High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Demise of the Dell, Part 2 -- Fighting City Hall

I am delighted to welcome back my friend and guest blogger Kathleen Mae Schneider who is here with the latest chapter of
In-Dell-ible Memories, a chronicle of her mother Margaret's childhood at the Shady Dell in the early years of the 20th century.

Chapter 7  

The Demise of

the Dell - Pt. 2 

Fighting City Hall

Kathleen Mae 

"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing
there is a field. I'll meet you there." -Rumi

   Our dog Sheila, napping contentedly in the sun, suddenly lifts her head toward the sound of barking dogs as it drifts across the pasture from a nearby farm. Sniffing the air for a sign only she under-
stands, and sensing no real danger, she responds with a small disgruntled ‘woof” of her own before returning to her siesta.

Sheila, our 6-year-old 
German Shepherd/Australian cattle dog 
(with the one floppy ear!)

   My grandfather would have loved Sheila as he
did all dogs. Sounds of their barking meant that his kennel at the Shady Dell was thriving and his family's future was secure. However, his dogs were not only his livelihood; they were his pride and joy. George Andrew Brown's beagles, hounds and terriers, known to be of the highest breeding, quality and training, were in demand by scores of repeat customers. The sizable fortune he acquired was built on this solid reputation and his reliability as an honorable businessman.

Picture and caption from the 1916-1917 catalog

   George had been in the dog business since a boy and had years of practical experience as a breeder, raiser and breaker of hunting and sporting dogs of all kinds. He himself hunted bear, deer, wildcats, turkey, coon, opossum, skunk, rabbits and quail and he knew how to employ hunting dogs to bring success in the field.

Another illustration from the same catalog

   As it turned out, George's expertise and love
of dogs was both a gift and a curse. The dogs made his wealth but they were a major reason he lost it.

   Until now this series has been gleaned mostly from Mother's memories, seen through her innocent eyes as a child living at the Shady Dell. Mother and her siblings grew up with dogs
as this wonderful early 
photo of Ethel, an older sister, shows.

   As I research the history of the Brown family, however, I'm uncovering much that Mother was never told in her 101 years. While archived documents tell a lot, they leave just as much untold. Mother and two of her sisters were too young to understand what happened, and my aunts and uncles who were old enough kept it to themselves. They took the answers to the grave many years ago. So from here on out we will encounter many unsolved mysteries.

A letterhead from my grandfather's business

   Despite glowing testimonials in his catalog,
many of George's neighbors did not approve of 100 to 200 dogs on his property above Violet Hill.
They drew up a petition in which they complained
of Mr. Brown's dogs "making loud, gruesome noises, both in the day time and in the night time and the constant howling and noises were emitted by said dogs to the great damage and common nuisance of the neighborhood."

   In the fall of 1921 my grandfather was indicted and there was an inquest. Despite pleading innocent to the charges, his case went to trial in January 1922 and he was pronounced "guilty". He was then sentenced to four months in the York County jail.

   By agreeing to pay court costs and "abating
the nuisance" in 90 days, George's sentence was delayed. In March he bought a 63-acre farm twelve miles south of the Dell near Loganville at a cost of $3,500. He established another kennel at the farm and sent most of his dogs there, but that didn't stop the complaints. At another trial in September he was sent to prison, supposedly because he had not removed all of the dogs from the Dell.

   After serving a month in jail, George changed
his mind and decided to get out of the dog business entirely. He sold the new farm and had his sons close down all his businesses, selling his re-
maining valuable dogs at a sacrifice. He claimed that a new road replacing the one that ran by
his property caused his automobile enterprise
to collapse because of lack of traffic.

   The garage that once bustled with REOs and Cadillacs stood empty, much as it did for the
next century. George also stopped selling his homemade medicines.

   George was now 49 years old with four children still at home. Since he was running out of both money and options, he was clearly a broken man. Petitioning through his lawyer for early release from prison, he stated that "his enemies have done him unjust harm and have driven him from his home. They caused him great financial loss, and that he cannot, and positively will not under any circum-
stances, live among his enemies any longer."

