Throwback Thursday by Matson Insurance: Flitting Day!

19941201043cropMatson Insurance is partnering with Jefferson County History Center to offer exploreJeffersonpa.com readers a look in Jefferson County’s past. Today “Flitting Day” is being showcased.

[Pictured above: One might imagine all available vehicles busy on the annual “Flitting Day” when families moved from house to house. This truck belonged to a local produce firm. (Courtesy Brookville Heritage Trust)

FLITTING!

When reading old newspapers, we kept stumbling upon long lists of people smack dab in the middle of the front page—lists of people who were moving. These pieces usually appeared in the first April issue.

A front-page article of the April 6th, 1911 edition of the Republican, subtitled, “Annual Observance of April 1st as Flitting Day,” lists Dr. Snyder’s move from 160 Franklin Avenue to 184 Franklin. Then like dominoes, his neighbor, Elmer Smith, left 226 Franklin to move into 160 Franklin! Meanwhile Joseph Sterck moved from Water Street to the house on E. Main vacated by J. M. Chesnutt, and Mr. Chesnutt moved into the house at 226 Franklin vacated by Elmer Smith!

People move for a variety of reasons. A change of employment, family size, or increased or decreased wealth may cause a family to move into other quarters. But why in April? And why the term “flitting?”

We might credit our Scots-Irish ancestors with the custom. When we see February 2 on the calendar and think of Punxsutawny Phil, those in Scotland see Candlemas, the day renters must tell their landlords whether they will renew the lease or move―“sit or flit.” Then the search for new quarters and haggling over rents begins, and on the 25th of May, departing tenants must leave by noon, there is no time for cleaning, and a new family settles in.

Might our ancestors have followed the traditions of the home country, but moved the lease dates to April 1 through March 30th? No matter the reason, the logistics of the day must have been mind-boggling. How many wagons or trucks were necessary to move 15, 25, 35 or 100 families? How many strong men? How did one family pack up, tidy the house, and a new family move in, all in one day?

Our early directories list no more than six liveries or drayers in town. Every piece of rolling stock in town must have been called into use!

[email protected] County Historical Society, Inc.

Throwback Thursday is brought to you by Matson Insurance in Brookville.

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Submitted by the Jefferson County History Center.


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