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Chapter 10


                     HENRY STERNER

     Henry William Sterner, Uncle Henry to me, has already
had his early life at least touched upon when I covered
his father Paul.  That covered the period up to the time he
entered Millersville.  He graduated from that school in
1880 and, from the time he secured his first school in
Wilkesbarre to the day he retired on his meager teacher's
pension in 1920 he was, with one brief exception, an edu-
cator.  He had left Wilkesbarre for a higher position in
Centralia when he decided to join my father at Ocean Beach
where there was a clerical opening of some sort in Harry
Yard's office.  Dad got the place for him and in 1886 he
moved down there with his wife Mary whom he had married
in 1882.  What attracted poor Uncle Henry to this woman I
could never fathom; she had the coldest pale blue eyes I
have ever seen and I have always hated her.
     The job at Yard's did not interest him long and when
an opening occurred in the little school at Como, he took
it.  By the time I was born he was principal of the Bri-
elle school and was building himself a house in Manasquan.
     But in 1894 came a chance to be principal of the
High School at Barnegat so he moved there with the daught-
er of his sister Sarah whom he and Mary had meanwhile ad-
opted - your Cousin Catherine.  And at Barnegat he spent
the rest of his life until his retirement in 1920, his wife
Mary having died some time prior to the First World War.
     During all those years he had kept his love of the
soil, putting all his little money into land and more land,
even borrowing from Dad to make his payments.  Shortly af-
ter his retirement, he and Catherine moved up to Belmar
where he worked as a clerk in Dad's Lumber Yard, paying
back this ancient debt at the age of 68.  When this was
finally accomplished in 1926, he and Catherine moved back
to the old house in Barnegat, where he cultivated the land
which had got him so into debt, utterly worthless land as


HENRY STERNER it turned out later. It was from where he wrote the letters which follow. And it was here, in 1937, that he had the first of a series of strokes which eventually reduced him to a senseless mumbling shell of his former self. Before long gangrene started in his toes and spread so rapidly that they had to amputate. He died in a little nursing home at Forked River and was buried at Barnegat in 1939. And now for the letters. * * * Barnegat, N.J. August 18th, 1926. My dear Brother: I must indeed set about to answer your reasonable and natural inquiry about our family history. As a little fellow, neighbors in teasing me would Say - `du bist 'n Schwope'. Translated - `you are a Sue- vian'. Men of learning like ministers and professors among the German-American colonials of course would know that as well as whether one were a Saxon or a Prussian, two other tribes of Teutons. The discrimination was as easy as to tell the natives of Boston, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and London apart although they all used the Eng- lish tongue. A fact to prove first-hand our ancestors' early mi- gration to America is found in the tradition of our Grand- parents - I asked Grandparent Ritter about their fathers and grandfathers. He and his wife both stated that these had lived in Philadelphia and the Reading neighborhood in their respective childhoods. Let us see how far back that takes us. A boy of less than ten years talking with a man of more than three score and ten in the early six- ties of the 19th Century would reach back to the very be- ginning of the 19th Century. Now this same old man then was in his early teens or less. His interest in what he 119
HENRY STERNER heard his grandfather say - assuming a corresponding age - carries back to the 18th Century somewhere about the year 1740 - fifteen years before Braddock's Defeat near Fort Duquense...... Our grandfather's grandfather could hardly escape the military obligations of that period. It is quite probable the last Intercolonial War which resulted in Canada's passing from French to British sovereignty, found our male ancestry involved. (This is Uncle Henry's idea of `facts'.) United States histories of our school days created the impression quite generally that the colonists and la- ter the Americans were a homogeneous population - all speaking English. The fact is, they were of several dif- ferent nationalities, of many different languages, customs, religions. Jealousies and distrust ran high..... Holland had hospitably sheltered and protected from English persecution the Puritans or Pilgrims from 1608 to 1620 when they migrated to America. (Where does he get these misinformations and dates?) A few decades later they (the government of Charles II, not the colonists) re- paid the Dutch hospitality by sending a military expedi- tion to drive out the Dutch from the Connecticut River Valley (what expedition? The English had been settled there since 1636, our Nicholas among them) notwithstand- ing that the Dutch claims were as good as the British. During the Revolution the same hostility was in ev- idence by New England politicians, opposing General Phi- lip Schuyler, a Dutchman of New York, and plotting with others in the `Conway Cabal' to remove the Virginian General Washington from the supreme command. I first met Grandmother Sterner in May 1862 - only her name was Houser then for she had married three times and Houser was her third husband. We were living at Ind- ian Hill then and I stopped off to see her on my way to 120
