Mrs. Eleanor Ann Utt was a farmwife who died at 88, an especially advanced age in 1913. She lived in a time of transition and recalled what she had to do when Hawley had only one store, and it catered only to the canal trade.

PAUPACK TWP. - Mrs. Eleanor Ann Utt was a farmwife who died at 88, an especially advanced age in 1913. She lived in a time of transition and recalled what she had to do when Hawley had only one store, and it catered only to the canal trade.

How times have changed- a comment we say today over a century later, and what she could have said equally well.

(Note, life expectancy in the U.S. in 1913 was only 55 for women, 50 for men.)

Mrs. Utt, who was known as Ann, and her husband, William L. Utt, raised a large family in Uswick, west of Hawley in Paupack Township.

Eleanor Ann Bennett was born January 22, 1825 in Purdyville, a hamlet later named Lakeville, in Paupack Township. Her parents, Rufus and Amanda (Van Vleit) were among Wayne County’s early pioneers.

The region was then largely a wilderness, with tracts of virgin timber felling to the lumbermen. Landscape left barren gave space for the hard living of the farmer with his team of oxen to scrape out an existence on the rocky soil for his family. Hawley was known as Paupack Eddy at that time, and was but a small hamlet surrounding mills on the Paupack Falls and the new canal that was being dug from the recent settlement of Honesdale.

Timbered rafts were being guided down the Paupack, the Lackawaxen and some 15 miles east, the Delaware River.

When she was 20, in 1845, Ann was married to William Landers Utt, who was only a month younger. Together they worked a farm and raised their children.

A map of Wayne County published in 1860 shows “ W. M. Utt” east of Purdytown (Lakeville) along what we know as Route 590, at the corner of what became named Pennell Road. Forest occupies the land today. Just east of Pennell Road was the one-room schoolhouse, where today we find a field.

A few weeks before she died, Mrs. Utt described some of her experiences from early married life, to the Hawley correspondent for the Honesdale Citizen newspaper.

Those early years of married bliss, the unnamed columnist penned, was described by Shakespeare as the period of “love’s young dream.”

“She told of how they began their housekeeping, what furniture they had, what it cost and how justly proud they were of their home and possessions,” the columnist wrote.

Walked to Honesdale

“As there was but one store in what is now Hawley (for Hawley had not appeared on the map in those days), and that store only catered to the canal trade, it became necessary to go to Honesdale to do some necessary trading. she walked all the way to Honesdale, bought materials for a new bonnet, also some other necessary purchases, and rode back on a canal boat.”

The columnist in 1913 added that the former Wayne County Sheriff, Richard W. Murphy (who was also Mrs. Utt’s son-in-law) could easily make the trip with his car “inside half an hour.” Mrs. Utt, by contrast, had a good long ride on the boat of “at least three hours.”

It’s not clear what store in Paupack Eddy (Hawley) she referred to. Jonathan Brink opened the first store here in 1827 at the Eddy and had a good trade with the loggers. McAndrew’s 1927 Hawley history book states that with the opening of the canal in 1828, the hamlet took on the appearance of a small village, with stores carrying needed supplies for canal operations opening. The stores were mostly on the “lower East Side” which may mean what we know as Hudson Street, then a plank-lined road hugging the canal.

In any case, Mrs. Utt’s shopping choices in what was shortly renamed as Hawley, would soon expand. The arrival of the Pennsylvania Coal Company Gravity Railroad, opening in 1850 and linked to the canal in Hawley, sparked a building and population boom in the town.

Wilsonville sawmill

The Utts stayed at Wilsonville for several years, where mill operations were conducted on the first set of falls as the Wallenpaupack  started its cascade into Paupack Eddy,

The couple was able to save $500, and bought a farm on the Lakeville road.

They did not move onto the land immediately. Mr. Utt continued his work as a sawyer, working in the Budd Cole mill. It was here, the columnist noted, a 2,000 foot hole was bored many years later in search of oil. He added that by 1913, not a part of the mill’s foundation could be seen.

In 1855 the Utts moved on their own farm and erected a fine barn that was still standing 60 years later. Mr. Utt, however, was seriously hurt in a fall and could not work for many months. The farm was then traded for one owned by Mr. Utt’s father.

William Utt also ran rafts on the Delaware River for about 10 years.

Mrs. Utt recalled that every year for a long time she made a horseback trip to Stroudsburg to see her grandmother.

When she was 14 she joined the church and remained active all her life as her strength permitted.

Few fractions

She also reflected on her school days.

The aged woman, “with a smiling face an bright flashing eyes,” quoted for the columnist an old-time school rhyme as follows.

“Multiplication is a vexation,
Division is as bad;
The Rule of Three puzzles me,
And fractions make me mad.”

