A few days ago I received a book, "These Are The McCreights", edited by a distant, but now cherished cousin, James Edward McCreight. It arrived about noon. Hours later I was still absorbed, when hunger pangs bro't the present into focus. He wrote a good letter also, asking for some early family data, and about my two grand-daughters, who are the only remaining twigs on my slim branch of the tree. He said the three booklets my uncle, M.I.McCreight, wrote about our part of the family, had helped him in assembling his mass of material.
The book bro't back priceless memories about the clan of John Winslow and Eliza McCreight, with whom I've had a life-long love affair. I sent him pictures of my beloved grand-parents. I told him I didn't dare say a word about them, or I'd write a book. And now I know the truth of the saying, "You ain't got the sense you was born with", because at the tender age of seventy-seven, I want to record some of my memories of the family, hoping that my grand-daughters may read them, and feel a little closer to their forbears.
I will write only about John, Eliza, and their children. Aunt Sue, and the wives of their sons, were like mothers to me. They seemed much like my own mother, who was the youngest of the family. Their children have been much like brothers and sisters I never had, yet never missed, because of them.
JOHN WINSLOW McCREIGHT
John was the son of Andrew. His mother, Ann, was the daughter of
Captain Andrew Sharp who served under Washington. They married in 1812,
and were the earliest settlers in Jefferson County, Pennsylvania. They
had thirteen children. Six stalwart bewhiskered sons took sections of
land adjoining the home farm They called the settlement, "Paradise".
John was a lumberman, and a good one. I remember being shown a gigantic
stump, by the side of the road near Reynoldsville. The marker read,
"Felled by Honest John McCreight and Wes Murphy." According to Uncle
Maj's careful records, it was thought to be the largest pine in the
state. He said it took six teams of oxen to haul it to the Sandy, where
it was floated to the Allegheny and Pittsburgh. From there, down the
Ohio to Cincinnati, where it was cut into ship-lap. It sold for
$308.00. When I was a child, Grandmother told me about a wild cat
jumping from a tree and clawing the hind quarters of her horse, as she
rode thru the woods to take Grandfather his lunch. They had to ride to
Reynoldsville for supplies, and when it was necessary to go, John would
say, "Liza, can't you contrive?' Grandfather prospered. When he
retired, his eldest daughter and her husband, Milligan McCloud McAdoo,
took over the farm, and John and Eliza moved to DuBois. They built a
spacious home on Brady Street, flanked on either side by two
magnificent maple trees. I've been told that Grandfather and Uncle Maj
helped establish the Deposit National Bank.
Grandfather was as serenely calm as small Eliza was quick and fiery.
When the weird
frightening fire whistle shrieked during the night,
Eliza hurried into a robe and slippers and dashed outside, where she
could check her sons' homes; Grandfather would put his hand on the
wall, and if it wasn't hot, he'd go back to sleep.
Eliza McCreightThe summer Grandfather died, I was six years old. It was time for school. My father was overseeing the laying of pipelines from West Virginia to Akron, Ohio, where he later piped the Rubber City for gas. Since he and Mother were "on the move", it was natural that I stay with Eliza. I became a happy first-grader at the second ward school. Eliza was tiny. She wore full black taffeta dresses with a touch of ruching at the throat. Her tiny black bonnets had narrow ribbon ties, and were trimmed with either pansies or violets. To see this dainty little lady, you couldn't guess the strength and fire her small frame encompassed. My teacher gave me a permission slip for smallpox vaccination, for her to sign. Instead of writing her name, she wrote, "Unnecessary punishment". Another time at a family gathering, she said forcefully, "Thank Heaven, I raised my family before they had such things as microbes and trained nurses!"
Grandmother's home was home to all her children and grandchildren. Uncle Maj and Uncle Bruce lived in DuBois, Aunt Sue McAdoo was a few miles away in Paradise. Uncle Joe was a dentist in nearby Ridgway. Uncle Bill had a lung condition, spent much of his time in Arizona and Florida, but he, too, frequently came home. He was her greatest concern. Many times, especially on holidays, her house seemed filled to overflowing, but a warm welcome was always waiting for every member of the family. I lived with her during my first two years in school. Then Dad and Mother settled in Akron. However, most every summer vacation was spent in her home. I'd take off to visit relatives, but returned before long, to Eliza. I have often wondered how many of us were smugly sure we came first with our grandmother.
Grandmother and Grandfather spent several winters in Arizona with Uncle Bill, as the climate there seemed best for his health. At first they lived in an adobe house, like the hogans of their Indian neighbors. Later, Grandfather had lumber hauled fifty miles to build one of wood. They lived near Kingman, and in Chloride. Their neighbors were the Wallopi and the Mojaves.
After Grandfather died, Grandmother continued to go west for a few winters. Her zest for living and vigor seemed to be undiminished. She crossed the Mojave Desert riding a burro, like the rest of the group. She was the oldest, and one of the few white women who had climbed Schrum's Peak, near Chloride, 7766 ft. above sea level. She always came home bearing gifts, in addition to the turquoise matrix and cacti we always expected. One year she sent an Indian runner to the Navajo reservation for beautiful blankets for Aunt Sue and Mother, and for chiefs' blankets for her sons. She bro't Indian cradles, "kamotes", for her grand-daughters. All of them got new ones but me. Mine was old, with a soft fiber mat laced together with pounded yucca. It had belonged to Chief Schrum of the Wallopi nation. His thirteen children had been nursed in it.
When Eliza was nearing her eightieth birthday, a small skin cancer on her forehead became a problem. Uncle Maj decided that she should go to Dr. Pancost, an authority in that area. He sent his oldest son, Don, and Aunt Sue's oldest daughter, Bertha, with her to New York City. They arrived on Sunday. Her operation was scheduled for Tuesday. My cousins supposed she'd want to go to a hotel to rest, but when Don asked her what she wanted to do, she said, "Don, I've never been to Coney Island, that's where I'd like to go." Needless to say, she loved it. On their way back, they passed a cabaret. Eliza said pointedly, "I've never been to a cabaret". So, in they went, and at the next table sat a very young girl, with her knees crossed, smoking a cigarette. Eliza leaned over, tapped her gently on the knee, and said firmly, "Now you go home! Go on home to your mother!" She went. The news commentator, O.O. McIntyre, was there and recorded the incident in full in his nationally syndicated column. Her operation, with just a local anesthetic, was entirely successful, and the trip was another adventure. The following May 10th., her birthday, we had our last, and the largest reunion I can remember. It was at a picnic grounds called Hands Park. She seemed truly to be 80 years young.
Grandmother died July 2, 1918 at Uncle Maj's home. She was buried beside her husband in the McCreight cemetery in Paradise. For so small a lady, she left so great a vacuum. In a wonderful way, she had seemed to belong, solely, to each one of us.
B. 10 May 1830 † D. 2 July 1918.