Life in Pleasant Valley - During the Month of February 1890 - 1910
the 1890s the pages of the Hopewell Herald gave glimpses into
life in Pleasant Valley through the notices of Rachel Williamson and others.
During this month in mid-winter there were few notices about farming routines
but more about the weather and about a variety of happenings.
On February 25, 1890 Rachel Williamson reported that, “The new bridge above the school house is now completed and ready for use by the public since last Thursday.” This is the old iron bridge, now not in use, on Hunter Road crossing Moore’s Creek.
On February 3, 1892 there was a notice to farmers about the possible creation of a canning factory in Titusville that would provide a market for Pleasant Valley farmers. The notice made it clear that farmers needed to show interest in the project if it was going to get off the ground. The notice read,
The meeting was successful and a canning factory became a reality and operated for a decade or so. A number of Pleasant Valley farmers raised and took tomatoes to the factory and members of their families sometimes worked at the cannery.
The next week, on February 10, 1892, Rachel Williamson reported on a nearly tragic accident involving one of the hired men of a local farmer, perhaps associated in some way with the stone quarry. She wrote, “Friday morning, his man Moses thought he would try some damp powder and see if it was good. So he filled a bottle half full of powder, dropped a lighted match in it and tried to turn if bottom up, but did not succeed, for with a loud report the bottle was shattered. The other hired man hearing the report thought some one was blasting rocks back of the house, and went out to investigate, where he found Moses gazing heavenward, evidently glad he had not taken an upward flight. Moses is convinced that the powder was good but will never experiment with a bottle again as the glass is too sharp and brittle.”
The next week, February 17, a notice appeared from the Mercer County Freeholders related to the purchase of the farm where the county workhouse is located. The notice read, “The county workhouse committee reported in favor of purchasing the farm and quarry of Levi B. Stout, at Moore’s Station, on the Belvidere Railroad and feeder of the Delaware and Raritan canal. The price is $9,000. Mr. Roach of Ewing, was opposed to the whole business, but the resolution to purchase was passed, after considerable discussion.”
The same issue of the paper carried the notice from Rachel Williamson that, “Charles Miller [living at today’s Howell Farm] lost a valuable cow last week.”
On February 9, 1893 Rachel Williamson gave some advice to the young men of Pleasant Valley stemming from a recent embarrassing occurrence. “Advice to young men of a nervous temperament: Don’t get in a hurry, it might have a tendency to produce heart trouble; take things cool, especially when circumstances over which you have no control have kept you from taking your best girl out until a late hour, and when at last you have overcome the obstacles so far as to go to your room to array yourself in a boiled shirt and other fixins’, calling down stairs to mother asking where your shirt is, and she replies that “it is on the top of the basket with the other ironing,” be careful, be very careful, that you don’t get hers instead of your own, and make your appearance a few minutes later in the presence of company in that plight, as a young man in this vicinity did recently.”
Butchering cattle was still going on in February 1898 and the paper reported on an incident at a Pleasant Valley farm.
During the 1890s an African American retired farmer and his wife lived on the small, two acre farm that was the home of Pleasant Valley’s blacksmith earlier in the century. This farm was cut out of the Henry Phillips farm that is now Howell Farm and the property is again part of Howell Farm. On February 8, 1899 Rachel Williamson reported, “Benjamin Wilson, living about a mile above the river, on or near the bank of what is known as Smith creek, keeps a few ducks. On Monday, Jan. 23, one of said ducks strayed away from home, and notwithstanding the faithful searching of Mr. W., the duck could not be located until the following Saturday, when it was found frozen in the ice in the creek near the river, about a mile from home, still alive.”
That February of 1899 was a severe weather month and later in the month Mrs. Williamson reported on it with the following items in the February 22 issue of the Herald.
In 1905 there was another severe winter that brought the report:
Just as at Howell Farm today, early February was a time for ice harvest about the turn of the century. On February 4, 1903 Mrs. Williamson reported that, “A.B. Hunt has filled the ice house on A.B. Coleman’s farm, where he expects to move in the spring.” The A.B. Coleman farm is today’s Howell Farm. Coleman was a blacksmith from Titusville who purchased the farm after the death of Charles Miller and rented it out to tenants during the first decade of the twentieth century. Mr. Hunt, who filled the icehouse, was slated to be the next tenant.
The current tenant in February 1903 was the Alfred Rogers family and Rachel had a notice about them also.
Later in the month sale notice appeared in the Herald concerning this family. It read, “Feb. 23 – Alfred Rogers will sell stock, machinery, household goods, etc. at public sale, at his residence, on the Chas. Miller farm, near Pleasant Valley schoolhouse, one mile from Moore’s station. H.L. Sked, Auct.” In her column, Mrs. Williamson noted that the Rogers family was going to be moving to Montana. They did move, but returned to the Valley in a year or so when things didn’t work out as they expected in Montana.
Winter was always a time for eating well from the produce grown on the area farms. In February 1903 Mrs. Williamson reported on a very welcome gift.