1913 Kodak Camera Ad

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

Wednesday, June 25, 1913: Went up to McEwensville this afternoon to transact some very important business, or rather so it seemed to me.

Now what could it be? Nothing less than that I sent off for a camera. I’ve wanted one for a long time, but thought I could hardly afford it. I was reminded that I really wanted it only by finding a camera catalog up in the garret yesterday. And as I had earned almost five dollars during the last two weeks, I carried the project through.

Source: Ladies Home Journal (May, 1913)
Source: Ladies Home Journal (May, 1913)

If it isn’t an Eastman, it isn’t a Kodak.

It’s springtime. Every field and park and woodland—every walk and ride, every joyous outing, invites your KODAK.

Eastman Kodak Co.,

Rochester, N.Y., The Kodak City.

Catalogue free at your dealers or by mail.

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

A camera sounds like a lot of fun. What a great thing for Grandma to spend her money on!

Grandma made quite a bit picking strawberries—and, of course, she had money that she received earlier in the spring as graduation presents.

Summer Apples

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

Sunday, August 11, 1912:Went to Sunday School this afternoon. Went for some apples after I came home and got a dunking in the rain. Took an umbrella along part way, so it happened that I didn’t have it when I needed it the most.

Yellow transparent apples
Yellow Transparent Apples (Photo source: Wikipedia)

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

I hope that Grandma was able to pick a few apples before it started raining. The first summer apples to ripen each year were special in those days.

Today we have apples year-round (sometimes from thousands of miles away), but in  Grandma’s day the last of the apples from the previous year had probably been eaten in March or April—and after so many months in storage those last apples probably had been soft and mealy.

When I was a child, Yellow Transparent apples were the first to ripen each year. They made a wonderfully tart apple sauce. I haven’t seen a Yellow Transparent apple in years—there used to be so many apple varieties, each with a wonderfully unique taste and texture.

Here’s the link to the recipe I use:

Old-fashioned Apple Sauce

Rural Leadership

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

Sunday, February 11, 1912:  Went to Sunday School this afternoon. A lawyer from Sunbury was there. He was an excellent speaker. Ruth had some unusual news to impart after she arrived. Carrie was over a little while this afternoon. Gave her one of my pictures. Also gave my Sunday School teacher one.

Recent photo of McEwensville

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

Sunbury is the county seat of Northumberland County. It is about 20 miles from McEwensville.

The lawyer may have spoken about the leadership.

As I mentioned last week, in 1912 the Country Life Movement was actively working to revitalize rural communities since many youth were leaving for jobs in the cities.

We’ll never know what the lawyer said, but I can tell you what was written in a magazine published in 1912 about the leadership skills needed to revitalize rural communities.

A well-organized personality reflects its efficiency in the organization in which it dominates, and vice versa.

Such are the qualifications of leadership and the organizing capacity which may be described as the ability to build and operate human machinery. It has its roots in tact and skill in dealing with men, in tenacity and in a certain instinct for construction.

One who possesses it sees a new person as social material and is likely to know what can be made of him better than he knows himself.

This type of ability was never in any such demand as it now is, particularly in the rapid rise of the Country Life Movement.

Rural Manhood  (January 1912) (A Magazine Published by the YMCA)


Carrie Stout was a friend of Grandma’s. Grandma had her photo taken by a professional photographer in January.

Weaknesses of Country Churches and Principles for Improvement

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

Monday, February 5, 1912: Back to my lessons again, I resolve to study until twelve, but it is more likely to be ten or a little later.

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

Yesterday, I wrote about how the church that Grandma attended closed a few years after she wrote these diary entries. Since the diary entry that I’m posting today is self-explanatory, I’m going to continue telling you about country churches in 1912.

A hundred years ago there were many more small churches in rural hamlets than there are now. The Country Life Movement, which sought to revitalize rural life in an era when many youth were leaving rural areas for the cities, was at its peak in 1912.  The media, many government officials, policymakers, and academics saw the churches as having a key role in this rural revitalization.

However, many of these churches were very small and struggling—and needed to revitalize themselves if they were to play a larger role in rural revitalization.

An article  on country churches in a 1912 issue of a magazine published by the YMCA called Rural Manhood  listed some “elements of weaknesses” and suggested principles that would lead to country church improvement.

Elements of Weakness

1. The chief element in the problem is the inevitable isolation in the open country and the depletion in thousands of villages; not merely in the loss in numbers, but in the improvement of the life of many of those who remain.

2. The element of Economic weakness: Impoverished soil, poor agricultural conditions and bad farming, which are found all too frequently.

