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Isabelle 'Belle' 
(McKnight) Longfoot

(1879-1957)

 

James and Isabelle, 1930

Isabelle "Belle" (McKnight) Longfoot was born in January 1879 in Fayette County, PA, the daughter of Arthur and Elizabeth Jane (McGovern) McKnight. She spent her adult life in blindness, but raised six children, and with her husband celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

At the age of 21, in 1900, Belle was unmarried and made her home with her parents near the old family farm in New Salem, Menallen Township, Fayette County. She helped her mother keep house.

She married James H. Longfoot (1878-1957) whose birth year may have been 1879. They were wed on Nov. 23, 1904, when she was age 25 and he was 26. He was a native of England, and had migrated to the United States at age 14 in 1892. He became naturalized as an American citizen on Nov. 11, 1901.

They had six children -- Laura Marie Walker, John Henry Longfoot, Sophia Jane "Jennie" Westland, James Arthur Longfoot, Anna Rebecca Smallcomb and William C. Longfoot. 

In the early years of marriage, James is believed to have been a coal miner in and around Belltown, a mining town built in Gray, Somerset County, PA. In about 1908, the migrated from Uniontown to New York State, settling in Cuylerville, Leicester Township, Livingston County. There, James obtained employment as a laborer in a salt mine. Except for their eldest daughter, all of their children were born in New York. 

They most likely made this move so far away from Isabelle's family because of two factors -- James' two half brothers lived in Perry, NY, just a few miles from the mine in Cuylerville; and when the Western Pennsylvania mines closed, employment would have been immediately available in New York.

 

Longfoot-Ireland reunion, circa 1907, with Belle and James at far right, and their children on Belle's lap and at her feet. Note her downcast eyes, suggesting she was already blind.

 

 

James and Isabelle with daughter Jane

Tragedy rocked the family in February 1928 when married daughter Laura Marie, wife of Alfred Walker, died suddenly in her home. She was survived by her husband "and three small children," reported the Mt. Morris (NY) Picket Line Post. Following a funeral in the United Presbyterian Church in Cuylerville, led by Rev. William J. Robb, she was interred in Leicester Cemetery.

James and Isabelle are seen here with their daughter Jane Westland.

In 1930, Isabelle and James lived along Sterling Road in Cuylerville, Livingston County. In addition to five of their children, two of their motherless grandchildren Alfred Walker Jr. and Elsie Walker lived under their roof. James continued to labor as a miner in a local salt mine, while son John (age 22) was employed as a driver of a milk truck and daughter Jane (20) as a machine operator in a knitting mill. Son James (18) was a farm laborer, boarding with Clarence H. and Gladys L. Sliker on Lower Valley Road in Livingston County. Interestingly, son William, age 10, was only two years older than his nephew under the same roof, Alfred Walker Jr.

 

Isabelle, 1930 -- click for an enlarged view

The following year, said the Picket Line Post, James and Isabelle relocated to Kingston, near Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, PA, following the closure of the salt mine in Cuylerville. In 1932, their home was at 278 High Street in Wilkes-Barre, and in the 1940s was near the downtown area of Wilkes-Barre. They were members of the First Spiritualist Church. 

As they aged, they went to live in the home of a married granddaughter, Elsie (Walker) Suchowieski. 

Isabelle and James died three weeks apart in May-June 1957. She passed first, on May 21, 1957, at the age of 78, but her details are not yet known. She was laid to rest in Leicester, NY.

Shortly after her funeral, James suffered a heart attack and was treated at Mercy Hospital in Wilkes-Barre, where he died on June 10, 1957. Following funeral services at the McLaughlin Funeral Home, his remains were sent to Leicester, NY for interment beside his wife. His Wilkes-Barre Record obituary noted that he was a "retired mine employee whose wife Isabel (sic) died three weeks ago." At the time of his death, a half-brother was still alive, Joseph Ireland of Perry, NY. 

Minerd.com is grateful to Isabelle and James' grandson, who has graciously shared these images and stories for our information and understanding.

 

Isabelle (right) and James with her sister Mahala "Hallie" McKnight, a nurse at Uniontown Hospital in Pennsylvania

 

~ Daughter Laura "Marie" (Longfoot) Walker ~

 

Marie and Alfred with 2 of their children

Daughter Laura "Marie" Longfoot (1905-1928) was born on 1905.  

She married Alfred G. Walker, Jr. (1897- ? ), a native of England who had emigrated to the U.S. in 1922, following the end of World War I. 

The Walkers had three children born during the 1920s -- Alfred G. Walker III, Elsie Walker Suchowieski and John "Sonny" Menzies, who was adopted by John Menzies and his wife of Perry, Wyoming County, NY. 

 

Sonny Menzies

Sonny Menzies is seen here, at right.

Tragedy rocked the family in February 1928 when Marie died suddenly in her home. The cause of her death is not yet known, but is believed to have been in childbirth. She was survived by her husband "and three small children," reported the Mt. Morris (NY) Picket Line Post.  

