DALLAS TWP. — Members of the Ide family from Back Mountain and a scattering of people interested in the history of the area gathered in the Lemmond Theater in Insalaco Hall at Misericordia University on Wednesday to enjoy a presentation about one of the area’s larger and very long-standing families.
“It is important to us not to lose our history,” said Sandy May Johnson, whose Ide DNA comes from the May side of the family.
Johnson took to the microphone and, with the help of a plethora of photos, offered “The Ides Among Us,” billed as a “brief history of the Ide family” that can be traced back to the year 1044 in the village of Ide in the southwestern part of England.
She has become an authority on the family’s history in recent years.
“Silas Ide put together the first little pamphlet tracing the family’s genealogical timeline,” she said. “That was in 1916.”
She told the story about Silas Ide, who operated a sawmill in what is now the Lehman Township area, then turned his focus on growing and selling apples. He became known throughout the Wyoming Valley as “Apple Ide,” and his apples were always in demand, she said.
“Then in 1940, Silas Ide decided to expand the history of the Pennsylvania branch of the family,” Johnson said.
That’s where the family history stood until, in 2007, Johnson decided to dig in and work on a more complete history.
“For many years I was an archivist at the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) building in Washington, D.C.,” she said. “Let’s just say I like to dig through stuff.”
Her digging, a five-year research campaign, resulted in a 9-pound looseleaf notebook, starting with an explanation of the Ide family crest and the first historical mentions of anyone named Ide in the 11th century and cruising through 1,000 years of Ides. The index in the back lists more than 7,700 Ides, both living and dead.
The North American side of the history lesson began in 1636, when the first Ide sailed from England to settle in Braintree, Mass., and the local chapter started in 1800, when Nehemiah Ide walked the 189-mile trek with his family from Massachusetts to Northeastern Pennsylvania. He bought 160 acres for $187 in what is now Lehman Township and worked with fellow settlers on creating a community.
Johnson showed photos of local cemeteries where Ides have found their final resting places – including the Idetown Cemetery, where Nehemiah himself is interred – and houses and buildings in the area built by Ides and, in some cases, where Ides still reside.
She honored those family members who served in the nation’s military, starting with Nehemiah Jr., who mustered in with the Minutemen and fought with General George Washintgon, and Edward Foster Ide, a member of the 149th Regiment of PA, the “Bucktails,” who took part in the Battle of Gettysburg. The family’s current patriarch, 92-year-old Willis Ide, of Back Mountain, who was at the program, is himself a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.
Members of the clan also served the community in schools, churches, government and civic organizations, Johnson said.
Not everyone in the clan now has the name Ide, but each and every person can tell visitors just how the family’s lineage connects them to the original settlers. And each is proud to be a part of the family.
The program was part of what organizers hope to be a series of events that examine the Back Mountain area and how it got to the 21st century, said Carol Wall, of the Back Mountain Historical Association.
The association is one of several in the area to focus on local history and the people who sculpted the region through the years into the present. The Back Mountain Association was created through the efforts of former Misericordia president Michael MacDowell. It lapsed after MacDowell retired, but is now being resurrected through the efforts of a small group who recognize the importance of local history.
Organizers are planning a series of historical events in the coming year to celebrate Back Mountain history.
“As a community, we become richer when we are aware of and celebrate our history as a community and as a region,” Wall said.