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Neversink Station, Native Americans, bake ovens, corn, marriage customs, scrapple
A handwritten letter from Earl L. Ruppert to Alfred L. Shoemaker, dated January 1st, 1949. It describes the Native American origins of the name "Neversink." Ruppert also discusses lore surrounding bake ovens and marriage.
Earl L. Ruppert
Alfred L. Shoemaker
Reading, Pa, Jan. 1-1949
Dear Doc Shoemaker,
In reading your Old Berks Folklore about how Neversink got its name. I thought of a story told to me about 35 years ago by Jonas DeTurk who lived at Neversink Station he said that when white men first came to Exeter and Cumru Township, they drove all the Indians to the east side of the river but one and he could not swim. He wanted to get across to his friends, so he kills a lot of birds and took their wings and sewed them together making himself two large wings.
Then he went to Flying hill, a high cliff overlooking the river and said when I fly I will never sink. Then he jumped, fell in the river and drowned.
Some time ago I read about when a younger brother or sister was married before an older one, the older one would have to ride the Bake oven. You ask was this custom known in Old Berks. Yes, it was. My mother told me that when my younger sister was married, and I heard it often from others. Speaking of Bake Ovens they are getting scarce and young folks nowadays would have quite a time to find one. On my father’s farm at Neversink Station there is one as good as new. My mother baked bread and pies several times. In the fall at corn husking time we would pick out several bushels of corn make a fire in the bake oven. When it was good and hot, the bricks would turn white. Then we pulled out the fire and put in the corn. Closed the oven door.
The next evening we pulled it out. Sat around a tub on the kitchen floor and shelled it.
Then we took it to the mill and had it ground into cornmeal for mush and also for scrapple (Ponhoss).
My wife just told me that in Alsace Township where she was born, they would say to sit on the chimley instead of ride the bake oven.
I just read in the paper yesterday about the name Neversink, which got its name from the Indian name Neversink which meant place of hiding. I am the party who brought the old Lincoln books to the Historical Society last February.
Earl L. Ruppert
1458 N Front St
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Ruppert, Earl L., "Letter From Earl L. Ruppert to Alfred L. Shoemaker, January 1, 1949" (1949). Alfred L. Shoemaker Folk Cultural Documents. 151.
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