Ridgway farm

Above: From left to right; Willis Ridgway, Flora Ridgway, Samuel Ridgway, Eliza Ridgway, S.E. Nason and two unknown people.

They say all good things must come to an end. In April of 1901, Uncle Sam passed away and the whole town of Hydetown grieved.

Uncle Sam died on April 9, just 20 days before his 77th birthday.

Uncle Sam had already turned the management of the sanitarium over to his son-in-law, S.E. Nason.

Uncle Sam was a people person. He needed to deal directly with the patients. So, S.E. Nason oversaw the operation and the making of the liniment, while Uncle Sam’s wife, Eliza, took care of the administrative duties, as always.

Things ran fairly smoothly for the next couple of years until Sept. 29, 1903.

It was a beautiful Sunday morning and the Ridgway’s all got up and got dressed to walk to church together for morning preaching.

Of course, Uncle Sam built the Union Church by the iron bridge so that’s where they attended. They were all anxious about listening to the special speaker that morning.

After church, they all walked down to Eliza’s house, where they would all share Sunday dinner.

All of Eliza’s daughters helped Mama prepare the meal in the kitchen. The men sat in the living room talking about the church service, farming and anything else they could think of.

After the meal, everyone was sitting around relaxing and feeling content. All of a sudden, at about 1:45, they heard someone yelling, “Fire! Fire! The sanitarium is burning!”

Everyone jumped up and ran over to the sanitarium! They knew there were about 30 patients they had to get out of that building!

There was already a big crowd of neighbors there to help out.

The sanitarium had it’s own water supply. It was fed by a reservoir on Rattlesnake Hill. They hooked up the water hose and a little trickle of water came out. The hose was no good!

They were informed that Titusville had been notified and were on their way!

About 15 minutes later, the Colonel Drake Steamer came flying in with horses breathing fire! Good Time!!! They had to run their hoses all the way from Little Oil Creek!

Flames were shooting through the roof of the old, dry wooden structure! All of the alcohol and petroleum mixed in the bottles of liniment stored in the building probably didn’t do much to slow the flames down either.

The sanitarium was too far gone to be saved.

They did a lot of bragging about the job the Colonel Drake Steamer did that day, just weeks short of it’s 35th anniversary.

You can still observe this majestic legend enshrined forever in the Drake Well Museum.

Come on out. Pull up a bridge. We’ll sit a spell and swap some stories.

Church schedules

— Hydetown Baptist Church: Pastor Jeff Sterling. Sunday: 9:30 a.m., Sunday school; 11, Worship service; Wednesday, 6:15 p.m., Prayer Focus Group, 7, Bible study and prayer.  All are welcome.

Sunday Sermon: “The Mind of Christ” Colossians 2:4-10.

Hydetown area residents can tune their radios to 90.3 FM on Sunday to hear the entire Worship service at 11. Folks are also invited to come to Hydetown, park their cars and hear the service live on their car radios. The service can be heard for up to three miles in every direction from the church.

— Hydetown United Methodist Church: Pastor Richard Foland. Sunday:  9:45 a.m., Worship service.  Wednesday 3 – 5 p.m., Bible study.

A final word

We’re over half way through the month of September!

This would be a great weekend to go apple picking. Remember, an apple a day keeps the doctor away! You could go on a Fall bike ride, or start doing some of those special Fall crafts together with pumpkins, pine cones, or leaves.  Whatever you do this weekend, have great family time and don’t forget to go to church together as a family tomorrow!

Contact us

Jeff and Robin may be reached at (814) 775-0107 for anyone wanting to make positive contributions to this column.  People submitting news and activities are asked to limit the news and activities to those of the Hydetown area.

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