Saturday, February 17, 2018

Lynne O. Ramer Memories of Teachers 100 Years Ago. And Recipes!

Today I am sharing my grandfather Lynne O. Ramer's letter published May 3, 1961 in the Lewistown Sentinel column We Notice That by Ben Meyers. Gramps talks about Milroy, PA teachers 100 years ago.


Dear Ben and Dave Yingling: I got your message via courier (Gilbert McKinley Shirk). So here’s the answer: That other Ramer school teacher at the turn of he century you were inquiring about was Clyde Oliver Ramer, my uncle.

Note the Lynne “O” in my name. It stands for “Oliver,” as both my uncle and I were named after his uncle, Oliver Reed, who was grandmother Rachel’s brother.

I don’t know where Uncle Clyde taught school. He was the last Ramer boy to leave Rachel’s nest.  When I was 4, he taught me how to spell Kishacoquillas. That was followed by such eye-blinders as Popocatepetl, Aurora Borealis, Schenectady, Armagh, Schuylkill, Tuscarora, etc.  Oh, yes, and Susquehanna!

He also taught me the ABC’s backwards---XYZ’s.  And it took Miss Cora Lewis, my first grade teacher, quite a while to unscramble my memory.

Thus it came to be that Uncle Clyde flexed his pedagogical talents on me. Then we’d go to the barber shop or to the restaurant over Laurel Run, Milroy, and the fees I collected were roughly one penny per word or a nickel for the “reversed alphabet.” With the “take” I got for correct spelling, I got myself a “poke” of candy.  On second thought, maybe it was one penny for five words.


Esther Mae Ramer and baby Lynne Oliver

Mental Giants

Uncle Clyde and Aunt Ida Ramer took me to raise when my mother, Esther, and my grandmother, Rachel, both died in 1912. He further exercised his teacher talents on me in arithmetic and geography. He “thimble-pied” fractions into my thick skull and taught me to name all the counties of Pennsylvania, starting at Erie and eastward around the border, spelling inward to arrive at Centre County. Then for a review, start at Centre County and spiral outwards back to Erie. If you asked me real quickly nowadays I couldn’t name the county in the northeast corner. Or indeed in any other corner!

As added exercises in those days at school we had to learn the county set and principal towns of all the Pennsylvania counties and the capitals, principal cities and products of every country in the world.

There weren’t so many nations in 1915, so ‘twas an easier job than school kids have today. Besides we had to learn the names of every town, township and county officer, and know the requirements for their offices, and the length of their terms.  They called it “CIVICS”!

Lynne's school photo when he was six years old

Tribute to Orrie

One exercise required of us (1916) by Prof. John Benjamin Boyer was to make a census of Milroy.  The “big count” was roughly 1,400.  I was amazed to see a current Pennsylvania road map say the count is 1,403. Where did those extra three come from? Perhaps this has been revised since the census taken in 1960.

We had a subject called “Agriculture,” in which class we would calculate balanced diets of fats, carbohydrates, proteins, etc. for beasts and fowls, even though a lot of us were riding bicycles.  I guess the “horse count” is not as great in K. V. as it was in 1915-20.  But even then there were some Maxwells and Fords, i.e., “tin lizzies.”

Now I had only intended to answer Dave Yingling’s question, just to tell you the name of that Ramer who was his contemporary teacher.  But the pen rambles on!

So here goes for a slight more ramble to pay tribute to another living grammar school teacher, Orris M. [sic] Pecht, who taught thousands of boys in his 30-plus years as an Armagh Township pedagogue?

Most of the older boys and older girls should remember him. I missed out on “Orrie,” since I attended Mr. Manwiller’s seventh-eight grades in Reedsville.


Last Dinkey Ride

Oliver Reed’s last trip from Lewisburg to visit Milroy and to see his sister Rachel was made on the day that the last dinkey-and-logger’s trip was made on Reichly Brother’s railroad. I remember it so well, since the dinkey broke an axel and we had to hoof quite a way to get home and I stirred up every hornet’s nest on the right-of-way. We had gone up huckleberryin’ atop Long Mountain.