HENRY STERNER Uncle Solomon Hoyberger's; I was there only a few days on that trip. How lovely was that first trip in May from Mauch Chunk to Unionville where Grandmother lived - green fields, blooming orchards, cattle, calves, colts, sheep feeding in pastures - it seemed every house had flowering bulbs in bloom. It was like a ride through fairy-land. Uncle Solomon's wife, Matilda, wanted me to look after children - think of a boy of not eight years taking charge of a brood of young ones. Uncle was a carpenter, away during the working days - home Sundays. I was there six weeks. It was a summer of terrible freshets in the Lehigh region, the Canal destroyed, many lives lost - not unlike the Johnston Flood. I remember the rains - every day for a week! The Canal was washed out from White Haven to Easton. When Mother heard of the `Flood' she had no rest till Father fetched me home. Indian Hill was in Franklin Township, Carbon County, a hamlet four miles south-east of Mauch Chunk back from the Lehigh. Trains and boats were not running and we walked fifteen miles plus - my earliest and longest walk!..... I remember the havoc vis- ible along that line of march. At the beginning of the winter of 1862 I made my second trip to Grandmother Sterner (Houser). Both trips were made by stage - as common then as are taxis now in the city. It was a cold, dreary day in December this time with some falling snow. The effect of the Civil War was everywhere visible or felt - a season of hardship from 1861 to at least 1875. Children didn't know it. Those old enough could hear tales of wars of the past. The old people talked in a matter-of-fact way as if it were nothing new. They did not seem worried much, I re- member. I have a distinct recollection of the Battle of 121
HENRY STERNER Gettysburg, the first three days of July 1863. Those days were bright, clear, and warm. Everybody was excited then. It was - is - only eighty miles from Gettysburg to Unionville. People spoke of the roar and smoke of the battle. I did not observe either. These observers were watching and listening from the heights around us. It is an estab- lished fact that, under favorable atmospheric conditions, cannonading has been heard one hundred miles from the scene of the action. Neighbors came in from time to time with newspapers for Grandmother. Her son, Edwin Houser, was in the battle and received a wound - not serious. By the way, Grandmother Sterner was not only married three times but she survived her third husband by many years. Her first husband was John Sterner (Actually Abra- ham, remember). He lived only a few years - died from an injury. I think from what Grandmother said that what we today would call blood poisoning set in. She had three children by John (Abraham) - Mary, Sarah, and Paul. Her second husband was Joseph Saunders by whom she had one child, Joseph. Her third husband was Houser by whom she had one child, Edwin Houser. My impression is that the last two husbands were both of British origin, descend- ants of English who had settled among the Pennsylvania Germans and adopted the language and customs of their neighbors. All these men had means and each left Grand- mother in good circumstances, considering the times in which she lived. I well remember three different parties coming once a year to pay her the interest on the `Dow- ery'. She lived on a little farm of three acres. On it were a small stone house with four rooms and a cellar; and a summer log house with two large rooms. A barn, corn-crib, hen house and pig stable, a large fenced-in garden, and four little fields also well fenced. She 122
HENRY STERNER kept cows, pigs, chickens. She had an orchard of eleven apple trees, four cherry trees, two quinces, and two large chestnut trees. She always planted wheat, potatoes, corn, rye - besides the garden. She had a long bed of many kinds of flowers running the whole length of her large garden. Of course, no garden would be complete or worth the name without currants, gooseberries and rhu- barb. Grandmother had her faults. She was a taker of snuff - inhaled it. She had only one eye - cause of this loss I do not know. She kept a bottle of brandy on hand constantly. She told me never to taste it, for she would send me to the store a quarter mile down the road to buy the groceries and brandy for her and some candy for me with the butter and eggs. She was a devoted member of the Lutheran Church and made me go to Sunday School whe- ther I would or not. I took a fancy to the burning stuff in that brandy bottle one day but did not like the taste and thereafter let it alone. The only intoxicating drink I ever did like was wine - the home-made kind. Grandmother's childhood was spent in `Druka Land', a place not far from Bethlehem. Her name was Yukel - it sounded like that but of course the spelling was differ- ent - it is likely it would be Jkel. I know from her talk with German people that her ancestors had been in America - father, grandparents, and earlier. I have my- self often thought of tracing our ancestry. The name Sterner is found wherever Germans have settled in large numbers. It would correspond to the English name Starr. There are many communities between the Delaware and Schuylkill where it is well known. Documentary evidence of military service is often impossible to find, partic- ularly when writing was not a universal accomplishment. These people of ours did not attach the same importance 123
