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Getting Away With Murder 1932. An Insurance Scam. A Blinded Jury… By Carrie Hagen

Let’s Go Glamping! Williamsport’s Chowrunners Elmira’s First Cain



Heritage WEEKEND 1890s to Present...

Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017 9:00am — Vendors Open 9:30am to 6pm — Living History presentations 11:30am – Parade 1:00pm — Bigfoot Radio End-ofSummer Smash 6:45pm — Tentative Re-enactment 7:00pm — Mansfield University vs. Cornell University

The Fabulous 1890s Festival, held the last weekend in September, is a celebration of the last and most colorful decade of the 19th century and commemorates Mansfield’s role in America’s history. The very first night football game in the U.S. was held in 1892 – the year that electricity arrived in Mansfield. This year marks the 125th anniversary of the first night football game and Saturday’s festivities kick off with a onehour parade packed with 19th century costumes, horses, magnificent carriages, antique tractors, classic vehicles and marching bands.

Throughout the day on Smythe Park visitors can enjoy games, contests, shopping, local food, and entertainment. The featured attraction is the 1890s Museum tent filled with artifacts, photos and displays of life in 19th century America, plus demonstrations of bygone crafts. At dusk, student athletes from Mansfield University re-create football of the 1890s and the night game that started a national tradition. It’s rugged, fast paced, and often humorous. Following the re-enactment, Mansfield University will host Cornell University at 7:00 p.m. for a magnificent conclusion to the day.

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Volume 12 Issue 9

14 A Real Puzzler

Getting Away with Murder

By Michael Banik

Pop’s Culture Shoppe pieces together it’s annual photo contest.

By Carrie Hagen 1932. An insurance scam. A blinded jury...

16 Elmira’s First Cain By Mark Bromberg

From guard to gallows...the blue devil secured his future in Elmira.

18 Chowing Down

With Chow Runner

By Melissa Farenish

Williamsport’s Pierce brothers bring restaurant dining to your table.

22 Pay It Backward

Defense attorney Charles J. Margiotti (1937)

6 This Ain’t Your Granddaddy’s Pole Shed

By Maggie Barnes

A magical drive-thru from cranky to considerate.

24 You Say Crayfish, I Say

By Micah Sargent Go green without going broke with Barn-Livin’.


By Peter Petokas

But whatever you call them, they are abundant in our local streams.

34 Still Life with Jars

By Cornelius O’Donnell

Magic out of mayhem: the culinary delight of cleaning out the fridge.

42 Back of the Mountain

26 Glamour + Camping = Glamping

By Curt Weinhold Starry Night

Cover photo: courtesy Tioga County Human Services; cover design by Tucker Worthington; this page from top: courtesy Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Charles_J._Margiotti; middle: courtesy Micah Seargent; bottom: courtesy Janet McCue.

By Janet McCue In the wilds of nature, luxury under wraps.

30 3


w w w. m o u n ta i n h o m e m ag . co m Editors & Publishers Teresa Banik Capuzzo Michael Capuzzo Associate Publisher George Bochetto, Esq. Managing Editor Gayle Morrow D i r e c t o r o f O pe r a t i o n s Gwen Plank-Button Advertising Director Maia Mahosky S a l e s R ep r e s e n t a t i v e s Linda Roller, Robin Palmer, Richard Trotta Gallery Manager/Circulation Director Michael Banik Accounting Amy Packard D e s i g n & P h o t o g r ap h y Tucker Worthington, Cover Design Andi Lynn, Intern

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Contributing Writers Michael Banik, Maggie Barnes, Mark Bromberg, Melissa Farenish, Carrie Hagen, Don Knaus, Cornelius O’Donnell, Janet McCue, Brendan O’Meara, Peter Petokas, Linda Roller, Micah Sargent, Ruth Tonachel, Dave Wonderlich C o n t r i b u t i n g P h o t o g r ap h e r s Bernadette Chiaramonte, Jan Keck, Nigel P. Kent, Roger Kingsley, Ken Meyer, Frank Serio, Linda Stager, Sarah Wagaman D i s t r i b u t i o n T eam Layne Conrad, Grapevine Distribution, Gary Hill, Duane Meixel, Linda Roller

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Getting Away





With Murder 1932. An Insurance Scam. A Blinded Jury... By Carrie Hagen


rs. Lee Church ran into the woods and up her road when she heard what sounded like two car crashes around 8:50 p.m. on March



26, 1932. Nearly four miles north of Keeneyville, she lived off Locey Creek Road (then spelled Losey Creek), about 400 feet from a bridge and a sharp turn that, if taken too fast, could easily send a car down an eighteen-foot embankment. Locals called the spot “Lion’s Mouth.” About an hour earlier, Mrs. Church had heard a car speeding by, and she told her husband she feared it would fly off the road at the curve. Now, an hour later, a truck had done just that. Through the moonless night, she saw its lights shining up from the bed of Locey Creek. Mrs. Church hurried back home, alerted her husband, then took a lantern to the side of the road where she flagged down a passing car. The driver, John Harding, met the Churches and a small group of neighbors—Ray Root, Ernest Owlett, and Burt Doane and his wife—at the scene. They didn’t know what exactly had happened, but each sensed foul play. A Coroner’s Jury would agree with them, leading Tioga County into a sensational murder trial that would feature a famous defense attorney, a brand new district attorney, and, over five weeks, the testimonies of more than 130 witnesses. Legal minds of the time would call it the longest homicide trial in Pennsylvania’s history. Lawyers today still speak of the defense attorney’s tactics, and locals who remember the trial say, to this day, they haven’t witnessed anything like it. ••• That night in 1932, John Harding, Ernest Owlett, and Burt Doane descended toward the truck, which was turned onto its left side. Water moved swiftly around a stake, which was securing dozens of folding chairs to the truck bed with the help of eight to ten feet of chain. Looking through the cab’s back window, Harding saw a man’s body twisted stomach down between the steering wheel and windshield. Doane climbed onto the cab’s roof and reached under its passenger-side

edge to pry the door open. The truck, in second gear, had no key in the ignition. Blood stained the seat cushions, particularly on the passenger’s side. Doane and Owlett maneuvered the man out—by then they had recognized him as Henry Cooley, a forty-nine-yearold who worked for the local undertaker, a successful businessman named Ernest Davis. Dried blood covered Cooley’s hands and face but not his clothes. Mumbling from a bleeding mouth, he had dents above both ears and the back of his head. The men set Cooley on the bank before placing him in Harding’s car and taking him to the Church home, where a doctor and Ernest Davis joined them. Davis called another of his employees, M.E. Moore, to take Cooley to the Blossburg Hospital in an ambulance owned by Davis Funeral Home. At 4 a.m. Cooley died. Hospital employees followed Davis’s direction on where to put Cooley’s belongings, how to contact his family, and where to send the body for embalming. Davis also told them to burn the dead man’s clothes. The next morning, another neighbor noticed a trail of blood patches leading downhill from Locey Creek Road into the creek at Lion’s Mouth. Detective Roy Wilcox investigated the blood pools, which varied in diameter from three to twenty inches. Matted hair stuck to the largest patch, along a shoulder of the road where mud held tire track imprints. Two witnesses later testified that, at two different times within the half hour before the accident, they had seen the truck and heard its motor racing on the shoulder. As each had driven past, neither had seen anybody in the driver’s seat. Upon first visiting the accident scene, Detective Wilcox assumed that Cooley was the victim of a hit and run. Cooley, he thought, had exited his vehicle for some reason, sustained a hit, and attempted to drive to medical help, crashing in the process. But then he heard the coroner say that the bones under Cooley’s scalp resembled a “crushed eggshell,” that his skull was fractured in eight places, and that his body held See Murder on page 8

