Daniel Kressley, father of my mother Ella Kressley Miller, and his brother James F. Kressley were Civil War Veterans. By the time Mom was an adult, she was fully indoctrinated in the War Between the States and a lot of the battles — which she found very interesting. Grampa Kressley (Daniel) often longed to return to some of the places where he had been; at the same time Mom wished that she could fulfill his wishes.
By 1924 Mom and Daddy were debit free and had saved some money, so she sent away to Atlantic Oil Co. for road maps of the war area. When she told Grampa and some other family members about her plan for a trip South, some of them showed interest in also going.
June 15, 1924 – Monday
The result was: four families and four cars started out on Monday June 15, 1924 for a camping trip “down south”. The group consisted of: Grampa Daniel Kressley — age 80, his brother James Kressley, also a vet, – age 78, Moms sister Florence and husband Ed Reed and daughter Pauline — age 7; Mom’s other sister Bessie and husband Daniel Miller and her children, Paul 17, Esther 16, Anna 12, Elwood 9, and Helen 7 — all Gerber Children from her 1st husband; and Walter Miller son of her second husband Daniel; Harry and Bertha Sensinger, both educators and very close friends of the family; and our family — Ella and William Miller and children Russell 22, Woodrow 12, Marvin 9 and Stewart 6. (I missed it, I was born a year later).
The cars were: Uncle Ed Reed had an “El car”; Uncle Dan Miller had a “Dodge”; Harry Sensinger had an “Overland” and brother Russell had a new 1923 Chevy Sedan in which he drove our family. There were 21 people total — plus all the clothing and camping gear. They had folding cot beds and hammocks were hung in the cars for the children to sleep in, tents with a flap on one side that would fasten over the roof of the car, allowing passage from the car into the tent where the cot beds were. They had cooking utensils and tables that were canvas over slats of wood that could be rolled up, and some kind of kerosene stove – all this and no trunks in the cars. They did, however, have scissor type luggage carriers fastened on the right running board of the cars, which of course caused it to be unable to exit from that side of the car. They made their own meals at the campsites, so therefore they had to buy the supplies along the way.
Mom had the maps and was the navigator, she of course being in the lead car which Russell drove. The trip stated from our home in New Mahoning to Reading, Lancaster and York, Pennsylvania.
Harry Sensinger had gone to College in Lancaster, so he said he’d take the lead there, he wanted to go past Franklin and Marshall College again. Well he got lost and it took them an hour to get out of Lancaster — (not a very good start). From there they went through Baltimore, Maryland and into Washington D. C., which was their goal for the day. That was 207 miles.
Before they left home, Daddy had made signs with “Lehighton, PA” printed on them which he fastened on the rear of each car over the spare tire so that they could easily be identified by the rest of the group in traffic.
While driving down Pennsylvania Ave. in D.C. early evening, a car came up along side of Russell and motioned him to pull over. Russell of course was thinking “Now what have I done?” Then the man identified himself as Representative Everett Kent, from our district. He saw “Lehighton, PA” and being a good politician asked if he could help us. Russell asked for directions to the camp ground. He led them there. Then Kent asked if they would be interested in meeting the President. No one could believe their ears! “Meet the President of the United States?” Of course they said “Yes”. He didn’t know if it could be arranged, but if Dad and Harry Sensinger would come to his office in the Congressional Building later in the evening he would know. So after they set up camp and had eaten, the two of them went and Kent gave them passes to go to the white House the next morning at 11:00.
June 16, 1924 — Tuesday
I don’t know what time they got up, but Uncle Jim was afraid they’d be late, so by 9:00 they had eaten, cleaned up, dressed in their Sunday best, had a group picture taken and were at the White House. They were led into a room to wait for the President. The youngsters sat on the floor and Uncle Jim, the distinguished old gentleman that he was, ordered the children to immediately stand when the
President arrives. Instead the President stood at the doorway as an attendant ushered the group out, one by one. President Calvin Coolidge shook hands and spoke several words to each one as they left. Woodrow remembered that the
President ruffled his hair and said “Well, Sonny, I hear you’re heading south”. Stewart being only 6 years old, just remembers shaking his hand and the President ruffling his hair, but can’t remember what he said. However it certainly was the high light of the trip for most of them.
From D.C. they went to Mt. Vernon, home of George Washington, and then to Fredericksburg, VA. Uncle Jim had been in the battle at St. Mary’s Heights in that town. From there they traveled to Richmond, VA. to the church that was hit with a cannon ball —Patrick Henry had given his famous speech here, “As for me, give me liberty or give me death”.
Woodrow remembered that it had rained like the dickens. They camped at the fair grounds in Richmond. Uncle Jim also was at the battle at Richmond.
