Memories of an Old Timer in Madison Co. N.Y.
Charles E. Page, Age 80,Oneida, N.Y. [year of 2001]
Maybe you recall my telling about old Charlie Stowell in "A Tale of Two Towns" who built the Siloam church. The following are some of my memories of his neighborhood. We called all that area "The Strip" on Cole Street north of Solsville, N.Y.
The Stowell farm of about 45 acres, on what is now called Cole St., was on the edge of the town of Madison bordering the Town of Stockbridge. My great grandparents, Charlie and Melissa LaMunion Stowell lived there and raised a family from 1875 until 1909. He died in 1911.
Charles and Melissa Stowell
In about 1923 my father [Clayton Page] received permission from the new owners of the farm to camp during his vacation in one part of the cow pasture. My father owned one tent, and I remember going with him to the LaMunion farm to borrow a second large wall tent. I donít recall which LaMunion ran their farm at the time, but I remember names such as, Phillip, Gene, Harry and Lester being mentioned. Probably it was one of my fatherís great uncles who lent us the tent.
We, my two sisters and I, had a great time chasing around the pasture, following cow paths and exploring. There was a spring in a "spring house" nearby, where a neighboring farmer cooled his milk each night. [If I remember correctly his name was Edgerton].
During the daytime we spent hours feeding the chipmunks that came out of the stone pile near the spring. I recall feeding them "Mary Anns" [a favorite cookie of the time]. We also pestered the flies, which lit on the stones, by dipping water out of the spring and trying to splash them.
One of our tents was the cooking/dining area and the other held the five army cots for sleeping. In the cook tent, the table legs were set in tin cans containing some liquid [maybe kerosene] to keep the ants from crawling up.
Our toilet was a wooden box with a hole cut in the middle with the open bottom set over a hole in the ground. It was located about fifty feet from the tents behind some bushes. One morning [at this time I was two or three years old] I was sitting contentedly on the box, when two teenage girls came riding up on horses over the hill on the open side of our bush outhouse. Being greatly embarrassed I jumped up and ran toward the tents, with the trapdoor of my pajamas flapping in the breeze. Of course there was a big laugh from all sources. My sisters remind me of this even today. My folks always said that if I had sat still no one would have even noticed me.
Another time my sisters, with me tagging along, were running down one of the cow paths when suddenly my older sister, the leader, quickly reversed direction and came back past me yelling, "run, run". We took after her as fast as we could, and when we arrived, breathless, at the tents she explained, "There was a snake right in the path!" What a letdown! Later we went back, [I was not afraid of snakes even at that age]. It turned out to be a harmless grass snake, and besides it was dead, having been trammeled to death by the cows.
One time around midnight when we were all asleep, we heard sniffing and puffing sounds outside the tent. My father got up to see what it was and drove away the herd of cows that had come to investigate the tents. He was afraid they would get entangled in the guy ropes.
A short distance to the north the road crossed a small stream. We used to stand on the wooden bridge and look to the east into the meadow below to see a willow tree, which had bent over to form an arch. In later years whenever we passed that way we watched to see if it was still there. Once our parents walked down there with us. It was a cool and fragrant place full of mint and for-get-me-not. In 1937 the county changed the course of the road and our old campground was gone forever.
Across the road from the campground was an abandoned house. We looked in the windows at the empty rooms. My parents said Jim Cole used to live there. Farther to the south the old road turned sharply to the left. At that corner lived an elderly couple named Read. I think their names were Tom and Nellie. We kids would walk down there "to visit". Mr. Read was blind [probably from cataracts]. We marveled how he could walk around his place knowing where everything was, without seeing. One day he opened the cellar hatchway and brought some apples up to us. Mrs. Read would take us for walks in the woods. She pointed out the different plants and told us which berries were good to eat, and which were poisonous.
When the highway was changed, it cut across the corner and left the Read place on its own private road. [Larrey rd.]
Going north up the road, the Stowell farm was on the right. Farther along on the left past the Town of Stockbridge line was the LaMunion farm. Still farther on was the corner of Trew road and what is now called "Strip road". Harry LaMunion lived there. My Uncle Seward Jones worked for him for a time in the early years of the depression when he was laid off from his job at Oatman Chevrolet in Oneida. Seward and his wife, Margery lived in a remodeled schoolhouse on the eastern side of the road. [It is still there today]. I remember helping my mother wallpaper the walls getting it ready for her brother and his wife to live in. Uncle Seward didnít work there too long. One day while the LaMunion men were "changing works" at the Harry Dungey farm east of Munnsville near the northern end of Cole Street, Uncle Seward caught his hand in the ensilage cutter. For a while he was unable to work and he and Marge moved back to his parentís farm near Madison Center.
On the way along Cole St. from Solsville there was a big barn. My father told us about the way it was built. All the neighbors had come together for a "barn raising". I believe the barn still stands.
I think about all these things when we travel "The Strip".
It has been said that one never really owns a farm, and that we are but stewards, holding it for future generations. Charlie owned that farm for 34 years. In 1909 it was sold to Mary L. Carter [bk.224 p.463]
1921 Carter to Frank W. Cowmeadow bk.264 p.571
1945 Blair to Erick and Emma Gaskins bk.343 P. 528
1947 Gaskins to Herbert and Esther Slocum bk. 395 p.431
1950 Slocum to Mihaly & Margaret L. Wingert bk. 441 p. 154
1968 Wingert to Nathaniel E. & Isabelle Morris bk. 640 p. 376
1970 Morris to J. and D. Werbella bk. 653 p. 548
1977 Werbella to A. and M. Weaver bk.653 p. 548
1982 Weaver to William H. & Diane K. Strong bk. 749 p. 233
As of July 2001 the Strongs were still the owners.
And so, the land passes on from one to the other.