How to add a posting below . . .

To add a new posting, send an email to me at with a comment, question, story, photo, observation, etc. It will be posted below, shortly after the email is received. To comment on an existing posting, click on the "comments" command below the posting and type your comment. Your comment will show up immediately.   Pete Stemmer

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Oldest Person in New Gretna- Part 1

(See Wednesday, December 3, 2008 for Part 2)

Tom Doherty sent me this email a few days ago, and it got me to thinking about who the oldest person currently living in New Gretna and/or the oldest person with New Gretna roots might be. Renard Wiseman, who I believe was the oldest New Gretna resident, recently passed away at age 94. 
My Mom (Marie Bishop Doherty) who grew up in my house in New Gretna (the old homestead of Irene and Sylvester Bishop), did some analysis yesterday and concluded that actually she is now the oldest person left on Earth with strong connections to that town.   So, though I have left New Gretna to visit down here (Yorktown, Va.), actually, I'm still in New Gretna.   No one leaves New Gretna once they arrive.   New Gretna gets in the blood, and then becomes an infectious disease which has no cure, other than an eventual return to it.   - Tom
I'm sorry to burst Tom's bubble regarding his mom being the oldest person with New Gretna ties, but Bennie Allen will be 91 this December 10th. Ben was born in New Gretna and lived here all his life. By my calculations that would make him 11 years older than Marie McAnney Doherty, Tom's mom. 

Anyone know of a New Gretna-ite [just invented a new word] who is older than Ben?    - Pete S.
(l-r) Marie McAnney [Tom's great aunt], little Marie Bishop [nee Doherty- Tom's mother], and Della McAnney [Tom's great grandmother]. Irene McAnney Bishop, Tom's grandmother,  likely took the photo. (Photo courtesy of Margaret Cramer McAnney.)

Ben and Elaine Allen at their 60th wedding anniversary party at the New Gretna Presbyterian Church on January 13, 2002. (Photo by Pete Stemmer.)

Ben and Elaine don't have a computer, but if you wish to send Ben a 91st Birthday Greeting, attach it to the comments section below, and I'll print the comments out and deliver them to Ben.  - Pete S.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

New Gretna Boy Makes Good- Harold Altscher

I got the following email from David Altscher the other day and thought I would pass the good news along to all you blog readers. David and his brother, Harold, grew up on a chicken farm on North Maple Avenue in New Gretna in the 1950's.  You can find a story that David wrote about his childhood in New Gretna on page 3 of Issue #10 of  the "Bass River Gazette" at the following web address: 

Pete S.

October 25, 2008
Hello New Gretna People,

Just wanted to let you know, one of your own made good:) My brother Harry, AKA Harold, is the second on the list below. Not too bad for the kid of a poor old chicken farmer. 

David Altscher

From the 2009 edition of "The Best Lawyers in America".  Regarded as the one of the key referral guides to the legal profession in the United States, The Best Lawyers in America lists lawyers confidentially selected by over 400,000 of their peers around the country as top lawyers practicing in 57 different specialty areas. 

The Altcher family, in 1955, on their North Maple Avenue chicken farm. l-r: Sam, David, Rose, and Harold. (Photo courtesy of David Altcher.)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Bass River State Park Stone Mystery


First I would like to say how much I enjoy all the great and useful information on the Bass River history webpage, it has taught me alot and it is so well put together. I have a question about a stone that I came across a few years back near the firemens memorial off of Greenbush rd. The stone is marked WP 1700 and on the back it is marked JM 1742. Could this be a John Mathis property stone? This has been a mystery to me for a long time and I was wondering if maybe you could help me. I can send you pictures if you are interested. Thanks for your time!



I'm familiar with the marker. Attached are two photos, one on each side of the marker. They were taken in 2002. The JM is for John Mathis and the WP is for William Pancoast. It is a marker from an old survey.



The underside of the stone has the initials JM
and the year 1742 carved in the stone.

The top side of the stone has the initials WP
and the year 1700 carved in the stone.

Pete Stemmer (l) and Harry DeVerter
at the stone marker on 4/18/02. A State Park
concrete survey marker stands adjacent to
the old stone.

My Sears Mayflower Descendants- John Yates

Happy Black Friday!

My family tree has some roots in New Gretna. Sears, Allen, Mathis, Cra(n)mer, Leek, Gauntt. I'll stop there for now! ;-)

Last night I had Thanksgiving with four generations of direct Mayflower descendants! If you descend from a New Gretna Sears, you too are likely a descendant of William Brewster.

I look forward to seeing Bass River genealogy and history discussed here.

And thanks to Pete for all his dedicated hard work preserving Bass River Township history!

John Yates

Elihu M. Sears, John Yates' great grandfather, on the trail back to John's Mayflower descendants. Elihu is buried in Miller cemetery in New Gretna. (Photo courtesy of John Yates.)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A New Gretna Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Our New Gretna History Committee publishes an historical newsletter called "The Bass River Gazette". You can read the article on "A New Gretna Thanksgiving" by Elaine Mathis at (See page2).

Rye Allen (standing to right of cranberry barrel) and some or his workers by his New Gretna cranberry bog. Bet that barrel of berries would make a lot of great cranberry sauce. Anyone out there with a good homemade cranberry sauce recipe is encouraged to send it in, especially if it comes from New Gretna. (See email address at the top of the blog.)

Rye Allen (standing) supervising cranberry pickers on his New Gretna bog. (Photo courtesy of Paul Steinhauer.)