Historic house once home to Crawford family By Carol Sones Shetler
TURBOTVILLE-Efforts to host displays with new interests was accomplished this year in the more than three decades’ long run of Heritage Days. Sponsored by the Warrior Run – Fort Freeland Heritage Society, the gathering is held annually the first full weekend in October. This year’s first-time feature included a woman who had resided in the Hower/Slote farmhouse on the site.
The house, built circa 1829, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was during 1945 and 1946 that the Crawford family was tenant farmers on the property. This, according to 90-years-young Ruth Crawford Cathermen of Milton, who identified it as the birthplace of her sister Barbara Crawford Robbins, currently of Watsontown.
The family of four sons and seven daughters included some known in the East Lycoming area. Both now deceased, they included Edna Crawford, wife of Jim Hill of Moreland Township, and Doris Crawford, wife of Ernest Smith Jr., a native of Franklin Township.
Recalling those days immediately following World War II, Ruth said, “I believe the move was due to Mike Patterson who was affiliated with the Watsontown Bank.”
Following the short stay on this farm, the family’s next move was to a nearby acreage north along the same road. Of her mother, Mary Aunskt Crawford, Ruth said, “My mother worked hard, after doing the milking at the barn, she came in and cooked meals for 11 children.”
Seated among an array of family quilts on the second floor of the house, Ruth told and retold the story of her short stay at the famed farm where the Battle of Fort Freeland occurred during the 1790’s. As if to accentuate the event of more than two centuries ago, this day the sounds of firing muskets occasionally reverberated through the structure.
“I am one of four generations of quilters,” Ruth said, as she identified the quilts and each maker. Beginning with her grandmother, Elmira Mincemoyer Aunkst, (1875-1905) was a ‘Wedding Ring’ quilt. The pieces curved edging was not bound by another material as those today, but by the top and bottom fabrics folded underneath and stitched back to back.
Also displayed was her mother’s quilt along with one of her own of cross-stitched blocks. “I don’t quilt much anymore but continue crocheting,” said Ruth who had beside her a hook and thread she occasionally picked up the few moments passers-by were sparse.
“This is the first time I’ve been part of Heritage Days. I could take you through the house and tell you who slept in each room,” she said.
The process of additional womanly tasks of Revolutionary War times shown by volunteers included cooking, tatting, spinning and weaving. The spinner in attendance for more years than she can recall was Joy McCracken of Lairdsville. Among the interested adults and children was six-year-old Alyssa Kepner of Hughesville. The Ashkar student was successfully shown how to oil the shaft on the spindle of the walking wheel which transfers wool into yarn. The youngster left with a tuft of wool as a remembrance of the day.