The Great Storm of 1914


Headline from the Allentown Messenger: “March 1, 1914, Will Long Be Remembered – Great Snow Storm Shuts Allentown Out from the Rest of the World for Three Day – Not Far Behind the Famous Blizzard of March, 1888.”


The worst snow storm in years has tied up Allentown and the adjacent districts from the outer world since last Sunday, the first day of March, 1914, will probably be remembered by the younger folks as the worst storm they ever knew, the 1888 blizzard not happening in their lifetime.


Snow began to fall about 10 o’clock Sunday morning after being preceded by the rain. The storm continued, with some sleet and a high wind, until Monday afternoon.


Every telephone, almost, has been put out of business, and it has been impossible to get anywhere out of town and very little of town. The wires seem to be in a hopeless tangle everywhere.


John Nebrer, in charge of the Atlantic Telephone through line from New York to Philadelphia, who lives just opposite the entrance to the East Windsor cemetery, about siz miles from Allentown, started on Monday on foot to go over his territory, which extends to Rising Sun Square. He found over forty poles down between his home and Allentown, or about one-third of them. With about fifty wires tangled up on the ground, the expense of repairing this trunk line will be tremendous. Across the meadow several poles are broken off, while at Jones’ garage the pole and wires when falling damaged the back of the paint shop and knocked off the chimney.


No mail left Allentown on Monday. On Tuesday one trip was made to Robbinsville by going through the fields. It was then found that no trains had been running on the Amboy road since Sunday, so the mail pouches were left at E. B. Yard’s store. The stage left Allentown on Wednesday morning at 7 o’clock and returned about 11 o’clock with the first mail that had reached us since Saturday night. It also brought the Monday and Tuesday newspapers.


A special train was run from Bordentown to Robbinsville late Tuesday afternoon, after the snow plow had cleared the tracks that far. Passengers on it who came to Allentown were Miss Anita Goble, who had been at her home at Long Branch; Irwin Carder, who had been spending time with his family at Royerford, Pa., and Mr. and Mrs. M. J. Huley, who had been visiting in Bordentown. The train came up with four engines, two in front and two in the rear of the train.


F. B. Hunsinger, station agent at Imlaystown Station, was in town Wednesday morning and reported no train running on the Union Transportation line, and could not tell when there would be. He also reports all the telegraph and telephone service on the road out of the commission. Two engines have been stalled at Wrightstown, and it is supposed they are working this way from that end. The Sunday night train from Hightstown down blew out a cylinder heat at Wrightstown and didn’t get back, so there is no engine on the Hightstown end of the line.


A few of the electric light wires in Allentown were broken, but most of the service was first-class.


Our milkman, J. E. Wilson, did not get out at all on Monday. He got around, however, on Tuesday afternoon with a team to a sled and a driver and extra helper. The first man to arrive in town with milk was Thomas Southard, who farms for Holmes Wikoff, arriving a little before noon on Tuesday.


The bread supply in Allentown was exhausted early Monday afternoon, and then our good housewives took to making the long-forgotten tea biscuit, and especially after the supply of yeast cakes ran out of the stores. It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good, and the call for dyspepsia medicine at the drug store has since been most insistent. But the bread famine was broken on Wednesday, when along toward noon Holzbaur’s bakery wagon came dragging in from Bordentown. Driver Hopkins was accompanied by Anthony Parker, formerly of Imlaystown, and their route lay mostly through the fields, but the road was followed from Crosswicks to Allentown. They fed at Allentown and returned. The regular route goes on to Imlaystown. Probasco did some baking on Tuesday, and on Wednesday began getting his usual supply from Trenton.


There seemed to be plenty of meat on hand, especially pork and its side lines of scrapple and sausage. A. M. Satterthwait held forth in a fanciful sort of grotto that looked something like an Eskimo snow house or the headquarters of Santa Claus at the North Pole. Had Perry or Dr. Cook blown into Allentown and seen that snow-covered butcher shop they would have recognized its home-like appearance and probably investigated to see if some pemmican had been cached there. One of the worst snow banks in town was just at the shop door.


Dr. H. H. Emley started on Wednesday noon for his first trip on the rural mail route. He went as far as J. W. Burtis’ on the Davis road, to Forman Wetherill’s in the New Sharon road, and to Pullentown on the Imlaystown road.


There was no school on Monday and Tuesday, but most of the town pupils attended on Wednesday.


J. Carroll Burtis, with four horses, started to come to town on Monday morning, but only got to the end of the lane. Later in the day he made a trip on foot, as did also Enoch Wilson.