See Cooley’s on page 8 7

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Murder continued from page 7

no other injuries. “If Henry Cooley was fatally hurt 1,550 feet from the point where he was later found in the truck at the foot of a steep bank,” asked the Wellsboro Agitator, “how did the seriously injured man and the truck move from that point, down the hill, over the curve and down the bank is the question county officials are trying to solve.” The morning after the crime, various locals curious about the accident milled around Lion’s Mouth, including Ernest Davis and his younger brother, Frank. Ernest Davis was with Wilcox when he examined the blood spots and Cooley’s truck. From it, Wilcox took a burlap bag, a pair of gloves, and a hat marked with blood only on the outside. Davis accompanied the detective to his house, where Wilcox put the items in a corner of his garage. On April 1, the coroner’s jury at Keeneyville declared Henry Cooley’s death a murder, “caused by a fractured skull derived from a blow or blows inflicted by some blunt instrument in the hands of a person or persons unknown.” On May 4, Detective Roy Wilcox and Sheriff Frank Chamberlain acted upon a month-long investigation of the Coroner’s Jury. They arrested Ernest Davis, Cooley’s forty-threeyear-old employer, and his thirty-seven-year-old brother Frank, a farmer and a justice of the peace in Little Marsh, for manslaughter. The brothers, investigators found, had initiated several different life insurance applications for Henry Cooley. Each named Ernest Davis as benefactor. ••• So many people attended the preliminary hearing for the Davis brothers on May 6, 1932, that the Agitator said the Tioga County Courthouse was “jammed with humanity.” “[The case] attracted a lot of attention,” remembers Bill Fish, ninety-six, of Middlebury Township. Fish was an eleven-year-old from Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania, when the Davises were arrested. He remembers people’s fascination with the trial, and his father’s friends stopping by the farm to talk about what they saw in court. “There was no crime then,” Fish says. “You didn’t lock your doors. You could go into people’s houses and say who was who and hello to all of their visitors.” Twenty-three witnesses were called to testify about the activities of the Davis brothers on that eventful Saturday in March. The defendants, who pled “not guilty,” responded stoically. Behind them sat Ernest’s wife, Nina, and their two teenagers, Dean and Dorothy, and Frank Davis’s daughters, thirteen-year-old Helen and fifteen-year-old Onolee. (For a short while, authorities held Frank’s wife, Florence, and her brother, Fay Taylor, in custody.) After a six-hour preliminary trial, the judge remanded the brothers to custody until a September court date. By then, the Davises had secured a rising star as their attorney: Charles Margiotti of Punxsutawney. The burden would be his to reconcile conflicting eyewitness testimonies with the brothers’ alibis, to answer for incriminating evidence found on Frank Davis, and to justify the brothers’ attempts to secure life insurance for the victim. ••• On the evening of Henry Cooley’s death, Ernest Davis said he had sent Cooley from Wellsboro to a private home north of Keeneyville, where they had left folding chairs for a funeral service three weeks before. Cooley had wanted to take the folding chairs

back to Wellsboro after the service, but Davis had said no. Cooley was then to go a few miles to the home of Burt Doane for a gallon of maple syrup. Doane’s wife said Cooley left their home, a few minutes’ drive from the accident scene, around 8 p.m. It was about 8:30 p.m. that eyewitnesses saw and heard Cooley’s truck on the shoulder of Locey Creek Road before it crashed twenty minutes later. Ernest Davis’s alibi involved a broken-down car and a party. He had at least two cars—a Nash and a Chevy. On the morning of March 26, Ernest said he drove the Nash to a garage in Little Marsh, where his Chevy awaited fixing. After dropping off the needed parts for repairs, he said he took his daughter to Mansfield, directed Cooley to get the funeral chairs, then invited people to a party at his house in Wellsboro, where he was until he got the accident call at 9:11 p.m. Frank Davis had a more problematic alibi. Upon arrest, he told officers he had been away from home the night of March 26. Then, before the preliminary trial, he said, “You can’t change my story in a thousand years. I was at home.” Frank said that in the afternoon, he had driven his brother’s Chevy from the garage in Little Marsh to Wellsboro and hitchhiked home, where he spent the evening. Fay Taylor, Frank Davis’s brotherin-law, and an eighteen-year old mail carrier friend named Llewellyn Close, were at Frank’s home that Saturday night. Brought in for questioning, they told police they had arrived after 9:30 p.m., but Frank didn’t come home until after 10 p.m. When police asked Frank why he had lied twice—once to say he wasn’t home, and again to say he was— Frank said he was embarrassed because he had been hiding in his barn from 8:30-9:30, awaiting the arrival of a black man whom he wanted to catch sleeping with his wife. Both Frank and Ernest Davis swore they were not together on March 26. Stewart Wattles, owner of the garage where Ernest Davis’s Chevy was being fixed, said that Frank Davis worked on it with him until 1:30 p.m. “He kept telling me to ‘step on it,’”



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Orlando/ Sanford

See Murder on page 10 9

Murder continued from page 9

testified Wattles, “as he wanted to use the car that night to go and see his girl.” James Short, a neighbor and employee of Ernest Davis, said he was walking outside at 5 p.m. when Ernest drove by and asked to give him a ride into town. While Ernest bought a long chain at the hardware store, James Short went on other errands. Later, he saw Ernest’s car parked and Frank Davis standing by it. Short asked where Ernest had gone, and Frank said he had just left “in the truck with Cooley.” Around dinnertime, Mrs. M.E. Moore said she saw the brothers drive to the gas station near Ernest Davis’s home and fill it with nine gallons. On March 27, the morning after the accident, both brothers appeared at the scene of the crime. While Ernest accompanied Detective Wilcox to the detective’s home, Frank spent three hours walking around the crash site. One week after Ernest Davis saw Detective Wilcox put the clothes and gloves he had taken from Cooley’s truck in his garage, they disappeared. Later that day, before a snowstorm hit, a neighbor of Frank’s saw him washing a heavy brown overcoat in the creek, where it subsequently soaked for a few days. Police found the bloodstained coat at the home of Frank’s friend. ••• The prosecution of the Davis brothers, predicted the Agitator, would be the longest and most sensational homicide trial in the county. “The rarity of murder cases in Tioga County and the fact that the defendants are well known throughout this and neighboring counties, with many relatives in this vicinity, lends sensationalism to the trial which is believed will take the greater part of two weeks.” “Everyone knew the Davises,” says Lowell Coolidge, a Wellsboro attorney and Tioga County historian. People had known “Franky” and “Ernie Davis” all of their lives. Ernest had walked them through the funeral services of their loved ones. He had run for county sheriff; he also worked as a cattle dealer and owned a gas station. Frank was a farmer, a justice of the peace in Little Marsh, and involved in land leasing. That these local boys were alleged “slayers” dumbfounded people. Bill Fish remembers locals betting on the verdict, and some writing “murderer” on Frank Davis’s ticket when he ran for re-election (he was booted 10

from office due to the Cooley allegations). District Attorney Charles Webb prepared for the trial, which was set for September 26, 1932. At thirty-three, he was a Wellsboro native, a graduate of Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. District Attorney Webb would become Judge Webb, and upon retiring from the bench, a partner in the largest law firm in the county. Bill Hebe has practiced law in Wellsboro since 1972. He remembers Judge Webb speaking many times about the trial of the Davis brothers. “Webb was convinced that the Davis brothers were as guilty as could be,” says Hebe. At the time of the case, Webb had been D.A. for just three months. And he was intimidated, says Hebe, by the person and reputation of the lead defense attorney, Charles Margiotti. Margiotti, Webb told him, “was the best trial lawyer you have ever seen.” ••• Charles Margiotti, forty-one, had built a private practice in Punxsutawney, his childhood home, after emigrating from Italy. A high-school dropout, Margiotti had been working as a salesman when a lawyer hired him as an Italian interpreter. The experience inspired Margiotti to go back to school. He later graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and at the exact time the Davis trial began, was making a name on the national stage by

Wellsboro Community Concert Association


Correct conclusion?: After a week, ten men and one woman were chosen to determine the fate of the Davis brothers.