   The last time I visited the Dell house, I was struck by the beauty of this glowing stained glass panel above one of its matching front windows. Illuminated by the morning sun, it seemed a sad testament to my grandparents' lost dreams. When they built the house, perhaps they added this expensive stained glass because they felt their prosperity was assured. Instead, their financial ruin meant that they had to leave behind the house they loved.

   My daughter Elisabeth and I visited the Shady Dell property for the last time, also in the autumn. I told her the story of George's trial and imprisonment. As she stood in the doorway of her great-grandfather's barn, she imagined George tending his dogs in this same spot during that tragic September
90 years earlier.

   Except for the faint chorus of crickets in the underbrush, the old barn stood silent. Seeing its ancient hand-hewn timbers and moss-covered walls, Lis and I felt an undeniable connection to George's life. It was easy to imagine his confident and energetic stride when this barn was new, the sounds of his prized dogs and myriad other animals, his multiple enterprises that flourished for a while
in this place.

   I think George would be happy to know that although his wealth didn't last, his family and beautiful home survived. With his descendants now numbering in the hundreds and the Shady Dell house now refurbished and home to another family, he could still be proud that he and Allie started it all back in 1912. Surely he would be pleased that one of his 10 children, Margaret, lived long enough to be persuaded to tell his story to another gener-
ation, ensuring that his life and times will not be forgotten.

   In the next chapter, my grandfather's back-
ground as well as his personality will come into sharper focus. His choices and certainly some of his impulsive actions were partly to blame for his downfall and conspired to make his life a tragedy waiting to happen. Please visit us again for:

In-Dell-ible Memories
Chapter Eight

Curious (about) George

With love to Mother and to All,

Chapter 7: The Demise of the Dell, Pt. 1 Harvest of Tears
Chapter 6: The Dream Becomes a Nightmare
Winter Count: Margaret's 2013 Birthday
Happy Birthday, Margaret! Oldest Living Dell Rat Turns 101
Chapter 5: Home Sweet Dell
Chapter 4: Allie's Rats, Pt 2: Margaret's Pig Tale
Chapter 4: Allie's Rats, Pt 1: Hill and Dell
Chapter 3: The House on the Hill 
Chapter 2: Margaret is Born...and So Is the Dell 
Chapter 1: The Beauty and the Butcher
Introduction: My Shady Dell "Roots"
Margaret's Birthday


  1. It seems so heartless and unjust to send a man to jail because of dogs barking. It certainly does appear that there were people out to ruin him. How very sad.

    Again, another fascinating installment. I love the picture of your daughter standing where her great grandfather would have tended his dogs. There's a completeness there, somehow, and I, too, have to think he'd be pleased.

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderOctober 9, 2013 at 6:44 AM

      Good morning, Shelly! It's good to see you again.

      Just yesterday I was talking with a friend whose husband and son are both lawyers. She said the sentence and fines directed at George definitely did not match the misdemeanor charge against him. Even now they would be inappropriate, so 90 years ago they would have seemed outlandish. She agreed that something sinister was probably going on between him and certain powerful members of the community.

      It remains for me to find out just what that was, but it is proving to be difficult to unearth the truth.

      Since I live in the country and hear farmers' dogs barking all the time, I can understand to some degree why the locals in Violet Hill were upset with my grandfather. Even a few dogs barking incessantly can be annoying, especially more so at night. So it's easy for even for an animal-lover such as myself to imagine why it was a major problem when 100 to 200 of them all chimed in when one started howling. It may have made it nearly impossible for the neighbors to get a good night's sleep. It's significant to also remember that this had been going on for 10 years.

      The trouble is, records clearly show that George did abate the nuisance, at least in part, and the judge still threw the book at him. It appears that someone was out to get him and they succeeded in completely destroying the man.

      The next chapter will show that George had much earlier brushes with the law, and he apparently thought he could resolve the problem of people's intolerance of his kennel-operating methods by literally moving to higher ground. That obviously was a miscalculation on his part!

      I love that photo of Lis too! I had been farther back in the old barn looking around on that day of our last visit to the Dell property. When I saw her standing in the doorway, chills went down my spine as I thought back to the trauma of a century ago that Mother experienced as a child. I thought how proud of her George would have been. It would have probably helped ease his pain to know his granddaughter and great-granddaughter would not vilify him, and would appreciate his attempts to rise above his struggles.

