October 24 1972
The York Dispatch, Thursday, October 24,1972
CHRIS AND ANNA MUSSER of Manchester have moved off the farm, but they still
keep a garden in their backyard. Both have been active in conservation circles for
many years, but perhaps they are beat known for their Musser's Pond on the old
family farm which has been the site for many recreational events through the
years. They also had a stall in Central Market for about 40 years.
Our Rural Neighbours:
The Chris Mussers:- Like Country Chow
by Betty Sawyer Brown
"Good country chow and cheer" are still bywords for the Chris Mussers of Manchester, even though they retired from farming six years ago. Now living a stone's throw away from the hundred plus acre farm where they made their home for 46 years, these York Countians are involved these days in farm work and feeding hundreds of picnickers who come annually to Musser's Pond on the family farm.
There, from May to October, this vigorous couple joins hand with their children and their families to prepare and serve barbecued chicken, hamburgers, real Dutch chicken corn soup and other goodies to young and old alike attracted to the pleasant pond.
The Mussers are no strangers to Yorkers. Chris and Anna's son, Paul, is the fourth generation of the family to operate the farm, having taken over when Chris retired. And while the Mussers were down on the farm they had a stall in the Central Market here for about 40 years.
Known as "Mr, Conservation" Chris remembers, with a twinkle in his eye, how the Pond came into being. The pond area, was nothing but a swampy hollow when his grandfather Christian, bought it from George Gross back in 1904. Then, when Chris' father, Jacob, had the farm he and his dad dug 1,300 feet of trench by hand with pick and shovel and inserted tile drain lines. This dried out a couple acres of what was once seepy hillside, but the bottom of the hollow still was filled with water.
Then on to the scene came Melvin L. Blish of the Soil Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who was assisting the newly organized York County Soil Conservation District.
After a lot of talking, Blish was able to convince Chris to convert the hollow into a pond, which, when finished, covered almost two acres. The ground around it was seeded and hedged with multiflora roses, and it became the spot Chris and Anna and their seven children went to when they wanted to relax from farm chores.
The Mussers had no plans to make the pond into a paying thing, but through the years people came to know the Place; facilities for cooking and serving were added; people swam and fished there. City dwellers, as well as others from all over the county, have enjoyed, and still do, the food, the surroundings, the pond and a ball field nearby.
Influenced by Musser
(Blish, by the way, later noted that dozens of landowners and agency people were influenced by what they first saw at Musser's multi-purpose pond).
In the summertime. Anna, now 70, and Chris, 77, spend endless days cooking, and serving at the pond. They cook, too, for fire company dinners and suppers at their church, St. Paul United Methodist, of which Chris has been a trustee 50 years and head usher 40 years.
"We keep busy," the bustling Chris laughed, "'cause if we didn't we'd go buggy."
"Keeping busy" for Chris has meant, among other things, being a past commander of Susquehanna Post 2493, VFW, Mount Wolf, to which he's belonged since 1932. He was chairman of two building communities (in 1941 and 1961) for St. Paul church, and remembers how he and the Mrs. drove all over the place" looking at different types of architecture before the 1961 church, a good looking contemporary structure, was decided upon.
"We never take a vacation without some business on our mind," Chris smiled, relating, how he and Anna went to Puerto Rico several years ago to a convention of the Production Credit Association which he has served in York over 33 years, 30 of them on the loan committee. Next spring they're planning to go to White Sulfur Springs, Va., for the annual get-together, and they've enjoyed meeting people and seeing new places traveling to Virginia, Florida, the Poconos and Texas, to name a few.
Meet Great Folks
"We go to lots of spiffy places, some of them pretty elaborate for a dumb Dutchman like me," the modest Chris grinned, "but we found out no matter where you go, just be yourself that's what we do, and we always meet great folks and have a good time!"
