Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA
Tri-Counties Genealogy &
History by Joyce M. Tice
School Memorabilia of the
1924 Thomas School, Troy, Bradford
|School: Thomas School
|Township: Troy Township, Bradford County PA
|School Souvenir Booklet
|Submitted by: Virginia & Richard Thomas
|James Thomas *
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Young at 100 By: NANCY COLEMAN 04/03/2005 Towanda Daily Review
|This is Mildred's entry in the 1923 Carontawan, yearbook of Mansfield
State Normal School. The inscription was to Paulina Shepherd Smith who
owned the copy from which this was scanned. Mildred celebrated her 100th
birthday 08 SEP 2004.
Mildred Wright helps museum, stays active
Mildred Wright walks through Troy's farm museum. Although she carries
a cane, she steps along smartly, going all around the main room. She looks
at displays through light blue eyes.
She goes by an antique wash tub, little school desks, a spinning wheel.
An antique wall phone.
"These are the charter members," she says. Small gold plaques engraved
with names cover a display "island."
She goes by a model ship. Old lanterns. A lot of the objects
here date from circa -- well, circa Mildred's lifetime. Mildred is 100
years old. And she's a regular museum volunteer. Yes, you read that correctly.
Every month during the season, the Troy resident, 100 years and almost
7 months old, volunteers time in the large museum by the fairgrounds, talking
with visitors and watching the building. Likes meeting people, she says.
It's one of the ways she keeps active. And keeping active, she believes,
keeps her healthy.
And it seems to all keep her young. Earlier that afternoon, Mildred
sits in her easy chair, in the same house she's lived in for more than
60 years. The sofa holds Teddy bears, and a giant Mansfield University
afghan drapes over the back. A saw, painted with a farm and mountain scene,
hangs on the wall. Mildred was born Sept. 8, 1904, in Alba, the only child
of Ardell and Alice Cole Packard. "My dad was a blacksmith and a beekeeper,"
she explains. A photo of the Packard family was printed in the program
from Mildred's 100th birthday party. There's Alice Packard, dignified in
a high-collared dress of the time; Ardell Packard, friendly looking in
a coat and tie; and little Mildred. Maybe she's wearing a lacy dress, and
a big bow or flower in her hair ... but happy mischief twinkles from those
little eyes and that little smile. The Packards farmed awhile, too, hand-milking
10-12 cows. Mildred's not sure, but thinks her dad kept the milk cool by
storing it in a spring. "Everybody had a few chickens ... a pig that they
killed for meat," she explains. They grew a garden, and Mildred's mom canned
food.They cut hay using an old-time bar mower. Then they raked it into
windrows, and later brought it into the barn. They unloaded it with a pitchfork-like
gadget that plunged into the hay, grabbed it off the wagon, then carried
and dumped it into the loft.
"That was my job, to drive the horse," Mildred remembers. "The horse
had to pull so hard!"
She attended grade school in Alba and high school in Troy, graduating
in 1921. She studied science at the Mansfield Normal School (today Mansfield
University) and graduated from the two-year course in 1923.
She went on to teach math -- "and so forth!" she adds with a laugh.
In those days, teachers often taught subjects besides their specialties.
Paying $100 a month in 1924, her first job was in the one-room Thomas
School, halfway between Troy and Canton. The only teacher for all the grades,
Mildred had around 18 students.
The school had a pot-bellied stove and desks attached to the chairs
ahead. "We had to be our own janitors," Mildred remembers. "No outside
facilities!" she adds with a laugh. Today, the Thomas School has been donated
to the Troy Heritage Farm Museum and should be moved up there eventually.
Mildred taught school almost four decades, at Alba, East Troy, Leroy, Sayre
and Troy. Her last 20 years she taught junior high. In 1932, she
married an old high school friend, Floyd Wright. They spent a couple of
years in Connecticut, then returned here, where Floyd managed the Troy
Agway store 35 years. He passed away in 1990.
Soon after, the museum was built. "I felt that ... was something that
I'd like to have Floyd become a part of," Mildred explains.
So she bought a "room" in memory of her husband. Today the section,
with three walls and open to the main room on the fourth side, holds a
plaque honoring Floyd. Museum workers change displays from time to time
-- right now, Floyd's room holds an old-time doctor's office.
"He'd been connected for 35 years with the farmers," Mildred explains.
It was only fitting.
Today, Mildred volunteers once a month at the museum. What does she
do? "Not much!" she insists and laughs.
She enjoys "meeting the people and hearing their comments," she says.
She tries to answer questions.
And she does more. "I have been active in church work." (At Troy Methodist
Church.) She belongs to a bridge club -- no, two. She subs in the second.
"Well, put down the study club," she adds. "We have book reviews and ...
different people in." The guests talk on a variety of topics. "Just a little
something," she says, "... keep us brushed up." Just last year she received
the Delta Kappa Gamma Album of Distinction Award for her teaching career
and activities. Her photo hangs in the Troy High School library. And she's
been back to Mansfield. "Every year they try to have some notable," she
explains. Mildred had her photo taken with Barbara Bush. And Sam Donaldson.