HENRY STERNER to soldiering as those of British ancestry are wont to do. Another word on our two grandmothers. Did you ever think of Grandmother Ritter's wonderful record? Mother of twelve children who reached an age of sixty or better. Seven sons - Daniel, John, Martin, Hiram, Henry, Emanuel, and Enoch; five daughters - Barbara, Matilda, Elizabeth, Rebecca, and Louise. Every single one of them was a good citizen - men and women. Not one of them addicted to dope of any kind, not even tobacco. The mother of these was always amiable, considerate, kind, sympathetic, wise, tactful, never hysterical, absolutely truthful, patient, just, humble before God! She died at the advanced age of eighty eight. My impression of Grandmother Sterner (Houser) was quite otherwise. Disabuse your mind at once if you think she drank'. She did not. She took a tablespoonful of liquor once or twice a day - never more to my knowledge. She was industrious, thrifty, energetic, critical, exact- ing, impatient and unsympathetic in her treatment of Chil- dren and the young, it seems to me. We know which of these two characters is the more congenial and companionable but we cannot say who is good or who is better. But if I may venture an opinion upon myself and others of the same blood, I think we have, on the whole, more of the Sterner or Yukel stuff than of the Ritter. (Rebecca Ritter was actually Kirkendall.) War lets loose the worst of the evil passions. At the beginning of the Civil War great premiums were offered men to get up companies of volunteers. The government made no distinction between men with families and those without. Father was induced to join the Army as a Shoe- maker - to make shoes and keep them in repair. I remem- ber his talking to Mother about it and how much money he could make. She didn't believe it and advised him not 124
HENRY STERNER to do it. when he reached Harrisburg he found himself in a regular line division - he protected against the decep- tion and fraud but to no avail - anything to get men into the Army in 1862. His indignant resentment made him to be classed as a deserter. This is the real fact. Affectionately yours Henry. * * * The letter which follows has had the heading torn from the first page so I do not know the date and, natur- ally part of the text is missing. It is obviously, how- ever, a continuation of the previous letter and was prob- ably written shortly after it. * * * ......... reports. He sailed from Philadelphia and was never heard of again. I am writing to continue some further comments on my child-life while living in Lehigh County where I was born. Father had a lime kiln and burned lime stone for the farm and building trades. He employed at least one man regularly. He lived with us. Nights Father made and repaired shoes; he was an expert in this line, had served an apprenticeship. In the Spring of 1859 the family removed to Indian Hill, Franklin Township, Carbon County. It was on the frontier of civilization - on the eastern edge of a forest of pine, spruce, hemlock, oak that extended north and west beyond White Haven, Gouldsboro, Tobyhana..... Well, the Tale: Indian Hill was so named by early chroniclers because hostile Indians had made it a Rendez- vous! The Algonquin tribes were always unfriendly in this section and the Iroquois were not constant in their 125
HENRY STERNER fidelity to the English. The township was named after Dr. Benjamin Franklin because he had led a body of armed workmen and troops to what is now Weisport, and there constructed a Fort and a palisade to protect the settlers. This fort was built about 1750, immediately after the close of King George's War in 1748. Historians we have read are silent about Franklin's organizing and equipping the entire Expedition against the French at Fort Duquesne. Braddock's men had arms but all other supplies were fur- nished by Pennsylvania under Franklin's initiative and di- rection. (Where did he get all this mis-information? Where was Virginia?) In that colonial period, necessity found every man living outside a well protected town, to be a hunter, trapper, soldier, as well as a pioneer farmer, lumberman, tradesman, or minor. In 1859/62 men 90 years of age or more were living in Franklin Township. I remember one distinctly - `Old Meyer'. He had a log hut and other log buildings for his live-stock about two miles away in the dense forest. He owned a large tract of land, had a lot of cleared spaces, open glades for pasture, cultivated very little ground - a man after the Daniel Boone type, always wore some home-made fur gar- ments, was an expert shot with the rifle which he always carried, always had game in season in a great basket that hung from the rafters of his hut. I went with Mother and some neighbors to see the Meyers several times. `Was has du in dem Karb?' was the question invariably asked by the visitors. He would take it down! Wild pigeons, quail, pheasants, wild turkeys, and sometimes hawks and owls would be seen. Animals he had skinned were not in sight but their pelts stretched out to cure - those for food in containers. In summer trout were the chief food of this hunter and his wife. 126
