life and Times of
John & Helen Fuss
1: John's Early Years
John M. Fuss, Sr. was
born on February 8, 1897. He was the son of Edward Meade
Fuss and Mary Catherine Baumgardner Fuss. He was born on
the farm about three hundred yards east of the old Toms
Creek Lutheran and Methodist Cemetery on the road
leading from the Emmitsburg-Taneytown Pike to Four
The farm had been in
family since the 1850's when John and Hettie
Fuss (his grandparents) moved there. Prior to
this, they lived on a farm on the same road but closer
to the Taneytown Pike, and apparently rented this farm
out to others. Edward M. Fuss married Mary C. Baumgardner in 1888 and moved to
this farm. The children born to this union were:
- Carrie Mabel born
November 5, 1890
- Charles Russell born
September 2, 1892
- Elmer Lloyd born May
- John M. Fuss, Sr.
born February 8, 1897
- Clarence Meade born
March 8, 1900
- Marian Ruth born
1903, died 1904
- Robert William born
November 14, 1908
There were many
relatives living on nearby farms. John's Uncle
William owned the farm adjacent to the south. His
married a man named Weant and lived in the small house across the
field. The Ohler families were cousins who lived on the
other side of the cemetery.
My father often spoke of a cousin, Rueben Morrison,
related in some way to the Ohlers and lived on the same road
north of the cemetery. When John and his brothers were
little boys, the much older Rueben would don a sheet and they would see him moving around
The Fusses were very
active members in the Toms Creek Methodist Episcopal
Church. Edward Meade served on the Official Board,
as a Trustee, and as a Sunday School teacher. John
was an active participant in the church from a young age.
had many recollections of the old Toms Creek Church located between the two cemeteries
before it was torn down
John began his formal
education at the one-room elementary school called the
Ridge School. It was just south of the present Toms
Creek Church. He walked to school accompanied by
his older sister and brothers, but also remembered being
carried there on horseback when the snow was deep.
When John was seven,
Edward Fuss purchased the former Gillelan farm on
the Emmitsburg-Taneytown Road. The farm was located
about one mile east of Emmitsburg and close to Middle
Creek. This was a fertile farm of 140 acres and considered one of the
best in Emmitsburg district. Middle Creek flowed through it, providing a good water
supply for livestock. It was also transversed by the
Emmitsburg-Taneytown Road, and a lane went from the
Emmitsburg - Taneytown Road to the Harney Road. The
Harney Road was the northern border for part of the
Soon after this move,
an accident occurred which would affect John for the
rest of his life. The children had been given some sort of
tricycle as a present by one of
their aunts from New York City. The children were
playing with it and somehow an accident occurred where
John's leg was badly bruised. Some medical attention was
given, but evidently it was not adequate, and the leg became badly infected.
As a result, John
required medical care for more than a year and spent
substantially all of that time at the Frederick
Hospital. It probably would have been only a short
recovery with today's medical knowledge and
techniques. At that time, the Frederick Hospital consisted of less
than twenty beds and a small nursing staff and a few
doctors. John was subjected to at least fifteen
operations. Doctor Johnson was the medical person in
charge, and the nurse in charge was Miss Nies.
Miss Nies herself told me
that everyone associated with the hospital was
so pleased with this fine little boy who was in their
hospital for almost a year. He was kept in the hospital
because they knew that continual treatment was required
many more operations would be necessary. It was
felt that he might have
difficulty in leaving his home again and again, and resist
returning to the
hospital. His father came by train about every four
weeks to visit him and evidently to see about his
treatment. His mother did not come often, probably
to fear of the trauma caused by the separation at the
end of the visit.
While he was in the hospital,
one of his ward mates was Mr. Nead who lived in Frederick.
An older gentlemen who had served as a
fireman on a railroad locomotive, he had also worked as a
boiler fireman for a local company located in the
eastern part of Frederick. When he recovered, he did not forget
the little boy in the hospital. When John was
to leave, Mr. Nead, a bachelor, took John to his own
home and also took him on train rides to such places as
Harpers Ferry, Washington, and Baltimore.
Some of the medicine
prescribed included arsenic. John started out by taking
two drops a day. Then it was increased to four drops,
and then six drops, until he was finally taking eight drops
per day. In any event, the treatment was finally
completed, but the numerous operations left his right
leg about two inches shorter than the other one. The
knee was greatly deformed because the bone had been set differently than normal.
when he was 88 years old and examined by a doctor in my
presence, the doctor commented that someone with a leg
like that would be considered handicapped today.
John never permitted
this infirmity to interfere with his life. After leaving the hospital and returning home,
he evidently was given different chores from the other
boys. He often mentioned that, when he was young, he would prepare
the breakfast for the rest of the family.
