HoneyMoon Diary: Meeting Grandfather, GraphicReading and researching Sid and Myrtle (Lookabaugh) Earhart’s honeymoon diary found in a postcard album, continues to be a journey back in time. In this “Meeting Grandfather” edition, our starry-eyed honeymooners take in some sights in the Washington D.C. area, before heading to Pennsylvania to visit family.

Postcard with Franciscan Monastery's Gardens of Gethsemane

Circa 1930 postcard of the Monastery’s Gardens of Gethsemane.

Sept. 3rd – Sunday:- Took in Arlington in the A.M. and visited the Catholic Monastery in the P.M. Saw the garden of Gethsemane. A very beautiful place, and so spooky Many underground passage-ways with statues in the darkest niches. One of the Monks conducts the tour. Saw our FIRST auto accident at a curve on a road to the Monastery, which is out of the City.  (Very Few automobiles in 1916, so accidents a rarity.)

The “Catholic” Monastery turns out to be the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America, which is a little outside of DC.

I couldn’t help wondering if Myrtle added the parenthetical remark about the number of cars in 1916 as she transcribed her original journal.

In 1916 the drivers of the 3,367,889 vehicles registered in the U.S., didn’t depend on them for every errand as we do the 268 million cars registered in the U.S. in 2016. [1] Henry Ford had released the Model T only eight years before, and though prices were falling, cars were definitely luxury items. The Model T Runabout, for instance, was prices at $345 and the Center Door Sedan sold for $740. [2]  Those are staggering prices, considering that according to US News and World Report, the average take-home pay in 1915 was $687.

Sept. 4th – Visited the zoo today. My first experience at a zoo.  Also, stopped at Cabin John and Glen Echo. Both very scenic spots.

I only found one zoo photo in the album: hippos.  Some Googling revealed that Cabin John is a locality in Montgomery County, Maryland, which would have just been taking shape in 1916.  Founded in 1912, it was a blossoming community of permanent and summer homes.[3] Nearby Glen Echo, now a National Park, was a “trolley park,” owned and operated by the Washington Railway and Electric Company.  Admission was free. There were rides, games and concessions.  Including the “Derby Racer” which was added in time for the 1916 season.[4]

Meeting Grandfather

Beuna Vista Train Station Postcard Sept. 5th – The Dodson’s have been so grand. Made us feel very welcome. Left Washington for Pen Mar, Pa. via B & O. Got off at a little station called Beuna Vista. A street-car pulled by a horse took us to Rouzerville to visit my grandfather, who I saw for the first time. A neighbor lady came in to do the cooking as grandfather is an invalid. His son Howard (my uncle and only 14 yrs old) seems to be the only one to care for Grandfather, and being so young he is to be commended for all he does.

The idea of someone meeting their grandfather for the first time while on their honeymoon took a few seconds to sink in. I had to stop, shake my head a little, then backtrack to make sure it was Myrtle, not Sid who was writing.

Rouzerville, Pennsylvania, is in Washington Township, Franklin County, Pennsylvania. The 1910 Census, the last one taken before this diary, shows a Michael Lookabaugh, living in Washington township with a wife, Anna,  who was 32 years younger than him, a daughter Mildred, and a son Howard. [5]

1910 Census snippet Adding six years puts Howard’s age closer to 12 than 14, so I did I little more research.  Going back to the 1870 Census for the same location,  we find that Micheal is the father of William Lookabaugh, Myrtle’s father. [6]1870 Census SnippetSadly, the census records give us zero clues on why William never introduced his father to Myrtle.

Ann Trumpous Lookabaugh’s death certificate confirms that young Howard did indeed have a rough road. She died of dysentery in 1914. The physician listed chronic nephritis and opium addiction as contributory causes.[7]

Pen Mar Resort

Sept. 6th – Took a street-car to Pen Mar, a little summer resort. Howard Lookabaugh, who is 14 yrs old, went with us. We did enjoy it a lot even though the Season is over for picnics. Seems as if we could see all over the world. The Mts. are so high. Howard was a grand little entertainer, took us to the nicest place for dinner (Sid paid for his meal) and pointed out many places of interest. He is a very bright little fellow for his Mother has been dead for several years and he has gotten his education the hard way. Grandfather is very kind to us, too.  (How I would have loved to have met him years ago.)

Postcards and a photo from Pen Mar in the album show that it was indeed very scenic.

Rock cut Pen Mar Park 2

Rock cut railroad ear Pen Mar

Photo possibly taken from the bridge in the previous photo.

Glen Alton Springs Postcard

Pen Mar Promotional Poster Western Maryland Railroad

Image: Public Domain, American – North from High Rock, Pen-Mar; Photographer: William Henry Jackson circa 1880.

According to Wikipedia, the Pen Mar resort was developed by the Western Maryland Railroad as a means to encourage the public to travel by rail.  The amusement park and lookout points over the Blue Ridge Mountains drew thousands of visitors each year in the 1910’s and 1920’s, but the resort became unprofitable at the end of the 20s and closed.

 Stay Tuned:

I can’t promise to untangle the mystery of why Myrtle first met her grandfather on her honeymoon, but we’ll follow her on the rest of the trip, filling in the gaps in her story with researched historical context.

[1] “State Vehicle Registrations, by Years, 1900-1996, Federal Highway Administration, accessed February 6, 2018, https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/summary95/mv200.pdf; “Number of vehicles registered in the United States from 1990 to 2019,” Statistica, accessed February 6, 2018, https://www.statista.com/statistics/183505/number-of-vehicles-in-the-united-states-since-1990/.

[2] “Ford Model T,” Wikipedia.org, accessed February 6, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Model_T#Price_and_production; “1916 Ford Model T,” ConceptCarz.com, accessed February 6, 2018, https://www.conceptcarz.com/vehicle/z1677/ford-model-t.aspx.

[3] “Cabin John History,” Montgomery County Schools, Accessed February 2, 2018, http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/uploadedFiles/schools/cabinjohnms/about/cj_history.pdf.

[4] “Glen Echo Park – Then and Now,” National Park Service, accessed February 1, ,2018, https://www.nps.gov/glec/learn/historyculture/upload/Then%20and%20Now-3.pdf.

Meeting Grandfather graphic[5] 1910 United States Federal Census, Year: 1910; Census Place: Washington, Franklin, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1348; Page: 15B; Enumeration District: 0037; FHL microfilm: 1375361, accessed via Ancestry.com, February 2, 2018.

[6]1870 United States Federal Census Year: 1870; Census Place: Washington, Franklin, Pennsylvania; Roll: M593_1346; Page: 618A; Family History Library Film: 552845, accessed via Ancestry.com, February 2, 2018.

[7] Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1964, database online, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Provo, UT, USA, original data: Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1966; Certificate Number Range: 100821-104130




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