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Looking Backward: A Tragedy In Crow Hollow -- part one

Gerry and Rosalyn Reeves Snow recently hosted a reunion of sorts in their Iona Corners home. Ostensibly, it was a chance for me to meet a whole host of folks for a future story about the place. I met Jon Lippert, who said that he and his wife, Shirley, live in Crow Hollow. I responded, "Where?" Crow Hollow is one-mile northeast of Iona Corners, as the crow flies.

If you still can't place Crow Hollow, then don't feel too bad. Most locals look a bit lost when asked about the spot. It's a cluster of homes in a valley at the intersection of Hoag and Sheets roads, once known as Cleverly Road. There are two Hoag Roads in the town of Van Buren.

But, town maps from 1860, 1874 and 1903 show only one Hoag Road, which ran all the way from West Dead Creek Road to East Sorrell Hill Road. Later maps show two, divided by a gap between Cleverly and West Sorrell Hill roads. For some reason the town closed this section, probably prior to 1910. Jon's theory is that "early cars lacked the clearance of wagons and sleighs, and couldn't negotiate the hill west of the old Sears place on West Sorrell Hill."

In a March 1969 Messenger article, Tony Christopher agreed. "Another antique highway not currently used was a continuation of Hoag Road from West Sorrel Hill to Sheets Road in Crow Hollow. William Sprague of East Sorrel Hill remarks he sometimes drove over this route 40 years ago, to acquire loads of gravel. The return trip was made by way of Iona (Corners) to avoid the steep hill west of the James Sears farm."

In July 1964, Christopher claimed it was called Crow Hollow "because large numbers of the black feathered species abounded there," which could describe most places hereabouts. Regardless of its etymology, I was intrigued and dug deeper. I was surprised to find that this cozy, little crossroads was the setting for a shocking story. In fact, it made front-page news in 1917. But, let's start at the beginning.

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