To summarize, "Lawi-SaQuick", as I refer to the Loyalsock Creek, is the end of the journey. I have written a story that begins in England a few years before the various families depart for America. New families and characters continue to enter into the story. The thread that holds it all together is the journey of my family and a few others who followed the same path or, at least, shared many years. It's a story that will affect the lives of millions of Americans who have never identified with our history simply because no mention has been given to what I call , ' the bit players". I think a nation fails when the people cannot indentify with it's history and we simply cannot find that most important bond. I felt this is a story that must be told for the sake of our children, our descendants, a book for school children. Perhaps a book tht ought to be placed in the libraries of this nation a book about the people. A book of, by, and for the people. It is upon the lives of the untold millions that we owe the greatness of this nation.
We cannot expect to find pride when one cannot find something to be proud of, and a nation cannot stand solely on the shoulders of a few who have been exalted far beyond their true character. It's time to share the story. It's time to tell about the farmer who farmed and fought. Of his life, his family and his journeys.
The charater of America is complex and ever changing, yet somehow eep in the American soul there still lies this wonderful spirit wiling to sacrifice as in the tragedy of September 11, 2002.
Shortly after that day I returned to the Loyalsock. My wife and I though apprehensive felt that we needed to go home. It was October and in the moutains the leaves had begun to change. The weather was beautiful. We landed in Philadelphia, rented a car and began our 3 1/2 hour trip to the Ponono Mts. to my father's home. It was from there that we would then continue to the Loyalsock. Along the way we saw flags hanging from almost every barn, house and business as we drove through the small towns and villages. My wife commented that we ought to come back!
I knew I could never again go home. It was sad in a way, but my life had changed with decisions made by a young man who didn't understand how important home was. My wife whose family settled within walking distance from mine in 1639 had never seen the Loyalsock. We had been in the general area but never made the trip to where I swan as a boy, or to the covered bridge or the place where my ancestors where buried.
We stopped at the Exley farm and gathered a few more old photographs and talked about a biography written in 1849. My cousin, Robert Exley and wife Joan, took us up to the original farm house where everything remained as it did upon the death od Robert's father. We sorted through old photographs looking for one of an Indian Maiden who we have not fully indentified. Bob mentioned that my brother was bow hunting and staying in the old Hatton House.
About a week before a huge section of one of the barns had been ripped out by a bear who somehow smelled the old crates that once held honey. He had torn out about 10 feet of the side of the building.
Across from the barn was "Hatton's Woods" once "Hatton's Field". The Potters had used the land, with permission of our early family, for farming.
There has always been one missing piece in our history. In a cemetery at Peace Church is buried August Oechsley/Oechsle. This was the father of Henry Exley. We know little about him. I many ways it was a sad time. They were all gone. The voices I heard so many times as a boy. I could only feel the fading spirits knowing I was now the old man, the next generation to leave. I felt I needed to say something, to leave something more than material things, something important. I knew that I was the oldest of 38 grandchildren and few, if any, knew our story. Remembering the times I asked questions of both my great-grandparents and I made little notes and had a box full of family genealogy and photographs. With that I started on our story. A story that represents so many Americans. I felt this is what I should do and it was sorely needed. What better gift to leave than a living , although not alive, family history with the thoughts, experiences, tragedies, and successes.
We were not always poor, nor always wealthy. We farmed, mined coal, and with the help of God designed Subways, built huge buildings, wrote, and so much more. We were and still remain an American family.
It is not possible for me not to meet a farmer, a miner, a corporate executive and not be able to identify with all.
However, there are only two places where my heart will remain, the Loyalsock Creek and Shady Nook.
Shady Nook was a place on Marshall's Creek. The family had a log cabin on the creek and there was an area near the cabin that we called " Shady Nook". Family members went there to think or pray. The creek was full of trout and not very deep. There was a small bench there and the trees covered the creek.
I never knew there had been another "Shady Nook" in our past history. It was not far from Otsego County, N.Y. and Sullivan County, PA.
Deacon Daniel Potter's Congreagational Church had burned down in Old Hartwick, N.Y. but the wood that could be salvaged was used to build a home which still stands until this day. My cousin Ronald Potter had filmed the area. He had taken a trip with our cousin Robert Exley in the spring of 2001.
I am not an author, perhaps not even very good at expressing my thoughts, but this is an attempt to do something I never did before for the sole purpose of giving something to the people and especially the chidren of this nation. It's what I want to leave behind. Perhaps only my decendants will care and perhaps they won't. I do know that in every generation there are those that do care. In that case I leave it to them.
"Lawi-Saquick" was written and compiled to be a gift. It was not meant to be a commerical venture.
My hope is that someone, somewhere, who has the ability to present this story in a meaningful way will do so.
I can only long for the days past when I swan, then shaved in the Lawi-Saquick. Times of voices now gone and the laughter of family members now past, perhaps leaving this task to me. The vegatable garden, the chickens, the family reunions, the terrible sound of the siren when a mining accident occurred. My grandfather who could not walk more than 15 feet without stopping and gasping for breath. The day my father took me into the mines and asked , "Is this what you want?" My uncle later built a factory, which my father designed, in the area.
There were the great homes in Philadelphia and the good times that came with success. Others remained forever on Sugar Hill and on the farm. And, because of them we can go back even if it is only for a brief time.
That day will end someday soon. So, I leave this story so that others can relive and perhaps think carefully about the paths they take in life. I don't know what success really is, I do know what love is because we had plenty of that. I remember the Thanksgivings, Christmas midnight serice and my aunt laying Christmas Carols as we huddled near the pot bellied stove. I know what hard work is, why laughter is important and love essential. Sometimes it may be more rewarding to stay home.