The Story of Beep and Huddy

Just a Housewife, That was Enough!

It’s hard to believe now but prior to the 1950s most women stayed home and took care of the house instead of going out to work.  A housewife like Bertha Coble Keller had more work at home than she could get around to.

Bertha was married to Harrison Keller, the co-owner of Keller and Heisey Stockyards on North Market Street along the Conoy Creek {the vacant lots behind Rita’s Italian Ice}.  She called him “Huddy” and he called her “Beep.”

Beep devoted her life to making sure Huddy always returned to a clean house when he walked up the street from the stockyards for his lunch and dinner.  Sometimes he was on the road picking up “hummies” (calves) in his “hummy truck,” usually in Clearfield County, so she didn’t have to make him a meal but other than that she cooked three meals a day.

They lived in the yellow brick Queen Anne-style house at 120 North Market Street.  Harrison’s two sisters, Ella and the reclusive Emma, lived next door, currently the Miller & Sekely Funeral Home.

Half of the Gothic Revival-style house on the other side of the Keller’s house was rented by the Gilbert Steever family.  The Steevers had moved from Philadelphia to Elizabethtown in the early 1930s because Mr. Steever worked on the Pennsylvania Railroad as an employee of the U.S. Postal Service sorting mail and wanted to live in a small town close to the line.  The two Steever children, Gilbert and Margaret, soon became acquainted with their new neighbors.  Beep was their favorite because she was especially kind to them according to Margaret Steever Garber.

Margaret remembered Beep as a large woman but not heavy like Huddy.  Her usual attire was a plain housedress with an apron over it.  Margaret was never at the Keller’s house for breakfast but she recalled that lunch and dinner seemed to be similar as far as quantity.  Huddy rested in the parlor after lunch for an hour on a sofa chair before walking back down to the stockyard.

Margaret was about 6 years old when her family moved next door and she was immediately impressed by Beep’s large garden.  The garden had every kind of vegetable imaginable to the young girl.  There was even a big cold cellar in the middle of it where the potatoes, apples, turnips, and cabbages were kept over the winter.  Huddy ate fresh vegetables in the summer and canned vegetables from the garden during the winter.  If Beep needed a fresh vegetable she did not have, she called Beck, the green grocer located in the basement of the David Martin’s Store, and he delivered her order by truck.

Beep had additional deliveries from the egg lady, the milkman, and the baker.  Once she had the ingredients, she was ready to cook–from scratch.  If she made boiled chicken pot pie, she made the dough, rolled it out and then went out back to get the chicken.

At the back of the lot was a barn which housed cars and a chicken pen.  Gilbert and Margaret were fascinated by Beep’s skill in dispatching chickens.  In the yard, Beep chopped off their heads, dipped them in scalding water and pulled out their big feathers.  Then she took the carcass inside to gut and to give a final cleaning, searching the skin for little pin feathers.

When telling the children of her future plans, Beep always prefaced her comments by saying, “Honey, if I live till next year, I’m goin to….”  The kids would see some of her projects be completed.  In the back of the house was a huge kitchen with an additional out kitchen a few steps down.  There Beep made dried beef and bologna, which the kids got to taste.

Margaret loved it when she was invited to stay for lunch or dinner.  At four o’clock Beep started to peel, slice and cook potatoes in a skillet with grease.  “Those fried potatoes were the worlds best,” Margaret said.  Beep made her young guest feel special by putting her food in special little dishes.

Beeps generosity extended to the town hobos.  In the backyard beside her grape arbor was table and chair.  When a man knocked at her back door and asked for a handout, she directed him to sit there while she prepared him something to eat.

Harrison’s reclusive sister, Emma, gave music lessons.  Anna Needham took lessons from her but Emma never talked to Margaret.  The other sister, Ella, was friendly and showed Margaret flowers and told her what kind they were.  Ella even allowed her to watch when she made soap out back, but she didn’t compare to Beep.