HENRY STERNER If there were children they had already left home. The reason for going to the Meyer place was mainly to get wild cherries, huckleberries, cranberries on bushes, Win- tergreen berries and pheasant berries. All these wild fruits as well as wild plums and crab apples were abundant and very large in Meyer's woods and swamp. Other neighbors were the Hates, Rose, Walks, Bookers, Ziegenfoos, Markles and Sensingers. The Hates lived only about a hundred feet from us southward across the road that was a short cut to Mauch Chunk five miles away thro' one continuous unbroken forest. Some of the Hate children had settled in Wilkesbarre, only the old man and his wife remained, living alone in a log house at the base of Ind- ian Hill which ended abruptly in a crest overlooking an extensive valley. Years since I have seen a Judge Hate mentioned in the press and I believe that he was one of these. I remember meeting some of the Hate grandchildren at their grandparent's. these children spoke only Eng- lish. At that time I could not, nor could the grandpar- ents. I remember eating some dried cherries. Young Hate asked me for some, saying that he would give me something. He went home without paying the debt. I remember a few cherries dropped on the ground. He said `I won't eat them - I'd be a pig.' You say - `I do not know much about our family his- tory'. It is not strange. It is mainly due to the vi- cissitudes of the Civil War. Another cause I adverted to in my last letter, the fact that the children and youth are absorbed in their own affairs, are impatient of any interruptions, care little for those who are old or for adults generally. Their only interest (in such) is centered on some peculiarity of dress, speech, manner, habit, or personal appearance so their comments are tinged with ridicule, contempt, derision. Also those in 127
HENRY STERNER the prime of early and later life - parents, teachers, workers, are so completely absorbed in their daily pur- suits of business, profit, pleasure, as not to think it worth while to take the time to look about them and back at people and times that largely made them what they are. Consider what an indescribably interesting picture Mrs. Higgins could have given of New York, in which city she lived nearly a century ago. Of course you and Lou and Jennie were too busy to give her much time for that. The chief reason that old people who are not trained psy- chologists do not talk much and are reticent about their past is the obvious impression of dis-appreciation on the part of their hearers. The Meyer just mentioned must have been born about 1770. His recollections of what his father and grandfa- ther knew of their own history and that of the State would carry back well into the 17th Century. When I first went to live on `The Hill', two men in the neighbor- hood, a Hertzel and a Lutz, were well into their nineties hale, hearty, mentally strong. What a fund of authentic history these men could have given had anyone tried to start them on their relations. They too dated back like Meyer, only they were the regular tradesmen and farmer type. What was true then of the absolute apathy about the past and its human relics is just as true today and in your own family I'll warrant that every one of your chil- dren and grandchildren know more about `The Little Red Hen', `Goldilocks and the Three Bears', `Cinderella', than they do about their own families. How much more impor- tant and worth while would be a minute and faithful account of what Jay and Don have passed through than even gems of literature. Even these literary gems are not fully and complete- 128
HENRY STERNER ly taught. They are not even told that while `The Little Red Hen' is a `Modern Classic', `Cinderella' can be traced back through centuries, civilizations, races, till we lose track of it in the ancient Sanskrit, the classic lan- guage of India, the language that furnished the roots of our own English speech and nearly all languages of modern and ancient Europe. I saw Grandmother Sterner (Lizbette Houser) in June 1873. She was then in good health, with a clear mind, well advanced in her eighties. What a fund of informa- tion I could have obtained first hand and absolutely au- thentic! The cost of getting that now in time and money would cost thousands. What a stupid fool I was! Her own experience and knowledge of the past would mean vastly more to us as a family than the `Age of Particles' or the reign of King John of England and the Magna Carta. What is true in our case is true of every family and every community. I have yet to know a community that makes even the faintest effort to utilize the stores of intellectual wealth in the life experience, romance, and genius of many an inhabitant, citizen, or resident, both transient and permanent. We are all too busy. Business, clubs, movies, motor cars, schools, churches, politics, and radios. How fleeting is fame! I remarked to a prominent member of our Board of Education some time ago, with pained emotion - `Why! John Enright is dead!' He an- swered, `Let me see - I don't think I know him.' I lived in Barnegat over twenty years before I lear- ned that a certain large, quaint old house had, for more than ten years the summer residence of several of Napoleon's brothers and sisters, their wives, husbands, children and intimate friends with their servants. (Here we go again. Jerome Bounapart and his family did summer 129
