Percy Hagenbuch and Family
Several previous articles were dedicated in part or in total to Percy Hagenbuch who was born in 1880 and died in 1967. My great Uncle Perce (older brother to my grandfather, Clarence b. 1889) is one of the main reasons I became so interested in family history when I was just a youngster.
Uncle Perce was a story teller. The earliest story and memory I have of Uncle Perce has to do with his thumb. As a young man he had one of his thumbs (I cannot remember which) taken off at the knuckle. I believe he got it caught in the reins of a horse team while plowing and it ripped off. But, it had healed perfectly smooth and rounded. He would have me rub his thumb and then quip, “Ai Yai Yai, had that thumb taken off. Grabbed the horse liniment and poured it on. Healed up good as new.”
On Sundays after church at Oak Grove, I would rush out to the vestibule, grab his hat and cane, and wait for him. Handing him those “Uncle Perce icons” we would walk out to the graveyard where he would tap on the stones and tell me stories about the relatives buried there. This scene has been told by me to others hundreds of times. However, 55 years later I wonder how many times we actually took this walk through family history. It may have only happened a half dozen times, but its impact on my young heart and mind made an impression that will last my lifetime and is now part of our family chronicles. The graveyard walks are directly related to the thousands of pages, photos, and memorabilia which I have about our Hagenbuch family.
The circumstances are unclear, but several times my brother, David, and I picked up Uncle Perce to take him to church on Sunday mornings. On retirement from the farm he owned between Limestoneville and Washingtonville beside Narehood’s quarry (now Hanson Aggregates), he and Gertrude built a house at the intersection of Narehood and Quarry Roads.
After Gertrude died in 1951, Percy lived in the house alone. But, within a few years, his widowed daughter, Mary “Hagenbuch” Beaver moved in to care for him. She lived there from the time of my earliest memories until his death. Mary’s work schedule must have required her to work some Sundays which meant that Uncle Perce would need a ride to Oak Grove church. When David turned 16 and Uncle Perce needed the ride, he and I were set up to pick up Uncle Perce. This may have only happened a few times but I remember it well.
It was probably in 1965 and Uncle Perce was beginning to become forgetful. I remember going into his house where he would be sitting in a chair either reading or watching TV. Sometimes he would be dressed but wasn’t sure why we were there. After the explanation that it was Sunday and we were there to take him to church, the suit coat would go on, the iconic hat and cane found, and we were off.
I do remember at least once when he was sitting in the chair without pants. Again, after the explanation of “it’s Sunday and we’re here to take you to church”, we would find his pants with suspenders attached, help him into them, and off we would go. In talking to David about this, we believe he must have driven his 1962 Corvair on those Sundays as our parents would have been in the 1955 Chevy. David and I both had a chuckle when we thought of Uncle Perce in the front seat of that Corvair, David driving and me in the back seat, tooling down the back road to church.
Uncle Perce died on July 30, 1967. I cannot remember all the circumstances other than we found out in church the Sunday after the July 1, 1967 Oak Grove festival that he was in the hospital. But, I cannot remember if it was appendicitis or a fall that landed him the hospital. He lingered for several weeks and then died. During those years, death and spending evenings viewing bodies at Heffner’s Funeral Home in Washingtonville was fairly common for our family. Great aunts, uncles, my grandparents, other relatives and elderly friends were all at that age of passing on. I certainly remember going to Uncle Perce’s viewing and thinking that it didn’t look like him at all. His stay in the hospital made him lose weight and had allowed his hair to grow out and he was shaved (when living, Uncle Perce kept his head hair short and he usually had a bit of whisker stubble).
Percy Hagenbuch was born November 23, 1880 in Turbot Township, outside Milton, PA. His parents were Hiram Hagenbuch (born 1847) and Mary Ann “Lindner” Hagenbuch (born 1853). He was the 5th of 12 children. On November 11, 1902 he married Gertrude May Hill who was born Oct. 30, 1881 and died June 5, 1951. Percy and Gertrude are buried at Washingtonville Lutheran Church cemetery.