Ben, I got your batch of clippings from WNT columns.  Many thanks.  To old eagle eye Gilbert M. Shirk and Reed W. Fultz go my thanks too for similar favors.

My wife Evelyn is going to make us a pot of greens done in the style found in the WNT recipe. Get someone to put in the recipes for schnitts and neff and chive dumplings. They are palate twisters.  Aunt Carrie Bobb of Potlicker Flats was a specialist on dandelion, schnitts and dumplings.  She will be 86 this coming June 14. Nammie [his grandmother Rachel Reed Ramer] was the one to concoct the stuffed pig’s stomachs thought!

Lynne O. Ramer
Royal Oak Mich.



Cyrus Oliver Reed

When Cyrus Oliver Reed was born on November 5, 1855, in Kelly, Pennsylvania, his father, Jacob, was 44 and his mother, Susannah, was 41. He married Emma M. Dieffenbach in 1885. They had one child during their marriage. He died on March 1, 1925, in his hometown at the age of 69.

from We Notice That column, Lewistown Sentinel, July 16, 1961. Submitted by Lynne O. Ramer to Ben Meyers: "Dave Yingling and my Uncle Clyde Ramer went to teacher's training together in 1899. Then they each taught in rural schools for $30 monthly--and find your own keepins! Ten times $30-- how does that sound for a year's work? Of course this isn't the daily national teaching standard today, but it was a month's pay only a half century ago."

The 1900 Census shows Clyde, age 22, was a teacher. He lived with his family: father Joseph, age 67 operated a planning saw mill with his son Howard helping; mother Rachel was age 59; sisters Annie, Emma J. and Esther worked in the knitting mill factory; son Charles Perry was a day laborer, and daughter Marcia, 15, was at school. Annie's child Charles, age 4, also lived with them.

The teacher's salary couldn't support a wife and the 1910 Census for Lewistown, PA shows Clyde Oliver, age 31, married to Ida, age 25,  and working as a machinist at the steel mill. In 1930 the Finleyville PA Census shows Oliver Raymer, age 51, owned a garage and Ida worked as a schoolteacher. In 1940 Ida is still teaching, and the census shows she had a four year degree.

Professor John Benjamin Boyer

The 1900 Northumberland, Lower Mahanoy Census shows John age 17 living with his family Benjamin Boyer, farmer b, 1853, mother Lizzie born 1849, and sibling Charles b. 1875. 
The 1910 Mifflin County Census shows he was a boarder and teaching in the high school.
The 1920 Census show he was teaching and living with his mother Elizabeth in Lower Mahanoy, Northumberland, PA
John B. Boyer in 1908 Bucknell University yearbook
History of Northumberland County, Floyds 1911: John is a graduate of the Bloomsburg State Normal School and Bucknell University. He is a highly successful teacher, and at present is principal of the High School at Milroy, Mifflin County, Pa.

When John Benjamin Boyer was born on July 24, 1882, in Lower Mahanoy, Pennsylvania, his father, Benjamin, was 29 and his mother, Elizabeth, was 33. He was living in Northampton, Pennsylvania, when he registered for the World War II draft. He had one brother.

His death certificate shows he was Assistant Superintendent of Northumberland Schools. He died in 1948 at age 65 after suffering an accident with farm machinery.

John's family tree goes back to his immigrant ancestor JOHN HENRY BOYER
born 13 AUG 1727  in Flomersheim, Frankenthal, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany and who died January 24, 1777 in the Revolutionary War in Amityville, Berks Co., PA

Orris Wilmot Pecht (born in 1873 in Siglerville, PA and died in 1966 in Lewistown, PA) appears on the 1920 census as a teacher with wife Sarah Eva Barger (1883-1971)  and children Katherine, Bertha, and Unice [sic, Eunice]. His father was Isaiah (1839-1914) and Katherine Barger (1845-1920). Another child was Dorothy E. (1921-2012). Orris's death certificate shows he was an elementary school teacher. His family tree in America goes back to Frederick Pecht born 1795. His daughter Eunice (1911-2003) was also a teacher.

