Little Falls, N.Y.

Contributed by BetteJo Hall-Caldwell

Little Falls Centenarian

Herkimer Citizen, Tuesday, March 14, 1905

John VanEtten

Last Thursday afternoon and evening, John VanEtten, celebrated the one hundredth anniversary of his birthday quietly at the home of his son, John VanEtten jr., and gave a reception to his relatives and friends. All of his direct descendants, to the number of 37 were present and many hundred friends called during the day to receive the hearty hand grip of this hearty, vigorous, young centenarian.

He was born at Stone Arabia, March 9, 1805 the third son of a family of six children. His parents, Peter and Margaret VanEtten were of pure old Mohawk Dutch stock and his father served seven years in the revolutionary war.

When the subject of our sketch was eleven years of age he was apprenticed to a cooper and has since that time been master of his own destinies, working actively at his trade until about ten years ago, when his wife died at Knoxboro and he retired and came to Utica to live with his daughters there. Before going to Knoxboro he worked at his trade in Fonda and Little Falls.

Mr. VanEtten was married in 1829 and in that same year cast his first presidential vote, helping elect Andrew Jackson and has voted the democratic ticket since.

To him six children were born of whom four are living - Mrs. John B. Maynard, age 69, of Minott; Mrs. Geo H. Hayes, aged 65, and Mrs. James E. Cools [misspelled should be Cooks] of Utica and John VanEtten, ages 61, of Little Falls, where he has made his home during the past year. At "Old Home Week" there last summer he was the oldest resident present, received a medal from same and occupied an honored place on the speaker's stand.

He has never used intoxicants, but is an appreciative smoker, his appetite is good, his eyesight is clear and he appears like a man twenty years his junior. His hearing is slightly defective which is the only faculty yet affected by age. He took great delight in the festivities at his reception and declares he will yet live to celebrate many more. Below we are permitted to publish the verses, written by Edgar Jackson Klock of Dutchtown, N.Y., and read at his centennial celebration by Mrs. Anna Maynard Caldwell of Minott, N.Y.

A hundred springtime's with their buds

Of promised bloom have passed away:

A hundred summers with their flowers

Have come to him with balmy May:

A hundred autumns with their fruits

Have come when summer days half passed:

A hundred winters with their snows

Have crowned a hundred years at last,

Since John VanEtten, here was born

At Stone Arabia, down below,

Of sturdy Mohawk Dutch, pure stock

Who's rich red blood through his veins flow.

Born at the threshold of an age

Of wonderful inventive skill,

He's lived to see that age become

The century of progressive will,

When he was young the spinning wheel,

Hummed by the old brick fire-place,

Propelled by house dames' hands and feet,

The mothers of a noble race;

The back-log lent its fitful glow

To aid the fallow dip's faint light,

None dreamed electric lights or gas

would ever rift the shades of night;

The cradle and the hand scythe cut

The grass crops and the ripened grain,

Log housed plastered up with mud

Turned winter's snow and summer's rain;

The grain was threshed with swinging flail,

The flax was pulled, then swingled, broke,

And hetcheled, spun and wove to cloth,

They traveled by the lumbering stage,

And thought ten miles an hour fast,

While sheep's grey, homespun clothes they wore,

And shoes made over nature's last;

With pike-pole flat-boats were propelled

Along the Mohawk's winding ways,

The whiskey then was made of grain,

Not strychnine, in those good old days,

But with the century he has seen

Those old time things left far behind,

And new inventions brought to take

Their places in this age of mind,

The mower and the reaper leaves

The scythe and sickle now to rust,

The railroad train now rushes o'er

Its iron road, north, south, east, west;

The ocean steamers now unite

Two world's across the ocean's crest;

The trolley glides across the fields,

Through country road and city street

Till we can scarcely figure out

Where farm and city limits meet;

Electric lights now light our homes,

And by it sparks car wheels are whirled,

It turns our spindles, runs our mills,

With we talk around the world;

it carries us from place to place,

It pulls our load, it weaves our clothes,

It gives us heat, laughs, sings and talks,

But what it is no one yet know;

Empires too, have rose and fell,

Great men have lived and worked and died,

And left their imprints on the world

A memory for ancestral pride;

Our people in their might have struck

A blow that made the black man free,

Till every child of Uncle Sam

To God alone now bends the knee,

John J. VanEtten, thus has braved

All storms in honest upright strife,

And turned a hundred pages o'er

In Father Time's great book of life;

The boys he played with when a child

Have passed from earth long years ago

The wife he loved so long and well,

Ten years has slept beneath the snow;

Six children came to bless their lives,

And four of them are still alive,

Fourteen grandchildren of this line

And nineteen great-grandchildren survive;

so thirty-seven souls are proud

To be descendants from this man.

Who gives to them an honored name

Extending through a century's span,

At Fonda, Munnsville, Little Falls,

And Knoxboro he piled his trade,

No better barrels were set up

Than those that John VanEtten made;

But time though it has touched him with

A lenient hand, has brought him to

Life's autumn, where he rests and waits

That call to higher work to do;

He waits as hangs the last green leaf

Upon the tree when others fall;

Escapes the frost beneath some wall'

He waits as some late autumn flower

He waits as dies some snowdrift hid

Deep in some ravine from the sun;

He waits a rugged grand old man,

Who's web of life has been well spun;

In which he's reached the hundredth year,

But few have reached that century mark

With arm so strong and mind so bright,

The secret is a sturdy frame,

A temperate life lived for the right'

And in conclusion now we can

But wish for him a sunset bright,

As blends a golden afternoon

Into a peaceful summer's night.

Back to Holiday Extravaganza 2003

Back to Meet Your Ancestors Section

Back to Herkimer/Montgomery Counties NYGenWeb

Back to New York State GenWeb

Created 11/3/03
Copyright © 2003 BetteJo Hall-Caldwell
All Rights Reserved.