      Things have truly come full circle, and the shame Mother's family knew is finally being resolved. I mean to get to the bottom of this tragic episode, and find out whether my grandfather was rightly or wrongly accused and punished.

      Thank you for your early-bird visit and touching comment, Shelly. I hope to see you again next time!

  2. What a tragedy that a man's life could be left so broken in this way. George seems like he was a very complex and compelling man. I think he would be very pleased that you and your daughter were able to return to where it all started and with your telling of his story.

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderOctober 9, 2013 at 9:48 AM

      Hi Jeanie, and welcome to In-Dell-ible Memories!
      Mother and I are so pleased to have another reader joining our group.

      A number of previous chapters to this story that are archived on this blog tell more about George and his wife Allie, showing more of the complexity you mention, as well as some really old and fascinating photographs of my ancestors from my mother's album.

      It's interesting to note that my grandmother also had her own business raising small terriers, which was unusual for a woman in that time. To me, she seems "liberated" when compared to most wives and mothers at the turn of the century. I quite frankly don't know how she did it all!

      My grandparents' story begs to be told, as I'm sure would be the case for most families. I'm thoroughly enjoying researching, writing and sharing this one with the great friends I've met here. Tom has provided a perfect vehicle in this blog to get it preserved for future generations.

      Teenage visitors to the Shady Dell when it was a teen hangout years ago were not aware of her rich history until we began publishing these stories. I, along with them and new friends like you, am learning about this house's previous life through my mother's stories initially, and now through searches made possible with new technology.

      My grandparents had no idea that their lives would be subjected to this much scrutiny but I think they will ultimately be vindicated by our telling of their narrative.

      Thanks so much for stopping by this morning and responding to this chapter. It means a lot to me and brings a bright spot to my mother's day.

      I hope you will return for the rest of the story in the following months!

  3. :Hallo again Kathleen. As always, it is a pleasure to see you again over at the Shady Dell. I have to totally agree with Shelly's comments. I'd actually written down that to be sent to jail simply for running his business, seemed to me to be harsh beyond belief.; I totally agree with you that the noise of the hounds could have driven to distraction, but to send a man to jail. Certainly there must have been more to it, and someone obviously had a real grudge against George. I just found it so terribly sad, reading of his downfall like that. You wouldn't wish that on anyone. To think that, when they bought the property, they would have started out with such high hopes. I also love the photo of your daughter, just standing there with her thoughts. The stained glass window was just beautiful and to see it with the light streaming through must have been quite something. George was obviously quite the entrepeneur back in those early days. Another really interesting instalment and I look forward to the next one. I do hope that this is going to be turned into a book somehow! Hoping that you, Kathleen, and your mum, Margaret, are keeping well over there. My love to you both.

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderOctober 9, 2013 at 10:24 AM

      Hey Diane! I am so happy to see you again for a reading of the current chapter of Mother's story.

      You are totally right about the sadness George's fate inspires. It also explains why Mother and her siblings were so reluctant to revisit that time in their lives at their Dell home. It was certainly a shameful and terrifying time for them all.

      We read and hear about unfortunate families in the present economic downturn and it's easy to draw parallels to my ancestors' troubles, isn't it?
      Life is hard enough as it is, but to be beaten down by powers beyond our control is especially victimizing.

      In George's case, there are quite a few stones as yet unturned. I've uncovered several things that show he made some bad decisions and acted impulsively, but he, like all of us, was merely operating out of what life had given him. He and my grandmother did the best they could given their circumstances.

      Whenever I look at the beautiful Dell house, as exemplified by the stained glass and other details that were planned when it was built, I feel anew George and Allie's confidence and hopes of a good life for their family. My aunt, an older sister of Mother's who knew more than my mother about the situation when it was going on, said it all when she told my cousin, "We had it all - and then we lost everything...".

      I, and now my daughter Elisabeth, not only carry our ancestors' genes, but also a great deal of compassion for this man and woman who tried so hard to live a good life but found brutal hardship in spite of their best efforts.

