Visited Toronto and Buffalo

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

Wednesday, August 19, 1914:  We got up pretty early this morning, so as to be in time for the train at Lewistown. As I walked down the gangplank, I caught sight of the boat that was to take us to Toronto. Thought it was a fine one. The Chippewa was soon steaming down the river, and e’er long, we were on the broad bosom of Lake Ontario. The ride proved to be delightful, even though I did get a little chilly.

We arrived in Toronto about eleven, and were conveyed around the city in an automobile. We passed many beautiful places. There seemed to be a great many banks in the city. They must have lots of money there. We stopped at the State House, and were allowed to spend ten minutes within the building. I was impressed with the beauty of the architecture. Pillars of marble reached from ceiling to floor. Many paintings of men were suspended from the walls. These we could only glance at for our ten minute stay was soon up.

We took dinner at a restaurant after which we left at once for the dock. We did not have to wait long for a returning boat. Came home on the Cayuga, a larger boat than the Chippewa. We arrived in Lewistown late in the afternoon. There we took the train and went on to Buffalo. We arrived there about six, got our supper and started out for the home of a friend. It was dark when we reached our destination. This friend is a governess in an Orphan’s Asylum. She showed us her kids that evening. She has about thirty. Nearly all of them were fast asleep, but she woke them up any way. Thought it was rather hard on the youngsters, but it seems they were used to it.

This friend secured us a boarding place, and we left for it at eleven o’clock. I was ready to go to sleep when my head touched the pillow.

Old Ontario Government House postcard

Old Ontario Government House postcard

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

Wow, what an adventure! Grandma and the “gang” sure crammed a lot into one day.

I think that the “State House” that Grandma visited in Toronto was the Fourth Government House of Ontario (Chorley Park). According to Wikipedia, it was the home of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and Upper Canada. It was built between 1911 and 1915, and was “one of the most expensive residences ever constructed in Canada at the time.” Wikipedia continued:

During the Great Depression, Mitchell Hepburn made it a key component of his party’s election platform to close Chorley Park, promising that an opulent palace would not be maintained by the taxpayers of Ontario; Chorley Park used 965 tons of coal to operate, whereas the average Toronto home used only six to seven. After Hepburn was appointed Premier, following the Liberal Party’s victory in the 1936 provincial election, he was as good as his word and ensured that Albert Edward Matthews would be the last Ontario Lieutenant Governor to live in an official residence; in 1937, after only 22 years and seven viceroys, Chorley Park was closed. The contents of the house were auctioned off in 1938, bringing in a profit of $18,000.

The estate was bought by the federal government and served various functions including as a military hospital during World War II, the headquarters of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Toronto, and residence for refugees of the 1956 Hungarian uprising.

Under Mayor Nathan Phillips in 1960, the City of Toronto bought the house for $100,000 in order to destroy it and create municipal parkland. At the time, Chorley Park was considered dilapidated and outmoded, and municipal dollars were being spent demolishing heritage structures throughout Toronto to make room for modern buildings. The building was demolished in 1961, and the grounds of the estate were added to the civic parks system.

The Buffalo Orphan’s Asylum may have been St. Vincent’s Female Orphanage Asylum. According to the Buffalo Spree:

At the turn of the century and for at least forty years afterwards, St. Vincent’s Female Orphanage Asylum was a thriving institution—it did not just house orphaned girls; it educated them and provided them with technical training so that they could become self-supporting. In the nineteenth century, this was considered an innovative concept. Their dressmaking school often provided ballgowns and trousseaux for Buffalo’s wealthiest women. But as the twentieth century progressed, government assistance for dependent children increased, and the new trend of foster care emerged, so in 1948, after housing and training 10,000 young women, the orphanage closed.

Source: Buffalo Spree

Recent photo of building that once housed St. Vincent’s Female Orphanage Asylum  (Source: Buffalo Spree)


A Photo That Grandma Took!

