MEMORIES OF JESSE FRANCES GRAHAM BURCH


This was submitted by Chery Fodal, and was written by her grandmother about her memories of life in Potomac Manor in 1910.

The year of our Lord 1910
My mother Margaret Darr Graham and my father Douglas Grey Graham moved our family from our place of birth, Lonaconing Maryland, to Potomac Manor, West Virginia. The house was painted white and was built of clapboard. We had no beds, But my motherdid not let this daunt her, She bought lumber and built bunks along the wall for her big family.
We were about 1 to 2 years apart in age. First there were, to name them in rotation, Douglas Darr, my oldest brother, William Henry 2nd, Richard Darr 3rd, Albert Hudson 4th, Thomas Leroy 5th, Sister Nellie Virginia 6th, Jesse Frances 7th (me) Brother John James, Mary Catherine Sister, Robin Baby Brother, Mother named him that for a very good reason, He was a very sickly child, When we migrated to West Virginia he was only 9 months old.
Our house was only the second one in that particular location, until the North American Coal Co. built a store. And the Western Maryland Railroad built an open old fashioned station.
The passenger trains only stopped there once on the run, to Elkins, West Virginia one at 10 am and on the return at 6 PM everyday. That was the high spot of our lives, Everyone would put on their best to meet the train, Especially the one returning from Elkins, West Virginia enroute to Cumberland Maryland, 6pm.
We lived near the beautiful Potomac River, And we kids all taught ourselves to swim like fishes. We did not have suits, we wore anything which we could spare to cover us.
I remember once my brother John who by the way was only separated by age from me by 15 months, was nearly always my companion, Swimming or walking about 8 miles in the mountains to get apples or go nutting for Chestnuts especially, which was abundant at that time and for years. I remember we had one tree we guarded from all kids who moved into this little coal town after we had, which was a beautiful Chestnut we had it and an Oak, which we could call our own on account of the coal dust, which made it almost impossible to grow even grass. But we had a big field across the railroad tracks we did our hide and go seek, Played, Run Sheep run, Cheese it which were some of the games and we also played baseball, we did not have a bat but we used our coal shovel we used to shovel coal out of our coal bucket like everyone up there in those days had, But we were the only ones who had the nerve to take it from home to use in that way.
We had friends by the name of Helmick. Father, Mother dead sons Bill who was a true trapper, Logger too, who lived in the West Virginia Mountains about 8 months of every year, Who had a Raccoon, skunk rattlesnakes a deer, all tame and loved him and they had 4 beautiful dogs, How we loved to go down to their place. Spring house and spring water all the time. His wonderful Dad made a lot of pan cakes, They would have a pile in the cupboard all the time, we were always welcome to them and fried potatoes too, How good they tasted to us. Bill had 2 brothers Edward who had a terrible Goiter and a brother Jason who was my brother Roys best friend who when Jason enlisted in the service of the first world war, enlisted with him and went through the whole war with him and fought side by side in the trenches in France. Argonne Forest too. God bless them, Bill had an only sister Mary who was beautiful and when we had a big square dance out in the Field, where they built a dance floor and had fiddlers, She sure was popular. That big Bill her brother who was 6 feet 4 in. tall used to come in from the mountains for this was how we celebrated the wonderful 4th of July, I'd be dancing, and he would laugh because I didn't like it when he would lift me so high I know everyone could see my petticoat as they were called in those wonderful days, Bill also called square dance numbers, We only had one fiddler, whose name was Turner who had a daughter by the name of Irene, We my brother John and I would go berry picking with in the rock bound hills when in season, She never ate hers like we did, and one day we had not had very many in our buckets because of the habitat mentioned above, When we John and I stepped on a big flat rock and dislodged a hornets nest, we got away with out a sting but we sure laughed a lot at Irene because we were always jealous of her never eating her berries. She always went home loaded, But we only had a small amount as usual, The bees stung her I don't remember how many times, when the first ones stung her up went her two full buckets in the air all of the berries were left for the bees, For she never stopped running until she got home, after she got out of sight of he & I, we went back since the bees were either chasing her or had gotten back to their nest, we didn't care for we picked up her berries and took them home, The only time I could remember having a bucket full to take home and it was the easiest time and never a scratch, I guess I was too mean at that time for a bee to ever sting me, I can't say that for John, for he was the gentlest gentleman from boyhood to manhood, and still is. Oh what good times we had, swinging in the trees in our school yard, when we attended, by the way, we did only when we wanted to, or when we had shoes fit to wear. John used to wear my bigger brothers suit coats, He would turn up the cuffs a few times, the bottom button on the coat usually buttoned at the knees, the first one at about his navel. We didn't care for there was love in our hearts.
No bad words nor no sex in our lives, We were a lot of innocents played together, slept together. When I see the things that are being done in this the year of our Lord 1971- I always thank God we raised ourselves like we did. We had a little Red school house 2 rooms 4 grades in one 4- in the other. Some times we had the ringing the bell, And thought that was, and it was a wonderful feeling to do it. I would hang on that rope till the last sound in the hills echoed. We had grape, wild swings in the woods where our school was located, we built logs up but never got the roof on, But we would dream of one day having a log home and love in it too.
We had an old fashioned organ and an old piano. All the girls and boys in our small mining town would come over to our house, all the time weather we were home or not, for no one had a lock on any door that I knew of, never ours. We would come home and almost always someone was playing either. we sure all sang and made fudge and have taffy pulls, No one drank much in those days except my grandfather he had to have a nip on Saturday night but very few people we had as friends drank. But my grandfather and my father both came from Scotland. My grandfather and he were both born in Hamilton Scotland. My grandfather had a beautiful Kilt, And he sure looked wonderful in it. My fathers mother was named Mary Stewart Grey, Maiden name. Born in Edinburgh Scotland in the year of our Lord, June 10th 1847-They, My grandfather and grandmother, My father who then born 1868-June 9th in Scotland, migrated to America, He, my father their first of 12 children. Brothers and sister's of my father James, John, Robert, William, Bruce, Sisters who lived Jess, Nell, 4 sisters died in infancy, do not know their names. My fathers mother is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Lonaconing Maryland. His dad is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Cumberland, Maryland

Keep this, The things that happened to me, And this what I remember of some of the happenings of my childhood. Love from mother Grandmother, Great-grandmother

  Jesse Frances Graham Burch. Date 12-28-79

 

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