      Thank you for your continuing interest, Diane, and your encouragement for me to someday write that book. There is a lot of work to be done before that can happen, but having wonderful comments such as yours make me look forward to bringing it to fruition someday.

      Thanks also for your wishes for my mother and my good health. As she gets more frail and I and my siblings who care for her age ourselves, we do have some pretty unique challenges. God willing, we will be given the strength to give this final stage of her life the most quality possible. We surely appreciate all your caring and prayers.

      The next chapter contains both sadness and smiles as we take a closer look at George and his personality. It'll be great to have you back for that one too!

      Mother and I send our love to you and our best wishes for you and your family for a beautiful and healthy fall in the United Kingdom.

  4. Thank you, as always, Kathleen for your lengthy reply to my comment and for your good wishes for a healthy Fall. I can imagine that at times, life can't be all that easy for you as you care for your mum. It's wonderful to think that she is still in a family home in a loving environment. You hear such dreadful stories of how old people are treated in Nursing Homes (or certainly you do over here). Hugs.

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderOctober 9, 2013 at 2:44 PM

      You know, Diane, I consider it one of the greatest blessings of my life to be able to care for Mother in her old age! When she apologizes for "being a burden" I always tell her that I guess there were a few times in the last 66 years when the same could have been said of me - and it would be correct. How much of her long life was devoted to caring not only for my siblings and myself from babyhood on, but for our children as well. I tell her that helping her is a gift, not a burden.

      Mother was in a nursing home/rehabilitation center for about a month after she broke her hip in 2011. For the first time in 99 years, she became depressed. She was the the only one who didn't have dementia or Alzheimer's Disease and the environment really upset her.

      The staff did their best, but the state-regulated ratio of patients to aides was 15 to 1 and that just was not acceptable for us. We stayed with her 24/7 and sprung her out of there as soon as we could. She's been back home ever since in the house my father built and she is totally comfortable with her surroundings. I'm so glad it can be that way.

      We adapt our lives around her needs and while it's not always easy to do, we are managing. Luckily my sister, brother and I are still talking to one another! LOL! I told her once it must be why she decided all those years ago to have three kids - so there would be enough of us to help her when she got old. She just laughed and said, "I think there was another reason!"

      It sounds like nursing homes must be similar the world over. I can't imagine what will happen when our "boomer generation" gets older. Those places will be bursting at the seams!

      Thanks for your second thoughtful comment. Hugs back atcha!

  5. Hello Kathleen, Once again, your poor grandfather was just trying to make a living. I do understand what a nuisance a barking dog(s) can be. I have one, Rocky! I even received a note in my mailbox saying to "please keep him quiet"! I wished the purchasing of the new farm in the Loganville area would have worked out for George. I enjoyed seeing and reading the catalog pages but, I really enjoyed seeing that pic you took of the Dell's stained glass window. I've seen that window a 1000 times and it never looked as stunning as the way you captured it with the sun streaming in behind those old lacy curtains. George, your grandfather, would have been extremely proud of you, your hard work, diligence and interest delving into your families heritage and roots for future generations to come. Like always, you keep us at the edge of our seats wanting more, more, more!!!!

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderOctober 9, 2013 at 4:42 PM

      Hi, Toni! I'm happy to see you back and am grateful that you checked in to read and comment on the latest segment of our story.

      I wonder if the geography of the Dell property at least partly contributed to the noise problem. You have to figure the barking and howling on the hill drifted down significantly to the valley below and amplified it somewhat, perhaps even causing it to echo. Judging from the old photographs of the Spanglers, there were fewer big trees in my ancestors' time to help absorb the sound and the dogs would have been heard for miles.

      I too wish the second farm would have worked out for George. I think he believed he could make a fresh start far away from his Violet Hill neighbors but it was a short-lived plan. As I wrote in the chapter, his jail time appears to have broken his spirit. We don't yet know what else may have caused him to stop fighting for his innocence and give up. He certainly changed his mind quickly after four weeks behind bars, maybe on the recommendation of his lawyer. Perhaps the cards were stacked too badly against him and it was best to just cut and run.

