Memories of the Susquehanna River

Afton Fairgrounds

Too much of my time is spent attempting to find more information online about Daniel S. Barber and the man I think is his father, Nathan Barber.

Afton, New York is 2,700 miles away from my base of research. Until I can physically step on the land of my ancestors, look in the local archives and talk to locals, this is futile.

Yet, here I am again, virtually walking the rolling green hillsides of New York from California, blissfully exploring the former property of Eli, Levi, and my 3rd great aunt Alice Barber  (oldest daughter of the above Daniel S. Barber) Johnston. In the 1800s, Eli purchased the house where Mormon founder Joseph Smith married Emma Hale. Is the house still there? I zoom in to take a closer look at the buildings on the former Johnston farm on the Susquehanna River.


Smack … a flashback to my childhood.

On a sunny summer day, three children much too young to be exploring river banks, set off through the woods to skip stones much closer to home than I remember now. Surely, it was at least a mile hike? The mature trees formed a canopy that blocked most of the sun leaving us in daylight darkness adding an audible heart thump to our portentous expedition. We were fairly accomplished flingers of flat shale from our practice at Grandma’s house on Seneca Lake. The banks of the Susquehanna, however, are covered in pebbles, rocks, and boulders. Separately, on the dank and dim brink of rushing water, we hunted for ones flat enough to skip

Alerted by the most seasoned river rat among us,  we hear… COPPERHEAD! The group became fifteen bumbling bodies, arms and legs stumbling on the stone spheres to light and safety. Surely, it took at least an hour to get to back home?

Most of the kids in Rome, New York where I grew up spent time scouting the Mohawk River’s edge or floating in tubes down the current. Not me, although I do have a bridge story.

Claude, Jr. Honor Roll, 1932

P. S. 127, East Elmhurst, built 1927.

The Claude Barber family lives on Long Island and Claude, Jr. makes the first grade honor roll at P.S. 127 in East Elmhurst.

Other students in 1A1 listed are:

  • Veronica Williams
  • Alice Urbansky
  • Florence Simpkins
  • Mary Esposito
  • Ruth Altman


  1. The Daily Star, Long Island City, Queens Borough, N.Y.; Friday Evening, April 29, 1932; Page Sixteen. 
  2.; sourced June 25, 2017.

Flora Couple Party at the Bainbridge Park Hotel, 1905

BB Park Hotel.jpg

Sixteen couples, including Flora Barber, take the seven-mile train ride to Bainbridge from Afton on a cold January Thursday. Although many sleighing parties have the same destination, this evening there is a concern the ice flow around a half completed bridge could be dangerous.

Just two months earlier, C. P. Buskirke of Oneonta purchased the property (for $25,000) and proceeded to make renovations. The party is excited to be among the first to enjoy the refurbished dining area. After dinner, they dance and play games in the spacious third-floor ballroom.

Flora lives with her sister, Frances, and brother-in-law, Lewis Fredenberg, in Afton where she teaches school. After completing a year of college, the twenty-three-year-old started her first school job there. Who is her beau for the evening?

Others attending:

  • George L. Church and wife
  • Wayland A. Hinman and wife
  • Roscoe Falls and wife
  • A. R. Williams and wife
  • A. L. Sherman (editor) and wife
  • Lewis H. Graw and wife
  • Bert Doolittle and wife
  • A.W. Collar and wife
  • Frank Lewis
  • Howard LeSuer
  • Jack Humiston
  • Clinton Grow
  • Gerald Shaw
  • Rowland G. Hill
  • Howard Hyde
  • Mrs. T.E. Keator
  • Mrs. T.D. Reed
  • Flora Barber
  • Ina Guy
  • Bertha Caswell
  • Hazel Peek
  • Bessie Burgess
  • Bruce Kestor
  • Chester Sackett
  • Julia L. Reed
  • Jennie Elmendorf

The latter four “drove” to Bainbridge. Did they risk a sleigh ride or an automobile on icy roads?

afton to bainbridgeSources:

  1. The Binghamton Press; Friday, January 13, 1905; Page 11.
  2. Local History Notes; Blog; Friday, February 13, 2015.
  3. Google Maps

Jeanne Hosts Girls Missionary Society, 1933

The Girls Missionary Society of the Methodist church met Thursday afternoon with Betty Jean Barber at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Ireland on Warren Street.

The Depression captures the attention of the country and church activities seem to be a big part of Auntie Flo’s life. Tough times demand comfort. Jeanne is actively involved at nine years old with the encouragement of the Ireland’s with whom she lives.

Prices from the same page:

1933 Prices


The Homer Post; Homer, N.Y.; Friday, November 10, 1933; Page Two.

Fred Visits the Ireland Family and his Sister, 1935

Fred Vernon Barber of Binghamton spent the weekend with his sister, Betty Jean Barber at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Ireland on Warren Street.

School is out for the summer and the Barber family of Binghamton has two fewer children in the home one summer weekend in June 1935. Eight-year-old Fred and ten-year-old Jeanne are staying with Flora and Fred Ireland in Homer, New York.


The Homer Post; Homer, N. Y.; Friday, June 21, 1935; Page Five.

