Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mount Etam Tavern in East Homer


Cortland Democrat
May 6, 1938

 Century-Old Pear Tree In Bloom
  Near Famed Mt. Etam Tavern Site
   Planted by a pioneer more than a hundred years ago, a pear tree near the residence of Leon H. Allen of East Homer burst into full bloom Monday and there is every prospect that it will maintain its reputation of always bearing an immense crop of delicious pears.
   "Nothing ever happens to that tree," said Mrs. Rose Gutchess Allen, who has known the tree more than 70 years. It was noticeable that no worms' nest showed among the myriad of white pear blossoms, so perhaps that accounts for the tree's long life of fruitfulness, especially in a season when the caterpillars are attacking almost everything with leaves on it.
   The tree always has been known as a Sugar Pear Tree in the Gutchess family, Mrs. Allen said. If it has any other name it is known.
   Nor is it definitely known when and by whom the tree was planted. George Gutchess, the English pioneer, settled in the neighborhood long years ago and the Gutchess homestead is nearby. His son was L.D. Gutchess, father of Mrs. Rose Gutchess Allen. Leon H. Allen is her son, and he is the fourth generation of the family on the place o enjoy the fruit of the old pear tree.
   Mrs. Allen has been told by pomologists that her tree is unusually large as pear trees grow and that it has lived much longer than usual. It is standing in a deep ravine by the side road and not far from the house. Its top begins about level with the highway pavement,but out of reach when pears are ripe! It is one immense bouquet of white blossoms this week.
 Mrs. Allen recalls the Mount Etam stagecoach tavern which used to be a landmark of the neighborhood and famous stopping place on the Albany turnpike. Mount Etam was built by George W. Samson in 1825. He was followed by Peter Westerman, and later Mrs. Allen's grandfather, George Gutchess, was proprietor of the tavern. Mrs. Allen says her earliest recollections are of the jars of striped candy sticks and her grandfather lifting her so she could reach into a jar for a stick of peppermint.
 Also she recalls the hitching rail in front of the tavern, where travelers on horseback tied their horses. Here grandfather kept 40 head of cattle on the farm and a string of saddle horses. A traveler westbound could leave his horse and rid away on a fresh mount, returning the horse and getting his own when he came again eastbound.

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