Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sports Center Saturday - Run Floyd Run!

A Champion In The Family

Tales of a 1930s Long Distance Runner

Previously in this blog, I posted the tombstone of my paternal Uncle, Floyd Yohn. Uncle Floyd was 13 years old when my father was born and forty years old by the time I was born. When I was younger, I used to be told of his glory days as a high school miler and distance runner. I always thought these stories were embellished and exaggerated by the family through retelling over the years. Then came the day as a young adult when I was shown the spare room in his home where all his trophies, ribbons, awards and news clippings were on display. Wow! Well, life went on and those stories were shuffled to the back of my memories.

About a year ago, I was researching someone else in my family tree online and I stumbled across archived newspaper articles about Uncle Floyd and his high school running team. There were meet results and opinion articles by the local sports reporting staff. In one article, the writer compared Uncle Floyd to Gene Venzke, another local runner who had competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics! Another articles referred to him as the ace speedster captain of the high school cross country ream. Yet another news article reports that his coach claimed that as a freshman in practice, Floyd had posted the fastest first showing the coach had seen in over a decade, close to a five minute mile in 1937.
Floyd E. Yohn. Earl L. Yohn, John H. Yohn
(undated photo from the collection of Karen Fox)

The family  stories were true as told! Uncle Floyd had been a shining star.

One of my Dad's favorite stories was that when they were boys, my Dad would take the trolley or bus from the city where they lived to the amusement park out in the eastern suburbs. Meanwhile, Uncle Floyd would leave at the same time, but run there instead and be waiting at the entrance gate for my Dad when he arrived. Not only did Floyd het there more quickly, but since he had saved his fare money, he could spend more at the park. Another was about when the family made a rare trip (remember, this was during the Great Depression) to watch my Uncle compete in the Penn Relays.  That was a real thill for them.
Life and practicality overtook Uncle Floyd's talent and love of the sport; he never had the opportunity to aim for the Olympics - out of high school, there were bills to pay and he had to help support the family and his aging parents. But he never gave up his trophies, memories and stories. Tales of his high school exploits always made him smile.
One of the earliest articles about Uncle Floyd and his long distance talent

The  Athlete Gene skipped Me,

~ Karen the AncesTree Sprite

Friday, October 1, 2010

Family Recipe Friday - Hickory Nut Cake

(Annie Adam original handwritten recipe collection held by Karen Fox)

My step-grandmother (Mom's second hubby's mother) was a real Pennsylvania Dutch farm wife. Nana, as we called her, was a "wunnerful goot" cook and she was well known for her baked goods.This was one of my favorite cakes that she used to bake. I was a young adult when Mom remarried, but Nana and Pop-pop Adam always treated us kids as if we had always been among their own grandchildren. 

Nana's written recipes usually consisted of just an ingredients list, she didn't need instructions on how to make something beyond that. The directions in this recipe came from me following her around while she baked one of these and jotting down my own notes.

Hickory Nut Cake
(from the collection of the late Annie Adam 1918-1982)

Note: If hickory nuts are not easily available to you, this recipe is also quite good using black walnuts as a substitute.

1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
a lump of butter the size of a walnut
1 cup milk
2-1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup of chopped hickory nuts

Mix together in a bowl all the ingredients except the chopped nuts. When smooth, stir in the nuts. Bake at 350 degrees in 2 nine inch greased & floured cake pans or one 9" x 13" greased & floured pan for approx. 25-30 mins or until tester comes out clean.

After cooling, Nana would usually frost the cake with a vanilla buttercream or cream cheese frosting.


Missing you Nana,
~Karen the AncesTree Sprite

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Hunting Pride In Upstate NY

Dyer's Hotel, Redwood, Jefferson County NY
(original undated photo held by Robin Hadden)

Arthur Dyer (my gr-grandfather Harry Sherman Dyer's brother) is the fellow in the suit on the right. Upon their father's death in 1905, Arthur took over ownership and the running of the family's Dyer's Hotel.

