Some Recollections About Smith Corner Folk

  There were several people living in the vicinity of Smith Corner that I distinctly remember from those early days. Most of them were my kinfolk because just about everyone living at that "corner" of Freedom Township were descended from Jacob and Rosana Schmitt.

  There was "uncle" Billy Smith who lived in a log house at the bottom of Stiffler Hill. He was quite a figure with his long white beard. Dollie tells me that he asked the Nofsker children to wake him in the morning on their way to school. He was usually up when they got there and met them at the road. One morning he did not answer, and she does not know who notified his relatives, but they checked and found him dead.

  Down the road, there was Harry Mills who, like uncle Billy Smith, also lived in a small house. He had a flowing spring, and we carried water from that spring to use at the school. Harry Mills had two sons who lived at home: Charles and Tommy. Charles, whom everybody called Charley, later got married and brought his wife there to live with him. She had a son Raymond who also came with her.

  On down the road stood the home of Henry and Jennie Smith. It was a small log house in which they raised nine children: five boys and four girls. I knew Jennie but never saw Henry. He drank a lot, and some of his family wondered about his death. It seems that he was drinking at a house occupied by John Smith, who lived on a road that was known in later years as Martz Lane. Some thought that there were several guys drinking who got into an argument. It was claimed that Henry got pushed off the high porch and sustained mortal injuries. The incident was never investigated, but Henry was found dead along that road. That was in March, 1928. I would not be nine till the following June, so Henry Smith's mysterious death was fascinating to me.

  Residing near Henry and Jennie Smith was a lady whose name was Blanche Smith. She was never married but had six children fathered by three men. She was always friendly to us children, and usually talked to us, however a nine-year-old does not always remember what was said.

  I wrote a bit earlier about the Smith brothers and their sister who sold a few things from a pantry in their house. This was Man, Cal and Minnie. None of the three were ever married. They lived in a house that was built between 1769 and 1785 by one of my direct ancestors. I found out in later years about Jacob Schmitt from my son, Larry, who did a genealogical search on the Smith, Stiffler, Helsel and Fickes lines so that we could get in the SAR. Through his research, Larry found out how we descended from Jacob Schmitt and how he served in the Bedford County Militia during the American Revolutionary War. Little did I know, back in the 1920s and 1930s, that the building we bought cookies at was the home of, or that the graveyard was the resting-place of, that ancestor who fought in the Revolutionary War. At that time, us kids would go for a walk and look at the tombstones along the hill.

  On the property that I remember as being owned by Man, Calvin and Minnie Smith there were also the remains of a building that was probably the first home of my ancestor, Jacob Schmitt. He came and settled here in 1774, just before the Revolution started, and when the Bedford County Militia needed men to serve he enlisted. There are yet today the remains of several buildings that attest to the workmanship of Jacob Schmitt Sr and his oldest son, Jacob Schmitt Jr. One is a cider press made from white oak. The gears and everything were made by hand. Donald Snyder, who does not let anyone on the property, now owns the farm. Larry and I had access one time when he showed us around. The stones in the graveyard had all fallen over. The house and barn are no longer standing. The loss of things like the Schmitt farmstead make me wish now that I would have asked my dad about his relatives.

  Another old timer I learned to know was John Smith. When we walked up to his house he would tell us stories that were pretty unbelievable. During his talk, he used a lot of swear words. He was never out of Pennsylvania, but one time he went with the church pastor, John Raugh, to Gettysburg to tour the battlefield. When they got back he said he was never so tired in his life, but he was so glad to be back in Pennsylvania. Pastor Raugh always go a chuckle out of that. I spoke earlier about his brother Harry who seemed to go everywhere.

  Another old timer that I knew when I was nine or ten was Alan Boyer. He lived alone with his one daughter. He was a deputy game warden, and he always carried a Colt Forty-Five. Needless to say, we kids did not mess with him.

  I must mention "Granddad" Stiffler. Of course, he was not my own granddad, but was my friend, and cousin, Bernard Stiffler’s grandfather. All the kids called him "Granddad Stiffler" He usually sat on the back porch in the summer. He had lost one of his legs and wore a wooden leg. He would sometimes take it off to scare us kids with the threat of his striking us with it. I doubt that he would have actually done it, but we were not taking any chances.