than a passing notice, and while I try
                 in my feeble way to speak of his alms deeds I cannot
                 refrain from tears. When I saw the notice of his death
                 little did I think that we should not have a more 
                 extended notice of David Sherman's worth. I suppose
                 his children did not want to undertake the task and 
                 left it to strangers to speak of his worth and I 
                 have waited hoping some one would speak one word in 
                 his praise, therefore I shall see that his example 
                 is not lost to the world. 
                           You know it is the custom now when men 
                 occupy high stations in life to extol their virtues 
                 to the skies and all of our editors are ready to do 
                 them honor. Here is a man of no pretensions that out
                 strips every man I ever saw. While I am speaking of
                 this strain I ask children that are beloved, for 
                 their father and mothers' sake, to come to Purdy 
                 Creek and see me and we will have a good time. Now
                 reader I will give my reason for the judgment I have
                 given: I built a school house in the district that
                 Sherman belonged. He was trustee, or one of them, 
                 and employed me to build a new school house near the
                 Catholic church on the four corners, and I built it.
                 At the same time he made application to be set of fin
                 a new district, but they would not set him off The 
                 State superintendent siding against him. 
                 Notwithstanding all this he moved right along,
                 bought lumber, hauled it, hired a workman and built
                 a good school house down towards Whitesville (Allegany
                 Co., NY - JAC), where there was a new settlement that 
                 was deprived of school. Then he went to Almond 
                 (Allegany Co., NY-JAC) hired Miss Forbes, a good
                  teacher and informed his poor neighbors that all was
                  now ready, bidding them to send their children to 
                 school, paying all out of his own pocket, probably
                 six hundred dollars. It happened that potatoes were
                 worth $1 a bushel and there was a man by the name of
                 Robinson keeping boarding house at Corning, he came
                 to Mr. Sherman and offered him $1 a bushel for three
                 or four hundred bushels and would pay the money down
                 for them. Mr. Sherman said I dare not let you have 
                 them. The whole settlement of new comers over the
                 marsh that are poor and I must keep my potatoes for
                 them. What was the consequence? These poor people got
                 them for work, and when they settled was taxed three 
                 or four shilling a bushel. Another instance was when 
                 hay was $20 per ton and the poor could get it of Sherman 
                 for $10. 
                             I will now speak of Pioneer life of the
                 Methodist church in Greenwood and bring this narrative 
                 to a close for I fear I have been too lengthy already.
                 the first presiding elder that came up to the Canisteo 
                 was Abner Chace (Chase-JAC), and the first preacher in
                 charge was Olcott. There use to be two on a circuit 
                 them days. Their field of labor was to start at Canisteo
                 and come up Purdy Creek, preach at Charles Hart's, 
                 thence to Andover, thence to Whitesville, thence to 
                 Greenwood, thence to Jasper, thence to Troupsburg, 
                 thence to Woodhull, thence to Troups Creek, thence to 
                 Billings' on Cowanesque river, preaching every day in 
                 the week in barns, schoolhouses, private houses and
                 sometimes in the open air. they generally went on 
                 horseback, wore green leggings that came above their
                 knees, and saddle bags behind. How they poured the 
                 canister and grape in the enemy's camp and all the 
                 weapons they carried then was the sword of the spirit,
                 and for a helmet the hope of salvation. How they would
                 cut the sinner down. 
                          Right here I want to say what a change has come
                 to the Methodist church in sixty years. I think if John
                 Wesley knew where his people had got in spirituality, he
                 could not be still in his grave. It makes me feel sad to
                 contrast the past with the present. I have seen them 
                 come from Canisteo with oxen and cart to quarterly
                 meeting so interesting were the meetings. Our preachers
                 had neither purse nor script, nor tow coats apiece. They
                 did not preach for money. that did not enter their minds.
                 They had no notes written only the Holy Ghost sent down 
                 from heaven. I have decided to bring pioneer life to a
                 close hoping that I may have access to your columns 
                 again some future day. 
 
                                       THE END 
 
 
 
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                    Last modified Tuesday, 14-Mar-2000 10:00:42 MST 
 
                   Judy Allen Cwiklinski Steuben Co., NY GenWeb
                   coordinator 1999-2000 © 
 
 
 
 
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                      Editor's notes to the above: 
 
 
                              Section 2 
 
                 EDITOR'S NOTE 1:  The McGraw family apparently 
          settled the property that was, until recently owned by Mr.
          & Mrs. Walter Redmond. Joshua Goldsmith owned that property
          lying between the residences of Mrs. Hope Hulse and Mr and
          Mrs Chris Roser. The "black salt" that Mr McGraw referred 
          to was apparently potash, which could be sold to Mr. Levi 
          Davis, at a cash value. This was one of the few ways for the 
          early settlers to obtain money. 
 
