Two weeks ago, I promised you the first in a series of stories about our early schools. While conducting my research, I visited the vault in the Van Buren Town Hall. I had the capable assistance of Town Clerk Lynn McCormick, one of the most delightful public servants in memory. Lynn pointed me in the direction of the town's old health records, and an interesting story. So, I bumped the first article in my series about rural schools for one about the days back when beef came from the local butcher, not from a supermarket shelf.
Events unfolded here 100 years ago that would bring a few families closer and send another one packing. Because it happened so long ago, I assumed that my information would come from old newspapers or official files. But, the paper trail led me to Harley Loveless.
Harley turned 92 this month in his home on Downer Street Road. He's a bit modest, so I had to coax him to talk about his war record. I'm saving that story for another time. Harley's family still owns about 25 of their original 30 acres. Next door lived Harley's sister, the late Florence Williamson. Two doors down stands the old house where Harley grew up. His daughter lives there now. When the house was built in 1839, it stood just outside the village limits on the West Road to Dead Creek, known today as Route 31. Back then, the East and West Sorrell Hill roads ran south from this road all the way across Van Buren. They both still end at the old Warners Road, known today as Route 173. This was long before 1970, when they were interrupted by Route 690. Today, the north ends of East and West Sorrell Hill roads are known as Meigs Road and Sun Meadows Way, respectively. The former is the entrance to the Mercer Mill Apartments and Syracuse Home, southeast of Harley's house. The latter leads to Sun Meadows, a housing development located to the southwest.