  She added quickly, ‘but fractions never made me mad, because we never got into fractions very much at our school.”
  William and Ann Utt had at least eight children, Amanda, Charles, George, Alice, Adelade, Sybelia, Carrie and Willie.
  Alice was married to Clarence E. Webster; they made their home in Sterling, Wayne County.
  Sybelia Ada Utt (1859-1941) was wed to Richard W. Murphy, who served as Wayne County Sheriff in the 1890’s and was later mayor of Hawley as well as partner in a cut glass firm. Their children were Warren and George Murphy.
  William Utt died at home, October 10, 1901, from the effects of the grip. He was approximately 76. Mrs. Utt was also very ill at that time with the same disease.

Son Charles Utt

  After William Utt died, his widow Ann was living with her son Charles F. Utt, (1880-1912) a prosperous farmer in the Lakeville area. News briefs mentioned him selling sheep and cattle, and having horses.
   He was superintendent of the Sunday School at the Methodist Episcopal Church in Lakeville. In 1893 - 1897 he served as postmaster in Uswick, following a term held by Richard W. Murphy.
   Charles and his wife Emma had a son, Royal in 1887; he died in 1898, and a daughter, Leona (who was wed to Mathew Harloe, a farmer in Ledgedale).
   An example of how things changed in the long life span of Mrs. Ann Utt, her son Charles was actively involved in spreading the use of the telephone in the rural areas of Paupack Township.
   On March 28, 1903, the stockholders of the “Hemlock Hollow and Hawley Telephone Company, Ltd.” (Hemlock Hollow was another name for Lakeville), elected Charles F. Utt as President. J.S. Fennell was elected Secretary and D.A. Locklin as Collector and Treasurer. Among the directors were Charles’ brother-in-law, Richard W. Murphy, and the Hawley confectioner, Peter J. Unger.

Telephone line

   The news brief in the Herald (a Honesdale paper) announcing this, added, “People are beginning to see what a nice thing it is to have telephone connections with the towns and cities. Since the building of this line there has been extended from it a number of branch lines to accommodate people living some distance from the main line.”
News items in the local papers from the early 1900’s carried all sorts of tidbits about local residents.
In May 1906, we are informed, Mrs. Charles Utt had hired someone Shaffer Brothers of Gravity, to hand wall paper at her home.
In August 1907, Charles Utt and a couple others were baptized at the Methodist Episcopal church in Lakeville.
  A news item from 1909 tells of a family reunion held at the “pleasant home” of Charles Utt and his wife on Memorial Day. Also in Lakeville that same Sunday afternoon was a baseball game played between the Lakeville and Hawley teams. The score was 9-12, in favor of Lakeville.
News items in the local papers from the early 1900’s carried all sorts of tidbits about local residents.
One item from Juno 1908 (or 1909) tells of Charles Utt killing two rattlesnakes in Uswick. They were both trying to swallow the same toad, each snake having hold of a leg of the toad. How the toad made out we weren’t told.
In January 1909, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Utt took a pleasant sleigh ride to Boyds Mills (north of Beach Lake) to visit a cousin for the weekend.
Here’s one from May 1909. The Herald newspaper reported that a little wren built a nest on Mrs. Charles Utt’s wash board on the back porch. Mrs. Utt had to remove the nest every time she washed. The bird did not like being disturbed so often and built its nest on the clothes pin bag that hung out on the porch, instead.
  Both Charles and Emma Utt died in 1912, six months apart (Emma, who was 59, died July 11; Charles died December 4).
  Mrs. Ann Utt died after an illness, on February 7, 1913. Her health failed rapidly after the death of her so, only two months before. Her funeral was held from her late home in Uswick, officiated by Rev. Treat. Mrs. Utt and was laid to rest in Lakeville Cemetery by her late husband.

Lakeville farm
 
   The 1872 map of Paupack Township shows the home of “W. L. Utt” along the south side of Purdytown Road (Route 590) at the corner with what we know as Finn Swamp Road, the road to take to Cove Haven Resort. In recent years a farm was still at this location, a short distance east of the Lakeville United Methodist Church.
Dick Murphy of Hawley is a great-grandson of William and Ann Utt, grandson of Sybelia and Richard W. Murphy and a son of Warren and Olive Murphy. Dick’s wife Peg Murphy says that Dick pointed out the farm as they drove along Route 590 in Lakeville, as the place where his father Warren was born.
 The columnist said of Mrs. Ann Utt, “No better-natured bright-dispositioned person ever lived in Old Wayne than Mrs. Utt. She was the very soul of hospitality, and even with grief eating away at the very center of her heart she had a smile and a cheery word for her friends.”
….
Note: This is a revised edition of the story, which originally was published July 12, 2016.
Main sources:
Vintage newspapers found at Fultonhistory.com
Census data and other records, Ancestry.com (Hawley Public Library)