Chairman of York County Soil Conservation since 1945, Chris also belongs to the National Association of Conservation. He and his wife attend numerous meetings because of that commitment. They drive almost everywhere they go, often sharing trips with another couple, good friends Mr. and Mrs. Howard Perry, who live near York.
This whirlwind of activity doesn't stop there either. He is chairman of the Northeastern School District Authority, has been for 12 or 13 years, and finds time to take part in activities of Zion View Lions Club and the Manchester Fire Company.
Sewed Up a Storm
What's Anna do all this time? Well, when the children were small, she kept the home fires burning, rarely going on a trip with Chris (but sometimes getting a baby sitter when she went to a convention with him.) She canned and won recognition for it; sewed up a storm making clothing for the children; and did the usual farm chores and housework that had to be done.
Now, she and Chris go most everywhere together. They both still go down to the farm and help out, especially when its time to butcher turkeys and ducks. They organize dinners and banquets for the fire company and church, buying all the needed foodstuffs and then supervising the endeavor.
Anna is a member of the Northeastern Hospital Auxiliary and goes once a week to sew at the York Hospital, and is active in the Manchester Fire Co. Auxiliary. She also is secretary of the Willing Hand Class and the Women's Society of Christian Service at St. Paul Church.
And, on top all this, the energetic duo sets aside some time for work in their garden patch at the end of the yard behind their well kept frame bungalow. Here they raise cauliflower, cantaloupes, strawberries, grapes and some vegetables.
Anna, who enjoys trips as much as Chris, told me: "We don't have any pets to worry about when we go away, so we just shut up the house and go; a granddaughter takes care of the milk and papers and we tell the kids: 'We're going away a couple days, see you when we get back'."
The "kids," all married now and none living too far away, include: Twin daughters, Mary Fetrow, York RD 4, and Martha Bentzel, Thomasville RD 1; Chris Jr., and Gordon, Mount 3 Wolf RD 1; Glenn, Silver Spring, Md.; Paul, who's on the farm, and Alvin, Felton RD 2. Chris and Anna have 17 grandchildren.
Loaded Sgt. York's Guns
The story Of Chris Musser wouldn't be complete without mention of his role in World War I. Probably known to almost everyone is Sgt. Alvin York's capture of 132 German prisoners in that conflict. But no one knows it better than Chris, who "Passed the ammunition" to York, because, Chris says, he figured it was "better to do the reloading and let York do the shooting." He tells this story, as he does many others, with a broad grin and twinkling eyes, evidence of his great sense of humor that seems to, permeate everything he does.
Bv the time World War II came around, Chris had a family and responsibilities and didn't go into the service. But he found another way to "pass the ammunitions Until 1943, Chris had never plowed a contour furrow in his life, but gradual loss of crop producing Soil and rock outcroppings convinced him there must be a better way to farm the land.
So, with some help from the Soil Conservation Service, he did over his fields from straight row pattern to a system that featured contouring and other soil conservation methods to save soil and moisture for increased crop yields.
Geared for wartime production, the farm now turned out crops galore. Every member of the family, including Anna and the twin girls, played a part in the venture, making it a success from planting to harvest time.
Movie Made of Farm
In fact, the SCS was so impressed with the farm's transition from an old worn out farm into a successful, modern one, they made a movie about it entitled "For Years To Come." Chris and Anna still keep the film at home and it's been shown numerous times in years past to area schools as well as other groups.
The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society also, awarded a "Certificate of Merit" to the Musser family for their hard work and success.
Anna and Chris, proud and happy about their accomplishments as they look back, feel life has been good to them. They are in agreement that you get out of it what you put in.
I asked Anna if she missed living on the sprawling farm that's across the road and down a country lane from their present home.
"I missed it a first," she replied, "but now I wouldn't want to go back and live there; Its a big house and I couldn't begin to take care of it for one thing, and I like being able to come and go when I want to".
She added: "We still enjoy going to the farm and working at the Pond. Because, you know, there really aren't many things that beat good country chow and cheer".
'All in favor, say aye.