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

Tuesday, August 18, 1914:  Don’t just know the time we got up at this morning, but it wasn’t very early. We went to the station where we secured tickets for the trip around the gorge. After we had gone several squares we caught a glimpse of the Niagara River, and soon afterwards we were looking upon the majestic beauty of the Niagara Falls. The falls seen from Goat Island. It was indescribable. No pen of mine can ever tell the grandeur of that place. I stood and looked and was thrilled with the beauty of it all. Surely the Great God above us has wrought many beautiful things. We next saw the Horseshoe Falls, and the mist coming up from below. I took my first picture of the girls on a bridge nearby. We traveled on until we reached the Canadian side. We stopped there were we entered some kind of a building. After climbing about four flights of stairs, we came out on a balcony. From there we could obtain a view of both falls. We then went down again, donned rubber coats and overshoes and proceeded by way of an elevator to an underground tunnel. We came out under the fall at three different places. The roar was deafening, but we had lots of fun. When we came back, we had our pictures taken in our rubber costumes.

We got back to the hotel in the early part of the afternoon after having visited Queenstown Heights. I was impressed with Brock’s monument. Took two pictures there, and Alma took one. The ride along the river was a lovely one, while the rapids took up all my attention.

Arrived at the hotel. We rubbed up a little and started out again to the falls a second time. We lingered a long time, loath to leave the spot. I took a shot at the girls sitting on the rocks. The funny part of it was, they sat so nice and quiet, after I had pressed the button, and could hardly believe the picture had been taken.

We went out to the movies this evening. One was so dreadfully funny. My sides fairly ached from laughing. We came back to the hotel and packed up.

Alma Derr, Rachel Oakes, and Ruth Muffly at Niagara Falls (Caption order may not be correct; Uncertain of the order; of the women)

Alma Derr, Rachel Oakes, and Ruth Muffly at Niagara Falls (Caption order may not be correct; uncertain of the order of the women)

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

What an amazing trip! I’m going to focus on one small part of what Grandma wrote because I think that it is one of the most amazing parts of the diary. My cousin Alice Chepiga actually has one of the photos mentioned in this entry—the one of the girls sitting on the rocks.

Here is Alice’s story:

My Dad and I were cleaning out sheds on our farm outside of McEwensville, probably around the summer of 1977 or 1978. That is when we found the picture. I had just bought my first house and was delighted to have some pictures to hang. There were several other pictures from the Muffly and Swartz family.

I love the picture so much. It still hangs in my office and I enjoy looking at it every day. Everyone looks so happy.

Traveled to Niagara Falls

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

Friday evening, August 21, 1914: Back again to you dear book and ready to tell you what all I have been doing.

Monday, August 17, 1914:  My mind was so filled with thoughts of the coming trip that I could not sleep sound last night. I was up before three this morning. We left here about five. Pa took Alma and me to town. Ruth came with Rachel. We left before they did. I was in such awful anxiety for fear they would not get there, for then it would be no go. We crossed the Susquehanna in a row-boat and got to the station in time for the train.

We changed cars at Williamsport. There were so many in the station getting tickets. We had to wait quite awhile before we could get ours. When we entered the train all the seats were taken. We were sent back in a Pullman. I thought it was simply grand; and wanted to stay there all day, however we had to move when we arrived at Corning. Arrived in Niagara after six. Was long enough to leave the cars.

We proceeded at once to the Temperance Hotel. We were on the fifth floor. It seemed rather monotonous climbing all those stairs. We washed and dressed and then went down to supper. It was the first time I had ever eaten in a hotel. Guess I didn’t commit any serious mistakes. From my place in bed I can look out over the lighted city.

Old postcard showing  Temperance House Hotel, Niagara Falls, New York

Old postcard showing Temperance Hotel, Niagara Falls, New York

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

When Grandma got home on the 21st, she wrote an entry for each day of the trip. Over the next several days, I’ll share the trip description on the appropriate day. I guess that I’m technically jumping ahead by posting this entry—but this is how Grandma organized the diary.

