Submitted February 11, 1998 by Catherine Gibson Havemeier, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
In 1980 the historian for Meridale, Mrs. Johnson, received two letters from my father, John Adam Gibson, detailing some of what he remembered of turn of the century Meridale.
John Adam Gibson was born on June 12, 1893 in Meridale, the son of John W. and Sarah Catherine Sutherland Gibson. John's father, John W. Gibson was the son of John W. Gibson who came to Kortright from Northern Ireland in 1834. His parents were William and Isabella Gibson who are buried in the Gilchrist Cemetery. John W. Sr. married Sarah Ann Beken daughter of David and Jane Young Beken of Biddenden, Kent, England. The Bekens are buried in the Sackrider Cemetery. John W. Gibson Senior and John W. Gibson Jr. and there wives are buried in Pine Grove Cemetery, Meridale.
John Adam Gibson's mother was the daughter of Adam Sutherland and Catherine H. Dougle. Adam came to Cabin Hill from Musselburgh, Midlothian, Scotland in 1842. He was the son of Adam Sutherland and Marion Dudgeon. Catherine Dougle came to America from Scotland when she was six years old. They married in 1853. They moved from Cabin Hill to Scotch Mountain, and from there to the farm on what is now known as Sutherland Road in Meredith, in 1866.
John Adam's father was married twice; first, to Rebecca Mackey of Meredith with whom he had two children; Nelson M. and Lula. Nelson farmed until he retired at Shackport. He married Carrie Mable and had one son, Lawrence M. Lula was married twice. Her first husband, Raymond Slade, was killed in an automobile accident at the age of twenty-six. They had a son, Gerald. Her second husband was Howard Reynolds.
John W. married Sarah Catherine Sutherland in 1888. Their oldest child, Raymond, was born in 1890. John came next in 1893 and Marion K. followed in 1900. on the day that the Meridale Church was dedicated. John W. Gibson farmed in Meridale, until the family moved to 14 Clinton Street in Delhi in 1901. He was fifty years old. He then became active in Republican politics and in the Presbyterian Church on Clinton Street. He died in 1940 at the age of 89. Sarah Catherine died in 1940 at the age of 78.
John Adam attended the Delhi Academy. He played cornet in the Delhi band, and also played on the village baseball team. He graduated from Syracuse University, as did his sister Marion. In 1917 he joined the United States Navy and served on a submarine chaser in the North Sea. After the war he worked for many years in the lumber business, both in North Tonawanda, New York and in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he married Anna Elizabeth Culbert, who was a registered nurse. He died in 1984 in his ninety-second year, in Lancaster, Pa.. His wife died in 1994 in her ninety-ninth year.
Now follow the reminiscences of John Gibson
March 4, 1980
Dear Mrs. Johnson,
I was very pleased to receive your letter. It brought back many memories of my childhood in Meridale. I knew several of the Norwegian boys--- the Erickler brothers, and Gabriel Hansen, who lived in one of my father's houses.
I was present at the raising of the barn on your farm about 1900. I don't know what happened to the original barn. The farm then belonged to Delos Mackey.
My great grandfather Gibson came from Northern Ireland, and settled in the Kortright area. He was a travelling tailor. My grandfather owned a farm a few miles east from the square.
My father married Rebecca Mackey; the daughter of Delos Mackey, and lived in Meridale He owned considerable land and ran a dairy farm. The barn was at the end of the village on the road to your farm. There were two children from this marriage--- Nelson and Lula. Rebecca died very young and my father married Kate Sutherland, and then there were three children--- Raymond, John and Marion. I am the only one still living.
The present manse was built for my father's parents, and when they passed on, our family occupied the house until we moved to Delhi.
My mother's family came from Scotland and lived in the area of the Cabin Hill church until they moved to the Sutherland farm.
I know there was a tollgate in the area you mention, but I never saw it. There was a large hotel on the turnpike between your farm and the square. I remember seeing that.
I knew Ed Hughes, but I have no knowledge of the house.
My father owned considerable land in the area of the cemetery and according to information I got from Adam Sutherland, he built the cemetery on a portion of this land. (Pine Grove) I remember a Mr. Wheeler, who came from Delhi to do the landscaping.
At the turn of the century, Meridale was a self-sufficient village--- there were the following business places: A grist mill, three grocery stores, three blacksmith shops, a tin smith, a saw mill, a wagon factory, a meat market, a shoe repair shop, a hotel and a tailor. The Bisbee store was the clubhouse of the village on a Saturday night; it was standing- room only. I can give you the names of these places if you would like to have them.
I wish you the best in your difficult endeavor, and if I can be of any further help, please call on me. I would like to have a copy when you are finished.
John A. Gibson
April 2, 1980
Dear Mrs. Johnson,
I enjoyed your letter very much--- mentioning so many people that I knew. It really made me homesick for Meridale, since I will not be able to visit there again.
Benny Hoftalin's father was a shoe repairman, and lived a short distance below the village. Benny was Jessie Hughes' husband. On a log road just below the village, the gristmill was located. It was owned by a Mr. Swarthout. There should be some evidence of the building remaining. Mr. Swarthout lived at the edge of the village, in a combination grocery store and residence. Mrs. Swarthout ran the store. The third blacksmith shop was owned by Sandy Lawson, a Scotch born man, who was very active in the church. It was located at the corner, or turn in the road. Across the street was the tin shop. Owned by Gene Jones. I think the daughter of Junus Jones, a son lived across from the church. At the bridge there was a dam, and the water from the pond furnished water that powered the sawmill, on the left and the wagon works on the right. They were both owned by Almiry Bouton--- you probably knew Arthur and Bruce---also Claude.
Before the Meridale farms built their own pond, they got their ice from the millpond. There was an icehouse behind the Bisbee store. The meat market was owned by Mr. Burl and was located in the basement of the Bisbee store.
Dr. Lake, the first doctor I knew, had his office in a storefront building, a few doors up from the store. I think there was another doctor following him, but I can't recall his name. Dr. Lake was married to Etta Mackey, the oldest daughter of Delos Mackey. The hotel was across the street, and was owned by Lemuel Kimball. You may have known Solly Kimball, who was deaf and dumb. He was the same age as my brother Raymond, and my brother learned the sign language and could converse with him. I think he was the only one outside the family who could.
You mention the Nelson Thompson farm and the deed. Delos Mackey was a wealthy man, for the times, owned several farms, and had mortgages on others. I guess my father would come next, financially. I often wonder what they would be worth, if they were living today.
You are fortunate to have you son with you on the farm, as not many boys want to stay on the farm. I wish I could give you more information and would be glad to hear from you, if I can be of further help. Wishing the best to you and your family.
P.S. Please excuse the penmanship, as at 87 my hand is a little shakey.