      I need to remind everyone that the stained glass windows and the Dell house itself would only be a memory in people's minds if not for your rescuing her from certain destruction. Your cleaning and restoration of those curtains really added to the beauty and charm of those front rooms and it's the reason I took the picture. Your decorating choices for the rest of the home, from the paint colors in the rooms to the lighting and plumbing fixtures, were perfect. The Brown and Schneider families thank you again for giving The Shady Dell another life!

      I also appreciate your kind compliment about my family history endeavors. If George and Allie could read what I've written and approve, I would feel so honored! (They would probably have many corrections to their story, but if I could talk to them I really would pepper them with questions!)

      See you again soon!

    2. Kathleen Mae SchneiderOctober 9, 2013 at 4:57 PM

      P.S. Toni -

      I can't believe anyone would complain about your Rocky, that cute little fluffy guy! What grouches! Maybe Rocky's just channeling one of George's dogs... LOL!

  6. Kathleen your picture of your daughter Elisabeth sent chills down my spine and your word sent tears down my face. I feel that In some way I have a special connection with the Dell, since my early teens I have felt drawn to the Dell and have felt that there was a very special story to be told. Your writing paints a picture of the Dell in a time before I knew of her. Your writing reminds me of two of my favorite writers Jack Kerouac and John Steinbeck both could paint pictures with words. Jack Kerouac often wrote of the importance of time and place,if you were not at the right place at the right moment in time you missed it and could never experience it. I have gone thur much of my later life reading about things that happen in the years leading up to my life and thinking just that. I was all ways wishing that I could have been there and done or seen something. The last few year have made be realize that we all have are own very special moments in time. Had I not been at the Dell during that special time the 60's I would have missed the golden years of the Dell. It was the writing of you and Jack and John that made be see that if we don't keep history alive in the written word that it will be lost to those that follow. Till next time take care of your self and mother. Love Your Friend And A Dell Rat All Ways Greg

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderOctober 10, 2013 at 5:12 PM

      What sincere and moving words, Greg! It certainly sounds like you do have a unique and profound attachment to the Shady Dell. What you felt and learned there can never be taken away from you, and will only grow in value through the years. The mark that house on the hill made on your heart and life really is indelible!

      To have my work discussed in the same sentence as Steinbeck's and Kerouac's makes me blush! My goodness that's a great compliment and one that I've never heard before. I admire their work so I humbly submit that my writing is bound to show their influence. I'm glad you find something in my words that reminds you of them.

      The idea of capturing time and place is what motivates me to write down Mother and the Dell's story. Since I was a little girl these imaginings of mine have been building from Mother's accounts of growing up at the Shady Dell. I'm also fascinated by how my grandparents were affected by the culture of their day and how they interacted with events that I only ever read about in textbooks.

      One of my favorite Steinbeck quotes speaks to your comment about our place in time and the need to document what we experience. He wrote,

      "The story goes on and leaves the writer behind, for no story is ever done."

      We each occupy such a small part in the history of man, but that makes it no less important for us to record the richness and detail of those brief years in our stories. We pass the baton on to the ones who follow us and hope they do the same. We all know that's what Tom does so well with this blog. I also aim to do it for my ancestors and our beloved Shady Dell.

      Thank you for writing your thoughts and impressions concerning this series. Any writer, famous or not, would love to have you review their work!

      Mother and I look forward to your next visit. Thanks for caring about us!

  7. Hi, Kathleen!

    I love your dog Shelia! Please remember to hug her every day and give thanks for her.

    This is an excellent chapter, dear friend, one that raises questions and invites observations. I’ll never forget my first visit to the Shady Dell because I actually heard the place before I saw it. It was the fall of 1965 and my cousin and his buddies reluctantly agreed to let me tag along with them. We had the windows rolled down to let the smoke escape from the car. Shortly after we turned off George St. and began climbing Starcross, I could hear the music blasting forth from the dance hall on the hill. I can only imagine the sound made by 100 to 200 barking dogs. It seems likely that people over in Tri-Hill and even Hillcrest would have been able to hear the dogs. It seems logical that George Brown would have received numerous complaints and warnings about the noise over the previous ten years. Do you know of any prior warnings? If not, it seems strange that an unreasonably stiff penalty was imposed on him, seemingly out of the blue, a penalty that removed him from his home and family and stripped him of his ability to make a living.