Beep’s life was routine, filled with home-centered tasks.  She went to the Reformed Church on Sundays but other than that she was busy keeping her home spotless and her husband well fed.  Margaret has only pleasant memories of her time spent in Beep’s bustling but benign world.




Garber, Margaret Steever.  Interview in the summer of 2007 at Margaret’s house in Elizabethtown.

George Boggs: Memories of Elizabethtown from 1858

This article was written in 1933 for the Elizabethtown Chronicle. It details the town via the memories of one of its then oldest citizens, George Boggs. This memory, despite the title, now takes us back 159 years. We have left the article unedited, but have added numbers to it that correspond to locations mentioned on the map, to help the reader accommodate for changes since 1933. The map is from the 1864 Lancaster County Atlas, the closest map we have to George’s discussion of 1858 Elizabethtown.


By George D. Boggs – – November 17, 1933

George D. Boggs, one of Elizabethtown’s oldest citizens, writes the following for the Chronicle:

“Seventy-five years ago Elizabethtown was a borough of about 700 population. Looking back, I see many changes, some of which I will comment upon. On the west of South Market Street, below the residence of A.G. Heisey (1), there were but two houses, now occupied by Hershey’s grocery store (2) and the residence of David Martin (3). East of South Market, below the residence of Mr. Leicht (4), there was one house. On Bainbridge Street, one house and railroad station (5) and Mother Ross’ orchard and an immense hickory tree.

North Market Street, west side: The Old Bear Tavern (6), then used as a farm house, now owned and occupied by Dr. Vere Treichler, and the M.B. Keller residence (7). No other houses. East High Street; north side, above the Lutheran Church (Still there), four houses and the little United Brethren Church (8). On the east side, the Naille home, opposite the Lutheran Church, two houses, West High Street, no houses beyond Dr. Fearn’s (9). South side, no buildings beyond Stone Bridge (10). South Poplar Street was opened for two blocks, but no buildings. North Poplar, Park, Washington and other streets that are now opened and built up, was all farm land. Among the old residents, I find Peter Force, a shoemaker. I knew him well. He was a veteran of the War of 1812, and was powder-boy on Commander Perry’s ship on the battle of Lake Erie. He is buried in our own cemetery and his grave is decorated by the G.A.R. Col. A Greenawalt, a prominent landlord and land-owner, and an excellent entertainer. Travelers would come for miles to stop at the “Greenawalt House” to hear a good story of the old colonel’s. He would tell of George Washington, that a bullet was not made to kill him; at the battle of Brandywine a cannonball struck him on the breast, glanced off and caved in the gable-end of a Quaker meeting-house; George W. Boyer, jolly landlord of the Black Horse Hotel, whose laugh could be heard far and near. The Old Black Horse Hotel, an old log house with little crooked windows, stood where the garage and residence now is, South Market Street, next to the present Black Horse Hotel (11). Amos Harmony, the good friend of all children. All the boys and girls would go to Uncle Amos and his good wife for sweet apples, and to the Wealand farm (12) (now owned by Benjamin Lehn) for cherries. They had a long row of ox-heart, early red and black cherry trees along the lane. Joseph Clinton, a peculiar man, who had an acid tongue and knew how to use it. Dan May Shoemaker to whom the children would be sent for strap oil and would get it.

Joseph Strauss, a Jew, who was a good Christian when in his cups and a Jew when sober. There were many more old citizens who had their peculiarities, but all have passed to the great beyond.

The old Stone Arch bridge on West High Street, crossing the Conoy Creek was built in 1800. This I have from Esq. Byrod, long dead, aged 90. On the corner of the Square where the Horst building stands, was an old one-story shed-roof building which was occupied by a negro barber named George Harris, the only negro who resided here, and a German Shoemaker (13). He trusted everybod, never kept accounts, saying “they knew they owed him, why should he be worried with keeping books?”

There were public pumps, the old wooden kind, made of logs. On the sidewalks, viz., at the front of Black Horse Hotel (1), Engine House, Mrs. John C. Redsicker’s, Fletcher’s Corner Greenawalt Hotel (14), Horst’s corner, Fisher’s corner.