defending a senator from federal embezzlement charges. A balding, heavyset man with glasses and an impeccable wardrobe, Margiotti had tried 115 murder cases by the time he took the Davis case. Only one of his clients had received a life sentence, and none the death penalty. Entering the Tioga County Courthouse, he held a record of twenty-five acquittals in a row. And he was angry. In mid-September, Margiotti was in Manhattan, representing Pennsylvania Senator James Davis (no relation to the Davis brothers) against charges that he personally profited from a charityrun lottery. His team asked Tioga County Judge Howard Marsh for a postponement for the September 26 trial. The Commonwealth balked, knowing that a delay could send the trial into a much later court session. Plus, Webb wanted to try as much of the case as he could with Margiotti out of town. Judge Marsh granted a two-day postponement. “Delay the trial in any way you can,” Margiotti told an associate. “Make one motion after another. Argue for separate trials for the defendants. Make objection after objection. Take your time picking a jury. If you can, take a week or a month to pick a jury.” Judge Marsh approved the motion to separate the cases but said the trial had to start by Friday, September 30. Webb chose to try Frank Davis first. Between his faulty alibi and bloody coat, Webb figured he would get a faster conviction on the younger brother. For one week, Margiotti lead the defense by phone from a Manhattan hotel. He succeeded in stretching out jury selection. “Take all kinds of women,” he said, “unless you run across the hatchet-faced type. They are always bad for the defense.” After nearly a week of juror selections, one woman and ten men stood ready to hear Commonwealth v. Frank Davis. When Charles Margiotti did arrive in Wellsboro, he stayed at the Penn Wells Hotel—the same lodging that hosted the jurors and reporters. In a biography of Margiotti entitled Tiger at the Bar, one reporter told the author, “It was Prohibition and Margiotti See Murder on page 12

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Murder continued from page 11

had the best supply of liquor in town. There were four doctors for the defense, and I sometimes suspected that their primary duty was to write out prescriptions for whisky.” Bill Hebe says Judge Webb would time and again “rail against Mr. Margiotti and his alleged ‘sleazy’ tactics.” Allegations of jury tampering did follow Charles Margiotti’s legal career, as did political advancements. A future three-time attorney general of Pennsylvania, Margiotti may have found ways to influence the Davis jurors, but there is no concrete record of his having done so. What ultimately infuriated Webb was the seasoned criminal lawyer’s ability to create reasonable doubt by crafting narratives that manipulated facts, twisted testimonies, and turned damning evidence into circumstantial evidence. Margiotti held that the speeding car Mrs. Church heard at 7:45 p.m. caused Cooley’s death. Nobody could prove, he said, that it didn’t hit Cooley, flee the scene, and leave the man to stumble for help, eventually crashing. The time didn’t match up with Mrs. Doane’s testifying Cooley

left her home at 8 p.m., but he emphasized the fickleness of memories. Margiotti used this reasoning to create holes in eyewitness testimony—such as that of Mrs. Moore, who saw the brothers together at the gas station on Saturday, March 26. Friends of Ernest and Frank said they saw them there on Friday, not Saturday. Was Mrs. Moore lying, insinuated Margiotti, or had she simply forgotten what night a car had gotten gas months ago? Margiotti insisted that the jury visit the crash site at Lion’s Mouth—what had already become known as “Cooley’s Curve.” Back in court, he immediately asked Mrs. Church what he knew the jury could now visualize: whether the road lacked appropriate signage, and whether its pavement may have jostled a driver in the dark. Margiotti asked John Harding, Ernest Owlett, and Burt Doane how they had extricated Cooley’s twisted body from a wrecked truck and in and out of a car and a house. Could they be sure they hadn’t banged his head a couple of times in their helpful efforts? The defense lawyer also focused on Detective Wilcox’s handling of evidence


and its disappearance from his garage. If the detective bungled this part of an investigation, he asked, what else might he have ruined? The popularity of the Davis brothers aided the inconsistencies in Frank’s alibi. Llewellyn Close, whose testimony regarding Frank’s arrival home on March 26 had vacillated, admitted that Frank urged him to lie. Close and his mother said this was because the police had beaten a statement out of him. Police officers denied the charge. “You know, this is not Russia!” Margiotti responded. Margiotti pointed to the testimony of fifteen-year-old Onolee, Frank’s daughter, whom he said police had interrogated inappropriately. On the matter of Frank’s washing his bloodstained coat in the creek, Onolee said her father cleaned his clothes there because her mother refused to do his wash. More than one of Frank’s friends said he had frequent nosebleeds. Another friend said that he had personally vomited blood on Frank’s brown coat. Frank also butchered animals for his neighbors, said Margiotti. Because it was impossible (at the time) to See Murder on page 38




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A Real Puzzler

Pop’s Culture Shoppe Pieces Together It’s Annual Photo Contest By Michael Banik


op’s Culture Shoppe in Wellsboro opened its doors in May of 2012. Later that year, owners Anja and Julian Stam (above) decided they should add puzzles to their mix of game offerings. Supporters of all things Tioga County, they felt the puzzles should be of local sites. They contacted Wellsboro-area photographer Bernadette Chiaramonte, selected two of her photos, and had the puzzles made. They were a hit, so in 2013 the Stams decided to have a contest, and spread the word that they were looking for artistic images that capture a recognizable site or view of Tioga County that could be converted into puzzles. Fast-forward to 2017 and the now wildly popular puzzle contest. Pop’s receives hundreds of entries, many from local photographers and a surprising number from folks vacationing here from all parts of the United States who happen to pick up the contest flyer. Interested? Images should appeal to tourists as well as locals, the Stams say, or to anyone who is looking for a unique souvenir or gift. High-resolution photos with a minimum DPI of 150 are required. If there are recognizable people in the photo, you must submit a release form with their permission for their likeness to be used. Photos may be entered at or at the 25 Main Street store. You may submit as many entries as you like. Photos will be accepted through the end of the year; selections will be made in early January 2018. Winners get a headshot and a brief biography printed on the box, as well as three complementary


puzzles and discounts on additional puzzles. Call (570) 723-4263 for more information. Plato once said, “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation,” and Pop’s lives by that motto, so much so that they have even added it to their T-shirts. The store is more than just puzzles, with shelves full of family board games, games of strategy, party games, and games that are educational. You’ll find the old standbys such as Monopoly and Clue, checkerboards, chessboards, and backgammon as well as themed games such as Heroclix, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and Pokemon. There’s a wall of games to try out for free in the game room. You can find books and comics, some very rare, and favorite word-puzzle activity books such as Where’s Waldo and Mad Libs. Remember the balsa wood planes with the rubber band that powered the propeller? Pop’s has them. They also have a section in their store where local authors and artisans display their wares. Wooden toys, local pottery, soaps, even pickles are available. Still puzzled? Plan a visit to Pop’s and, in the meantime, remember the words of an anonymous philosopher: “We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.” Tioga County native (and former farm boy) Michael Banik is Mountain Home’s circulation/gallery manager.

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Elmira’s First Cain

From Guard to Gallows...the Blue Devil Secured His Future in Elmira By Mark Bromberg


enry Gardner was a Union deserter. He had already run away from the Twelfth Regiment, New York, and his name had made the papers for it. The Utica Morning Herald of October 12, 1863, listed the resident of Oneida County in a group of twenty men whose desertion from Fort DeKalb, Virginia, a Union camp along the Potomac, was fair warning. Captain Hulser wrote the paper: “In what better way (providing the Marshals do their duty) can I assist in reducing the Copperhead vote at home, at the coming election, than by publishing the following list of “deserters” from my company, who undoubtedly will, if permitted to remain at home, vote the Copperhead ticket. Besides, Uncle Samuel wants more help the coming Winter, down at the Rip Raps, a fine healthy place to work, where they can get in out of the draft.” Gardner hadn’t made it far when he was apprehended by the marshals and pressed back into service. The continuing war and need for men in Union blue had its priority, and Gardner was sent to Elmira to guard the Union’s growing rebel prison population. In March of 1865 there came a wild rumor in the camp that something dreadful had been found in the woods that abutted the Sly farmland on the plank road to the Pennsylvania border. Jeremiah Wager and Alexander Thomas, two guards from


