2022 MEMORIES OF MARGARET GERHART
I will try to record some incidents and remember them.
My birth date was December 18, 1900. I remember my mother mentioning that on the day I was born she had started to bake Christmas cookies. I believe someone else took over and finished the job.
My mother’s name was Clara Koch Rutman and my father’s was Robert Thomas Rutman. Their birthdates, mother 1875 and dad’s 1874. I was born in their home which was in a row of homes (Kistler’s Row) on Third Street in North Catasauqua. It was a newly built home and was just complete in time for their marriage on a Saturday b e fore Easter in 1900, which was performed in that home.
Before going any farther, I might mention the names of my grandparents. On the paternal side: John Rutman and Sarah Freyman Rutman. The maternal side: Levi Koch and Susanna Bauer Koch, who lived with us until her death in 1905. My grandpa Koch died before my parents married so that I know nothing of him. My grandpa Rutman died on my sixth birthday in 1906. Grandma Rutman lived, I believe until the age of 83 or 84, dying in 1919 or 1920.
I have pleasant memories of the three grandparents. I loved my “Grammy Koch” very much. She had given up her home when her daughters married, and I mentioned she lived with us in our home afterward. Mother was the youngest of her children. There were four boys and five girls in her family, Levi, David, Charles and Samuel ,Mary, Helen, Minnie, Annie and mother. Two of them had died before my birth, Charlie and Minnie.
In my father’s family there were eleven children, John, Elmer, Alfred, Dad, William, Preston and Joseph, who were twins, Emma, Mary, Lily and Sally. One of the twins (Joseph) died as an infant.
My Grammy Koch would often take me with her when she would visit my two aunts, Mary and Helen, who lived in Bethlehem. We went by trolley car to Allentown and from there to Bethlehem by another trolley. Those were very happy times and when she was no longer with us, I did miss her sadly.
My grandparents Rutman lived in a home maintained by the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company. Grandpa was the lock tender and the home was close to the Leigh River and the Lehigh Canal. I don’t think I can adequately explain what the lock was but I’ll try. Rowboats pulled by mules moved back and forth in the canal carrying coal from the mines and ending up in Easton where the Lehigh meets the Delaware. They probably carried cargo other than coal (I’m not sure). The Lehigh River was too shallow at places for the boats, thus the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company built the canal. The locks were two large, heavy gates which when opened would allow water to flow into the canal deep enough for the boats to pass. It was grandpa’s job to go to the lock, a short distance from the home, and open the gates when the boats were there to go through. The boat keeper had a horn, which was loud enough for grandpa to hear wherever he might be and at that signal he immediately left home and went to open the lock.
This was fascinating to us children and we often watched the boats if we happened to be at their home when the boats came. We also were fascinated by the blowing of the horn and seeing the water being raised and the mules were interesting for us to see. They traveled on a road adjacent to the canal called the towpath and were tied to the boat by heavy rope.
While my grandparents lived there, my father, when weather permitted, would take us to visit them on a Sunday morning and that was a treat for us. Grandpa loved children and grandma would treat us to some of the baked goodies and she often offered us cider. As I remember we were not too fond of it at that time. Our home at that time on Second Street was about three blocks from the lock house and we could easily walk in good weather. The home is still there but has been improved. When grandpa died, someone else had to take over the job and grandma went to live with her children.
Soon after I was born my parents moved from the home on Third Street to a home owned by my father’s brother, John, who had been widowed and moved back to his parents’ home with his young son. This home was at 1018 Second Street in North Catasauqua. My earliest memories are, of course, of days I spent there, about six years.