Muffly Magnetic Retriever Used to Remove Metal Objects from Cows’ Stomachs

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

Thursday, December 4, 1913:  Ditto.

muffly_retriever.2The New Improved Muffly  Magnetic Retriever

Is now available through your favorite supplier or direct from

Dr. John W. Vandeven, D.V. M. , Bellesville, Pa. 17004

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

The “ditto” refers to  a diary entry the previous day which said, “Nothing—That word I have good use for.”

One of the things that I really enjoy about blogging is how I occasionally get comments from wonderful people who knew my Grandma or other relatives. It is awesome to learn more about family members and what they were like.

I tingled with excitement when I read Pat Lukas’s recent comment, and  I’d like to thank Pat for sharing information that she had about Grandma’s little brother, Jim Muffly.  Jim did some amazing things.

Jim became a veterinarian with a practice in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.  I learned from Pat that he was also an inventor.

This is what Pat wrote in her comment:

At this very moment I am looking at the “Program of the 101st Annual AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) Meeting” which took place in Chicago in July of 1964. James A. Muffly, V.M.D. exhibited his invention for charging magnets which were used to remove metal, such as nails and bailing wire, from the stomachs of cattle.

I remember Dr. Muffly. My father, John Vandeven, D.V.M., worked with him to develop the design for the Muffly Magnetic Retriever and helped him market it. I also remember seeing my father use the retriever on dairy cows.

Pat was kind enough to share the cover of the 1964 American Veterinary Medical Association Meeting program and the page that describes Jim Muffly’s invention in the program, as well as a copy of an advertising flyer for the invention.

Muffly.AVMA cover-1

Dr. Muffly-2

Pat shared information from an article that her father wrote about the Muffly Magnetic Retriever that appeared in the May 1965 issue of Modern Veterinary Practice which provides a sense of the economic importance that the invention had in helping small farmers who had sick cows. It said on page 65 of the article:

In a herd of 55 Holstein cows, 13 were vomiting. Although hardware might have been ruled out because so many animals were affected, 7 lbs. of electric fence wire pieces and various other metal objects up to 5 inches in length were retrieved from 53 of these cows.

Pat also wrote:

My father considered Dr. Muffly a very good friend. The impression I carry of Dr. Muffly is that of a kind and gentle person.

The information Pat gave me started a snowball that led to the discovery of Jim Muffly’s patent.   My son Nathan was recently home over Thanksgiving and I mentioned the Muffly Magnetic Retriever to him.

Nathan said, “I wonder if we could find the patent for Jim Muffly’s invention.”

And, within minutes he’d found Jim Muffly’s 1956 patent for the instrument that could be used to remove metal from cows stomachs.

The tool Jim Muffly developed was flexible and could be maneuvered into the cow’s stomach. Nathan also found where Jim Muffly’s invention had been cited in several more recent patent applications as a basis for those inventions—including several applications for inventions of human catheters.

Thank you Pat and Nathan for all of the wonderful information.  It’s fun to learn more about an awesome relative.

___

If you’d like to see pictures of Jim Muffly you might enjoy a previous post:

What Ever Happened to Jimmie Muffly? 

Aunt Annie (Derr) Van Sant and Uncle Homer Derr Across the Years

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

Saturday, November 22, 1913:  Nothing of importance.

Annie (Derr) Van Sant and Homer Derr (circa, 1955)

Annie (Derr) Van Sant and Homer Derr (circa, 1955)

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

Today I’m sharing a photo of an aunt and uncle of Grandma’s that was taken years after this diary was written. In the process of doing research for yesterday’s post about the funeral of Grandma’s maternal grandfather, I came across the picture and thought you might enjoy seeing what they looked like in their later years.

The picture is of Annie (Derr) Van Sant and Homer Derr.  Homer died in 1958, so It probably was  taken in the mid- 1950s. They were the two youngest children of John and Sarah Derr. I’m also including the group shot of the Derr family that was taken around 1900, so you can see what they looked like when they were young.

John and Sarah Derr Family. Taken about 1900. L to R. Front Row: John, Annie (Derr) Van Sant, Sarah. Back Row: Miles, Fuller, Alice (Derr) Krumm, Elmer, Phoebe (Derr) Muffly, Judson, Homer. Phoebe was the mother of Helena.

John and Sarah Derr Family. Taken about 1900. L to R. Front Row: John, Annie (Derr) Van Sant, Sarah. Back Row: Miles, Fuller, Alice (Derr) Krumm, Elmer, Phoebe (Derr) Muffly, Judson, Homer. Phoebe was the mother of Helena.

Annie is front and center, and Homer is on the far right.

