This is my favorite picture of my grandfather Allen Lester Korns, the fourth son of Wilson Korns and his Wife Mary Elizabeth (Geiger) Korns. Allen was born on November 7, 1904 in Somerset County, PA and died on May 8, 1974. He was affectionately known as "Pappy Korns" to his grandchildren, and his wife Gladys was known as "Grammy Korns".
When he was dating his future wife Gladys Bittner, it was in the era of the horse and buggy, and well before telephones and electricity reached the remote farms in Somerset County. They used to joke about how she could always tell if he had been seeing another girlfriend on a different mountain, because the clay road was of a different color that left tell-tale signs on his buggy wheels.
Allen and Gladys lived out their lives on the family dairy farm in Southampton Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania that had originally belonged to Daniel Korns, Jr.. Their barns and out-buildings were painted the traditional Somerset county red with fake white windows. The house had a beautiful view, and had two porches that stretched the full length of the house, one on the first floor and one on the second floor. It must have been a beautiful house when it was in its prime.
When they were married, Gladys followed local tradition and burned her wedding dress for good luck. One story of their married life together that I can remember is that they had a dog that, upon command would go out into the fields, find where Allen was working, and fetch him back for mealtime. They also had a bell on a post that could be used to announce mealtime.
Allen Korns was the "Maple Syrup King" at the Meyersdale Maple Syrup Festival one year. When it was sugar collecting time, the men worked till late at night in the sugar camp to boil the sugar water down. They had a room off of the camp where they could cook and sleep. When I was a small boy, I played at the sugar camp while the men boiled sugar water. Later on, when I was big enough, I helped to carry sugar water from the trees to the wagon. The sugar camp was quite picturesque, with wood smoke curling up through the forest, and the aroma of smoke and boiling sugar water in the air. The syrup was boiled in long tanks over a brick fire pit which culminated in a chimney. It was a special treat when the syrup was done, and we could sample the results straight from the tanks with a dipper or cup. The wood for the fire was stored in a separate building just up the hill from the camp, and the wood was brought down to the camp by gravity via a cart which ran on rails. The following is a brief article from the 1951 "Official Souvenir Program for the Fourth Annual Somerset County Maple Festival":
"Korns Sugar Bush
Allen Korns, Hyndman RD1, has been in the maple producing industry since the death of his father in 1931. At that time he began to modernize, and has slowly expanded the business. Now he sets over 2,000 keelers. Mr. Korns' maple products are shipped to all parts of the world, and his is best known for the quality of his 100% pure maple syrup. He uses all wood fuel in his production of syrup, and has the latest in equipment. His family helps him during the season when production is at its peak. The sugar farmer from Hyndman has won awards for his products in the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg at various times. Last year, he won first prize in the Maple products contest held in connection with the third annual Maple Festival."
One of Allen's pastimes in his youth was reading science fiction; later in life he commented that he had lived to see many of the things he had read about come true. Another of Allen's pastimes was hunting-a sport that he participated in since a youth.
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