Wow, what an adventure for Grandma, her sister Ruth, their cousin Alma Derr, and their friend Rachel Oakes. . . from crossing the Susquehanna River at dawn in a row boat (The first bridge across the river at Watsontown was not built until 1927.) . . . to riding in a Pullman sleeping car for part of the trip. . . to eating in a hotel restaurant for the first time. . . to looking out on a city lit with (probably electric) lights!

Recent picture of the Susquehanna River at Watsontown

Recent picture of the Susquehanna River at Watsontown

Hundred-Year-Old Likly Luggage Advertisement

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

Sunday, August 16, 1914:  We did our packing this afternoon. We are going to make two traveling bags do us. Had quite a time a frisking around. Ruth got company later on. We intend going to Church this evening. Must go and eat my supper, so good-bye old Diary until I return from my trip, for I am not going to take you with me.

Source: Milton Evening Standard (June 1, 1913)

Source: Milton Evening Standard (June 1, 1913)

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


Have an awesome time in Niagara Falls! It should be an amazing trip. Were your bags made by Likly?

Went to Family Reunion

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

Saturday, August 15, 1914:  Got up earlier than usual so I would soon have my work done. We went up to Turbotville on the train, the place where the reunion was held. Met Alma there. She came along home on the train with us, so as to be here on Monday morning.

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 (John Derr would died prior to this reunion.)

The family of Grandma’s mother (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 (Grandma’s mother), Judson, Homer (John Derr would have died prior to this reunion.)

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

Alma Derr was a cousin of Grandma’s, so it must have been a Derr family reunion. There probably were lots of aunts, uncles and cousins there since Grandma’s mother had seven brothers and sisters.

There was a whistle stop of the Susquehanna, Bloomsburg, and Berwick train at the feed mill near the Muffly farm. Turbotville was only about 5 miles from the farm so it would have been a short train ride.

It sounds like the trip to Niagara Falls was a go, and that Alma would be going with Grandma and her sister Ruth.

Runs, Creeks, Brooks, Cricks, and Other Streams

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

Friday, August 14, 1914:  We are getting ready for the reunion. Ruthie made two cakes today. Was busy washing Daddy’s wagon down along the run this afternoon.

Warrior Run Creek near the Muffly farm

Warrior Run Creek

Source: Farm Implement Magazine (Novermber, 1913)

Source: Farm Implement Magazine (Novermber, 1913)

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

I wonder why the wagon needed to be washed. Warrior Run (sometimes called Warrior Run Creek) flowed along the edge of the Muffly farm. In central Pennsylvania small creeks are often called runs—though my sense is that the term is not used in many parts of the US.

In a previous post I mentioned Warrior Run, and Jim in IA commented on the regional variation in terminology used to describe creeks and other geological features. He provided a link to several very interesting Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) maps that show which parts of the US use various terms—brook/creek/branch/run, gulch/hollow, gap/pass/notch/saddle, etc.

Geographic Terminology Maps

Sent Note About Change in Plans

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

Thursday, August 13, 1914:  Wrote to Alma so she knows about the change. Hope it won’t disappoint her very much. Wonder how I would feel if I didn’t get to go. Well for my part I don’t want to experience the feeling. Don’t think it would be a pleasant sensation.DSC04322

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

The previous day Grandma wrote:

. . . My heart slumped down to my very feet this morning or so it felt when I learned that Ruthie had received a letter from the ticket agent stating that the excursion to Niagara Fall next Monday was not going. Any way our crowd decided that we would go, and so I began to get relieved.

We now know the name of another member of the group going to Niagara Falls. Alma Derr was a cousin of Grandma and her sister Ruth. She lived near the hamlet of Ottawa in Montour County, Pennsylvania which is about 10 miles from the Muffly farm.

What did Grandma write? Maybe she just told Alma about some relatively minor price and schedule changes—though Grandma seems very worried about how Alma will react.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 971 other followers