Homer spent much of his career as a college professor at several universities including the school that is now called South Dakota State University in Brookings, South Dakota. At different schools he taught different subjects—including math and physics. He even wrote a publication that you can still buy today on Amazon called A Method of Petrographic Analysis, Based upon Chromatic Interference with Thin Sections of Doubly Refracting Crystals in Polarizing Light. (I would appreciate it if someone could explain to me in plain English what it is about.)

Annie was the widow of a doctor and lived in Turbotville, Pennsylvania (which is just a few miles from McEwensville).

The Day of Grandpap’s Funeral

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

Friday, November 21, 1913: Ruth and I went to Turbotville this morning on the train to attend the funeral.

John and Sarah Derr Family. Taken about 1900. L to R. Front Row: John, Annie (Derr) Van Sant, Sarah. Back Row: Miles, Fuller, Alice (Derr) Krumm, Elmer, Phoebe (Derr) Muffly, Judson, Homer. Phoebe was the mother of Helena.

John and Sarah Derr Family. Taken about 1900. L to R. Front Row: John, Annie (Derr) Van Sant, Sarah. Back Row: Miles, Fuller, Alice (Derr) Krumm, Elmer, Phoebe (Derr) Muffly, Judson, Homer. Phoebe was the mother of Helena.

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

Grandma’s 90-year-old grandfather, John Derr,  died on November 17. He was her mother’s father.  Grandma and her sister Ruth would have taken the  the Susquehanna Bloomsburg and Berwick train to Turbotville for the funeral. It was about a  five mile trip.  There was a whistle stop at the feed mill near their home where they would have flagged the train down.

How did the rest of the family get to the funeral? One thought—

Maybe her mother, father, and little brother Jimmie had gone ahead to the funeral—but Ruth and Grandma had to stay home and  milk the cows before they could go.

John Derr had a big family, so the funeral would have been large. It was probably held at a church or the family home—though it might possibly have been held at a funeral home.  He was buried in the Turbotville Cemetery.

John’s wife Sarah was still living. Were family members worried about how she was taking her husband’s death?  In 1913, Sarah was only 79 (and she would live another 14 years until she died in 1928 at the age of 93).

Eight of John’s nine children were still living. Did they all manage to get home for the funeral? Five of the children lived nearby: Phoebe (Grandma’s mother), Alice, Annie, Miles, Judson, and Fuller; but two were more distant.

The 1910 census indicates that one son, Homer, was a college professor living in Brookings, South Dakota. How did he get the message about his dad’s death? . . . by telegraph?  Was it possible for him to get back to Pennsylvania in only four days for a funeral?

And, records indicate that Elmer was a “sales manager – harvester” in Baltimore, Maryland.

 

Grandpap Died

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

Monday, November 17, 1913: Mother went to Turbotville this morning. I kept house while she was gone. She returned with sad news. Grandpap died this morning.

John Derr (Photo taken: circa 1900)

Grandma’s Grandfather: John Derr (Photo taken: circa 1900)

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

Grandma—

It’s hard to lose a grandparent.

Was your grandfather ill for a long time or was the death sudden? According to family records, he was born on July 16, 1823, so he was 90 years old.

You’re occasionally mentioned making trips to Turbotville to visit relatives, but never specifically mentioned your grandfather.

My thoughts are with you and your mother.

Take care.

Grandma’s Grades

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

Monday, September 1, 1913:

Another month to greet us comes.

September with her golden scenes.

Is here once more to tell us that

Tis not for long e’er autumn intervenes.

Again and yet again comes the opening of school. Again chimes the dear old bell in the belfry of the ne’er to be forgotten M.H.S. No more can I respond to its summons. No more can I hasten back to my beloved studies and bury myself in their wisdom. No more can I taste of the sweetness of school days. There are indeed past, but their memory lingers still.

A recebt photo of the building that once housed McEwensville High School.

A recebt photo of the building that once housed McEwensville High School.

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

Grandma, I can feel your pain. Last spring you were thrilled when you graduated from McEwensville High School (M.H.S.). It must feel really strange for school to start and no longer be part of it.

When the school bell rings, I bet it really hurts that you didn’t get a teaching job. But, I don’t know that for a fact since you’ve never mentioned it in the diary.

I’ve speculated that you tried, but failed, to get a teaching job at a nearby one room school house since both of your older sisters became teachers after they graduated from high school.

During your school years, you worried so much about your grades. Weren’t they good enough for you to get a teaching position?

