Memories of an Old Timer in Madison Co. N.Y.
[Charles E. Page, age 80, present year is 2001]
A Tale of Two Towns and the Connecting Link
Early one day in the spring 1897, 59 year old Charles Henry Stowell, my great grandfather, started walking from his farm on the "Strip" [now Cole Street, north out of Solsville]. His basket of carpenter tools hung over one arm. He was on the way to his job building a new church in Siloam in the Town of Smithfield.
Charles Stowell Farm on the Strip
No doubt his route took him along Trew road, down the Bearpath, backtracking on Pratt’s Hollow Road to the Gulf Road [now Stockbridge Falls Road] leading up the hill past Stockbridge Falls. He may have "cut across lots" from the foot of Bearpath Hill straight over to Gulf Road, [by the Marshall Stone House]. Coming out of the gulf followed the dirt road north through Green’s Corners, and down Creek Road to Siloam. He had come from his home in the Town of Madison crossed the Town of Stockbridge into the Town of Smithfield.
He walked this route morning and night for many days, about 10 miles each way, [sometimes he stayed over night or several days with some Siloam family and returned home on the weekend]. It was not really unusual in those times for someone to walk that far each day to work. In his case his horses were needed at home for the family to use on the farm while he was away.
The church building was finished that year with the help of his sons and others of the community. It was dedicated the following year . Mrs. W. Shaver wrote a nice piece about the history of this church, I believe in 1950. She erred in one detail, saying that Chester Stowell was the builder. Chester was Charlie’s son, and no doubt helped his father, as possibly did another son, Herbert. My grandmother, Alice Stowell, Charlie’s daughter confirmed that Charlie was the head carpenter, and Charlie use to tell my father about it.
Church in Siloam in 2001
Years later, when my own family was started, and living on the old Knapp Farm above Butler’s Corners, we attended that church. This would have been in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. Although Charlie died before I was born, our paths came together at the church in Siloam.
Our paths coincided about again 38 years later [mid 1930’s] when my sister, Alyce, and I as teenagers also on foot, followed his route. We walked from our family’s camp north of Stockbridge Falls, past the Stowell homestead on the Strip, through Solsville, and on to our Grandpa Jones’s farm southeast of Madison Center. We were tired when we got back home that night. That was about 35 miles round trip. Charlie had routinely each day walked about 20 miles, worked all day at the church and probably did some of the chores at each end of the day at home. And HE was 59.
Thus, a link between Smithfield and Madison was made.