Allen Lewis King's 1992 Reunion Handout
An Early Reunion: Three King Brothers and Sister Mary
No three brothers were as free in spirit and fun as Allen, Frank and Gene were that day riding the dusty roads from Fairport to Sodus, New York, to visit their sister Mary. Here they were together after more than two decades apart, separated by great distances and different careers. William Franklin King had left home in 1869 to seek his fortune in the oil fields but became a farmer in Morocco, Michigan. Three years later Allen N. King followed his brother westward but strayed to Anderson, Indiana, where he established his home and business. Meanwhile, George Eugene King, the youngest of eleven siblings, remained in Fairport close to the old family homestead. At first the brothers corresponded frequently; but as time passed the separation became more bearable, correspondence languished and finally ceased altogether.
After the death of their mother in 1889 their father Ebenezer continued to live in his house, allegedly originally a log cabin, on Basket Street (now Jefferson Avenue) near Fairport, New York, until he had a stroke and was taken into son Gene's household. There he soon learned to manage very well with a cane and became a great storyteller for Gene's numerous children. However, with Gene's remarriage after the premature death of his wife Louis in 1892 this arrangement came to an end. Ebenezer departed to live in Michigan with his son Frank, but within four years he died and was buried in the Neriah Cemetery of Ida, Michigan.
Perhaps the coming of their father to Michigan stirred up old memories of boyhood days on the family farms in Penfield and, later, Fairport, New York. For whatever reason, in 1897 Allen began the long journey by cycle that would take him from Anderson, first to Morocco where brother Frank would join him, and then eastward to Fairport and brother Gene. Allen is reported to have pedaled for two and a half days over 240 miles of dirt roads to Morocco. Then the two brothers cycled to Toledo, Ohio, where they boarded a boat for Buffalo, New York, taking their cycles with them. The last lap of the journey was uneventful and they arrived finally at brother Gene's house on Saturday evening after more than a week of pedaling interrupted by the boat ride. What a reunion! They had returned to their home town a quarter of a century after leaving it to make their fortunes. On the following day the three brothers set out by horse and buggy to visit their sister Mary who lived in Sodus, about 20 miles east of Fairport, with her husband Charles Featherly.
On the way these fun-loving brothers hatched up a scheme for greeting their sister. Allen and Frank would remain hidden outside well away from the house while Gene went to the door to announce his arrival. Shortly afterwards the two older brothers would follow, first one and then the other, as strangers seeking food and lodging. In this manner they hoped to surprize and confound their sister. Mary, who had seen her brother Gene frequently over the years, greeted him affectionately and welcomed him in when he announced that he had come for a few days visit. Such surprize visits were common in the early days. There were no telephones in farming communities to arrange for a sudden visit. It was the custom for a family to drive up in a horse-drawn carriage with the intention of visiting for several days or even weeks. Mary was pleased to entertain her brother for a few days.
In a short time a knock was heard at the sitting room door. When Mary responded she saw before her a nicely dressed man who asked for a drink of water. He had hardly spoken when Mary exclaimed to her husband: "I believe that man is a King." A moment later in some excitement she repeated: "I believe that man is a King and my brother Frank too." The very touching scene that followed lasted several minutes. Mary was overjoyed. They had much to talk about until it was time for supper. Mary then proceeded to prepare the evening meal while the three men retired to the yard back of the house. There the two brothers told Charles Featherly about the third brother's intentions.
Presently another knock was heard at the sitting room door. When Mary answered it she saw before her a stranger who begged for a bite to eat and a drink of water. He also asked to stay for the night. Mary always fed hungry strangers; so she directed him to a place on the porch where he sat to eat the food she proffered. He ate it in a tramp-like fashion as she described it later. Meanwhile the three men back of the house were holding their sides with laughter. But the tramp smiled not once and Mary went about her work. After he finished eating the stranger again requested that he be allowed to stay for the night. Mary, little dreaming that she was talking to her own brother, told him it was impossible because she had company and was not prepared to keep any more. About that time the three men made their appearance and Mary explained the situation. Her husband suggested that they ought not turn a stranger away; they had better keep him for the night. The sister did not see how they could care for him but he proposed that the stranger sleep in the barn if necessary. At this point the men revealed the identity of the stranger.
Mary nearly fainted when she learned that the man before her was none other than her brother Allen. "No, no, he is not Allen" she cried, "You do not resemble the brother I used to play with in the least. If you are Allen King," she went on, "tell me the nickname You used to call me." He declined to answer. She was still more puzzled when he said: "Lady, don't let those men make a fool of you." A moment afterward she heard him say: "Well, I believe your name used to be Topsey." He had hardly spoken her childhood name when she uttered a joyful cry and thereupon enacted a pathetic but humorous scene. She grabbed hold of him like a wild woman and threw him on the floor. She then rolled him over and over until her strength was exhausted. She was crazed with joy and yet frantic with grief to think that she could see no resemblance between him and the brother she had known so long ago. Then she began to sob. It was heartrending to the four men who stood beside her but nothing could be done to convince her that the person who stood before her was none other than brother Allen. The brothers stayed for several days; but, try as hard as she could Mary was unable to reconcile herself to the fact that her brother Allen had returned to her. He seemed like a stranger and for the rest of her life the whole episode remained unreal. In relating this story many years later Mary said: "It is a terrible feeling I have. I can't describe it." And then she burst into tears.
The foregoing story is based upon a contemporary account published in an 1897 issue of the Fairport Herald and an interview by a reporter thirty years later in which Mary Featherly recalled the event quite vividly. Of Ebenezer King's then living children only Winfield Scott King of Canby, Oregon, was missing from this early reunion.