By Richard Mabey Jr.
One of the most powerfully positive influences upon my beloved father was his grandfather, William H. Mabey. Sadly, my great grandfather passed away in 1936, about a year after having suffered a stroke. Dad was nine years old, when his grandfather was called Home to be with the Lord.
My great grandfather was born on October 15, 1868, at a time when our nation was still healing from the wounds of the great Civil War. Great Grandpa Mabey grew up in a modest home, atop Hook Mountain. The home had no running water, nor did it have an indoor bathroom.
In 1892, at the age of 23, Great Grandpa Mabey married Dora Dolson. My great grandmother was born and raised in New York City, in a rather wealthy family. How it came to be that she traveled to Beavertown (the former name of Lincoln Park) and met my great grandfather is unclear. Dora Dolson was 20 years old when she married my great grandfather.
Great Grandpa Mabey worked as the Chief Engineer of Incline Plane Ten East. He was a strong, hard-working man. For the first two years of their marriage, William and Dora Mabey lived with William’s parents, William and Catherine Mabey. During those two years, my great grandfather worked every minute he could, on building a home for his bride and himself. He single-handedly built the home. As a tribute to his carpentry skills, the home still stands today.
My dad loved his grandfather, oh so very much. Dad was nine years old when his grandfather passed away. My father often recollected about how devastated he was to lose his grandfather.
According to my beloved father, Great Grandpa Mabey was a most incredibly talented story teller. My father often told me how he would gather about his grandfather, sitting on the floor with his brothers and cousins, while Great Grandpa Mabey told dramatic stories of life along the old Morris Canal.
I remember, as a child, Dad would often retell these stories. Dad would preface the stories with saying, “of course I can’t tell it quite like my grandpa could. He was quite a story teller.” Now at 68, I so deeply regret that I didn’t take out a pencil and paper and write down those stories.
My great grandfather taught my father the treasured principles of farming, specifically the art of successfully growing corn. Legend has it that Great Grandpa Mabey was a great hunter. My dad often told the stories about the days of going on a hunt with his father and grandfather and his older brother, Edward.
There was a great legend of the great buck, whose presence was overwhelming. Dad often told me about the great buck. That his grandfather held a certain reverence and respect for the great buck, and so never raised his rifle sights upon the tremendously large deer. I remember my father telling me about the time he did sight the great buck. He told me that once a man saw the great buck, he was destined to never be the same again. The great buck was the king of the wooded land that ran the forest range, all along the old Morris Canal in Lincoln Park.
I have but only one picture of my dear great grandfather. I cherish that photograph, oh so dearly. Whenever I am faced with the dreaded plague of writer’s block, I take out Great Grandpa’s picture from the top drawer of my desk. I look at that photo of my great grandfather, that was taken shortly after he had his stroke. I try my utmost best to be true to Great Grandpa’s love of storytelling.
A part of the spirit of my great grandfather lives on in my heart, solely because my dad took the time to share with me his fond memories of the beloved patriarch, who was born just a few years after the monumental surrender at Appomattox.
Cherish your unique family history. By all means, please do take the time to pass on your knowledge of your family’s history and legends to the younger ones of your family. Truly, it will be time well invested.
Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at email@example.com. Please put on the subject line: My Life Publications.