Remembering a Runaway Buckboard | Sherman Moreland’s Memoirs
Like most American families of the last century, the Foutzes in my cul-de-sac of the family subdivision have nursed our own unique obsessions with certain automobiles.
Grandpa Don Foutz, having worked in the parts department of Fred Potschner Ford in Dover, before following his father and brother to the steel mill, probably is responsible for my dad, Fred, taking such immaculate care of his cars.
A revolving fleet of Volkswagens — Rabbits, Jettas, Bugs, Cabriolets and around a half dozen different Vans — were subjected to weekend washes and waxes, thorough sweepings of the interior and treatments of the dash and windows.
I can’t begin to count the cars and other modes of transport — motorcycles, boats — Uncle Don, Grandpa’s oldest son has owned.
And though middle brother Uncle Bob currently owns arguably the sweetest ride right now (after long doting on his 1960s/1970s Jaguar) — my grandma’s cherry Mercedes Benz hardtop convertible of late 1980s/early 1990s vintage — I bet he’d sell it in a heartbeat to finance his high-flying hobby: personally building airplanes. He’s got two in various stages of assemblage in his hangar.
As related in other posts this week, the Foutzes at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries sure got around, as the journals of Sherman Earl Moreland, third child of great-great aunt Ida Foutz Moreland, make clear.
First, my great-great grandparents Jonathan and Rebecca followed oldest son Sherman Foutz to Washington D.C. Then, following the death of Jonathan in 1900, Rebecca and her youngest sons, Charles and my great-grandfather, Vance, traveled a circuitous decade, from the old farm south of Bowerston, to her family’s homestead near Sherrodsville, to mining job opportunities in Phillipsburg, eventually landing in my hometown of Dover, where three subsequent generations of Foutzes were born or raised.
The family reconvened around them, from wherever they were then situated. And with them, as this post shares, they carried their faith.
For Foutzes from at least my great-great-great grandfather Gideon on, as I have discovered, that meant worshiping as Lutherans. Marriage records, burial notices and obituaries from that generation onward mention membership in the Lutheran church, either out in Sherrodsville or Bowerston, where the deceased of Sherman’s generation were often buried in Longview Cemetery (the old Lutheran burial yard), on to Dover and Grace Lutheran Church, where grandmothers from Rebecca through Laura through Erma were counted among the congregation, and where my father was confirmed.
A Bumpy Route to — and from — Worship
This story concerns a trip home from church in either the late 1890s or the early 1900s. The passage is taken from the journals of Sherman Earl Moreland (1893-1993), at which his great-granddaughter Dawn James is still at work transcribing, last I heard.
Sherman’s remembrances of his more than 99 years, recorded in more than 340 handwritten pages, provide a vital link to what our family was up to a century ago.
I would date this story as probably occurring after my great-great grandfather’s death, since, as Sherman related, Rebecca and her family had moved to Sherrodsville to be near her brothers in the Caldwell clan. That would put Sherman Moreland in the neighborhood of 7 to 12 years old. As he writes (the paragraph breaks are my own):
We had for transportation a buckboard, a light four wheeled vehicle which instead of a body and springs has a long elastic board resting directly in the bolsters on which the seat is placed.
Grandmaw Foutz and I coming home one night from church with Uncle John Caldwell and family (youngest brother John Nelson Caldwell, 1867-1944 — Colt). Three seats was set on the buckboard. Grandmaw and I were on the rear seat.
Uncle John had hitched a pair of young horses to the buckboard. That night on our way returning from church the horses shied at something causing the vehicle a sudden jerk upending Grandmaw and me with the seat. We landed on a small creek bridge.
We were not missed until they reached home. Uncle John and Aunt Miney (Mina J. Smith, 1872-1959 — Colt) returned to find us still lying on the bridge. Grandmaw was unconscious and didn’t come too until the next day.
All I could ever remember was that I could see light shining on the creek water. When asked about the accident I could not remember anything about what had occurred.
Thank goodness that Sherman’s memory recovered enough to share this interesting nugget of how our ancestors lived back then.
Best wishes to his descendants and relatives as they gather together today for their annual reunion at Tuscora Park in New Philadelphia, incidentally in a building that bears a plaque memorializing my grandmother Erma Foutz Miller and her second husband, Max Miller.
Can’t wait to discover what family artifacts and stories are shared! Anything I come across, you’ll hear about it here.