I’ve been corresponding with Pearl Gearhart Coster. She is 93 years old. She is the last of her line, descended from our common ancestor John Frederick Gearhart (1754-1840) by one of his ten children, Isaac Elias Gearhart. She is my 7th cousin once removed (according to the definition of cousin).

We’ve been updating each other with ancestor information as well as recorded stories of the exploration of western Pennsylvania when it was unsettled by other than Indians and trappers. I only mention this because it occured to me that I know very few Gearhart’s outside my immediate family. I suppose it is because I have very little connection to Pennsylvania. In fact, it may come as a surprise to many that I have only visited Clearfield once, and I was too young to remember much. My expectation is that the aura of that place will evaporate if I visit, for I am likely to discover just a small town with nothing special to discover, other than some leftover buildings which resemble a whethered version of the shiny new images in my vintage photographs.

Of course, I may be wrong.

I don’t know anyone in Clearfield, other than Dinah Dague who I have corresponded with but never met. Its funny how I happen to have the so much personal information about the Gearhart Knitting Machine Company. You would have thought that the majority of archive material would have been in Clearfield…

I only know three people over the age of 90. My Barber G.H.; Walter, a neighbor; and Pearl Gearhart Coster. Its odd to think how writing about the Gearhart Knitting Machine Company, or any special interest for that matter, can often get you out of the mud and in contact with people you’d otherwise never know about. It certainly provides a great reward after so many years focused on daily work. And I must say this research is much more gratifying then my long career of computer work, which ends up in the trash can every couple years due to technical evolutions. How’s that for productive and long-lasting results.

Some very nice things have come out of this blog since I started it a couple months ago. Aside from meeting many nice people, these notes hold the promise of becoming permanent once I have enough information to start a book. Its almost too late, but I wonder if I can restart my career as David McCullough, the American author, narrator, and lecturer?

Pearl was telling me that John Stanley Gearhart (1889-1965), her father, had no sons; so the name ended with him. Since he left Pennsylvania when he was a young man and settled in Wisonsin, no one ever followed his line.

He went back to Pennsylvania one time just before he was married. Pearl says:

When he was very old and very ill, he said to me: I would like to go home.

I said: Dad, you are home.

He said: I mean Pennsylvania.