    I know how much time, effort and expense goes into caring for one dog. It boggles my mind to think of George keeping as many as 200. He must have had every member of the family involved in the care, feeding, watering and walking of the dogs. It seems likely that he would have needed to hire a professional staff as well.

    George was indeed an entrepreneur and throughout history entrepreneurs have been known to make fortunes and then lose them. With all that noise, work and overhead, I can understand why George chose to get out of the hunting dog business.

    The Dell’s location along Starcross seemed like an ideal location for his automobile business when he built the Dell in 1912-13. I examined a Historic York County Map from 1915 and saw that Starcross was indeed the principal route leading out of town to Baltimore. When I consulted the next available map, this one printed in 1926, it clearly shows that, by that time, the South George St. extension was in use as the primary route south of the city.

    Do you know why George gave up selling homemade medicines? Was it because his reputation had been tarnished to such an extent that he was losing his customers? Was it because the large pharmaceutical companies were becoming established and advertising on radio, thereby changing the buying habits of consumers?

    Thank you very much for another interesting and thought provoking chapter, dear Kathleen. I can't wait to read Chapter 8!

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderOctober 10, 2013 at 7:42 PM

      Well, if it isn't our own Mr. Knight! I'm glad you stepped out from behind the scenes to comment, Shady!

      There is a saying that goes "When man is in trouble God sends a dog." Sheila once lived on the Amish farm across the pasture from us and came during a very sad time for our family. I was on my knees in my flower garden weeding and feeling very sorry for myself when she appeared without invitation, sat down next to me and leaned contentedly against my side. She has been with us ever since and is a true and loyal friend. Her name means "young girl" in Australia.

      I wonder if the neighbors ever gave John and Helen a rough time over the loud music and sounds made by all those teenagers that came from the outdoor dance floor and parking lot. If you could hear it that far away, you would think history would have repeated itself and there would have been complaints.

      Yes, my grandfather had been in trouble with his dogs long before this last episode. The next chapter will show how he failed to learn from past mistakes. Apparently he thought he knew best despite people's opinion of him.

      One of Mother's first jobs was to hold puppies while their tails were being docked. She never forgot how she disliked that, but it was required for some pure bred dogs. There were many employees at Brown's Kennel and four were George's sons. There were not only the tasks you mentioned, but also preparing crates to have the dogs shipped, delivering them to the train depot in North York, and bringing others back to the Dell.

      Thank you for following up with research on the Old Baltimore Pike, as the road that goes by the Shady Dell was called before it became "Starcross". Mother wasn't familiar with that name in her time. It would appear that George was right in blaming the new road on the failure of his car business.

      I don't know why he stopped selling his remedies. My second cousin still has his portable cabinet that held them, but I have yet to discover why that venture went belly-up. The suggestions you mention make sense, as do the fact that he was so busy trying to move his dogs and prepare for bankruptcy that he simply no longer had time to mix up big batches on the stove and bottle them. It's just a other of the mysteries I need to solve.

      Thank you for expanding the historical base for my research and suggesting some other avenues for me to pursue to set the records straight. I hope you come back for the next chapter and add some more insights to the story.

      Kindly give my regards to Tom should you see him in your travels, and thank him for all his help!

  8. Kathleen, with my brow furrowed, and my head shaking I was spell bound reading your family history. I can't believe how harsh a sentence was given and we know in this day something like that wouldn't be allowed to happen. How sad and scary for your Mother and family. I always think of a line from a movie that goes "Life can change with every breath we take" when I hear of misfortune. Certainly your Grandfather was a business man with a sharp mind and much energy to run such an establishment. How sad to lose one's dreams so quickly. I'm glad you were able to visit the Dell and the pic of your daughter is haunting. I remember when we had to sell my In-Law's farm after they passed away and just remembering how much fun we had there as a family and all the events that took place made it so hard to drive out the lane for the last time. I can't imagine having to leave someplace you love because of tragedy. I'll look forward to the continuing story and I'm sending good wishes to you and your Mom. You are so lucky to still have her with you and she's a lucky lady to have a loving family to care for all the blog buddies who have come to know and love her!

