Thursday, April 26, 2012

More About Naomi Harlan and the Stanton PO

At the end of the last post about former Stanton postmistress Naomi Harlan, we didn't really know much about her beyond what was in the short newspaper article. Besides her name and former post, we knew that she was, as of March 1925, awaiting trial for embezzlement. I'm still not aware of exactly how that prosecution went, but thanks to some great work by a reader and frequent contributor, we now know a bit more about Harlan's background. And thanks to another contribution, we have one more mention of her as heading the Stanton Post Office.

Within a day of my publishing the post about Naomi Harlan and saying I didn't know anything more, Donna Peters had in my inbox all the information I couldn't find. I don't know how she did it, but she did. In my defense, and to Donna's great credit, almost every time Naomi is listed in a census she's either very hard to read or is listed -- sometimes comically -- incorrectly.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Stanton's Postmistress Troubles

Just a quick little post here, since I unfortunately don't have anything to add beyond the clipping itself. As you can see, it seems Stanton had a bit of a scandal relating to its post office in the 1920's. The newspaper clipping -- from March 22, 1925 -- states that three local woman had taken the civil service exams for the postmistress position in the southern Mill Creek Hundred village. The position became available upon the arrest for embezzlement of Naomi Harlan, the former postmistress.

At that point Harlan was out on bail and awaiting trial before a Federal Grand Jury. What ever became of her is something of a mystery. Even who she was is a mystery to me. I've searched for information about Naomi Harlan, including census records, but I have not been able to find anything about her. Nor have I found any mention of her court case or its outcome. This is probably one of those stories that was big for a short time (with Stanton being such a small community, I have to believe this was a big local story), but quickly faded away.

I wish I had more information about the story to share, but in looking at census records, I can't even find a Naomi Harlan who lived in the area. Of course, with this story taking place smack dab in the middle of the census cycle (ie, the decade), it does make it harder to find anything. If anyone ever runs across something that illuminates Mrs. Harlan's fate, please pass it along. I'll do the same.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Robert Graham House

The Robert Graham House
While some of the (I'd say, to most people) surprisingly large number of 150+ year old homes in Mill Creek Hundred are relatively well known and fairly visible, others are a bit more "off the beaten path". And while these hidden gems may be less well known and less viewed, they are by no means less significant. In fact, one such house -- the Robert Graham House (entered into the National Register in 1997) -- tucked away on Crossan Road north of Corner Ketch hides within its walls an interesting and, to the best of my knowledge, pretty rare example of a building type that was common in its time. When looking at the house, the section that most looks "old" is the stone wing on the west end, closest to the road. However, it's actually the center section, hidden beneath a weatherboard exterior, that's the oldest part. To get the full story, though, we have to go back even further.

In 1714, a Quaker named Daniel Worsley purchased 250 acres from William Penn's son, and about ten years later erected a brick house for his family. This house, now known as Penn Manor, still stands about a half mile north of the Graham House, in the development of Thistleberry Farm. (If I can find a bit more info, I'd very much like to write a post about this house, too.) Upon Worsley's death, the estate passed to his daughter Sarah, who married another Friend -- James Thompson. In 1750, Thompson purchased an adjacent 100 acre tract to the south of the original 250 acre farm. It was on this 100 acre lot that the Graham House would be built.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

1940 Census Released

1940 Enumeration District Map
Back in the early 1990's, we Flyer fans used to taunt the players and fans of the New York Rangers with a chant of "Nineteen Forty, Nineteen Forty", which was the last time they had won the Stanley Cup. In 1994, the uncouth Rangers rudely ruined our taunt by winning the cup, forcing all Philadelphia sports fans to become pinnacles of grace, decorum, and sportsmanship (at least, that's how I remember it). Why has 1940 been rattling around in my head again lately, along with the things that usually rattle around in there? Because as of April 2, the 1940 U.S. Census has officially been released to the public!

Federal law currently requires a 72 year waiting period before public release of census information, in order to protect personal information. However, of the 132 million people counted in the census, an estimated 21 million are still alive. Few of them, though, would have been adults at the time.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Update on Smith's Corner

Near Smith's Corner, 1921
A little while back I did a post that, partially, dealt with a State Highway Department picture from 1921 of what they termed "Smith's Corner".  From all the evidence, it appears that what they called Smith's Corner was the intersection of Newport Gap Pike and Old Capitol Trail, what I would describe as being "behind" Price's Corner. The big question I posed was, "Where did the name Smith's Corner come from?" Now, it seems we might have an answer.

As luck would have it, not long after publishing this post I was contacted by someone who may have solved this little mystery for us. I hope to have much more information from and about her at a later date, but it turns out she is the granddaughter of Powell M. Ford. She emailed me after running across the post about her grandfather, and I had to ask her about Smith's Corner, since her family lived in the area at the time. She recalled hearing something from her mother that may solve the Smith mystery (Smithtery?).