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Letter written to family by Edgar D. Lewis - 1964

Transcribed by BJ Shawd, November 4, 2002

Livingston Manor,
New York

Dear Folks,

Your March letter came. Sorry about your illness and hospitalization. Glad you are better. Now as to my father's youngest brother Troylus Lewis and his wife Aunt Effie Villefrench.

I knew W. Villefrench well. He drove team for Dad at our farm - lumber acres (240) on City Brook in Delaware County. That valley, City Brook, gave the name to our City Brook Lewis Reunion.

I visited at the French Woods - Villefrench home in the winter of 1907-8. Going back in memory over the years - for four years, 1893-97, I was a newsboy for the region round about Fishs Eddy and remember those four years as among the happiest and most carefree of my life. The newsboy of the lumber and the acid factory cordwood slashings was welcomed, fed and often times lodged by relations on both sides of the Lewis-Proskine clan.

I recall especially a chicken dinner with Aunt Effie and Uncle Troylus in a concrete block house on the Dardonville Flat near Fishs Eddy Acid Factory. And I recall the many suppers and lodgings at Seiger's home at Tar Hollow (Smith Brook) a mile or two from Tyler's Switch on the Ontario and W. Railroad. Nearby and above the Factory were many cord-wood chopper's cabins, with their bunks, long squarish stoves and welcome heat, in winter, and the tantilizing odor of salt pork a-cooking. The Swede, Seiger, was an expert at making the acetate, the dried product like a powder, the then main article of commerce - the charcoal being a by-product and almost valueless on the market. The charcoal, however, was greatly prized by the Acid Employees who used charcoal for heat and cooking. There was a wood road leading from Tar Hollow factory to the Lewis City Brook Farm. One time I went with Dad over this road and hill to Tar Brook and over the brook to his lumbering job on the hill slope beyond. This was before the Factory was built, I being a young boy.

The Factory was built probably about 1888. No one seems to know the exact date. Now all the little Acid Kingdoms have vanished from the countryside as have their once happy company workers. (Getting 10 cents an hour for a 12 hour day). "Say not that thy former days were better than these".

Now, the only charcoal making plant for several counties round about is at (Hagel)? or near it. The once almost despised charcoal is no longer a by-product but a valuable commodity in the market place.

In the autumn of 1902 we were all shocked and saddened at the death of Uncle Troylus on an O & W train near Sidney.

In the summer of 1905, Aunt Effie lived with her children at Fishs Eddy where she built a cottage. She and I went up the O & W tracks to a river flat to see a ball game. 59 years are gone - and with the years, the river flat is also gone - having been moved for the new Route 17.

I will close these rambling thoughts of days gone by and look forward to the days of the future when we can meet again. My wife and I constitute our immediate family although she (May No. 2) as my sister Inez Blake calls her has a numerous, happy and lively family (children, grandchildren and great grandchildren)

We came back to our house here in the Manor about March 20th. I have enjoyed my horse here very much as we did not take the car to Florida and so now appreciate a gas horse as never before. "We never miss the water till the well runs dry." May just brought in our mail from our R.D. box here. A letter from Cornell. I said, "Probably a check". She laughed at that improbable idea.

Much love,
Edgar Donald Lewis

BJ's Note: Edgar Donald Lewis was the son of Robert B. Lewis and Julia Proskine Lewis. He was born on February 24, 1881 in Hancock, Delaware Co., NY and died on October 29, 1973 in Liberty, NY.

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