HENRY STERNER there before his big brother had the Pope dissolve his American marriage and ordered him back to France.) So narrowed in mind and buried in routine school-room work that I could not or did not know what place I was in or what I had best do to stir and wake up my mind. I am ashamed of myself and despise my indolence, ignorance, and want of initiative. Even among the noted writers of history, the judi- cial, historic minds are rare. Almost universally we care little for truth unless it accords with our view-point, our opinion, bias, prejudice and desires. To tell or to describe, narrate things, facts, events as they are and have been without exaggeration, depreciation, fear, or favor, is so rare as to be almost non-existent. Nearly all histories of our Western Civilization are a gross in- sult to Arab, Hindu, Chinese, and Japanese civilizations. It seems the writers start out to prove certain things; then they bring everything favorable to bear on their view-point and omit all that is distasteful or opposed. They act like tricky salesmen. This American trait is expanding. I will enclose a clipping that satirizes American boasts and glorying. Glenn Frank, former editor of the Century magazine, now President of Wisconsin State University, remarks - ``The great American pastime is counting, measuring, weighing. Each individual American calls himself `great' if he builds large in wealth, learning, `pull' - any one or more of these.'' Another reason why you know so little of the past is because you always had many more social distractions than I. From the age of seven on to manhood, my life was passed in almost daily contact with rather old people. Their remnicent talking moods were as interesting to me as Cooper, Aesop, or Sinbad. The spirit of the times 130
HENRY STERNER stimulated such reviews. Old folks found me attentive and an appreciative listener. Many a one remarked, `He likes old folks'. I want to correct a statement. Two Uncles Ritter, Henry and Emanuel, were lost to record. Henry went for gold in `49, Emanuel escaped from a Southern Civil War prison and escaped to the West. Trace of both lost. I have sometimes wondered whether you know the ad- venture and romance that attaches to the Kirkendall fa- mily - not legend, but hard facts. A party of the Scot- tish Douglas family were sailing for pleasure off the coast of the Hebrides when a piratical craft hailed them, boarded them and took off a youth and his sister and sail- ed away. All effort at rescue or even word of their fate came to nought. Years passed. Finally came a report that a ship similar to the pirate's had appeared in New York Harbor and the captain had sold the girl as a slave - a household servant. There was never a trace of the boy. After her term was served the girl had married a man whom a Dutch New Jersey farmer had picked up, a tiny baby, in a furrow as he was plowing. This Dutchman called himself Cuykendahl and this fondling bore his name. This boy's racial status was never fixed but the Scottish side was without quest- ion. Such lawlessness was very common in pre-Revolution- ary days. Wars, feuds, revolts, and family quarrels and tribal dissensions among the higher-ups often led to ban- ishment, kidnapping, and selling into slavery in lieu of heavy ransom. For over half a century the Kirkendall fa- mily were interested in a claim for a large inheritance due this Douglass girl and her descendants in America. Nothing ever materialized but the facts were well establi- shed. Affectionately, Henry. 131
HENRY STERNER This letter is addressed to John Norman Sterner on the happy occasion of his birth. It is dated Barnegat, N.J. May 31st, 1926. My dear Great-Nephew: When your arrival on this Planet April 10th, 1926 was announced, it struck me that a note addressed to you would be a fitting thing, even though it would be quite unusual, to express pleasure and congrat- ulation. We are glad you came to the Earth and did not go to any one of the other billions of worlds Science says are whirling through space - that you came to the House of Sterner and did not join some other tribe or clan - and also that you have taken the name of John - a name once well known in this family. You are John the Third and may appropriately write your Title - John III. Hear me about these Johns. Your paternal grand-dad's grand-dad was John; (Why, oh why is it that Uncle Henry seems completely unaware that his grandfather's name was Abraham; it was his great-grandfather who was a John and it was his father who was the Revolutionary veteran.) that man's father was John. In other words, your Great- Great and also your Great-Great-Great Grandfather's name was John. (Boy, oh Boy, the trouble this caused me till I found out about Abraham.) This last named John was one of the soldiers in Gen- eral John Muhlenberg's Division of the Revolutionary troops that were under Washington in his campaigns in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Virginia. Washington great- ly praised General Muhlenberg's troops. These generals were particular friends. Washington in his private corr- espondence lauds the constancy, fortitude, and loyalty of the `Pennsylvania German Soldiers'. He could always 132