And Gerald Ford. But what is perhaps her favorite photo doesn't show a
college speaker, or politician. It sets on her TV. Big and bright. There,
her beloved Floyd smiles out from his berry patch, in a fishing cap and
holding a little pail. Mildred's only health problems are "ears and eyes,"
she says -- although few things must be repeated for her. She has macular
degeneration in her eyes. "This is a talking book," she says. A little
green gadget and what looks like a tape recorder lie near her chair. Mildred
explains she gets recorded books from the Library of Congress, listens
to them, then sticks them in the mail to go back. She listens to everything.
Whatever they want to send. Maybe Danielle Steele. Or non-fiction. Or something
historical. "So I pass some of my time listening to the talking books."
Mildred remembers names, dates, everything. She recalls news about World
War I, but explains it didn't come as quickly as combat reports today.
"So it seemed farther away," she says. She believes she's voted in all
the elections since she's been eligible. And she remembers the Depression
years. They were lean. But she and Floyd made it through. "What was happening
in 1904?" the birthday program asks. It answers: "Other people born in
1904 were Cary Grant, Glenn Miller, Bing Crosby, Salvador Dali, Peter Lorne
and Count Basie."The average life expectancy in the U.S. was 47 years.
"Only 14 percent of the homes in the U.S. had a bathtub. Only 8 percent
had a telephone. ...
"There were only 8,000 cars in the U.S. and only 144 miles of paved
"Two of 10 U.S. adults couldn't read or write. Only 6 percent of all
Americans had graduated from high school."
Are you wondering how Mildred's stayed healthy? Looking for her secret?
"Good genes, I guess!" she says. One great-grandfather reached his
90s, and an aunt lived to 99.
"I really try to eat what I'm supposed to," she notes. A "balanced
"And I try to keep active." In the museum, hay-unloading forks hang
from the ceiling. Model buildings show the future layout of the museum
grounds. And barbed wire -- Mildred never realized there were so many types!
"I just think ... it's interesting, all these different things!" she declares.
The wire and desks and lanterns and everything else will keep her busy.
And interested. And this 100-year-old young.
Come see the museum ...
"These tools that grandpa used so long ago
"Are here displayed for all to see.
"Come in and look around and join the show
"To understand what farm life used to be."
Wilmer Wilcox's poem hangs on the outside of the Bradford County Heritage
Called the "Troy Farm Museum" for short, it's at Alparon Park, right
beside the Troy Fairgrounds. It includes a museum, the Mitchell House and
a sap house. The museum opens for the season April 23 and closes
sometime in October. Hours will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays through Mondays.
It all began with Wilcox. The Canton resident had collected more than 500
farm tools, museum volunteer Mildred Wright says. In the early 1990s he
got together with some friends and they built the museum. It opened in
Alonzo "Lonnie" Thomas of Troy did a lot of the original work, volunteer
Johann Dickerson notes, while Ralph Wilston did the layout, and Florence
Mitchell made donations for both the museum and house.
Today, the museum holds not only farm equipment, but all kinds of antiques.
The building includes two large rooms, with several small alcove-like sections.
As Johann gives a tour this March afternoon, the first small room, dedicated
to Mildred's late husband, Floyd Wright, shows a physician/dental office
display. A black bag rests on the table, while a dental chair, birthing
table and case of old bottles stand around the little room. The next two
rooms follow kitchen and school themes, with the second holding pictures
of actual Troy educators and little desks like those Mildred saw as she
began teaching years ago. Other little rooms highlight Grange and country
The rest of the room fairly floats in a sea of history. You have a
flax demonstration area, motorcycles, pitchforks, miniature tractors, even
Disney toys and a Revolutionary War uniform.
A doorway leads into -- part two, you might say. Here, you find old
carriages, plows, sleds, Game Commission uniforms, a bearskin coat -- enough
things to keep you busy looking for another hour. Or two.
The Mitchell House, down a short path from the museum, dates back to
1822 and originally served as a stage coach stop. In the 1930s, the Mitchell
family bought and restored the neglected building. Later, the museum staff
bought it at auction.
With big columns outside, the Greek revival house holds objects from
the 1800s up to the 1940s. It shows off bright old dishes, a fainting coach,
an ivory wedding gown and more. The staff's fairly sure the house was once
part of the Underground Railroad. In fact workers even discovered a small
hollow area in the foundation, big enough for a couple of people to hide
in. The Heritage Association hopes to move the Merchants' Building from
the fairgrounds over to the museum area, to display carriages, and bring
the old Thomas School up from south of Troy. Donations to help this project
and other expenses are needed. Volunteers are also needed.
Died August 2007 - East Canton Cemetery - Obituary
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA
Published On Tri-Counties Site On 18 APR 2003
By Joyce M. Tice
Email: Joyce M. Tice
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