In the year 1900 we moved from our original living quarters in the rear of the store into rooms mother had been leasing in the Old Homestead, and it was the this era, for the next two years and more, that we tentatively embarked in the poultry business, intending to make it more or less a side vocation, I am speaking of Daisy’s and my joint operations when I say “we”. I sent to U.R. Fishel, Hope, Indiana, for a trio of white Plymouth Rocks, cost $25.00. Fishel was the recognized breeder of that strain in the U.S., and in going into the business we wanted to start with blooded stock, upon which to build our flock.
To add to the poor facilities that were already on the place, I engaged carpenters to build me a series of seven connected henhouses, making a shed-like structure about 70 feet long. Built against this and extending out there from about 150 feet into the orchard was a chicken mesh wire fence, making enclosure 70X150 feet, divided into seven sections, each fronting on a chicken pen. The house cost $165. The fence cost nothing but the wire and posts, but a vast amount of hard labor, to which I was not physically fitted. It meant digging deep holes for the heavy chestnut posts, bracing them with equally heavy timbers, and stretching the wire. This involved pick and shovel work, as no postholes were available, though I was able to borrow a wire stretcher.
In time, we acquired, at the peak, from progeny, 200 head of poultry, and we had rosy dreams of success, little knowing what the future would bring. The next year I made quite a good shipment of springers, to a Pittsburgh concern, for which I was complimented on its quality and was mailed a generous sized check in payment. Also, I sold several settings of eggs for hatching at $1 for 13, packed and shipped by mail in the tiny slat containers that I made myself. At the end of the mating season I sold the original Fishel rooster to a local fancier, for as much as I had paid. However, despite minor signs of success an encouragement, our poultry venture, as you shall see, ended in dismal failure, but not from lack of interest and hard work, for wife and myself put all we had into the effort to win. However, One swallow doesn’t make a summer, success means, Know how, capital, and work, work, and more work, and, time.
I must mention our trio of little bantams, two hens and the arrogant little cock, each weighing one-pound. The rooster would crow at himself in the mirror, would watch over his hens either lying or setting, all of them household pets, and if let out of doors would fly to the roof. When we left, we had to give to neighbors, but the sweet memories of them will always remain with us. They died of a broken heart.
1901 saw Fred’s marriage to Mabel Allen, whom he had gotten acquainted with in Linesville High School days; in fact, she had graduated the next year after Fred’s graduation in 1898. They set up housekeeping in the portion of the house formerly occupied by my parents, both of whom had passed away the previous year. So it came to pass that they lived in one half of the Old Homestead and we in the other half.
It was in 1901 that in the company with Dan Bunnell, cashier of the bank, and his wife, we went to the Pan American Exposition at Buffalo. Aside from the usual in such shows, the high point that stands out in my memory was the monster pine or fir log that Washington State sent as its contribution. It took 3 flatcars, end to end, to transport it, with huge letters printed on each side, put me off at Buffalo.
That fall a man named E. D. Jacobs assumed the pastorate of our little church in Linesville. He had recently married, and both of them became lifelong friends. He had recently made a tour of Europe, and his Sunday night lectures on his experiences held us spellbound. He was afflicted with a painful and to him in his pulpit duties, very formidable handicap of a chronic sore throat, and but for constant doping and use of palliatives, couldn’t talk at all.