Camp Pickaways housing the Nineteenth Veterans Reserve Corps, had made a gruesome discovery. The partially decayed body of an old man had been found with a rusted musket nearby, and his skull had been beaten in. It was obvious the body had lain in the woods for the winter months. His pockets had been turned inside out in a clear case of theft. The war was reaching its apex in spring of 1865 and the board of inquiry dealing with the murder was swift to act: they found that Gardner was the murderer, having made so lavish a show of sudden wealth and goods at the turn of the year. Witnesses to his boasting and frequent flash of watches and a gold ring included his tentmates and others who recollected Gardner’s sudden wealth. Gardner was convicted of the murder on April 9, 1866, a full year after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, and sentenced to death by hanging. While others of his wartime company left Elmira for home, Gardner remained behind in the Elmira jail. He appealed, lost, and appealed again on some hasty aspects of the original hearing—and lost once more. It was Friday, March 1, 1867, by the time Gardner faced the gallows, an unexpectedly fine, warm, late winter day. There had been such a buildup of excitement in the newspapers to the city’s first public execution that it became a social event unlike

welcome to any the city had seen. Three hundred tickets had been issued to a viewing gallery flanking the gallows, and the execution became an impromptu civic picnic. Gardner made a full confession of the crime the night before. Calmly, coolly, he related the fact that he had been witness to Mulock receiving his pay at the Sly farm and had resolved to murder him. The brutality of Gardner’s attack was made only worse by his lack of remorse: it was simply a robbery with the intent to leave a man dead. The morning of his execution the Elmira Advertiser referred to the convicted as “Elmira’s first Cain.” When the death day came for the blue devil it was only the beginning of his end. At 1:40 in the afternoon the prisoner mounted the gallows stairs without hesitation. Sheriff E.H. Howell asked Gardner if he desired to speak to those present, whereupon the prisoner in a low voice said: “Now my dear friends, if there are any among you who have been addicted to drinking liquor or to have bad associates, I beg of you to keep from them for they will surely be the ruination of any man. In your behalf I ask you all to take my advice, live to be good Christians and come to Christ and live honest and fair lives.” He turned to Sheriff Howell and said, “Now, hurry.” The sheriff’s final words to Gardner were a cordial “good-bye.” The noose was then adjusted and the condemned man’s arms and legs pinioned. Prayer was offered for his soul by his spiritual advisor, immediately after which the drop fell. The snap of the rope immediately parted two strands of the three twists of hemp where it was fastened to the beam, and the other stretched sufficiently to let Gardner’s feet almost touch the ground. It was wretched to watch. The condemned did not die but struggled furiously with his neck at an obtuse angle, while the crowd craned for a better view of Gardner scrambling to touch earth. Now a woman in the crowd fainted. There was complete pause in the jail yard, as no one knew exactly what to do. The coroner stepped forward, tentatively, and listened to the hanging man’s chest. He jumped back when he heard Gardner’s heart still had a distant beat. Then a deputy stepped up and hoisted Gardner off the ground with his arms wrapped around the man’s waist while Sheriff Howell spliced a new strand to the hanging rope at the crosspiece. There Gardner hung suspended on the gallows for fully thirty minutes until the medical examiner pronounced him, finally, expired, not of a hanging’s broken neck but of strangulation. When the examiner lifted the condemned man’s hood his face was purple and his extended tongue was black. Then he was the undertaker’s to deal with. Upon the realization that his end was coming, Gardner had struck a secret deal with an Elmira physician, Dr. P.H. Flood, himself a Union veteran, to use his body for medical experimentation. The doctor was unwilling to claim the body in public view for fear it would justly raise unanswerable questions. Flood entered the cemetery long after nightfall and uncovered the new grave. Then he moved Gardner’s lifeless form to his office on Water Street via a back alley and at 3 a.m., by gaslight, drained the body of its blood and began dissecting the corpse—heart, liver, lungs, eyes, brain—until Gardner was nothing but torn bits of knifed and desiccated pale flesh. He filled Gardner with embalming fluid until it leaked out of him onto the dissecting table. See Cain on page 29


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Chowing Down with Chow Runner Williamsport’s Pierce Brothers Bring Restaurant Dining to Your Table By Melissa Farenish


hat started out as a longing to have delicious restaurant breakfast food home-delivered has turned into a fulltime business for two Williamsport brothers. Nate and Kevin Pierce recently marked their seventh month in business with their Chow Runner food delivery service. Kevin (above) said the idea came to them around the time they began patronizing the Sawhorse Café at 303 Washington Boulevard in Williamsport. They both enjoyed the breakfast sandwiches made of fresh, local ingredients—enjoyed them so much that soon they were going to the café almost every day. “That was actually one reason that we launched it. We were sitting around thinking ‘why can’t we get breakfast sandwiches like that delivered?’ There are so many great restaurants here that don’t deliver,” Kevin says. So the brothers began researching how to start a delivery business. They found a third-party software company for delivery services that they could use as a template to build a Website. Building software from scratch would have cost almost $100,000, so once they they cleared this financial hurdle they were on their way. 18

Chow Runner became a reality in January 2017 with two restaurants on board—Sawhorse Café and Crown Fried Chicken. Over the next few months, they added eight more restaurants—Joy Thai, Franco’s Lounge, Port Town Heroes, Sinner or Saint Speak Easy, Jasmine Chinese & Thai, Sticky Elbow, Kimball’s Pub, and Acme Barbecue. Finding restaurants to contract with was a challenge at first. Jesse Darrow, owner of Sawhorse Café, who had started his restaurant just two years before on the platform of using foods from local farms, was instrumental in helping the Pierces get the business off the ground. His advice to the brothers? “He kept telling us, ‘don’t give up yet, keep selling it,’” Kevin says. “He’s all about small businesses.” Though neither of the Pierces had run his own business prior to this, they both bring helpful life experiences to the project. They grew up in Knoxville, northern Tioga County, in a family of five children. Nate, who will be thirty-five in September, studied financial management in college, took a job at JP Morgan Chase, and then went to California where he became a software designer See Chow on page 20

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Chow continued from page 18

for a small company. He returned to Pennsylvania about two years ago. Nate says his background in working for a small company and financial management “helped immensely in getting our business off the ground.” Kevin, who also has a September birthday, his thirtieth, took a much different path. He served in the Air Force from 2006 to 2011. During that time he was stationed in North Carolina and Japan. Upon returning to his home state, he moved to Williamsport and began taking courses in an electronics and engineering program at Penn College. It was Kevin’s experience in the Air Force that inspired the name. “Chow Runner is a term used for the person who would secure dining hall space for the entire ‘flight’ (similar to a platoon in the army) in basic training. It’s not really an honor, but it’s definitely an important role because without them, no one would eat,” Kevin says. “We named our company Chow Runner as a subtle nod to the armed forces, but also because it’s a great name.” “We definitely have parallels in our

values to the Air Force Core Values: we believe in integrity and always being up front in business dealings with customers. We want our service to be beneficial to all, even if we have to make personal sacrifices to make it happen. We constantly strive for excellence,” Kevin continues. So what’s been the feedback? “Positive” is the consensus. “I think it might even be beating my expectations so far,” Kevin says. Evening home deliveries have been popular, as well as some lunch orders for Williamsportarea offices. The busiest days, perhaps not surprisingly, are Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. How does it all work? Orders are taken at where a pop-up box asks for your zip code. You also have the option to enter a hotel location. Once you click on the “find me food” button, it will bring up the list of available restaurants along with the estimated delivery fees. Delivery range is five miles from each restaurant, Kevin says. The cost is two dollars for up to three miles, and three dollars for the three-to-five mile range. Customers pay the actual menu price of the food. “The price you pay online is

the price you pay at the restaurant,” Kevin notes. “The cost of food is not marked up.” Prospective diners add meal items to their cart, check out, and then the order is automatically sent to the restaurant. Then—dinner at the door! One of Nate and Kevin’s goals is to expand their coverage area, and to that end the brothers are looking to get more drivers on board and to add more restaurants to the list of participants. “This area has such great food,” Kevin says. “There are many great options in town, and a lot of people haven’t heard of many of them,” Nate adds. “That’s something we hope to change. We’ve had some customers tell us that they use our service specifically for that reason, to try new places from the comfort of their own home, and I honestly couldn’t be happier to see that vision come to life. We want to help local restaurants prosper and help local diners easily experience all there is to offer in town.” Melissa Farenish has worked as a lifestyle correspondent at community newspapers, and writes for several regional magazines. She lives in Montoursville.