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderOctober 11, 2013 at 6:05 AM

      Hello YaYa! You've perfectly described the mood of the times in your comment. It's been very emotional and bittersweet for me to have had the incredible good fortune to both spend these last three years beside my mother as I care for her and have the opportunity to visit her childhood home too.

      By being able to tap into first-person history through her memories and simultaneously experience the actual setting for them, I've gained a perspective that few have had. This surely hasn't been lost on me. I thank God every day for that chance to walk the sites where she played when she was six years old and now to still have her telling me about them as a very old woman. How thankful I am to have seen the Shady Dell and felt her magic, and have one of her daughters in my life for just a little longer!

      I'm doing all I can to ensure that the final years of her life aren't as traumatic as those of her middle-childhood. I so appreciate compassionate friends like you and our other readers whose responses to her stories become part of that healing. She also shakes her head when she looks at this blog and hears what you've written to us, but it's with a big smile rather than furrowed brow!

      Thank you so much for sharing memories of a similar time in your life when saying goodbye to a special place was difficult. We are all connected through our experiences, aren't we? We are very lucky to have this spot where we can support each other as we walk life's paths - both good and bad!

      Mother and I look forward to seeing you here again for Chapter Eight, YaYa.

  9. It really was another world back then. So harsh in many ways, and yet so simple and beautiful in others. I'm anxious to hear the rest of the story and more about your grandfather!

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderOctober 11, 2013 at 7:42 PM

      Hi, Karen!

      The more I find out about my grandfather, the more interesting his character becomes. He was a man of contrasts who established certain patterns of behavior early on that probably didn't always work in his best interests. When things fell apart in his life though, he simply moved on without looking back.

      I wonder if people in the future will learn of our time and think our world was a lot less complicated than theirs. It seems that each era progresses in some ways and deteriorates in others. I guess there are always losses and gains, and a price to pay for new ways of doing things. Newer is not always better!

      I do believe however that there is beauty in all times if we search for it. Friendship and love were, and will continue to be, universal blessings for every generation of man. My ancestors certainly cherished these things and so do I.

      Thanks for checking out this second part of Chapter 7 in the series and extending your friendship by doing so. See you again next time!

  10. Hi Kathleen, I'm so glad to see your post is still here, even tho, once again I'm dragging my heels! You know, 1912 does make the Dell a very old home, and your grandfather must have wondered what would become of it later down the road! I agree that he would have been pleased to see it carry on, even if not in the same manner as he and Allie enjoyed it.

    It is sad that George gave up so much in his attempt to make things right, and bring about some stability in their lives. To give up the dogs, to give up his medicine sales, and the very things that made him a prosperous man...his own man.

    Your photos truly bring your mother's story to life Kathleen. A wonderful picture of your daughter, Her stance is a giveaway that she feels it, and I believe that most of us would feel the vibrant activities of those days gone by. I would just stand there, look around slowly, and take a deep breath! Is the stained glass window still there? Was anyone able to retrieve it before the remodel?

    That document of George's 'verdict' is incredible! Gosh, just to have that and the Kennel paperwork with photos, is so amazing! I would have loved to see something of that sort in my family, just to help me see who they were! This is really a great chapter Kathleen, and, I look forward to the next one.

    Have a wonderful week, blessings to you and your mother!

  11. Kathleen Mae SchneiderOctober 13, 2013 at 6:32 PM

    It's so good to hear from you, Suzanne - early, late or any time between!

    I also often wonder what my grandfather thought his future would be like at the Dell property. He obviously started out big, with very high hopes. He also took a lot of risks.

    At the time George Brown was born, between the Civil War and the First World War, the pioneer spirit and the idea of the self-made man who pulled himself up by his bootstraps was a common thread in American culture. He thought there was nothing he couldn't do if he applied himself and played his cards right. It was a reasonable plan until forces beyond his control such as the Klan got involved.

