Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
A Century Ago - Memorabilia from 1900
Bradford County PA
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Tioga County PA
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A Century Ago - Reflections on 1900

Story One - by Joyce M. Tice - As the twentieth century comes to an end, it is interesting to reflect on its beginning. Such reflection gives rise to the question of who of my ancestors were alive in that year of 1900, where were they and what were they doing? In summary, all four of my grandparents were in their childhood, seven of my eight great grandparents were raising families and two of my 16 great great grandparents were alive, the remainder of them having died mostly in the 1890s, and therefore they just missed being in this little report. I will arrange this report into the four families that this represents.

Lee Dewitt TICE was eight years old, and he was a student in one of the one roomed schoolhouses of Sullivan Township, Tioga County, Pennsylvania. The 1903/1904 School Souvenir Book of the Robbins Hill School includes Lee and some siblings. His report card of 1904/1905 is from the Holly School, but his school in 1900 is not known at this time. At the time the family were in the Robbins Hill School District, they lived up the road and across from the Ames Hill Cemetery in a house that is long gone and no remnant of it remains. The 1900 census would place them probably in the Ames Hill location based on their neighbors. (Ames Hill intersects Robbins Hill - which is now inappropriately named as an extension of Scouten Hill) Lee's parents were Harvey L. TICE and Cora May SMITH. They were age 42 and 31 respectively. Lee's oldest sister, Bertha, was thirteen years old and she was mentally retarded. Older brother Harry was eleven years old. Younger brother, Phil, was four years old, and in February of 1900 brother Earl Dean Tice was born. Over on Sanitarium Hill in the Holly School District of Sullivan Township, Matthew Richard (Deke) SMITH and Polly COMFORT, parents of Cora, were living on the location of the pioneer homestead of Deke's parents Rufus Smith and Eunice Northrup Wilson. Deke and Polly were aged 60 and 58 respectively. They were the parents of eight children, six of whom reached adulthood. These two families were farmers. Deke and Polly owned their farm, but Harvey and Cora were renters at that time and farmed leased land and probably helped on the farm of Deke and Polly as well.

Mildred Ruth MUDGE turned five years old in April of 1900, and she lived on Gray Valley Road between Elk Run (Chandlersburg) and Gray Valley in Sullivan Township, Tioga County, PA with her family. Her parents Menzo MUDGE and Ruth Marie HOLLY were both 42 years old and they were both in their second marriage. Mildred's half brother, Leigh WELCH, was eighteen years old, unmarried and a bit of a problem to his step-father, Menzo. Baby brother Harold was a year old, and by mid year, Ruth was pregnant for Helen who was born March 1901. This family, too, was engaged in farming on the homestead of Menzo's parents Amos MUDGE and Lucy BRONSON, deceased. They lived in a newer house than Amos and Lucy had lived in but on the same property. They attended the Elk Run Methodist Church about a mile down the road of which Lucy BRONSON Mudge had been a founding member in 1864. Mildred may have started school that year at the Elk Run School house which was a walk down the hill toward Elk Run and then up a very steep hill to the school. 

John Lewis MILLER was seventeen years old and he and his older brother, Frank , age twenty, were doing as much as they could to give their 41 year old widowed mother, Emma MOSHER, cause for concern. Emma was running the farm on the hill between Gillett and Bentley Creek in Ridgebury Township, Bradford County PA with or without the help of her children. John's sister Helen was nineteen, brother LeRoy was ten years old, and little Jennie, age five, and born several months after the unexpected death of her father, was just starting school in the summer of 1900. Alexander Johnson CAMPBELL of Kinner Hill near Millerton PA may have been courting Emma at that time. He was a widower, older than she.

Five year old Jennie Miller was last in line at this 1900 Ridgebury School Photo

The home of Emma MOSHER Miller in Ridgebury Township

Out in Cattaraugus County, New York, nine year old Blanche Clark was attending school in Cold Spring or Salamanca Township. She had started school at age four and was so little that the teacher let her sit on her lap. But at nine, she was firmly in control of her own desk. Blanche was in the middle of a large family. As the fifth child of Orin CLARK and Anna BENSON, she had four older siblings and three younger ones. Orin and Anna were both 42 years old - the same age as Harvey, Menzo, Ruth, and Emma. Ray was eighteen years old, Ruth was sixteen, Jay was fourteen, Goldie was eleven, Kate was seven, Albert was five, and baby Helen had just been born in May of 1899. The Clark family were farmers and Orin also did carpentry work. 

To the best of my knowledge, not a single one of these people ever got any education past the eighth grade, maybe less. Lee became a farmer like his parents and grandparents. A correspondence course in young adulthood taught him bookkeeping. Mildred died at age thirty of a brain tumor. John worked for the Telephone Company and became a member of the Telephone Pioneers of America. Blanche, Lee, and John all lived to a normal elderly age.

These families all had in common that they lived in rural areas as did most people of their time. All four families included a Helen (Cora had a sister Helen). The name Helen must have been the Jennifer or Jessica of the late nineteenth century. Three of the four families lived in the same location and knew each other. Lee and Mildred, in fact, were third cousins on one of their Connecticut Yankee lines, their mothers, Ruth and Cora, being second cousins. Their lives were very different from ours and they worked a whole lot harder than we do and had less to show for it. They transported themselves by foot or by horse wagon.

The next interesting part of this story is what will life be like at the end of the twenty first century, and unfortunately, none of us will know about that.

Joyce M. Tice - November 1998

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