 
 
                           Section 2 
 
                       EDITORS NOTE 2:  The happening that Mr.
                McGraw is describing would have seemed no more 
            than an unusual experience,at the time. He is very
            apparently describing a common occurrence which 
            took place throughout the country in those days. It
            has been written that four million Passenger Pigeons 
            were killed in Michigan during one nesting in 1828. 
            The sad part is that the last Passenger Pigeon on 
            earth, died in Cincinnati, Ohio zoo September 1, 1914. 
 
 
 
                                   Section 6 
 
                    EDITORS NOTE 3:  The term "moose wood bark" that 
           was mentioned by Mr. McGraw left me puzzled I have found in 
           "A Reverence for Wood" by Eric Sloan that moose wood is 
           "Striped Maple". Striped maple does not grow very large,
           possibly 15 to 25 feet. Some of it does still grow in the
           Greenwood area. 
 
 
 
                               Section 6 
 
                    EDITORS NOTE 4:  Having the privilege of hindsight 
           I cannot always agree with the opinion of Mr. McGraw as my 
           ancestors were probably digging potatoes in Ireland while 
           George Washington and Paul Revere were doing their thing to
           the British. Be that as it may, I have nothing but admiration
           for anyone who will make a record of the happenings of their
           lifetime, that others may read and learn and enjoy.  In that
           spirit we print everything that Mr. McGraw wrote, – as he 
           wrote it. 
 
 
 
                               Section 8 
 
                   EDITORS NOTE 5:  Having also tilled the soil of the
          favorite town of not only Mr. McGraw but also of myself, I can 
          readily agree that we do have our fair share of stones and I 
          can also agree that the stumps and roots did present a problem
          but he does not mention other factors that helped cause many 
          of the early settlers to move elsewhere. One such factor was 
          the anti-rent conflict, a confrontation with the Pulteney 
          Estate over the interest charged on the original purchase 
          price of their holdings which the settlers considered "rent"
          rather that legal interest. Another factor was the opening of 
          the Erie Canal and the free land available in Michigan. In 
          later years a taxpayers revolt over taxes levied to pay the
          cost of an ill-fated attempt to build a railroad in Greenwood,
          caused much unrest. 
 
 
 
                               End of Section 8 
 
                        EDITORS NOTE 6:  It appears that Dennis McGraw
          was a very Godly man and has probably ended up in a good place
          to look down and oversee our printing of his early writings. 
          With this in mind I wonder if I could write a letter to him,
          and then if he wishes, he could answer in some way. There is
          someone up there that could probably make that possible. 
 
                                  Dear Dennis: 
 
                       It has been a great pleasure to have had your
           work found and made available to us. And that somehow we now
           have the machines and money to do a decent job of publishing
           a book, makes me real happy. There are a few things I would
           like to discuss with you, such as, you seldom told us the 
           names of the ladies you wrote of. Neither did you make it 
           clear how you were related to the Davis's or the Goldsmith's
           or about the lives of your brothers and sisters. Then there
           was the time you told of cradling 7 acres of grain, now come
           on Dennis, you're talking to a fellow who has actually cut 
           grain with one of those contraptions. That was hard, 
           backbreaking, slow work. You were undoubtably a strong 
           young man Dennis, but 7 acres? Or the time you ran through 
           the woods, after a deer, carrying a heavy muzzle loader,
           and did a mile in five minutes. That's a little hard to 
           swallow, Dennis.   Then again I thought you were a little 
           rough on the good people of the Methodist Church. Those
           loose moraled, modern people that you spoke of are the grand
           old timers that we look back on and admire. Maybe it is 
           just the angle that you look at them from, Dennis. But you
           angle must now be far better than mine, so you can now make
           your own decision. Your writings have given us an insight
           on many things of which we were unaware but now we have 
           something which we can investigate further. And Dennis,
           if from up there you should know of anything else with
           which we can improve our knowledge of the past and help
           us save this heritage that we have, for those even another
           hundred years in the future, could you arrange it so we
           could run into it somehow? And if someone around here has
           any information that would be useful to us, could you arrange
           for someone to give them a nudge in the right direction. Well,
           Dennis, after all of this work with your writings, I feel as
           though I know you. I has been nice meeting you Dennis. I hope
           to see you sometime in the future. 
 
                                   Yours, 
 
                                   Ed Mullen, Historian of Greenwood 
 

 

	
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