Well, I checked the school’s grade book, and discovered that your grades weren’t fantastic, but they were darn good.  (See note below about how I found the grade book).

grade book

Most of your grades were in the upper 80s and you had some in the low 90s. Arithmetic was your best subject–across the year for Arithmetic you averaged 91 3/7. I love how your teacher calculated the average using a fraction.   I don’t understand why you didn’t get a job.

Does life seem to be passing you by? . . .No job.  . . .and, no boyfriend.  A hundred years ago women often got married in their late teens and early twenties. Some of your friends probably have serious boyfriends and are looking forward to marrying soon, but you don’t have a boyfriend or prospects for an early marriage. . .

Hang in there . . . my crystal ball tells me that you’ll get married when you are 26.  :)

—–

Sometimes I’m amazed to discover information and artifacts that I’d assumed were gone forever.

The readers of this blog are wonderful . Janet Shuman put me in touch with her mother-in-law Jane Shuman who had the old grade book from McEwensville High School. I almost shook with excitement as I flipped through the pages—and found my grandmother’s grades. Thank you, Janet and Jane!

Memorial Day, 1913

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

Friday, May 30, 1913:  Went up to McEwensville this morning as I planned to do some time ago. There wasn’t any band and not so many people. Wanted to go to Watsontown this afternoon to see the cemetery, but didn’t have anyone to go with. After thinking it over I decided to go as I believed I would feel miserable if I staid at home. The slippers I had on made me awful tired and began to wonder how I would get myself home. The problem was solved when I got a chance to ride where-upon I considered myself quite fortunate.

Was the McEwensville event held at the cemetery or at the Community Center?

The brick building in the background once houses McEwensville School.

DSC04286

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

A hundred years ago Memorial Day was always on May 30. In the 1910s it was an important holiday with lots of parades and celebrations honoring aging Civil War veterans.

It sounds like the day got off to a rocky start, but ended nicely. Did Grandma wear the new dress that her mother made? Who brought her home from Watsontown? . .. . anyone interesting?

At the Watsontown Cemetery, did Grandma put the wreath she made the previous day on the grave of her paternal grandparents?  Her grandfather, S.K. Muffly, died when she was very young; but her grandmother, Charlotte Muffly, died in 1905 when Grandma was 10. What were Grandma’s memories of her grandmother? . . . Did she miss her?

DSC04484

DSC04488

DSC04487

Or maybe Grandma put the wreath on the grave of her aunt, Mary (Muffly) Fienour, who died the previous summer. (In the obituary Mary’s last name is spelled Feinour.) Mary is buried next to her mother (Charlotte).

DSC04486

Mary Feinour Obituary. Source: Milton Evening Standard (July 19, 1912). Click to enlarge for easier reading.

Mary Feinour Obituary. Source: Milton Evening Standard (July 19, 1912). Click to enlarge for easier reading.

(The fourth gravestone in the group, is the stone of Grandma’s uncle, Samuel Muffly. That stone won’t have been there in 1913–he didn’t die until 1930.)

Was Grandma’s Name Helena or Helen?

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

Saturday, May 10, 1913: Nothing much doing today. I got my diploma this evening. The ones we had at commencement were fakes.

DSC07488

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

Congratulations, Grandma! It’s official now, you’re a high school graduate.

Your diploma hangs in my house, and is one reason that I’ve always been so fascinated with you.  I’ve told the story before, but I’ll tell it again.

I’m going to repost part of what I wrote on Day 2 of this blog,  January 2, 2011:

Helena, Helen or Grandma?

As I work at posting this diary I’ve struggled with what name to use when referring to the diary’s author.

The diary’s author called herself Helena. My grandmother called herself Helen.

I grew up in the farmhouse where my grandmother lived when my father was a child. When I was a teen I found Helena Muffly’s high school diploma in the attic.

I saw Grandma the next Sunday at church. After church I asked her whether her name was Helen or Helena.

She said Helen. When I told her about the name on the diploma. She laughed and replied, “Oh, that was just kid stuff.”

My cousin Stu did a little research on Grandma’s name using the Family Search.org tool. He found that her name is listed as Helena in the 1900 and 1920 censuses–but that it is Helen in the 1910 one.

Helen? Helena? Grandma? It seems strange to call a teen Grandma, but that’s how I think of her. Maybe I’ll just call the author Grandma when I write about her even though she was many years away from becoming my grandmother.

When I was in a college I visited the home of my roommate’s parents. Their family room was decorated with framed old family documents—marriage certificates, birth certificates, diplomas, baptismal certificates and so on.

I immediately thought of Grandma’s diploma in my parent’s attic and the mystery surrounding her name—and asked if I could have it. I framed the diploma and it’s been part of my household décor in the many apartments and houses that I’ve lived in since then.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 820 other followers