Following a funeral in the United Presbyterian Church in Cuylerville, led by Rev. William J. Robb, she was interred in Leicester Cemetery. 

The children were immediately taken into the home of their maternal grandparents, Isabelle and James Longfoot, where they appear together in the 1930 census and were raised to adulthood.

In 1930, when the federal census was taken, Alfred lived alone on Brown Road in Cuylerville, with his occupation marked as "miner - salt mine." Age 33 at the time, he was marked as widowed. He died sometime before 1944.

 

    

Alfred Walker Jr. and Elsie Suchowieski with Elsie's baby son, David. Right: the Suchowieski children Michael, Nancy and David.

 

Son Alfred G. Walker II (1925-1960) was born in 1925 in Cuylerville. He married Katherine I. Mulrooney (1926- ? ), daughter of Dennis and Sarah (Brennan) Mulrooney, on April 23, 1947. At the time, he was age 22, and a laborer, and she 21. Alderman Felix W. Schwartz of Wilkes-Barre performed the ceremony. His home circa 1947 was at 72 Market Street in Wilkes-Barre. Alfred and Katherine had several sons born in the late 1940s and early '50s. Alfred died in 1960 at the age of 35.

Daughter Elsie Walker (1926-1965) was born in 1926 in Cuylerville. During World War II, she gained employment as a defense worker in Wilkes-Barre, and resided at 9 Constine Court. At the age of 22, on Dec. 23, 1944, she wed 27-year-old Stanley Suchowieski (1917- ? ), son of Polish immigrants Tofil and Stella (Krovka) Suchowieski. He was a native of Sayreville, NJ and was a laborer at the time. Justice of the peace William H. Roberts of Kingston, PA led the nuptials. Elsie passed away in 1965 at the age of 39.

 

Jane Westland

~ Daughter Sophia Jane "Jennie" (Longfoot) Westland ~

Daughter Sophia Jane Longfoot (1910-1986) was employed prior to marriage as a machine operator in a knitting mill in the Cuylerville area, circa 1930.

In 1935, she wed George Westland (1904-1977).

They had one son, William J. Westland.

The Westlands lived in Geneseo, NY, where George was employed as a linotype operator and foremen of the Livingston Republican newspaper printing office. In 1955, he began a new job at the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, and the family relocated to Greece, a suburb of Rochester, Monroe County, NY. 

 

Bill, seated, at a linotype machine

Said the Picket Line Post, "Mr. Westland, except for a short period immediately following World War II, has been employed in the Livingston Republican for about 30 years, having first learned the trade in the office of the Livingston Democrat." He retired in 1970.

Linotype was a form of typesetting used in the publishing industry. The technology could produce an entire line of type at one time, rather than the previous laborious method of setting type a letter at a time. Also known as "hot metal" typesetting, it also revolutionized the printing field, allowing newspapers to expand to many more pages in a fraction of the cost and time.

George is seen here, seated at a linotype machine at the Livingston Republican. Standing at left is the Republican's owner, Reed Scott, and fellow employee Bill Burke. 

George died in mid October 1977, at the age of 73. 

Jennie outlived her husband by nine years. She passed away in November 1986, at the age of 76.

Son William J. Westland followed his father's footsteps in the printing trade. He married Lynn Rickard in 1973. They had two children -- Lori, wife of Scott Reynolds; and Christopher Westland, who married Sarah Reno and resides with their two daughters Julia and Abigail in South Park, PA.

 

George and Jane Westland with their son Bill

 

~ Son John Henry Longfoot Sr. ~

 

Three Longfoot generations, l-r: -- 
James, John Sr. and John Jr.

Son John Henry Longfoot Sr. (1907-1987) was born in 1907 in Cuyler, Leicester Township, Livingston County, NY. 

He lived at home with his parents in his early 20s, and was employed as s truck driver on a mil route in Cuylerville. He is shown in the 1930 census, at age 22, living under his parents' roof. He made the move to Wilkes-Barre with his parents in about 1931. Circa 1932, he was a laborer in Wilkes-Barre.

On Dec. 12, 1932, at the age of 25, John married 15-year-old Dorothy Esser (1917-1989), daughter of Anthony and Etta (Nagle) Esser of Oregon Street in Wilkes-Barre. Because Etta was legally underage, her mother signed consent to the union. The nuptials were led by Rev. William Herberg Sugden. 

The Longfoots had a large family of nine or 10 children. They made their home in Wilkes-Barre in 1957. 

Seen here are three generations of Longfoot men: John (center) with his father at left and son John Jr. at right, likely taken at John Jr.'s wedding.

John lived in Ashly, PA circa 1981. He died in October 1987 in Wilkes-Barre, at the age of 80. 

Dorothy outlived him by a little more than a year, and passed away on Jan. 25, 1989.

Some of his descendants reside in the Wilkes-Barre area today.

 

James A. Longfoot Jr.