Orris and wife Sarah were cousins. Jacob (1812-1901) had children James (1860-1935) and Kathleen (1845-1920) Jacob was father to Sara Eva; Kathleen was mother to Orris.

Lloyd Raymond Manwiller (1893-1989) was a career teacher and school principle. His time at Reedsville must have been short lived. The 1920 census shows Loyd [sic] R. Manwiller, age 27, a boarder in Summerhill, Cabria, PA working at the public school. In 1921 he appears in the Hazelton, PA directory as principle at the "Hts Sch".  His parents were Newton H. Manwiller Lizzie Kutz Schlegel. He married Stella Gibboney. He is buried in a Reedsville, PA cemetery.

Reed William Fultz (1904-1962) appears on the 1930 Juniata, Mifflin, PA census as a lumberman married to Bessie M with a child Olive. His death certificate shows he was born in Milroy to parents Harry R. and Bessie Jane Fultz. Reed married Jessie Shotzberger.  Reed died in Juniata and is buried there.

Aunt Carrie Bobb's Chive Dumplings Recipe

  • Take two parts chives and one part parsley. A big colander full. Wash and cut up into small pieces. Fry a few minutes to soften with small amount of shortening and salt.

  • Then break three eggs over it. Cook till eggs set. Take off stove. Put in a pan to cool. Then make dough as for pie crust only not as short.

  • Roll out dough in squares about six inches long and three or four inches wide. Put the chive mixture in between two squares. Then turn and pinch the sides together so no water gets in. Make them kind of flat till they look like an oversize ravioli.

  • Drop them slowly, one by one, into pot of boiling water, but not on top of one another. Like you do in dropping squares of home-made pot pie into the pot.

  • Boil four or five minutes. Then remove from pot and fry them in a pan with shortening till both sides are nice and brown. When they are browning, you can refill the pot with another round of dumplings and be ready to repeat the process. After they are browned, the chive dumplings are ready to eat.
They may be eaten hot or cold. Some like ‘em hot, some vice versa. If you like ‘em hot and there are some left over, warm them in a pan over slow heat and a little shortening and a small sprinkling of water. Makes them as good as new!

Pennsylvania Dutch Schnitz in Knepp

6 oz. dried, skin-on and cored apple slices
3 lbs. smoked ham with bone
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 pinch ground cinnamon
2 cups flour
4 tsps. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
1 egg, well beaten
3 Tbsps. melted butter
1 cup whole milk

Cover the dried schnitz apples with water; soak overnight. In the morning, cover ham with water and simmer for 2 hours. Then add the apples and water in which they have been soaking and continue to simmer for another hour. Remove ham from the pot and use a slotted spoon to remove the apples. Add the sugars and cinnamon to the remaining liquid. Reserve this juice in the pot until you're ready to cook the dumplings.

To prepare the dumplings, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and white pepper. Mix together in a separate container the beaten egg, melted butter and milk and quickly stir this into the flour mixture. Stir just until blended (over-stirring will make the dumplings tough). Let dough rest 30 minutes. Drop the dumpling mix by tablespoonful into the simmering cooking liquids. Tightly cover the kettle and cook for 20 minutes. Serve hot on large platter with cooked schnitz apples and sliced baked ham. Makes about 8 servings.

Here is another version:

3 pounds ham
1 quart apples, dried
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 cups flour
1 cup milk
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 egg, well beaten
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt

Pick over and wash dried apples. Cover with water and let soak overnight or for a number of hours.
In the morning, cover ham with cold water and let boil for 3 hours. Add the apples and water in which they have been soaked and continue to boil for another hour. Add brown sugar.

Make dumplings by sifting together the flour, salt, pepper and baking powder. Stir in the beaten egg, milk (enough to make fairly moist, stiff batter), and melted butter.

Drop the batter by spoonfuls into the hot liquid with the ham and apples. Cover kettle tight and cook dumplings for 15 minutes. Serve piping hot on large platter.

Recipe Source: "Pennsylvania Dutch Cook Book: Fine Old Recipes," Culinary Arts Press, 1936.

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