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Pay It Backward

The Magical Drive-Thru from Cranky to Considerate By Maggie Barnes


elcome to Dunkin’ Donuts. What can I get you?” I shoved the Jeep into park, my excessive use of force a proper indicator of my lousy mood. I was hot. I was tired. I was frustrated with the state of humankind in general. Six months into a new job and I was still struggling to understand the processes essential to my position. Earlier that day, I had a hefty portion of my backside handed to me by an unhappy client. I pride myself on my professional abilities and every error and misjudgment was carried home and brooded upon. My boss, a most supportive and congenial chap, tried to settle my knotted nerves. “You’ll get it,” he smiled. “You’re still learning.” He had more patience than I did for a ramp-up I found inexcusably long. There was more eating at me than the job, though. As spring had come to a close, my family suffered the loss of a brother and, though the death had been expected, grief continued to hang over my heart like a morning fog that wouldn’t lift. My tolerance for the small infractions of social behavior that make up modern life


had bottomed out. Every slow driver, disinterested store clerk, and ill-tempered mechanical device unleashed a reaction from me that was out of proportion. I would have slugged Gandhi if he tried to get through the express lane with eleven items. I was grouchy. I contemplated telling the chipper voice on the speaker that she could get me a new mindset and a return to a generous nature, but I doubted they had that among the blueberry bagels and Boston crèmes. I ordered a strawberry smoothie and dutifully pulled ahead when advised. There were two cars in front of me, one at the window having some sort of conversation with the cashier. “Oh, come on,” I grumbled, “no chatting today. Just give me my damn smoothie.” The first car pulled away and the one in front of me took its place. Again, there was much gesturing and back-and-forth between the car and the person inside the window. “If they are doing a

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customer survey or something, I will pull her through that window and stuff her in the glove box,” I sneered. Like I said—grouchy. After what seemed like time enough to negotiate the purchase of the entire franchise, the car before me moved on. I rolled into place, debit card in hand and a face of granite. Ain’t making nice with nobody today. Then I looked at the young lady gazing at me from the other side of the split windows. She couldn’t have been twenty years old, a vibrant swath of pink hair in her ponytail. But the dye job had nothing on the brightness of her eyes. They were shining. In fact…was she about to cry? Oh, what the hell… “Okay,” she gasped out, struggling to contain her emotions. “I don’t know what to say…the people in front of you,” she gestured to the mini van negotiating a left-hand turn out of the lot, “they paid for your order.” That stopped me dead in my miserable, self-absorbed tracks. But she had more. “And the people in front of them paid for them and the people in front of them paid for them and…it’s been going on for half an hour! I just don’t even know…” She stopped talking, back of her hand to her mouth and the battle against the tears being lost. The whole idea of this kind of random generosity tried to settle into my blackened brain, but failed. It certainly didn’t jive with my current worldview. It was like watching a black and white movie, but one person keeps showing up in full color. I was in a full-blown, grade A, diva snit! This doesn’t make sense, not today. I looked again at my benefactors, driving off in a nondescript, dirty, soccer mom van with a dented bumper. I had to close my eyes when the afternoon sun cleared a cloud and flooded my windshield with light. The concept of the sweet act tried to crawl into my brain again, and failed again. “People do not do things like this. Not in this day and age,” I mused. And yet, there she was, all nineteen years of her, breathing around her tears and beaming at me with pure joy. When the reality of the moment planted a flag in my head, successfully this time, it wasn’t because the reality had turned right side up. It was because my head had. My debit card was still in my fingers, and a glance in the rearview mirror told me all I needed to know for the next few moments of my life. “Then I’m paying for them,” I jerked my head behind me. “Oh!” She took a step back from the window and put her hand to the top of her head. “There’s three people in that car!” “Good,” I snapped with something that could have sounded like irritation. “I hope they’re hungry.” She processed my card and looked at the receipt. “Honestly, I’ve never seen anything like this. I don’t know what’s gotten into everyone today,” she said, shaking her head. “I mean, you just paid $13.63 for one smoothie!” I took the offered cup and receipt and pondered the number at the bottom of the tally. Thirteen dollars and sixty-three cents? To buy back my soul? What a bargain.


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Maggie Barnes is a two-time recipient of the Keystone Press Award for her columns in Mountain Home. She lives in Waverly, New York.


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Allegheny Crayfish

Appalachian Brook Crayfish

You Say Crayfish, I Say Crawfish

But Whatever You Call Them, They Are Abundant in Our Local Streams By Peter Petokas


very child who has encountered a crayfish in a Pennsylvania creek has admired its massive claws. Those claws can bring a stinging pinch to the hand if the crayfish is not held carefully by the body’s rigid outer shell, a structure scientists describe as an exoskeleton. Crayfish species all look pretty much the same, save for a few color differences. They are miniature lobsters, with the obvious difference being that crayfish live in fresh water while lobsters live in salt water, and that lobsters have two different types of claws, or chelae—one for slicing and the other for crushing. The next time you visit the grocery or seafood store, carefully examine the different claw types on the live lobsters. Crayfish go by many other names, including crawfish, crawdad, mudbugs, and yabby. Pennsylvania currently hosts thirteen different crayfish species across the state, which is many more than the seven crayfish types Arnold E. Ortmann described in the 1906 publication The Crawfishes of the State of Pennsylvania.


In recent times, non-native crayfish have invaded Pennsylvania through bait-pail releases by fishermen and by others who do not know the harm that invaders can do to stream ecosystems. The most detrimental species, such as the rusty crayfish, are large, aggressive, and prolific breeders, displacing native species as they march across the state. Sadly, there is no way to control invasive crayfish except to avoid their release. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has banned the transport of live crayfish by sportsmen. The new regulation states that you must kill the crayfish by removing the head if you wish to have them in your possession. Native and non-native crayfish can be eaten, though they are much smaller than the southern red swamp crayfish favored by most restaurants and crayfish connoisseurs. Wildlife, including smallmouth bass, fallfish, great blue herons, muskrats, mink, and raccoons, eat them too. Two species that dine exclusively on crayfish are the giant eastern hellbender salamander and the queen snake,

welcome to which curiously feeds solely on softshell crayfish. A softshell is one that has shed its rigid external shell while developing a newer, larger shell beneath. Once the older shell is shed, the new one is soft and remains so for a few days as it hardens. Molting of the exoskeleton is a lifetime process for crayfish, for as they grow they must regularly molt and replace the protective shell. How queen snakes find these soft treats is not known. I have studied the crayfish of Pine Creek extensively and have found just two species. One is called the Appalachian brook crayfish and is historically native to the creek. It has small, beady, black eyes held close to the head and has a uniformly brownishred exoskeleton. The other is called the Allegheny crayfish and is thought to be an invasive, though it does not seem to be in any way harmful to other aquatic life. It has oval, purplish eyes held away from the body on slender stalks and a body that has patches of green, blue-green, rust, and lavender, and red tips on the claws. The Allegheny crayfish is the dominant species from Jersey Shore upstream to Rexford. But from Rexford to Galeton, both species may be found. The Appalachian brook crayfish is the only species you will find in the headwater streams of Pine Creek; unfortunately for them, this is also where they are frequently the prey of colorful native brook trout. Crayfish are omnivores, meaning they feed on anything. Grazing on algae-covered rocks, ingesting small aquatic insect larvae, munching on aquatic vegetation, or snacking on the carcass of a dead fish all meet the dietary needs of crayfish. Although it was long thought that they fed by grinding up food with their jaws or mandibles, recent studies have shown that sometimes an entire organism, such as a stone fly, is ingested. One behavioral difference between the Allegheny and Appalachian brook crayfish species is that the Allegheny crayfish does not build burrows. Rather, it simply hides beneath stream rocks. The Appalachian brook crayfish builds burrows, either beneath cover rocks, or in sand and gravel sediments on shore where deep, excavated tunnels reach the water table below. A surface entrance to these tunnels is sometimes revealed by the presence of a crayfish “chimney.” Crayfish are gill breathers and have banks of moist gills beneath the exoskeleton. The protected gills allow them to survive out of water, though they prefer to be submerged. The next time you encounter a crawfish, pick it up carefully with the thumb and forefinger grasping the firm shell behind the head so that pinching claws cannot reach you. Examine the underside of the tail where you will find a series of paired swimmerets—they look like skinny legs. Swimmerets are used by females to hold clusters of eggs until they hatch and discharge miniature crawfish, smaller than half the length of your pinky nail. A female holding eggs is said to be in “berry” because the egg clusters resemble the fruits of blackberries and raspberries. In males, the first pair of swimmerets are modified for reproduction and can be used to distinguish males from females. Breeding can occur at any time, but most commonly occurs in the fall.


