Cortland - Bazetta Historical Society
Vivian Vera Viets - V
Wilhemien Viets - W
Genevieve Pardee - G
Father, Ward Viets - F
Part I -1959
V - Father, tell us about the beginning of Cortland.
F - Cortland was founded on our knoll, off what is now Stahl Drive. It was incorporated in 1875. It had to be incorporated before the high school was built in 1876.
W - Tell us a little something about all the mills on our millpond.
F - There were five mills on our millpond which was back of our house. There was a rope factory operated by Anthony Burrows, the father of John Burrows, grandfather of Harold Burrows. It was back of the present home of Carrie Miller.
V - Father, I understand that Enos Bacon had a bowl factory where wooden bowls were made and it stood back of Neal Love's home. Now Bacon built Moore's place on High Avenue. The story is told that when dry weather came in summer, Mr. Bacon would take a load of bowls in a boat which he built, draw it to Niles by three or four teams, that was the horse power, to Mosquito Creek and then to the Ohio River. He would sell his bowls through the south and then he would come back north again making more in the winter. What about the scale board mill, Father?
F - There was a scale board mill on the bank of the mill pond, north of Mrs. Zinabelle _____ house, near Stahls. This mill was owned by Sample Brothers and Tory. This mill made very thin boards or covers from pepperidge lumber which was not much good for anything else, which were used on the top and bottom of cheese boxes. These were made in all sizes.
W - Well, that's unusual and then there was a burr mill which was made of large - 80 -
round stones with a chiseled hole in the middle of them. They were put in wooden shafts and wedges and they turned over buckwheat or other grains, and of course the power was by water wheel. I think this is all very interesting about these mills. Is there another one you have heard Father speak about, Genevieve?
G - J. H. and the Post brothers had the lumber mill in back of Porters. J. H. Post built the Mahannah house which is now owned by Ed Root. Post built the house which is across from the Farm Bureau. People came from 25 to 30 miles to have lumber sawn at this mill. J. H. and ____ also built the flour mill which is now Brookside Inn. It was operated by Clat Kennedy. They had a water wheel there and Bert Swager also worked there for years.
V - Well, all these water wheels are a far cry from our electricity and all of our gas appliances. Then, of course, there was the Larnard Mill which was in back of Mrs. Pettit's house. It sawed logs and, of course, there wasn't enough water to run it, so it wasn't in operation very long. Now Squire Larnard built the King house and it was the only sealed house and one of the oldest in the town. Nettie King, who was R. D. Larnard's sister, lived there.
Of course, I think you all know where the Kiesecker house was, and it was the original stage coach tavern and barn where horses were changed. Wilhemien, what can you tell us that Father has said about some of the other houses in town, like our own?
W - We have a few neighborhood houses and our own which he tells about when he was a boy. He has lived in this house since March, 1883. Vivian Vera was the, only child born in this particular house and the only wedding here was Cal Clawson's daughter, Carrie, who married a doctor. Frank Craft was the builder of this house and he was a fine carpenter. In time he sold this house to Cal Clawson who in turn sold it to my grandfather, O. D. Viets in 1883. And then we come to a neighbor house and that was owned by Gilberts and now Dr. and Mrs. Marshall live in this. Father says he remembers talking with one of the Gilbert girls who used to play with some dolls. He liked to talk to her quite a bit. He liked to visit with Mr. Gilbert who had been all over the West as a young man. He had a boy, Frank, who was a very nice boy who fitted himself out in a business course.
Now the Gilberts had an old mare, a very fine one, whose name was Old Belle. Ward Viets used to open the barn doors for the horse and buggy. You had to back out the buggy by hand, harness the horse and take her out the side door and hitch her to the buggy or sleigh outside for there was no room to do this inside. There was a picket fence around that place and they kept the wagon, plows and other farm machinery out by the fence, by the gate. Father used to haul wood for Aunt Molly Workman who bought that place. Now Aunt Molly was quite exacting as to the size of the wood and how it was to be piled. Father also remembers sitting in the stairway of that Gilbert house, and the stairway is not in the position that it occupies at this particular time.
Later, after the girls of the Gilbert family were married, Aldis Gilbert, his wife and daughter, Maude, and son, Frank, lived there by themselves. Frank printed the paper by hand. He was dressed up quite nicely. He was considered quite a young catch in the town. No one mowed the lawn at that time. The Gilberts made a small garden. Frank liked to go blackberrying and he asked Father to go with him and it was a great event in Father's young life. So they hitched up Old Belle, picked up Hal Post, who lived in the Lucy Biggin house, and went berrying. The two men told the boy Ward many interesting stories.
Then there was another neighboring house. The family was Langley and they lived in the house now lived in by the Shilling family. Father's older half brother, Claude Viets, once in a while went to see Cortie Langley, one of the neighborhood girls. Father remembers the time when in school one day his mother came to see him at school to tell him that Mrs. Gilbert was very ill and she was not expected to live the day out. There were no telephones and they wanted to get the youngest daughter, Edith, who had married someone and lived down the Warren Road. So Father had to go. He left and the road was very deep mud. He walked his horse about four miles an hour and got Edith Gilbert at 9:30 or 10 in the morning and got her back about 11. Mrs. Gilbert died that afternoon about 4 o'clock and that was a very outstanding event in Father's life.
V - Well, it's been nice to gather together and reminisce and we'll do it again.