“Cows and pigs roamed the streets and alleys those days; immense flocks of wild pigeons flew over the town in autumn.

“Peter Shaeffer, a Revolutionary soldier, is buried in the Lutheran church-yard. The Redsecker family was one of the oldest residents of the town and were prominent in history. Mother Ross, a very aged lady, who was a Redsecker, told me I could look to the east and to the west of town as far as I could see and her father owned the land.

“The Fire company has an old hand fire engine. It was old when I came to town and must be much over one hundred years old now. The boys formed a fire company, we called it the “Hope Fire Company” and claimed the old engine was ours. I was Treasurer of the company and have still fifteen cents in the treasury.

“Note No. 1 – Speaking of wild pigeons, reminds me of old George Hein, who lived close to town. I knew him. On a Sunday, Hein went to shoot wild pigeons. He was a member of the Reformed church. The minister heard of his recollection and considered his duty to call Hein to account. He said to him, “I heard you were shooting pigeons on Sunday. Do you not know your duty was to be at Church?” Hein replied, Parson, when the pigeons are here you must shoot them or else they fly away; now the church is there and stays there and I can go at any time. How the matter ended I cannot say.”




The Original Town of Elizabeth

It is well documented. Elizabethtown is named after Barnabas Hughes’ wife. The land descended from the William Penn Family down thru several owners to Barnabas on Jun 15, 1753. Sometime before Oct 4, 1763 Barnabas laid out his new town of Elizabeth and by that date had sold his first lot. Barnabas died Jan 2, 1765. His real estate, including his surveyed lots, descended to his sons, who released their rights to their brother Samuel on Jul 20, 1786. Samuel continued the sale of the remaining lots.


Neither the original town plan nor a copy have ever been found. What did the original plan look like? What were its dimensions? How many lots were there? After reviewing a mountain of deeds and other historic sources, we think we know (See below diagram).

Barnabas Hughes’ Original Town Plan 1/

(not to scale)

Barnabas’ son, Samuel is believed to have added lots 65-80 to the original plan.  Also note that “Manheim Street” is now High Street.

We believe Barnabas’ plan included 64 lots divided into 16 blocks. Each block measured 198 feet by 240 feet. The frontage or width of the lots depended upon their orientation, north-south (49.5 feet) or east-west (60 feet). We, also, believe Samuel added an additional 16 lots (same dimensions) to the plan to the west of what he named Poplar Street sometime between Oct 28, 1790 – Jun 10, 1791. These lots were numbered 65-80.


To date, we have been able to identify deeds that either directly or indirectly relate to the owners of 64 of the 80 lots sold by Barnabas and his son Samuel. For the 16 remaining lots we have been able to locate documentation of ownership back to within the period 1783-1884 for all except one lot.


Barnabas sold his lots as perpetual leases. We have identified 10, of his perpetual leases sales, of which 2 are referred to in his 1763 deed to a John Blazor (original is held by the Seibert Library) and 4 are inferred in deeds written by his son Samuel, after his father’s death. We have located 22 deeds relating to 55 lots signed by Samuel on 5 different dates between 1787 and 1793.


Our review of the remaining “mountain of deeds”, which are now cataloged by town block, helped identify the numbering system and street layout for the town plan.


Much can be read about the early lot owners in Richard K. MacMaster’s book “Elizabethtown, The First Three Centuries”. Our deed research has confirmed much of what he wrote as well as brought to light some new facts. Did you know?


– Market Street follows the old Lancaster-Middletown-Harrisburg Turnpike as it was laid out by 1738. Prior to the incorporation of the Town of Elizabeth in 1827, owners of lots to the east of Market Street were residents of Mount Joy Township and to the west of Market Street residents of Donegal Township.


– Barnabas’s town encompassed about 25 acres. It was situated south of Conoy Creek and did not straddle nor border on it.


– St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church on Cherry Alley is located on Lot #1.