HENRY STERNER depend on them! They never wavered in loyalty. They had no English ties as had the English colonists between 34 - 38 and 41 - 45 latitude. These English descendants often hesitated, doubted, and were skeptical about the expediency, justice, or final issue of their cause. Quite different was the attitude of the colonists of German, Dutch, Irish and French ori- gin. These latter troops were the invincible nucleus of the American Army in the Revolution. Of course envy and jealousy were rife among the other elements. Having a common language and origin and, being much more numerous than either of the other racial groups, they would unite to oppose them. These had the votes and the historians and the running of the military machine so that, in the final outcome, their defections were concealed and the virtues and patriotic deeds of the men who were of Un-English descent, ignored. Letters, diaries, reports prove this beyond question. The Ameri- can - German would say - `Georg der Dritt ist auch ein Deutscher!' - but there the attachment ended! (Thus spake Uncle Henry - upon what authority, I know not.) Norman, however, was not a part of the Sterner name, nor in racial blood. These Johns traced their ancestry to that land east of the Upper Rhine inhabited by the Suevi - noted by Roman historians as bold and fearless marauders. The Normans came on a millennium later and made an equally notorious record in Europe's history. No one now is proud of the predatory propensities of these two remarkable peoples, but even then they had qualities admired by their enemies, the Roman and the French hist- orians who have told us about them..... They say you are healthy: Good! It would not surp- rise me if otherwise, the way your immediate paternal progenitor keeps late hours, indulges in exhausting amuse- 133
HENRY STERNER ments, soaks himself in sea-water long enough at a time to make loose and tender the skin of a hippopotamus, irr- egular meals, and his attempts at times to rival another nameless pachyderm in the consumption of grub. Yes, John, nothing like health! Wealth is not much much without it. Force your attendants to call in the Health Expert when you are well - laughing, crowing, kicking, striking etc. Make repairs before the house crashes upon your head! Don't let `em put it off till you are sick, as a mother did about whom I shall tell you now. Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes was eminent as a scholar, poet, writer, and most of all an expert physician. He just dabbed in the other things. His big hobby was ma- king furniture down in his cellar. Well, the story! He was summoned to visit a sick boy. The mother said - `Restore my child to health - perfect health.' Dr. Holmes said - `You are far too late for that.' `Why', said the di- stracted mother, `I sent for you at the appearance of the first symptom.' `Yes', said Dr. Holmes, `You should have begun with the boy's grandfather when he was a youngster' - implying the established fact that physical fitness and the opposite are transmitted to posterity - a law nature is sure to enforce. How your own paternal Grand Dad lived almost ex- clusively in the open air and the sunshine - not in play but in actual work that one from the age of eight years might well do - less than five months was the maximum time spent in school; work mornings and evenings of each school day was always required; ball playing except dur- ing recess on school days was almost unknown. When the `public school course was finished' he earned by his own hands the money to pay his school expenses in higher in- stitutions of learning; the lure and charm of social di- versions were not allowed to make serious inroads on his 134
HENRY STERNER time and health - not a single habit to dull brain or weaken stamina did he have. He had the high stamina of Dr. Holmes and his successors of the present day. Sages of learning and wisdom like Eliot, Hadley, Frank, Hodges, each had and all agree that such training is the best possible. They measure such men as your Grand Dad by what they do and what difficulties they overcome. Give him a `Tiger'. Your Grand Dad's five sons (male descendants) have some decided handicaps - they live in a pleasure resort, everything is done for them, and they set their hopes on the prestige and success of the father. I do not expect you to reply. The figures you de- scribe now in the air with feet and hands, I am too stu- pid to decipher. Some day you will learn the articulate language and how to write it. Then we can exchange ideas. I am glad you are here. Be sure to stay. Sincerely, Uncle Henry Sterner. * * * Barnegat, N.J. December 19th, 1932. Dear Brother: I was delighted to get your letter Saturday the 17th, dated 10th, postmarked 16th - that made every word well seasoned, fully ripe. I am always glad to hear from relatives and friends, especially when their words carry one over a wide space of time and place. The `af- ternoon' of life seems just the season best suited for re- flection, remniscense. There is reason why one's own personal experience should stand first in interest rather than those of history or fiction. The Kirkendalls found their interest in the Sterner boys a well-paying asset! Alfred's employers particularly. 135
