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Growing Up Out Proctor: Life at Grandpap Frohnapfel’s Farm

By Gary Eller - | Aug 11, 2021

My Grandpap and Grandma Anna Frohnapfel’s farm and house was along Route 2 about two miles north of Proctor. I’ve been told that Grandpap bought the farm from the Arick family, who also owned the adjacent land to the south. I also understand that Grandpap built the house out of poplar trees he cut on his hillside behind the house. Directly across the road from Grandpap’s house was an older house and barn on an acre of two of land. A family photo in front of the old house is labeled “Anthony and Barbara Estep,” who were Grandpap’s parents. However, other sources indicate these people were Esteps, which would also make sense since my Grandma Frohnapfel was an Estep. After Mobay Chemical Company bought Grandpap’s farm and Grandpap retired, the newer house was taken down by Mike Estep and his brothers. They used the lumber to build their Estep family camp out towards St. Joe. The other structures were razed by Mobay.

In an earlier chapter I talked about Grandpap Frohnapfel, who was an important part of my childhood. Grandma Frohnapfel died before I was born. My earliest childhood memories are of Grandpap’s place, before we moved to the new house my Dad built out Proctor around 1952, when I was four or five. His house and front yard was on the east side of Route 2. I hazily remember Grandpap’s kitchen and big living room. I also remember his chicken coop, small house and big garden in back, barn across the road, and playing in the big yard. And I remember that water was piped to the house from a spring up on the hillside. There was one flush toilet and electricity in the house, probably installed in the rural electrification projects of the 1930s. Brother Chuck remembers that Grandpap’s house was heated with a coal furnace, but sometimes coal was unaffordable. Then they would walk the B&O railroad tracks along the river to pick up coal that fell off train cars. When coal wasn’t available, wood was burned in the fireplace. There was no heat upstairs in the bedrooms other than that which drifted up from below. Chuck remembered a piano room which also served as a viewing room when Grandma Anna died in 1943. There was a root cellar which usually was amply stored with homemade wine and smoked hams, a smoke house, and a big orchard. Grandpap ran cattle on the rugged ridge owned by his brother Lee, up high behind the house where there was some forage.

I remember the slaughtering of hogs around Thanksgiving and making applesauce in big cauldron’s heated by wood. The dressed hogs would be hung by a rope so they could be scalded and scraped before being cut and packed into smaller pieces and smoked.

That pretty much captures my memories of the earliest years of childhood. It’s interesting what memories stick with you.