Interesting Side Facts
I decided to go back and take a look through Newspaperarchive.com for random information on my Zuver line. George Emery Zuver, that I have written about several times was my first target. George was at one point in time a wealthy man in the Oil City, Pleasantville area of Pennsylvania. He owned property that oil wells were drilled on in the mid 1800s. I have information on him later in life where he claimed to be broke and needed the widow and mother’s pension from his deceased son that his wife had been collecting prior to her death. I know George sold metal cemetery “stones” during this period and I know that he had a large house somewhere in town.
The first article that I found was on the building of Pleasantville. It explained how the town grew and prospered from 1869 to 1871. The towns in this area sprouted up fast and furiously, usually all made of wood. By 1871 the oil fields had run their course and the town was declining rapidly when a fire broke out in the downtown area and started burning up the streets.
“The fire had started in the New York Hotel on South Main street, consumed the Germer hardware store and the large St. Nicholas block on the southeast corner of main and State street; jumped across State street t the McKinney Hotel which earlier was known as the Union Hotel and was famous in the early annals of the Pleasantville Oil Excitement. It quickly consumed this building, the Deutch dry goods store and Corwin’s hardware store, as well as several other structures, stripping the block between State and Second Street, completely from Main Street up to the present residence of Dr. Proper. The other side of State Street was swept clean, clear up to the George Zuver residence, where William Fields, Jr., now lives. Sparks flew from the New York Hotel, across to the Oil regions, and the costly three-story structure, with its 150-foot front, was soon beyond salvage. Brown Brothers store, partly brick, was saved by almost superhuman effort and the Great Fire was stopped.”
George’s large house was spared from this disaster and continued to stand. George would die in 1911 and the house still stood up until 1950. The second article that I found let me know what had happened to the house that George owned.
Titusville Herald, Titusville, Pennsylvania
September 2, 1950
Pleasantville, Sept. 1 – C. A. Holliday, who has been tearing down the old George Zuver house, about a mile from town, which he recently bought, tells some very interesting things in connection with it. The planks, he says, were two and a half inches through and eight feet long, mortised at top and bottom with wooden pins; also, 4 feet up, pins were run through. The lumber was all pine, some boards were 15 and 18 inches wide and some double tongued and grooved. Rafters were 3×3 instead of the well known 2×4. Some were 6×6. The underpinning was hand-hewn oak logs, some 161/2 feet long and 12 inches wide. The house was double-boarded in the partitions and lath and plaster on top of that. The stone cellar was 12×12. The building is at least 100 years old. Mr. Holiday said they found several dried skins of spotted adders, or “house snakes,” three or four feet long; also garter snake skins.
Mr. Holliday is building a bungalow on the lot he has cleared on State street at the foot of Gardner Mill. He will use some of this pine lumber for the roof and sheathing. The rest of the material will be new. There will be four rooms and a bath and a covered patio. The building was designed by the Jaun brothers of Tionesta, who have the contract. The house was started Monday and by Thursday evening great progress had been made. The door and window frames are all in, the sub-floors laid, etc. It is estimated that it will be done in about six weeks. Mr. Holliday has already had offers to buy or rent the bungalow. Pleasantville seems to have a building boom this summer.