– The original, log Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church on East High Street, through a mix-up, was built on a lot other than the one sold to its Elders (lot #16) by Samuel Hughes in 1787.


– The second owner of lot 16, whereon the Winters Heritage House Museum is now located, served in the Revolutionary War. His father was killed by Indians.


– St. Peter’s cemetery’s eastern boundary, which slants to the northwest, coincides with the slanted boundary of the original 252+ acre patent granted by the Penn Family to Thomas Harris in 1746.


– Many of the known original lot owners may still have descendents living in Elizabethtown today, including those with the surnames: Auker, Balmer, Bishop, Blazor, Brant, Coble, Derr, Frey, Gross, Jamison, McLaughlin, Myer and Sheaffer.


The deeds researched for this project now form the foundation of a Seibert Library historic property database. If you are interested in researching the history of your property please call the Seibert Library staff. They would be pleased to assist you.

286 Families Live in our Library!

The Seibert Genealogy Library houses, amongst all the other tidbits of Elizabethtown history, a good quantity of family histories. Over the years, snippets of information on family trees and people have come to us in all forms. Most of these records are unique, and cannot be found online or in other libraries. Some reside as hand-written lists of names and dates that perhaps turned up in grandpa’s attic, or a box of family photographs simply labelled “Risser Photos.” Some are professionally researched family trees compiled into formal manuscripts, others were dissertations done for someone’s degree. In all, there are 286 families residing in our library!

Recently, the Seibert Library staff has finished scanning our complete collection of family records into our computer system, making them much easier to search and organize.


Here is the list of surnames we have information on (several are missing…we could also use some help in the library, lol.)

List of Surnames Found in the Seibert Library of the Winters Heritage House Museum, in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania













































































































































































































































On History, Enthusiasm and Canal Boats


There’s a clever phrase that rings true: “War is not won by those who are right, only by those who are left.”   You can twist that into one regarding history: “History is not necessarily written by those who are right, but by those who are left and that write.” These are a bit tongue in cheek, but at the core offer a somewhat sad but valid reality; the perspective provided to us on how things are (and on how things used to be) is many times decided by circumstance rather than by truth. It is human nature to chaff at this. We want to know that one correct reality, that one correct perspective so we can determine a cleaner path and know that a solid foundation exists beneath what we build. We want to believe in an absolute reality, and sadly what we have is just a bunch of opinions created and recorded by persons as flawed as ourselves.

Leaving war and mayhem in the hands of the pentagon, I will focus the rest of my blatherings here on the subject of history. Whether we want the job of historian or not, we are “the ones who are left,” so to speak. When one takes up a pen (or keyboard) with an intent to record the past, no matter how well intentioned, that waltz with historic truth has begun, and you better watch out lest you get swept off your feet by something a little more dark and dangerous than history; enthusiasm.  Enthusiasm? Really!? That swarthy fellow? As tedious and dry as history can be, a little enthusiasm goes a long way to breathing life back into our comprehension of it. After all, isn’t it wonderful when history lectures are full of fun and exciting surprises laid out in a breathless string for you to behold? Well, let me tell you, from my experience, if history comes roaring up to the party in a Camaro full of fun, you best peek under the hood for a look-see. There may very well be genuine bon-a-fide history in there, but if enthusiasm is providing all the horse power, drive it with caution. I’m not saying history can’t be fun or interesting, I’m just saying history, my friend, is much more likely to be driving a Bentley.

