Life in Pleasant Valley - During the Month of March 1890-1910
March was a transition month in several ways. The weather usually began to be more spring like and tenant farmers often moved from one farm to another. Towards the end of March farmers often began plowing or even sowing seeds for crops such as oats. The month could still have wintry weather and this could delay the plowing. The weather was also of concern to those farmers with fruit orchards. In 1898 Rachel Williamson reported that, “The peach growers have hopes of a good crop. The belief is that if the trees escape damage before March 1 they are pretty sure to take care of themselves during the spring. The buds, in spite of the warm winter, are not as far advanced as they often are at this time.”
This was also a month in which the roads could be terrible. In 1893 Mrs. Williamson wrote towards the end of the month that, “Bad roads are the order of the day at present; however, this is the time of year when we can’t expect them to be very good.” She then gave a detailed picture of the problem and also indicated that there had been some debate going on concerning how to improve the roads with crushed stone.
March was a time of seasonal transition and the 1890s and early 1900s were a time of economic and lifestyle transition. Life still revolved around animal power, and evidence of this is seen in a short notice from the Hopewell Herald in March 1907. The notice predicted that, “If the automobile had not come into such general use just when it did, this country would be suffering a genuine horse famine. The government records show that as it is, in the face of the fact that the number of horses in this country having increased in seven years from 15,620,000 head to 23, 564,000, an increase of about 50 per cent., yet there has been such an increased demand for horses as to increase the price of horses more than 112 per cent. These are plain facts disclosed by the government records. … Although the past seven years have been marked by wonderful strides in the advancement of the automobile to general use, it has not, nor will it ever take the place of the horse.”
In spite of the bad roads, each March the Hopewell Herald contained notices of people moving from one farm to another. There was a lot of community spirit and neighborliness in Pleasant Valley and it was the custom for neighbors to give those moving a send off party and often to assist in the move. In 1889, Rachel Williamson reported that on March 14, “about 8 o’clock, about twenty of the friends and neighbors of C.V. Scudder assembled together, went in and took them by surprise. At the proper time cake, coffee and lemonade were served in abundance, after which the gentlemen retired to another room and smoked, leaving the ladies in possession of the parlor (with the exception of few gentlemen that did not indulge), where they improved the time talking, as is their habit when left to themselves. All present seemed to enjoy a pleasant evening. C.V. Scudder is going to move on the Wm. Fleming farm near Titusville.” She then reported that on the following Tuesday evening, “we thought to give Mr. John Tidd and wife a like surprise, but the little fellow was watching the lights around the neighborhood, and when he saw them extinguish one after another he said to his good wife so and so is retiring early to-night, but when we arrived there he stood on the front porch waiting for us. He moves on the Samuel Schenck farm near New Market.”
In 1893 Mrs. Williamson reported on helping the C.V. Scudder family move to a farm near Harbourton. “The neighbors and friends who turned out to assist in moving, enjoyed a social visit notwithstanding the work and bad roads, and on arriving at their new home were greeted by some of the neighbors of that vicinity who had gathered there to receive their new neighbors. While in conversation with them we learned that there was a good deal of enterprise there, for if there is not days enough in the week for their plans they take time by the foretop and do their regular weeks wash on Saturday in order to have another day next week to attend weddings, movings or whatever is on the program. Good plan perhaps.”
March was often the month when the teacher of the Pleasant Valley School would have her students put on an evening “entertainment” for the community as a way to raise money to keep improving the school library. Each year the teacher tried to raise at least ten dollars in order to receive a matching ten dollars from the state.
This was also the month when the first shad were caught on the Delaware River opposite to Pleasant Valley – especially at the fishery just opposite to Moore’s Station. In the late 1880s log rafts from New York State were still coming down the river and the rafting season often began in March.
Overall, March was an exciting month in Pleasant Valley
and brought with it anticipation of changes to many facets of life.
The unpredictability of the weather just added to the excitement and
anticipation that spring was near and the busy farming season was getting