The “Farmer”

[This article is written for the 54th Carnival of Genealogy, which is to be posted at What’s Past is Prologue.]

The topic for this edition of Carnival of Genealogy is: “The Family Language…Does your family use words and phrases that no one else knows or understands? Where did they come from? Did you ever try to explain your ‘family language’ to outsiders? Tell a story about your family-coined words, phrases, or nicknames.”

Well, at first this didn’t seem to have much relevance to my own historical research, but that thing about the nicknames caught my attention. Family-coined words and phrases may not apply, but unusual nicknames–that certainly does apply!

Monroe Kulp (1858-1911), the prominent Shamokin, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania native foremost in my research, was frequently known by the nickname of “Farmer.” You’ll notice it just about anywhere in reference to him–recent local history books, even newspaper articles from his own time. However, he had no direct connection to farming, and thus the source of the nickname has always been a bit of a mystery.

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Newspaper tidbits

While browsing about the Internet today, I happened across a few tidbits from Mt. Carmel newspapers on a site I visit all the time–don’t know how I missed them, the files have been online since 1997 (!). I think that’s before the days of RootsWeb even!

Well, what I found were brief notices in the Mt. Carmel Ledger, on various subjects. From Friday, October 28, 1892:

M.H. Kulp, of Shamokin, accompanied by his brother Chester Kulp, transacted business at Mt Carmel, Wednesday, October 26, 1892.

Friday, January 6, 1893, about his brother:

Gilbert Kulp, one of Shamokin’s best known young men, returned home from a week’s jaunt to Philadelphia Saturday afternoon. He also spent a day with his former college chum, A.Z. Kalback, at Lebanon, Pa.

Same day:

Gilbert Kulp, he who helped to complete the list of society young men of Shamokin was in Mt. Carmel between trains Wednesday.

Friday, March 3, 1893:

Superintendent John Williams and M.H. Kulp of Shamokin, transacted business in Mt Carmel on Feb 28, 1893.

Friday, March 27, 1893, regarding his brother Howard:

Howard Kulp, formerly of Shamokin, now running the lumber business for his father in Centre county, spent a few days in town this week.

Friday, May 5, 1893:

Monroe H. Kulp, the Shamokin, Northumberland county, lumber dealer, transacted business here on Tuesday.

A more abstract collection of ledger entries, from 1894, indexed in alphabetical order, references M.H. Kulp’s mother, Mrs. D.R. Kulp, sister Ella, and brother G. Gilbert (Gilbert G. is the same):

Kulp, D.R. Mrs. lived in Shamokin on May 11, 1894 m/o Miss Ella Kulp
of Reading Hospital
Kulp, Ella Miss lived in Shamokin on May 11, 1894 was in Reading
hospital ch/o Mrs. D.R.Kulp of Shamokin
Kulp, G. Gilbert at College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y on Jan 12,
1894, visited his parents on Dewart St. in Shamokin
Kulp, G. Gilbert b/o Ella Kulp both of Mt. Carmel
Kulp, Gilbert G. lived in Shamokin on Jun 15, 1894

Not sure why it says both Ella and Gilbert were from Mt. Carmel; never heard that before, although it may be possible they lived there briefly at one time.

Prop timber

While counting the days till the Pottsville trip (see previous post), I am mulling over various facets of my research, and thought I would mention a few interesting details:

What is prop timber?

Monroe H. Kulp, one of the foremost figures I am researching, was president of the Kulp Lumber Company of Pennsylvania (later Maryland). Although this is well-known to most any Shamokinite familiar with the history of the Kulp family, what many do not know is that the company specialized in prop timber.

Prop timber is a type of lower quality timber, usually hard pine, which, although not considered usuable for finer lumber, was well-suited to function as mine props. In the coal regions of Pennsylvania, strong, durable timber was a necessity, used to support the ceilings of the mines. Therefore, although for most other purposes it was virtually unmarketable, the harvest of these types of timber was highly profitable in the anthracite region, and the Kulp Lumber Company was among Pennsylvania’s top producers of prop timber.