Let me give you an example of enthusiasm crashing the history party; In 1964, a book was written by F S Klein on Lancaster County history. Klein was the son of a respected author on this same subject. F S Klein’s book’s introductory sentence reads; “Although most historical works originate with a narrative, to which appropriate illustrations are added, this book had its origin from an unusually fine collection of paintings and drawings.” He then introduces C X Carlson, a well-loved Lancaster County artist. The intro also explains that in regards to the history presented “every effort has been made to insure reasonable accuracy along with permissible invention.” At this point, one should not consider this book a history text, but rather an adult picture book, written to set off the lovely C X Carlson collection of sketches and watercolors. There is no “permissible invention” with factual history, or at least one would hope not. However, because of the author’s father, and because this author did go on to write history texts, it has happened more than once that this particular book has been used as a document for researching history. There is history in there, don’t get me wrong. Did F S Klein do research? I’m sure he did. There isn’t a formal bibliography provided (another clue to the picture book mentality of this text) but he does have a casual note that resources were used. Does he intentionally set out to mislead? No, but if his research turned up tid-bits of history that added interest, yet made no sense in context, he was not of a mindset to argue the point. And here I will hold that a true historian, when faced with a point worthy of argument, even if the truth disproves a fun fact that added interest, will argue with it until that argument is dead in the dirt and the dust has settled. Even then they’re known to drive their Bentley back and forth over it a few times. I’ve seen it done.

The CX Carlson illustration of canal boats being build in Elizabethtown, Lancaster County.

So, you ask, what horrible factoid is F S Klein responsible for? He, my friend, has brought the canal boat industry to the shores of Elizabethtown. F S Klein, seduced by his enthusiasm to bring illustrations to life, informs us that in the 1800s, “Pennsylvania craftsmen in Elizabethtown took to the construction of great canal boats.” These boats, he maintains, were then “launched on the Conewago creek to carry freight south or west on new waterways.” Say what? Now there’s a stunner. Canals were a major means of transportation in the early 1800s, but they built canal boats in Elizabethtown? There are several problems with this story. First, there are no records anywhere in Elizabethtown’s files of a canal boat building enterprise. Second, Elizabethtown is (and was) a land-locked community, and lacks (and lacked) a proper waterway to move large boats. The Conewago Creek is a bit of a ways out of town and its flow to the Susquehanna is (and was) blocked by several dams; the dam at Aberdeen Mills, the dam at Grubb & Company Mill, and the dam at Nissley Mill, all in place by prime canal time. The in-town tributary, the Conoy, isn’t deep enough to float a duck. Canal boats weigh in at about 20 tons, and moving them across land would not have been easy or inexpensive. And, finally, Middletown, just a hop down the road, had a very lovely canal that any canal boat building enthusiast would have found much handier. All these truths didn’t manage to raise an F S Klein eyebrow, and it’s a pity they didn’t. Now, in his defense, F S Klein never lived in Elizabethtown, so when he “discovered” that fact, one might assume his eyebrows were safely maintained in a resting position by his lack of local knowledge. And so it goes that Klein enthusiastically jotted down this Elizabethtown canal boat building industry tidbit on page 132, and there it lives to this day. Harmless? Not so.

Sadly, several later historians researching Pennsylvania history were thorough enough to turn up Klein’s fun and interesting canal boat building detail supporting a nice boat building sketch by C X Carlson. In 1998, Seth C. Bruggeman put together a historical text titled Pennsylvania Boatbuilding: Charting a State Tradition. In this work you will read that “About twenty miles west of Lancaster, Elizabethtown existed during the mid-nineteenth century as a stronghold of canal boat building.” Fortunately, he footnoted his source and in a perfect world historians can go backwards to untie this knot. However, it stands that the myth is now perpetuated in print in at least two different places, despite that Elizabethtown’s ducks have to get up and walk if they are planning a day trip to the Susquehanna.

So, how does it feel that you are a resident in a town that was once a stronghold of canal boat building? That this fact is not true doesn’t matter. It is now a Historic Fact. It’s in print in two places (at least) and will now become a fun writing assignment in high schools across America. As a local historian asked me (he, too, had been overcome with enthusiasm at the thought that Elizabethtown was a stronghold of canal boat building) in an incredulous tone; “Should we re-research everything that is documented fact?” And I sadly, felt it too awkward to answer that that is exactly what a true historian does. That’s why it’s called re-search, right? You search and then you re-search.