3. Element of Business weakness. We seldom find any business system in the country church. As a rule, they have no financial policy, no plan for the future.

4. The element of Wasteful Competition, Altogether too many rival churches, due to the excessive individualism and lack of social co-operation, or the depletion of a once populous village, or the early blinders of too zealous denominational strategy. Wasteful sectarianism is a sin in the city, but it is a crime in the country.

5. Element of Moral Ineffectiveness: Many country churches have lost the respect of their communities and their local support, because of their lack of vital religion, of deeds of spiritual power for character making, because they do not prove their genuine brotherliness in an unselfish service of the community.

6. The element of Narrow Vision of service: The country church is often slow in responding to the progressive spirit of the times, and has little idea of the modern social vision. Few country churches as yet are seeing their great opportunity to serve broadly all the interests and needs of the whole community.

7. Lastly, the weakness is Leadership. The country ministry is in general an untrained ministry.


1. We must study the country church, or any other church, not as a machine, but as an organism, and we should remember that a body becomes as it functions. It develops by doing, or it dies from atrophy.

2. The pathway to success is adjustment to the environment. This necessitates a scientific, inductive method of careful study of environment and social contacts.

3. We must follow the natural method of redemption through resident forces, including of course among all personal forces, the might of the immanent God.

4. We must adopt modern business principles in the work of the church; Conservation of resources, combination of forces, elimination of waste and friction, for maximum efficiency.

5. As churches we must accept Jesus’ law of self-sacrifice for the sake of the Kingdom. We must subordinate selfish personal preferences to community needs.

The Country Church (Rural Manhood, January 1912)

Since Grandma’s church, the McEwensville Baptist Church, was disbanded around 1920 it must not have been able to move beyond some of its weaknesses.

The Country Life Commission

 January 9, 1911: Missing entry (Diary resumes on January 12)

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

In 1911 the nation was focused on rural deterioration, and the perceived breakdown of rural institutions. Rural youth were flooding into the nation’s cities, and they were often unprepared for urban life.

Recent view of barn on farm where Grandma grew up.

President Theodore Roosevelt had appointed the Country Life Commission in 1908 to figure out ways to improve rural life. The idea was that rural youth would stay on the farm if the young men learned how to use scientific agricultural principals, and the young women learned how to make rural homes comfortable and attractive.

The Country Life Commission Report (as well as several other related reports) were published in 1911.

The repair of country life will come in those forms which give value to the things in the open country. The community must move and breathe in joy and enthusiasm of the country. The celebrations must be of country matters, not those of the city.

W. H. Wilson (1911)

George Wesner in his 1976 History of McEwensville described two-day long Farmers’ Institutes that were regularly held at the McEwensville Community Hall in the early part of the twentieth century. He wrote that “usually some outstanding farmers or professors from Penn State were speakers.”

In the years following the release of the Country Life Report home economists demonstrated the latest cooking and food preservation techniques at meetings attended by rural women and girls, They also taught the principles of interior design.

The Country Life Movement encouraged the support of local fairs. The fairs provided opportunities for people to socialize. Produce and livestock competitions provided opportunities for farmers to demonstrate to others the benefits of using scientific agricultural methods.

The Country Life Movement also encouraged the revitalization of rural churches.

 The church must provide directly some modern equivalent for the husking, apple bee, quilting and singing schools of the old days.

W. H. Wilson (1911)

The Country Life Movement also believed that a rural fraternal organization called the Grange had great potential to improve rural living.

At its best the Grange has a unifying power in the country community  . . . Especially in the community in which religious people cannot come to agreement in religious matters, the Grange infuses a spirit of unions among them through the discussion of every day interests and the social pleasures which it furnishes.

W.H. Wilson (1911)

The Country Life Commission asserted that education was needed to prepare students for life in their community and that it was important to provide an education that would be meaningful in a rural context. The Commission encouraged development of vocational agriculture programs, including school farms, that could provide the context for learning.

Today some people believe that there is a need for a new Country Life Movement to once again revitalize rural America. However, others argue that the Country Life Movement was an attempt by elite outsiders to control rural areas—and that the Country Life Commission created a consumer culture in rural locales when rural residents were encouraged to decorate their homes with the latest styles and use processed foods in recipes.

Grandma lived her entire life in within a 5 mile radius of McEwensville. Did the Country Life Movement help encourage her—and Raymond Swartz, her classmate and future spouse—to stay in rural central Pennsylvania? Who knows?—Though it can be said with near certainty that the implementation of policies recommended by the Country Life Commission affected Grandma’s life.