With the move to the
former Gillelan place, he transferred to a new school,
attended the one-room Ohler's School. He and his
brothers walked to the school up the old lane, through
the covered bridge over Middle Creek, and on up the
Harney Road to Ohler's school. The distance was more
than a mile. He was quite active in school, and was
apparently a very bright student. However, he also
popgun, so he must have been mischievous as well. He often talked about his first
teacher, Miss Mary Weygant, who lived on the
Gettysburg Road and walked to Ohler's School every day.
John spoke often of his Baumgardner
grandparents. Moses and Ann
Stambaugh Baumgardner lived near Keysville. They had
ten children and most of these children had fairly large
families of their own, so it was a large gathering when
they all got together, as they often did. The Keysville picnic was
also held by the
Church in their picnic grove on the first Saturday of each
August. At that time, Grandma Baumgardner would bring
her Dayton wagon loaded with goodies and would feed and
entertain all of the grandchildren. Edward Fuss would
not permit playing cards in his house nor would he allow
his sons to
play ball on Sunday. They would skate on the frozen
creek in the winter and sometimes take part in other
activities, including fishing, on Sundays.
The Fuss boys did have
a mischievous streak. They would sometimes place
a pocketbook on the highway attached to a hard-to-see
wire. The boys would hide and wait for an automobile
along and the driver to spot the pocketbook. By the
time the car stopped and driver got out to pick up his
find, it would have been pulled away and out of sight.
There also were times when the old pocketbook would have
been filled with material from the barnyard. In these
cases, the unwary driver was permitted to find the
object, before throwing it away in disgust.
Little was mentioned about
his Fuss grandparents because they died
before John was born.
After completing six grades at
Ohler's school, John went to high school in Emmitsburg.
John graduated from Emmitsburg High School in early June
1913. He said that his father was very proud of
him, because he
was his first child to graduate from high school. However, a few days later tragedy struck.
At that time, local farmers
attempted to reduce the acidity in their soils and improve
the productivity of their land by applying lime. This
limestone was mined from local quarries, smelted, and
taken by the farmers to their fields to
"slack" it before spreading. The hauling was
done by each individual farmer.
On one early June
morning, Edward intended to go to get another load of lime.
My father vividly remembered what took place at the
breakfast table that morning. When the meal was
finished, he told each of his children what to do.
Elmer, Charles and Clarence were given specific farm
tasks. Before leaving, he told my father,
"John, you take good care of your mother."
Edward went to the
Roddy Quarry on Lime Kiln Road, southeast of St.
Anthony's. He picked up the load of lime and was driving
his team of horses back to the farm. The road south of
Emmitsburg paralleled the tracks of the Emmitsburg
Railroad. While the team was going along close to the
entrance to St. Joseph's College, an approaching train
sounded the whistle. This frightened the horses and they
reared back, breaking the wagon tongue and throwing
Edward off the lazy board.
A news article from
the paper reported that Edward Fuss was trampled by the
horses. He was taken to the doctor's office
in Emmitsburg, but never really regained consciousness.
He died within 48 hours at the age of 49. My
father described the funeral. The undertaker performed his
embalming and other work at the Fuss home and was
assisted by my father in this task. The funeral was very heavily
attended. After the internment, my father recalled
a great gathering of people at the home.
Edward M. Fuss had been
a widely respected person. He had served very actively
in Toms Creek Methodist Church and as a school director, and
had organized the telephone company which
served his area.
John continued his
education despite his father's death. He took the
commercial course offered through the public school system at Thurmont High School.
An Emmitsburg High
classmate, Ruth Linn, also studied in Thurmont for that
year. A member of the Linn family drove them into
Thurmont on Monday morning in a horse and
roomed in separate homes during the week and attended
classes. The total cost for room and board was $1.80 per
On Friday afternoon,
John's sister Carrie brought both students back to
Emmitsburg. John completed the two year course in one
year and was able to type, take shorthand, and so on. Thus, he
also graduated from Thurmont High School in 1914.
As I understand it, John was offered an opportunity for
an office position in
However, both Charles and
Carrie were planning their marriages at that time, and
the family felt that John was needed on the farm.
While he and Elmer were farming for their mother, John
apparently took care of most of the book work and business affairs.
He also did most of the grocery and other shopping
for the family.
After her husband's
death, Mary C. Fuss continued to operate the farm.
Charles was married in 1916 and Carrie in 1917, and they
left to set up their own homes. Elmer and John continued to operate the
farm for their mother. They were paid $100.00 per year
and later $200.00, and received free room
and board. At this time, there was a considerable
amount of road building work taking place in the
area, especially on the Emmitsburg-Taneytown Road.
Fuss teams and wagons were rented out for up to $6.00
per day. Their mother collected all the money, because
she was paying the sons an annual wage. Of course, Elmer
and John did have a good living with the room and board
provided and with some other income from work on other
2: The Bachelor Years
other chapters in the life and times of John and Helen Fuss
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