William Morris Anderson and Emma Louisa Keefer married in 1902 and were husband and wife for more than sixty years. They spent their entire lives within 50 miles of their birthplaces, and upon their deaths came to rest together in a local cemetery. It made perfect sense to them that they would never move from the area as both came from families with very deep local roots. Their parents had all been born nearby, as had six of their eight grandparents.
William was raised in McKees Half Falls, probably attended a One-room school house. As this particularly part of Pennsylvania had petitioned against taxes for schools, public school houses were late arriving. Whether he attended a public or private school, finishing eighth grade and was fully literate. Emma was raised in Ashland until age ten, probably attended the First One-room school house on Centre St. When she relocated to her paternal grandfathers after her father’s death, Emma would have attended the Fourth Ward One-room school house, finishing eighth grade. She was fully literate and doubtfully attended the recently relocated Sunbury High school on Front St.
William grew up in McKees Half Falls and Emma in Ashland, a two days hour trek with a daunting Susquehanna River and a buffering County of endless mountains and valleys. At the time without motorized vehicles and paved roads, it was considered extremely distant. Tragic circumstances however would bring them together. As a teen, William father would pass, and his mother would relocate to Sunbury, a larger town where it would be easier to make ends meet. Additionally, both of Emma’s parents passed by her tenth birthday, and she moved to grandfather Keefer’s home for care, which happened to also be in Sunbury.
The two were married during the outbreak of Spanish-American War. After their marriage, they rented a home at 1129 Railroad Avenue. By 1930 they had moved and owned a farm in Shamokin, Snyder County, changing from Dye Works labor to doing the same for the Pennsylvania Railroad. Ten years later they would sell the home and rent a place in Buffalo Township, Union County, leaving the railroad for a farming career. Again, ten years later, they would move to Pennsylvania Avenue in Hummel’s Wharf, back in Snyder County… (to be continued)