Because the stronghold of canal boat building factoid is a hot topic these days (at least to us), we set out on a mission to uncover what the truth of this might be.  We did not make disproving that our goal. Instead, we set our sights on simply uncovering the truth, whether in support of the canal boat story, or not. I am not a historian by any means, so I went to the Seibert Library where the staff retrieved our copy of F S Klein’s Lancaster County History book illustrated by C X Carlson. Sure enough on page 132 we learned all about Elizabethtown craftsmen building great canal boats in the 1800s. However, our book had an addendum. There, in the handwriting of Mary Karnes, was a short note that this fact was in fact incorrect. “I think this author is confusing Elizabethtown, PA with Elizabeth, PA, out near to Pittsburgh”, she wrote. We Googled Elizabeth PA, and sure enough, it turns out that Elizabeth PA, along the banks of the Monongahela River, was a stronghold of canal boat building in the 1800s. We also noted that in their older boat building records “Elizabeth” was often referred to as “Elizabeth Town” (with a space or a hyphen). We assume this is the source of Klein’s error, and a weaker researcher might stop there, however, assuming is not a true historian skill. So we plunged onward.

A phone message was left with the National Canal Museum located in Easton PA. Several hours later, their research person returned our call. She had found no mention that Elizabethtown was ever involved in the boat building industry. She patiently explained the need for water to transport canal boats. She did say that canal boats were sometimes portaged via Railroad. “Middletown had your closest canal”, she explained. “It would not have made a lot of financial sense to build canal boats where there was no canal, especially if there was a canal only 7 miles away. They weighed 20 tons”, she noted, “Not something you can just drag around.” “Look up Elizabeth, PA”, she suggested. “They are known for their boat building industry.”

We went on to try to uncover the source of F S Klein’s canal boat information. One of our board members located a 1919 text titled Seeing Pennsylvania by John Faris. This is an early sightseeing guide that includes Pennsylvania history. On page 86, the author describes (Lancaster County’s) Elizabethtown as “a town noted in the early days of New Orleans trade for its boat building activities, and later for the building of canal boats.” I think here lies our strongest arguments that our Elizabethtown is being confused with Elizabeth (out near Pittsburgh) PA. While there may have existed an ingenious colonial craftsman who could somehow move canal boats from here to the Susquehanna, certainly genuine river-going boats would not have been possible. Additionally, he mentions New Orleans trade as a reason for this industry which perfectly describes the purpose of Elizabeth Pa’s boat-building commerce. Was this F S Klein’s source of mis-information? Since Klein’s book does not offer a bibliography, we will never know. However, we can see that this mistake was made early and often.

We have not completely secured Elizabethtown’s freedom from the canal boat building industry, nor will we ever, I suppose. Yet, we have made progress towards squelching an otherwise fun and interesting fact. We have taken the errant canal boat building tidbit, broken it down with thoughtful questions and shed some truthful light on some of its pieces. We are on our way to re-searching properly.

And so, I leave you with this thought; when you’re going to the waltz with historic truth, you can flirt with enthusiasm, but don’t hand him the keys to the Bentley. It’s best to consign that particular fellow to the rear seat and just let him assist now and then with directions. We can only maintain the history that is left to us by the folks who came before us. Did they know any better than we do what our true history is? Surely they were closer to it, but does that make their perspective acurate? We will never be able to trust many facts even when they are written for us and footnoted. But, we can keep a jaundiced eye on things and dig a little deeper when something appears a bit too interestingly incredible.

Welcome to the Seibert Genealogy Library

The Seibert Genealogy Library has a new place for  you to visit!  It is our hope that people of Elizabethtown area will use this site to learn more about Elizabethtown and share their own memories and histories for others to learn from. For that reason, this site is set up in an interactive manner so that you can post your thoughts, memories, ideas and questions for the community to learn from and to interact with.

The Seibert family founded the genealogy library in 1989, the same time that the Winters Heritage House’s 1760s log structures were being saved by the community.  Since then, the two have worked together to preserve our local history, deeds, maps, photos, family records, and much more.  Now you can help us preserve our history, too.