HENRY STERNER You have probably known how thoroughly his services were utilized. When the progress of these three boys was no- ted later their pride stepped in and they said - `What a chance they had from us.' A common human episode. The Kirkendalls were more more generous and appreciative than their cousins in New England and New Jersey. They were actuated at first by self-interest only but, after some time, became friends with their young employees and took great satisfaction in keeping the tie unbroken. Their name was originally likely the Dutch name Kuykendahl, afterwards fully Anglicized. Then the `mix- ing' went on, allied with Copes, Patterson, Bellas, Pecks, Pollocks, Grouers, Fortners. Will's great-grandmother on the father's side was a Patterson. The list shows Dutch, Scotch, English - the latter finally dominating - that is the old stock that you did not come in touch with much - they had nearly all died before you were grown up. But the `English' we knew were of a very different (sort) from those of states north and east of Pennsylvania. You will find this treated philosophically by James Trustlow Adams in his `Epic of America'. This old Kirkendall set would say, `Up York State the women don't milk! Don't do any out-door work. The men do much of their own cooking. They sew not neither do they spin, nor weave!' - and other unbelievable charges were made. Yet this same Harvard Dean of History tells the world that the settlers of Pennsylvania created the sen- timent and government of Democracy - and not those of New England! The few leading men of the Mayflower compelled the compliance of it all. To show how grateful they were to Holland for giving them shelter and security from the Anglicans in their own native land, they proceeded to drive all the Dutch settlers out of the Connecticut Valley and appropriated to themselves the Dutch property. But 136
HENRY STERNER their piety invoked God's blessing on every blow struck. Along this 41 line through Stroudsburg, Berwick, Bloomsburg and on west raged the battle-ground between Penn's adherents and the New England Puritans who claim- ed all of Pennsylvania north of 41 - kept up off and on until 1770 when war loomed larger with England! The name Gillin calls up many things in the early years of my sojourn in New Jersey. Gillin was a pleasant man to work with in the clerical position I held in Bel- mar with H.H. Yard. My own personal relations with the two men just named, together with Allen and Warman, were as pleasant and agreeable as with any other group, since or before. The serious fault in the eyes of the world that these four men had was their failure to make great sums of money. How many thousands of men united in the past decade to make vast sums of money, to secure great wealth, have ended by bringing on the greatest financial slump of history. The pity is that many saved themselves at the expense and loss of millions of their fellows. It has often seemed to me that this trio - Harry Yard, W.E. Allen and Thos. E. Warman were away dealing in stocks while we were so often left to deal with the local business. It seems now that Stock Brokers would have been a proper title for them. I cannot imagine any other reason for Warman's and Yard's almost daily ab- sence from their Belmar business. Beaver Valley is just south of McCauley Mountain, a huge mound of earth and rock that once covered a mass of the richest anthracite. I am wondering how many tons of that coal did I break at the school house in the Hol- low and at home. The coal was delivered at the entrance to the mines in its crudest form - pieces weighing wo to 80 pounds and more! and sold at a dollar per load - sometimes more but never as much as $2.00. Mount Grove 137
HENRY STERNER is a village at the east end of Mount McCauley. The coal has long since been exhausted. The soil in these vallies of Pennsylvania, between mountains containing coal, is very rich and not easily enhausted. I have been doing a lot of work in my ground that I usually leave for spring. But since I have Asparagus to cut for market the infavorable weather in March and April makes winter work necessary - clearing off weeds, stalks, plowing, harrowing, even `starting out', making furrows for potatoes and applying stable manure, bone meal and lime. I am restricting myself to a much smaller area.... Winter is here in earnest. It will now be probably three months before plowing and harrowing can be done. Only certain conditions of weather will permit these operations in soil. I should be delighted to be with you Sunday. Christ- mas would come Saturday. Don't bother about the chair and the plate till I come. Severely inclement weather would make my stay at home imperative - to keep water and plants from freezing up. At any rate, may you all be happy be- fore - at - and after Christmas. Please give the enclosed note to Dorothy. Affectionately, Henry. FINIS


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