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• Developing Bradford County within its borders. • Assisting Bradford County’s 501c3 and c6 organizations through room tax grant program. • Growing tourism outside our borders. • Non-profit agency funded by hotel occupancy tax.



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This Ain’t Your Granddaddy’s Pole Shed Go Green Without Going Broke with Barn-Livin’ By Micah Sargent


ue Oliver has been a pioneer all her life. In the mid 80s she started working two jobs in the construction industry, a field dominated by men. In the 90s she started a grass-fed sheep and cattle operation, well ahead of the locavore movement, all the while raising a couple of kids on her own. With her current project, Barn-Livin’ LLC, Sue blends an engineer’s understanding of building with an artist’s eye for detail and design to create green homes that folks can afford. She calls it building “green homes for blue collars” and, judging from the current workload, she’ll be busy building affordable, green homes until she’s ready to quit. In 2005, Sue, now based in Chemung,


New York, was in the market for a new home. While exploring her options, she couldn’t find anything that suited her needs and style, while staying within her budget. She thought, “You know, for twenty-some years, I’ve been designing homes. I’ve worked for architects, engineers, and I was a commercial project manager so I know construction and I know design.” Sue (above with one of her homes) decided to come up with something all her own. The result was Barn-Livin’ ( or 607-733-2458). Barn-Livin’ designs and builds barnstyle homes that are based on a post frame construction. But make no mistake, this ain’t your granddaddy’s pole shed. Sue has

designed post frame structures that are currently used for commercial kitchens and dining halls, country clubs, and for a viewing pavilion at Watkins Glen International Raceway. Recently she has been focusing her efforts on designing and building homes that blue collar workers can afford without sacrificing quality or craftsmanship. Sue says that when you get a Barn-Livin’ home “you’re getting a hybrid of a structure that is very energy efficient and very cost effective.” Barn-Livin’ homes start at around 100 dollars per square foot, which is comparable to manufactured homes and blows the cost of a typical barn home out of the water. The other benefit is that these homes are

extremely energy efficient, resulting in long-term savings over the life of the home. Barn-Livin’ customers can sleep well at night knowing that their building materials came from within a 500-mile radius, cutting down on transportation fees and the environmental impact that moving large-scale items like building materials causes. Sue also uses local contractors and strives to pay them a wage that can support a family, helping to keep our local economies vibrant. All of Barn-Livin’s homes are made with closed cell spray foam insulation that, in addition to supplying an exponentially higher R-value than traditional fiberglass, provides added structural strength. The post frame structure used on most Barn-Livin’ homes causes less ground disturbance than traditional foundation types, resulting in less erosion and less fossil fuel consumption for site work. All of Barn-Livin’s homes are Energy Star Certified. But Barn-Livin’ homes are not just energy and cost efficient, they are beautiful. Most of Sue’s projects incorporate an open design featuring stamped concrete first floors, Amish-made cabinets, and tons of locally sourced hemlock. A typical BarnLivin’ home takes about nine or ten months from the beginning of the design process to completion of construction, but Sue urges customers to take their time making decisions on their homes since they will have to live with those decisions for a very long time. Design features of Barn-Livin’ homes tend to change as Sue, the homeowners, and the builders start taking on the process of putting each individual dream home together. As Sue says, “We’re taking a design on paper and we’re developing it as [the home] is being built.” Sue earned her design and engineering experience while working for eighteen years with an engineering firm in Elmira, New York. As a single mom trying to pay for the extras that many folks take for granted, she took on a second job designing post and beam homes or, as she put it, “selling her sleep.” While working with the engineering firm, she led a forensics and probable cause team that looked at insurance claims and the reasons why buildings failed. This combination of engineering know-how and design was the perfect training ground for starting a company like Barn-Livin’. “Not only did I learn how to design and how to build frugally and how to take different components and meld them into something different,” Sue says, “but I also learned how not to build, what details didn’t work, and why they failed.” Aside from structural differences, Barn-Livin’ homes differ in the way that the customer is billed. Instead of paying a general contractor who hires sub-contractors and marks up their rates accordingly, Barn-Livin’ customers pay each contractor separately. Sue acts as the construction manager to make sure everything runs smoothly and is completed in a timely matter. This system allows the homeowner to have more control over the construction and design process while saving them thousands of dollars in construction costs. There are a number of Barn Livin’ projects going up in the area this construction season, including homes in Burdette and Newfield, New York, and in Mansfield and Troy, Pennsylvania. There’s never been a better time for going green and helping to make our area more beautiful and energy efficient. Micah Sargent is a builder, writer, musician, and outdoorsman. He lives in Wellsboro, PA with his wife and three children.

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Cain continued from page 17

Then he wrapped up what was left in mummy fashion and propped the dead man in a display case in his own upstairs apartments. Flood quietly enjoyed the dead man’s company without discovery for many years, even through the period when the doctor was convicted of financial fraud and then, in a surprising twist of his own fortunes much different than that of his deceased roommate, when Flood was made mayor of Elmira in 1872. When the doctor died, his son, Henry, considered reburying the corpse but thought the spectacle of a second, more public interment at this late date might be too much for the sensibilities of a newly refined community like Elmira. Mark Twain was spending his summers there after marrying Olivia Langdon in Elmira in 1870, Harriet Beecher Stowe often visited her brother, the Reverend Thomas Beecher, at Park Church, and the city played host to other luminaries for whom revisiting the Gardner history would have been a scandal. Topping all other considerations in 1884, Henry Flood himself was now mayor of Elmira. So, the son unwrapped the body and used the skeleton for display in his father’s old doctor’s office there on Water Street. When the windows to the office were open in summertime, young boys dared each other to reach through the window and unknowingly touch the body of someone who had been Elmira’s first Cain. By the 1890s the “affair of the blue devil” had pretty much been forgotten when Henry Flood quietly removed the skeleton to a barn. Eventually Gardner—looking much the worse for his travels—was found by a group of boys on a Halloween lark who took him “walking” for a distance until they tired of carrying him. The next morning his bones were discovered in a pile at a brewery on East Water Street, where the boys had used him as a prop for a bonfire. The Elmira Advertiser reported that a brief investigation revealed the identity of the person thought perhaps to be a murder victim was Henry Gardner, to the astonishment of the police. There were some old timers who had been witness to the botched hanging, though they had no idea why Gardner’s bones were not six feet below in Woodlawn Cemetery. Henry Flood, to his extremely delayed credit, then revealed the skeleton’s entire post-mortem history for the police record. The murderer’s bones were at last placed in a box and taken to the city incinerator, where Henry E. Gardner was finally beyond the designs of God or man. Not to be outdone by the Flood family’s gruesome history concerning the deceased, a second physician, who had been in charge of preparing the body of Gardner’s victim, Amasa Mulock, for burial in 1864, came forward with his own keepsake of the grisly crime: William C. Wey had detached the old woodchopper’s head and kept the smashed skull on his desk.

Mark Bromberg grew up in Elmira NY and after moving to Georgia has spent forty years writing for publications across the country. He currently lives in Athens, GA where he writes and performs poetry, and runs his own small press, Bellemeade Books.