Not a wagon or sleigh of any kind passed through Main street, Allentown, until Tuesday morning, when the drifts were shoveled out.


Supervisor John Taylor had 28 men at work on Tuesday shoveling out the road from Allentown to Imlaystown, while a smaller number completed the work on Wednesday. The county pays 25 cents per hour for this work, while the township pays but 15 cents.


Thomas Rogers, on the Samuel Woolley farm, got to Crosswicks with his milk on Tuesday, going all the way through fields, taking down the fences whenever this had to be done. Brookenstein, who receives milk at that point for Trenton, got to town that day, and on Wednesday went with two teams. The experience of Mr. Rogers is merely that of the farmers in general, and is given only as a sample of traveling conditions.


Back in 1888 a great number of public sales had to be postponed on account of the blizzard, and history again repeated itself in this particular. Harvey H. Gordon, of Windsor, and Walter Lamb, of Walnford, were to have had their sales on Tuesday, the 3rd, while David K. Gordon, of Windsor, was to have had his on Wednesday, the 4th. So far as we have learned the new dates, they are noted this week. It is exceedingly difficult to make new arrangements, as the auctioneers can not be reached by phone, and in many cases driving to their homes is almost out of the question.


Richard Beatty, who lives on the Forman Hutchinson farm at Windsor, got to Allentown on Wednesday, coming by train to Robbinsville and then catching a ride over. He said the snow was banked up so around his barn and wagon house that he had not yet got either a horse or wagon out. By going around to the rear of the barn he managed to get in and feed his stock, but it would take days to dig out and haul away the snow from around the buildings.


Castor’s tea and coffee automobile, from Trenton, got into town on Thursday afternoon, coming by way of Yardville, over a road bad enough to stall most any strong team if they had any load. This was certainly a feat for any machine, this particular one being a Lambert, with friction drive. In many cases the axles pushed through and leveled off the roads that were still 18 inches deep with snow even where shoveled out.


No mail left Imlaystown until Friday morning, when the carrier brought it over from Allentown to go from here by stage. No mail has been received at New Sharon, Cream Ridge, Imlaystown or Hornerstown since the storm.


Pearson F. Havens, of Imlaystown, who managed to reach Allentown on Wednesday, stated that he left home on Tuesday morning at 6 o’clock with six cans of milk in a sled. Three men, with shovels, went with him, and they got to the Imlaystown station at 11:30 – two and a half miles. At Imlaystown, finding no milk in the village, they left one of the cans, and the others where carted home, where rather primitive methods of butter making are being employed until the opening of the Union Transportation line. Pearson said he and his wife got to figuring how long they could live up there on the Long Lane Farm without access to the outside world, and were surprised to find that they had enough provisions, fuel and everything to make them comfortable if blizzard weather lasted until the first of June. Pearson reported the sick people at the Dawes home at Nelsonville as improving and getting about the house.


Charles R. Havens, of Cream Ridge, who was in the Messenger office this (Friday) morning, said, when we told him we had no Cream Ridge news: “Just say that the snow has covered everything.” Mr. Havens had just taken his milk to Robbinsville for shipment, and by the way, that station is certainly handling more milk then ever in its history, most of the life-sustaining fluid that has formerly gone from Imlaystown, New Sharon, Cream Ridge and Davis now going from that point. The train men have gotten on to things, and for the accommodation of the shippers are bringing the empty cans down the line instead of leaving them off at Hightstown. Mr. Havens stated that they saw what they took to be engine smoke coming up from Hornerstown yesterday, and he believed the crew had plowed through that far.


At Mount Holly a fairly good communications was kept up with Philadelphia. The 5.50 train for Camden left that station Monday morning, but became stalled near the Medford branch, a short distance from Mount Holly. While the train was standing there, unable to move either way, the snow plow, sent up from Camden, came along in a whirling cloud of snow. The engineer could not see the stalled train and ran plumb into the locomotive, throwing the latter off the track but not seriously damaging it. It was several hours before they were able to get the locomotive back on the track. The first regular train that came up from Camden on Monday was five hours on the road and finally reached Mount Holly about noon.


William Robbins, the Star route mail carrier from Imlaystown to Clarksburg by way of Holmeson, got to Clarksburg on Thursday for the first, bringing back with him all the mail from that village, as the carrier who comes from Freehold, meeting him at that point, will not likely get there until Saturday. Mr. Robbins brought this outgoing mail on to Allentown. He will make another trip to Clarksburg to-morrow (Saturday), taking the Messenger pack with him.