~ Son James Arthur Longfoot Jr. ~

Son James Arthur Longfoot Jr. (1912-1981) was born on Jan. 12, 1912 in Leicester, Livingston County, NY. 

He is seen here in a stylish suit, vest and hat. As a young man of age 19, in 1931, he moved with his parents to Wilkes-Barre, and labored as a coal miner in and around the town. 

At the age of 30, he married 25-year-old Mary Anna Keithline, daughter of Harry and Mary (Gordon) Keithline of Wilkes-Barre. Alderman Michael J. Schappert of Wilkes-Barre performed the ceremony on June 15, 1942. At the time of marriage, James lived at 56 Shiber Lane in Wilkes-Barre.

James married again in the 1950s to Rita Skapura ( ? -1976). She had been married once before, and brought two children to the marriage -- John Skapura and Rita Skapura.

 

Glen Alden colliery operation

In all, James had three children -- James Arthur Longfoot III, Caroline Ann Biebel and David Joseph Longfoot. They resided in 1957 in Wilkes-Barre, at 258 North Pennsylvania Avenue and were members of the Westminster Presbyterian Church. 

Following in the family coal mining tradition, James was employed with the Glen Alden Coal Company at its South Wilkes-Barre colliery for many years, retiring in 1968. In addition to Wilkes-Barre, the company ran coal plants in Nanticoke, Pittston and Plymouth. Glen Alden was known for mining anthracite coal and spraying it blue to differentiate it from competing products.

Sadly, Rita passed away on Jan. 23, 1976.

James outlived her by five years. he died in Wilkes-Barre in January 1981, at age 69. Funeral services were held in a local funeral home, led by Rev. Charles Hooker Jr. of the family church. Burial was in Oak Lawn Cemetery in Hanover Township.

Some of James' offspring still live in Wilkes-Barre today.

Son James Arthur Longfoot (1952-2000) was born in 1952. He never married and had no children. He died in 2000. 

Daughter Caroline Ann Longfoot married John Biebel in 1973 and had one daughter, Caroline Kriton. The couple later divorced. 

 

Bird's-eye view of Wilkes-Barre, looking north from the Miners Bank building, showing the Irene Temple and county courthouse

 

Son David Joseph Longfoot married Maureen Teresa Riley of Wilkes-Barre in 1959. They have six children -- Michael Longfoot, Ryan Longfoot, Sarah Blat, Matthew Longfoot, Kristyn Longfoot and Sean Longfoot. 

Stepson John Skapura made his home in 1981 in Tucson, AZ. 

Stepdaughter Rita Skapura lived in Wilkes-Barre in 1981.

 

Anna Smallcomb

~ Daughter Anna Rebecca (Longfoot) Smallcomb ~

Daughter Anna Rebecca Longfoot (1915-1936) was born in 1915 near Cuylerville in Leicester Township, Livingston County, NY. She moved to northeastern Pennsylvania with her parents in 1931.

At the age of 18, two days before Christmas 1933, Anna married 21-year-old Wade Carl Smallcomb (1912-1974). He was the son of Hazen and Margaret (McGovern) Smallcomb of Wilkes-Barre. Alderman C.P. Heckman of Wilkes-Barre performed the marriage ceremony. When the marriage took place, she lived at 278 Hazle Street, and because she was underage, her father signed his consent to the union. 

 

Robert & Janet Smallcomb

Wade was an "elevator runner" in Wilkes-Barre at the time of marriage.

They had two known children -- Robert Smallcomb (born 1932) and Janet Smallcomb (born 1936). The children are seen here.

Tragically, Anna died at the age of 21 on Sept. 14, 1936, in Wilkes-Barre. As with her sister Laura Marie Walker, she did not survive a childbirth. 

Her death left behind her husband and the two young children. He earned a living during that period as a building superintendent in Wilkes-Barre.

Wade married again just a little more than a year later to 25-year-old widow Antoinette (Sodik) Walski (1907-1982) of Plymouth, PA, daughter of Polish immigrants John and Anna Sodik. The ceremony was held on Oct. 27, 1937, Wilkes-Barre. Antoinette's first husband had died on May 3, 1932, and she brought a son to the marriage, Alex Walski. 

They had one daughter of their own, Jean Loraine Smallcomb.

Wade died in November 1974, at the age of 62.

Antoinette outlived him by eight years, and passed away in Wilkes-Barre in December 1982.

 

William C. Longfoot

~ Son William C. Longfoot ~

Son William C. "Bill" Longfoot (1919- ? ) was born in 1919. 

He married Dorothy (?) (1923-2011).

They had no children. 

He served in the U.S. Armed Forces during World war II. He is seen here, in uniform.

The couple lived in Louisiana in the 1950s, in the community of Alexandria. They later moved to Pineville, Rapides Parish, LA.

Sadly, Dorothy died on April 30, 2011, at the age of 88.

 

Copyright 2010-2012, 2019 Mark A. Miner

Glen Alden Colliery postcard originally published by the Wilkes-Barre News Agency