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Courtesy Melvin Parks, Benton Rodeo Association Courtesy Janet McCue

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Glamor + Camping = Glamping In the Wilds of Nature, Luxury Under Wraps By Janet McCue


hat’s not to like about glamping,” my friend Ashley exclaimed. “The tent’s already set up, you have a real bed, and you don’t get wet when it rains.” We were about to test her hypothesis. My hiking buddies and I embarked on our first luxury camping experience in the midst of a thunderstorm. Glamping, a contraction of the words glamor and camping, is often referred to as elegant camping or luxury camping. Accommodations come in all shapes and sizes—from tents to tipis to yurts to treehouses. The amenities distinguish it from traditional camping. Instead of sleeping on the ground, we’d be in comfortable beds. Rather than a damp


towel, we would get fresh towels for our hot showers. What we wouldn’t be trading would be nature. We’d be sleeping in the woods with the cool night air and the sounds of the forest surrounding us. Even as the thunderstorms rolled through the Finger Lakes, we were optimistic. A break in the weather gave us the opportunity to hike in the nearby Finger Lakes National Forest (FLNF) before checkin at our glamping site, Seneca Sol (www. Located on Satterley Hill, Seneca Sol is just a few miles from Watkins Glen, Seneca Lake, the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, and a host of restaurants, breweries, and distilleries. Cameron Adams, co-owner of Seneca Sol, greeted us in the open-air tent that

serves both as the check-in desk, lounge, and breakfast nook. This is the third season for Cameron and his partner, Christine McAfee. Cameron led us on a tour of the wooded property, which included tents, tipis, and trails, ending at “Oak”—our luxury tent, a large safari canvas affair that felt airy and sturdy. The furnishings included two double beds, a comfortable chair, and a writing desk. There was even a phone charging port on the camp light. Seneca Sol has an impeccably clean shared bathhouse for its guests with private restrooms and showers, sinks, fluffy white towels, and eco-friendly toiletries. As we prepared our après-hiking hors d’oeuvres, the sky darkened and thunder rumbled down the lake. Fortunately we had

See Glamping on page 32

Courtesy Janet McCue (3)

a covered back deck equipped with patio table and chairs where we could watch the rain and enjoy our appetizers and a bottle of local Sauvignon Blanc. We opted to eat at one of the many good restaurants on State Route 414, just a few miles from our glamping site. We enjoyed our meal at Dano’s Heuriger, a wine restaurant in the Austrian tradition, but had a difficult decision to make: indulge in one of Dano’s pastries or return to Seneca Sol for dessert. Cameron had promised a campfire and all the ingredients that we’d need for s’mores. We found the fire crackling and s’more packets—complete with graham crackers, chocolate bars, and marshmallows. Our alarm clock the next morning was a cacophony of birdcalls; an intricate silhouette of branches and leaves danced across the tent walls. We joined other campers in the lounge for breakfast. The buffet included fresh blueberries and strawberries, Greek yogurt, granola, pastries, locally roasted coffee, and a selection of teas. We chatted with some of the other glampers, including a Danish family who had just visited Niagara Falls. Seneca Sol is committed to being both child and pet friendly, and the Danish toddlers were certainly enjoying their stay. Seneca Sol has hosted intergenerational family groups and international travelers who’ve tried glamping in their own countries and also folks who want an outdoor experience but don’t own camping equipment. Although the word glamping is new to the dictionary, the concept isn’t. Adirondack guides set up elaborate campsites for wealthy patrons in the nineteenth century; thatched tents equipped with comfortable beds are a staple on safari tours today. The UK’s scenic Dorset County claims one of the earliest (2006) glamping sites. Here in Northern Pennsylvania and the Finger Lakes region of New York we have several luxury glampgrounds. The newest is Pettecote Junction (www. Tucked in at Cedar Run, Pennsylvania, Pettecote Junction offers a range of options—from traditional campsites to cabins with modern facilities. Owners Jill and Doug Garman recently added


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Glamping continued from page 31

two glamping sites with spacious canvas tents on raised platforms, queen-sized beds, artwork, and electricity. For hikers on the nearby Pine Creek Rail Trail who don’t want the burden of carrying their own camping gear, the glamping sites at Pettecote Junction provide just the right touch of luxury. Emma and Robert Frisch, coowners of Firelight Camps, were pioneers in the glamping movement in the Finger Lakes. Opened in 2014, Firelight Camps (www.firelightcamps. com) describes the experience as elevated camping. On the grounds of the elegant La Tourelle Hotel, Bistro, and Spa in Ithaca, New York, the campsite is adjacent to Buttermilk Falls State Park where guests can explore the park’s extensive trail network. Emma and Robert’s hospitality background includes owning a boutique hostel in Nicaragua and work with Contentment Camping, a glamping outfitter for music festivals and events. Firelight Camps hosts local musicians every Tuesday evening as well as morning yoga and eco-hikes. Emma, Firelight’s culinary director (and a finalist of the Food Network Star Season 10) initiated wild food foraging classes and wild food cooking classes. All glampers should sample the homemade marshmallows in Firelight’s s’more kits as well as the locally sourced continental breakfast buffet. Firelight Camps’ goal is “to create a comfortable, stylish, and revitalizing camping experience that awakens guests’ appreciation for nature, inspires adventure, and deepens connections with family, friends, and community.” Glamping comes in all shapes and sizes with costs comparable to staying in a good hotel. Central to the experience is the pleasure of being in the woods. Whether you’re a seasoned camper or a curious millennial, glamping takes away all the anxiety. Ashley was right—what’s not to like about glamping? Janet McCue is a freelance writer, avid hiker, and chair of the Seneca Lake Scenic Byway Committee. She’s currently at work on a biography of Horace Kephart, dean of American campers, who, like Nessmuk, believed you don’t go into the woods to rough it but to smooth it.

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Still Life with Jars

Magic Out of Mayhem: the Culinary Delight of Cleaning Out the Fridge By Cornelius O’Donnell


had a major cleanout of my refrigerator and pantry storage area recently. I am still recovering. And in a related fit of discovery, I came across a file folder marked “Funnies.” This bit of evidence of my packrat past consisted of clippings— mostly from The New Yorker—and all having to do with food in one way or other. One of my favorites was a full-page fourpanel gem by super-talented Roz Chast labeled “Welcome to the Museum of One’s Kitchen.” Each of the four panels had titles: “The Impulse Buy Collection” included a dusty-looking box of Instant Mocha Torte fixings—“Even you can do it!” proclaimed


the box. Another panel was called “The Shelf of Antiquity” and held a box of powdered milk, another box labeled “Mother Russia Kasha,” and a tin of herring in tomato sauce. These were draped with cobwebs. The panel that really hit home showed an open refrigerator door and was simply titled “The Refrigerator Door Gallery.” It presented us with an all-too-familiar scenario: a jumble of beverage bottles, mustards, and a wide range of other condiments, many used for one recipe (usually Asian in nature) and never to be used again. Never say never. Maybe it’s time for a bit of culinary editing? I did this, but I wonder just how long it will

take to redecorate every inch of door storage with tubes and bottles of exotica. Do I have to have “ballpark” mustard, Dijon smooth and coarse grain, and the one with green peppercorns? The answer is “Yes.” Ah, Green Peppercorns It’s memory time and the green peppercorn reference takes me back decades ago when I went up to Toronto for a film shoot (it was less expensive to make commercials there in those days). We stayed at an elegant—we now call them boutique—hotel; this one had a trio of restaurants called Three Small Rooms. I

can’t remember which of the rooms we dined in, but I have never forgotten a dish I ordered that came with a sensational new (to me) ingredient in the sauce. It was probably the kale of its day— green peppercorns. They popped up in a sauce that was liberally smeared on the steak or chop (I can’t remember which.) On my next marketing trip, I picked up a jar of these gems, and there has been one in my refrigerator door display ever since. I go to them, rinse them of the brine, and in they go. If I lose too much brine I just add a jot of white vinegar and recap them. They can really perk up a dish, especially a salad, be it egg, tuna, or chicken. Think of them, too, when making a cream sauce for poultry, chops, and steaks. Funny, I rarely see them used these days, but I adore them. Here’s a recipe I cribbed and adapted from a years-ago copy of Cooking Light. You could enrich the sauce by adding a half cup of heavy cream and reduce along with the shallots. Have fun with this.

