What Was the Convention?

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, October 24, 1912:  Didn’t have school this afternoon so we could go without missing. It was very entertaining. Enjoyed it much.  Would like to have gone to the convention again tonight, but it was raining. That’s what if did this afternoon, too.

Was out to Ruthie’s school before I went up to the church. Took Jimmie out, that is he was to stay with her.

The road Grandma would have walked to McEwensville.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma’s 7-year-old brother Jimmie also attended the McEwenville School. Their sister Ruth was a teacher at a nearby one-room school-house. Apparently the students at Ruth’s school didn’t get the afternoon off for the convention.

Why did Ruth need to babysit Jimmie while she was teaching. Maybe their parents also went to the convention.

I still haven’t figured out what the convention was—though Grandma mentioned it the previous day when she wrote:

Wanted to go to the Convention this evening, but it commenced to rain and Rufus said she wasn’t going, but she did go when Rachel came . .  .

It almost sounds like it was something associated with one of the churches in McEwensville—though I’m surprised that the students got time off school to attend a religious event.  Or maybe it was some sort of local political convention–elections were rapidly approaching both then and now.

16 Responses

  1. They may have been watching all the electioneering that was going on locally. There would have been refreshments like Election Cake. I have my grandmother’s recipe for that. It was a fruit cake. The local parties would call an convention and that gave everyone a chance to learn what was going to be on the ballot. Only men then could vote and the suffergettes would be there to demostrate. My Aunt Mary would talke about being in parades and demostrations as a teenager. Also the temperence movement was in full swing then too. I am sure the ladies were pushing for that. Today we watch TV debates and judge on body language and presentation, but in those days it was booming oratory and arm waving that mattered. According to my Aunt Mary she found politics very exciting then. It was also a chance to socialize.

    • The political conventions back then sound like so much fun, I’ve often wondered how Grandma felt about the suffragettes (and if she was ever part of any demonstrations).

      I would have liked Election Cake. I really enjoy fruit cake–even though I know that it isn’t cool.

  2. tis a puzzle, but I guessed the same as you–a religious tent event

  3. I searched genealogybank.com and found a paragraph from the Philadelphia Inquirer 4/3/1919 about a Missionary Convention held in St. John’s Church, McEwensville. It was the 45th annual session of the Women’s Missionary Society of the Wyoming Classis of the Reformed Church. There were meetings, a pageant, reception, and dinner.

    Maybe they also met there in 1912?

    • Wow, that’s really cool that you found that item. It’s amazing that McEwensville apparently hosted a major church event. Today McEwenville is such a quiet little village–and it’s more than a hundred miles from Philadelphia; I can’t imagine the Philadelphia Inquirer reporting on any happenings there.

      The Reformed Church (it’s now called St. John’s United Church of Christ) is the red church with the steeple that is in the background of the photo above.

  4. While driving around, we went down the wrong road, looking for the path to Helena’s home. We went down the road across from the red brick church. Will save this picture and see if I can find it by going down this road. It would be interesting to walk it. May have to wait till spring then, colder temps are moving in this weekend…brrr..I am not as hearty as she was. ;)

    • The roads have really changed since Grandma’s time. When Route I-180 was built they moved the road between Watsontown and McEwensville to so that the road, the creek, and the railroad tracks would all go under the same highway bridge.

      The actual road Grandma walked (the one in the photo) now dead-ends on both sides of the highway.

      You were on the right road to find the farm. Go from McEwensville toward Watsontown–and turn onto Oakes Lane.

  5. So cool you can physically see where your Gramma walked as a young women and know where she was going.

  6. It might have been a bit cold for a tent meeting. I thought they were held during the summer. Anyway, she wrote a lot but still didn’t let us know what it exactly was!

    • It’s interesting how this is one of Grandma’s longer diary entries. From her perspective, it apparently was a really interesting day. Unfortunately she couldn’t have possibly known that we’d be reading it a hundred years later—and that more detail was needed.

  7. [...] was the resolution? The previous day’s diary entry mentioned a “convention” in McEwensville—though it wasn’t clear what type of convention it [...]

  8. [...] I want to tie it all back to the “convention” that Grandma attended on October 24: [...]

  9. [...] days ago Grandma mentioned a “convention” that she attended in McEwensville, but she never provided any [...]

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