Jeanne 10th Birthday Party, 1934

water works park homer
(Newton) Water Works Park, 2017, Google Maps

Fred and Flora Ireland lost their daughter fifteen years earlier. They extend the same love they would to their own to Jeanne for a few years. Jeanne’s 10th birthday is celebrated with a hot dog roast at Water Works Park in Homer where it is reported: all “had a glorious time”!

Her friends that join the party:

  • Olive Burns
  • Jean Atkins
  • Marjorie Blanden
  • Lois Steele
  • Johann Creal
  • Jean Van Me???
  • Doris Rumsey
  • Claire Rumsey
  • Joyce Carl
  • Darlene Klock
  • Virginia Ripley
  • Edith Harris
  • Georgia Bell
  • Ione Lottridge


  1. Cortland Standard, Cortland, N. Y.; Tuesday Evening, July 31, 1934, Page Six.
  2. Google Maps

Methodist Mothers and Daughters, Jeanne, 1933

Homer Methodist Church
Methodist Church, Homer, New York. I believe this is the same church Jeanne attended.

Miss Pearl Palmer speaks about her service as a teacher in India to twenty-eight members of the Girls’ Missionary Society of the Methodist Church and their mothers or “honorary members”. I imagine Flora Ireland is the latter. “Jean” Barber performs a song in a quartet including Patty Briggs, Georgia Bell, Geraldine Rood and herself.

The color scheme for the banquet is pink and green and includes a darling craft project. The wooden ice cream spoons are dressed and painted to look like ladies using the theme colors and include unique faces and clothing on each one.

Other girls mentioned are:

  • Lucille Farnham
  • Helen Spencer
  • Marybelle Bartlett
  • Doris Rumsey


  1. Cortland Standard; Cortland, Ny.Y.; Wednesday Evening, September 27, 1933. 
  2. Google maps photo, June 2017.


Irelands’ Visit to NYC with Jeanne, 1933

Homer to Islip

Mr. and Mrs. Fred Ireland and Betty Jean Barber of Warren street spent last week-end in New York City and Central Islip on Long Island.

It is interesting that the three traveled to Cental Islip. Has Jean’s family moved out of Brooklyn? If not, what is the attraction or who are the friends? Is it a Dairymen’s Association Meeting that Fred has obligations to attend?

This is a long trip for a weekend. Did they drive or take a train?

The community of Homer seems to find Betty Jean Barber’s presence normal. She is “of Warren street”.

The Rockettes give their first Christmas Show this year, but not until December


  1. Homer Post; Homer, N.Y.; Friday, November 18, 1933; Page Two.
  2. Google Maps.
  3. Wikipedia, Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes

Jeanne Barber, Birthday Party, 1933


Lois Steele
Lois Steele, Homer High School Sophomore,  5 years later

Lois Steel gathers together fourteen of her girlfriends for a 10th birthday party at her home on 48 Clinton Street in Homer. The table is decorated with pink and white crepe paper for the occasion. For three hours that evening, they eat dinner and birthday cake and listen to music and play games. Stormy Weather is so popular it makes it into the top ten during 1933 with two versions by separate artists.


48 Clinton StLois’ step-father is a farmer and yet the house is close to the Ireland’s home. It is still rural, but a short walk for Jeanne.

The most popular songs

  1. Ethel Waters, Stormy Weather (Keeps Rainin’ All the Time)
  2. Duke Ellington, Sophisticated Lady
  3. Bing Crosby, Shadow Waltz
  4. Dick Powell, Gold Digger’s Song (We’re in The Money)
  5. Bing Crosby, You’re Getting to Be a Habit
  6. Leo Reisman, Stormy Weather (Keeps Rainin’ All the Time)
  7. Paul Whiteman, Lover
  8. Guy Lombardo, The Last Round-Up
  9. Eddy Duchin, Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?
  10. Ray Noble, Love Is The Sweetest Thing

Others present at the birthday party:

  • Johann Creal (Lois’ sister)
  • Ruth Jennison
  • Mary Stoker
  • Joan Bean
  • Vivian Morse
  • Georgie Bell
  • Felicia Bell
  • Betty Jean Barber
  • Dorothy Jane Andrews
  • Helen Kingsbury
  • Beverly Lucas
  • Olive Burns
  • Winona Griggs

Ione Lottridge is invited but stays home due to illness.


  1. Are Jeanne and Lois best friends? They live close to each other.
  2. Did they have a record player or listen to music on the radio?


  1. Google Maps, 2017
  2. Cortland Standard; Cortland, N.Y.; Monday Evening, December 11, 1933.
  3. Tsort
  4. You Tube, assorted songs

(The stand out memory I have of Jeanne as an adult is the tone of her speaking voice. It is by far the most distinctive and beautiful I have ever heard. I imagine she sings lovely at the time written about here, too.)

(Betty) Jean Living in Homer, 1935


Binghamton to Homer
Binghamton to Homer


Betty Jean Barber, who spent the vacation period with her parents in Binghamton returned Sunday to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Ireland of Warren street.

The Claude Barber family is back in Binghamton after living in Bridgeport, Connecticut and Brooklyn, New York. However, Betty stays with Flora and Fred Ireland in Homer, New York. She attends school, church and has a circle of friends, many from the Girls’ Missionary Society at the Methodist Church.


  1. What time frame did Betty live with the Irelands?
  2. Why did she go to them? Was there not enough space in the Brooklyn apartment?


The Homer Post; Homer, N.Y. Friday, January 11, 1935.