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Winter storm hampers man’s commute in 1903

May 21st, 2013 | By | Category: Features, Front Page

The house that Clarence and Lilly Seibert lived in after moving to Elizabethtown still has Victorian architectural features, like the spandrels arching above the porch.

This is the second in a series of articles describing the life and history of Elizabethtown.  The articles are authored by Pat (Patsy) and Lloyd Reed of the Elizabethtown Historical Society.  Most of these articles were originally written years ago for the Elizabethtown Chronicle.  Several of Patsy and Lloyd’s articles appeared in the Elizabethtown Journal in 2009 and 2010.  To view these articles click on the Reed’s name in the contributors box on the lower ride side of the page.

      In 1903, a blizzard-like snowstorm prevented Clarence Seibert from reporting to his coveted new job as a U.S. Railway mail clerk on the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR).  He had to leave his home in the Myerstown area on the Reading Railroad to get to a town on the PRR main line.  It was too far from Myerstown to Harrisburg to use a horse and buggy to commute.  On the day of the storm, he could not get through.

      He was promptly notified by his new employer that unless he lived along the main line of the PRR, he would not have a job.  Clarence was informed that he would have to move somewhere with a PRR station between New York City and Pittsburgh.  It meant moving his wife, Lillie, and infant son, Earl, away from their relatives in Lebanon.  He thought he would look at Elizabethtown.

    In her book, “Clarence and Lillie, their youngest daughter, Ruth, tells of her parents’ relocation.  Clarence and Lillie wanted to live in a convenient location for frequent travel to Myerstown and Lebanon to help with their elderly parents.        

     They realized Elizabethtown with the prerequisite Pennsylvania Railroad train station was a short buggy ride from the Conewago train station on the Reading Railroad line (the old track bed is now the Conewago Bike Trail).  From there it was a direct train ride to Myerstown.  On Labor Day weekend in 1903, Clarence and Lillie visited friends, Mr. and Mrs. Himmelberger, in Elizabethtown and made the decision to raise their family in the small historic town.

     Both Clarence and Lillie had been teaching when they married, but the marriage ended Lillie’s career as only single women were allowed to teach in those days.  Clarence had been teaching at a pay rate of $27.00 every 30 days.  Now that he was the sole provider, an increase in his wages was worth a move.  On the railroad, 17 days of work brought $37.00 in compensation. 

        Clarence worked his way up to the Harrisburg-New York-Pittsburgh-Harrisburg run, which pleased him mightily. However, he did not care much for the requirement that he carry a revolver on the job.  If there were an attempted train robbery, he was expected to shoot to defend the U.S. Mail.  He was instructed to practice shooting his revolver regularly so he could accurately perform his duty.

     Clarence and Lillie rented a house at 216 E. High Street.

In preparation for their new home, they bought several pieces of furniture from H.S. Hottenstein on the Elizabethtown Road.  Hottenstein had a funeral and furniture business.  When Mr. Hottenstein wasn’t making a casket, he was making a table or a cabinet.  Today, Hottenstein furniture is rare and valuable.

     The couple recorded other early business transactions in Elizabethtown.  Clarence bought a half cord of wood and a half ton of coal at Frank Muth’s on Bainbridge Street.  Lillie bought groceries and clothes for the children at Hertzler’s store on the square.  Hoffman’s sold them seeds and plants.  Clarence bought a suit for himself at the Hershey Department Store on the corner of Park and Market Sts.  The family chose Dr. Ulrich as their physician, and when they needed medications, they went to Dierolf’s Drug Store on Market St.  Although Clarence did not buy anything from Frank Dissinger, the harness maker, he loved to talk to him about horses even though Clarence did not own one after they moved to Elizabethtown.

     Clarence made Christ Reformed Church his new church.  Lillie attended services at the Christ Lutheran Church until she decided the family needed to attend the same church and joined Christ Reformed.  The church members and business people in Elizabethtown had the Seiberts feeling right at home.

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