    When things fell apart he kind of regrouped and turned over a new leaf. Mother never remembers any emotional upset shown by her parents during this turmoil. She just remembers the confusion and sadness she felt at having to move and leave her beautiful home. Since the businesses failed gradually during her childhood, she was used to having to make do without a lot of luxuries. Like all children she thought her parents were taking care of everything and she trusted them.

    I'm glad the photo of Lis resonates with you. It was a real "Kodak moment" to see her standing there, not aware of having her picture taken, absorbing the spirit of her ancestors and their home. It was a once in a lifetime experience for both of us!

    As far as I know, the stained glass windows are still in the remodeled house. There is another smaller panel above the front door. Thankfully Toni Deroche and her family kept such details intact when they restored the Dell, which maintains the architectural integrity of the place.

    I just found the verdict document in the York County Archives a few weeks ago, along with the handwritten list of names on the original complaint against George by his neighbors. Seeing those, and then his signature on his appeals for release was very moving and brought tears to my eyes.

    Mother also had in her possession several letters written on the official business stationery that apparently was not thrown away once the family moved. I think the fact that it was kept shows practicality and a lack of regret on George's part after what happened. The date on the letters indicates it was used several years after the family left the Dell. I think if I went through what he did, I would not want to be reminded of the ordeal that rendered the letterhead obsolete!

    More old photographs and artifacts such as these remain to illustrate upcoming chapters. I'm looking forward to sharing them with our readers.

    Thank you for your wonderfully thoughtful comment and good wishes for Mother and me. We are thoroughly delighted to hear from you and send our best to you and your family.

  12. Another fascinating chapter in your family's history Kathleen! It never ceases to amaze me how much history every person has. I'm sure your grandfather would be happy to know the legacy he has created with you and your mother and the rest of your family. I know he would be proud and happy to know he is not forgotten and never will be!

    Hope you are well Kathleen, I look forward to reading more soon!

    Emma x

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderOctober 13, 2013 at 8:48 PM

      Welcome, Emma! Thank you for reading the latest chapter in our family's history and adding your thoughts to the others.

      You know, every person on earth has a life story worth telling, but most don't think the details of their existence are necessarily worth recording for future generations.

      My ancestors were the same way - trying to survive took all their time and energy. The traces they left behind are enticing clues to what they did and how they felt about the events, large and small, that occupied their days.

      Time rushes onward and before we know it, we also have forgotten a lot of the important observations we've made about our life. I just wish George and Allie had kept diaries!

      Thank you for your compliment and for coming along on our ride back into the early twentieth century.
      The next chapter will not be as sad as this one. George will have the spotlight shown on him. We'll see how his life's fortune rose and fell, and how he persevered in spite of it all.

      See you then!

  13. Hello Kathleen, It is so sad your grandfather didn't keep the kennels going at that new farm. He was obviously gifted in that line of work.

    I had two dogs that barked at the drop of a leaf. Someone called the dog police. I tried harder to keep them quiet and kept them inside a lot. That seemed to work. Yes, people hate the sound of dogs barking.

  14. Kathleen Mae SchneiderOctober 14, 2013 at 6:46 AM

    I was hoping we'd see you back, Belle! It's good to hear from you again.

    It seems quite a few people have a barking dog story in their life, doesn't it? For me, the problem changed the whole course of my ancestors' future. As a result of my grandfather's involvement, what most would see as an inconvenience turned out affecting not only my Mother's generation but the ones that came after hers in major ways and altered the history of the Shady Dell property.

    I often speculate how wonderful it would be if George and Allie's beautiful house could have stayed in our family, like many homesteads you hear about that are handed down from generation to generation. It's not hard to imagine the possibility of one of my cousins or even me raising my family there. Sadly, it was not meant to be.

    However on the other side of the coin, if that had happened we would never have seen the phenomenon of the Shady Dell that Tom and his friends enjoyed as such an important part of their lives. I think if my grandparents could have known the whole trajectory of their house's future, they would have given their stamp of approval, at least that part of it.

    It's interesting to note that even though George and Allie stopped raising dogs for a living, two of their children went into the same profession and one of their great-granddaughters is presently a respected breeder of champion Maltese and Yorkshire terriers.

    Thank you so much for your comment. Please come back to catch more of Mother's story next time and have a great Canadian autumn!


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