LeRoy Pennysaver & News

LE ROY PENNYSAVER & NEWS - APRIL 24, 2022 by Lynne Belluscio Galusha Anderson was professor emeritus at the University of Chicago and wrote about the early pioneers of LeRoy in a fictionalized story of his parents, Seneca and Lucy Webb Anderson. The book, “When Neighbors were Neighbors,” is a reprint from the collection of the University of California Libraries. The Andersons grew up in LeRoy but moved to the wilderness of North Bergen shortly after their marriage and lived in a place called “Sheepskin Corners.” Seneca was a deacon at the Baptist church and his father, David Anderson was a Presbyterian elder in LeRoy. Seneca and Lucy had eight children. They moved back to LeRoy in 1868 after their children were grown and married and they celebrated their GoldenAnniversary with a large family party. Seneca died at the age of 83 and Lucy died a few years later at 88. When Galusha wrote his story he changed the names of the characters. Seneca and his wife Lucy became John Erskine and Lucy Webster. David Anderson was Robert Butterworth. North Bergen was Ramsville and Sheepskin Corners became Lambshanks Corners. Galusha wrote in the foreword: “I wrote this book because I did not see how I could help it. I had long possessed an intimate knowledge of at least one rural community, which I knew, not as outside observer, but from personal experience. I was born there; was a pupil in its schools; attended its churches; shared in its sports; took part in its industries, and entered into its political, social and religious life. It and like communities have already quietly passed away. I felt irresistibly compelled to give it to others, the vivid picture of my boyhood home, which still glowingly lingers within my own mind, lest in an unexpected moment it should perish forever. “ Galusha wrote about the early frame house that replaced the log cabin and the fireplace: “When Erskine built his frame house, cooking stoves were quite rare and had not yet appeared in the neighborhood; so, beside his large open fireplace he constructed a great brick oven. Some years afterwards, when cooking stoves had become common he put a large one into a capacious kitchen that he had added to his house; but old habits are not easily laid aside, so he put into his new kitchen a great fireplace, which was usually boarded up, but at times it was open and then beech and maple logs crackled and blazed on it massive andirons, just to renew for a little while the old life and its old comforts.” The story goes on to describe an outdoor oven that was used: “It rested on a foundation about four feet by seven. Inside it was five by three, two feet in height and arched over. Its walls, laid in mortar, were about six inches thick, so that when its heavy iron door was shut, all cold air was wholly excluded.” Another great story that he included was about mince pies: “Near the last of November, when freezing weather set in, she made her mince pies for the winter. - - They were all carried into the meat-pantry, which John had built in the corner of the corn-house - - they formed a square pie tower and left there to freeze. Whenever one was wanted, it was brought into the kitchen and, after having been thawed out and made hot in the stove oven, it was ready for the table. And the last pie eaten in March or April was as fresh and toothsome as when taken from the oven. Jack Frost is a wonderful preserver of mince pie!” Galusha’s book includes many chapters - - “Ministers and Churches” – “Primitive Industries” - - “Schools” - - “Taverns and Temperance” - - “Holidays” - - “the Millerite Excitement” The chapter on the “Millerite Excitement” tells about William Miller who was a prosperous farmer and a Baptist lay preacher in northeastern New York who beleived in the second coming of Jesus and predicted the end of the world. He believed that the end of the world would happen on or before 1843. And as much as he preached about the end of the world, very few people believed him. Those that did, packed up their stuff and prepared for the worst. Apparently, Galusha’s parents attended one of the Millerite lectures and it was included in the book. Probably the neatest chapter was about “Recreations” and included stories about playing ball: “Ball-playing, also, relieved the tedium of our country life. We played barnball, one old cat, two old cat, and baseball. - - - a game of baseball always put new life into us. - - - We had no padded gloves, nor wire masks for our faces; but the balls were not as hard as those used today. I often caught with bare hands behind the bat, and bear to this day the evidence of it in a partially disabled finger - - - the game gave rise to a case of conscience. A son of John Erskine, about twelve years old, united with the church. He was passionately fond of playing ball; but the church covenant forbade it. Each one received into membership, vowed to abstain from ball playing and tavern haunting. To keep this agreement required all the will power that young Erskine could summon; but he triumphed over himself. At last, he opened his heart to his father, who at once said, ‘Why my son, the covenant has no reference to such games of ball as you play with the boys. It merely prohibits the games that end with a treat at the tavern - - a great load rolled off the conscience of that young Christian; and now, made stronger in character by having for many weeks, strictly kept his convenient as he had understood it, he entered with keener zest than ever before unto the games of his playmates.” When Neighbors Were Neighbors