RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 2 . . Orphan . . Part 1
RAILCAR GOLD is a historically accurate multi-generational fictional tale of hidden treasure, primarily set in York County, Pennsylvania during the latter half of the Nineteenth Century. This is Part 1 of Chapter 2 . . . Orphan. A new part will be posted every Thursday. New readers may want to start at the beginning.
CHAPTER 2 . . . ORPHAN . . . Part 1
Danny gazed at the penny in the palm of his hand. It was the last thing that his Mom had given him prior to the tragic death of his parents and siblings. He had been an orphan for nearly eight months.
Today, July 2nd 1860, would be a fateful day in the life of young Dan. Would he listen to his friend Billy and run away from his Uncle? Would he stick it out and hope that things got better? His greatest fear was that the foolproof plan claimed by Billy would go terribly wrong and his life would get so much worse.
Fishing from the banks of the Susquehanna River on that early summer day allowed Dan to reflect upon events leading up to the crucial decision that would affect the rest of his life. Dan was born in Spring Mills, New Jersey; in two days he would be 9 years old. Dan had a wonderful childhood. He had loving parents and two younger siblings. Danny missed his parents. He missed his siblings. He missed Spring Mills.
Spring Mills was a great location for any young boy to grow up. It was a picturesque small manufacturing hamlet on Big Timber Creek, one and a half miles upstream from Blackwood. All the amazing machinery at the Spring Mills Agricultural Works intrigued Danny. The creek, the pond used to power the Works’ waterwheels and the surrounding tangle wood forest were play areas that any child would be jealous to have.
Dan’s dad Wyatt carted the finished goods from the Works to Philadelphia. Dan got to ride along with his Dad on several occasions. Spring Mills’ forks, hoes, shovels and rakes were known for their quality and workmanship. Dan remembered storeowners continually telling his father, “We’ll take more on your next delivery.”
Dan’s mom Della had parents and a brother that lived in Blackwood, New Jersey. All of Wyatt’s family still lived in England; he emigrated just two years before marrying Della in the Blackwood church where she had been baptized.
Della insisted that Dan get his education at a fine brick schoolhouse located in the southern part of Blackwood. Dan thoroughly enjoyed school. He stayed with his grandparents during weekdays when in first and most of second grades, however by the end of second grade he was walking the one and a half miles back and forth between Spring Mills and Blackwood.
Walking to school was actually necessitated by the death of Dan’s grandma and grandpa within days of one-another during the spring of 1859. Della did not want to impose on her brother Rufus; he was not home much of the time anyway. Besides, Della had a trunk of books; she always found time for a little extra tutoring of Danny.
At a little over a month into third grade, Dan’s dad got a job in Philadelphia. Dan was excited at the prospect of moving to the City of Philadelphia. Dan absolutely enjoyed schooling. Della had told him about his new school. He was overjoyed at the schooling opportunities that awaited him in Philadelphia.
The excitement of the move was somewhat diminished after two family trips to the area where they would be living in Philadelphia. Sure the school was nice, however the wide-open spaces of Spring Mills were being replaced by hustle and bustle. Danny also enjoyed visiting his Uncle Rufus in nearby Blackwood; with a move to Philadelphia, it was doubtful if those visits would continue.
Uncle Rufus was a horse dealer. He bought horses at auctions and trained them primarily for use by stagecoach lines. Rufus’ biggest customer was the Norcross Stage Lines, headquartered in Blackwood. Norcross not only had county stage lines, they also had a lucrative stage line that ran between Philadelphia and Cape May.
Dan liked going to his uncle’s place not only to work with the horses; he liked the stories that Rufus told about horse dealers and stagecoach rivalries. For example, Norcross was famous for fastening a large brush, formed out of tree branches, to the rear of their stages, and then dashing ahead of their rival, giving them the full benefit of all the dust. Rufus always had a funny story, especially from the horse auctions.
Everything changed for eight-year old Dan on November 5th 1859; he was suddenly an orphan.
Go to Chapter 2, Part 2