Walked to Reunion in Turbotville

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

Sunday, January 19, 1913: A bright and beautiful dawn welcomed the approach of day. Ruth and I walked to Turbotville this morning to attend a family reunion. All of ‘em weren’t there. Had quite a pleasant time, but it would have been nicer if some more of the cousins had been there. We had our pictures taken out on the lawn. That walk home didn’t do me up, but I did get a terrific head-ache anyway.

Recent photo of road between McEwensville and Turbotville.
Recent photos of the road between McEwesnville and Turbotille. This picture was taken at the point where the road leaves McEwesnville.

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

Whew, it is probably about a five-mile walk—10 miles round trip– from the Muffly farm to Turbotville. Even on the nicest of days—in January or any other month– this sounds like a long, exhausting walk for Grandma and her sister Ruth.

This picture was taken This picture was taken midway between McEwensville and Turbotville.
This picture was taken midway between McEwensville and Turbotville.

Grandma’s maternal grandparents lived in Turbotville. Why didn’t Grandma’s mother go to the reunion to see her parents and siblings?


“Had a Sorrowful Time Today”

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

Friday, May 10, 1912:I seemed to have had a sorrowful time today. I guess it was because I was getting lonesome and wanted to go someplace. Ruth went up to Turbotville to attend the commencement.

Recent photo of the Turbotville Community Hall. The building once was a high school. There is a large auditorium on the second floor and the commencement probably was held there.

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

Turbotville is another small town about 4 miles northeast of McEwensville.  I wonder why Grandma didn’t go with her sister Ruth to the commencement. Maybe someone gave a ticket to Ruth—but not to her.  It’s not fun to feel excluded.

This was the 4th day of summer vacation; and, boredom and loneliness seem to be really setting in.  I wonder if Grandma got into any disagreements with her mother, father, Ruth, or little brother Jimmie—or if she was just quietly moping and feeling down.

Over the Christmas holidays, she and six-year-old Jimmie managed to get into several fights.  For example, on December 26, 1911 she wrote:

Am beginning to get rather tired of this seemingly long vacation. When you don’t have anything interesting to do and you don’t go many places it is not very hard to get lonesome. Jimmie and I are turning into regular fight cats, so Ma thinks. . .

Turbotville High School Commencement

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

Friday, May 12, 1911: Just about the same things which I did yesterday. Ruth went up to Turbotville this evening to attend the commencement. I’ll surely have some peace tonight because she won’t be here to disturb it.

Recent photo of Turbotville Community Hall. The commencement probably was held here.

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

I’m surprised that the school year apparently was more than a month longer in the neighboring town of Turbotville than it was in McEwensville.

McEwensville High School  had held it’s commencement on April 6. That day was also the last school day. In general the school year was very short a hundred years ago since children were needed at home during the spring planting season—but it sure seems like the school year was exceptionally short in McEwensville.  I wonder what the community thought about this—Did they worry that their children might be learning less than students in neighboring communities? Or were they glad school ended early so their kids could help with the farm chores?

Susquehanna, Bloomsburg, and Berwick Railroad

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

Monday, February 27, 1911: The roads were so muddy that I went up the railroad to school and came home that way. Besse was out this afternoon. Wish I had all of my lessons out for tomorrow especially my latin.

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

It’s hard to picture how bad the mud must have been in the era before paved roads. Railroad tracks for the Susquehanna, Bloomsburg, and Berwick Railroad (S.B. & B. R.R.) crossed the Muffly farm.The route went from Watsontown to McEwensville and Turbotville and then continued east to Washingtonville, Bloomsburg, and Berwick.

My father says that Grandma always called the railroad the Sweet Bye and Bye.

According to an essay by the Columbia County Historical and Genealogical Society the Susquehanna, Bloomsburg and Berwick Railroad (S.B. & B.R.R.) was often called the ‘Sweet Bye and Bye’ because traffic was intermittent, and trains traveled at a slow speed and stopped at every hamlet and feed mill along the route. Sweet Bye and Bye is also the name of an old-time hymn.

There were flag stops at two feed mills between Watsontown and McEwensville (a distance of only 4 or 5 miles). One was at a hamlet called Pioneer–it’s just a group of 4 or 5 houses today–and the other was at Truckenmiller’s Mill which was located next to the Muffly farm.

The railroad was also sometimes called the Weak and Weary railroad. It was a financial failure because there were no major industries along the route.

The S.B. & B.R.R. no longer exists, but the track is still used by trains transporting coal to the Pennsylvania Power and Light (PP & L) power plant at Strawberry Ridge near Washingtonville.