June 17, 1924 — Wednesday
They left Richmond and traveled to Petersburg. Uncle Jim fought in that battle. It is where a Company of coal miners from Pennsylvania tunneled under the area where the Confederates were expected to pass over. When the time came, the mine was blown up and of course the troops were killed and the ones coming after were marched into the hole and trampled to death. Uncle Jim was not a miner, but he was in the battle.
They left Petersburg — It was too wet and muddy to set up camp there so they drove till they saw a sign “Tourist Home”. The Dabney family said they could sleep there (of course the ‘kids’ and some adults slept on the floor) but they certainly didn’t have enough food to feed them. The travelers said, “that’s fine, if we may use your facilities we will use our own food.” So they h
ad fried potatoes and ham for supper and breakfast. The grandfather Dabney who lived there was a Confederate Veteran who was in the battle at Petersburg, same battle as Uncle Jim Kressley took part in. Mom always said that these 3 “old veterans” sat up till 3:00 in the morning — reminiscing over their war years. It was such a treat for Grampa Kressley and Uncle Jim.
June 18, 1924 — Thursday
Left Dabney’s home, traveled south to North Carolina, to Rocky Mountain to Raleigh — camped at fair grounds there.
June 19, 1924 — Friday Left Raleigh to Charlotte (through rain storm) camped at fair ground.
June 20, 1924 — Saturday
Left Charlotte, North Carolina and drove to Gastonia to see a Vocational High School which Harry Sensisger was interested in seeing because Mahoning
Township was discussing the possibility of building one (it never materialized). From Gastonia, North Carolina they drove south to Clover, South Carolina.
Clover was the southern most point of their trip. (Mom said she wanted to be able to say that she was in South Carolina.) They “back tracked” to North Carolina and on to Shelby where Uncle Jim engaged in a skirmish and then onto Hendersonville and camped there.
June 21, 1924 — Sunday
Left Hendersonville and went to Chimney Rock Park, on to Ashville toward Johnson City, Tennessee. Somewhere between there they camped at Turkey Creek.
June 22, 1924 — Monday
Left campsite and went on to Johnson City, Bristol, Tennessee on boarder of Virginia and Abington, Virginia to a campsite there.
June 23, 1924 — Tuesday
Left Abington, went on to Roanoke; went to Natural Bridge (it was not commercialized yet) camped there. It had rained and the tour came upon road construction. It was so muddy that the cars had to be pulled out of the mud with a team of horses — all except Harry’s car. His was high enough to pull through itself.
June 24, 1924 — Wednesday
Went to battlegrounds at Roanoke and Lynchburg (Uncle Jim engaged in) on to Lexington and stayed at campsite there.
June 25, 1924 — Thursday
On to Saunton, Harrisonburg; Endless Caverns near new Market where they camped overnight.
June 26, 1924 — Friday
Left New Market to Winchester, Virginia, onto Charlestown, West Virginia, where they camped on grounds at a place similar to a Township Building surrounded with steam engines and road equipment and old sheds.
June 27, 1924 — Saturday
On to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, then Antietam, Maryland where Grampa Kressley had been in battle. When they were walking on the battlefield, Grampa saw a water pump and said, “The same old pump with the same old handle” that had been there in September 17, 1862. (We have a picture of it). They left there and went to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, toured the battlefield and stayed overnight.
June 28, 1924 — Sunday
They traveled to Harrisburg, Lebanon to Stauchburg Pennsylvania, where they visited with Bertha Sensingers parents — the Harnishes — where they stayed overnight. They lived along the Tulpehocken Creek (I suppose they camped).
June 29, 1924 — Monday
They left the Harnish family, went on to Reading, Pottsville then Tamaqua. All along the trip, 6 year old Stewart would keep asking “Where are we now?” When they got to the town of Tamaqua, Mom answered “Tamaqua” and Stewart asked excitedly “Our Tamaqua?” Yes it was “our” Tamaqua. I suppose Stewart by this time had enough of traveling and was so glad to hear a familiar name of a town. They arrived home at 4:00 p.m. Stewart was always concerned about their little dog “Puppy” which of course was left at home. But “Puppy” was well taken care of. Charlie Faust, proprietor of the Country Store next door to our home looked after our place and fed the dog who slept in Dad’s paint shop and was left outdoors during the day. For most of the adults, those 15 days were “a trip of a life time!”
At the time of this trip tourists were allowed to roam the battlefields and search
for souvenirs such as buttons from uniforms, or rifle casings, small lead balls, or anything related to battle. So whenever they had time, the group would search. The six of our family each found something. Today, of course, that is no longer allowed.
From the time I can remember anything, I heard about this “Kressley Family” southern trip. I knew about all the sites they had taken in — but not until the summer of 1989 — when Woodrow was sick and we’d sit with him and Stella at times when Robert or Eleanore weren’t there, that I got the itinerary of the entire trip. Woodrow wrote down all the places and campsites and I took notes of things of interest. He could remember the exact route that they had taken. I’d take the pictures along and he told me what and where they were taken.