They had seven children, all born in Limestone Twp., Montour Co. (most likely) on the farm off Route 254 (Broadway), the back portion bordering the aforementioned Narehood Quarry Road. Each of them had a full and interesting life.
Bernice May was born Nov. 17, 1903 and died in 1992. She married Herman Bogart in 1927 and they had two children: Kenneth married to Pauline Temple and Leona married to William Rathburn. Bernice was the family historian for many years and had drawn a family tree on a window shade which started with William (b. 1808) and Rebecca “Muffley” Hagenbuch. Bernice would always bring family tree to the reunions, hanging it up for all to see. She and Herman last lived in Pottsgrove, Pennsylvania. The last few times I visited with her she would take out the window shade showing me that she could no longer update it as she had no more room for new leaves (the newest babies born).
Cyrus Eugene was born Dec. 4, 1905 and died in 1985. He married Cleota Marr in 1932. Born to them were Jean, Stanley married to Ann Shuman, and Arlene married to James Snyder. Cyrus owned a farm near Oak Grove church and was the custodian. He was jack of all trades at the church when I was growing up.
Mary Kathryn was born May 24, 1908 and died in 1999. She married Lester Rupp Beaver in 1932 and born to them were Dean married to Shirley Hoffman, Dale married to Faye Confer, Donald married to Joyce Auten, and Edna Mae married to Stephen Steiner. Lester died in 1951, and her mother, Gertrude, died the same year. Sometime after this, Mary became her father Percy’s caregiver. She was always referred to as “Mary Beaver” to distinguish her from her first cousin Mary “Hagenbuch” Taylor (daughter of Clarence and Hannah Hagenbuch) who was called “little Mary”.
John Robert was born Feb. 4, 1910 and died in 1997. In 1938 he married Ola King and they had two daughters: Mary Ann married to Luis Lizondo, and Marjorie married to Kenneth Cockrell. John received both a BA and MA from George Washington University. My father always said of him, “He is the only Hagenbuch of his generation to go to college”, and my father had great respect for that. John worked in Washington DC, as an auditor for what eventually became the Department of Defense. In 1982, my wife Linda, 9 month old son Andrew, and I visited with John and Ola for a few days in Annandale, Virginia. John gave us a tour of the capital. We returned there in 1986 when German cousin Regina Hagenbuch came to visit us. John and Ola were always the best hosts and tour guides.
Franklin Percy was born Jan. 31, 1913 and died in 1984. He married Elsie Steere in 1938 and they had three sons: Glenn married Sylvia Price, Percy married Alice Houtz, and David married to Shirley (last name not recorded). Franklin was always known as “Pete”. My father told the story of how this happened. When his younger brother Norman was born, Franklin asked his father Percy what they would name the new child. Uncle Perce, being the jokester that he was, supposedly answered that it was “Repeat”! Uncle Perce was referencing a joke about two brothers named Pete and Repeat. So, Franklin became known as Pete. Although the new child’s name was really Norman!
Norman Edward was born Sept. 28, 1917 and died in 2007. He married Ruth Anderson in 1940 and they had one son, Edward, who married Florence Reisch. Early on, Norman farmed, owning the farm that bordered Homer Hagenbuch’s farm. But, Norman also worked in the well drilling trade. His wife Ruth was an aunt to Tillman Hagenbuch’s wife, Grace.
Howard Tillman (always known as just Tillman) was born August 8, 1921 and died in 1997. He married in 1942 to Grace Anderson. No children were born to this marriage. Tillman and Grace lived in a modern brick house on Route 54 between Washingtonville and Danville, Pennsylvania. As most of Uncle Perce’s children and spouses, Tillman and Grace attended Oak Grove church. Grace recently died and had shared a room with my Aunt Mary at Kramm’s Healthcare Center in Milton, PA.
There are certainly more stories out there about Percy Hagenbuch. He was respected by his family and friends. Along with farming, he served as a local politician and community leader. With he and Gertrude having seven children and fifteen grandchildren, there are a large number of great grandchildren out there. Some of them are readers of this website. More photos and information will be shared about my Uncle Perce in future articles.