~ Karen The AncesTree Sprite

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - David Dieffenbach, Organ Builder

Margaretha (Schmidt) and David Dieffenbach 
Altalaha Church, Rehrersburg, PA
My gr-gr-gr-grandparents
 (photo taken 25 Sept 2010 by Karen Fox)

The plaque at the top is inscribed: 
Margaretha Dieffenbach
nee Schmidt
16 Jun 1802 - 12 Dec 1857
David Dieffenbach
Piperorgan Builder
3 Mar 1798 - 11 Dec 1872
Placed By The
Dieffenbach Family Association

The stones had fallen over and broken, Descendants laid them flat in concrete to preserve them, David was the 3rd generation of Pipe Organ builders in the Dieffenbach Family.

The Stone Inscriptions:

(The left stone reads) Hier ruhet Margaretha Dieffenbach, Ehegattin von David Dieffenbach, geborne Schmidt. Geboren Juni 16, 1802. Starb Decem. 12, 1857. Alt 55 Jahre, 5 Mo. 26 Tag.

(The right stone reads) Hier ruhet David Dieffenbach Orgelbauer · Geboren Marz 3, 1798 · Starb December 11, 1872 · Alter 74 Jahre, 9 Mo, 8 Tage

To read more about the fascinating story of the Dieffenbach Organ Builders and to see some terrific photos of their historic Pipe Organs,  see "The Dieffenbach Organ Makers" page at:

~ Karen the AncesTree Sprite

Monday, September 27, 2010

Maritime Monday - 1906 Fishing Yachts Capsize, Sharks, Deaths, Daring Rescues!

 Herbert M. Shivers

Today, for a change of pace, I am leaving my family to rest and will be talking about an incident that happened in 1906 to my "other half" Jim's grandfather, Herbert M. Shivers of Anglesea, N.J.  Herbert at this time worked for his father's bricklaying and plastering business.but spent part of his time fishing for the local and New York markets. Herbert also ran and captained fishing parties for tourists and locals. News of what happened on this particular day was published as far away as in the New York Times, Philadelphia newspapers and even my hometown newspaper, the Reading Eagle,  which is about 60 miles west of Philadelphia.

Herbert later went on to be elected to serve on the town Council for 12 years (2 of which were as president)  and he was then elected to serve as Mayor of North Wildwood (of which by that time, Anglesea had become a part) for one term, 1923 - 1925.

~~~ ~~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~
Reading (PA) Eagle, Monday July 30, 1906, Page 4 Column 4

Sloop Yachts Capsized Near Angleesea

Anglesea, N.J., July 30 --- Caught in the trough of a tremendous sea, the sloop yachts Nora and Alva B., coming in from the Fishing Banks just after noon yesterday, capsized on Hereford Inlet Bay.

There were 32 persons on the Nora, of whom seven were lost, and 12 on the Alva B., all of whom but one were saved.The list shows these bodies recovered:

Fisher, Frederick, Phila.
Hammell, Herbert, Lansdale, Penn.
Snyder, Walter, Phila.
Fogarty, John, Haverford, Penn.
Starkey, J., Phila.
Donohue, Jerry, Phila.
Williams, Griffith, Phila
Lodner, Samuel, of Woodbury, N.J.

To add to the terrors of the situation a school of sharks was seen swimming around the scene of the disaster, and some of the survivors declare that they had to fight the big fish as well as try to save themselves. Rescuers also declare that the sharks gave them a lot of trouble. Others say the fish were porpoises.

Dramatic features of the double disaster are the heroic work of United States life savers, who were ready for the emergency, and met it with their usual magnificent bravery, in spite of the fact that they are out of service and without pay during this and next month; the heroic behavior of Captain Herbert Shivers, in charge of the Nora, who dived into the hold of his foundered craft and secured an armful of life preservers, which he distributed among those who were struggling in the water about him, and the astounding coincidence of the second wreck following so closely upon the heels of the first.

The Alva B. was owned by E. J. Haliman, a lawyer, of Pottsville, Penn'a. He and a party of friends were on board at the time.

A thorough search to-day failed to bring to light further loss of life. Some of those rescued, in an exhausted condition, remained here over night and departed for home to-day.

Typing with a life vest because you can't be too sure,
~Karen the AncesTree Sprite

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday's Obituary - Henry F. Yohn

Henry F. Yohn (1814-1883) was the brother of one of my paternal gr-gr-gr-grandfathers, George F. Yohn (1802-1880). George predeceased Henry by 3 years, so was not mentioned in this obit. Henry was an interesting and accomplished fellow and you'll enjoy reading about him. 

~ Karen the AncesTree Sprite