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Chicken Thighs with Green Peppercorn Sauce ¼ c. all-purpose flour 1 tsp. paprika (preferably the imported one in the red can) About 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper 4-5 skinless boneless chicken thighs (more flavor than breasts) ½ tsp. salt 1 Tbsp. olive oil ¼ c. finely chopped shallots 2/3 c. dry white wine (or use dry vermouth) ½ c. fat-free low-sodium chicken broth 1 Tbsp. (or more to taste) green peppercorns, crushed (place in plastic bag and crush with a heavy skillet) 1 Tbsp. butter Combine flour and paprika in a shallow dish. Sprinkle the chicken with the salt and pepper. Add chicken pieces to the flour mixture until coated; shake off excess. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add chicken to pan and cook about 5 minutes per side, or until lightly browned. Remove chicken from the pan and cover with foil or a pan lid to keep warm. Increase the heat to medium-high and add shallots to the pan. Sauté 1 minute then stir in the broth and peppercorns; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1/4 cup—about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Return the thighs to the pan to reheat and finish cooking through. Cut into a thigh with a sharp knife to test doneness. Do not overcook. This serves four. As to what to serve with this treat I also reach back to my early days of cooking. I am helped because I retrieved a favorite pan that somehow got to the back of the cabinet several years ago. It is a big stainless two-part with an insert having small holes on the base, forming a steamer. You could also use one of those inserts that are widely available for varying sizes of pans. As for what to put in the pan, perhaps you have green beans in your garden—hurrah for you. The farmers market is another possibility. Steamed “Frenched” Green Beans I have no exact quantity to give you. Just eyeball enough beans to serve the amount of people at your table. Add a few more because I’ve found these hard to resist, and so will your guests. I first learned of this method at the late Bert Greene’s house out in Amagansett on Long Island. This technique takes a bit of time, so find a comfortable seat at a table and listen to the radio (not See Still Life on page 36


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Still Life continued from page 35

during the news hour) and daydream away. I listened to Bert, a great storyteller whom I dearly miss. (If you see one of his many cookbooks at a sale, grab it. You will be happy.) If you happen to have an old-fashioned potato peeler that had a funny square part at one end, that was designed to slice the bean. Just insert one end of the bean in the square and give it a push to start the process, then continue to pull the bean through and voila! French style! It really doesn’t matter that all the bean is sliced, what matters is the taste. Experiment. Rinse the beans and lop off the stem end. Using a sharp knife and starting below the stem end (you want to keep the bean together) slice the bulk of the bean lengthwise into thin strips. Add water to the pan, place the beans in the top of the pan, cover the pan halfway, and let them steam until they are just tender. Two to three minutes should do it. Place them in a serving dish and toss them with butter if you’re feeling like a sinner, drizzle them with extra-virgin olive oil if you’re saintly, or use a little of both if you’re a free spirit. I sometimes sprinkle them with red pepper flakes to heat things up a bit. Very finely chopped fresh thyme or rosemary wouldn’t be amiss, nor would fresh dill or fresh tarragon. And now for dessert. Super Easy Pumpkin Mousse Here’s a recipe from a column I wrote for a local newspaper back in 2008. It’s well worth a repeat visit because it is easy and so good. We’re all thinking of autumn these days, and perhaps of the coming holidays. What’s the expression? “Try it, you’ll like it.” 1 individual packet of unflavored gelatin 2 Tbsp. fresh orange juice

1 c. non-ultra-pasteurized heavy whipping cream ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract (I repeat, pure) 4 large egg yolks 5 Tbsps. sugar 1 ½ c. canned pumpkin puree (not the pie filling) 1 tsp. ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (pre-ground if you must) 2 tsps. orange zest 6 Tbsp. (more or less) tiny diced candied ginger (optional) Over simmering water or in a microwave (seconds will do it), dissolve gelatin in the orange juice. Set aside. In a small, heavybottomed saucepan, mix ¼ cup of the cream and the vanilla. Heat until small bubbles appear on the edge of the mixture. In a bowl placed over a dampened tea towel (for stability), and using a portable mixer (or use a stand mixture or elbow grease) whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until thick and lemon-colored. Gradually add the hot cream to the egg mixture beating all the while. The idea is to cook the eggs but not scramble them. Use a rubber scraper to mix in the pumpkin, spices, gelatin mixture, and the orange rind. Whip the remaining cream and fold this into the pumpkin mixture. Fill 6 individual ramekins or a 1 ½-quart mold and chill thoroughly. Garnish each serving with little bits of candied ginger if desired. Delicious.

Chef, teacher, author, and award-winning columnist Cornelius O’Donnell lives in Horseheads, New York.



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Murder continued from page 12

tell the difference between human and animal blood, the jury could not be sure if the blood belonged to Henry Cooley, Frank Davis, the friend who vomited, or a cow. “Has the Commonwealth,” asked Margiotti, “shown beyond a reasonable doubt that the blood on Davis’s clothes was Cooley’s?” The Commonwealth’s most damning evidence was the insurance applications. According to the coroner’s jury, Frank had told more than one creditor before Cooley’s death, “Be patient for a few more days.” Margiotti pointed to Ernest’s testimony on the policies. Ernest Davis had told insurance agents that he was the beneficiary because he had lent Cooley money to build a house. In case something happened to Cooley, the insurance would insure his expenses. Anything beyond his 800-dollar investment, Ernest had told Cooley, would go to his two sisters. Yes, he had applied for multiple policies amounting to over 44,000 dollars, said Margiotti, but he did so with Cooley’s approval, and he applied for them one at a time, sending one only when another was denied for various reasons. Of the three policies that Ernest obtained for Cooley, Farmer’s Insurance promised the largest payout. Initially, Cooley had applied for 1,000 dollars, but Ernest contacted the agent, changing it to 5,000 dollars. This policy included a double indemnity clause so in the case of an accident, the payout would double to 10,000 dollars. Regardless of the jury’s thoughts on the applications, said Margiotti, it couldn’t entertain them until it had decided that Frank Davis was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. “Never in God’s world,” he closed, “can you convict Frank Davis on the evidence in this case and return to your home and families and tell them you have done your duty.” A day and a half after the lawyer’s eight-hour summation, the jury found Frank Davis not guilty. The Commonwealth dropped charges against Ernest. Within weeks of the trial, public life returned to normal for the Davis brothers. Farmer’s Insurance denied paying the 10,000-dollar double indemnity policy, a decision that Ernest Davis unsuccessfully pursued in court for years. He died in 1958 at age seventy, owing in part to a fractured skull. In 1946, his son Dean died in a car accident at age twenty-eight. Frank Davis, Jr. died in 1970. Bill Fish worked for Frank as a farmhand after the trial. Fish never asked him about the famous trial he had heard about from his father’s friends. “I talked to him often,” he remembers, “I was never afraid of him.” Every day at noon, Frank’s wife Florence cooked a meal that Fish ate with the family. At ninety-six, Bill Fish has no problem recalling the trial of the Davis brothers amidst the many stories he has lived through. “I never heard anything like it.”

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Inspired and haunted by true stories, Keystone Award-winning writer Carrie Hagen is the author of We Is Got Him: The Kidnapping that Changed America. She lives in Philadelphia.



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Starry Night By Curt Weinhold


crawl from my sleeping bag at 11 p.m. to check on sky conditions. Must use care when treading near the edge of a rock shelf to photograph in available darkness. That’s my thought process as I dress for a chilly night, then looking skyward it’s…whoo-hoo! The Milky Way is bright, and I’ll hunt for foreground subjects to add depth and interest. Tripodmounted camera and long exposure with by guess and by gosh composition in the blackness. But balderdash! Blinking lights of a distant airliner track across the frame to compete with the stars. Getting sleepy, must try again.


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Mountain Home, September 2017  

"Getting Away With Murder" by Carrie Hagen. 1932. An insurance scam. A blinded jury... This issue also includes Let's Go Glamping!, Williams...

Mountain Home, September 2017  

"Getting Away With Murder" by Carrie Hagen. 1932. An insurance scam. A blinded jury... This issue also includes Let's Go Glamping!, Williams...